Selling Our Soul to C.M.P.

Madison Lecowitch Contributing Writer


   It was a Tuesday night in the Lincoln Auditorium, and the room was brimming with people who traveled to Farmington from all over Maine. Police officers stood watch inside and outside of the auditorium, an unusual spectacle for a usually quiet campus. The crowd had come to testify for and against the proposed Central Maine Power transmission line at a public forum hosted by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection.

   CMP has been one of the most talked about topics in Maine for awhile now, with what seems to be the majority of Maine rallying together in opposition of the transmission line. The proposed line would run 145 miles from Quebec to Lewiston, where it will connect to an existing grid. The energy would be generated by Quebec hydro-power and would supposedly provide Massachusetts with clean energy to help the state decrease their fossil-fuel emissions.

   According to the maps plastered all over the internet, the transmission line would run right through my home town of Livermore Falls. My town has an abundance of wild animals, from turkeys to deer who rely on the forest for everything. The transmission line would destroy more of the habitat local fauna need to survive. Although Livermore Falls is already apart of the existing transmission line, the clearing would need to be widened to provide room for the new lines. More forest would be torn down and more chemicals would be used to keep the trees and other plants from regrowing.

   Many of the individuals in favor of the proposed plan spoke about the line traveling through logging forests that are already damaged. They spoke about how the power line would provide clear cuts for animals to find food. They spoke about how the power line would help reverse climate change and prevent disasters expected to occur in the next twelve years if we don’t drastically change our impact on the environment .

   They forgot to mention that the transmission line would damage recreational sites and undeveloped Maine forests and species through habitat fragmentation. They also forgot to mention that the lower power rates promised to Mainers would only be a few measly bucks, while CMP would make billions of dollars in profit.

   The Natural Resource Council of Maine has even stated that the new transmission line might actually increase climate-changing pollution, instead of decreasing it. The council also stated that line would clear vegetation through, “263 wetlands, across 115 streams and 12 inland waterfowl and wading bird habitat areas, and near remote Beattie Pond.”

   How would ruining Maine’s natural lands benefit the environment? Isn’t it best for Maine’s ecosystems if we left the woods alone and let the clear-cut plants grow back? Once the transmission line is put up, there will be no replacing cleared trees with new sprouts. Instead, there is the promise of herbicides to keep vegetation from regrowing.

   One of my greatest goals in life is to become a teacher and live happily in Maine. I’ve never felt the need to go anywhere else. I’m always happy when I cross over the Piscataqua River Bridge after a vacation and return to Maine. I want to be able to take long walks in the forest with my family and I want to swim in pristine lakes every summer. I’m not sure if I, or anyone else, could do that if CMP took control of our state. They already control almost all of the power supplied to Maine, and now they have the chance to control Maine’s environment as well.

   Central Maine Power has been in trouble the past year for raising rates for Mainers and now they want to give up valuable Maine land to benefit another state. The people of Maine shouldn’t be selling our land to a company who is owned by large corporation that’s based in Spain.

Central Maine Power has no interest in protecting Maine’s environment and no interest in benefitting the people who live here. 

Opinion: Campus Police Email Limits Outreach of Art Installation

Avery Ryan Contributing Writer

   The familiar ding of an Instagram notification jumped across my phone late on Sunday, March 31. Intrigued, I looked into the profile that had followed me. I wasn’t expecting the incredibly provocative artwork of UnBEARable UMF.

   My first reactions were of intrigue and curiosity. The bravery of this artist to not only spray political graffiti on university buildings but to parade said graffiti on social media was astounding. The passion for spreading awareness that inspired this courage was successful; I immediately looked further into the Yemeni Civil War mentioned in the account’s first post. I also felt a strange reservation— should I follow this account? If I do, will somebody think I did the graffiti?

   This fear emphasized what was so successful in a piece like this. Provocative public artwork lives on a wide spectrum of success, and this piece’s mystery solidified its accomplishment in starting conversation around its focal topics. This conversation was multiplied in the apparent shock that spread through campus in those first 24 hours. Calls to campus police, whispers among friends, and support and rejection of this approach surged across campus, leading to the premature climax of the exhibit: an email from Director of Public Safety, Brock Caton.

