Ride-sharing service Lyft launches today in Portland area

Like Uber, Lyft drivers are contacted through an app, but unlike Uber, Lyft cars sport a distinctive pink moustache.

Beginning at noon today, passengers in Greater Portland will have another option at their fingertips to get a lift to their destination.

Lyft, the ride-sharing service that competes with industry leader Uber, will be available in Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Gorham and Freeport.

“As Lyft expands across the country, we aim to connect people and communities through better transportation. That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to be launching in Portland, a city that cares for its people in the same way Lyft is committed to ensuring a safe and friendly experience to both riders and drivers alike,” Alex Warbasse, Senior Manager of Expansion at Lyft, said in a news release.

Known as Transportation Network Companies, Lyft and Uber use computer software and smartphone apps to connect passengers with drivers who work their own schedules and pick up people in the drivers’ own vehicles.

Ride-sharing is becoming increasingly popular throughout the country, but has drawn the ire of regulators and traditional cab companies worried about unfair competition and passenger safety. For example, cab companies face higher insurance and licensing requirements, and their fares are set by the city, whereas ride-sharing companies have no limits on what they can charge for a ride.

Last year, Maine enacted a law to increase regulation on ride-sharing companies, which now are required to meet certain insurance thresholds and pay a $10,000 fee to get a business permit to operate here. That law also prohibits municipalities from regulating the services.

Lyft was expected to launch on Thursday, but state regulators had not issued the company a business permit. That permit was issued Thursday afternoon, according to a spokesperson for the Maine Secretary of State.

Lyft said in a news release that passengers will be able to download the app at noon today. New passengers will be able to receive a $5 discount on their first ride by using the code “LYFTINPWM.”

Uber is currently the industry leader in ride-sharing, with Lyft as its biggest competitor. Both companies are based in San Fransisco. Uber was founded in 2009 and is available in 491 cities, while Lyft was founded in 2012 and available in more than 200 cities.

One of the primary differences between the two services are the expectations.

Lyft, which uses a pink, dashboard-mounted mustache to identify its drivers, has the reputation of being a more laid-back experience — one where the passenger sits in the front seat and may even be greeted with a so-called fist-bump by the driver — whereas Uber has the reputation of being more professional — one where the driver may open the door for the passenger, who will often choose to sit in the back seat.

Both companies increase their fares during peak time.

Uber began operating in Portland in 2014 and recently expanded to Lewiston, Auburn, Bangor and Orono, as well as some beach communities.

When the two companies go head-to-head, they typically compete more directly for drivers than they do for passengers.

Earlier this year, National Public Radio reported that competition for drivers in some places has been so fierce that Uber hired hundreds of people throughout the country to take rides with Lyft drivers for the sole purpose of recruiting them.

One difference for drivers is that Lyft allows passengers to tip through its app, whereas Uber does not.

U.S.economy grew at sluggish rate in second quarter

The Commerce Department reports that the GDP grew at a 1.2 percent annual rate between April and June.

WASHINGTON – Growth in the U.S. economy was sluggish again in the spring, dashing expectations for a robust rebound after a tough winter. Stronger consumer spending was offset by weakness in housing construction and a big slowdown in the pace that businesses restocked store shelves.

The Commerce Department said Friday that the gross domestic product – the broadest measure of the economy – grew at a 1.2 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter. That was far below the 2.6 percent GDP growth rate that economists had been forecasting.

The government also revised down its estimate of first-quarter growth to 0.8 percent from 1.1 percent. The economy has now grown at lackluster rates for three straight quarters.

Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, did accelerate in the spring, growing at an annual rate of 4.2 percent. That was more than double the 1.6 percent rate in the first quarter. It was the strongest surge for consumer spending since the final three months of 2014.

But business slowed further restocking of their shelves, which cut growth by 1.7 percentage points in the second quarter. Businesses have struggled for more than a year to get their stockpiles more in line with sales. The inventory slowdown in the spring was the sharpest since the first quarter of 2014.

Trade was a slight positive in the second quarter, adding 0.2 percentage points to growth. But the government sector trimmed growth by 0.2 percent, reflecting weakness at both the federal and state and local levels.

Business nonresidential investment declined for a third straight quarter as the energy sector continued to struggle with falling oil prices that have caused sharp cutbacks in oil exploration. Housing construction, which has been a bright spot for the economy, shrank at an annual rate of 6.1 percent in the second quarter, reflecting weakness in both single-family and apartment construction.

The new GDP report will likely be used by both Democrats and Republicans to try to score political points. Republicans contend that GDP over the past seven years has grown at the weakest pace of any post-World War II recovery and blame the Obama administration’s policies. Democrats point instead to structural changes in the U.S. economy and to obstructionism by Republican leaders in Congress who have blocked spending initiatives.

