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Associated Press

Document: Tampa man accused of plot to kill federal judge

Federal authorities say a jail inmate who supports the Islamic State group is accused of plotting to kill an 80-year-old federal judge in Florida.

A grand jury on Wednesday indicted 39-year-old Jason Jerome Springer on a charge of threatening to assault or kill U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Springer was awaiting trial on a gun violation when he told other inmates he wanted to kill Kovachevich, and would do so if released.

Court documents say Springer mentioned flying an “explosive-packed drone” into her office and tried to learn her home address.

An inquiry began in February when an inmate reported Springer had prayed for Kovachevich’s death.

Prosecutors say social media postings indicate he’s sympathetic to the terrorist group.

An attorney for Springer isn’t listed.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Once critical of global deals, Donald Trump slow to pull out of any

The “America First” president who vowed to extricate America from onerous overseas commitments appears to be warming up to the view that when it comes to global agreements, a deal’s a deal.

From NAFTA to the Iran nuclear agreement to the Paris climate accord, President Donald Trump‘s campaign rhetoric is colliding with the reality of governing. Despite repeated pledges to rip up, renegotiate or otherwise alter them, the U.S. has yet to withdraw from any of these economic, environmental or national security deals, as Trump’s past criticism turns to tacit embrace of several key elements of U.S. foreign policy.

The administration says it is reviewing these accords and could still pull out of them. A day after certifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attacked the accord and listed examples of Iran’s bad behavior. His tone suggested that even if Iran is fulfilling the letter of its nuclear commitments, the deal remains on unsure footing.

Yet with one exception — an Asia-Pacific trade deal that already had stalled in Congress — Trump’s administration quietly has laid the groundwork to honor the international architecture of deals it has inherited. It’s a sharp shift from the days when Trump was declaring the end of a global-minded America that negotiates away its interests and subsidizes foreigners’ security and prosperity.

Trump had called the Iran deal the “worst” ever, and claimed climate change was a hoax. But in place of action, the Trump administration is only reviewing these agreements, as it is doing with much of American foreign policy.

Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, said Trump may be allowing himself to argue in the future that existing deals can be improved without being totally discarded. “That allows him to tell his base that he’s getting a better deal than Bush or Obama got, and yet reassure these institutions that it’s really all being done with a nod and a wink, that Trump doesn’t mean what he says,” Brinkley said.

So far, there’s been no major revolt from Trump supporters, despite their expectation he would be an agent of disruption. This week’s reaffirmations of the status quo came via Tillerson’s certification of Iran upholding its nuclear deal obligations and the administration delaying a decision on whether to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

The president had previously spoken about dismantling or withdrawing from both agreements as part of his vision, explained in his inaugural address, that “every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”

The Iran certification, made 90 minutes before a midnight Tuesday deadline, means Tehran will continue to enjoy relief from U.S. nuclear sanctions. Among the anti-deal crowd Trump wooed in his presidential bid, the administration’s decision is fueling concerns that Trump may let the 2015 accord stand.

Tillerson on Wednesday sought to head off any criticism that the administration was being easy on Iran, describing a broad administration review of Iran policy that includes the nuclear deal and examines if sanctions relief serves U.S. interests. The seven-nation nuclear deal, he said, “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran” and “only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state.”

On the climate agreement, the White House postponed a meeting Tuesday where top aides were to have hashed out differences on what to do about the non-binding international deal forged in Paris in December 2015. The agreement allowed rich and poor countries to set their own goals to reduce carbon dioxide and went into effect last November, after the U.S., China and other countries ratified it. Not all of Trump’s advisers share his skeptical views on climate change — or the Paris pact.

Trump’s position on trade deals also has evolved. He had promised to jettison the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada unless he could substantially renegotiate it in America’s favor, blaming NAFTA for devastating the U.S. manufacturing industry by incentivizing the use of cheap labor in Mexico.

Now his administration is only focused on marginal changes that would preserve much of the existing agreement, according to draft guidelines that Trump’s trade envoy sent to Congress. The proposal included a controversial provision that lets companies challenge national trade laws through private tribunals.

Trump has followed through with a pledge to pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping free trade deal President Barack Obama negotiated. The agreement was effectively dead before Trump took office after Congress refused to ratify it. Even Trump’s Democratic opponent in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton, opposed the accord.

But on NATO, Trump has completely backed off his assertions that the treaty organization is “obsolete.” His Cabinet members have fanned out to foreign capitals to show America’s support for the alliance and his administration now describes the 28-nation body as a pillar of Western security.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

The origins of 4/20, marijuana’s high holiday

Thursday marks marijuana culture’s high holiday, 4/20, when college students gather — at 4:20 p.m. — in clouds of smoke on campus quads and when pot shops in legal weed states thank their customers with discounts.