   “Paw Prints Are Not Vandalism — The paw prints seen around campus are an on-going art project and do not need to be reported to Campus Police.  For more information, please see the email traffic below.”

   This short interjection into the project stands out as equally fantastic and disappointing. The confirmation of this being “an on-going art project” and not graffiti removed the assumed bravery of the artwork. It remained meaningful, yet lost much of its power. When I see the paw prints scattered across campus I no longer am driven to discover the motivation for such an installation. I no longer had that spark from the first 24 hours— the excitement and drive to understand why this person had been inspired to such bravery. This email violated my experience of the artistic merit of this project, as I’m sure it did for many others. By sending this email as quickly as they did, campus police prevented a number of students from that initial spark of curiosity that was present from Sunday night to Monday morning.

   Was this a perspective that was unique to me? I sat down for a brief conversation with Student Senate Presidential candidate Jess Freeborn on the subject. “I didn’t see any of the paw prints until after the email was sent out. I think people were alarmed by them.” Freeborn said. “I think I would have been more curious if I had seen the artwork before the email.”

   Nick St. Germain, a senior, echoed these sentiments. “[The paw prints] were pointed out to me specifically as an art project. I didn’t see a point to look further into it because it was just an art project. I would’ve been more excited if I’d seen it and thought it was graffiti.”

   I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that both students were robbed of the excitement and curiosity of first seeing the artwork in its purest form. Their perspective had been modified and the artwork had been limited in its reach.

   Was this the correct approach by campus police? As a university with an occasionally provocative arts program, more flexibility from campus police would have been incredibly beneficial. Imagine the conversations spread across campus had that email been sent out later— the historical and contemporary issues raised by UnBEARable UMF would have stood greater ground and the mystery of what would come next would have been an incredible excitement.

DAM Good Eats Presents: The Downtown Press Café

By Eryn Finnegan and Jeremy Austin President and Staff Reporter

   The latest excursion found our food reviewers once again at a local joint: The Downtown Press Café. Located in downtown Farmington on Marceau Court, in the building where the former Asian cuisine restaurant – Sweet Ginger – once operated. Downtown Press Café is known for their wide array of paninis, breakfast sandwiches and signature waffles.

   The inside of the restaurant has received a substantial makeover since its Sweet Ginger days. The walls are now a warm shade of orange and the counter has moved from the corner of the dining room to a more central location right outside of the kitchen. This gives the space a sense of openness, and creates an inviting atmosphere. T-shirts, mugs and other Downtown Press Café merchandise sit on a shelf off to the side next to the restrooms. There’s also a small coffee and tea bar with a cooler of cold beverages.

   Journalism club president Eryn Finnegan kicked off her meal with a small cup of cheeseburger soup (minus the bun). The cheesy broth, vegetables and beef meatballs evoked the flavors of a traditional cheeseburger, and was just small enough to fill her stomach temporarily and keep her hungry for the main course.

   Following the soup, Finnegan dove into the “Sweet Mama,” a panini layered in crisp, smoky ham, fresh pineapples, and enough honey mustard to lightly coat the bread – but not so much that it dripped from the sandwich and made a mess. The honey mustard was key in tying everything together as the blend of flavors was surprisingly sweet and tangy, creating a memorable flavor profile.

   Staff reporter Jeremy Austin ordered the Whistle Stop, a panini consisting of oven roasted turkey, applewood smoked bacon, tomato, provolone and pesto mayo. The combination was absolutely delicious, and has become the standby order for this staff reporter. The sandwich remained clean and intact, yet was still satisfactorily saucy.

   Along with the paninis, the writers split a five-cheese pizza. It had asiago, romano, parmesan, provolone and mozzarella with a marinara base and Italian spices. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple slice of cheese pizza, and this particular one packed a lot of flavor with its blend of cheeses. The pizza was less a pie and more of an elongated flatbread design, giving it a more gourmet appearance.

