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Maine’s businesses come together to raise state minimum wage

Mon, 2016-03-21 14:19

Maine’s state minimum wage is $7.50 an hour and hasn’t been raised a cent since 2009. Some Maine businesses feel that isn’t good enough, causing a coalition of nearly 10,000 individual Maine business owners to call for an increase in the state minimum wage.

The coalition proposed a four step process. Starting in 2017, Maine’s minimum wage would increase to $8.50, then increase $.50 each year until 2020 when the wage per hour would reach $10.

The coalition is not calling for an index in the wages, so it would not be adjusted with inflation.

“Our coalition supports a meaningful increase in the minimum wage and wants to ensure that any increase is sustainable for the long term,” said Greg Dugal, president and CEO of the Maine Restaurant Association and the Maine Innkeepers Association, in a press release. “We are calling on Maine legislators to support a responsible option for voters to consider on this fall’s ballot.”

Several business owners in Maine have come out in favor of this plan, one of them being Chris Tyll, owner of Pat’s Pizza in Portland.

“I support raising the minimum wage and doing so in a way that is not harmful to small business owners,” said Tyll in a press release. “Eliminating the tip credit would hurt Maine’s vibrant restaurant industry by dramatically increasing the cost of doing business for restaurants, and others involved in Maine’s tourism industry.”

Last fall, voters in Portland decided against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, citing that it would hurt small businesses in the city.

While the ballot initiative was shut down in Portland, at the start of the new year the hourly wage was increased to $10.10, with a plan to increase again at the start of 2017 to $10.68 and then in 2018 the minimum wage will be directly tied to the cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

Students at USM felt the benefit from the rise in the hourly wage, receiving an email just before the new year that stated USM would raise the hourly pay to all student workers making less than $10.10 an hour.

“While the city’s action does not technically apply to members of the USM family in Gorham and Lewiston, it is our strong belief that we function and succeed as one in reaching our institutional goals and objectives and therefore the minimum wage increase is rightly shared across our university,” President Glenn Cummings said in an email in late December.

Despite the state minimum wage being $7.50, some employers are already starting their employees out at a higher wage.

“The minimum wage in our business is $10 per hour and I am confident $10 per hour is sustainable for Maine businesses and Maine’s economy,” said Ken Keiran, owner of Union Farm Equipment in Union, in a press release. “However, increasing starting wages above that threshold would outpace our pricing support and force us to either raise prices or cut positions – both of which would be bad for Maine businesses.”

The coalition is looking to get the issue onto the ballot in November and let the people of Maine decide.

“We are proposing a significant increase in the minimum wage in Maine and we are calling on the Legislature to give the voters of Maine a choice when they go to the ballot box this fall,” said Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce in a press release.

 

The truth behind substance use disorders and drinking in college

Mon, 2016-03-21 14:18

For college students, the consumption of alcohol varies from person to person. Whether you’re drinking to socialize, celebrate, suppress difficult emotions or to simply relax, it has both a strong and varying affect on those who decide to drink. Why does alcohol cause us to act and feel differently? How much is too much? Why do some people become addicted and not others?

While drinking alcohol in appropriate amounts won’t put you at a high risk for long-term damage, consuming the beverage often and/or in large quantities can put you at risk. According to the Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), drinking at college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their higher education experience.

They estimate that each year in the U.S., and average 1,825 college students between the ages 18-24 die from alcohol related injuries, 696,000 students are assaulted by another student who was drinking and over 97,000 students reported experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

According to the NIAAA, alcohol not broken down by the liver goes to the rest of the body, including the brain. It can affect parts of the brain that are in control of movement, speech, judgement and memory. In turn, the effects lead to clear signs of drunkenness: Difficulty walking, slurred speech, memory lapses and acting on impulsive behavior.

Consequences of Drinking in College:

According to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, brain development continues well into a person’s twenties and excessive drinking at a young age can hinder this process. Those who consume alcohol irresponsibly encounter struggle in academics, memory loss, sleep deprivation and a number of medical conditions that develop the longer you consume, such as Anemia, Cardiovascular Disease, Depression, Liver Disease, Pancreatitis and more.

Coordinator of Learning Support at USM, Paul Dexter, is in charge of building partnerships with academic departments across the institution to identify ways to help students succeed. H explained that with heavy drinking, comes lack of sleep, and with that comes the inability to function as well as those who do not drink.

“Many people believe [alcohol] helps you sleep because of the initial depressive affect, but with enough consumption it actually reduces the amount of REM sleep (or deep cycles of sleep) one gets.,” he stated. “These REM sleep cycles are required to feel well rested and this is the time when information you took in during the day is solidified in your memory. The less REM sleep we get, the less effective ingraining of information happens during sleep.”

Although USM does not currently have data to know which students are engaging in high risk alcohol and drugs, Dexter explained that staff members are educated on what high risk use looks like and what they can do to help students succeed. These signs, he explained, vary from student to student, but one of the most important symptoms presents itself in a change of brain chemistry.

“If a person continues to use in a high risk way, then you see changes in brain chemistry, and that’s when tolerance goes up,” he stated. “It’s going to take more to get the desired effect. From an academic standpoint, one of the challenges when someone continues to use in a high risk way overtime is that he/she is affecting the brain’s ability to modulate stress.”

According to the NIAAA, 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall. Dexter stated that it is important to understand with drinking, little stressors on the brain become more problematic and harder to control.

“Not every student who drinks develops an addiction, and in moderation, it’s okay to experiment, as long as you’re being safe. If any student finds themselves making changes related to their substance use, there are many support services here at USM,” stated Dexter. “No one has to feel ashamed by their drinking habits. No has to go through a substance use disorder alone.”

Student Recovery Liaison Ross Hicks, who works closely with administration to ensure changes are made to accommodate students seeking recovery, explained that a lot of people think substance use disorder means you’re morally weak or don’t have the willpower.

“It is a medical condition and there is a treatment,” said Hicks. “If we address it as so, we can frame the conversation in a way that will hopefully lead to better access to treatment and for those of us that have been able to accumulate some measure of sobriety, whether it’s days or years, we tend to identify ourselves as long-term recoverers.”

Dispelling the stigma around substance use disorders:

Diane Geyer, the coordinator of clinical substance use services, is dualy licensed in mental health and substance use and works closely with students on campus who may struggling with the disorder. She explained that there are a variety of reasons why students drink, but a lot of cases are centered around the desire to fit in and make friends.

“Having a sense of wanting to belong is a big reason it happens. These students want to belong, they want to fit in – and, as most students would agree, taking risks can seem fun,” Geyer stated. “It’s important to understand that we all can have a substance use problem. Everybody is at risk, but some people are more susceptible.”

She further explained that there are two types of risks: low risk choice and high risk choice. For students who integrate drinking into their social lives, it’s important to recognize that it is okay to do so, as long as the consumer is being responsible and knows when to stop. When a student finds themselves at a crossroads of uncertainty regarding their drinking habits, Geyer stated there are many resources for students on campus to take advantage of.

“Often times, those struggling with the disorder have to find new friends to socialize with, because their old friends are so consumed in the addiction,” she stated. “We need to stamp out the stigma of those struggling with substance use disorders – they are people just like you and me, and they can’t always control the problem. If everyone around them is using, they may not see it as a problem.”

For Jake Mitchell, a freshman physics major, his struggle with a substance use disorder began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was unable to escape the grasp of addiction. The chance to recover came along when he decided to start new, move to Maine and attend USM.

“I’m living in a sober house right now, and that’s why I am going to USM. Maine was my only option to stay out of trouble,” he stated. “I was getting into really bad situations in the last city I lived in and this geographical change is just what I needed. I’m happy to say I am 6 months sober.”

Andrew Kiezulas, a senior chemistry major at the USM, has dealt with addiction first hand and has seen how the illness affects the people. He stated that so many kids feel today feel broken and are made to feel as if the struggle with substance use disorder will never end. However, Kiezulas has made it his life’s mission to change that perspective by providing others with his experience of recovery.

“Not many people really understand what substance use disorder looks like,” explained Kiezulas. “So they see you drinking or they see you doing drugs and they say ‘why can’t you just stop?’ You want to shake them and tell them it runs so much deeper than that.”

For Kiezulas, the road to recovery will continue to be one where he grows and learns. He explained that it’s important for people to realize that his illness doesn’t define who he is as a person.

“I may die a person in long term recovery. I may have an active substance use disorder, but I don’t have to be an alcoholic my whole life. I’m in recovery along with many other incredible people,” explained Kiezulas. “The truth is, I like to think I’m strong and impervious to what other people say and think – but it matters. Language holds incredible strength and sway. That’s why a number of us are so passionate about language because it holds a lot of power.”

 

Panelist offer uncensored advice on sex

Mon, 2016-03-21 14:17

By Julie Pike, Contributor

On Tuesday, March 8, the newly founded group, Huskies for Reproductive Health, put on an event at the Gorham campus in Lower Brooks. The event was a panel of “sexperts” who could talk and answer any questions from students about all things sex related.