This year’s edition provides an occasion for pot activists to reflect on how far their movement has come, with recreational pot now allowed in eight states and the nation’s capital, as well as a changed national political climate that could threaten to slow or undermine their cause.

Here’s a look at the holiday’s history.

___

WHY 4/20?

The origins of the date, and the term “420” generally, were long murky. Some claimed it referred to a police code for marijuana possession or that it arose from Bob Dylan‘s “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35,” with its refrain of “Everybody must get stoned” — 420 being the product of 12 times 35.

But in recent years, a consensus has emerged around the most credible explanation: that it started with a group of bell-bottomed buddies from San Rafael High School in California, who called themselves “the Waldos.” A friend’s brother was afraid of getting busted for a patch of cannabis he was growing in the woods at Point Reyes, so he drew a map and gave the teens permission to harvest the crop, the story goes.

During fall 1971, at 4:20 p.m., just after classes and football practice, the group would meet up at the school’s statue of chemist Louis Pasteur, smoke a joint and head out to search for the weed patch. They never did find it, but their private lexicon — “420 Louie,” and later just “420” — would take on a life of its own.

The Waldos saved postmarked letters and other artifacts from the 1970s referencing “420,” which they now keep in a bank vault, and when the Oxford English Dictionary added the term last month it cited some of those documents as the entry’s earliest recorded uses.

___

HOW DID ‘420’ SPREAD?

A brother of one of the Waldos was a close friend of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, as Lesh once confirmed in an interview with the Huffington Post. The Waldos began hanging out in the band’s circle, and the slang spread.

Fast-forward to the early 1990s: Steve Bloom, a reporter for the cannabis magazine High Times, was at a Dead show when he was handed a flier urging people to “meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.” High Times published it.

“It’s a phenomenon,” said one of the Waldos, Steve Capper, now 62 and a chief executive at a payroll financing company in San Francisco. “Most things die within a couple years, but this just goes on and on. It’s not like someday somebody’s going to say, ‘OK, Cannabis New Year’s is on June 23rd now.'”

Bloom, now the editor in chief of Freedom Leaf Magazine, notes that while the Waldos came up with the term, the people who made the flier — and effectively turned 4/20 into a holiday — remain unknown.

___

FILE – In this April 20, 2009, file photo, a large crowd cheers as the time reaches 4:20 p.m. on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Thursday, April 20, 2017, marks marijuana culture’s high holiday, 4/20, when college students gather – at 4:20 p.m. – in clouds of smoke on campus quads and pot shops in legal weed states thank their customers with discounts. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?

With weed, naturally. Some of the celebrations are bigger than others; Hippie Hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park typically draws thousands. In Seattle, the organizers of the annual Hempfest event are anticipating about 250 people at a private party. Some pot shops are offering discounts or hosting block parties.

College quads and statehouse lawns are also known for drawing 4/20 celebrants, with the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus historically among the largest gatherings — though not so much since administrators started closing off the campus several years ago. Generally, 4/20 events in Colorado have dropped off significantly since the state legalized recreational use in 2012.

Some breweries make 4/20 themed beers — including SweetWater Brewing in Atlanta, whose founders attended CU-Boulder. Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California, releases its “Waldos’ Special Ale” every year on 4/20 in honoring of the term’s coiners; it’s billed as “the dankest and hoppiest beer ever brewed at Lagunitas.”

___

THE POLITICS

This year’s 4/20 follows successful legalization campaigns in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts, which join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington as states that allow recreational marijuana. More than half the states allow medical marijuana.

But it remains illegal under federal law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions this month ordered a review of marijuana policy to see how it may conflict with the President Donald Trump‘s crime-fighting agenda, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly recently called marijuana “a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs.” That’s a view long held by drug warriors despite scant evidence for its validity.

Sixty percent of adults support legalizing marijuana, according to a Gallup poll last fall, and two-thirds of respondents in a Yahoo/Marist poll released this week said marijuana is safer than opioids.

Undermining regulatory schemes in legal pot states could prompt a backlash that would hasten the end of federal prohibition, said Vivian McPeak, a founder of Seattle’s Hempfest.

“We’re looking at an attorney general who wants to bring America back into the 1980s in terms of drug policy,” McPeak said. “I’m skeptical they can put the cannabis genie back into the bottle.”

___

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

McPeak says 4/20 these days is “half celebration and half call to action.”

For the Waldos, who remain close friends, it signifies above all else a good time, Capper says.

“We’re not political. We’re jokesters,” he said. “But there was a time that we can’t forget, when it was secret, furtive. … The energy of the time was more charged, more exciting in a certain way.

“I’m not saying that’s all good — it’s not good they were putting people in jail,” he added. “You wouldn’t want to go back there. Of course not.”

