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  • Published
    July 22, 2016

    Liars, hucksters and would-be suckers

    I’ve known Lynda Simmons for more than 50 years. I was a wide-eyed 5-year-old at her birthday party Nov. 22, 1963, when Walter Cronkite crashed the party with the terrible news from Dallas. I thought of Lynda recently when I was reading a USA Today article about a boatload of contractors stiffed by Donald Trump. Before she retired, Lynda was president of Phipps Houses, the biggest nonprofit housing builder in New …

  • Published
    June 23, 2016

    Are the Olympics killing Isabel Ribeiro?

    The Olympics may be killing Isabel Ribeiro. Literally. Isabel Ribeiro has an enlarged heart and needs surgery. But she can’t get the surgery she needs because her credit has been destroyed by her failure to make a lump sum payment of more than $20,000 for her new apartment in the Colonia Carioca housing project built on the edge of Rio de Janeiro to house some 3,000 of the approximately 60,000 people forcibly …

  • Published
    June 10, 2016

    Fear and bloating on the campaign trail

    Wide swaths of the American public are understandably upset that Trump supporters are roughing up and sucker-punching anti-Trump protesters, and that Trump is inciting and encouraging this thuggishness. Trump’s negatives are up to 67 percent. Hard to win in November with numbers like that. Fortunately for Trump, Hillary’s negatives are roughly the same. But no one seems upset that Trump seems to toy with the idea …

  • Published
    May 28, 2016

    Witness to a bloodless coup

    I had never before seen such skinny legs. From ankle to calf they were no bigger around than broomsticks, and the calves weren’t much better. The man was huddled under a ragged blanket as filthy as he, devouring a plate of food as if he hadn’t eaten in a week. It was impossible to tell the man’s age. With a life this hard, 40 can look like 60. He was sitting in a doorway in the heart of downtown Rio de Janeiro, a …

  • Published
    May 12, 2016

    Southern man

    “Southern man, when will you pay them back?” — Neil Young I have waited 38 years to write the following words: Gary Tyler is a free man. One of the greatest miscarriages of justice of the last 50 years ended April 29. After 41 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, Gary Tyler was released April 29. In 1975, at the age of 17, Tyler was convicted of shooting and killing 13-year-old Timothy Weber in the …

  • Published
    April 28, 2016

    The 719-vote supergorilla

    With his April 19 loss in the New York primary, Bernie Sanders faces a steep climb to the Democratic nomination for president. A Sanders win is still possible, but he’s essentially hanging by a thread. What may end up cutting that thread is the 719-vote gorilla that’s been on Sanders’ back from day one of his race against Hillary Clinton. I’m referring to the Democratic Party superdelegate system. The 719 …

  • Published
    April 15, 2016

    Feelin' the Bern

    If you read this column regularly, you might think I’d be the first person to jump on the Bernie wagon. But not so. It took me months. I didn’t get on board until the first week of April, fully two months after Bernie basically tied Hillary Clinton in Iowa and then wiped her out, 60 percent to 38 percent, in New Hampshire. I was hesitant because while Sanders thundered about Clinton’s having voted for the Iraq …

  • Published
    April 1, 2016

    Witness to a war crimes trial: My heart is Sepur Zarco

    A frail, elderly woman, covered from head to toe in bright, colorful clothing, approaches the witness chair. Her face is almost entirely covered. She is no more than five feet tall, and under all that clothing she can’t weigh more than 100 pounds. She sits next to her translator. She speaks only Q’eqchi, one of Guatemala’s 24 officially recognized languages — no Spanish. The witness speaks quietly into a microphon…

  • Published
    March 3, 2016

    Seven reasons to not vote for Hillary

    There are many reasons to not vote for Hillary Clinton. Here are just seven: 1. Hillary often points out that her first job after law school was working for the Children’s Defense Fund, but as first lady she vigorously supported her husband’s “welfare reform bill,” which is arguably the worst thing that has ever happened to children in U.S. history. The bill established a lifetime limit of five years on Temporary …

  • Published
    February 19, 2016

    Comalapa Journal: Violence sends its victims north, part 2

    My last column examined some of the reasons for the exploding violence in Mexico and Central America, and the resulting flow of refugees to the United States. This column will look at how that exodus of refugees plays out far from the violence in a small town here in Midcoast Maine. I work at H.O.M.E. Co-op in Orland, and from from time to time my coworkers and I welcome refugees to our community. They come from …

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