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  • Rep. Cohen to Introduce Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald Trump After Comments on Charlottesville

    Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, today announced that he will be introducing articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump following the President’s comments on the horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    “I have expressed great concerns about President Trump’s ability to lead our country in the Resolution of No Confidence (H.Res. 456) that I introduced in July with 29 of my colleagues; however, after the President’s comments on Saturday, August 12 and again on Tuesday, August 15 in response to the horrific events in Charlottesville, I believe the President should be impeached and removed from office. Instead of unequivocally condemning hateful actions by neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Klansmen following a national tragedy, the President said ‘there were very fine people on both sides.’ There are no good Nazis. There are no good Klansmen.”

    “We fought a World War to defeat Nazis, and a Civil War to defeat the Confederacy.  In reaction to the downfall of the Confederacy, and the subsequent passage of the Reconstruction Amendments to our constitution, the KKK embarked on a dastardly campaign to terrorize and intimidate African Americans from exercising their newly acquired civil rights.  Subsequent incarnations of the Klan continued to terrorize African Americans with lynchings and civil rights murders such as the assassination of Medgar Evers and the killings of Schwerner, Chaney, Goodman and other civil rights workers.”

    “When I watched the videos from the protests in Charlottesville, it reminded me of the videos I’ve seen of Kristallnacht in 1938 in Nazi Germany. It appeared that the Charlottesville protesters were chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’ and ‘blood and soil,’ an infamous Nazi slogan, as they marched with torches that conjured up images of Klan rallies. None of the marchers spewing such verbiage could be considered ‘very fine people’ as the President suggested. And it certainly appeared the participants were in lock-step. Some of the white nationalist protesters were interviewed by the media, such as Sean Patrick Nielsen. He said one of his three reasons for being there was ‘killing Jews.’ Another was Christopher Cantwell, one of the white nationalist leaders, who said he couldn’t watch ‘that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl’ and said he hoped ‘somebody like Donald Trump, but who does not give his daughter to a Jew,’ would lead this country. As a Jew and as an American and as a representative of an African American district, I am revolted by the fact that the President of the United States couldn’t stand up and unequivocally condemn Nazis who want to kill Jews and whose predecessors murdered 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, and could not unequivocally condemn Klansmen whose organization is dedicated to terrorizing African Americans.

    “President Trump has failed the presidential test of moral leadership. No moral president would ever shy away from outright condemning hate, intolerance and bigotry. No moral president would ever question the values of Americans protesting in opposition of such actions, one of whom was murdered by one of the white nationalists. Senator John McCain rightfully tweeted this week that there was ‘no moral equivalency between racists and Americans standing up to defy hate.’ Senator Marco Rubio tweeted, “Very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists.” President Trump has shown time and time again that he lacks the ethical and moral rectitude to be President of the United States. Not only has he potentially obstructed justice and potentially violated the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, but he has also shown that he is incapable or unwilling to protect Americans from enemies, foreign and domestic. Neo-Nazis and the KKK are domestic terrorists. If the President can’t recognize the difference between these domestic terrorists and the people who oppose their anti-American attitudes, then he cannot defend us.”

    Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who was an outspoken critic of Adolph Hitler, said:

     

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

     

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

     

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

     

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
     

    “They have come for me, and for the majority of my Congressional constituency. Accordingly, I must speak out today after what happened on Saturday and our President’s subsequent response. It is morally and legally incumbent upon me, based on my oath of office, to introduce articles of impeachment.” 

     

  • Maine boat gets refit at Convivium Urban Farmstead and Hydroponic Gardens

     August 4, 2017 from their BLOG

    By Morgan Rogers

    I recently discovered two incredible things – Convivium Urban Farmstead and working with pallet wood, which I did at Convivium. Emily and I were lucky enough to get connected with Mike and Leslie, the kindest, coolest people, and founders of Convivium. They not only put us up at their place, but gave us full use of their wood shop where we had planned to build a couple of things, but ended up building other things based on our experiences there. We arrived just in time for the grand opening of their space, two 1920s-era greenhouses, with a commercial kitchen, a coffee house, and wood shop/learning center, dedicated to creating community around food.

    It was there that we learned more about hydroponics and aquaponics from Korrin who was designing and installing these systems in Convivium with her husband, Sean. I heard about this way of producing food before in Maine, but never saw it up close and had never thought about using it myself. It is a system in which the waste produced by fish supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically and they in turn purify the water. Hydroponics is a system that grows plants without soil. They get their nutrients from mineral nutrient solutions mixed in water.


    Aquaponics

    Inspired by what we were seeing at Convivium and wanting to take a piece of the landscape to incorporate into Michi Zeebee, while looking for more ways to live sustainably on a boat, we of course had to have a hydroponics garden on our boat. We talked to A.J. who manages the urban farms for Convivium. He thought it was a great idea and totally doable so he connected us to Korrin after generously donating fishing poles and a tackle box so we could pair fresh caught fish with our new garden. Korrin walked us through the steps of setting up a rooftop hydroponics garden as well as donated some PVC pipe and seeds for veggies. Mike gave us the run of the wood shop, a couple of bikes to get around town on (one was a gigantic fat tire bike and the other a tiny bmx – hands down the raddest way to cruise), let us use any scrap wood laying around, and donated a water pump. I can’t say enough how great the folks are at Convivium.

    In the style of shantyboat and using sustainable practices we used reclaimed pallet wood to make our hydroponics garden. I love pallet wood. If you ever worked with pallet wood you know that you get a hodge podge of woods from around the world ranging from mahogany to oak to purple heart to pine. The thing with pallet wood is you need to be patient as there are many steps involved for getting it to a usable stage, but I even enjoyed this whole process.

    First you need to pick a good pallet where you can salvage at least a few solid pieces. Once you pick a couple you need to remove the rusty nails. There are a couple of ways of going about it. You could swing around a crow bar and use a hammer to pull the pieces off or take a skill saw to the edges and just cut the sections out that are free of nails. We did the latter. It is a heck of a lot faster. I have done the former in the heat of the day with Joe at The Apprenticeshop earlier this summer. Thanks again Joe for volunteering to do that!