___

FILE – In this Aug. 15, 2014 file photo, set to the symbolic 4:20 time, weed patterns adorn clocks up for sale on the first of three days of Hempfest, Seattle’s annual gathering to advocate the decriminalization of marijuana at Myrtle Edwards Park on the waterfront in Seattle. Thursday, April 20, 2017, marks marijuana culture’s high holiday, 4/20, when college students gather – at 4:20 p.m. – in clouds of smoke on campus quads and pot shops in legal weed states thank their customers with discounts. (Jordan Stead/seattlepi.com via AP, File)

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Derek Jeter, Jeb Bush join forces in bid to buy Marlins

Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush have formed a team in their attempt to buy a team.

The former New York Yankees star and former Florida governor have joined forces in their pursuit of the Miami Marlins, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday.

The person confirmed the partnership to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Jeter and Bush have not commented. They initially had competing interests in efforts to buy the team.

The person said Quogue Capital investment fund founder Wayne Rothbaum also is interested in buying the Marlins.

Jeter has long talked about owning a franchise. Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, was part-owner of the Texas Rangers from 1989 to 1998.

Last week, Marlins president David Samson said talks with multiple parties interested in buying the team were in the “fourth inning.” He said owner Jeffrey Loria, 76, might sell before the end of the season — or not at all.

Price and financing could be major hurdles. Joshua Kushner, whose older brother is an adviser to President Donald Trump, had a preliminary agreement to buy the Marlins for $1.6 billion before breaking off negotiations. Loria bought the team in 2002 for $158.5 million.

Spokesmen for Jeter and Bush didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Jeter retired in 2014 after 20 seasons with the Yankees. His final manager, Joe Girardi, recently predicted Jeter would make a great owner — even if it’s in a city other than New York.

“That will be strange. In my mind he’ll always be a Yankee,” Girardi said. “But there is life after baseball, and sometimes the opportunity that presents itself is not always necessarily where you played.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

How communities shaped by refugees became Donald Trump country

Richard Rodrigue stood in the back of a banquet hall, watching his blond-haired, blue-eyed daughter mingle among her high school classmates. These teenagers speak dozens of languages, and hail from a dozen African nations.

They fled brutal civil war, famine, oppressive regimes to find themselves here, at an ordinary high school pre-prom fete in this once-dying New England mill town, revived by an influx of some 7,500 immigrants over the last 16 years. Rodrigue smiled and waved at his daughter, proud she is a part of it: “It will help her in life,” he said. “The world is not all white.”

Richard Rodrigue
Richard Rodrigue embraces his daughter Stephanie, 17, after she walked the runway in her high school’s pre-prom fashion show in Lewiston, Maine. [Photo Credit: AP Photo]

Rodrigue believes the refugees resuscitated his town — plugging the population drain that had threatened to cripple it, opening shops and restaurants in boarded-up storefronts. But he also agrees with Donald Trump that there should be no more of them, at least not now. America is struggling, he says, and needs to take care of its own before it takes care of anyone else.

His working-class community, built along the banks of the Androscoggin River in the whitest state in America, is a place that some point to as proof that refugee integration can work. And yet for the first time in 30 years, voters in Androscoggin County chose a Republican for president, endorsing Trump’s nativist zeal against the very sort of immigrants who share their streets and their schools.

[Photo Credit: AP Graphic | Kevin S. Vineys]

Rodrigue knows he was born on the winning end of the American dream. His grandfather fled poverty in Quebec and moved to Maine to toil his whole life in the textile mills. He never learned English, faced hate and discrimination. Two generations later, Rodrigue owns a successful security company, lives in a tidy house in a quiet neighborhood and makes plans to send his daughter to college.

Immigration worked for him. But it feels different today, as the county of 107,000 people tries to find its footing. The sprawling brick mills that line the river sit mostly shuttered. A quarter of children grow up poor. Taxpayers pick up the welfare tab. So Trump’s supporters here tie their embrace of his immigration clampdown to their economic anxieties, and their belief that the newcomers are taking more than they have earned.

Lewiston Maine
The sun rises over billowing smokestacks in Lewiston, Maine. [Photo Credit: AP Photo]

“There’s got to be a point in time when you have to say, ‘Whoa, let’s get the working people back up. Let’s bring the money in.’ But they keep coming, keep coming,” Rodrigue said.

His community has been an experiment in immigration and all that comes with it — friendships, fear, triumphs, setbacks — and he knows that Trump’s presidency marks another chapter in that struggle for the American soul.

“I guess it just boils down to: What’s enough? Is that wrong? Am I wrong? Am I bad? That’s how I feel.”

___

No one invited the Somali refugees to Lewiston.

They fled bullets and warlords to eventually be chosen for resettlement in big American cities, where they were unnerved by the crime and drugs and noise.

In early 2001, a few refugee families struggling to afford housing in Portland ventured 30 miles north and found a city in retreat. Empty downtown stores were ringed by sagging apartment buildings no longer needed to house workers because so few workers remained.

