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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

BTV Loses Its Only International Commercial Flight

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2018 at 5:46 PM

Burlington International Airport - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Burlington International Airport
The only international commercial flight at Burlington International Airport won't be offered this year due to low boardings and logistical challenges.

Porter Airlines will not run its skier-friendly seasonal service into Burlington from Toronto, BTV aviation director Gene Richards told Seven Days Wednesday.

The flights typically start in mid-December and run for eight to 10 weeks. Richards characterized the suspension as a one-year break and said he hoped Porter would be back next winter.

So is the "International" in the airport's name still legit given the suspension of the flight service to Canada?

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Montréal Man Gets Four Years for Smuggling Guns Through Library

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2018 at 12:55 PM

Haskell Free Library and Opera House in Derby Line - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Haskell Free Library and Opera House in Derby Line
A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a Montréal man to more than four years in prison for smuggling 100 firearms through a bathroom in the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which straddles the international border in Derby Line.

Alexis Vlachos, a career criminal who pronounced himself a reformed man during a U.S. District Court hearing, will likely be released from prison in the coming weeks after receiving credit for time served and good behavior. He plans to work at his father's restaurant, lawyers said.

Vlachos, 41, led a three-man operation that bought 100 handguns from licensed dealers in Florida. In March 2011, the coconspirators traveled to Vermont and left several firearms in the library, which is famously bisected by the international border.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Cannabis
Québec Unveils Marijuana Legalization Plan

Posted By on Fri, Nov 24, 2017 at 12:02 PM

A hemp field in Middlebury - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • TERRI HALLENBECK
  • A hemp field in Middlebury
Facing a July 1 national deadline to legalize marijuana, Québec lawmakers recently unveiled a set of proposed rules that are generally seen as restrictive.

While the federal Canadian legislation would allow people to grow small amounts of marijuana at home, Québec wouldn't allow it, under draft legislation written by the province's ruling Liberal Party.
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Instead, the Québec government would retain total control of recreational marijuana sales, much like it controls alcohol sales in its ubiquitous SAQ stores. The province aims to have 15 marijuana stores open by July and as many as 150 within two years. It will also sell marijuana online. The province has not set a price.

The federal government has mandated nationwide marijuana legalization by July 1, while leaving details to the country's provinces. Like Vermont, Québec already has legal medical marijuana and is struggling to develop a framework for broader legalization.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Feds: Canadian Man Smuggled Guns Through Haskell Free Library

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 5:48 PM

Haskell Free Library and Opera House - FILE: MARK DAVIS
  • File: mark davis
  • Haskell Free Library and Opera House
A Montréal man has been indicted on charges that he led a firearms smuggling operation that involved concealing handguns in the bathroom of Derby Line's Haskell Free Library, which straddles the U.S.-Canada border.

Authorities recently extradited Alexis Vlachos, 40, from Québec to Vermont, where earlier this month he pleaded not guilty to five firearms charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday. He is being held in prison pending trial and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Vlachos imported 100 handguns into Québec without a permit from the U.S. State Department, prosecutors said.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Vermont-to-Montréal Train Proposal Chugging Slowly Along

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 12:21 PM

NICKKHAMOV/DREAMSTIME
Gov. Peter Shumlin’s point person on the restoration of train service between Vermont and Montréal reported to lawmakers Tuesday that the project is still on track.

Brian Searles, former secretary of transportation, noted two promising developments in recent weeks — the introduction of a bill in Congress that would enable negotiations to begin, and a promise from new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his U.S. visit that Parliament would pass similar authorization this spring.

Amtrak’s Vermonter, which now runs between St. Albans and Washington, D.C., used to go to Montréal, until 1995, Searles said. But requirements for crew changes and a border stop created lengthy delays “that basically rendered it noncompetitive with the auto,” he said.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

This Week's Issue: A Neighborly Noise Feud in Burlington, 'Border' Security and Maple Saplings

Posted on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 11:44 AM

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Find these news and politics stories in this week's Seven Days...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Green Mountain Police State? Vermont's Spy Guy to Speak at ACLU Event

Posted By on Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 9:54 AM

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South Pomfret resident Bill Arkin isn't shocked by recent revelations about the worldwide and domestic spying operations of U.S. intelligence agencies.

That's because he and colleague Dana Priest reported extensively on privacy invasions by U.S. espionage agencies in an investigative series, "Top Secret America," published in the Washington Post more than three years ago.

Arkin and Priest showed how the national-security state had expanded exponentially in the years following the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. They reported, for example, that more than 3000 government organizations and private companies are engaged in "homeland security" activities in 10,000 locations around the United States, six of them in Vermont.

Arkin will update and analyze his findings as they relate to Vermonters and millions of other Americans at a conference on Wednesday in Montpelier. He's the featured speaker at the free, day-long event in the Pavilion Auditorium sponsored by the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Arkin's talk will focus on "the big national picture and how Vermont fits into it," he said in a telephone interview on Monday. He'll also be touting his newly published book, American Coup: How a Terrified Government Is Destroying the Constitution.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Bloom Season" Is Upon Us

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 10:24 AM

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Fall is right around the corner. But until the leaves turn red and gold, people around Lake Champlain must contend with changing colors of a different sort: For the last two weeks, pea-green blooms of algae have been popping up in Missisquoi, St. Albans and Malletts bays.

“Mid-August through September is, unfortunately, what we in the business call ‘bloom season,’” says James Ehlers, executive director of the nonprofit Lake Champlain International.

Scientists have determined that early summer rain brings nutrients like phosphorus into the lake, and long stretches of sunlight facilitate photosynthesis, resulting in the pea-green film, Ehlers explains. 

“It’s not unlike April showers bring May flowers,” he says.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Big Dreams of Plattsburgh's Uppity Airport May Cause Nightmares at BTV

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 9:40 AM

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Plattsburgh's "international" airport (PBG) remains much smaller than Burlington's, but economic-development officials on the New York side of Lake Champlain sure do dream big.

Direct flights from PBG to Caribbean vacation spots represent "the lowest-hanging fruit" potentially within the airport's reach, North County Chamber of Commerce chief Garry Douglas recently told the New York Times. And that might just be the first step in giving substantive meaning to the "international" part of the airport's title, Douglas added. 

The Times reported his suggestion that it might be feasible in the longer term to board flights from Plattsburgh to destinations such as London, Paris and Tel Aviv. That would be quite a leap from the handful of domestic destinations PBG currently serves.

But PBG clearly does expect to handle many more passengers in the coming years than the 150,000 or so who boarded flights there in 2012. A remote parking site with 1500 spaces — in addition to the 2000 already available — is scheduled to open in 2016, the Times said. That's the same year when Plattsburgh's terminal is due to complete an expansion that will triple its size.

PBG's ambitions hinge almost entirely on attracting additional traffic from Quebec. More than 80 percent of its passengers currently come from Canada — drawn in part perhaps by PBG's claim of being "Montreal's U.S. Airport."

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