On the panel was Samar Jamali, a nurse practitioner from Health and Counseling Services at USM, Gina Roark, a sex educator and owner of Nomia in Portland and Kimberly Brown, a disease intervention specialist, from the Maine Center for Disease Control.  

The founders of Huskies for Reproductive Health, Emma Donnelly and Molly Concannon, both students at USM, created this event to help reduce the stigma that surrounds the topic of sex, especially on college campuses.

Their club began back in December, and the group decided that they need to bring the topic of sex and reproductive health up on campus. The “sexpert” panel was created to encourage students to ask their unanswered questions and to promote safe sex on campus.

Donnelly voiced the objective for the event: “We wanted students to be able to come to our event with their uncensored sex questions for our ‘sexperts’ to give them uncensored, down-to-earth, real answers with no judgement.”

The event was successful, as around thirty to forty students attended, with lots of audience participation to ask questions for the panel. Each student that attended got their own goody bag with information about how to keep themselves sexually healthy, including how to contact Planned Parenthood.

Most of the questions rendered laughs from the audience, for their generally uncomfortable nature, but the important part was that the audience was engaged in the talk and asked a variety of questions, no matter how embarrassing they may seem.

This was just what Donnelly had intended for the event: “The topic of sex always seems kind of taboo, but we are in college and this is the age where people are typically experimenting, or have their first long term relationship and are sexually active, so it needs to be talked about.”

To keep things light, free prizes were given away in several raffles, winners received free t-shirts, books, and various sex toys.

Dan Welter, chief of staff for Campus Life at USM, was there to engage the audience and gave the introduction for each of the panelists, and also created the ground rules for the event. Welter kept things light by getting the audience to laugh at the more uncomfortable topics.

Donnelly and Concannon provided extra resources for any students who wish to find out more about safe sex, reproductive health, and any other questions they have. Students who wish to find out more can visit Nomia, a sex shop in Portland, Planned Parenthood on Congress St. in Portland, Portland Infectious Diseases, where one of the “sexperts” Brown is from, and USM Health Services, which have many resources in terms of birth control, pelvic exams, and STD testing and treatment for all students to utilize.

USM receives grant to send Honor’s students abroad

Mon, 2016-03-21 14:17

By Erica Jones, Free Press Staff

Starting in 2017, thanks to generous gifts received by the Honors program, incoming University of Southern Maine honors students will have the chance to study abroad in Iceland for two weeks as part of a new four-week summer course.

Last Thursday at the Glickman Library, USM President Glen Cummings alongside representatives from Iceland’s Reykjavik University announced the plan that offers students the “chance to enroll in a four-week course, the second half of which will take place in Iceland,” according to USM’s website.

This travel opportunity is made possible by a $450,000 endowment from the estate of alumna A. Carolla Haglund and a $482,000 grant from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF) — an almost one-million-dollar gift in total. The students in the program will spend two weeks in Iceland at Reykjavik University, with transportation, room, and board included.

“This program will provide a significant opportunity for our students to broaden their horizons, to engage in the wider world and better equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to play key roles in the expanding and strengthening of our economy here in Maine,” said President Cummings.

Rebecca Nisetich, interim director of USM’s honors program interim, discussed how USM came to receive these grants. “The Haglund Gift was donated to the university. The gift specifications were that it would go to students with certain GPAs,” she explained. A. Carolla Haglund’s estate designated the gift as an endowment for international opportunities for USM students, according to USM’s website.

Nisetich is also responsible for one part of the generous donations. “The MEIF Grant was something I did on behalf of the Honors Program,” said Nisetich. “I wrote the grant proposal and submitted it MEIF. It was accepted, and now we have the grant for the next 3 years.”

The course in Iceland is part of an ongoing effort to “build strong educational partnerships that will both create exciting new opportunities for our students and set the stage for economic growth between our two countries,” said President Cummings in a news release, also stating that “the core of economic growth is education.”

Last semester in October, President Cummings as part of a group of 40 officials traveled to Iceland and stayed for five days, where they attended the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik. Iceland, a small nation of 323,000 people, and Maine, its closest neighbor in the United States, have had a beneficial trade relationship since Eimskip, an Iceland-based shipping company based, designated Portland to serve as its U.S. port of call, according to USM’s website. The initiative to create strong ties between Maine and Iceland, Cummings believes, will be advantageous for the future economy as our world changes.

Ari Jonsson, Reykjavik University’s rector/president, also expressed his eagerness for the new international education program. “Iceland’s a small country, which means that if we end up closing ourselves within Iceland and not providing the ability for Icelanders to experience and connect with people outside of Iceland, we’ll become isolated and backward,” said Jonsson. “That’s just the nature of being closed off in a small community. So, we have to open up. We have to be connected.”

The first group of students is expected to leave for Iceland in summer 2017.

 

Police Beats

Mon, 2016-03-07 09:48

02/14/2016

Nothing Says I Love You Like Breaking Windows

Vandalism, Upton Hastings Hall. Complaint of noisy group in the courtyard. Officer noticed a shattered glass pane. Report taken. One suspect was detained. Under investigation

Ain’t Love Grand

Domestic disturbance, Robie Andrews hall. Male and a female arguing. Gorham PD and USM PD dispatched. Resolved without incident. Report made.

Drunk on Champagne Playing Bumper Cars

Hit and Run G2B parking lot. Motor vehicle was struck overnight. Report taken.

Big Night of Boozing and Cruising

Erratic operation, Campus drive. Black Jetta was operating erratically, Gorham PD notified USM Police car turned onto Campus drive. Officer investigating.

02/18/2016

Karate Chop Goes Awry

Vandalism, Brooks Student center. An employee reports damage to the exterior door handle to the bookstore in Brooks. Report taken.

Nuclear Meltdown, No Big Deal

911 call, security alarm for Gorham heat plant. Facilities called.

02/19/2015

Book Butt Dials Cops

911 call, Glickman Library. Emergency Phone activation, Unfounded

 

Moron Troubled by Parked Car, Stares at It For Hours

Suspicious incident, Parking Garage. Caller reports a vehicle on the second floor has been running for a couple of hours. Unfounded.

Poo Box Totalled By Stranger

Hit and run accident, Parking Garage. Parked vehicle struck by an unknown vehicle. Report taken.

It Was Glued To Your Hand The Entire Time

Theft report, Hill Gym. Cell phone reported stolen. Phone was located. Unfounded

02/23/2016

Free the Dank

Drug violation, parking lot. Student summonsed for possession of marijuana.

Nobody Wants Your Dirty Gym Shorts

Theft, Bailey Hall. Student reports the theft of a backpack from the Library. Report taken.

02/26/2016

Narcs Beware; Snitches Get Stiches

Drug complaint, Upton Hastings Hall. Report of the smell of marijuana, 3rd floor. Report taken.

The Riveting Life of Campus Po-Po

Motor vehicle stop, Officer checking for OUI. Summons issued for insurance violation.

OMG The Excitement Continues!

Motor vehicle stop, University Way extension. Verbal warning for faulty lights.

 

News Briefs

Mon, 2016-03-07 09:46

Local & State

Presidential candidates visit Maine

Last week, in the days leading up to the Maine caucuses, presidential hopefuls made stops in Maine, starting with Bernie Sanders last Wednesday at the State Theater in downtown Portland.

Sanders spoke in front of a crowd of around 1,000 people, where he stated: “If we have a large turnout in Maine, we will win this state and if we win Maine, we move another step forward towards a political revolution in this country.”

One day later, Donald Trump held a rally in Portland, speaking in front of a crowd at the Portland Harborview hotel. Trump rallied with Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who endorsed Trump late last week. The billionaire responded to Mitt Romney’s claims that he was nothing but a “phony” and a “fraud,” to which Trump responded that Romney would have”dropped to his knees” in order to get Trump’s endorsement back in 2012.

Ted Cruz also showed up in Maine, speaking at the University of Maine in Orono, with hopes to win the state of Maine over the weekend and put a dent in Trump’s lead.

MMA student goes missing, last seen in Orono

David Breunig, 21, was last seen in Orono on February 26. Investigators are saying that Breuing left a party and was heading to a bar to meet up with friends. According to police, the quickest route would have been to go over a train trestle that crosses the Stillwater River, leading officials to believe that he ended up in the river.

What started as an active search is now being considered a recovery, with efforts focused on finding his body.

A vigil was held in Portland last Friday for Breunig by his coworkers so people could get together, grieve and share memories.

Maine’s 2015 lobster catch jumps in value from previous year

In 2014, the estimated gross income for lobstering in the state of Maine was $458 million. In 2015, despite a decrease in volume in total lobster haul, the gross income jumped $37 million to $495 million, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

This was the sixth year in a row that the value of Maine’s lobsters had increased, and for the first time since 2007, the average per pound price was over $4, which might not have made consumers happy but is good for the industry.

Maine’s lobster fishery is the largest in the country, and by far the largest commercial fishery of any kind in the state of Maine, making up more than 80 percent of all fishing revenue.