Analysts predict that the economy will grow at an annual rate slightly above 2 percent in the second half of the year – a modest pace in line with the pattern that’s existed since the recovery began in June 2009. Still, even tepid growth would be preferable to the possible recession that some had feared might be nearing after the economy’s woeful start to the year.

After stabilizing in February, financial markets went into a second nosedive in June after Britain voted to leave the European Union, an unexpected outcome that raised fears that the already weak global economy might slide further.

On top of that, job growth in the United States slowed sharply in April and May. But the job market came roaring back with 287,000 additional jobs in June, the biggest monthly gain since October.

“It is amazing how resilient the U.S. economy has been in the face of all these uncertainties and shocks,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “The job market is just incredible, and those gains will boost incomes and support stronger consumer spending in the second half of the year.”

The Federal Reserve took note of the improving economy after it ended its latest policy meeting this week, saying “near-term risks to the economic outlook have diminished.”

Though the Fed kept interest rates unchanged, economists said the central bank’s brighter outlook might clear the way for a rate increase as soon as September. But most see only one modest Fed rate hike this year, which would be unlikely to slow the economy.

FBI probes hacking of Democratic congressional group

The FBI is investigating a cyberattack against another U.S. Democratic Party group, which may be related to an earlier hack against the Democratic National Committee.

The FBI is investigating a cyberattack against another U.S. Democratic Party group, which may be related to an earlier hack against the Democratic National Committee.

One San Diego police officer killed, one wounded in shooting

San Diego police say that one suspect is in custody.

SAN DIEGO — One police officer died and another was wounded after being shot in a San Diego neighborhood, authorities said early Friday.

Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said in a Twitter post that she had left the hospital where the injured officer had come out of surgery and that he’s expected to survive.

The names of the officers have not been released.

There was no immediate word on what touched off the violence, which occurred around 11 p.m. PDT Thursday in the southeastern part of town.

Police searched the area for suspects and urged residents to stay indoors.

Video footage showed officers out in force with numerous squad cars with emergency lights flashing lining a street, officers on foot, and a helicopter buzz overhead.

Police spokesmen did not immediately return calls for further comment, but the department said in a Twitter posting that one suspect was in custody and other possible suspects were being sought.

The shooting comes with law officers around the country on alert following the killing of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this month.

Ask Slashdot: How Transparent Should Companies Be When Operational Technology Failures Happen?

New submitter supernova87a writes: Last week, Southwest Airlines had an epic crash of IT systems across their entire business when “a router failure caused the airlines’ systems to crash […] and all backups failed, causing flight delays and cancellat…

New submitter supernova87a writes: Last week, Southwest Airlines had an epic crash of IT systems across their entire business when “a router failure caused the airlines’ systems to crash […] and all backups failed, causing flight delays and cancellations nationwide and costing the company probably $10 million in lost bookings alone.” Huge numbers of passengers, crew, and airplanes were stranded as not only reservations systems, but scheduling, dispatch, and other critical operational systems had to be rebooted over the course of 12 hours. Passenger delays, which directly attributable to this incident, continued to trickle down all the way from Wednesday to Sunday as the airline recovered. Aside from the technical issues of what happened, what should a public-facing company’s obligation be to discuss what happened in full detail? Would publicly talking about the sequence of events before and after failure help restore faith in their operations? Perhaps not aiming for Google’s level of admirable disclosure (as in this 18-minute cloud computing outage where a full post-mortem was given), should companies aim to discuss more openly what happened and how they recovered from system failures?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

First National Bank Announces Winners of the Annual Customer Photo Calendar Contest

First National Bank is proud to announce the winners of its ninth annual Customer Photo Calendar Contest. Fourteen color photographs have been chosen from over 150 entries, and each winning photographer will be awarded a $100 cash prize. The images will appear in the Bank’s 2017 desk calendar and wall …

First National Bank is proud to announce the winners of its ninth annual Customer Photo Calendar Contest. Fourteen color photographs have been chosen from over 150 entries, and each winning photographer will be awarded a $100 cash prize. The images will appear in the Bank’s 2017 desk calendar and wall …

Bryan Adams plays two-hour hit-packed set Thursday night on Bangor Waterfront

You don’t realize quite how many hits Bryan Adams has had until you hear them played together, as the multi-platinum Canadian rock star did at his concert at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor Thursday night. Adams, 56, has had a prolific and long-lasting career, stretching from his first major …

You don’t realize quite how many hits Bryan Adams has had until you hear them played together, as the multi-platinum Canadian rock star did at his concert at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor Thursday night. Adams, 56, has had a prolific and long-lasting career, stretching from his first major …

