Bernie Sanders Draws Biggest Turnout for Maine Democratic Rally in 25 Years
Maine is a small state—1.3 million. Its largest city is Portland, with a population of 66,000.
Maine is one of the few states where presidential national delegates are chosen at local caucuses. The Maine Democratic Presidential Caucuses will be held on March 6, 2016—8 months from now. And the General Election is still 16 months away.
The Sanders campaign originally booked Portland's Ocean Gateway, a venue that holds about 800 people standing. Soon, thousands of RSVPs were pouring in and the event was moved to the much larger Cross Insurance Arena.
The Cross Arena (formerly Cumberland County Civic Center) is Maine's largest concert venue, seating up to 9,500. (In 1977, Elvis Presley was due to kick-off his new concert tour here but was found dead at his Graceland Mansion the day before).
An hour before the rally's scheduled 7 p.m. start time, long lines snaked through downtown Portland with thousands waiting to get in. (The Common Dreams offices are just a block away).
Bernie packed the house. The Bangor Daily News reported:
The 2016 election may be 16 months away, but you wouldn’t know it from the thousands of people who turned out Monday evening to cheer on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.
What was scheduled as a town hall forum had become a full-blown rally by Monday night. Sanders’ speech was delayed by 20 minutes as organizers let in the throngs of people still awaiting entry. Estimates pegged the crowd at 8,000 to 9,000 people.
(At 7:15 p.m., several of our staff writers were turned away at the doors to the then-full arena; a couple hundred seats behind a curtain were blocked off keeping the turnout number below the 9,500 figure).
Maine political circles are still buzzing about the gathering—not just the size of the audience, but the crowd's youthful energy and intensity.
It was epic. And, as Bernie Sanders says, "This campaign is catching fire for a simple reason, and the simple reason is we are telling the truth."
No one we spoke with could remember a recent Maine Democratic rally that could compare. We decided to do some research and found that all the large rallies over the past 25 years were either for sitting U.S. Presidents or just before General Elections/Presidential Caucuses. Here's what we found:
The biggest Democratic rally in Maine's history appears to be the 1960 Election Eve visit to Lewiston by candidate John F. Kennedy on Nov. 6/7, 1960. The Lewiston Evening Journal reported that 14,000 came out for the scheduled 9 p.m. speech and that 8,000 remained when Kennedy arrived at the rally just before midnight.
The largest Democratic political rallies held in Maine over the past 25 years:
Bill Clinton: 7,000 (or 10,000) on Oct. 7, 1996 - Hadlock Field, Portland, Maine
Sitting President Bill Clinton came to campaign for re-election in Maine one month before the 1996 General Election in which he ultimately defeated challenger Sen. Bob Dole. The Bangor Daily News reported: "Fresh off a successful debate with Republican Bob Dole, President Bill Clinton swept into Maine on Monday night to lead a spirited pep rally for Maine Democrats. 'Hello, Maine!' Clinton called out in greeting an estimated 7,000 supporters at Portland's Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team." The Portland Press Herald reported a different turnout at the same event: "Clinton, sporting a Portland Sea Dogs jacket and baseball cap... said he was happily surprised by the crowd of more than 10,000 people who turned out. 'I never dreamed that this place would be so full'." Hadlock Field had a seating capacity of 6,500 in 1996.
Barack Obam: 6,700 (5,700 + 1,000) on Feb., 9, 2008 - Bangor Auditorium, Bangor, Maine
The day before the 2008 Maine Democratic Presidential Caucuses, both leading candidates—Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—came to rally supporters in Maine. The Bangor Daily News reported: "The Illinois senator conducted his 4 pm 'Stand for Change' rally from a small stage at the center of a crowd of 5,700 people. Outside in the cold, more than 1,000 people were turned away, according to Mike Dyer, director of the Bangor Auditorium."
Bill Clinton: 4,000 on Nov. 4, 1996 - Bangor International Airport, Bangor, Maine
The day before the 1996 General Election, Bill Clinton campaigned for re-election in Bangor. The Bangor Daily News reported: "President Clinton brought his whirlwind campaign to Bangor International Airport at 12:15 this morning, one day before Election Day. Clinton is so far ahead in his own race nationally and in Maine that his campaign advisers decided the president could afford to go shopping for a few more U.S. senators. Looking fresh after a marathon day of campaigning on the eastern seaboard, Clinton told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters estimated at 4,000 gathered in a hangar: 'This is the first rally of the last day of the last campaign I’ll ever run, and I’m glad to start it here with you'."