Khimar woman refugee
A woman wearing a khimar leaves after shopping at one of the many stores owned by Somali immigrants who have settled in Lewiston, Maine. [Photo Credit: AP Photo]

The refugees saw possibility in Lewiston’s decay. Word spread quickly, and friends and families followed. The town morphed in a matter of months into a laboratory for what happens when culture suddenly shifts. Maine’s population is 94 percent white, and its citizens were abruptly confronted with hundreds of black Muslims, traumatized by war and barely able to speak English.

Ardo Mohamed came to Lewiston in 2001. She fled Mogadishu in the 1990s, when militiamen burst into the home she shared with her parents and nine siblings, and started shooting. She watched her father die, as the rest of the family escaped into the woods. They wound up in overcrowded refugee camps, separated for years, then finally Atlanta, then Lewiston. Now she fries sambusas with her sister at a shop she owns downtown.

“We wanted to be safe,” said the mother of five, “just like you do.”

When the refugees began arriving, Tabitha Beauchesne was a student at Lewiston High School. Her new classmates were poor, but Beauchesne was poor, too. She grew up in a struggling family in housing projects downtown. It felt to her then, and it still feels to her now, that the refugees got more help than her family.

Auburn Maine woman
Tabitha Beauchesne stands in her living room in Auburn, Maine. [Photo Credit: AP Photo]

“They just seemed to take over,” she said. She doesn’t consider herself racist, though acknowledges that race and religion likely play a role in her sense that the refugees overwhelmed her community. The African Muslims, many of whom wear hijabs, stand out far more than her French-Canadian ancestors did when they arrived generations ago, she said.

That perception — one of being inundated by a culture so different from her own — ingrained in her a sense of injustice so deep it persists to this day. She’s now a stay-at-home mother of two, and she left Lewiston to move to another school district in the county because she believes the refugee students monopolize teachers’ attention.

Once a Barack Obama supporter, Beauchesne turned to Trump — and she cheers his efforts to curb the flow of refugees into the United States. She wants Trump to design a tax system that funnels less of her money to aiding those from other countries.

“I just don’t like giving money away that’s not benefiting me and, not to sound selfish, but then seeing it benefit other people,” she said. “As a business owner, my husband wouldn’t donate $500 to the Salvation Army if we couldn’t afford it. Our country needs to do the same thing.”

Taxpayers do help refugee families. Maine offers a welfare program called General Assistance, a combination of state and city funds, which provides impoverished people with vouchers for rent, utilities and food.

In 2002, at the beginning of the immigrant influx, the city handed out about $343,000 in General Assistance funds, split almost evenly between native-born Mainers and refugees, according to city records. But rumors, largely unfounded, spread that the refugees were given free cars and apartments. Locals began calling City Hall to demand answers.

Then-Mayor Laurier T. Raymond Jr. penned an open letter to the Somali community, asking that they divert friends and family away from a city he described as “maxed-out financially, physically and emotionally.”

The letter plunged Lewiston overnight into the global political cauldron. A white-supremacist group from out of state planned a rally against the Somali “invasion.” Just a few people showed up. But across town 4,000 gathered in a gymnasium to support the Somalis and try to combat the reputation of Lewiston as a racist, xenophobic city that was rocketing around the world.

And in that moment, the tide seemed to turn, deputy city administrator Phil Nadeau said. Even more immigrants came. Somali refugees gave way to those seeking asylum, from Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, a dozen nations in all. The immigrant population exploded from a handful of families to more than 7,000 people today, according to a tally by the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine. But the anxieties of old rarely seemed to resurface.

Two years ago, immigrant children led the high school soccer team to win the state championship — a moment heralded as a triumph of cultural cooperation. Outside news crews still come from time to time, Nadeau said, and “they’re always amazed that there’s nothing bad to print.”

But around the edges of the city, in the suburbs and small towns that fill out the rest of Androscoggin County, many quietly stewed. It’s there that Trump’s “America First” message took root.

homeless
Androscoggin County, Maine, hadn’t voted majority Republican for president since the Reagan era, until November. Now the county, which has seen a big influx of African refugees, is part of Trump Country. (April 19) [Photo Credit: AP Photo]

Thirty miles up the highway, Joyce Badeau greets customers by name at the hardware store where she works. She lives just outside Livermore Falls, population 3,187 — 3,035 of whom are white. She has little occasion to interact with immigrants, but her political views have been shaped by the idea of them.

Badeau voted for Obama but backs Trump now, and points to his promise to rein in immigration as one reason why.

“We’re becoming a poor country because we’re overloaded,” she said. “We can’t fix the system so long as we keep adding more broken pieces.”

