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Maine News

Friday, December 21, 2007

Maine News for Friday, December 21, 2007


Five Maine Guardsmen talk about life after Mosul

Lott's Senate departure sends ripples felt in Maine The state's senior U.S. senator – a friend of the retiring Mississippi lawmaker – stands to gain committee influence.

FairPoint deal gets closer to PUC vote Parties in the Maine case settle more issues, making regulator approval of the Verizon sale more likely.

Double duty: Soldier, activist Chris Rushlau protested the Iraq war, but served and was wounded.

College pledges scholarships for Mainers Unity College officials hope their $2,000 offer to 2008 enrollees will erode money barriers.

EDITORIAL: Why can't spending cuts go with tax change? Once again, gridlock leads to a larger federal deficit, and the economy loses.

LTE: Who should fund Downeaster?

LTE: Health-care providers' moral convictions matter


The warmth of kindness Friday, December 21, 2007Bangor, Maine - Eastern Maine program helps low-income residents heat, weatherize their homes

Baldacci eyes railway expansionFriday, December 21, 2007AUGUSTA, Maine - Gov. John Baldacci said Thursday that he remains committed to expanding freight and passenger rail systems in the state's future, despite a recent $95 million setback in the two-year budget cycle that began July 1.

PUC hearing finds deal fair to all parties Friday, December 21, 2007AUGUSTA, Maine - Several parties involved in the proposed sale of Verizon’s land lines in northern New England to FairPoint Communications agreed Thursday to amend a settlement accord they had reached last week.

EDITORIAL: The county cop optionFriday, December 21, 2007If Abraham Lincoln was the Great Emancipator, Gov. John Baldacci may go down in Maine history as the Great Consolidator. The governor’s efforts to merge state departments, school administrative districts and jails are well-intentioned steps toward reduced government spending.

Editorial: Christian prioritiesFriday, December 21, 2007At a time when the state is cutting back assistance to the elderly, children and the poor, you might reasonably assume that the Christian Civic League of Maine would have larger concerns than the bathroom practices of an elementary school student.

John Richardson: Support Maine by buying locallyThis holiday season: think Maine. As the winter, snow and holidays descend upon us, I started thinking of all the little ways people can make their holiday traditions have a bit more of Maine in them.

Friday's Letters to the Letter … Smelling the flowers … Valley land correction … Buy up the poppies … One human race … Moosehead equilibrium … Something fishy


Lott's resignation and move to lobbying may help Snowe shape Maine's economy WASHINGTON -- When Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., announced in July that he would hold an informal "seersucker suit Thursday," Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, scoffed at the idea.

AUGUSTACharter review blasts off AUGUSTA -- The newly formed group with the ability to propose sweeping changes to nearly every aspect of city government started right off with a spirited debate while electing a chairperson Thursday.
On Maine Politics

Local merger plans gain approval The proposed consolidation plan of every local school district now complies with a state school reorganization law, with the exception of one small school system already working on coming into line.

CONSOLIDATIONChelsea finds a partner WHITEFIELD -- Whitefield School Committee members agreed this week to include Chelsea in its consolidated regional school unit.

Baldacci to next Prez: Help us at home

EDITORIAL: Funding lock for Downeaster is premature In 1991, 90,000 signatures were submitted to the Maine Legislature requesting the return of passenger rail service to the state. That led to adoption of the Passenger Rail Service Act later that year and the ultimate establishment of the Downeaster train service between Portland and Boston.

L. SANDY MAISEL : Most candidates won't win, but they earn honors anyway As 2007 draws to a close, in this, my final column of 2007, I want to recognize some of those who have contributed to this special year.


Old bridge's fate unclear NEW SHARON -- State representatives promised Thursday night to work with local selectmen in finding a solution to the closed Main Street bridge over Muddy Brook.

LTE: Bush telling truth about nuclear weapons Frankly, I'm tired of hearing all agitprop about how Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

LTE: Put the 'public' back in PUC What part of the word "public" does the Public Utilities Commission not understand? When I read in the Morning Sentinel (Dec. 12) that they were having "secret" meetings, I knew it would only be a matter of time before the "deal" was OK'd.


Bangor Hydro gets OK for rate dropBANGOR (AP) - Bangor Hydro Electric Company customers are getting a Christmas present from the utility.

LTE: Built to collapsePresident Bush is requesting more money for Iraq and Afghanistan. Billions of tax dollars have been wasted on the wars and reconstruction of Iraq. I believe much of the reconstruction money has been mismanaged, stolen and squandered. The total mismanaged money is around $8.8 billion, including Iraq money.


BLRA's mission accomplishedBRUNSWICK— The mood was largely celebratory and nostalgic on Wednesday afternoon, as the Brunswick Local Redevelopment Authority ended its nearly two...(full story)

Feds: Maine owes $30M over Medicaid issueAUGUSTA — The Office of the Inspector General says Maine needs to pay back the federal government nearly $30 million because services that money...(full story)

LTE: Directive to CongressWhen did President Bush learn that Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program" in 2003 as the U.S. director of national intelligence recently reported? According to Bush's own...(full story)


Banks Create Fund To Refinance Motgage LoansMainers facing the spector of increased interest payments on their home mortgages could get some relief from a new program announced by the New England banking industry in Boston today. Five banks have joined forces in initiating a $125 million fund to help certain borrowers refinance out of their adjustable rate mortgages, before they jump to higher rates. Keith Shortall reports.

