Saturday, August 19, 2017

A catastrophic year for North Atlantic right whales

This has been a terrible year for one of the most endangered marine mammals on Earth, the North Atlantic right whale, which has a surviving population of just 500. As I reported in Wednesday's Portland Press Herald, at least a dozen of the rare whales had been found dead off New England and Atlantic Canada, most of them in waters they had not previously been known to frequent.

Another whale carcass has since been reported off Massachusetts.

Why is this happening? Scientists aren't certain, but food -- and therefore climate change -- is believed to be a driving factor. Read on to learn more.

I've reported extensively on the right whales in the past, when it appeared they had finally turned a corner. For more on this, start here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Speaking on Blackbeard and the pirates, seacoast Georgia, Aug. 17


For those in and near the Georgia seacoast, I'll be speaking on Blackbeard and the golden age pirates this Thursday, August 17, at the Coastal Georgia Historical Society on St. Simons Island. It's the subject 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.

The event, part of their Chautauqua Lecture Series, kicks off at 6pm at the society's A.W Jones Event Center. The series has a subscription charge, details herein.

Hope to see you there.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Maine accidentally defunds its state digital mapping office

Belatedly, note that in Friday's Portland Press Herald I have the odd story of Maine having accidentally defunded its state GIS office, which provides geospatial data, maps, and services to a wide range of users, including other state agencies, the private sector, and -- yes -- outfits like Google Earth and Google Maps.

The governor's office and administration don't want to talk about it, and the Democratic chair of the appropriations committee says their explanation doesn't add up, so I suspect we;ll be hearing more about this.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Talking news of the week with NPR's On Point, August 4

NPR's "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook is in town this week, and tomorrow, August 4, I'll be joining them live in studio from 10 to 11 am Eastern to talk about the news and developments of the week. Hope you can take a listen. [Update, 16:07 ET: the audio of the program is online now.]

The second hour of the program will also come to you from Portland, Maine, featuring a conversation  being recorded tonight at the University of Southern Maine about a big issue in this little-but-popular city, gentrification pressures.

I was previously a guest on the program a few years back, talking about the golden age pirates.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Exploring the lasting legacy of early Maine and New Hampshire

Readers of The Lobster Coast and American Nations are aware of the lasting effects of Colonial Era events on the future trajectories and characteristics of North America's disparate regional cultures and subcultures. Maine, especially, is shaped by events in the 17th and early 18th centuries, when a distinctive Anglican/Royalist/West Country-influenced society was made a colony of Puritan/Anti-Royalist/East Anglia-domnated Massachusetts. Its a colonial legacy that continues to effect our development, attitudes, values, and economic performance, even though few Mainers today either know the history.

A new exhibit at a museum on the border of Maine and New Hampshire shines a light on this poorly understood period in the two colonies' history, then bound together by shared experience and resistance to Massachusetts overrule. "Forgotten Frontier" is showing at the Old Berwick Historical Society's Counting House Museum in South Berwick, Maine, and I visited and wrote about it in this week's Maine Sunday Telegram. Have a look and consider a visit.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sinclair, "must run" commentary, and Maine's WGME


In this week's Maine Sunday Telegram, I write about the nation's largest owner of local television stations, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, and the "must run" pro-Trump editorials it requires Maine's WGME-13 to run in its newscasts. Check it out.

Sinclair is currently seeking approval from the Trump administration's FCC to acquire two dozen more stations, a move requiring a change in rules governing the market penetration "discounts" granted for UHF stations.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Trump voter fraud commission renews demand for state's voter data -- without commissioners' approval

The vice-chair of President Donald Trump's voter fraud commission has sent a second letter to all fifty states, renewing their demand for detailed voter registration data. But Maine secretary of state Matthew Dunlap, who sits on the commission, said commissioners were never consulted about the move, better yet voting to approve it.

I write about the latest in this story from Friday's Portland Press Herald.

I last wrote about the commission just a week earlier, after their first meeting, in which Dunlap dropped his earlier suggestion that the body look at Russian attempts to infiltrate state election equipment (but declined to endorse Sen. Angus King's urgent call to replace voter machines that have no paper trail.)

[Update, 21:46 ET: Dunlap has announced he won't comply with the second request.]