Bill Clinton: 4,000 on June 19, 1993 - Deering Oaks Park, Portland, Maine
Sitting President Bill Clinton came to Portland just six months into his first term. The Bangor Daily News reported: "Though the day was muggy and threatened rain, some 4,000 people packed Deering Oaks Park — a few wishing him ill, more holding signs that criticized his policies, but most apparently just wanting to catch a glimpse of the most powerful man in the free world."
Barack Obama: 3,000 Oct. 30, 2014 - Portland Expo Building, Portland, Maine
Just 5 days before Maine's 2014 Gubernatorial election, sitting President Barack Obama came back to the Portland Expo Building stumping for gubernatorial candidate Congressman Mike Michaud. The Portland Press Herald reported: "President Obama stirred a crowd of about 3,000 people into a frenzy on Thursday evening during a campaign rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud in Portland... The Michaud campaign said more than 7,000 people had requested tickets to the event."
Al Gore: 3,000 on Oct. 30, 1992 - Downtown Rally, Bangor, Maine
Four days before the 1992 General Election, Vice-Presidential candidate Al Gore campaigned in Bangor for the Clinton/Gore ticket. The Bangor Daily News reported: "At a downtown rally attended by an estimated 3,000 Democratic supporters, flanked by pockets of Perot and Bush backers, Gore taunted the president for calling him 'Mr. Ozone,' and denigrating the Democratic ticket as a couple of 'bozos.' Bush made those comments while campaigning in Michigan on Thursday."
Barack Obama: 2,500 April 1, 2010 - Portland Expo Building, Portland, Maine
One week after sitting President Barack Obama signed his Affordable Care Act into law, he came to Portland for a victory rally. The Bangor Daily News reported: "'When the pundits were obsessing over who was up and who was down, you never lost sight of what was right and what was wrong,' Obama told an audience of about 2,500 jubilant supporters at the Portland Expo. 'You knew this wasn’t about the fortunes of any one party — this was about the future of our country'."
John Edwards: 2,500 Sept. 25, 2004 - Lewiston Armory, Lewiston, Maine
John Kerry's running mate Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards campaigned in Maine six weeks before the 2004 General Election. The Portland Press Herald reported: "Edwards accused President Bush of creating a 'mess' in Iraq while failing to address a variety of international threats, during a rally Sunday in what has become a tight race for Maine's electoral votes. The North Carolina senator told 2,500 supporters at the Lewiston Memorial Armory that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and he are the right choice on the issue of national security."
Hillary Clinton: 2,200 (2,000 + 200) Feb. 9, 2008 - University of Maine, Orono, Maine
The day before the 2008 Maine Democratic Presidential Caucuses both leading candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton came to rally supporters in Maine. The Bangor Daily News reported that at the Clinton rally “more than 2,000 people showed up to hear the presidential hopeful speak at UM’s Student Recreation and Fitness Center. About 200 had to be turned away.”
Barack Obama: 2,000 Sept. 25, 2007 - Portland Expo Building, Portland, Maine
Then-Senator Barack Obama made his first visit to Maine as a candidate five months before Maine's 2008 Presidential Caucuses. The Associated Press reported: "In his first campaign visit to Maine, Obama spoke to about 2,000 people at the Portland Expo about the need for change in government health care, economics and foreign policies. But he said it's also time for a basic change in the political system so Americans can rally behind a common purpose."
Craig Brown has been the director and co-founder of Portland, Maine based Common Dreams since 1997. Previously, he was chief of staff to the progressive former Maine Congressman Tom Andrews.
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The guide, 40-year-old Charles "Carl" Mock, was attacked Thursday while fishing alone in a forested area near West Yellowstone, Montana, The AP reported. He died in the hospital two days later. Wildlife officials killed the bear on Friday when it charged while they were investigating the attack.
"They yelled and made continuous noise as they walked toward the site to haze away any bears in the area," Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wrote in a press release. "Before they reached the site, a bear began charging the group. Despite multiple attempts by all seven people to haze away the bear, it continued its charge. Due to this immediate safety risk, the bear was shot and died about 20 yards from the group."
The AP reported the bear to be an older male that weighed at least 420 pounds. Wildlife workers later found a moose carcass about 50 yards from the site of the attack.
"This indicates the bear was defending a food source during the attack," Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wrote.
Mock was an experienced guide who worked for Backcountry Adventure, which provides snowmobile rentals and tours in Yellowstone National Park, according to The AP. His friend Scott Riley said Mock knew the risks of working around grizzly bears.