“Maine’s lobster fishery continues to be a major engine for our coastal economy,” Patrick Keliher, commissioner for Maine Department of Marine Resources, said. “This past year saw a continuation of steady and historic lobster landings throughout the season. The increase in value reflects growing demand for Maine lobster.”

National

US added 242,000 jobs in February

According to data released last Friday by the federal government, the U.S. added 242,000 jobs last month, which many see as a sign of the nation’s economic durability.

President Barack Obama is often faulted for the Great Recession that the country has seen itself in for the past seven years, but under his presidency, and especially during his last term, the country has seen as steady decline in the unemployment rate, which has held steady at 4.9 percent, the lowest it’s been since the economic downfall in 2008.

Economists are also watching to see if wages start to rise. In recent months, employers have begun to compete for workers, with raising the pay being a result. If raising employee pay becomes mainstream,then it would lift the U.S. out of a prolonged period of wage stagnation.

New revised SAT deemed “not so bad” by early test takers

The SAT test that every high schooler across the state is required to take debuted last Saturday, and according those that decided to take it early, the test was less tricky and more straightforward.

The new exam focuses less on vocabulary and more on analysis from the student. Students are also no longer penalized for guessing, whereas before they were penalized one-fourth of a point for guessing wrong, and the essay has now been made optional.

The new version of the SAT contains fewer question, dropping from 171 to 154, and the perfect score for the SAT was reset back to 1,600.

“There aren’t as many questions where it’s trying to trick you … It was much more straightforward,” Brain Keyes, a junior at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington D.C. said after completing the exam.

Trump reverses position on torture in less than 24 hours

During last Thursday night’s GOP debate on Fox News, presidential hopeful and billionaire businessman Donald Trump made some bold statements regarding what he would do in terms of counterterrorism efforts. Trump stated during the debate that he would go after the families of terrorists and supported waterboarding.

“We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding,” Trump said during the debate, implying to the voters that he would be willing to use torture if the situation arose.

Then the very next day, Trump came out saying that he understands that the U.S. is bound to treaties and laws and he would not order the military to violate those laws.

“I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities,” Trump stated.

International

North Korea makes nuclear threats

Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, has ordered his military to be prepared to launch nuclear strikes at any time. These threats are all a part of a propaganda attempt to show South Korea and the U.S. that North Korea is strong at home and abroad.

These threats are also coming after the United Nations placed harsh sanctions on North Korea after the country conducted nuclear tests and long-range rocket launches. North Korea responded by saying that the sanctions were the “most heinous international criminal act.”

“The only way for defending the sovereignty of our nation and its right to existence under the present extreme situation is to bolster up nuclear force both in quality and quantity,” the North Korean Central News Agency said.

North Korea has a history of threatening nuclear acts, but it is rather unclear how advanced the country’s nuclear program is. Many dispute the claims that they could launch nuclear warheads at any moment and question that the state of its arsenal.

Drug lord El Chapo wants to come to the U.S.

Joaquin Guzman, also known as El Chapo, wants to be extradited to the United States and sooner rather than later, despite the fact that he is being held in a Mexican prison where he has escaped twice before. His defense team has asked to speed up the process that will end with him in the hands of U.S. authorities.

As of now, it is unclear where El Chapo will be held once he gets to the states. He is wanted for various charges in several cities, such as New York and Chicago, but it is predicted that he will cross the border any time within the next two to three months.

The push to get El Chapo to the United States is a drastic turn around to the statements made in January when Guzman was recaptured.

“Mr. Guzman Loera should not be extradited to the United States or any other country,” attorney Juan Pablo Badillo said back in January. “Mexico has just laws that are detailed in the General Constitution of the Republic.”

Guzman’s wishes to be extradited to the states is potentially linked to how he is being treated in the Mexican prison, which has taken extra precautions to make sure that Guzman does not get out again. Guzman’s attorney claims that he is being subjected to physical and emotional torture, citing that Guzman is being woken up every two hours, and he claims that sometimes they don’t let him sleep at all.

 

Bernie Sanders Visits Portland Four Days Before Caucuses

Mon, 2016-03-07 09:46

By Erica Jones

Last Wednesday in Portland, Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders hosted a rally at the State Theatre. The event was announced Tuesday morning in advance of the Democratic state caucuses on Sunday, March 6th, when registered Democrats in Maine will choose their 2016 candidate.

Despite the rally being short-notice, nearly 1,800 people gathered to hear Sanders speak, with so many supporters vying for a spot in the venue that many people had to be turned away.

This was not Sander’s first campaign event in Portland. In July of last year, he spoke to 9,000 supporters at Cross Insurance Arena, and since then Mainers have been waiting for a return visit.

A line quickly wrapped around Congress Street on Wednesday morning as people from across the state, and some from across state lines, convened outside the State Theatre, some waiting for hours in the rain, some skipping class or leaving work early for a chance to get a seat at the rally.

The rally took place the day after Super Tuesday, where Sanders won four state primaries in Minnesota, Vermont, Oklahoma and Colorado. Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ Democratic candidate competition, took away seven states on Super Tuesday: Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee. But that doesn’t worry Sanders or his passionate fans.

Sanders spoke for an hour to a packed house on the need for prison reform, a higher minimum wage and a new healthcare system. He condemned corporate money in politics, the US’s rigged economy and Maine’s governor Paul LePage for “beating up on poor people.”

He also jabbed at Clinton for accepting campaign donations from “weirdo billionaires,” eliciting cheers and laughter from the zealous crowd, in reference to the millions of dollars received by Clinton’s campaign from large corporations and Wall Street. In contrast, Sanders does not have his own Super PAC and funds his campaign with mostly individual donations.

During his speech, Sanders also urged people to go out and caucus this Sunday. The larger the voter turnout, he said, the better his numbers fared in primaries and caucuses.

“If we have a large turnout here in Maine, we will win the state,” he asserted, earning another round of applause.

The Sanders’ campaign’s momentum is steady, with polls showing the gap closing between him and Clinton, and Mainers at the rally were certainly optimistic about his chances.

“Bernie did a wonderful job of expressing that this election isn’t over until it’s over and you could tell he’s really enthusiastic about the upcoming primaries,” said Ryan R. Gallop, a USM student and Bernie supporter who attended the rally. “As someone who has been helping with the campaign for several months, it was great to get a little pep talk from the man himself today and I left feeling re-energized to continue volunteering my time for the campaign.”

And the biggest take-away from the rally, according to Gallop: “That the Sanders campaign has a lot of fight left in it still despite what the corporate media wants us to believe.”

Sanders wasn’t the only presidential hopeful to stop by Portland this week. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made headlines and also gathered a crowd of over 200 protesters outside the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, where he spoke and was interrupted several times by protesters. The atmosphere at Trump’s event was incontrovertibly different from Sanders’.

“I was unable to get the feel of the State Theater but felt a widespread love and support for Bernie through standing in line and the amount of applause and chants from people,” said Kara Rowley, a junior USM student who, along with 650 others watched a live stream of Sanders’ speech from the Westin.

Love is an element very prominent in Sanders’ message. Closing his speech, he told the crowd, “American people know in their hearts that love trumps hatred,” drawing another roar of approval from the crowd. People were visibly moved as the venue emptied.

Chris Williams, a USM student, was at first not sure what to expect at the event. “I had never been to a rally before, and this is the first year I’ve ever gotten involved during the primary. The atmosphere was great, it was like being a concert. Everyone was so happy, and the moment Bernie appeared on stage it was as if everyone lost their breath for a moment.”

 

 

Panelists Discuss Impacts of Climate Change on World Conflict

Mon, 2016-03-07 09:45

Bryer Sousa/Free Press Staff

On March 3, 2016, the volunteer-led organization and the state of Maine amalgamate of the group National Peace Action, Peace Action Maine (a local collective with more than twenty-five “years of grassroots mobilizing to end war and occupation and to abolish nuclear weapons,” according to their website peaceactionme.org) presented a live-streaming video conference featuring Bill McKibben, titled “Creating a Climate of Peace.” The conference took place in Talbot Hall on the University of Southern Maine campus at 7:00 P.M. Free and open to the public, “Creating a Climate of Peace” was co-sponsored by the University of Southern Maine Department of Environmental Science and Policy.

The conference members included Meaghan LaSala, of Divest UMaine and the Southern Maine Workers Center; Iris SanGiovanni, of Maine Students for Climate Justice and Protect South Portland; Sherri Mitchell, Executive Director of the Land Peace Action Foundation and indigenous rights lawyer; Chloe Maxin, of Divest Harvard who is also writing a book on climate change for The Nation; Lee Chisholm of the Greater Portland division of 350.org; and the keynote speaker Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, environmental activist, and author of Eaarth. However, due to an unavoidable obligation, Chloe Maxin was unable to attend.

When the Chair of the Department of Environmental Science & Policy at the University of Southern Maine Professor Robert M. Sanford was reached by email prior to the event, he pointed out that “this event helps show the connectedness of climate, social unrest, the economy, and sustainability – it is all tied in together.  The greatest asset we have to promote stability in the face of change is the energy, strength, and ideas of students and other young people.”

