Saturday, January 25, 2014

Speaking on American Nations, Carlisle, Mass., Jan. 26

For those in Boston's northwesterly suburbs, I'll be speaking about American Nations tomorrow afternoon, Sunday Jan. 26, in Carlisle, Massachusetts.

The patrons of the Gleason Public Library in Carlisle were kind enough to select American Nations as this year's Carlisle Reads title, and I'm pleased to be able to present the book and answer questions in person.

The 2 pm  event actually takes place at the Corey Auditorium in the Carlisle Public School in Church Street.

The day before yesterday I had an enjoyable time as the guest and guest speaker of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University. The daily there, the Grand Rapids Press, has this write up from Jeffrey Kaczmarczy, who I was able to sit down with earlier in the day. (I also taped a lengthy segment with Patrick Center at Western Michigan's Public Television affiliate, WGVU, which I gather will run in February.)

Thanks again to Hauenstein and GVSU for having me and for all who came to the event; I had a genuinely enjoyable time.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

In Smithsonian, a newly-discovered account of Blackbeard's final days

The newsstand edition cover.
Subscribers of Smithsonian Magazine should be receiving their February 2014 issue right about now and -- unlike the newsstand edition -- it has Blackbeard on the cover.

Inside of either edition, you'll find my story on Blackbeard's final days, including an exclusive, newly-revealed eyewitness account of his final ship captures. These documents were discovered by underwater explorer Mike Daniel, the man who found the wreck of Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, back in 1996. There's also a suite of other recent discoveries, some of which post-date the 2007 publication of my book, The Republic of Pirates, which by coincidence was released in the United Kingdom a few days ago.

So enjoy, and give Republic of Pirates a read if you find you're wanting to know more.

For those following along, my last piece for Smithsonian Magazine was on the "Great Pyramids of Bosnia" and the dangers of pseudo-science in the December 2009 issue.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ex-con unsmaked by Maine tribe seeks job in California under another name

I have an update today on the strange case of Charles Fourcloud -- or whatever name he's going by in your state -- the former Passamaquoddy tribal finance director unmasked in September as an ex-con embezzler who stole millions from a tribe in South Dakota in the 1990s and has been bouncing around the country for the past five years, applying to finance jobs at small tribes in remote areas.

As you can read in today's Portland Press Herald, Fourcloud was in a remote corner of California last Friday, applying for another tribal finance director job under an assumed name. Officials there say they were about to offer him the position when colleagues in Alaska pointed them to one of my previous Press Herald stories, which included a photo of "Fourcloud" (dba Arlynn Knudsen at al.)

One small correction. Fourcloud is apparently not yet facing fresh charges here in Maine -- the new motion for the return of property was filed by his attorney, the D.A. in Calais old me this morning when he finally got back to me. The investigation into his activities in Maine is still ongoing.

Policy question: why can't Maine county courts provide basic information on cases short of receiving a written request by U.S. post  which they will only respond to in like fashion? As the twerps might say: #Obstruction #TheseArePublicRecords #JoinThe21stCentury

In any case, enjoy. And do your criminal background checks.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Speaking on American Nations at Michigan's Hauenstein Center, Jan. 23

For those in western Michigan, I'll be speaking about American Nations at the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies in Grand Rapids this Thursday evening, January 23.

The talk is part of the Center's American Conversations series. The previous series speaker was also from Maine: former Sen. Olympia Snowe, who spoke there last month about her recent book (which, by another coincidence, I reviewed for the Washington Post.)

The talk is at 7pm at the Loosemore Auditorium, 401 W. Fulton Street, and you can register here.
Hauenstein Center is part of Grand Valley State University.

