Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unsettled update: controversial ex-chief wins primary election

For those following "Unsettled", the 29-part series on Maine's Passamaquoddy people that ran earlier this summer, there's a new development.

As I reported in Tuesday's Portland Press Herald, the controversial ex-chief at Indian Township, Billy Nicholas, won an 11-way primary for chief by a large margin last week.... after the last minute striking of one of his main competitors -- Allen Sockabasin -- from the ballot.

The Passamaquoddy's other reservation at Pleasant Point held their primary Monday. Frederick Moore III will face incumbent chief Clayton Cleaves in the general election Sept.3; Vera Francis will face incumbent vice chief Ken Poynter.

Stay tuned next week for full results of the tribe's elections.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Speaking on future of the oceans, Boothbay Harbor, Maine, Aug. 19

Graham Shimmield, the executive director of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, and myself will be discussing the future of the oceans in Boothbay Harbor, Maine tomorrow evening, August 19th.

The talk, entitled "40 Years of Discovery and What Lies Ahead", is the finale of the lab's 2014 Cafe Scientifique program. It kicks off at the Opera House at 6pm and is free and open to the public. (Pay no attention to the date on the CafeSci (and Bigelow) pages -- it really has been rescheduled to Aug. 19, not Aug. 26.)

I covered ocean issues extensively as a foreign correspondent in the 1990s and 2000s. My first book, Ocean's End: Travels Through Endangered Seas, was on the collapse of marine systems around the world, and my second, The Lobster Coast, is a cultural and environmental history of Maine. I'm also a trustee of the lab.

Shimmield, if you follow the link to his bio, is a giant in marine science. If you're interested in the oceans, you'll want to hear what he has to say.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Remembering Andrew Ian Dodge

(c) 2014, Portland Press Herald
Andrew Ian Dodge, former Tea Party organizer and US Senate candidate in Maine, died earlier this month at 46. A few months ago, Dodge contacted me and asked if -- in the case that his ongoing rematch with cancer was unsuccessful -- that I'd write his obituary. I was humbled and honored to be asked, especially as Dodge was one of the most interesting people in Maine politics and displayed a combination all to rare amongst politicos: consistency, integrity, passion and humor.

The piece ran in yesterday's Maine Sunday Telegram, and was the lead of the Insight section.

For more on Dodge, here's a piece I wrote for Newsweek a few years back, when he was leading a rear guard action in the emerging struggle between libertarians and social conservatives over the future of the Tea Party movement. 

So long, AID. You'll be dearly missed on both sides of the pond.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Talking "Unsettled" with New Brunswick, "American Nations with Alabama

"Unsettled", the 29-part (plus Prologue, Epilogue, and sidebars) Portland Press Herald series on the Passamaquoddy people, concluded Sunday. Yesterday, I spoke with CBC-New Brunswick's Jacques Poitras about the series and the tribe, whose historic territory spanned the present Maine-New Brunswick border. (The show is Information Morning Fredericton.)

A few days ago I also had an enjoyable talk with a Birmingham-based reporter from, the Advance empire's Alabama news service, regarding what American Nations tells us about that state's resistance to reforms, particularly if they come from the federal government. Here's his report and an excerpt:

It's because of these centuries-old traditions about the role of government or what the desirable society is and each region has had a different answer to that," Woodward said.
Central and southern Alabama are members of the Deep South while north Alabama is a part of Greater Appalachia, according to Woodard.
Although Appalachia has distrusted the aristocratic culture seen in the Deep South region, the two cultures have found common ground in their distrust of the federal government.
"The Deep South and Appalachia share a hostility to government intrusion and regulation," Woodard said. "They come from different places (but) currently there is an alliance."

Monday, August 4, 2014

"Unsettled" Epilogue: A Family's inter-generational quest for justice

This week's Maine Sunday Telegram includes a front-page Epilogue to our recently completed 29-part series, "Unsettled."

The follow-up piece tells the story of the Peter Francis family's inter-generational quest for justice in the 1965 killing, for which nobody was ever found accountable. The state's handling of the case created statewide controversy -- and national media attention -- at the time, and has never been forgotten by the Passamaquoddy, as it distilled the institutionalized racism they'd long experienced in Maine.

For those of you in New Brunswick and Easternmost Maine, I'll be talking with CBC-New Brunswick's Jacques Poitras about the series on InfoMorning Frederiction tomorrow (Tuesday, August 5) at about 8:15 Atlantic (9:15 Eastern).

To read the full series, visit its landing page. And, yes, there will be an e-book and possibly a print one.

[Update, 1/10/20: Governor Janet Mills, a former Attorney General and career prosecutor, granted Don Gellers a full pardon and admonished the state's handling of the case.]

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The "Crossbones" Finale

The two-part finale of "Crossbones", the NBC series inspired by my book, The Republic of Pirates, aired last night. For any critics who said there wasn't enough action, their appetites should likely have been quenched.

I watched both episodes live, but for the majority of you North Americans who might have had something else to do on a Saturday night between 8 and 10 pm, they're both currently available free online, along with the rest of the series run, at NBC's website.

As a scholar of the actual pirate gang to which Blackbeard belonged, I enjoyed hearing Sam Bellamy's words inserted in Charlie's speech before a great naval battle last night. And what about those final five seconds or so?

For those of you in the rest of the world, "Crossbones" is on its way to you soon. More details as they're released....