   Though these reporters were too full by the end of their paninis to experience the sweet side of the Downtown Press Café, dessert options were plentiful and tempting. Dessert offerings can range from cinnamon buns to cupcakes and tarts. In addition to baked goods, the café also offers dessert waffles – with new daily flavors.

   For college students keeping to a tight budget, the Downtown Press Café is worth a try. The café’s menu is plentiful, and a full meal consisting of a panini, a drink, and a soup or a side comes to less than $20.

DAM Good Eats Presents a Bonus Solo Edition: Sea40

By Jeremy Austin Staff Reporter

   Over the course of Spring Break the Farmington Flyer Staff Reporter, Jeremy Austin, had the opportunity to dine with some old friends for hibachi at Sea40, a Japanese cuisine restaurant located down in Lewiston.

   Nestled into the Lewiston Mall beside FunZ Trampoline Park and a newly renovated and expanded Bull Moose, Sea40 is a classy establishment that’ll prove for a satisfying evening out. To start, Austin ordered a glass of Allagash White. A wheat ale brewed with orange peel, coriander and other spices, the taste is a very smooth yet solid flavor similar to that of other beers like Shock Top and Blue Moon. The others at the table ordered what was called a “fishbowl,” a concoction of various liquors (mostly vodka and Blue Curaçao) mixed with primarily pineapple juice and dyed blue, that was quite literally inside of a plastic fishbowl. Pieces of lime floated at the bottom, and—like any classic cocktail—there was a “well-proofed” gummy worm sitting on the bottom. Multiple straws were placed inside—color-coded to establish ownership to minimize the spreading of cooties—and the drink was passed about the table. While it was delicious, there was an admittedly lacking “punch” from the alcohol content.

   The chef that evening provided quality, food-related entertainment that began with a lot of fire. The evening included several attempts at catching sake (Japanese rice wine) in the mouth shot from a ketchup squirt-bottle across the table and griddle and a volcano of fire made rings of onion. While Austin did not participate in the sake-catching of the evening, he did try his hand at catching pieces of sautéed mushroom in his mouth. He is proud to say that he successfully caught a piece. The chef prepared the food almost theatrically as well, and the staff reporter can confirm that it’s indeed a mesmerizing experience to watch.

   A salad and soup were brought out as appetizers before the main courses, which were both quite tasty. The salad was a simple mix of lettuce, other greens, and some onion covered in Thousand Island dressing. The soup—called Clear Soup—was light and herby in flavor. The entrée was served with fried rice and vegetables in soy sauce, and a two-piece shrimp appetizer also fried in soy sauce. Austin ordered the red snapper, though other entrées to choose from included vegetable, chicken, steak, shrimp salmon, scallop, filet mignon, lobster, and various combinations thereof. The snapper was cooked thoroughly, and tasted absolutely wonderful.

   Towards the end of the evening, several chefs came over to sing “Happy Birthday” to a friend of Austin’s, who was celebrating her 22nd birthday. They brought over a plate of deep-fried ice cream, and this friend was so gracious as to let Austin have a sample. It was delicious – though this didn’t really surprise the staff reporter. The total bill for the evening for Austin was around $40, making Sea40 an affordable dining destination as well as a delicious one.

Belly of the Beast

By Milo Fitzgerald Contributing Writer

   As I stood in Lafayette Park in Washington D.C., protest sign in hand and comrades by my side, I couldn’t help but laugh at the White House. That laughter turned from genuine to exasperated as a tour group of kids no older than twelve, wearing USA hoodies and MAGA caps, strutted past with their phones directed at us, pointing and laughing. We were the entertainment part of their tour.

