Saturday, October 20th, 2018

News Briefs

Posted on February 08, 2016 in Briefly, News
By USM Free Press

Local & State


Presidential race may be causing Mainers to overlook ballot initiatives


The country will be electing a new president in 2016, but Maine voters will have a lot more to think about than just who they want to be their next president. Some believe that it’s possible that because it’s a big election year, some ballot measures are being overlooked.


In November, voters will be deciding on six potential ballot measures, including raising the minimum wage for the state, legalizing marijuana and mandating background checks on private gun sales.


As of now, only the establishment ranked-choice voting has qualified for the ballot. The other measures are still going through the validation process to make sure that all signatures are valid, and that the right amount of signatures were obtained.


While some believe that the ballot measures are getting pushed to the side because of the presidential race, others think that because it is a presidential election year, this will increase voter turnout in November, which in turn could help certain ballot measures.


Power company donates award-winning book to Maine schools and libraries for 16 consecutive years


Central Maine Power has donated the award-winning book Nana in the City to more than 600 public and private schools, as well as libraries, across the state. This is the 16th straight year Central Maine Power has been donating this book to schools and libraries.


“We’re happy to donate this wonderful book to the libraries and schools we serve,” Sara Burns, president and CEO of Central Maine Power, said. “We hope Nana and the City will spark a love for reading and creativity that lasts a lifetime.”


Nana in the City tells the story of a young boy who takes a trip to the big city to visit his grandmother. At first, the noises and crowds scare the boy, but with a little help from his grandma, that fear quickly turns into excitement.


Donating books is just one of the things that Central Maine Power does to help prepare children to lead productive lives: They also provide scholarships to those who plan on studying engineering or want to participate in technology programs.


Maine lawmakers to consider making punishments harsher for drug offenders


Maine Attorney General Janet Mills spoke in front of the legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee, proposing a bill that would make the possession of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and various other drugs a felony.


According to Mills, under the current law, the punishment for possession is nothing more than a “slap on the wrist.”


“I know that facing a lengthy sentence is sometimes the only motivating factor for someone to confront their addiction and get the treatment they need,” Mills said.


Rep. Mick Devin was opposed to Mills’ plan, stating that the state should be more focused on locking up drug dealers rather than on locking up people who have become addicted. Devin proposed that a first offense for possession should be left as a misdemeanor, but that a second offense could be charged as a felony.




Florida prepares for potential Zika virus outbreak


The Zika virus, a disease transmitted through mosquitos and that has been wreaking havoc in South America, has Florida officials preparing for the worst


Because of Florida’s warm climate, which can house mosquitoes year-round, and the amount of international travellers that come to Florida, the state is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the virus. Door-to-door inspections have increased in neighborhoods where 12 Zika cases have been reported, but officials say that these individuals contracted the virus while travelling abroad.


“With 20 million people and over 100 million tourists, we need the CDC to immediately provide these kits to Florida so we can protect our families and of course all of our visitors,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at a Tampa news conference.


Gov. Scott has also asked the CDC for 1,000 kits to test for viral antibodies in pregnant women. The state currently has 500 tests on hand.


President Obama wants to impose fee to insure cleaner transportation of oil


President Obama wants oil companies to pay a $10 fee per barrel of oil transported, which will help fund investments for clean transportation that will help fight climate change. The bill will be presented to Congress on Tuesday and is already expected to face opposition from the Republicans .


Despite the opposition, Obama hopes that this bill will at least start a conversation about the need for energy producers to start helping fund efforts for clean transportation.


The $10 fee would be phased in over the next five years, and is projected to provide $20 billion per year which can be used for investing in cleaner transportation. The American Petroleum Institute states that the fee would raise the cost of gas by 25 cents.


Democrats debate just days before New Hampshire primaries


After Martin O’Malley dropped out of the presidential race, the Democratic debate, which took place a few days before the New Hampshire primaries, featured a head-to-head, with Vermont senator Bernie Sanders against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


Sanders began his opening statement by warning the American public that almost all new income that is created goes to the top one percent, all while Americans continue to work longer hours for low wages.


Clinton attacked Sanders for not being progressive enough on the issue of gun control, stating that he voted against the Brady Bill five times and that he voted to give gun makers and sellers immunity.


Sanders fired back, saying that Clinton is too influenced by Wall Street to follow through on her claims to break them up, pointing out that she has accepted millions of dollars in speaking fees from Wall Street firms, and that some of her top donors are big Wall Street banks.




WikiLeaks founder feels vindicated after U.N. panel ruled he was being arbitrarily detained


Julian Assange, founder of the website WikiLeaks, has been on the run from governments across the globe for the last few years after he stole documents and started releasing government secrets through the website.


Last Friday, a U.N. panel ruled in favor of Assange, saying that the Swedish and U.K. governments have been detaining him arbitrarily since 2010. While the U.N. ruled in his favor, Assange doesn’t appear ready to test his luck just yet. e remains at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.


Assange is still wanted in Sweden on allegations of rape, and he said that he fears if he leaves the embassy he will be extradited to the United States to face the death penalty over allegations of revealing top secret government information.


Norway’s taking weapons away from police after allowing them for just one year


In November of 2014, Norwegian police officers were ordered to be armed at all times, whereas before that police officers were to keep their guns locked up in their cars. This new experiment last about 14 months, and last Wednesday, officers in Norway were ordered to go back to locking up their firearms.


The experiment started when a threat assessment made in October 2014 found that Norway was to be a likely recipient of a terrorist attack within the next 12 months. In 2015, another threat assessment was made, claiming that there was no longer any threat.


After the 2015 assessment, Norway got ready to lock their guns up once again, but after the terrorist attacks in Paris, they decided to temporarily extend the arming of police.


During the year of being fully armed while on the job, there was reportedly no increase in the number of incidents involving police firearms. Many officials credit this to the high levels of training Norwegian police officers are given to restrain from using their weapons unless absolutely necessary.


All information gathered for Briefs was taken from: The Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald, CNN and The New York Times.

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