‘We have to own the fact that the war on drugs was a miserable failure’

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. It’s the weekend, why am I still in the office?

Southern Maine Community College students Taylor Freeman (left) and Kaden Clark feed pigeons in Portland's Congress Square on Friday with a bag of birdseed they bought at a local store. (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)

Southern Maine Community College students Taylor Freeman (left) and Kaden Clark feed pigeons in Portland’s Congress Square on Friday with a bag of birdseed they bought at a local store. (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)

What we’re talking about

‘We have to own the fact that the war on drugs was a miserable failure’ — Police Chief Michael Sauschuck’s TEDxDirigo talk was posted online this week (watch the video in the link above). Jake Bleiberg writes:

The Portland police chief said that part of the reason he personally — and law enforcement more broadly — got the issue “wrong” was that drug users were tallied and treated as abstract criminals, rather than specific people with a “life-threatening brain disease.” And he had harsh words for those who might still believe that enforcing drug laws is the way to beat addiction.

“The unfortunate reality about stopping crime in 2016, is that we arrest everybody and that is an incredibly shortsighted and lazy approach to problem solving,” said Sauschuck. “The criminal justice system as it is currently made up epitomizes the definition of crazy.”

For the first time, more people died from drugs than guns in 2015 — Christopher Ingraham writes on this “grim milestone”:

As recently as 2007, gun homicides outnumbered heroin deaths by more than 5 to 1.

These increases come amid a year-over-year increase in mortality across the board, resulting in the first decline in American life expectancy since 1993.

Congestion on Interstate 295 is changing how state police enforce traffic — Traffic, and crashes, are up on I-295, the Press Herald reports. And that means that state police have to change the way they enforce laws and handle crashes.

Kate McCormick writes:

“During those rush hour times it’s nearly impossible to safely do enforcement work,” said Lt. Walter F. Grzyb of Troop B in Gray, which is responsible for policing I-295. “By having a car pulled over on the side of the road, you’re actually creating more of a hazard than you’re fixing.”

‘This Simple Checklist Will Help You Spot A Fake News Story’ — Be vigilant.

Portland’s top bartenders share their favorite holiday cocktail recipes — Kathleen Pierce got a few of the city’s best mixologists to share some interesting recipes. Try making this one, — called “In The Pines” — from Portland Hunt + Alpine Club bartender Christopher Buerkle (it apparently tastes “piney”):

1 oz St. George Terroir gin
1 oz Zirbenz stone pine liqueur
1 oz Cynar
6 drops woodland bitters

Build in mixing glass, add ice, stir, strain into chilled rocks glass, add large cube and lemon twist.

That sounds like a good start to the weekend.

Tweet of the day

From Jenny Johnson:

Screenshot 2016-12-09 16.12.06

 

The Big Idea

‘Trump Faces A More Skeptical Public Than Any Incoming President Since 1989’ — NPR’s Danielle Kurtzelben reports:

Forty-one percent of Americans say they approve of how [President-elect Donald Trump] has explained his “policies and plans for the future to the American people,” according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

That’s lower than any incoming president since at least George H.W. Bush, in 1989. Approval for Trump’s cabinet choices is likewise lower than it was for these previous presidents.

Those low ratings are largely because of Democrats; 79 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaners approve of how he has explained his policies, on par with GOP feelings towards George W. Bush in 2001 and slightly ahead of George H.W. Bush in 1989. However, no president in Pew’s data has received such a low approval rating from the opposing party. Only 15 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners approve of Trump.

Even after a prolonged recount and Supreme Court decision, George W. Bush received 29 percent approval from Democrats in 2001.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.