    Okay so now you have all these pieces cut out, but of course they are not square and are different sizes and thicknesses. Also, they are usually pretty grimy so you need to take a wire brush to them first and maybe run a metal detector over them to make sure you did not miss any nails before running them through the planer to get them to the same thickness. After you get the same thickness you want to make sure they are all the same width and are square. After planing them Emily would run them through the table saw then I would take them to the chop saw to cut a little off each end. It took us a couple of days, but it was well worth it. The colors of all the different pieces formed a beautiful pattern.

    Now we had all these pieces that needed to be joined together to form a longer plank that would go between each of the PVC pipes to be a support structure for the garden. Emily came up with a lock and key system, which consisted of cutting a section from each pallet piece and connecting the pallets together with these pieces using dowels. We ended up with even more patterns, but to our dismay when we held up our new planks they bent and threatened to fall apart. The pieces were just too small and too thin, but it didn’t matter to us. We liked the look of it and just slapped some plywood on the back to give it more structure and presto we have a support structure for the garden.

    The last step was making holes in the PVC pipe to hold the plants. Emily took a hole saw to the pipes and made neat rows along each. It produced some pretty cool shop detritus:

    In the middle of all of this we also managed to build and install the aft wall with a 3D river topography pattern. This was an idea that we had for sometime, as we wanted to capture the river’s topography both through sonar scanning and through a 3D structure on Zeebee, but got an extra push when the last thunderstorm ripped off the aft canvas wall. I looked through Navionics and studied the patterns of the river bottom around the Dubuque area. I took these patterns and cut them out of plywood using a combination of a jigsaw and bandsaw. Then I layered these pieces and fastened them with glue and a nail gun.

    Leslie and Mike were patient and very supportive of the project even as we kept extending our stay and raiding the café bakery at night for those delicious muffins they make in house. In the morning we would buy coffee in their café and sheepishly pay for the muffins we had consumed the previous night and would take another for the road.

    After many long nights and muffins we had a hydroponics garden installed on the roof of Michi Zeebee. We are installing the pump soon to draw water from the river to grow the veggies, even though we can’t technically eat the vegetables since the Mississippi River water is not clean enough for that. It will be an interesting experiment and perhaps more folks will build gardens on their boat or start an urban garden of their own.

  • Disastrous new solar rules violate Maine's right to energy independence

    Aug. 18, 2017

    It’s shocking, but true. Thanks to the actions of a self-proclaimed anti-tax governor, Maine is about to become the first state where electric companies can charge fees for the energy you make and use at your own home or business. This will likely reduce your energy choices and increase energy costs for all Mainers.

    In Maine, we take pride in our independence and self-reliance. Many of us still grow our own vegetables or cut our own firewood. We don’t like big government or big corporations coming into our homes and watching us — especially to charge us new taxes or fees.

    But under new solar energy rules set to take effect in January, if you dare to make your own energy using solar panels, you’ll be charged fees for that energy. Central Maine Power (or Emera Maine, for some) will now monitor your home energy use and actually charge you for the electricity you make and consume onsite. Implementing these rules also will come with an enormous price tag that will be passed along directly to ratepayers like you and me.

    If that sounds wrong, it’s because it is.

    Imagine you’ve got a garden in your backyard, and when you decide to harvest your ripe tomatoes, the local grocery store sends you a bill. That’s the logic of the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s new solar energy rules. Hand-picked by Gov. Paul LePage, the members of this commission have a critical say in Maine’s energy future.

    Many legislators — both Democrats and Republicans — didn’t think the new solar energy rules seemed fair, so we worked diligently on a compromise. We came up with LD 1504, this session’s so-called “solar bill.”

    The bill would have banned new fees on the energy consumers generate at home. It would have delayed implementation of the rules and required the Public Utilities Commission to conduct a full cost-benefit analysis before coming back to the Legislature with a new proposal.

    It also would have lifted barriers to shared projects such as solar farms or community wind or hydro-energy projects, helping renters and others without an appropriate site to share in the benefits of self-generation.

    Despite LD 1504 being sponsored by a Republican, amended twice by Republicans, and initially passed with veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate, it failed on the very last day of this session. A small minority of Republicans — including seven who flipped their votes — in the House sided with LePage to uphold his veto of the bill. As a result, these disastrous rules are set to take effect in January.

    It didn’t have to be this way.

    LD 1504 would have protected hundreds of good-paying, local jobs in the rooftop solar industry and cleared the way for the creation of many more. It would have recognized our rights as Mainers to produce our own energy.

    But, perhaps most importantly, LD 1504 would have saved all ratepayers money.

    The more small, distributed generation we have, like rooftop solar panels, the less we need to pay for expensive poles and wires to bring us energy. Our own homegrown energy can help lower costs for everyone.

    In fact, the primary driver of today’s rising electricity costs in Maine is continuous building of transmission poles and wires. This “overbuilding” is driven by Central Maine Power profit interests. They are guaranteed at least a 10 percent profit on transmission projects, and as a regulated monopoly, the more they build, the more they are allowed to charge you and me.

    It’s not surprising then that Central Maine Power lobbied hard to kill LD 1504, even bringing their CEO to Augusta to personally twist Republicans’ arms on the day of the vote.

    To protect your right to produce clean energy and local jobs, we’ll try again when the Legislature returns in January. The only way we’ll succeed is if constituents and ratepayers tell legislators they oppose Maine’s new, first-in-the-world fee on energy produced and used at home. 

    Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, is a former House Majority Leader and currently House Chair of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.

  • Confederate battle flag isn’t a symbol of Southern heritage - It’s a flag of treason

    Posted Aug. 16, 2017, at 7:28 a.m.

    It is not a coincidence that at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Nazi swastika was carried side-by-side with the Confederate battle flag. Both flags were flown by armies that fired upon U.S. soldiers and the American flag. The first shots in the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, an American fort that proudly displayed the American flag. The “victors” at Fort Sumter gave a mighty cheer when the American flag was lowered. Throughout the war, Southern diarists referred to the American flag as the “hated Yankee flag.”