   I was in D.C. that day to march alongside the Answer Coalition and the Party for Socialism and Liberation in a demonstration condemning U.S. intervention and imperialism in Venezuela. Under the socialist-leaning government of the late Hugo Chávez and current president Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela has provided its people with hundreds of social programs benefiting millions of its poorest citizens. Maduro’s Venezuela has protected Indigenous rights, raised literacy rates to nearly 100%, and continued the legacy of the Bolivarian Revolution. Venezuela has even been providing free oil heating to impoverished communities in the South Bronx since 2006.

   An article from teleSUR written by former war correspondent John Pilger reports that the 2018 Venezuelan presidential elections, where President Maduro was re-elected with 68% of the vote, were free of crime and corruption. “‘Of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored,” said former President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Centre is a respected monitor of elections around the world, “I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” By way of contrast, said Carter, the U.S. election system, with its emphasis on campaign money, “is one of the worst.’”

   Venezuela also happens to have the current largest natural oil reserves on the planet. What a coincidence that the U.S. is attempting a coup, right? Not like the same excuse hasn’t been used in Iraq or anything.

   The United States is using its power and leverage to economically choke the Venezuelan people through sanctions and support terrorist opposition groups and leaders, including Juan Guaidó, the self-declared “president” who 81% of Venezuelans had never heard of prior to his announcement. Through decades of sanctions, the United States has banned Venezuela from importing food, medicine and other life necessities, and from nationalizing their oil reserves, which could dramatically boost their economy. On top of this, the U.S., Canada and Europe are holding over $23 billion dollars of Venezuelan gold and refuse to give it back to the country unless Guaido is sworn in as president. This is what you call democracy?

   Several weeks ago, a “humanitarian aid” truck tried crossing over the Colombia-Venezuela border. In western media outlets, including CNN and BBC, it was reported that the food aid in the truck was burned by President Maduro’s National Guard. This lie was spread across the globe until a few weeks later, when the New York Times published an article admitting there was video evidence of the opposition group (under Juan Guaidó) making molotov cocktails and burning the “aid.” The Intercept claims, “The liars from the U.S. Government and their allies in the corporate media were, as usual, given a platform to spread their lies without any challenge or dissent.”

   This is not to say that the government of Venezuela is blocking genuine humanitarian aid. The only countries blocked from sending aid are the U.S., Brazil (under fascist President Bolsonaro) and Colombia. The Intercept reports, “Both the Red Cross and the United Nations expressed concerns about ‘humanitarian aid’ from the U.S. on the grounds that it was a pretext for regime change and would politicize humanitarian aid,” as it has done so in the past.

   Venezuela has every right to doubt the authenticity of U.S. aid. Elliott Abrams, Mr. Trump’s newly-appointed special envoy to Venezuela, was let off the hook by President Bush in the 1980s for helping smuggle illegal weapons to terrorist organizations in Nicaragua in the Iran-Contra scandal. Seriously, look it up. There is no doubt in my mind that the same thing is happening in Venezuela. Just within the past couple months, the U.S. has sent cargo planes to Venezuela containing assault rifles, ammo and radios intended for Juan Guaidó and his mercenaries.

    We are witnessing a sequel to the 2003 Iraq invasion, although it can be hardly called a sequel when the United States has attempted to overthrow foreign governments over one hundred times within the past century.

   You will hear propaganda about the “corruption” and the “repression of free speech” in Venezuela, repeated by white Venezuelan bourgeois in Miami and American war mongers alike. I implore you to study these accounts critically. The U.S. has lied to you about nuclear weapons in the Gulf War, Iraq and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. They have lied to you about the civil wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen.

   They have lied to you about the social and economic progress achieved through socialism in Cuba, and the intake of hundreds of Nazi war criminals into the U.S. following WW2, who would later become doctors, scientists, researchers and CIA agents. They have lied to you about the genocides in North America, Palestine, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, East Timor, the Philippines and Afghanistan.

   It seemed almost funny to me that day at Lafayette Park, that the world’s most brutal military force receives orders from such a disappointing and lame building surrounded by brainwashed children with red hats. As the sun burned my neck and my voice became hoarse, while men in business suits lined up on rooftops to observe our march and I was offered water, snacks and hot packs, I realized that we are living in the belly of the beast and have the ability to take direct action against the capitalist and imperialist forces that threaten freedom and self-determination at home and abroad. The heart of the empire is a scary place to be, but that’s where the change needs to be demanded.