Third annual 5K race for recovery held in Augusta

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Location: Kennebec River Rail Trail, 31 Union Streett, Augusta, Maine For more information: 207-213-4523; raceroster.com/events/2016/9315/third-annual-on-track-to-recovery-5k-walkrun Crisis & Counseling Centers (C&C) will celebrate recovery from mental health and substance abuse issues at the agency’s family-friendly Third Annual On Track to Recovery 5K …

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Location: Kennebec River Rail Trail, 31 Union Streett, Augusta, Maine For more information: 207-213-4523; raceroster.com/events/2016/9315/third-annual-on-track-to-recovery-5k-walkrun Crisis & Counseling Centers (C&C) will celebrate recovery from mental health and substance abuse issues at the agency’s family-friendly Third Annual On Track to Recovery 5K …

Jackman man, accused of aiming gun at sheriff’s deputy, faces extradition to Pennsylvania

Matthew Todd Mayberry faces a felony charge in Somerset County for allegedly pointing a gun at a deputy in May when authorities went to arrest him on a charge of being a fugitive.

A Jackman man wanted in Pennsylvania on a repeat drunken driving allegation is to be extradited from Maine to face charges, but he also faces a felony charge in Somerset County for allegedly pointing a gun at a sheriff’s deputy in May.

Matthew Todd Mayberry, 45, of Jackman, was arrested Tuesday on a charge of being a fugitive from justice and is being held without bail while extradition papers are being drawn up, police said.

Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said local authorities received notification in May of a warrant for Mayberry from Pennsylvania, and when they went to arrest him, he allegedly drew a gun on Deputy Lucas Libby. Mayberry later was indicted on the charge, a class C felony, and court dates were set.

The charge in Pennsylvania is driving under the influence with a previous conviction. The warrant was issued after Mayberry allegedly fled that jurisdiction before he could face the new charge.

Sheriff’s deputies went to Mayberry’s home in May to arrest him.

“We went to his residence, and while we were arresting him — when he first met the deputy — he did confront the deputy with a gun,” Lancaster said.

Mayberry was arrested, but later was released because the warrant from Pennsylvania was for a misdemeanor and there is a technicality in Maine law that a charge has to be felony in order to hold a fugitive from justice, according to Lancaster.

Somerset County officials notified Pennsylvania officials that Mayberry was released, Lancaster said. Pennsylvania authorities in turn petitioned Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s office for what is called a governor’s warrant to hold Mayberry until officials from that state could come and pick him up.

The governor’s warrant came through July 21 and police arrested him Tuesday.

An intake worker at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison said Mayberry was being held without bail and is to be arraigned Friday on the fugitive charge.

Lancaster said he has not discussed the case with the district attorney’s office, so he did not know if Maine authorities plan to seek extradition of Mayberry back to Somerset County to face chargers of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and refusing to submit to arrest or detention, as listed in the indictments.

“I would hope, where he pointed a weapon at a deputy sheriff, that we would do that,” he said.

Documents filed in court by Staff Sgt. Michael Knight on behalf of Libby at Somerset County Unified Court in Skowhegan shed light on the Somerset County incident. Lancaster said Knight filed the documents for Libby, who was fulfilling military obligations at the time, based on the deputy’s probable cause affidavit.

Libby traveled to Jackman to arrest Mayberry on May 3 on the original fugitive charge, according to the documents. The deputy met with U.S. Border Patrol agents, and three of them accompanied him to Mayberry’s home on Main Street in Jackman.

Five dogs were outside and a man fitting Mayberry’s description was spotted about 9 p.m. running naked from an outhouse into a nearby camper.

The deputy knocked on the door and told Mayberry he had a warrant for his arrest, according to the affidavit. Mayberry allegedly refused to come out, but the door was unlocked, so the deputy pushed it open.

Libby was standing in the doorway when “Matthew came out from the bedroom area of the camper with a handgun and was wearing black body armor,” according to the court document. “Matthew had the gun up and had the gun pointed at me.”

Libby took cover, holstered his Taser and drew his own handgun and pointed a flashlight beam in Mayberry’s face. Mayberry lowered his gun “to a low ready” position. All three Border Patrol agents now had their guns drawn, according to the affidavit.

Libby ordered Mayberry to drop his weapon, but he also saw a shotgun behind him on a couch. Mayberry allegedly said, “You are not the one running the show. I am,” and he reportedly then talked about his rights, his mental state and the United Nations.

Libby and two of the Border Patrol agents managed to grab Mayberry and force him to the ground outside the camper, as Mayberry allegedly continued to resist, according to the court papers. He was taken into custody and to the jail.

A Somerset County grand jury indicted Mayberry later in May, and he was released on bail until his arrest on the governor’s warrant as a fugitive from justice on Tuesday.