    The Confederate battle flag is a flag of treason.

    The Nazi flag and the Confederate battle flag were designed by groups that rejected the founding American creed of the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal.” The founding documents of the Confederate States of America espoused the supremacy of the white race and the need for the black race to be held forever subservient.

    While the Confederate army did not massacre 6 million people whom they considered subhuman, as did the Nazis, the Confederate army, under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former slave trader, slaughtered hundreds of African-American troops after the surrender of the Union garrison at Fort Pillow in Tennessee. They were outraged that a black man would ever be allowed to wield a gun. Forrest, after the war, helped found the Ku Klux Klan.

    Those who fly a Confederate battle flag side-by-side with the American flag are not only ignorant of history but they grossly misrepresent the core ideas that gave rise to the four years of treason that commenced with the attack on Fort Sumter. This was not, as Southern apologists claim, a defense of “states’ rights,” but a rejection of a democratic election won fairly by Abraham Lincoln. Well before Lincoln was ever inaugurated and signed a single piece of legislation, Southern states rejected the ideas of American democracy, the American nation and the American flag.

    The monument to Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, the focal point of the white supremacist rally, was not erected in the wake of the Civil War, but in the 1920s. It celebrates a man who took up arms against his own country. Monuments to Civil War generals began to be built not in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, but only after the disputed election of 1876.

    Rutherford B. Hayes defeated Samuel Tilden for presidency, even though Tilden had won both the national popular vote and secured more electoral votes than Hayes but fell one shy of the majority needed to win the election. Hayes secured the 19 contested electoral votes needed to take the White House after pledging to remove federal troops from the South, ending the era of Reconstruction.

    These troops had been attempting to enforce the principles of equality and freedom over which the Civil War had been fought. This concession allowed the introduction of Jim Crow legislation, re-establishing the principles of white supremacy over which the South had committed its act of treason. Segregation and widespread denial of the enfranchisement of African-Americans quickly followed. The sudden re-emergence of the Confederate battle flag throughout the South only occurred in the 1950s as the courts, and then Congress, began undoing the legal framework of white supremacy embodied in the Jim Crow South.

    The American philosopher George Santayana once wrote that “those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Those Southern Republicans who still defend the Confederate battle flag as a sign of “Southern heritage” and deny slavery and treason as the cause of the Civil War should remember what the first Republican president said in his Second Inaugural Address: “To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend [slavery] was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war.” Lincoln had lived the history that Southern Republicans now try to sanitize.

    A little over a month after Lincoln spoke these words, he was slain by a white supremacist dedicated to the Confederate battle flag and the Confederacy, John Wilkes Booth. The time has come to squarely face the history of the Confederacy. Let us honor the Civil War dead at battlefields, but let us put an end to honoring in the public square either the flag of treason or the generals who led that treason.

    Arthur Greif lives in Bar Harbor and practices law in Bangor.

  • Press freedom groups that deserve support in age of Trump

    DONALD TRUMP HAS BEEN A BLESSING, albeit a mixed one, to some First Amendment and media law organizations. Since the election, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has received more than  $3 million in support, including $1 million from Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos. Meryl Streep gave the Committee to Protect Journalists a shout-out during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards in January, resulting in a flood of donations. And the Freedom of the Press Foundation has stepped up its crowdfunding efforts and its digital security training for journalists.

    The work those organizations do is increasingly important because of the threats posed by Trump’s rhetoric and the economic challenges the news industry is facing, especially at the local level. A study last year reported that 53 percent of US newspaper editors agreed that “news organizations are no longer prepared to go to court to preserve First Amendment freedoms,” while 27 percent said they had been unable to bring a case at their own outlets because of the cost. More journos are working as freelancers, too, and new platforms are less likely to have in-house counsel or the resources to hire trial lawyers.

    So the work the big organizations like the RCFP, CPJ, and FPF do is more and more necessary (and routinely excellent). But they’re not the only players in this space.

    Just a few weeks ago, The Washington Post published a story about the lesser-known Student Press Law Center, which advocates for student journalists. It’s deserving of support, but hasn’t benefited from the recent financial and publicity groundswell. (Disclosure: I’m a volunteer attorney for the SPLC.)

    Groups like the SPLC—dedicated to First Amendment and media law, and doing impactful work, but not as well known as some of its bigger brethren—deserve attention. Many provide niche services or tailored expertise; some are also vulnerable to economic challenges, or risk being overlooked. With that in mind, I recently conducted short interviews with representatives at 10 such organizations. I’m sharing them here in the hope that CJR readers will find the information helpful—or perhaps even consider one of the groups worthy of support.

    I left out many good organizations, some because they’re already well known (the Sunlight Foundation, the Knight First Amendment Institute, and the First Amendment Center), and others because they do First Amendment work but have broader missions ( the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Press Photographers Association, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation), and still others because of space constraints.

    That said, here are some First Amendment and media law organizations that deserve attention:

    Our work strengthens First Amendment and related rights for all citizens by ensuring that the attorneys who defend those rights are equipped to do so.

    Media Law Resource Center (Jeff Hermes, deputy director)

    What does the organization do? Our primary focus is on providing the lawyers who represent media organizations and First Amendment interests with the information and resources they need to carry out that role. We also have a charitable sister organization, the MLRC Institute, whose mission is to educate the public [about] First Amendment rights.” Has the main organization’s work changed under Trump? “Certain issues have taken greater prominence: press access to the executive branch; protection of journalistic sources and reporters against retaliation for reporting on the government; and maintaining the strong protections…for media organizations in defamation and other content-liability lawsuits in the face of public statements attacking the press. When the…attacks [began], we asked our members whether they might be available for pro bono help in cases where the administration attempts to use litigation to chill speech, and a large number responded positively.” Who benefits from the organization’s work? “Most directly, we support our members who receive our benefits…Some MLRC resources are available to the public, too. And more broadly, our work strengthens First Amendment and related rights for all citizens by ensuring that the attorneys who defend those rights are equipped to do so.

