Saturday, May 23

Maine virus cases jump

Maine coronavirus cases are up 51% in the past seven days compared to the previous week. The death rate in the state, however, is 4.2% of cases compared to 6.0% for the country as a  whole.

World War II in Maine

News of a memorial created for those lost during WWII off Cape Elizabeth aboard the USS Eagle, brings back some other memories

Sam Smith - The Atlantic coast was far more dangerous during WWII than Americans realized. Years after the war it would be revealed that in the first months 46 merchant ships were sunk off the east coast. Another 126 would be sunk before the war was over. And Portland, ME was among the first targets for U-boats after war was declared. At least three U-boats were sunk near Casco Bay – one five miles southeast of the Portland sea buoy, one off Small Point and the other seven miles off
Halfway Rock after being spotted by shore gunners on Bailey’s Island.

On April 23, 1945 – as Stephen Puleo describes in Due to Enemy Action – the 200 foot USS Eagle was sunk less than five miles southeast of Cape Elizabeth by U-853. Thirteen of the crew survived only to be informed by Navy officials that the sinking had been caused by their ship’s boiler having exploded and thus they were not entitled to the Purple Heart. It was not surprising the Navy wanted to cover up the cause; after all the war was almost over and no naval vessel had yet been lost off the New England coast.

On May 5, the captains of U-boats received word from Berlin that they were to surrender. The commander of one wrote later, “Henceforth we would be able to live without fear that we had to die tomorrow. An unknown tranquility took possession of me as I realized that I had survived. My death in an iron coffin, a verdict of long standing, was finally suspended.”

The commander of U-853, however, either did not get the word or chose to ignore it. That afternoon he sank a freighter off Point Judith, RI commencing a chase that ended with the sub on the ocean floor with all crew members dead.

A day later, the war was formally over.

The U-boat story even came closer to home than that. Emily Rhoades lived part of the war on Bowman’s Island off the end of Wolf Neck. One night, around midnight, she went out to get some water at the well. Standing by the well was a man all dressed in black including a black mask. He put his finger to his mouth and pointed her back to the house. There was little doubt about how he had gotten there.

It would take over a half century of dogged effort, however, for the survivors of the USS Eagle sinking to finally receive their Purple Hearts for an incident the Navy hadn’t wanted to admit had occurred.

Among the Navy ships using Casco Bay was the battleship Missouri which moored right off Clapboard Island. Years after she had departed, the mammoth buoy of the vessel on whose deck the Japanese surrendered remained as a memento as it lazily filled with water and finally sank.

Thursday, May 14

Collins casts deciding vote allowing access to Americans’ browsing histories without warrant

Maine Beacon - On Wednesday, Senator Susan Collins voted against a proposed amendment to an expansion of the PATRIOT Act that would have required federal intelligence investigators to show probable cause before accessing an individual’s web browsing information and search history. To advance, the amendment required support from 60 senators. It fell one vote short. Both parties were split on the measure, with Republicans and Democrats voting both for and against the amendment. Independent Angus King of Maine was one of the 59 votes in favor.

Tuesday, April 28

Maine's new reopening timline



The number of new cases in the past seven days is 8% above that of the previous week. The death rate of cases for the past seven day is 4.7% or 37% above that of the previous week.

Saturday, April 11

Third warmest winter in Maine

Goggle - Maine experienced third warmest winter on record. Despite the surprise wintry weather last Thursday, according to the National Weather Service's official “seasonal report,” the average temperature for Maine's just-completed winter was 4.6 degrees above normal, tying it with the third warmest winter on record

Saturday, March 7

Medical Cannabis Is Now Maine’s Third Largest Economic Market

: Medical Cannabis Is Now State’s Third Largest Economic Market

Popular Resistance - The annual revenues related to medical cannabis are more than the total revenues generated by the sales of blueberries, maple syrup, apples, herring, and oysters combined. Only the state’s lobster industry and potato industry bring in more annual revenue.

Tuesday, February 25

How Maine could improve recycling

Natural Resources Council of Maine -  A bill being heard by lawmakers on Wednesday will help save taxpayers money and improve Maine’s struggling recycling programs by asking large corporations to share in responsibility for managing the flood of wasteful packaging entering the state.

LD 2104 would apply a proven solution called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging that is already being used in 47 jurisdictions across the world, including the entire European Union and five Canadian provinces. EPR creates a structure in which multi-national corporations help ensure the long-term viability of recycling by reimbursing towns for the cost of managing wasteful packaging materials.

“Nearly 60% of our waste now is comprised of non-recyclable packaging and we have no option except to include these plastics with our household trash,” said John Shepard, Town of Union selectman and board president of the TriCounty Solid Waste Management Organization. “LD 2104 will help start us down the path of reducing waste by asking packaging manufacturers to share in the responsibility of tackling the mountains and oceans of plastic trash we are producing and bequeathing to our descendants.”

Under EPR, producers of packaging materials would have a direct economic incentive to produce less-wasteful packaging that can be more easily and profitably managed by municipalities. Hundreds of international brands sold in Maine including Amazon, Best Buy, Kimberly Clark, Hasbro, Home Depot, McDonald’s, Mattel, Nabisco, Samsung, Tyson, Unilever, and Wal-Mart are already participating in existing EPR programs worldwide.

"Taxpayers have for too long been paying for a waste problem they didn’t create,” said Sarah Nichols, Sustainable Maine Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “LD 2104 will make Maine’s recycling programs more effective, sustainable, and equitable by incentivizing waste reduction and requiring producers to compensate municipalities for recycling costs.”

 The Maine Department of Environmental Protection drafted LD 2104 the in response to a resolve passed by the Maine Legislature in 2019. The bill will receive a public hearing before the Legislature’s Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Wednesday February 26, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 216 of the Cross Building in Augusta.

To learn more about LD 2104 visit or listen to a 12-minute explainer on Soundcloud with NRCM’s Sarah Nichols.