   History will absolve us.


Opinion: The Masculine Responsibility in Making Our Campus Safe

By Avery Ryan Contributing Writer


   In light of recent perspectives of sexual assault on campus, I found myself horrified and at a loss for words. Over the past three and a half years that I spent at UMF, I had seen the school as incredibly safe. I thought that extreme cases of sexual violence and injustice were something that happened “elsewhere,” and that my little campus was immune to – and absent of – these issues.

   My ignorance has reached its end. I can no longer unconsciously pretend that these problems do not exist on my campus. I had to take a long look at myself to understand why I was unaware of these problems, and what I could do to contribute to their reduction.

   One of the reasons why I was so unaware of these issues was my own safety regarding sexual violence. Anybody can be a victim of sexual assault, and that fact cannot be understated. However, as a tall, broad-shouldered white man who doesn’t go out much, my chances are falling victim to sexual assault are incredibly slim. This narrow probability limited my perspective. If I didn’t have to be cautious of the signs of predation, why should I have known what they are, or be able to recognize them? Through my privilege I am allowed a barrier of safety that is incredibly difficult to empathize through.

   Stepping into the shoes of somebody who is absent of this privilege is difficult, but allows for a bit of understanding in what the possession of this privilege means. I can go for a run at night without being afraid, I can put my drink down at a party with little fear, I’ve never been catcalled while walking to class, and I’ve never been faced with abrasive flirtatiousness at my workplace. These examples only scratch the surface, but the discomfort they cause cannot be invalidated.

   If your immediate response is to argue with these examples, take a second to think about why. Is it the word “privilege?” Do you think that catcalling is “fun,” or that the person being yelled at should “take it as a compliment?” Do you find nothing wrong with being flirted with while you’re at work?

   If you feel abrasion towards “privilege,” – why? Does the word make you feel as if your accomplishments are not earned, or that you have a certain allowance provided to you by biological traits that you can’t control? This negative perspective is incredibly damaging, and is certainly incorrect. By acknowledging privilege you are not losing recognition of your successes. By acknowledging privilege you are allowing yourself to see the world as if you didn’t have that benefit.

   Step into the shoes of the employee being flirted with at work: you’re in a place of obligation, trying to do your job. You have nowhere to go to remove yourself from this conversation, and the pervasive flirtatiousness is making you uncomfortable. However, you are also a customer service representative— another reason why you cannot end the conversation. You are trapped and uncomfortable. Is this something that happens to men as well? Totally. But the frequency and intensity of these moments is multiplied by one’s gender.

   Coincidentally, as the courageous victims of sexual assault have made their stories heard, Gillette released the ad campaign “The Best Men Can Be.” This campaign analyzed decades of stereotypical masculinity in advertising, and Gillette pledged to make strides in distancing themselves from various aspects of toxicity in its advertising. This campaign was met with various negative – and occasionally aggressive – feedback on social media. The responses fought against the ad, labeling it as propaganda and inappropriate for Gillette to comment upon such topics. Despite this criticism, the campaign’s focus is on sexual harassment and bullying— acts that should be universally agreed upon preventing. The campaign takes a firm stance on men needing to hold other men accountable for their behavior and asks that we make strides toward redefining our characteristics of masculinity.

   The timing of this campaign, while coincidental, is inarguably eye-opening. Sexual assault and harassment is present everywhere, and its existence on our campus requires significant action from all parties that hold a semblance of responsibility. For men on campus, it is necessary that we take a stance on holding our friends accountable for their actions. We can no longer tolerate moments of toxicity that would previously labeled as “just guys being guys.”

   The darkness in each of these survivor’s stories is incredibly disheartening, and in many ways it is frustrating to feel helpless in contributing to solutions. However, by holding each other accountable for our words and actions we can contribute in some way to making our campus a safer place.

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