    There has been more discussion and a deeper interest among students and teachers about free speech rights.

    First Amendment Law Clinic at Michigan State University College of Law (Nancy Costello, director)

    What does the organization do? “[We] provide pro bono legal [services] to [student] journalists grappling with censorship and other First Amendment issues, …and [we] offer workshops to high school journalists and their faculty advisors…to teach them about student press rights. (Law students teach the workshops, which have visited 40 schools since 2011.) The law students also submit FOIA requests [for] information about policies at Michigan schools to monitor whether they restrict protected speech.” Has the organization’s work changed under Trump? “There has been more discussion and a deeper interest among students and teachers about free speech rights. Much of the class discussion led by [our] law students focuses on current events.” Who benefits from the organization’s work? “Mostly [student journalists] and their faculty advisors. In the late fall, [we are] launching the McLellan Free Speech Online Library…to provide a cache of legal answers to often-asked questions about student speech and press rights. It will also offer a general guide to news sources [and] a Q&A section for students to send in questions and receive answers in a short period of time. The website will be geared for people between 14 and 21.” 

    We have taken on many new matters dealing with executive branch accountability and potential conflicts of interest in the new administration.

    Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School (Hannah Bloch-Wehba, Stanton First Amendment Fellow)

    What does the organization do? “[We are] a law student clinic dedicated to increasing government transparency, defending the essential work of news gatherers, and protecting freedom of expression. We provide pro bono representation to…news organizations, freelance journalists, academics, and activists…[We’ve] litigated FOI cases that compelled the release of information about the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership [and] the rules for closing the military commissions at Guantanamo.” Has the organization’s work changed under Trump? “Government accountability, national security, and newsgathering rights have been at the core of [our] work since…2009. The election confirmed the need for our [work], and…we have taken on many new matters dealing with executive branch accountability and potential conflicts of interest in the new administration.” Who benefits from the organization’s work?“Our clients benefit most directly [but not exclusively]…Last year, for example, the clinic obtained a federal court order recognizing a constitutional right of…access to all phases of an execution. We also obtained a court order requiring the Department of Defense to release statistics about the…personnel stationed at its Guantanamo Bay detention center. These are wins not just for our clients…but also for the public.”   

    The president’s negative statements pertaining to US news media create an atmosphere of distrust for our nation’s largest distributor[s] of information about their government.

    National Freedom of Information Coalition (Daniel Bevarly, executive director

    )What does the organization do? “NFOIC and its 45 state affiliates make sure state and local governments and public institutions have laws, policies, and procedures to ensure the public’s access to their records and proceedings.” Has the organization’s work changed under Trump? “There is much more attention being focused on…the freedoms of speech and press. The president’s negative statements pertaining to US news media create an atmosphere of distrust for our nation’s largest distributor[s] of information about their government.” Who benefits from the organization’s work? “While our organization is dominated by journalists and media lawyers…our programs and work help citizens, journalists, attorneys, businesses, (and anyone who seeks public information).”

    Has the organization’s work changed under Trump? ‘No.’

    Scott & Cyan Banister First Amendment Clinic at UCLA School of Law (Eugene Volokh, director)

    What does the organization do? “We file friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of various organizations and academics in First Amendment cases throughout the country, in state and federal court.” Has the organization’s work changed under Trump? “No.” Who benefits from the organization’s work? “The courts, which get useful perspectives; nonprofits such as the Reporters Committee [for Freedom of the Press]…and Electronic Frontier Foundation, whom we represent pro bono; and students, who work on all of the cases.” 

    The highest elected office in the land has set a tone of hostility to free speech and access.

    First Amendment Coalition (David Snyder, executive director)

    What does the organization do? “[Our] mission…is to protect and promote freedom of expression and the people’s right to know…Our activities include free legal consultations for journalists; educational and informational programs; legislative oversight of bills affecting access to government; and public advocacy through writing of op-eds and public speaking.” Has the organization’s work changed under Trump? “Our core mission and activities remain the same, but the focus and emphasis have changed…The highest elected office in the land has set a tone of hostility to free speech and access. This…has made much more difficult the work of journalists and others seeking to gather facts in order to understand and critique their government…[W]e see more questions from reporters about the ‘disappearing’ of information from websites…, and the need for litigation that pushes back against the executive branch has increased.” Who benefits from the organization’s work? “The public, including the media,…for whom the acquisition and understanding of the government is an essential component of their business model.”

    Trump’s blocking of people on Twitter sparked me to write an op-ed about whether that violated a First Amendment right of citizens to access his account.

    Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida (Clay Calvert, director)

    What does the organization do? “The project analyzes current First Amendment issues—from whether rap music lyrics constitute true threats of violence to the constitutionality of regulating fake news—by filing friend-of-the-court briefs, writing scholarly articles, publishing op-eds, and providing testimony if needed to legislative bodies.” Has the organization’s work changed under Trump? “Trump’s blocking of people on Twittersparked me to write an op-ed about whether that violated a First Amendment right of citizens to access his account. His obsession with fake news directly led to three of my graduate research fellows…co-authoring a paper on the First Amendment aspects of regulating fake news. [And] I field more media calls now that Trump is in office. [He] is truly lifetime employment for those of us who comment on [media law] issues. Who benefits from the organization’s work? “Hopefully the public benefits most. That’s why going beyond writing academic articles and amicus briefs is so important. Responding swiftly and thoughtfully to great questions posed by journalists’ calls and emails really is key in the public education process.” 

    Free expression has been a core value of the internet since its earliest days, and it faces increasing pressures from a range of sources, beyond President Trump’s suspicion of the media.

    Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (Vivek Krishnamurthy, instructor)

    What does the organization do? “[We] provide pro-bono legal services…in areas related to law and technology, including First Amendment and media law. Our work…ranges from counseling freelance journalists threatened with defamation claims to representing amici in litigation on state anti-SLAPP laws.” Has the organization’s work changed under Trump? “Free expression has been a core value of the internet since its earliest days, and it faces increasing pressures from a range of sources, beyond President Trump’s suspicion of the media. As…more content comes under the control of a few large entities, it’s key to track the consequences and hold those organizations accountable. Policies aimed at reducing online harassment and combating ‘fake news’…may have significant impacts on free speech if not…narrowly tailored.” Who benefits from the organization’s work? “Ideally, both our clients and our students: the clients in that they receive free, high-quality legal services, and the students in that they develop their knowledge and professional skills.”

    Because of the administration’s anti-press…public persona, I have gotten a lot of calls from media.

    Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University (Roy Gutterman, director)

    What does the organization do? “[We] educate students and the public on…First Amendment values. We host events [and] speakers, and [give] the Tully Free Speech Award to a journalist who has faced significant turmoil in performing journalism…Last year, we honored Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who was in prison in Iran, …and a student told me afterward that meeting him changed her life.” Has the organization’s work changed under Trump? “Because of the administration’s anti-press…public persona, I have gotten a lot of calls from media. On campus, I have…participated in a number of speeches and teach-ins to help people understand the role of the First Amendment.” Who benefits from the organization’s work? “Students and the campus community are the primary beneficiaries…[We] have hosted some of the biggest events on campus [featuring] Daniel Ellsberg, Larry Flynt, and Mary Beth Tinker.”

    "I can’t explicitly relate requests to President Trump, but one wonders if there is a greater willingness to make more specious requests in a culture where the president is regularly caught misleading the public.

    New Media Rights at California Western School of Law (Art Neill, founder and executive director)

    What does the organization do? “We work primarily on the effect that overreach by rights-holders in the copyright and trademark space has on…freedom of speech. We provide legal services, education, and policy advocacy for creators—including journalists, startups, and consumers.” Has the organization’s work changed under Trump? “Anecdotally, we have seen an uptick in content takedown defense requests. In addition to that uptick, there is a significant uptick in the amount of [takedown] requests that are baseless. I can’t explicitly relate [those] requests to President Trump, but one wonders if there is a greater willingness to make more specious requests in a culture where the president is regularly caught misleading the public.” Who benefits from the organization’s work? Creators [and others] who need intellectual property, privacy, and media law expertise.And with the proliferation of nonprofit journalism projects, they…need the services any other new nonprofit or business needs. We [draft] contracts for [them], distribution agreements for their clients, and terms of use and privacy policies for their apps and websites. They also need to know how to form and structure the business.”

    Jonathan Peters is CJR’s press freedom correspondent. He is a media law professor at the University of Georgia, with posts in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the School of Law.
  • Journalism is a public service. We should fund it like one

    LOCAL NEWS IS IN DIRE STRAITS.

    In a quest for profit, publishers have gutted newsrooms and hollowed outcoverage of local communities. As the industry struggles to build the business model of the future, it’s missing an opportunity to embrace a funding mechanism that can enshrine journalism as a public service: the special service district.

    The United States currently hosts more than 30,000 special service districts, which fund everything from local fire departments and water infrastructure projects to sanitation services and hospitals. Special service districts are paid for by taxes or annual fees assessed in a geographic area; and, in turn, they deliver services to the communities that fund them. They can be created by town councils or voted into existence via referendum.

    During the past year, my colleagues and I at Community Information Districts worked to lay the foundation for a special service district model for local journalism. Journalists we spoke with were intrigued by the idea, though some become apprehensive when asked to view the proposal as a taxpayer. But we also spoke with taxpayers, who were generally receptive.

    At a series of New Jersey community forums on improving local media across the state, those residents in attendance understood the model and supported the mission. The community news and information needs raised at these events can be met, but not every community can currently support viable business models to meet those needs. That’s where a community information district (CiD) comes in.

    MY HOMETOWN OF FAIR LAWN, New Jersey, has a population of 32,000 people. An annual $40 contribution per household could deliver a $500,000 operating budget to a newsroom devoted to understanding and serving the local news and information needs of its community.

    That budget could support print or online newspapers, or livestreaming town council meetings. A special service district for local journalism could convene community forums or media literacy classes, launch a text message and email alert system, or pay for chatbots that answer locally relevant questions, like “Is alternate side parking in effect?”

    Access to news and information is key to democratic governance. The CiD model offers a financial engine for sustainable and radically local journalism.

    Each community could shape its own information district through a needs assessment or a targeted engagement campaign. To prevent political interference, a board of trustees made up of residents and community stakeholders, could oversee their local CiD. Communities could allocate funding through a participatory budgeting process, and hold regular referendums to determine whether or not it should reauthorize the CiD.

    Community information districts are not a cure-all, and there are obstacles to establishing them. Some communities might resist the notion of an additional tax. Others may not have the tax base to support such services in the first place. We are still looking for solutions to these issues, but they are not insurmountable. Next year, my colleagues and I plan to release a guide to help communities establish their own CiDs and navigate variations in state law. The guide will also establish good governance guidelines, offer samples of legislative language, and outline best practices in local journalism and community information for CiDs.

    Access to news and information is key to democratic governance. The CiD model offers a financial engine for sustainable and radically local journalism, which supports the regional and national press in turn. It provides a direct financial incentive for journalists to leave the coasts, deeply engage their communities, and prioritize the impact of their work above pageviews. CiDs could revitalize and sustain local news, rebuild trust, and increase civic engagement across the country.

  • Maine built boat tangos with Mississippi barges

    Every day I wake up shortly after the sun rises and pore over the charts and notes I made the night before as the Marine VHF gives the weather report in the background, to make sure we are ready for the day. Actually that’s not true. I usually try to disentangle myself from the mosquito net, somehow hop over Emily without waking her up (Emily is more of a night owl), usually trip over something (a rogue fender, cooking pan, water bottle, what not, shanty boat objects), I steady myself, crawl through a small opening in the canvas onto the fore deck, blink a couple of times, take in where am at, feel that nice cool breeze coming off the Mississippi, then I go in search for coffee (still haven’t figured out the cool Swedish stove Dale lent us that runs on ethanol alcohol). After all of this I finally take a look at the charts.