"He was the best guide around," Riley told The AP. "He had sight like an eagle and hearing like an owl... Carl was a great guy."
Mock carried bear spray, but investigators don't know if he had a chance to use it before the attack. Grizzly attacks are relatively rare in the Yellowstone area, CNN reported.
Since 1979, the park has welcomed more than 118 million visitors and recorded only 44 bear attacks. The odds of a grizzly attack in Yellowstone are about one in 2.7 million visits. The risk is lower in more developed areas and higher for those doing backcountry hikes.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks advises being aware of surroundings, staying on trails, traveling in groups, making noise, avoiding animal remains, following food storage instructions and carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it. Above all, it's important to back away slowly if a bear encounter occurs.
It's also important to pay attention to the time of year.
"Now is the time to remember to be conscientious in the backcountry as the bears are coming out of hibernation and looking for food sources," the sheriff's office of Gallatin County, Montana, wrote in a statement about the attack.
Historically, people pose more of a threat to grizzly bears than the reverse.
"When Lewis and Clark explored the West in the early 1800s, grizzly bears roamed across vast stretches of open and unpopulated land between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Plains," the U.S Fish and Wildlife service wrote. "But when pioneers moved in, bears were persecuted and their numbers and range declined. As European settlement expanded over the next hundred years, towns and cities sprung up, and habitat for these large omnivores — along with their numbers — shrunk drastically. Of the many grizzly populations that were present in 1922, only six remained when they were listed by the Service in 1975 as a threatened species in the lower-48 states."
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By Brett Wilkins
In the latest of a flurry of proposed Green New Deal legislation, Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday introduced the Green New Deal for Cities Act of 2021, a $1 trillion plan to "tackle the environmental injustices that are making us and our children sick, costing us our homes, and destroying our planet."
If approved, the bill would provide federal funding for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to respond to the climate crisis, while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in communities disproportionately affected by economic inequality.
"St. Louis and communities across the nation need the Green New Deal for Cities," Bush (D-Mo.) said in a statement introducing the bill. The St. Louis native added that Black children in her city "are 2.4 times more likely than white children to test positive for lead in their blood, and are 10 times more likely to visit the emergency room for asthma each year than white children."
"Black neighborhoods host the majority of the city's air pollution sources," Bush continued. "And there is a nuclear waste site—the West Lake Landfill, which is a catastrophe-in-progress."
"This legislation would make sure every city, town, county, and tribe can have a federally funded Green New Deal," she added. "This is a $1 trillion investment to tackle the environmental injustices that are making us and our children sick, costing us our homes, and destroying our planet."
We're introducing the Green New Deal for Cities. Here's what it means for you: ☀️ $1 trillion investment in our c… https://t.co/uJnnbM5NNx— Congresswoman Cori Bush (@Congresswoman Cori Bush)1618852007.0
Specifically, the GND4Cities would:
- Authorize $1 trillion, with a minimum of 50% of all investments going each to frontline communities and climate mitigation;
- Fund an expansive array of climate and environmental justice projects including wind power procurement, clean water infrastructure, and air quality monitoring;
- Support housing stability by conditioning funding to local governments to ensure they work with tenant and community groups to prevent displacement in communities receiving investment; and
- Support workers by including prevailing wage requirements, equitable and local hiring provisions, apprenticeship and workforce development requirements, project labor agreements, and "Buy America" provisions.
In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Bush explained that the Green New Deal for Cities is personal for her.
"I remember talking about lead paint as a child, hearing about it on the television and showing up at parks and people testing us for lead," she recalled. "It was like this thing when I was a kid, and it just went away."
Tune in to @STLonAir at noon to hear @RepCori discuss her and her colleagues' proposal for a Green New Deal for Cit… https://t.co/q3N0hmJndg— St. Louis Public Radio (@St. Louis Public Radio)1618845961.0
Bush said that "this whole thing is about saving lives," adding that "there are labor provisions in this bill to make sure that the workers are well-paid and well-treated for work."
"The urgency of this climate crisis and environmental racism demands that we equip our cities and our local governments with this funding," she added.
In her statement introducing the measure, Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said that "the GND4Cities would provide local governments the funding to create good-paying, union jobs repairing their infrastructure, improving water quality, reducing air pollution, cleaning up parks, creating new green spaces, and eliminating blight."
"The desire for these investments is there," Ocasio-Cortez added. "We need to give our local communities the funding and support to act."
Although only Monday, it's already been a busy week for Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal. Earlier in the day, she and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) reintroduced the Green New Deal for Public Housing, which they said would significantly improve living conditions and costs for nearly two million people who reside in public housing units, while creating more than 240,000 new jobs.