Professor Emeritus Stanley Scott of the University of Southern Maine, who authored Frontiers of Consciousness and is the president of Peace Action Maine, introduced a new member of the Peace Action Maine board, Devon Grayson-Wallace who gave a brief introduction to Bill McKibben before he reached the audience of approximately sixty-five people by satellite. Devin went on to say “In 2006, with seven undergraduate seniors in Middlebury, Vermont, and no money or other resources except insight and courage, Bill McKibben became a principal founder of 350.org, the now illustrious international organization that has coordinated over 15,000 rallies in over 89 countries since 2009, all to raise consciousness of the imminent dangers of climate change.”

After a brief moment of technical difficulty, McKibben discussed the Paris climate talks, that is, the recent United Nations conference on climate change referred to by many as COP21, alongside the way in which climate change relates to world peace.

“It is a great pleasure to join all of you tonight… but today was a tough day. Today we learned that one of the great environmental justice activists in the world, Berta Cáceres of Honduras, was assassinated. She had been working to stop big dam projects and that left her unpopular,” McKibben said after he briefly expressed his thanks to all involved in the climate change movement and in the process of setting up this conference. McKibben went on to discuss the way climate change has caused the worst drought in Syria in recorded history that has contributed to the violence and chaos in the region, how it is incumbent upon on us to end the fossil fuel age now and how we all need to participate in civil disobedience to ensure that oil remains in the ground, because the Koch brothers, among other billionaires, will not stop until every drop of oil is extracted from the ground.

McKibben’s video address was also followed by a question and answer session, as well as a panel discussion, which was led off by Bruce Gagnon of Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

The question a student was able to raise to McKibben was put forth as follows: “You said that there was some progress made through the COP21 agreements, however, as you know, those agreements aren’t binding, legally… how can we enforce these agreements so they actually happen?” McKibben responded by saying that “they are not going to be legally binding, you need movements to make them real. Look, the reason there is not going to be a binding agreement in Paris, or a binding agreement anytime soon, is because the rest of the world looks at our dysfunctional political system and knows that that is the obstacle.”

Thereafter, the Peace Action Maine Board Director Tina Malcolmson officially introduced the panel members who were able to attend. Meaghan LaSala spoke first, having traveled to the Paris Climate talks as the representative for the Southern Maine Workers Center. LaSala was followed by third year political science major Iris SanGiovanni who spoke about the responsibility of students to face the crisis of anthropogenic climate change in relation to world peace. Finally, Sherri Mitchell and Lee Chisholm elaborated upon the ideological underpinnings that kept change from occurring.

A lively discussion broke out during the question and answer session with the panel. A physicist addressed the need for more technological discussion, alongside the political activism.

Following the conclusion of the conference, McKibben was reached by email, and posed the following question Dexter Morse, a university Panel student studying chemistry and resident of Maine, raised. The first question was concerned with “how do you [Bill] convince people to work against their own self interest to protect the universal human rights – food, shelter, equality, etc –  for future generations, when we still do not defend that for our own generation?” McKibben responded by stating that, “I think at this point we’re not acting mostly on behalf of the future, but on behalf of ourselves and our generations. And it needs to be tied in with the broader fight for justice on all fronts. That’s why I like the way Bernie messages it.”

Troubles arise when pet turtles are released/Part two in a four part series detailing invasive species

Mon, 2016-03-07 09:44

By Haley Depner/Contributor

The pet trade is responsible for earning this species a nomination by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as one of the 100 “World’s Worst” invasive species. The red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) has inundated ponds and wetlands around the globe. Is Maine next on their list?

If you ever bought an aquatic turtle from a pet store as a kid, or knew someone who did, you probably will recognize the red eared slider turtle. They get this common name from the red stripe that begins behind their eyes and runs along the sides of the head, and from their habit of sliding off whatever they are basking on when disturbed. The shell and the marginal scutes (scales at the edge of the shell) of this species are smooth. Their heads are blunt and shaped like the bow of a boat. Red eared sliders can grow to have a plastron (the bottom half of the shell) length of about a foot, with males being smaller than females. The carapace (top half of the shell), head, limbs and tail are green in hatchlings and darken to a dusky or ebony brown as the turtle matures. The plastron is bright yellow with a spot on each scute that matches the carapace.

Originally the red eared slider turtle was found only in the southern central United States east of the Rocky Mountains.

The IUCN reported that these turtles have been transplanted across the United States and the globe, establishing populations throughout the U.S. and on every continent except Antarctica. According to the IUCN, this species prefers shallow, sluggish waters with soft beds, plenty of sunlight and large areas of vegetation, though as generalists with a fairly broad omnivorous diet, they can survive in a wide range of aquatic habitats.

Their spread is owed widely to the pet trade. Derek Yorks, a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s Reptile-Amphibian-Invertebrate Group, explained that red-eared sliders have “been very popular pets for many decades. People buy them and basically the turtles often outgrow the aquarium and kind of get big and stinky and hard to care for.  A lot of times people just end up releasing them, thinking that they’re doing a good thing for the turtle, and, you know, thinking that there’s nothing wrong with it.” Yorks emphasized that “they’re kind of an emerging problem in Maine, but they’ve been around for a while and been popular as pets in the US going back to at least the 1960s, if not earlier. In the last decade or so, some other states in New England have certainly started to see more and more sliders; particularly in ponds and lakes closer to urban areas. It’s this kind of cumulative effect of people releasing these unwanted pets and then they’re suddenly gaining you know, two or three, or half a dozen of them in a pond, and they start to reproduce and the numbers grow from there. We don’t know of any ponds in Maine right now where there are big reproducing populations of sliders but in other states, down in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, it’s becoming more and more common. We’re hoping to avoid that kind of a problem here.”

According to Yorks, the impacts of red-eared sliders on Maine ecosystems has so far been “probably quite negligible, since, like I said, we don’t know of any sites where there are large populations of sliders. But, in places where they do occur, they are in competition with other turtle species. They’re competing for food resources, basking sites, which are limited, you know, good rocks and logs to sit on in the sun, and there has been work in other parts of the country and in Europe where sliders are well established and reproducing, demonstrating some of those effects. But right now in Maine, it’s still at kind of the initial phase of them becoming established and we are hoping to avoid a full on invasion by them.

“Pretty much the only way you’ll know of their presence [in Maine] is by seeing them.” Yorks recommends those looking for red eared sliders in the wild to watch basking spaces favored by painted turtles (Chrysemys picta picta). Painted turtles are the number one kind of turtle you are likely to see basking in ponds or lakes where you are also likely to get red eared sliders. If you are familiar with painted turtles, and you start seeing some turtles basking right out there on the same logs and rocks with the painted turtles that are just much bigger, those could be sliders. If you have binoculars, you can really easily see that red mark on the side of their head, compared to the painted turtles with the yellow mark. You’re just gonna have to see them, really, either in the water, or sometimes you’d see a female when she is out to lay her eggs.”

Yorks emphasizes that “the biggest thing that people can do [to control red eared slider populations] is not releasing them into the wild. That goes for anywhere, except for in their native range, of course. That’s controlling their spread.” Yorks adds that “if they’re already there in some places where they are invading, usually when there’s direct concern about the impacts on an ecosystem and other species, particularly other turtle species, typically an animal control specialist or wildlife biologist, they do sometimes remove the turtles with [live] trapping. . . that would be the only feasible way of removing sliders and it would be a fairly intensive effort, going out there every day or every other day and checking traps, and baiting the traps, and doing something with the sliders if you are removing them. It’s not an impossible task if you found out they are in one local place and you really wanna reduce the numbers or try to eliminate them entirely. . . If it’s lots and lots of places, then it becomes a whole other effort, you have to scale things up. There’s not a lot of that going on just because it’s a lot of time and therefore a lot of money to deal with a problem on a really big scale.”

In an effort to slow the spread of the red-eared slider, many states have taken measures to control the trade of this species. In 2010, sales of red-eared slider turtles became restricted in Maine. The Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) wrote that “Beginning on January 1, 2010, the Commissioner will remove the red-eared slider from the list of Unrestricted Fish and Wildlife Species. On this date, it will no longer be legal for commercial pet shops to possess or offer for sale the red-eared slider. The department has become aware of escaped or released populations of these non-native turtles in the wild. By removing the turtle from the unrestricted list, the Department seeks to minimize or prevent any further occurrence of this potentially invasive species. Red-eared sliders legally possessed by individuals prior to January 1, 2010 may continue to be possessed, but may not be sold, transferred, traded, or released.”

This law change has made it difficult for red-eared slider turtle owners in Maine, even those who own their turtles legally, to rehome those reptiles if need be. Yorks suggests Mainers looking to rehome their red-eared sliders to contact the Maine IFW. “We get pretty frequent requests from people who have sliders,” he said. “A lot of times people don’t even know they are illegal, and had moved here from another state. We have some people that are willing to take them. It’s tough, though, because not a lot of people want them and a lot of the people that we had on our list who are willing to take them have already taken on some and can’t really take on more.”