    Navigating the big muddy is a combination of planning, cross referencing Army Corps of Engineering charts with the Navionics app (a handy little app that acts like a GPS and shows the different depths of the river), treasure hunting for buoys (green cans and red nuns mark the channel, the green cans are on the right descending bank and the red nuns are on the left descending bank), and mile markers, checking things out with binoculars, improvising when unexpected things take place, yelling out commands, and a whole lot of dancing with barges. My tools are binoculars, charts, phone hooked up to a solar panel, Navionics app, Marine Traffic app, a goofy hat to keep the sun out of my face, a pen to continually record the time when we pass certain mile markers (good for calculating our speed and in case we lose Navionics) and where our gas level is at (handy for burn rate and knowing when we will need to anchor), and a blow horn in case s$%t really hits the fan.

    Me, Morgan Rogers, on the lookout

    I am always looking at barge traffic upriver and downriver. I’ll call out the names of the different barges heading our way: George King, A. Steve Crowley, Poindexter, Lil Charley, and so on. It usually goes something like this:

    Me: “Hey Emily, Poindexter is coming down river and looks like he will be on our port side, traveling at 6 knots and is 43m in length, we will likely run into them around that bend. We can pull in over there. The depth looks good.”

    Emily: “What?”

    [The engine is loud and wind is whipping around us. I need to yell louder.]

    Me: “Huge ass barge coming down river. Poindexter. Over there is a spot we can pull into.”

    [Emily gives the thumbs up and pulls Michi Zeebee in between the two wing dams where I have confirmed that the depth is okay (wing dam: a dam or barrier built into a stream to deflect the current – or as the way I see it, a good way to bang up the hull of your boat). Emily radios the barge and bounces back and forth with ease, knowing the limits of the boat. We do this little dance until the huge barge passes by then we motor back into the channel and continue on.]


    Captain Emily du Houx

    I then go back to looking for green cans, red nuns, and mile markers, while watching barge traffic, calculating our time to possible docking areas for every stretch of the river, and looking for escape routes for tough areas where the channel narrows and we might encounter a barge. On the long lazy stretches I will search for Eagles and spot them. We once saw a bald eagle fly right over the river across an American flag. Can’t get more American than that.


    Red nun buoy

    Now I sit here with a local brew writing to you all and poring over my notes for tomorrow. I have our anchor spots marked out, potential hazardous areas with points where we can pull into, and of course my dancing shoes for those barges out there. I might even look up how to operate that fancy Swedish stove tonight.

  • Waterville's Camp Ray of Hope for grieving families

     

    Anyone observing Camp Ray of Hope for the first time would never guess it’s a place for grieving families. They would see people of all ages participating in outdoor activities like boating and swimming, getting massages, eating treats around a campfire, and attending activities like cooking class and art centers.  Most important is that the viewer would see lots of laughter, hugging, and love.  What brings everyone together at Camp Ray of Hope is the common experience of the death of a significant person in their lives.

    Camp Ray of Hope is a weekend retreat held annually for those who have lost someone they love.  It was founded in 1995 to give grieving individuals and families a place to come together and learn new ways to cope with their loss, to meet others with similar circumstances, to remember special times, to make new friends, and to have fun.  Participants come from all over the state to spend time with their families as they process the death of their loved one.  Along with spending special time together, family members also participate in bereavement groups with others their own age.  Adults will be with adults, teens with teens, and children with children. For example, children of the same age gather together with trained bereavement group facilitators to write stories about their loved ones, draw pictures, participate in arts & crafts, and go on nature hikes all with the focus of finding healthy ways to express their confusion and anger.  The outcome is always healthy self-care techniques to help with understanding the loss.

    Camp Ray of Hope is also a safe place for individuals to participate in a weekend retreat to meet others who have lost someone dear to them.  Tears and talking about the loss of a loved one are welcomed and encouraged at the camp.  In fact, everyone at Camp Ray of Hope comes for the same reason: a broken heart from the loss of a loved one.  We are here to walk the path together in this serene and lovely environment where fresh air and healthy surroundings support inner peace and healing.  It’s a great place to remember your loved one and to spend some time healing with others.

    This year’s Camp Ray of Hope is from Friday, September 15 through Sunday, September 17 and is held at the beautiful Pine Tree Camp in Rome.  For more information please contact Jillian Roy, Bereavement Coordinator at Hospice Volunteers of Waterville at 207-873-3615

  • The Open Arts 8th Annual Rural Studio Tour 2017 - Central Maine

    Saturday, August 12th, 2017 

    Studios and Galleries open 10am to 6pm

    There's much more than mosquitos in Maine north of Route 2. In the rolling hills and farmlands surrounding Skowhegan, Maine is one of the most unique opportunities to visit the amazing home studios of fabulous artists at over 20 Central Maine locations. It's the 8th annual tour, hosted by Open Arts in association with The Wesserunsett Arts Council. The event is free of charge.

    August 12th from 10am to 6pm. See wonderful works in abstract, classical, pastel, mural, folk, metal, wood, pottery, sculpture, hand dyes, quilting, photography and more. Combined with many spectacular summer gardens, it promises to be day of art and beauty that shows that the Central Maine art community is like no other.

    Rural Open Studio 2017 artists: 

    Smithfield, Mercer, Norridgewock, Anson

    • David Ellis' Japanese-inspired pottery studio at the old Mercer Grange 

    • Kevin James, lakeside setting, beautiful paintings, wood works, custom floor cloths, "objet trouve"

    • Steve and MaryAnn Anderson He: whimsical metal work, blacksmithing. She: intricate quilting and fine stitchery

    • Lynne Harwood and Faith Gilbert, country inspired folk art, quilting and stitchery

    Solon and Wellington

    • Amanda Slamm and Mimosa Mack's Sprig Woodwork, A cut above ordinary. One-of-a-kind handmade bread boards, spoons, tongs, and more. 