She has watched the paper mills close and her neighbors lose good-paying jobs. But Badeau isn’t naive; she doesn’t believe Trump can make the mills roar back to life. That was a bygone era, replaced by email and iPhones. And his arrogance grates on her. But she hopes one day to turn on the news and not hear about crime and homelessness and terrorism — and she worries that someone who wants to hurt Americans might slip through porous borders. Trump promised to fix it all. If he can’t, she’s not sure what more America can offer immigrants.

“Because they’re leaving one country of problems and coming into another country of problems,” she said.

David Lovewell used to work at a paper mill just outside of Livermore Falls that has shed hundreds of jobs. Now he runs a logging company with his sons, but he sees a dim future for them. A few months ago, business got so bad he laid off eight employees and fell behind on his $5,500 monthly payments on the machines he uses to cut down trees.

man in snow
David Lovewell walks through the land he’s logging with his sons in Farmington, Maine. [Photo Credit: AP Photo]

He looked down at his sneakers, bought for $25 at Wal-Mart. There used to be two shoe factories nearby. He wants Trump to stop his town’s slow slip toward irrelevancy.

Lovewell doesn’t like to talk about immigration. He sighs and rubs his head, afraid to seem racist or indifferent to pain and poverty around the world. He went on a cruise to Belize with his wife several years ago, when he still worked at the mill and could afford a vacation. He stopped to buy a carving from an old man whose hands were so worn from years of whittling they looked like leather. He remembers those hands still, and the man’s dirt-floor shack with no doors and his skinny, starving dog and the kids riding around on broken bicycles.

“I struggled with it, when he did the travel ban,” Lovewell said of Trump. “At the same time, I’m seeing … people losing their jobs. Why are we so worried about immigrants coming into our country when we can’t really take care of our own people?”

So he’s looking to Trump to strike a better balance — to build an economy where his sons don’t have to battle to barely get by, and only after that design an immigration system that keeps America’s promise of open arms.

“I guess it could sound like bigotry,” he said. “But we’re hurting. Americans are hurting.”

___

Politicians have seized on the discontent.

Last August, candidate Trump stood on a stage in Portland and singled out the Somali community as causing a crime wave. The Lewiston police chief quickly refuted the charge — crime has decreased dramatically since the refugees arrived — but it stuck in the minds of many.

Maine’s Republican governor, Paul LePage, has called asylum-seekers “the biggest problem in our state,” and suggested they bring danger and disease.

And in Androscoggin County, Republican leaders hammer the issue of refugee resettlement on their Facebook page, with post after post about the injustice they see in taxpayers helping them with assistance. They’ve dubbed it “the refugee racket,” and complain that the school system is forced to accommodate 34 languages.

Lewiston schools
[Photo Credit: AP Graphic | Kevin S. Vineys]

Several years ago, Webster and his wife sold their home in the suburbs and rented an apartment in downtown Lewiston, across the street from a mosque. They can stroll to dinner, past a yoga studio and a shop that sells artisan olive oil. There are also dozens of immigrant-owned businesses, like the Mogadishu Business Center — with two flags hanging in the window, one American and one Somali. Remaining vacant storefronts have signs in the windows, promising prospective buyers an opportunity to “be part of Lewiston’s great rebirth.”

“We never have the opportunity to redo time under a different set of assumptions,” Webster said. “But if the immigrant population hadn’t happened, Lewiston would be a community that was contracting, and potentially in a downward death spiral.”

Organizations that work with immigrants nevertheless must fight on to combat deep-seated distrust. Catholic Charities publishes a fact sheet called “The Top Ten Myths about Somalis and Why They Are Wrong.” It lists untruths like, “Somalis are draining the welfare coffers,” ”Somalis get free apartments,” even “Somalis keep live chickens in their kitchen cupboards.”

Maine’s immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa made $136.6 million in income in 2014, and paid $40 million in taxes, according to one report from a bipartisan think tank. But they largely work in invisible jobs, said Catherine Besteman, a professor of anthropology at Maine’s Colby College. They take out trash at hotels, do the laundry at the hospital. People don’t see them working, she said, so when they see them driving a car, or shopping for groceries, it becomes easy to assume they got it for free.

That leaves some here still feeling that the immigrants take more than they deserve.

Tabitha Beauchesne pulled a bag of bargain-brand cereal out of her kitchen cabinet to demonstrate that point. At the grocery store, she said, she sees immigrant mothers with carts piled high with name-brand food.

“I guess I’m jealous of that. I would love to buy my kids the real Fruit Roll-Ups,” she said. “But, no, sorry kids, you get the fruit packets from Wal-Mart.”

celebrate diversity at school
A mural celebrating diversity decorates a hallway in Lewiston High School. [Photo Credit: AP Photo]

Several years ago, Webster and his wife sold their home in the suburbs and rented an apartment in downtown Lewiston, across the street from a mosque. They can stroll to dinner, past a yoga studio and a shop that sells artisan olive oil. There are also dozens of immigrant-owned businesses, like the Mogadishu Business Center — with two flags hanging in the window, one American and one Somali. Remaining vacant storefronts have signs in the windows, promising prospective buyers an opportunity to “be part of Lewiston’s great rebirth.”

