Sunday, December 30, 2018

As digital tsunami struck, many Maine state records are believed swept away

In today's Maine Sunday Telegram, I report on the apparent loss of a huge number of Maine state government emails and digital documents from the administrations of Govs. Angus King and John Baldacci. The losses, which leave holes in the state's historical memory and violate a variety of statutes, are apparently due to ad hoc actions by past information technology officials attempting to free up scarce server space.

Details can be found in the story. A number of issues remain blurry, including the exact disposition of emails created by state officials between 2008 and 2016, and what proportion of pre-2008 emails and digital documents survive only on back-up storage tapes (as opposed to accessible, searchable servers.) If you have firsthand knowledge, drop me an email.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Mainer on Putin's interrogation "wish list" on the Act that upset Russia

In July,  wrote about how a guy from Maine wound up on Vladimir Putin's list of Americans he'd like turned over for interrogation, a request he made of President Trump at this past summer's summit in Helsinki and one that - to widespread horror - Trump appeared to entertain.

Kyle Parker, raised in Old Town, educated at the University of Maine, was back in Maine this month, speaking to the Midcoast Forum on Foreign Relations about the legislation he championed that Putin so hates: the Magnitsky Act. I caught up with him at the event and shared his thoughts on the Act, why it's effective, why Putin doesn't like it, and on growing up in Maine in Monday's Portland Press Herald.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Mainer spearheading West Coast fishermen's climate change suit against Big Oil

Last month, a coalition of West Coast fishermen filed a suit against thirty of the world's major oil companies in California Superior Court seeking damages for the latter having allegedly undermined the Dungeness crab fishery via climate change; the suit alleges Big Oil knew about the dangers of climate change for decades, but actively decided the public and decision makers.

The head of the organization that filed the suit, Noah Oppenheim, is a 31-year old scientist from Maine who grew up in Falmouth and did his graduate work at the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center. I wrote on how he found his way to the middle of this high-profile law suit in this week's Maine Sunday Telegram. Enjoy.

I wrote on two other Mainers at the center of national news -- Interior Department whistleblower Joel Clement and Russia expert Kyle Parker -- in the Press Herald recently.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Big in Japan IV: Talking American Nations with Sekai

While in Tokyo, I spent an enjoyable morning at the offices of Iwanami Shoten, speaking with Rikkyo University historian Hiro Matsubara for Sekai, a leading Japanese political monthly. We covered a wide range of issues related to North American regionalism and American Nations.

Dr. Matsubara's article is in the current issue of the magazine, for those of you who both read Japanese and subscribe. If you're part of that cohort, consider the Japanese edition of American Nations, published by Iwanami.

I was in Japan to speak at the Asahi Forum, but also was able to speak to seminars at Tokyo University and Kyoto's Doshisha University, and wrote about Maine retailer L.L. Bean's success in Japan for the Portland Press Herald.

(Here, for search purposes, is the Japanese title:)


Friday, December 7, 2018

Gulf of Maine sees 3rd warmest year on record as monitoring programs wither

The Gulf of Maine -- already the second fastest warming part of the world's oceans -- just saw the third warmest year on the 37-year long satellite record, with average sea surface temperatures reaching levels only seen in 2012 and 2016. As I reported in yesterday's Portland Press Herald, researchers saw unpleasant effects on puffin chicks, sea turtles, and the North Atlantic's biggest kelp forest.

Meanwhile, various federal and state initiatives to boost monitoring and research into the phenomenon have gone nowhere, while funding for several existing monitoring systems has withered, resulting in scientists having fewer means to track what is going on.

Details in the story, but for more background start with this six-part series on the warming crisis in the Gulf, and this piece from a year ago on the state of Maine's response.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

George HW Bush, 1924-2018, an obituary

President George HW Bush -- who had lifelong ties to southern Maine -- died late Friday night at age 94. My obituary for him, the first draft of which was written some six years ago, appears in today's Maine Sunday Telegram and online here.

A little appreciated fact of the Bush dynasty, the most successful political one in US history, is that it was forged on the shores of Kennebunkport, with a marriage that linked the Walkers and Bushes in a vehicle capable of launching its offspring to the White House more than once.

Bush died less than eight months after former First Lady Barbara Bush, whose obituary I also
prepared for the Portland Press Herald.

The couple identified themselves with Texas for political reasons, but through their lives Walker's Point in Kennebunkport was the only constant. They got engaged there, held weddings, family events, and high-level diplomatic events, and spent nearly every summer at the compound. It was their only home in the U.S. during the years they lived in Beijing and at the US Naval Observatory and White House. During World War II they also lived briefly in Lewiston-Auburn, while he was training at the naval air station there.

I hope you enjoy both pieces.