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Maine Conference Addresses Rail Disaster Readiness
04/23/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

A tragedy on the Canadian border a year ago has offered lessons for emergency responders here who must be prepared to confront a train derailment anywhere in the state. Fire and police officials who were called to the Lac Megantic derailment last year discussed the experience with their Maine counterparts during a two-day conference in Augusta. But as A.J. Higgins reports, those insights prompted some firefighters to recall their own rail disaster right here in Maine.

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Court Refuses to Clear Maine Doctor in Civil Rights Case
04/23/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has refused to clear an emergency room physician of a woman's claim that he violated her civil rights. The case dates back to 2007, when the patient, who has mental health issues, was detained against her will at MaineGeneral Medical Center. As Patty Wight reports, the lawsuit raises questions about physician liability.

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Maine's Elver Season off to Slow Start
04/23/2014 Reported By:Jay Field  

Maine's elver fishing season, already delayed by a few weeks, is off to a slower, less frenzied start, compared with the soaring prices and chaos of the past few years. After a colder-than-normal March, glass eels are finally beginning to make their way into the state's rivers in larger numbers, as the water warms up. But, as Jay Field reports, new state regulations have also limited how many pounds of elvers Maine fishermen can catch.

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Advocate for South Sudanese Rebels Makes Case in Maine
04/23/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

Several thousand Maine residents are watching the international news with increasing concern at the moment, as tragic events unfold in the world's newest country 6,500 miles away. Most of Portland's Sudanese immigrants come from South Sudan, which achieved independence from Sudan nearly three years ago, following decades of civil war. Many traveled down to Boston to vote for secession, optimistic of a peaceful and prosperous future for this oil-rich nation. But it wasn't to be. A power struggle within the government led to a civil war in which thousands have died over the last few months and almost a million made homeless. The leader of a group supporting rebel forces is visiting Maine this week, and spoke with Maine Things Considered host Tom Porter.

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Anti-Minimum Wage Ads Target Maine Voters
04/22/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

A fiscally-conservative national advocacy group is funding a week-long radio campaign urging opposition to a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage. The Employment Policies Institute claims that such an increase would cause the loss of hundreds of Maine jobs. Predictably, Republicans and Democrats take very different views on the issue. A.J. Higgins has more.

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New Hampshire Hospital Lifts Veil on Prices
04/22/2014

Transparency is a term often applied to calls for more open government. But it's also a concept that's being embraced by some New England hospitals. Among them, Elliot Hospital in New Hamsphire, which is being up front about how much it charges for various procedures. New Hampshire Public Radio's Todd Bookman reports.

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Casco Bay High Students Confront Climate Change Challenge
04/22/2014 Reported By:Susan Sharon  

Today is Earth Day. But for the students at Casco Bay High School, every day is Earth Day. This year, juniors at the expeditionary public school have undertaken an in-depth, year-long exploration of the nation's dependence on fossil fuels. As part of their multi-disciplinary study, they recently traveled to the Rockaway area of Queens to document the effects of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. They've also been considering the practical and ethical issues associated with what is likely to be the biggest challenge of their lifetime: confronting climate change. Susan Sharon has more.

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Maine Bracing for Another Spruce Budworm Outbreak
04/21/2014 Reported By:Susan Sharon  

One of the most damaging native insects of spruce and fir trees is wreaking havoc in Quebec, where it has defoliated eight million acres of forest over the last several years. Forestry officials are now bracing for an imminent outbreak of spruce budworm in neighboring New Brunswick, one of the most forestry-dependent provinces in Canada. And here in Maine there are fears that the voracious insect could start destroying forest stands in the next two to four years. As Susan Sharon reports, steps are underway to fight back.