It’s Green New Deal week!👷🏽♂️🌎 This week we’re highlighting: ✅ Green New Deal reintro tomorrow w/ new Congression… https://t.co/3kEllAc40y— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1618878563.0
Later on Monday, Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) announced they will reintroduce their landmark 2019 Green New Deal bill on Tuesday. In a Spanish-language statement previewing the bill's introduction, Ocasio-Cortez said the measure "aims to create a national mobilization over the next 10 years that fights against economic, social, racial crises, as well as the interconnected climatic conditions affecting our country."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Offshore oil and gas drillers have discarded and abandoned more than 18,000 miles of pipelines on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1960s, a report from the Government Accountability Office says.
The industry has essentially recovered none of the pipelines laid in the Gulf in the last six decades; the abandoned infrastructure accounts for more than 97% of all of the decommissioned pipelines in the Gulf.
The pipelines pose a threat to the habitat around them, as maritime commerce and hurricanes and erosion can move sections of pipeline.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement does not conduct undersea inspections even though surface monitoring is "not always reliable for detecting ruptures," according to the GAO.
For a deeper dive:
The survey compared six environmental concerns: drinking water pollution; pollution in rivers, lakes and reservoirs; tropical rainforest loss; climate change; air pollution; and plant and animal species extinction. While most Americans showed concern for all of these threats, the majority were most worried about polluted drinking water (56 percent), followed by polluted rivers, lakes and reservoirs (53 percent), Gallup reported.
"When it comes to environmental problems, Americans remain most concerned about two that have immediate and personal potential effects," Gallup noted. "For the past 20 years, worries about water pollution – both drinking water and bodies of water — have ranked at the top of the list. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, laid bare the dangers of contaminated drinking water and no doubt sticks in the public's minds."
According to a new study, 61.4 million people in the U.S. did not drink their tap water as of 2018, Asher Rosinger, an assistant professor of biobehavioral health, anthropology and demography at Penn State, wrote in The Conversation.
"It's important not to blame people for distrusting what comes out of their tap, because those fears are rooted in history," Rosinger explained.
Meanwhile, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency surveys found that almost 50 percent of rivers and streams and more than one-third of lakes are polluted and unfit for swimming, fishing and drinking, the Natural Resources Defense Council reported. Without action, concerns over water quality will become increasingly relevant as the demand for fresh water is expected to be one-third greater by 2050 than it is today.
Gallup researchers have tracked environmental concerns among Americans since 2000, and water quality worries have consistently ranked high, Gallup noted.
The survey also revealed an environmental partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans. For example, 68 percent of Democrats were highly concerned about global warming compared to 14 percent of Republicans.
Another recent Gallup survey found that 82 percent of Democrats believed that global warming effects had already started compared to 29 percent of Republicans. "That's a gap of 53 points; for comparison, in 2001, the gap was a mere 13 points," Grist reported.
Similarly, a 2020 Pew Research Center report revealed the widest partisan gap to date concerning whether or not climate change should be a top policy priority. Protecting air and water quality ranked as the second most divisive issue among Republicans and Democrats, The New York Times reported.
"Intense partisan polarization over these two issues in particular" has been growing for decades, Riley Dunlap, a professor emeritus at Oklahoma State University, told The New York Times last February. "Voters take cues on their policy preferences and overall positions," he added. "President Trump has, in the past, called climate change a hoax and all that. You get a similar message from many members of Congress on the Republican side. And most importantly, it's the message you get from the conservative media."
Gallup's latest figures also showed that concern about environmental threats either increased or remained the same between 2019 and 2020.
"The fluctuations in worry levels since 2019 are largely driven by Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, who became more worried, on average, about the six environmental problems in 2020 during the presidential campaign and are now less worried with Joe Biden as president," Gallup reported.
While surveys like these are "not a full-blown diagnostic rundown of the nation's psyche," they are informative tools for understanding how and what Americans are feeling and thinking, Grist reported.
Climate Change Threatens Coffee – But We’ve Found a Wild Species That Could Help Save Your Morning Brew
By Aaron P Davis
The world loves coffee. More precisely, it loves arabica coffee. From the smell of its freshly ground beans through to the very last sip, arabica is a sensory delight.
Robusta, the other mainstream coffee crop species, is almost as widely traded as arabica, but it falls short on flavor. Robusta is mainly used for instant coffee and blends, while arabica is the preserve of discerning baristas and expensive espressos.