“We never have the opportunity to redo time under a different set of assumptions,” Webster said. “But if the immigrant population hadn’t happened, Lewiston would be a community that was contracting, and potentially in a downward death spiral.”

Organizations that work with immigrants nevertheless must fight on to combat deep-seated distrust. Catholic Charities publishes a fact sheet called “The Top Ten Myths about Somalis and Why They Are Wrong.” It lists untruths like, “Somalis are draining the welfare coffers,” ”Somalis get free apartments,” even “Somalis keep live chickens in their kitchen cupboards.”

Maine’s immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa made $136.6 million in income in 2014, and paid $40 million in taxes, according to one report from a bipartisan think tank. But they largely work in invisible jobs, said Catherine Besteman, a professor of anthropology at Maine’s Colby College. They take out trash at hotels, do the laundry at the hospital. People don’t see them working, she said, so when they see them driving a car, or shopping for groceries, it becomes easy to assume they got it for free.

That leaves some here still feeling that the immigrants take more than they deserve.

Tabitha Beauchesne pulled a bag of bargain-brand cereal out of her kitchen cabinet to demonstrate that point. At the grocery store, she said, she sees immigrant mothers with carts piled high with name-brand food.

“I guess I’m jealous of that. I would love to buy my kids the real Fruit Roll-Ups,” she said. “But, no, sorry kids, you get the fruit packets from Wal-Mart.”

Muslim women
Women wearing traditional Muslim head coverings walk past one of the many stores downtown owned by African refugees who have settled in Lewiston, Maine. [Photo Credit: AP Photo]

___

So Mohamed Ibrahim now knocks on doors.

“Hello,” he says to strangers across Androscoggin County. “I am a Muslim. I was welcomed by America. I was helped by General Assistance, and that was coming from your pockets and I am grateful. I became a taxpayer. I’m not taking anything. Now I am giving.”

He wants his neighbors to know him, to know that he is normal. Trump’s election here taught him he has a lot more work to do.

“We thought, ‘Yay, it’s perfect.’ But everything was slipping.”

Ibrahim came in 2012 from Djibouti, where he risked imprisonment for opposing his government. He is one of the thousands who have flooded into Lewiston in recent years because they are seeking asylum from oppression.

With them came a spike in the amount of taxpayer assistance going to immigrants. Asylum-seekers, unlike resettled refugees, are barred from getting work permits for at least six months and many, like Ibrahim, must rely on government assistance to get by when they first arrive. The amount paid to immigrants jumped recently to nearly a half-million dollars.

And there seems to be more tension in town since Trump took office. One woman reported she was nearly run down by a screaming driver; another said someone jerked her hijab and told her to go back where she came from.

Ardo Mohamed, the Somali who cooks sambusas with her sister, is an American citizen now. Her children were born in the United States. But they worry the government will come to send her away.

“We are scared,” she said. “They say every night, ‘Mom, if they take you, where we do live?'”

Ibrahim does not blame his neighbors for supporting Trump, because he’s seen the pull of populism before. When his friends complain about the policies on immigration, he reminds them of the day, more than a decade ago, that the interior minister of their country ordered all illegal immigrants to leave or face mass arrest. He asks them how they felt, and they respond: patriotic – like their government was looking out for them.

Ibrahim has his own hopes for the president. He hopes Trump will build an immigration system that gives people confidence that those coming are good and hardworking – so that, one day, people like him will be called Americans, not refugees. But he worries it will come at a cost.

Islamic Center
A worshipper takes his shoes off before entering the Lewiston Auburn Islamic Center for prayers. [Photo Credit: AP Photo]

In 50 years, he thinks, the descendants of his fellow African immigrants will be suspicious of whoever comes next.

“That’s how it’s been through history. The Irish were discriminated against, and then they discriminated against the French. The French were discriminated against, now they discriminate against us, at the bottom of the ladder,” he said, laughing uncomfortably.

“I don’t hope for that, it is not my wish. We can change. But still, we are stuck being human beings.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Loud sex sounds interrupt pro tennis match in Florida

An outdoor professional tennis match in Florida came to a brief halt amid sounds of loud sex.

Frances Tiafoe was about to serve Mitchell Krueger during their Tuesday night match in the Sarasota Open when he paused and flashed a smile of disbelief over the sound of a woman moaning in pleasure. Broadcaster Mike Cation initially described the sounds as coming from someone playing a pornographic video in the stands, but later said they were coming from an apartment nearby.

Both players had fun with the situation while the crowd laughed. Kreuger hit a ball sharply in the direction of the sounds, and Tiafoe screamed, “It can’t be that good!”