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Cash-Strapped Mainers Eyeing Alternative Currencies
04/21/2014 Reported By:Jennifer Mitchell  

For many Americans, money means "worth" - in more ways than one. According to one post-recession study by the Pew Research group, lower income and joblessness means not just a smaller bank balance for Americans, but fewer friends, and a loss of self respect. As the effects of the financial crisis linger, more people in Maine and around the world have been exploring so-called cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. As Jennifer Mitchell reports, proponents of this, and other, alternative currencies say that today's "too big to fail" market economy is driving some people to seek another way.

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Frontline: Inside the Maine State Prison's Solitary Confinement Unit
04/21/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

On any given day in America, an estimated 80,000 prisoners are being held in solitary confinement, to either protect them from harm, or to prevent them from harming others. It's a controversial practice which critics say is counter-productive. Tomorrow night, television viewers across the nation will get a look inside the solitary confinement unit at the Maine State Prison in Warren, where the number of prisoners being held in solitary has been reduced by two-thirds in recent years. The PBS program Frontline will air "Solitary Nation," a one-hour documentary directed by award-winning filmmaker Dan Edge. Tom Porter has the details.

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Maine 2nd District GOP Candidates Spar Over Support for Collins
04/21/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

The Raye for Congress campaign is demanding that 2nd District congressional primary rival Bruce Poliquin apologize for encouraging Republicans to vote Sen. Susan Collins out of office. Kevin Raye says Poliquin should be standing up for Collins instead of trying to elect her Democratic opponent, Shenna Bellows. A.J. Higgins has more.

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Former Maine Tribal Member Charged in Elver Case
04/18/2014 Reported By:Susan Sharon  

A former Passamaquoddy tribal representative to the Maine Legislature and his two sons are among eight people who have been charged with three counts of felony possession of American eels, and conspiracy to commit a crime in the state of New York. Moore says the other six are members of the Unkechaug Indian Nation on Long Island. And he says were all arrested while trying to carry out the Unkechaug's own conservation plan for eels. Susan Sharon reports.

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Maine Legislative Session Comes to An End
04/18/2014 Reported By:Mal Leary  

Maine lawmakers have gone home, until May 1, when they return to handle any vetoes from Gov. Paul LePage. A lot of issues this session have been settled, while others wait for the governor's action and votes on May 1. MPBN's Mal Leary talks with Maine Things Considered host Tom Porter about what got accomplished - and what didn't - in this legislative session.

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Maine Soldier Presented with Armor that Saved His Life
04/18/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

At a ceremony in Portland today, a Maine soldier who fought in Afghanistan was reunited with a large piece of metal that saved his life. Sgt. Timothy Gilboe of Westbrook, who was decorated for his actions in combat in April of 2011, received the armor plate from the U.S. Army at the Portland Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, and shared his account of the attack that cost the life of a fellow soldier. Patty Wight has the story.

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'Holocaust Operetta' Makes English Language Debut at USM
04/18/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

Look up the word "operetta" in the dictionary and it says something like, "short opera, usually on a light or humorous theme" - not the kind of words you would necessarily associate with a subject like the Nazi Holocaust. Nevertheless, the University of Southern Maine Theatre Department is making that connection in its latest, ground-breaking production - called "In The Underworld." It was written in French many years ago. But tonight in Gorham, USM is staging the English language world premiere of the work. Tom Porter recently dropped in on a dress rehearsal.

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Maine GOP: Democrats to Blame for Welfare-Related Fines
04/17/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

The state's failure to require welfare recipients to meet work participation standards has triggered a $7 million fine from the federal Office of Family Assistance. Gov. Paul LePage and Republican leaders blame Democrats, saying that if GOP-backed welfare reform bills had passed, the state would not be in such a predicament. But Democrats say the penalty will be waived by the feds and that LePage's blustering is a campaign ploy. A.J. Higgins has more.