My next American Nations talk is in Carlisle, Massachusetts Sunday afternoon, January 26 at the Carlisle Public School. It's hosted by the Gleason Public Library and is part of this year's Carlisle Reads event, for which American Nations is the featured book.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A nice honor from the Washington Post

Thanks to the Washington Post's GovBeat for including me in this morning's feature, "The Best State Capitol Reporters in America." I joined a Maine delegation that included my Portland Press Herald colleague, Steve Mistler, and Christopher Cousins, who covers the State House for our primary in-state rival, the Bangor Daily News.

GovBeat also played a role in American Nations -- my most recent book -- going viral on the internet in November, for which I'm also grateful. (For those interested: I'll be speaking about the book at the Hausenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University in western Michigan next week, as well as at the Gleason Library in Carlisle, Massachusetts -- which chose the title for their "one book, one town" event this year -- next weekend. On February 4, I'll be speaking at the Governing Institute's Outlook on State and Local Government conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

UK edition of Republic of Pirates on sale tomorrow

I'm pleased to announce that the United Kingdom and Commonwealth edition of my third book, The Republic of Pirates: Being The True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, goes on sale tomorrow.

The new edition -- which includes an exclusive Afterword with some new material -- is published by Pan Macmillan and is also available in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and such pirate haunts as the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Barbados. (The US and Canada edition, first published in 2007, is from Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt.)

Republic of Pirates is the inspiration for Neil "Luther" Cross's new NBC series, Crossbones, starring John Malkovich. It also helped inspire the new Ubisoft video game Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and, based on the previews, probably shaped the thinking of the maker's of Starz' forthcoming series "Black Sails" as well.

For those new to the book, here's an interview I did with National Public Radio's Weekend Edition a few years back, plus a fun VICE Media mini documentary series filmed last summer ahead of AC4's release.

So check out the book -- and the incredible historical events -- that inspired this latest wave of pirate pop culture. You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Explaining Gov. LePage to a national audience

In Politico Magazine today I attempt to explain Gov. Paul LePage -- and his effect on Maine politics and his own party -- to a national audience.

I spoke to a number of other sources whose quotes ended up on the editing room floor down in D.C. for streamlining and readability --- the national audience may not care to delve deeply into Pine Tree State politics -- but for Maine political junkies, here's some of the additional commentary:

Charlie Webster, until last year the chair of the Maine Republican Party, has publicly tangled with LePage, but he thinks he could well win reelection. “Maine is a welfare state – we’re a mini version of socialism, our own little East European state, and if people want that they can vote for the Democrats,” he says.  “LePage has moved us slightly toward the center, and he will win or lose based on whether people like our social welfare philosophy or whether we have capitalism and free enterprise.”

And, talking about the future of the party, rather than LePage per se:

“Maine Republicans can’t win without taking a chunk out of the center,” says former Republican US Rep. David Emery, who served briefly in the LePage administration. “If your goal is to win and have a more conservative and business-friendly alternative in government then you have to provide a product that people in Maine find appealing. But if you’re idea is to make a point and take the most conservative position on every issue then you can have your fun, win 34 percent of the vote, and not have a lot of effect on policy.”

For those wanting to know more about LePage, I also offer my two-part, 10,000 word biography, The Making of Paul LePage, that ran two years ago in the Portland Phoenix.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Maine PUC and Nestle Waters: a fix is in

For those following the saga of Nestle Waters North America, the western Maine town of Fryeburg, and the state Public Utilities Commission, there's been a new development.

Nestle Waters, a division of the world's largest food and beverage company, Nestle SA, had been seeking approval for a new 25- to 40-year contract with Fryeburg's water utility, which is a private entity controlled by a family with past conflicts of their own. But that process came undone in October, when the chairman of the state PUC became the second of three commissioners to recuse himself due to past work for Nestle Waters. Unable to rule on the case for lack of a majority, the contract remains in limbo.

But as I reported New Years Eve in the Portland Press Herald, the state legislature will soon be considering a bill to fix the recusal problem, one that has the support of its liberal Democratic sponsor, the PUC chair, and a key official in Gov. Paul LePage's administration. Read on if you're interested.