Tuesday, June 27, 2017

On pirates in Maine in the Press Herald and on WCSH-6

By coincidence, I both wrote about and was interviewed about pirates in Maine last week.

Maine's NBC affiliates, WCSH-6 here in Portland and WLBZ-2 in Bangor, were curious about the legendary treasure of Jewell Island in Casco Bay. Captain Kidd is said to have left his mother lode there, so could it be true? No, I told them from a float on said bay, but some of the other pirates I wrote about in Republic of Pirates definitely did visit Casco Bay, so anything's possible, however unlikely. Here's the segment.

Those pirates belonged to Black Sam Bellamy's flotilla -- the vessels that survived a spring storm off Cape Cod in 1717, that is. By coincidence, an exhibit of artifacts and treasures from the wreck of Bellamy's flagship -- which didn't make it -- has opened here in Portland, and I have this story in the Maine Sunday Telegram about the pirates and the controversies surrounding the man who found the Whydah.

For those eager to learn more about Bellamy and the golden age pirates, consider my third book.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sen. King, experts say not enough being done to prevent Russian attacks on state election systems

Last week I talked to Senator Angus King, I-Maine, and other experts about the Russian attacks on state electoral systems. Their message: the threat was real, it continues, and not enough is being done to prevent a potential Election Day disaster.

I report on all this in this article in yesterday's Maine Sunday Telegram. Another item of note: one of the leading electoral cybersecurity experts in the country says we can't rule out vote tallies having been effected last November, absent a forensic audit of those voting machines that we can actually audit.

On Friday, I reported on how two members of President Trump's commission on electoral fraud -- one of them Maine's secretary of state -- want that body to take up the hacking of state systems. For further coverage on the Russia-and-the-2016 Election story, click on the "Russia" label at the bottom of any of these stories.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Two members of Trump's voter fraud panel want to investigate Russian hacking

In tomorrow's Portland Press Herald, I have a story on a development President Trump probably didn't expect. Two members of his nascent commission on voter fraud -- assembled to investigate his evidence-free claims that 3 million people voted illegally last November, denying him a popular vote victory -- have said they want the panel to also look at Russian hacking of state electoral systems.

The two are both Democrats and secretaries of state from northern New England: Matt Dunlap of Maine and Bill Gardner of New Hampshire.

But the commission doesn't appear to be anywhere near being active. Dunlap told me he hasn't heard anything from the chairman (and Vice President) Mike Pence and his team since he agreed to join the body and doesn't even know who all the members are.

Details within.

[Update, 7/20/17: the commission won't be doing any such investigating, and Dunlap is fine with it.]

Monday, June 12, 2017

Talking American Nations with CNN's Bill Weir (for real this time)

It was delayed by a week on account of the London Bridge attacks, but Bill Weir's CNN special "States of Change" premiered Saturday night on CNN and CNN International, including an extended one-on-one segment with yours truly talking about American Nations.

As you can see, Bill's colleagues took the trouble to create an entire custom puzzle map of the "nations" as part of the "States of Change" set, and it was a pleasure being able to share a bit about the regional cultures and how they effect American life today. At the end, we touched on the what the paradigm has to say about how Donald Trump won the 2016 election and also a bit about the key themes of American Nations' sequel, American Character, which offers some solutions as to how you would bring the country together -- some of which I think Bill has incorporated into the show.

The one-hour special -- which isn't available online as of yet -- was filmed a week ago in New York, where I enjoyed chatting in the green room with some of his other guests: Charles Ramsey (former police commissioner in D.C. and Philadelphia), DeRay Mckeeson (Black Lives Matter leader), Wesley Lowrey (Washington Post), Chris Arnade (documentarian of "front row/back row kids fame), and conservative commentator S.E. Cupp. There's some excellent discussion, so catch rebroadcasts if you can. [Update, 6/20/17: my segment is now available for online viewing here.]

The special actually promotes a one-hour documentary, Bill Weir: States of Change, Homecoming, which is available for viewing online at CNN.com and features a separate, shorter interview with me filmed in April on New York City's High Line (at about minute 56). Bill travels to his many childhood homes -- he's got an unusual backstory -- to try to understand our nation's divisions. Do check it out.

Thanks again to Bill's "Wonder List" team for their interest in my work and to all of you who've watched.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Maine's senators and the Comey Hearing

The big news in Washington this week has been the public hearing in which former FBI director James Comey testified under oath about his interactions with President Donald Trump, who fired him one month ago today.

I had two stories on this in the past 24 hours. Today's Press Herald story hopefully tells you everything you need to know about Senator Angus King and Senator Susan Collins's roles in and reaction to the hearing. Both Maine senators sit on the senate intelligence committee, which is conducting a probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election and before which Comey appeared yesterday.

In yesterday's Press Herald, I had this round-up of expert thoughts on what to look out for in the hearing and with Comey's testimony, including input from Sarah Kendzior, William Yeomans, and former US attorney Jay McCloskey.

Monday, June 5, 2017

American Character wins the Maine Literary Award for Nonfiction

Last Thursday, my neighbor Caitlin Shetterly and I both ventured down to Portland to support one another: we both had books that had been named finalists for the 2017 Maine Literary Award for Nonfiction, and both of us were certain the other would win.

Turns out we were both right.

For the first time in the history of the awards, the judges were deadlocked and, as a result, named us both winners. Caitlin's book is Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Land, Our Bodies, and Our Future. Mine is American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good, which was also a finalist for this year's Chautauqua Prize. It's also a sequel of sorts to American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, which won the same award back in 2012.

Congratulations also to the other winners, and thanks to Joshua Bodwell and MWPA for an enjoyable awards ceremony last week down in Portland.