Immigrant in Maine tells BBC: ‘People are so suspicious’

The BBC this week published a video profile of Abdi Iftin, a Somalian immigrant now living in southern Maine. The charismatic Abdi is not an unfamiliar face: He has told his story previously to NPR’s This American Life, The Forecaster and Portland Press Herald.

Nevertheless, Abdi’s observations are interesting and sometimes sobering.

“Maine doesn’t represent America to me,” he told the BBC. “There aren’t many people and there’s not much diversity.

“The biggest struggle I face here in Maine is convincing people I’m not who they think I am. People are so suspicious. They trust Trump over who we are.”

Watch the video here.

What we’re talking about

If you’re following the tragic quadruple murder case, in which a Rockport man has been accused of killing his mother, his grandparents and a caretaker in Massachusetts, the BDN’s Alex Acquisto has been reporting on the reaction in the family’s home communities in the Midcoast. Alex also has this story on the family’s statement in the aftermath of the brutal murders, in which the family expresses “sympathies” for the caretaker’s loved ones and asks for “privacy” while processing the events of the last week.

Kurt Messerschmidt, a Holocaust survivor who became a longtime cantor at Temple Beth El in Portland, has died at the age of 102, Maine Public’s Irwin Gratz is reporting. Messerschmidt was born near Berlin and remembered the Nazi rise to power. He was sent to the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz and, in 1945, escaped a death march.

A day after Portland city councilors faced questions over whether their tour of Fort Gorges on Monday counted as city meeting, the city pledged to post public notices of all gatherings of councilors on the city website. There was no advance public notice of the tour, which seven of the nine councilors attended. A city spokeswoman maintained none was necessary, because no business affecting citizens was conducted, nor were any Fort Gorges-related actions facing the council.

Celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke to the BDN’s Nick McCrea ahead of his Sept. 27 talk at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium. Tyson said Maine is “secretly beautiful,” and pondered whether humans can truly get to the bottom of many mysteries of the universe. “I often wonder if we’re just too stupid to figure out some of these things we’ve observed,” he told Nick.

Three adults and a child escaped serious injury when the driver lost control of their vehicle and crashed into a Westbrook church Tuesday night, police said. This is the third recent incident off the top of my head in which a car crashed into a building in Maine, following crashes at restaurants in Biddeford and Bar Harbor, the latter of which sadly included a fatality.

Tweet of the day

From j cook:

The Big Idea

This “Smart” recycling bin is being developed to sort your recyclables for you. From Smithsonian magazine: The bin uses computer vision—an algorithm that can “learn” to recognize images much the way the human brain does—to identify the material held in front of its cameras, and then tells the consumer exactly where to place the container.

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

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