Yorks adds that “another option is finding someone or a turtle rescue organization that is outside of the state of Maine in a state where sliders are not prohibited that is willing to take the slider. For instance, if there is someone in New Hampshire [willing to take the turtle], sliders are not illegal there. . . [then] that slider can just be transferred to this other person in New Hampshire. That’s not the only state, there’s many states where they are perfectly legal, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not invasive in those states. It’s really good to get an idea of what’s gonna happen with that turtle. Are they gonna keep it themselves forever? Are they just gonna turn around and release it in a pond? There’s a lot of things that could happen with it. The responsible thing to do is look into it a little bit and ask a few questions to find out what is gonna happen with this turtle I transfer to somebody I may not know that well.”

Far more of these turtles are being surrendered than adopted. Many animal shelters outside of Maine that accept reptiles no longer accept red-eared sliders as there are so many that need homes and so few people who are willing to adopt them. Always call animal shelters before bringing in an animal for surrender to be sure they accept the species.

If you are a Mainer interested in adopting a red-eared slider in need of a home, Yorks encourages you to contact him at his office, (207) 941-4475. “Basically, through my office we have inquiries. It ranges, sometimes it’s several in a month, sometimes many months go by, but consistently many inquiries every year with people looking what to do with red eared sliders and I don’t have enough people to send them to. Like I said, most of the folks that want to take them on already have done so. So if anyone is interested in taking one and they are willing to apply for a permit and agree that they are gonna keep this turtle and not release it, then it’s definitely a possibility.” You can fill out an application for a General Wildlife Possession Permit at http://www.maine.gov/ifw/licenses_permits/pdfs/wildlife_possession.pdf. “We’re always looking for folks who are responsible and willing to take on sliders. I always explain to anyone who is thinking about it there’s a reason or two why people don’t always wanna keep these things. They need pretty big aquariums, and if you don’t keep that aquarium really, really, clean, it doesn’t smell good.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re at the end of having to worry about red eared sliders in Maine,” said Yorks. “Us having them not on the unrestricted list and restricting the trade of that species in Maine is a big help. They’re not coming into Maine through every pet store across the state, so we should start to see numbers dwindle. However, one factor to consider is that they’re long lived animals and someone could have a slider for one, two, three decades so there’s gonna be kind of a lag in seeing there has been a lag, since they were restricted- and the other factor is that other states are not restricting sliders. Right over the border in New Hampshire they are not restricted, but they are restricted in Massachusetts, but they haven’t been for very long, similar to Maine.” In New England, this species is also restricted in Vermont and Rhode Island and unrestricted in Connecticut. “Basically it’s kind of a patchwork,” said Yorks, “so there’s a lot of places where you can still go out and buy these things. People transfer them over state lines, often don’t even look to see what the laws and regulations are around it. A lot of people say they moved to Maine and they brought their pet slider, they don’t always know it’s a restricted species, for many years sometimes.”

 

 

Mumps at USM

Mon, 2016-03-07 09:43

On March 2,  a student at the University of Southern Maine who visited the University Health Center was diagnosed with mumps. This outbreak is one among many happening across college campuses right now and the first outbreak at USM since 2013.

The university has identified more than 150 other students who were likely in proximity to this student while he was contagious, either in class with him or living with him. Those people were notified. Four of those students were not vaccinated, but so far no students have shown signs of having the illness.

According to the Bangor Daily News, health officials are investigating whether or not the case in Maine may be related to a case in New Hampshire. The virus is spread by person-to-person but people can guard themselves against the disease through vaccinations, hand washing and not sharing utensils or water bottles.

“Staff members are currently contacting individuals who may be more directly affected, but we think it is important for the entire university community to be informed of the symptoms of mumps and what to do if you have any questions or concerns,” said Director of Health Services Lisa Belanger in an email to USM students, faculty and staff on Wednesday evening.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mumps is no longer very common in the U.S. Over the course of the past few days, however, other colleges such as Harvard, Butler University, New Hampshire College, University of Louisville and Indiana University have come forward with emerging cases of Mumps being spread across campus.

Each school (with the exception of USM) have had at least two or more cases arise. As of March 2, Harvard has confirmed four additional cases of mumps on campus, bringing their student outbreak to six.

Outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated U.S. communities, especially those that are populous and people come into contact with others daily. Many cases of mumps have been seen in high density across schools, colleges and camps. However, a high vaccination rate among students can ensure that the outbreak affects a small number of people.

After coming into contact with the virus, it can take 12-25 days before the symptoms appear. A person with the virus is contagious for three days before and five days after symptoms begin, according to the CDC.

Mumps affects the parotid glands, which are the salivary glands below and in front of the ears. It is spread through infected saliva, and a person can experience few to no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can happen suddenly and include swollen, painful salivary glands, headache, fever, fatigue and loss of appetite.

“We recommend that you minimize your contact with others for five days if you are experiencing mumps-like symptoms,” Belanger said. “This may require that you do not attend class, work, sports activities or other gatherings.”

If you have questions or concerns about the mumps, please feel free to contact the Health & Counseling Services at (207) 780-5411.  Alternatively, you may contact the Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at 1-800-821-5821.  

 

 

Zika virus now confirmed in Maine and New Hampshire

Mon, 2016-03-07 09:42

by Zachary Searles/News Editor

At the end of February, Maine saw its first case of the Zika virus, months after the first outbreak in South America. The person who was affected is older than 65 and had travelled to a Zika-affected country, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control.

According to Dr. Siiri Bennett, Maine’s state epidemiologist, this one case is not cause for widespread alarm.

“It’s important for the public to understand that the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the Zika virus is not found in Maine and that your neighbor who has come home from a trip to South America cannot transmit the virus to you,” Bennett said in an interview with Bangor Daily News.

Then, last Tuesday, New Hampshire reported its first case of the Zika virus, a female who had sexual contact with a man that had travelled to a Zika-affected country. According to New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist Dr. Ben Chan, the women was not hospitalized and has recovered.

According to the CDC, as of February 24, there have been 107 reported cases of the Zika virus, all of which were due to travelling to countries where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is commonly found. Florida has the most confirmed cases, 28, which is largely due to the warm climate and the fact that it attracts many tourists.

The virus is transmitted primarily through mosquito bites, with the common symptoms being fever, rash and joint pain. People rarely die from the disease and are rarely sick enough to go to the hospital, so a lot of the time cases of the virus can go undocumented.

The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and was named after the Zika forest in Uganda. In 1952, the first human cases were documented. Fast forward 63 years and Brazil sees its first confirmed case. Then on February 1, the World Health Organization declared the virus to be a public health emergency of international concern.

Currently scientists are studying possible connections between pregnant women who contract the virus and microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads. As of now, the CDC recommends that pregnant women delay any travelling to Zika-affected areas.

So how can you protect yourself against the Zika virus? Well, currently there is no vaccine or cure for the disease, and the countries that are being affected by it the most have yet to develop any kind of concrete plan to combat the virus.

Modern Pest Services, a family owned pest control company that’s headquartered in Brunswick and operates throughout New England, would like to remind people that the mosquito responsible for transmitting the disease does not reside in the Northeast.

“New Englander’s are understandably concerned with the new threat that Zika virus brings, and while the primary carrier the Aedes aegypti mosquito is not currently known to be in New England, there are over 40 different types of mosquitoes in the northeast that carry other harmful diseases like eastern equine encephalitis,” Mike Peaslee, technical manager and associate certified entomologist at Modern Pest Services, said in a press release.

Peaslee also pointed to the fact that the Aedes aegyptti mosquito thrives in warmer climates, and while New England typically has the cold on their side, due to unseasonably warm conditions it has now been made easier for warmer climate mosquitoes to spread.

“Taking precautions now to control our environment to create unfavorable conditions for mosquito breeding will help prevent the spread of all mosquito-transmitted diseases, like the Zika virus,” Peaslee said.

Peaslee and Modern Pest Services advocate getting rid of every form of standing water as mosquito season approaches to cut down on the breeding grounds for mosquitos. These forms of standing water include: buckets, tires and even things as small as bottles and cans. Kiddy pools are another good example of standing water. Peaslee says that you should keep them drained and even flip them over when not in use to prevent them from collecting rain water.

Modern Pest Services also stated that you should treat every area outside of your home as if it was a mosquito breeding ground, and “cover up exposed skin and wear bug spray to avoid getting bitten – or sick.”

 

 

New Software Takes the Distraction out of Internet Resources

Mon, 2016-03-07 09:42

by Bradford Spurr

Some new software from the UK promises to reduce the time students spend surfing the web instead of finishing their research paper. With promising statistics from a nationwide survey, Stop Procrastinating looks to solve the motivation problem in this internet age.

A blank word document five pages short of the minimum has become the symbol for this millennial generation. In a study published by Stop Procrastinating, in which 2,000 students across the United States participated in, it was found that nearly 64 percent of students felt that they were affected in some way by distractions found on the internet.