Cation later saluted the responsible couple on Twitter, writing “Sounds like you guys had a good time!”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Donald Trump inaugural attracts record $107 million in donations

President Donald Trump raised $107 million for his inaugural festivities, nearly double the previous record set by President Barack Obama eight years ago.

Trump’s inaugural committee is due to file information about those donors with the Federal Election Commission and said it would do so Tuesday. The committee doesn’t need to publicly disclose how the money was spent.

Trump placed no restrictions on the amount of money donors could give. Obama limited contributions to $50,000 in 2009 but lifted that cap four years later.

After raising about $55 million in 2009, Obama used excess funds to help pay for the White House Easter egg roll and other events, his former inaugural committee chief executive officer said.

Trump promised to give any extra money to charity, but didn’t specify which ones.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Founding generation, not just fathers, focus of new museum

Alongside a display of the Declaration of Independence at the Museum of the American Revolution, a separate tableau tells the story of Mumbet, an enslaved black woman in Massachusetts who, upon hearing the document read aloud, announced that its proclamation that “all men are created equal” should also include her.

In response, her master hit her with a frying pan. Mumbet sued him, won her freedom in court, changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman and became a nurse. Her case set a precedent prohibiting slavery in the state.

The story is a reminder that during the struggle for our nation’s liberty, the 400,000 African Americans who lived in slavery in 1776 also longed to be free.

Such stories are found throughout the museum, which opens Wednesday in Philadelphia — coinciding with the 242nd anniversary of the battle at Lexington and Concord, the “shot heard ’round the world” that began the Revolutionary War in 1775. The more inclusive, clear-eyed view of the country’s turning points is an intentional departure from the whitewashed story America has often told itself and the world.

Instead, the museum seeks to show visitors that the Revolution was a set of aspirational ideas founded on equality, individual rights and freedom that remain relevant today, said president Michael Quinn.

“These ideas rallied people from all walks of life, and they took those ideas to heart,” Quinn said, “What unifies us as a people is our shared, common commitment to these ideas.”

At several points throughout the museum, visitors are forced to confront the contradictions of the high-minded ideals of the framers of the Constitution and the realities of their time, including slavery and the second-class status of women. Slavery, for example, would expand for nearly another century after the Revolutionary War ended, and despite arguing for their liberty at the start of America, women in the United States would fight for suffrage into the early 20th century.

The message: The ideals of the American Revolution belong not only to the founding fathers long revered by our country, but also to the founding generation of Americans who first heard them, and the generations that have come since.

“For over two centuries, if you said the words ‘founders of this country,’ the image that would pop to most people’s minds would be a white man,” said Scott Stephenson, vice president of collections, exhibitions and programming. “Increasingly, we at museums have realized we have got to tell a broader story.”

One exhibit features the story of the Oneida Indians, one of the first allies to support the nascent America, who fought and died alongside the colonist soldiers. Also on display is the active role of African-Americans, enslaved and free, in the war, fighting with both the Continental and British armies, showed that blacks were patriots also fighting for their own freedom.

Historical interpretations conjured from diaries and letters of the lives of five men and women who took various routes to freedom during the war are presented in an interactive digital installation. In paintings, dioramas and exhibits, the stories of figures including poet Phillis Wheatley and William Lee, valet to Gen. George Washington, challenge the idea of who could claim the title of “revolutionary.”

Visitors are asked to consider the question, “Freedom for whom?” said Adrienne Whaley, the museum’s manager for school programs.

“The struggle to become free predates the Revolution, and it continues after the war is over,” she said. “The promise of America is defined by the ways in which we treat these people.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Fantasy sports companies fold as legislative battle resumes

The daily fantasy sports industry sharply contracted since the online games offered by companies like FanDuel and DraftKings sparked court and legislative battles across the United States last year.

More than two-thirds of companies that existed this time last year have shuttered, changed focus or joined with competitors, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the industry’s lobbying arm.

Among the most prominent examples is the proposed merger between the industry’s two largest companies — Boston’s DraftKings and New York’s FanDuel. That deal, which was announced late last year, is currently being reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission.

At least three notable companies — Fantasy Aces, FantasyHub and FantasyUp — shuttered while still owing players money, prompting other operators to assume their assets and pledge to make customers whole.

Many smaller operators have also quietly folded. At peak last year, 118 member companies offered some form of paid daily fantasy sports, the trade association said. Of those, 81 are no longer offering contests or their status is unknown.

The legal chaos and uncertainty that befell the industry starting with the 2015 NFL season has driven away investors, making it impossible for many startups to continue to raise the financial capital to survive, said Peter Schoenke, the trade association chairman.

The uncertainty also shook out companies not offering much new or distinctive from the competition, added Daniel Barbarisi, author of “Dueling With Kings,” an inside look at the industry’s rise and fall released last month.

