Controversy and Confederacy


Earlier this month, two baby boys were born within hours of each other, at the same Maine hospital, to a pair of sisters. With cousins and birthday buddies Waylin and Jacob welcomed into the world, let’s get into the news.

What we’re talking about

A local church may remove a plaque honoring the Confederate president. Trustees of First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on Congress Street are looking at taking down the plaque to Jefferson Davis amid a growing national debate over Confederate monuments. Although he wasn’t a Unitarian, Davis worshiped at the church prior to the Civil War during visits to Maine in the summers of 1857 and 1858 — which confused churchgoers at the time. The plaque was donated by the Daughters of the Confederacy, but congregation leaders now say they don’t know why the church accepted it.

More on the Confederacy from Gov. LePage later, but for now buisness:

WEX wants to track and manage Homeland Security vehicles. The technology company was recently added to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security list of approved information technology vendors. The approval will allow Wex to sell national defense managers equipment and services to track the agency’s fleet, just as it’s planning to move its global headquarters to Portland.

In a less bullish business story, a Portland firm will try to sell the land of a bankrupt Lincoln paper mill. The mill company on Tuesday asked a bankruptcy judge to allow it to hire The Dunham Group to start seeking a buyer for the property, which spans 240 acres bordering the Penobscot River in Lincoln.

The German owners of a ship recently held in Portland are in legal trouble. On Tuesday, a federal grand jury at the U.S. District Court in Portland indicted the owner and operator of cargo ship M/V Marguerita with failing to keep accurate pollution control records and falsifying records.  

Gov. Paul LePage said thousands of Mainers fought for the Confederacy. Historians say otherwise. LePage claim that 7,600 Mainers went to fight for the south during the Civil War has earned the Republican national media attention and raised the eyebrows of a few historians.  “The idea that Maine was a Confederate hotbed is pretty ludicrous,” Matthew Karp, a Civil War historian at Princeton University, told CNN. BDN’s Michael Shepherd reports that local experts know of 30 confirmed cases of Mainers going to the Confederacy, including college students who may have been returning home. Maine sent 73,000 people to war for the Union — a higher proportion than any other state — and more than 9,000 died.

LePage also blamed leftists for the death of three people in Charlottesville. Right wingers, neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan who said they were in the southern city to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee clashed with counter protesters, including a group called anitfa, earlier this month. “The so-called anti-fascists went to Charlottesville looking for a confrontation,” LePage said. “It cost the lives of a young woman and two dedicated police officers.” A neo-Nazi from Ohio is charged with second-degree murder after he allegedly rammed a crowd of counter-demonstrators with his car, killing Heather Heyer. The two police officers died when their helicopter crashed.

Larry Goodwin is back in jail. Yesterday, law enforcement asked for help locating Goodwin, 41, after he walked off from his work release job in downtown Portland. Police caught up with him later Tuesday at an apartment complex in Westbrook. He’ll likely face charges of escape.  

Tweet of the day

From Kate Wiles, the headline of the year. Stupid, sexy Flanders!

The Big Idea

Apricot seeds don’t cure cancer. Yet, the now widely debunked myth that they do still prevails, and there are natural remedy providers still making money off that 1970s allegation, according to this recent long form piece by BuzzFeed. Conspiracy theorists claim the government is covering up the cancer curing properties of apricot seeds, while scientists worry about the viral spread of apricot seed claims in the era of social media. Kernels can be toxic for children, they say, and shouldn’t be pedaled as medicine.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg at, or tweet @JZBleiberg.

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