The application can operate in three different modes depending on the student’s level of self-discipline. The first is the ‘nuclear option.’ It cuts off all internet connectivity for a certain amount of time and does not let you back on until that time has elapsed.

The second option restricts all access to the internet for a certain amount of time, only allowing access online if the student physically restarts their computer. And the third introduces a ‘blacklist’ of websites that Stop Procrastinating will not let you on. Now this is important because the student themselves can pick and choose what websites they feel are most distracting to them like Facebook, YouTube, or BuzzFeed.

About 48% of the students that participated in the survey said that they lost at least an hour of potential productivity through distractions offered by social media platforms.

Tim Rollins, director of the Stop Procrastinating team said that “Students have always had distractions, but they have never had to deal with a technology that is everywhere at once and influences every part of our lives. It is unprecedented, the level of intrusion and distraction that today’s students have to cope with.”

And this all stems from education’s need to try and get back into the technology race. When the average classroom has multi-screen integration and some form of media tool hybrid program, technology and the art of procrastination begins to take shape as the entire problem rest upon bringing distractions into the classroom.

“We have made Stop Procrastinating free today in order help students to beat their Internet distractions and boost their performance in their studies. The Internet, social media, emails are pervasive and eating into our quality time. We need urgently to put ourselves back in control.

One student confirmed to have mumps at USM

Wed, 2016-03-02 20:41

Earlier this evening,  a student at the University of Southern Maine was confirmed to have been diagnosed with Mumps.

“Staff members are currently contacting individuals who may be more directly affected, but we think it is important for the entire university community to be informed of the symptoms of mumps and what to do if you have any questions or concerns,” said Director of Health Services Lisa Belanger in an email to USM students, faculty and staff on Wednesday evening.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mumps is no longer very common in the U.S. Over the course of the past few days, other colleges such as Harvard, Butler University, New Hampshire College, University of Louisville and Indiana University have come forward with emerging cases of Mumps being spread across campus, each school (with the except of USM so far) have had at least two or more cases arise. As of March 2, Harvard has confirmed four additional cases of mumps on campus, bringing their student outbreak to six.

Outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated U.S. communities, especially those that are in close-contact. Many cases of mumps have been seen in high density across schools, colleges and camps. However, a high vaccination rate amongst students can ensure that the outbreak stays condensed in a smaller population of people. After coming into contact with the virus, it can take 12-25 days before the symptoms appear and can spread for three days before and five days after symptoms begin, according to the CDC.

Mumps affects the parotid glands, salivary glands below and in front of the ears. It is spread through infected saliva and a person can experience little to no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, it can happen suddenly and include swollen, painful salivary glands, headache, fever, fatigue and loss of appetite. “We recommend that you minimize your contact with others for 5 days if you are experiencing mumps-like symptoms,” said Belanger. “This may require that you do not attend class, work, sports activities or other gatherings.” If you have questions or concerns about the mumps, please feel free to contact the Health & Counseling Services at (207) 780-5411.  Alternatively, you may contact the Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at 1-800-821-5821.  

A look at Black History Month

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:35

By Zachary Searles/News Editor

The United States finds itself in an interesting time, on one hand you have citizens that believe that the Civil Rights Movement and the ending of segregation and slavery also ended racism in America.

On the other hand, there are citizens of all races and nationalities that say racial tensions are rising due to the still present racism and discrimination that people of color face on a regular basis.

Some of this discrimination can be a direct result of embedded ideologies that an average person might not even recognize they have, due to being brought up a certain way in their home as a child.

Black History Month started in 1976, stemming from an older tradition of “Negro History Week,” a tradition started by historian Carter G. Woodson. Ever since each president has designated the month of  February for acknowledging and celebrating achievements made by African Americans. Other countries have similar traditions but do not necessarily celebrate them in February like the U.S. does.

“Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” said former President Gerald Ford, calling upon the public to recognize the achievements of African Americans in this country when he formally established Black History Month in 1976.

Here at USM, we had guest speaker Eddie Moore Jr. come to campus to give talks and facilitate workshops revolving around diversity and in the Glickman Library there are currently displays of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and on the sixth floor of the Glickman Library you can see the special collection of African American Collection of Maine History.

The purpose of the collection is to collect and preserve various records that document African American history in Maine and to emphasize the importance of such materials. The collection was inspired by Gerald Talbot, the first African American elected to the Maine state legislature and whose family has been in Maine since the eighteenth century.

“It is because of my long involvement in civil rights in Maine and New England and my deep interest and involvement in my black culture and history, that I have collected and preserved pieces of that black history, nationally and locally, for others to see and learn from,” Talbot said back in 1994.

So why is it important to celebrate Black History Month? According to Robert Stein, executive director of public affairs, there are a couple reasons.

“First, for people of color, Black History Month provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of earlier generations and the obstacles and significant challenges they had to overcome,” Stein said.

He went on to say that for people who aren’t of color, Black History Month provides them with the opportunity to better understand and appreciate the struggles and achievements of African Americans throughout the history of the U.S.

Lastly, Stein said that Black History Month serves a purpose for everyone and that’s to create “an opportunity for all of us to commit to work together on the many serious challenges that still must be addressed.”

Others had that same feeling: that Black History Month was about more than just celebrating achievements. It was also about addressing the problems that African Americans and other minority groups are still facing on a regular basis.

According to Joy Pufhal, dean of students, the goal of Black History Month is just as critical today as it was back in 1976 when it got officially extended from one week to a full month.

“It is a time to reflect, to dialogue, to learn, to highlight the challenges and injustices that Blacks are facing in America today, and to raise awareness and commitment to the important work still to be done to create a more perfect union,” Pufhal said. “The key is to continue the work beyond February throughout the rest of the year.”

Rebecca Nisetich, Honors Program Interim Director, claims that we need Black History Month because African American History “is still systematically marginalized in our education system.” She went on to say that black culture is still constantly defined as ‘other’ culture.”

Nisetich referred to the backlash that Beyonce has been receiving lately, both for her new music video “Formation” and her Super Bowl performance, where she made reference to the Black Panther Party.

According to Nisetich, in her video, Beyonce “puts southern Black culture unapologetically front-and-center, and not only black culture but black women and black children.”

Beyonce isn’t the only musician who has gotten criticism in the past weeks for performances that made bold statements about race relations in America today. Kendrick Lamar’s performance at the Grammys has also been receiving attention, along with criticism.

His performance, which started with several black males in a prison setting walking in chain gang style, ended with a silhouette of Africa projected with the word “Compton,” Lamar’s hometown, displayed in the middle.

For Nisetich, a scholar and specialist in African American literature and critical race theory, Black History Month is a way to “emphasize aspects of our history and culture that often given short shrift.”

Not everyone is for Black History Month. Prominent people in popular culture, such as Morgan Freeman and Whoopi Goldberg, have spoken out against the month, claiming that African American history is American history, so people should be learning it all the time, not just during this one month.

Brewery Partnership

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:33

By Dora Thompson

The University of Southern Maine and the Maine Brewers Guild announced a partnership Thursday aimed at helping the region’s growing craft beer industry with analysis and testing by USM’s Quality Assurance/Quality Control and Research Laboratory.

The lab will help brewers deliver a consistent, quality product to their consumers, ensure contamination has not been introduced during the brewing process, and develop new varieties and products as demand increases. For USM students, it will be a chance to work on practical projects that could help them find work in the growing industry.

“This provides our students with a great, real-world understanding of what they can do when they leave USM,” said Lucille Benedict, an associate professor of chemistry at USM. For brewers, benefits will include lower lab costs and shorter wait times for needed results.

“This public-private partnership, between USM and the (Maine Brewer’s) Guild, creates an important local resource that ensures our breweries are able to continue to lead the region in producing some of the highest quality beer in the country,” said Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers Guild.

Maine’s craft beer industry employed 1,500 people and generated an estimated $432 million in sales in 2014, he said. The lab received received a three-year, $488,514 seed grant from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund to build the infrastructure for the project.

Once the lab is fully functional and all equipment is in place, brewers and attendees of the inaugural New England Brew Summit on April 1 will have the opportunity to view the lab and learn more about the certifications and capability.

“We have been emanating our desire to be a community-based university, one that’s deeply connected to our region and to our state,” Cummings said. “This is the exact kind of partnership that we believe moves Maine forward.”

News Briefs

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:32

Local & State

Group offers for reward for any info lobster theft

The group Maine Operation Game Thief is offering an $11,000 reward for information about a lobster theft that occurred on the Gulf of Maine. An investigation by the Maine Marine Patrol shows that around 200 lobster traps were stolen.

Maine Operation Game Thief is a non-profit organization that works with other Maine groups and wildlife groups, such as Marine Patrol and Warden Services, and has offered the reward in hopes that they will get information that will bring the guilty party to justice.

“This is an extremely serious violation involving multiple victims, and we would appreciate any help from the public,” said Jon Cornish of Maine Marine Patrol. “The money for this reward comes both from the Operation Game Thief program and from lobstermen committed to bringing this person or people to justice.”