“Everyone thought DFS was the next gold rush,” he said. “It couldn’t sustain that level of speculative growth, especially from small operators. Now that the barrier to entry is higher, I’m not surprised at all to see many of them falling by the wayside.”

The legal landscape, meanwhile, remains unsettled, and the industry is again engaged in a costly, state-by-state legislative push. Roughly half of all U.S. states have seen proposals introduced to legalize and regulate the industry.

Arkansas has so far passed new legislation, joining 10 other states from prior years: Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Tennessee and Virginia.

Lawmakers in other states will become receptive to the proposals as they see how the regulations are working in other states, said Marc La Vorgna, a spokesman for DraftKings and FanDuel. “The evidence is there for legislators,” he said. “Any uncertainty around the impact of these laws has been removed.”

Indeed New York, one of a handful of states that impose a tax on daily fantasy sports, says it took in nearly $3 million in revenues in the first months of its new law.

DraftKings and FanDuel are again “investing heavily” in state legislative efforts, La Vorgna said, declining to provide specific tallies for lobbying costs and political donations this year. The trade association is spending “very little” on direct lobbying this year, said Schoenke, also declining to provide specifics.

During last year’s legislative push, DraftKings, FanDuel and the trade association spent at least $500,000 on lobbyists and its employees donated roughly $380,000 to political campaign committees at the state government level, according to the most recent data collected by the National Institute on Money in State Politics in Helena, Montana.

That was a big jump from 2015, when the industry wasn’t quite in the crosshairs of regulators. The three entities accounted for at least $275,000 in lobbying and donations that year, up from at least $18,000 in 2014, the institute’s data shows.

Some of the laws being considered this year may hasten the industry’s consolidation, said Ted Kasten, who has advised several daily fantasy sports startups.

Some states are considering imposing costly licensing fees and other regulatory hurdles that smaller operations complain could put them out of business.

Ryan Huss, co-founder of Syde Fantasy Sports, said he and his partners ended their fantasy sports contests and shifted the company’s focus after their home state of Virginia started requiring a $50,000 registration fee.

“The fees seem like more of a deterrent than anything else,” he said. “Only the largest operators can truly afford to pay them.”

Despite the consolidation, demand for the games still appears healthy.

From 2015 to 2016, the total amount of entry fees paid by players grew 4 percent to about $3.3 billion and net revenues for companies rose about 15 percent to $350 million, according to the California-based gambling research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.

New startups are still emerging, just nowhere near the levels to replace the ones closing down, Schoenke said.

Some new companies say they’re in a better position to succeed than their predecessors.

Teague Orgeman, co-founder of Starting 11, a Minneapolis-based daily fantasy soccer site hoping to launch soon, says his company’s contest will be more innovative than what’s already out there. And, as a practicing attorney, he’s prepared to navigate the ever-changing regulatory landscape.

“We see opportunity, not the flip,” Orgeman said. “We think regulation is a good thing long-term for industry. It really wasn’t a deterrent.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

NASA providing 1st live 360-degree view of rocket launch

Want the world’s best, up-close view of a rocket launch without being right there at the pad?

For the first time, cameras will provide live 360-degree video of a rocket heading toward space.

NASA will provide the 360 stream Tuesday as an unmanned Atlas rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a capsule full of space station supplies. The stream will begin 10 minutes before the scheduled 11:11 a.m. liftoff and continue until the rocket is out of sight.

The four fisheye-lens cameras are located at the periphery of the pad, about 300 feet (100 meters) from the rocket. A computer in a blast-proof box will stitch together the images for a full, in-the-round view. There will be about a minute lag time.

It will be shown on NASA’s YouTube channel.

“It’s great, I mean, to be able to get in there and experience that 360-degree view,” said Vern Thorp, a program manager for rocket maker United Launch Alliance. Combining that with virtual reality goggles, “it really gives you a new perspective that we’ve never been able to do before,” he said at a Monday news conference.

United Launch Alliance has released 360-degree video of two previous launches, but later — not live.

Orbital ATK, one of NASA’s main delivery services for the International Space Station, opted to use an Atlas V for this supply run from Cape Canaveral versus its own smaller, Virginia-based Antares rocket in order to haul up more items. The supply ship is known as the Cygnus after the swan constellation, and in this case has been named the S.S. John Glenn.

Glenn became the first American to orbit the world in 1962 — launching on an Atlas rocket — and the oldest person to fly in space in 1998 aboard the shuttle Discovery. He died at age 95 in December. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery earlier this month.

“It’s an honor to launch the spacecraft which has been named in memory of John Glenn,” Thorp told reporters. Given that Glenn flew on an Atlas rocket and Tuesday’s rocket is an Atlas, “I feel like we’re bridging history.”

___

Online:

NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/

United Launch Alliance: http://www.ulalaunch.com/360.aspx

Orbital ATK: http://www.orbitalatk.com/

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