Consumers may be happy, but climate change is making coffee farmers bitter. Diseases and pests are becoming more common and severe as temperatures rise. The fungal infection known as coffee leaf rust has devastated plantations in Central and South America. And while robusta crops tend to be more resistant, they need plenty of rain – a tall order as droughts proliferate.
The future for coffee farming looks difficult, if not bleak. But one of the more promising solutions involves developing new, more resilient coffee crops. Not only will these new coffees have to tolerate higher temperatures and less predictable rainfall, they'll also have to continue satisfying consumer expectations for taste and smell.
Finding this perfect combination of traits in a new species seemed remote. But in newly published research, my colleagues and I have revealed a little-known wild coffee species that could be the best candidate yet.
Coffee Farming in a Warming World
Coffea stenophylla was first described as a new species from Sierra Leone in 1834. It was farmed across the wetter parts of upper west Africa until the early 20th century, when it was replaced by the newly discovered and more productive robusta, and largely forgotten by the coffee industry. It continued to grow wild in the humid forests of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, where it became threatened by deforestation.
At the end of 2018, we found stenophylla in Sierra Leone after searching for several years, but failed to find any trees in fruit until mid-2020, when a 10g sample was recovered for tasting.
Field botanists of the 19th century had long proclaimed the superior taste of stenophylla coffee, and also recorded its resistance to coffee leaf rust and drought. Those early tasters were often inexperienced though, and our expectations were low before the first tasting in the summer of 2020. That all changed once I'd sampled the first cup on a panel with five other coffee experts. Those first sips were revelatory: it was like expecting vinegar and getting champagne.
This initial tasting in London was followed by a thorough evaluation of the coffee's flavour in southern France, led by my research colleague Delpine Mieulet. Mieulet assembled 18 coffee connoisseurs for a blind taste test and they reported a complex profile for stenophylla coffee, with natural sweetness, medium-high acidity, fruitiness, and good body, as one would expect from high-quality arabica.
C. stenophylla growing in the wild, Ivory Coast. E. Couturon / IRD, Author provided
In fact, the coffee seemed very similar to arabica. At the London tasting, the Sierra Leone sample was compared to arabica from Rwanda. In the blind French tasting, most of the judges (81%) said stenophylla tasted like arabica, compared to 98% and 44% for the two arabica control samples, and 7% for a robusta sample.
The coffee tasting experts picked up on notes of peach, blackcurrant, mandarin, honey, light black tea, jasmine, chocolate, caramel and elderflower syrup. In essence, stenophylla coffee is delicious. And despite scoring highly for its similarity to arabica, the stenophylla coffee sample was identified as something entirely unique by 47% of the judges. That means there may be a new market niche for this rediscovered coffee to fill.
The taste testers approved of stenophylla's sweet and fruity flavour. CIRAD, Author provided
Breaking New Grounds
Until now, no other wild coffee species has come close to arabica for its superior taste. Scientifically, the results are compelling because we would simply not expect stenophylla to taste like arabica. These two species are not closely related, they originated on opposite sides of the African continent and the climates in which they grow are very different. They also look nothing alike: stenophylla has black fruit and more complex flowers while arabica cherries are red.
It was always assumed that high-quality coffee was the preserve of arabica – originally from the forests of Ethiopia and South Sudan – and particularly when grown at elevations above 1,500 metres, where the climate is cooler and the light is better.
Stenophylla coffee breaks these rules. Endemic to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, stenophylla grows in hot conditions at low elevations. Specifically it grows at a mean annual temperature of 24.9°C – 1.9°C higher than robusta, and up to 6.8°C higher than arabica. Stenophylla also appears more tolerant of droughts, potentially capable of growing with less rainfall than arabica.
Robusta coffee can grow in similar conditions to stenophylla, but the price paid to farmers is roughly half that of arabica. Stenophylla coffee makes it possible to grow a superior tasting coffee in much warmer climates. And while stenophylla trees tend to produce less fruit than arabica, they still yield enough to be commercially viable.
The stenophylla harvest on Reunion Island. IRD / CIRAD, Author provided
To breed the coffee crop plants of the future, we need species with great flavour and high heat tolerance. Crossbreeding stenophylla with arabica or robusta could make both more resilient to climate change, and even improve their taste, particularly in the latter.
With stenophylla's rediscovery, the future of coffee just got a little brighter.
Aaron P Davis: Senior Research Leader, Plant Resources, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Disclosure statement: Aaron P Davis receives funding from Darwin Initiative (UK).
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.