 

Maine sees its first case of the Zika virus

 

The virus that has been tormenting South American countries for the past few months now has a confirmed case in Hancock County, according for the Maine Center for Disease Control. According to the Maine CDC, the person is older than 65 and travelled to a Zika-affected country. The traveller has not been hospitalized and is recovering at home.

The Maine CDC is recommending that pregnant women and men who are sexually active with pregnant women who has travelled to a Zika-affected country should go and get tested for the virus.

“It’s important for the public to understand that the aedes mosquito that transmits the Zika virus is not found in Maine and that your neighbor who has come home from a trip to South America cannot transmit the virus to you,” Dr. Siiri Bennett, Maine’s state epidemiologist, said.

Bennett also said that there is no need for widespread alarm or panic.

 

Public hearings on El Faro wrapped up last week

 

Last Friday the Coast Guard wrapped up the initial stages of their investigation into El Faro, the ship that sank last fall, killing all 33 members on board. Now, the agency is waiting to see if they can find evidence that gets recovered from the shipwreck.

In April, a second attempt will be made to recover the voyage data recorder, which is similar to an airplane’s black box, and it could provide details about the sinking of the ship. The recorder could have data on the final 12 hours of the voyage.

While the first round of hearings just finished up, the Coast Guard plans to have a second round that focuses in greater detail on the trip. As of now, no date is scheduled for this second hearing but it’s expected to start back up in early summer.

 

National

 

New Jersey Governor endorses Donald Trump

 

Just weeks after ending his own bid for the Republican candidacy and presidency, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump. Gov. Christie is the first major politician to endorse Trump.

Gov. Christie introduced Trump at a rally in Texas late last week where he said, “I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States.” He went on to say that Trump is the best chance of the final five Republican hopefuls to beat Hillary Clinton.

Christie has been critical of Trump in the primaries before he dropped out, claiming that he was nothing more than an “entertain in chief” and he called his plan to ban all muslims absolutely “ridiculous.” Christie is now saying that part is over and that there is no one better prepared to provide American with strong leadership.

 

Eight people shot in Kalamazoo, Michigan shooting rampage

 

Jason Brian Dalton was charged with six counts of murder and two accounts of assault with intent to commit murder on Monday after his shooting rampage that took place that previous Saturday. Dalton is reported to have showed no emotion in court when the charges against him were read in court.

Police are saying that Dalton drove around for hours Saturday night going from victim to victim, gunning them down at random. Dalton even picked up Uber passengers in between the shootings.

“There isn’t a connection that we’ve been able to establish between any of the three victim groups with each other, any of the three victim groups with the defendant,” Jeffrey Getting, the prosecutor in the case, told CNN. “It just is, well, it was random, unprovoked violence.”

A report that came out later in the week showed that Jason Brian Dalton had no mental health history. Dalton also got the gun he used on his rampage legally, though he did not possess a concealed carry permit for his pistol.

 

Confederate Heritage Month defended by Miss. Governor

 

Last Thursday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant defended the notion of proclaiming April as Confederate Heritage Month in his state. Bryant had issued this proclamation earlier in the month saying that people should really try understand their heritage.

“Gov. Bryant believes Mississippi’s history deserves study and reflection, no matter how unpleasant or complicated parts of it may be,” Clay Chandler, spokesperson for Gov. Bryant, said. “Like the proclamation says, gaining insight from our mistakes and successes will help us move forward.”

Bryant issued a very similar proclamation back in 2012 and the proclamation comes at a time when the Mississippi legislature is going through 19 bills that all deal with keeping or changing the state flag, which is the only flag left in the US to feature a Confederate battle flag emblem.

 

International

 

“I’m not going to pay for that f****** wall”

 

Presidential hopeful and billionaire businessman Donald Trump has taken an aggressive stance on immigration, making claims that when he becomes president he will force everyone here illegally to leave, but humanely, and then they can re-enter the country legally. He has even made claims that he will build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to prevent any more illegal immigration and when asked how he will pay for it, he has always claimed that he will force Mexico to pay for it.

Well, apparently, former president of Mexico Vicente Fox does not agree with this notion that Mexico will pay for the wall, claiming on a live television broadcast where he was being interviewed by Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network that, “I am not going to pay for that f****** wall.”

Of course Bartiromo was stunned and Fox went on to say that Trump should know that Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall and that he isn’t sorry. Trump then took to Twitter to say that Fox should apologize, and that if he were to do anything like that then there would be an uproar.

 

Dead sea lions wash up on shore in Chile

 

In northern Chile, marine researchers have found more than 100 dead sea lions that have washed up on the shore over the past three months, most of the sea lions being newborns. Researchers also believe that this is apart of a more widespread die-off being observed in other places on the South American coast.

“This is happening along the entire coast of northern Chile and we’re getting reports that it’s also happening in Peru, our neighbor to the north,” researcher Carlos Guerra-Correa told CNN. “We could be talking about hundreds of sea lions washing up ashore dead in the entire region.”

So what’s the cause of all these sea lion deaths? Well, according to Guerra Correa, there could be many factors but one is the lack of food sources due to climate patterns such as El Nino that is leading to the seals dying of starvation.

The warming waters do not have the same nutrients that the sea lions need, so since species like phytoplankton, which feed sardines and anchovies which sea lions thrive on, are prominently found in colder waters, they are disappearing because waters are getting warmer.

 

 

All information used in Briefs was taken from the Bangor Daily News, the New York Times, CNN and BBC.

Students for #USMFuture give their demands to administration

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:32

By Bryer C. Sousa/Free Press Staff

Graphic done by: Abigail Bailey/Design Assistant

Towards the end of the Fall 2015 semester, the collective Students for #USMfuture began working with Dr. Glenn Cummings, president of the University of Southern Maine, as well as Nancy Griffin, the vice president for enrollment management at USM, to address institutionalized racism on campus. Although the Students for #USMfuture could not be reached for comment, Nancy Griffin stated that “we [the University of Southern Maine administration] are thrilled to be working with them on improving the life of all marginalized individuals.”

Even though the Students for #USMFuture originally started out as a joint response, by students and faculty, to what they identified as being unnecessary faculty and department budget cuts, they have since expanded their mission to advocate “for our student interests, whether they pertain to academic freedom, affordable education, transparency and accountability, to justice, safety, and accessibility for marginalized communities on campus,” according to a Facebook post the group made on February 22, 2016.

Currently, the group has maintained a particular interest in “[ensuring] that USM is a high quality institution accessible to all students regardless of race, class, gender or any other part of their identity,” as noted in the group’s description on its Facebook page. Consequently, the Students for #USMfuture adopted a list of ten demands that they discussed with President Cummings on December 22, 2015. Such demands included “an increase in diversity in faculty and staff,” “track/record[ing] incidents on campus,” “retaining students of color,” and “meet[ing] with the Board of Trustees about our demands,” alongside six additional demands not mentioned herein. These demands have recently developed into a final draft of demands for the administration of USM to adopt as a means of ensuring cultural competency on campus.

On February 24, 2016, Nancy Griffin, among other members of the university staff, met with leaders, organizers and participants of Students for #USMfuture to go over the final draft of demands, item by item. Griffin said that the meeting would ensure that both the administration and the student group “better understand how to measure progress.” The proposed demands currently include ten items for consideration and was published on the website www.ipetitions.com and titled Student Demands for USM Administration. Some of the demands listed on the petition include: “expand[ing] mental health resources,” changing the school’s general education requirements such that “in their first semester at USM, students are required to take a course on the history of privilege and oppression, specifically concerning histories and realities of the oppression of women and racial, sexual, gender, and religious minorities” and requiring “cultural competency trainings for faculty, staff, and students.”

Nevertheless, Students for #USMFuture is not alone in focusing on institutionalized racism on the University of Southern Maine campus. Student organizations are emerging on campuses around the country, following an array of racial occurrences at the University of Missouri, that sparked protests and provided momentum for students at other schools to enter into a dialogue with their respective administrations.

 

Melanoma is a preventable but common disease

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:28

Melanoma is a preventable but common disease

By Erica Jones/Free Press Staff

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons (http://tinyurl.com/zqj5s3z)

Binge drinking, texting and driving, unprotected sex, these are just a few risky or dangerous activities that many people partake in despite knowing what the consequences could be. Smoking cigarettes is another good addition to this list: In the United States, smoking is the leading cause of cancer, but 40 million citizens smoked in 2014. But there is another, often overlooked cause of cancer that is on the rise, and it makes you 70 percent more likely to develop cancers like melanoma or basal cell carcinoma: indoor tanning.

The demographic that has seen the biggest effects of indoor tanning is women aged 18 to 39, being the demographic with the most frequent use of tanning beds. The number of young women with new diagnoses of melanoma has skyrocketed, and these women are now eight times more likely to be diagnosed with this potentially deadly form of cancer.