Maine DEP Commissioner Blasts EPA DecisionMaine's commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection is joining environmentalists from Maine and around the country in condemning a decision by the Bush Administration to reject California's request to establish greenhouse gas emission standards for motor vehicles. In the absence of federal action, Maine and more than 16 other states had been seeking similar approval to combat climate change. As Susan Sharon reports, Congress and the courts are likely to take up the EPA's position.

Effort Launched To Make Oil Last LongerAs social service agencies scramble to provide heating oil for needy Mainers, a collaboration of Eastern Maine non-profits and businesses is kicking off an effort to make each gallon of oil go further. At a Bangor trailer park today, Eastern Maine Funders said that dollars spent on weatherization bring five times the return of those spent directly on filling oil tanks. Murray Carpenter reports.


Federal budget bill delays Canadian border passport requirement


Pingree picks up a set of endorsements
Democrat Chellie Pingree, the former State Senate Majority Leader and Common Cause president who is running for the First Congressional District seat, is announcing a set of endorsements of thirty-five current and former lawmakers. read more »

Kerry fundraises for Allen
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is running for re-election in 2008 and today he has sent out a fundraising appeal to supporters– except it’s not for himself. It’s for U.S. Senate candidates Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Udall of Colorado, Tom Allen of Maine, and Jeff Merkely of Oregon. read more »


NLIHC Praises Senate Introduction of Bill to Create National Housing Trust Fund ...
The bill was introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) with the tripartisan co-sponsorship of Senators Olympia Snow (R-ME), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA).


Maine’s Lower Penobscot Forest Project Awarded $3.25 Million in ...
BANGOR, MAINE — December 20, 2007 — Federal funding for the Lower Penobscot Forest Project was announced today by Maine’s Congressional delegation, Maine Department of Conservation, The Nature Conservancy and The Forest Society of Maine. The project received $3.25 million in Forest Legacy funding in the FY08 federal budget—the largest award this project has ever received. … “I am pleased that this budget deal includes substantial support for the Lower Penobscot Forest project," said Senator Susan Collins. "This significant commitment acknowledges the importance of protecting tens of thousands of acres of unspoiled land, including the largest unfragmented forests in Central Maine, for generations of Maine people to enjoy.” … "For several years now, I have successfully led the effort in the House to advocate for additional funding for the Forest Legacy program,” added Congressman Tom Allen. “This year, I was very pleased that we were able to designate these funds for the Lower Penobscot project. This innovative conservation initiative will preserve this truly remarkable area for future generations and serve as a model for Forest Legacy projects nationwide."


Elliot Spitzer – Hoist By His Own Petard
Over a dozen states including Maine, Georgia, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, Washington, and New Hampshire have opted out the REAL ID ACT. Senators Daniel Akaka, D-HI, and John Sununu R-NH, have introduced legislation to repeal the Real ID act, while congressman Tom Allen (D.ME) have introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to repeal act.


USA. New energy bill addresses recreational boating industry's ...
In June, Congressmen John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and Charlie Melancon (R-La.) sponsored an amendment to the original bill to include a review process before considering raising the ethanol content above ten percent that was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Earlier this month Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) sent a letter to President Bush urging his administration to carefully evaluate the effects of ethanol blends on equipment not designed to operate on fuels greater than E10.


Condoleeza Rice, Charlie Summers & the AMG Mug

The Barrel’s Bottom: New Tax Ideas for Maine!
Unused rollover minutes. Cans, bottles languishing behind the barn, never returned for their 5 cents. Cable channels you never watch. Re-gifted Christmas presents.

Congress OKs VA-Tech Gun Bill: Will It Become Law?
The bill would more easily flag prospective gun buyers who have documented mental health problems.

EPA Rejects Maine's Greenhouse-Gas Limits on Cars
The Bush administration Wednesday derailed an attempt by California and 12 other states to enact the nation's first greenhouse gas-limits on new vehicles.

The Opposite of Progress is Congress…
This little video is a nice statement on the concept of just what it means to look at life from a progressive perspective.

Why Maine - and our nation - needs Tom Allen in the Senate
Atrios and Digby both point to something that has been in plain sight for months: that the strategy of the GOP will be to obstruct most efforts by the Democratically controlled Congress. This report (pdf warning) by the Campaign for America's Future details what the mainstream media refuses to tell us: that Republicans in the Senate are using the same tactics that they lamented just last year to block legislation that they object to.

Mizrahi staying at The Israel Project
The Israel Project also announced that five U.S. senators and one member of Congress have joined its board of directors. They are Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.), and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.). Americans beware. The Israel Project is a pro-Israeli outfit which was behind some of the campus witchhunts of recent years.