    • Stu Silverstein’s never predictable abstracts 

    • Bernie Beckman “reinvention of the figure” abstract paintings, wood-cut prints 

    • South Solon Meetinghouse - spectacular frescoes in an historic and much beloved community building

    Canaan & Palmyra

    • Heather Kerner's  fiber arts, hand made and dyed wool felt and silks 

    • Barbara Joseph  making the ordinary “extra-ordinary” via photography 

    • Kathleen Perelka's pastel paintings of Maine in Canaan 

    • Doug Frati unique carvings giving new life to antique wood

    Ripley & Hartland 

    • Wally Warren’s  found object art whimsy, bright and bold, an unforgettable campus of color 

    • Joe Kennedy's plumbing parts, glass and metal blended, reinvented

    • Olena Babak - classical works and contemporary pleinair, award winning  

    • Russ Cox, illustrator extraordinaire

    Downtown Skowhegan artists & galleries: 

    • Rama Crystal Brown’s Water Street studio creating “balance through chaos”

    • Central Maine Artist's Gallery, River Roads Artisan's Gallery and OpenStudio@14 Madison Avenue. Artists include C. Abbott Meader, Forrest Meader, Linda Swift, Mary Burr and more. 

    Don't miss: The Skowhegan stretch of the Bernard Langlais Art Trail while you’re downtown.

    Mobile tour map at www.OpenStudioMaine.org. 

    Printed maps at various locations in Skowhegan and Waterville including River Roads Artisan’s Gallery, Central Maine Artist’s Gallery and OpenStudio@14 Madison Avenue. 

     (Please note: The artist studios are located in rural locations; your preferred online mapping systems may not be accurate.)

     For more information, message us or write openstudiomaine@gmail.com or call 207-696-0857. 

  • Proposed EPA budget cuts puts Maine’s coast, public health, and economy at risk

    By Ramona du Houx

    President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would have dramatic negative impacts on coastal tourism, the health of Maine residents, sea-level rise, air pollution, and Maine’s tourism economy.

    “President Trump's EPA budget could spoil Maine coastal towns, beaches, water, and air. The Trump Administration and its allies in Congress are endangering our children and communities by pushing to gut environmental protections that are critical to Maine people and our economy,” said Emmie Theberge, Federal Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) at a news conference in Scarborough Beach State Park.

     The White House budget proposal singles out the EPA for the deepest cuts of any federal agency, causing widespread concerns in Maine about the potential impacts of these cuts if they are enacted. The Trump Administration is pushing a budget proposal that would slash EPA programs that reduce pollution in Maine, save the lives of Maine people, and strengthen our communities and economy.

    “Sea-level rise could cause widespread economic impacts and costly property damage in Maine communities up and down the coast. Maine can’t afford to have EPA turn its back on climate science and the resources needed to help states prepare. These cuts mean more asthma attacks for our kids, more health problems for Maine’s elderly, and more ‘Code Red’ bad air days when vulnerable people must stay indoors,” said Theberge.

    EPA programs that help protect Maine people from dangerous air pollution are slated for deep cuts. Maine already has one of the highest asthma rates in the country, and more air pollution would mean more emergency room visits, more hospitalizations, and more premature deaths. According to the Maine Center for Disease Control, more than 8,000 emergency department visits and 1,000 hospitalizations occur in Maine each year due to asthma.

    “I came here today to urge Senators Collins and King to keep Maine’s air clean for thousands of kids like me who suffer from asthma, and for everyone else, too,” says Hunter Lachance, a high school student from Kennebunkport. “Asthma is no fun. It is scary when I can’t breathe and I need to miss school and hang out indoors on dangerous air days.”

    In 2008, the estimated direct cost of asthma in Maine was $264 million. In its 2017 State of the Air report, the American Lung Association gave Cumberland County a grade D rating and York County received a grade F—each county having numerous unhealthy air days.

    Proposed deep cuts in the Trump budget in EPA air pollution programs would slow Maine’s ability to reduce air pollution.

    “On those days when Maine's air is polluted, I regularly see patients with respiratory problems," says Dr. Tony Owens, an emergency room physician at Maine Medical Center. "It is especially heartbreaking when a serious asthma attack sends a child to the ER when they should be outside playing. We need federal protections because carbon emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes in other states contribute to air pollution here in Maine. Thank goodness we have an emergency room for medical treatment; too bad there isn't one for our planet."

    In addition to health impacts, the group at the press conference also brought attention to two threats Maine’s beaches and coastal communities face: sea-level rise and increased pollution.

    More than 12 million people visit Maine’s beaches each year contributing more than $1.6 billion annually to Maine’s economy, according to a NRCM report.

    “Sea-level changes could dramatically affect Maine’s coastal towns in the coming years,” says State Representative Lydia Blume, D-York. Rep. Blume is a member of the Marine Resources Committee and founder of the Maine Legislature’s Coastal Caucus. “Rising sea levels and strong storms have already caused beach erosion and destruction of roads and sea walls in Maine.”

     Sea-level rise and coastal flooding already are posing a threat to roads, infrastructure, homes, and property. Scarborough Beach, like all of Maine’s coastal regions, is threatened by sea-level rise.

    Maine’s climate is changing and the impacts could be devastating for our state’s economy, environment, and quality of life.

     The Gulf of Maine is more susceptible to sea-level rise because it is an enclosed basin—so it is rising faster than other places. There is only a one-foot difference between the Gulf’s 10-year and 100-year flood levels, which means that a moderate amount of sea-level rise would create significant problems.

    In fact, the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans, threatening Maine’s fishing industry and thousands of Mainers who make a living from the sea. Combined with ocean acidification, Maine’s multi-billion-dollar coldwater fisheries from shrimp to lobsters is at risk.

    “Maine’s coast is major driver of our economy, providing jobs in fishing, tourism, boatbuilding, and shipping,” said Rep. Blume. “Our communities and state depend on EPA and other federal resources to ensure that we have access to the best science and information so that local planners and town officials can ensure we’re prepared for sea-level rise along our coast.”