Dermatologist Michael Swann explained what makes tanning beds so dangerous: “Tanning beds can be UV-B [light] (which cause sunburns and is the target of traditional sunscreen protection) or UV-A,” wrote Dr. Swann in an email response. “UV-A is naturally less intense than UV-B, but UV-A tanning beds can emit 12-times the normal dose of UV-A, which causes suppression of the immune system and mutations of the pigment producing melanocytes.  UV-A goes deeper into the skin and may be  more important than UV-B in the initiation of the mutations resulting in melanoma.”

The rise of skin cancer rates coincides with the growth of indoor tanning, combined with common misconceptions about the safety of tanning beds.

“Dermatologists have found that young women who use tanning beds are more motivated by beauty than by the fact that they cause skin cancer,” said Dr Swann.

He also noted that tanning “has been shown in studies to be addictive. People get a euphoric feeling and some people enjoy the quiet meditation in a tanning bed.”

Indoor tanning is a growing five-billion-dollar-per-year industry. Marketing strategies can lead people into believing that tanning is virtually just as safe, or at least only slightly less safe, than outdoor tanning with natural sunlight. “No matter what marketing you hear, UV radiation leads to premature skin aging caused by wrinkles, loss of elasticity, brown spots, blood vessel proliferation and sagging skin in addition to melanoma,” affirmed Dr Swann.

When asked if there are any positive aspects of indoor tanning, Dr. Swann replied, “Tanning causes immunosuppression and can be useful for some patients with skin conditions, but should be discussed with a dermatologist because generally safer methods should be utilized initially.”

For the rest of us without those certain qualifying conditions, the truth is that aside from the euphoria experienced by many when tanning and the beneficial production of Vitamin D from the UV rays, there are no benefits to indoor tanning. A single tanning session increases your risk of melanoma by 20 percent, regardless of age. Dr Swann also revealed that in some studies, indoor tanning has been shown to be more dangerous than cigarette smoking, and that when someone starts indoor tanning before age 35, their risk of melanoma increases by 70 percent.

“I don’t know anything about melanoma, except for what you just told me is kinda crazy,” said USM student Dalton Covel after hearing the statistics about melanoma for the first time. “I’m gonna tell my girlfriend, because she works at a tanning salon and maybe she doesn’t know it either.”

Another student commented that he had just recently used a tanning bed in preparation for an upcoming vacation.

There are things you can do to reduce your risk of melanoma. Simply staying away from tanning beds is one method of keeping your risk lower, with even a single tanning session causing significant damage. Another preventative measure against melanoma is consistent use of physical sunscreens, said Dr. Swann: “Chemical sunscreens don’t protect you as well as physical sunscreens, so look for the ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.”

Someday, Dr. Swann believes, melanoma will not be so prevalent in our country. “Smoking has sort of fallen out of vogue as we have become healthier as a culture,” he theorized, “and I think one day we will look back at tanned skin and see how ridiculous it looks and realize what people are doing to themselves.”

Advising Advice: How Your Faculty Advisor Can Help You?

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:27

By Janis Albright and Kim Charmatz, Professional Academic Advisors

Many times students ask, “Why do I need two advisors?”  Professional academic advisors help students navigate through the university, explore majors, and develop an academic plan.  While faculty advisors do this too, they can help you progress further, since they are experts in the field.  We asked two professors to share why it is helpful to work closely with your faculty advisor.  Here are their responses:

David Champlin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology

Why visit your faculty advisor?

Faculty advisors can help you make surprising connections to people and programs on campus.  We can also help connect you to people and organizations in the community.  

Faculty usually have been at USM for many years.  In a sense, we are “standing still” while students flow through their programs.  Because of this, faculty can help you make connections to other students and alumni on similar paths.

What should students do to prepare for a meeting?

Take handwritten or electronic notes to record suggestions during advising meetings. Treat learning about your career path with advisors like a course.  Some things you learn may not be relevant for a few years, and notes can help you remember ideas about things like courses, community connections, and internships.  

Do you have any other thoughts?

Student status is a key that opens a lot of doors.  Expressing an interest in a particular area can lead to many new opportunities.  Take advantage of your status as a student.  

You can also contact any professor in the department for advising.  Some students are shy in this setting, and we understand that.  Please remember though, faculty are “regular” people and look forward to talking with you!

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Professor Dana McDaniel, Ph.D., Professor of Linguistics and Department Advisor and Chair

Why visit your faculty advisor?

The major is a student’s home.  Our buildings are the students’ space too—a place to hang out and feel a sense of belonging.   Our faculty want to get to know students in our major and want to advise them.  We can share course content, class progression, license requirements, and career pathways.  Faculty may be able to waive an introductory class, help you with an independent study or suggest work study options.  In addition, faculty are happy to review a graduate school application essay.

We feel it is important to your education to experience outside related opportunities.  Together, we can plan research projects, a senior thesis, observational internships, and independent studies.

What should students do to do to prepare for a meeting?

A student can review the department’s website ahead of time and think of questions.  But in the beginning, faculty are there to give a lot of help, and it is okay if a student isn’t sure where to start or what to ask.  In time, faculty hope you can be more self- directed, but if still unsure, please come see us anyway.

Do you have any other thoughts?

Faculty can be more helpful, if they know a little bit about the student.  It is good to know if the student is facing some challenges. If faculty knows about the student, from the beginning, they can usually be creative and suggest options or additional support.  Finally, any time a student is having difficulty with school, it is best to share rather than hide.

Conclusion

Hopefully these interviews will encourage you to meet your faculty advisor, if you haven’t already, or visit them more often.  In summary, faculty want to support your academic progress and help you develop meaningful career goals in life, that will help you feel fulfilled.

Huskies Little East Playoff Bids Snapped

Mon, 2016-02-29 08:24

By Erin Brown, Free Press Staff

After forcing overtime, the fourth seeded Southern Maine Huskies fell 61-58 to the fifth seeded UMass Dartmouth Corsairs in the Little East Conference Quarterfinal game Tuesday night at the Costello Sports Complex in Gorham.

Seniors Gretchen Anderson (Kittery Point, ME/ St. Thomas Aquinas) and Ella Ramonas (Portland, ME/ Deering) were crucial players in Southern Maine’s fight to the end. Anderson led the Huskies in points, scoring 17. She also led both teams in rebounds with 15, including 12 on the defensive end. Ramonas followed Anderson in points with 16 for the night and also tallied four assists during her team high of 44 minutes of play.

Southern Maine took an early lead over UMass Dartmouth and held onto it tightly through the first two quarters. The Huskies were able to end the first quarter outscoring the Corsairs 15-11. The Huskies extended their advantage in the second, securing  an eight-point lead heading into halftime.

As the second half began, UMass Dartmouth was down 27-19 and came out swinging. The Corsairs outscored the Huskies 17-12 in the third quarter, allowing them to head into the final quarter of regulation just three points behind Southern Maine at 39-36. UMass Dartmouth’s fight through the fourth quarter was not taken lightly by Southern Maine. While they were outscored 13-10 through the fourth quarter, the Huskies were not going down without forcing some extra basketball. The teams went into overtime knotted at 49.

The teams went back and forth throughout the five-minute overtime period, until UMass Dartmouth broke the tenth tie of the matchup with a jumper from junior Megan Ronaghan, giving the Corsairs a 60-58 lead with 21 seconds remaining in overtime. Ronaghan would then go on to go 1 for 2 on the free throw line to finish off UMass Dartmouth’s 61-58 quarterfinal victory.

USMMB #2 vs. Rhode Island College #7

The seventh seeded Rhode Island College Anchormen upset the number two seeded University of Southern Maine Huskies Tuesday night in the Little East Conference Quarterfinal with a close 64-63 victory. The Huskies started out hot, outscoring the Anchormen 9-0 during the first three minutes of competition. Things were looking good for the Huskies, but after fifteen minutes of play Rhode Island College came from behind to take their first lead of the game, closing the first half 37-31 in their favor.

The teams were neck and neck throughout the entire second half. While the Huskies outscored the Anchorman 32-27 in the second half, sophomore Malcolm Scott  drained two consecutive three-point jump shots to put the Anchormen above the Huskies 64-62 with 2:30 to play in regulation. Junior Atencio Martin (Kittery, ME/ Traip Academy) took to the free throw line with eight seconds remaining in regulation hoping to force overtime. Martin went 1 for 2, falling just short of tying the contest as the Huskies fell 64-63.

Junior Zach Leal (York, ME/ York) lead the scoring for the Huskies, totaling 18 points Tuesday night. Atencio Martin picked up 8 points for the night, leading both teams in rebounds with a total of 10. Senior Jose Nouchanthavong (Westbrook, ME/ Westbrook) followed Leal in points with 17. Twelve of Nouchanthavong’s points came in the second half fight the Huskies put up against the Anchormen.

Coach Karl Henrikson believes the team still possibly has a chance to go to make an appearance in an ECAC post-season tournament game, but also looks forward to next season:

“We’ve got a lot of guys coming back and they’re all enthusiastic about the following season. They’ll get back to work, back to the weight room, back to the gym, improve on some things and get right back out there for next season,” Henrikson says.

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