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FAME Scales Down Loan for Great Northern Owner
04/17/2014 Reported By:Jay Field  

There's more uncertainty surrounding the forest products industry in the Katahdin region today, after the Finance Authority of Maine approved a smaller-than-expected loan for a start-up business at the site of the old paper mill in Millinocket. Thermogen Industries wants to develop a wood pellet plant there. And its parent company, Cate Street Capital, originally secured a $25 million loan for the project. But, as Jay Field reports, Cate Street's ongoing financial problems prompted FAME's board to reconsider.

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Across The Aisle: What Maine Poll Reveals About Candidates
04/17/2014 Reported By:Keith Shortall  

Another Thursday is upon us, and thus, another installment of "Across the Aisle," our weekly look at Maine politics with Cynthia Dill, a practicing attorney and former Democratic state senator, and Dan Demeritt, a political consultant and former communications director for Gov. Paul LePage. They spoke with Keith Shortall.

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Portland Gets First Look at New Nova Star Ferry
04/17/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

Portland got its first look at the Nova Star cruise-ferry today. The 27,000-ton 530-foot vessel arrived at the Ocean Gateway Terminal at noon, having crossed thousands of miles of ocean in the last few weeks. After an absence of more than four years, daily round trips between Portland and Nova Scotia are due to begin the middle of next month. Tom Porter has more.

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Calais Hospital Forced to Cut in Wake of Funding Loss
04/17/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

Calais Regional Hospital is cutting hours for 90 employees and eliminating two special care rooms. As Patty Wight reports, the hospital faces a funding loss of more than half a million so far this year.

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Overdose Antidote Bill Poised for Enactment in Maine
04/16/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

A bill that would expand access to a lifesaving drug used to prevent overdose deaths appears headed for passage in the Maine Legislature. And a new amendment that includes training for law enforcement has apparently eased some of the concerns of Gov. Paul LePage, who had previously threatened to veto the measure. The governor's spokeswoman now says her boss might let the bill become law without his signature. A.J. Higgins has more.

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UMaine System Administrator's $40K Raise Questioned
04/16/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

The chancellor of the University of Maine System today is defending the decision to approve a $40,000 raise for a top administrator in the midst of a budget crisis. But a recent nationwide report on the economic status of university professors calls administrators' salaries into question. Patty Wight reports.

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New Poll Shows LePage with Slim Lead in Maine Governor's Race
04/16/2014 Reported By:Jay Field  

Republican Paul LePage has a slim lead over Democrat Mike Michaud in the Maine governor's race. That's according to the latest Pan Atlantic SMS Omnibus Poll, out today. The survey also shows independent candidate Eliot Cutler running nearly 20 points behind both candidates. Cutler's campaign dismissed the numbers, saying it's way too early in the political season to tell where things will end up in November. Both the LePage and Michaud campaigns, though, say the poll holds clues as to why their candidate will ultimately win. Jay Field reports.

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Maine Drivers Dodge Potholes, Frostheaves After Long Cold Winter
04/16/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

Well, there may have been fresh snow on the ground this morning for some of us, but, believe it or not, we are now several weeks into spring - which means longer days, warmer temperatures, and yes, bad roads - especially bad this year after the long winter we've just had. The melting and re-freezing of ice and snow has wreaked havoc on paved surfaces, and caused huge numbers of pot holes and frost heaves - those are the ripple-like bumps in the road, also a result of the freeze-thaw cycle that marks the end of winter. The problem was brought into tragic perspective last month when a motorist was killed after losing control of her car after hitting a frost heave in Harrison. Meanwhile, throughout the state maintenance crews are working overtime to try to patch things up. Tom Porter reports.

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Report: Maine Unprepared for Oil Train Disaster
04/16/2014 Reported By:Irwin Gratz  

There have been no large-scale shipments of oil by rail in Maine since last October. But, in a story coming out today, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting says such shipments could resume at any time - and that much of the state remains unprepared for a rail oil disaster like the one with struck Lac Megantic, Quebec last July. MPBN Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz spoke with Marina Villeneuve, who researched and wrote the story for the center.

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