    In addition to sea-level rise, Maine’s beaches are threatened by increased pollution. Water quality at Maine’s beaches sometimes fails health standards. For example, in 2012, the State issued 194 beach closings or advisories to alert beachgoers to unhealthy conditions. Beach water pollution can cause a range of illnesses, including skin rashes, infections, stomach flu, and neurological disorders.

    The Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to EPA would eliminate funds used by Maine Department of Environmental Protection to issue these advisories and to monitor beach water-quality. Ferry Beach in Scarborough has benefited from Maine’s Healthy Beaches Program, which would be terminated if these proposed cuts pass.

    Taking action, a letter signed by more than 70 organizations in Maine was sent to Maine’s Congressional delegation urging them to do “everything possible” to maintain EPA’s budget “at no less than current funding levels. The health of our air, water, people, and economy is at stake.” A petition from more than 1,000 Maine citizens was also sent to the delegation.

    “These cuts would be especially bad here in Maine, where our environment, economy, and way of life are so tightly intertwined,” added Theberge. “We are counting on our Congressional delegation to stand up for Maine and fight to defeat these cuts and other rollbacks proposed in Washington that would hurt our health, economy, and way of life.”

  • Maine built boat is tested by waves on Lake Pepin in the Mississippi

    Morgan first heard about Lake Pepin from a tugboat captain who worked on the river all his life (this was not mentioned in our post “Words of Advice,” but it really should have been). He told her she should just get a boat to tow Zeebee across Pepin. We also read about the lake on various Mississippi blogs. It was often mentioned as the “most dangerous part of the Upper Mississippi” or “no joke.” This is why we spent much of yesterday docked and hanging out for another night at Muddy Waters getting free dinner and drinks with Jim Toner and his buddy Joey and all the nice people of Prescott, Wisconsin. My friend Rebecca, who was visiting from Nebraska and who keeps popping up at the places we dock after having her own land-based adventures, joined us again as we waited out the tornado warnings with conversation, even though there were no tornadoes, and as we waited out the hail warnings, even though there were clear blue and pink skies. The next morning we felt pretty confident about the forecast. I saw a low-lying cumuloniumbus on the horizon but shrugged it off. I figured it was yesterday’s storm clearing. Also — mistake #2: we didn’t gas up before heading out. And we were a day behind and trying to make up time.

    About halfway across Pepin, where the waves were just starting to whitecap, we found ourselves almost on E trying to round a strip of land to get to calmer, shallower waters and drop anchor to gas up. Twenty minutes later, gas full and anchor up, I turned the key in the ignition just as the barge George King rounded the corner behind us, and nothing happened. The motor didn’t start. Not even a cough or a sputter, and we were drifting into the channel. Morgan radioed King “we’re dead in the water on your port side and drifting” and King sputtered something back that seemed like “copy.” The barge was moving slowly so I ran around squeezing the gas uptake, checking the lines, unscrewing wingnuts from the battery to check the connection, doing all the obvious things I remembered from my days of owning cars that broke down regularly in the hope that tinkering would reveal an obvious answer to our problem; nothing did. Remembering her experiences with motorcycles, Morgan thought the engine could be flooded, so, drifting ever closer to the King, we re-anchored, emptied gasoline from the tank, gunned Zeebee in neutral, turned the key, and she came to life just as King passed us in the channel. We turned to take her wake. Some small disaster averted, but all this meant that we lost an hour and the goal was to cross the whole lake in one go, not only for the sake of making our next stop on time but also because we didn’t want to have to anchor in a potentially dangerous area. So we pushed on with the night falling.

    For a stretch the water was nothing but beautiful. Lake Pepin was surrounded by hills that alternated from chiseled, shining slabs of what looked like light brown clay and thickly forested, lush greenery that continued right to the water, where massive pieces of driftwood bore their root systems skyward. Some places, where a single tree stood on an outcropping of rocks backed by pastel shades, looked tropical, and others, where the hills billowed and crested with lines of naturally manicured trees, seemed Mediterranean. In the distance we saw boats with their sails full. As we pushed on with the motor blatting I wished we also had a sail.

    When we neared the other side of the lake the light dropped from clear to gold, and the wind picked up so that by the time we were almost across there were 60% whitecaps. The wind was North-west, meaning it was at our backs, but if it had been coming straight for us our hull would have been pounded. Even so, I could see Zeebee rising and dipping more than I ever expected our small raft to rise and fall. Morgan said she was plastered to the front of the boat as the bow dove into each successive trough, holding on and waiting for the Big Wave that would take her out. She later said she heard me singing above as I captained and that’s when she knew things were getting hairy. They were. We moved some cargo to the aft to raise the bow so it wouldn’t duck under, and to put the propeller further in the water because it was popping up on some waves.

    Earlier in the day we had to pass a barge and another oncoming houseboat in a very narrow stretch of the Mississippi with an wing dams on one side and shallow water on the other—we took Zeebee out of the channel and just bounced back and forth between two wing dams as the traffic passed us—and that felt like an obstacle overcome, but the increasingly darkening and deepening waters on the border of Pepin made me all but forget that incident.

    We eventually spotted a marina where we could take shelter, but getting beyond the breakwater that protected it and into its narrow entrance, where a sailboat and a motor boat were exiting, seemed all but impossible. Still, I couldn’t stop. We would completely lose control of our steering, and then either drift onto the breakwater, which was nearby, the marina entrance, which was also nearby, or another boat. As I turned the boat portside the wind was no longer at our backs; it was pushing us sideways, so I turned in at an angle to maintain some control, but still we shot into the harbor where all the yachts were neatly docked. As we entered the marina Morgan put out fenders on both port and starboard just in case. I spotted the first free space that was out of the wind, reduced speed a little, kept the dock at an angle to portside, and went for it. It was a hot landing, but not so hot that it burned the side of the boat or any other boat for that matter. Morgan hopped out with a dock line and hooked it around a cleat and I cut the engine. We guided her in with lines next to another houseboat. We later found out that the wind was at 10-13 knots as we entered the marina, a litte higher than the forecast predicted and a little higher than Zeebee should take.