This teen asked his grandmother to her first prom. His school said she was too old.

Good morning, Maine. Here’s your morning briefing.

National and international headlines

A teen asked his grandmother to her first prom. Too old, said the school.

Bryce Maine, 18, a senior at Eufaula High School in Alabama, wanted his grandmother, Catherine Maine, to finally enjoy an experience she missed out on long ago: prom. So he asked if she would go with him.

Of course she said yes.

“I just thought, well, it’s just so nice that he wanted me to go,” Catherine Maine told WTVM. “I kept asking him, ‘Don’t you want to take someone else?’ But he kept saying, ‘No, I want my Nanny.’ So I was just so shocked, privileged that he asked me.”

But things didn’t go as planned when Eufaula High School said she was too old to go to prom, citing concerns that she may furnish alcohol to minors. That news ignited a social media firestorm, but school officials didn’t changed their position.

Bryce won’t let that get in the way of giving his grandmother her special night.

According to Fox News, that meal will likely be at the Eufaula Country Club, which invited the two to dine on Saturday and maybe take a spin on the dance floor.

Medieval England was home to history’s first zombie madness

It turns out medieval peasants were just as worried about zombies as we are, and they never even saw Season 7 of the Walking Dead, writes Robbie Gramer of Foreign Policy magazine.

(YVES HERMAN | REUTERS)

A newly published study reveals that villagers in medieval Yorkshire, England, burned and chopped up the skeletons of their dearly departed. The archaeologists who penned the study say all evidence points toward a fear of the living dead.

Blackwater founder held secret meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel

U.S., European and Arab officials tell The Washington Post that the United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump.

The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would likely require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions, The Post reports.

North Korea fires missile into sea off east coast

Reuters reports that North Korea fired a ballistic missile Wednesday from its east coast into the sea off the Korean Peninsula ahead of a summit between U.S. and Chinese leaders who are set to discuss Pyongyang’s arms program.

The launch comes just ahead of a summit meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping this week where adding pressure on the North to drop its arms development will take center stage.

Any launch of objects using the ballistic missile technology is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, but the North has defied the ban as infringement of its sovereign rights to self-defense and pursuit of space exploration.

Islamic State says US ‘being run by an idiot’

Islamic State said on Tuesday the United States was drowning and “being run by an idiot,” according to Reuters.

In the first official remarks by the group referring to President Donald Trump since he took office, spokesman Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer said:

“America you have drowned and there is no savior, and you have become prey for the soldiers of the caliphate in every part of the earth, you are bankrupt and the signs of your demise are evident to every eye.

“There is no more evidence than the fact that you are being run by an idiot who does not know what Syria or Iraq or Islam is,” he said in a recording released on the messaging network Telegram.

Trump has made defeating Islamic State a priority.

Scores killed in Syria gas attack blamed on Assad

Reuters reports that a suspected Syrian government chemical attack killed scores of people, including children, in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday.

The U.S. government believes the chemical agent sarin was used in the attack, a government source said, adding it was “almost certainly” carried out by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Local headlines

Angus King comes out against Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine said Tuesday that he will oppose the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, and side with Democrats in a likely-to-fail effort to derail his confirmation, the BDN’s Michael Shepherd reports.

“If Judge Gorsuch is ultimately confirmed, I sincerely hope my concerns and fears will be proven wrong; I would be delighted if this is the case,” he said. “But in good conscience, I must vote my convictions and not my hopes – and my convictions in this case tell me ‘no’.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins last week endorsed Gorsuch in a speech on the Senate floor and urged Democrats not to filibuster his nomination, calling him “unquestionably qualified.”

A Finnish company wants to build ‘flying boats’ in Maine

The BDN’s Beth Brogan reports that Brunswick Landing will become the U.S. headquarters and production base for a new class of high-performance amphibious aircraft.

Atol USA Inc., a joint venture of Atol Avion in Finland and a “U.S.-based investor group,” made the announcement yesterday that it will produce it aircraft for other markets in Finland, with deliveries to European customers in late 2017 and deliveries from Brunswick scheduled for mid-2018.

Police union files grievance against Caribou

A police union is filing a grievance against the city of Caribou, saying that Caribou is conducting “bad faith” bargaining practices by allegedly withdrawing from an agreement to issue union officers retroactive pay.

Local police union members have argued that the retention rate of officers, along with their pay, is among the lowest in the state, and costs the city thousands of dollars in regularly scheduled overtime.

The final hearing on a grievance filed to the Maine Labor Board will be heard on May 2 in Augusta.

Maine’s wells could be polluted with arsenic, lead

The water that flows out of your faucet may taste good, smell good and look good — but there’s a chance it could make you sick, the BDN’s Abigail Curtis reports.

Arsenic is a toxic chemical naturally found in Maine’s soil and bedrock. It can dissolve into drinking water through the ground or as runoff, and thereby make an unwelcome appearance in the private wells that more than half of Mainers rely on for their drinking water, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 10 percent of Maine wells have an elevated level of arsenic, and drinking that water can lead to problems over time such as skin damage, circulation problems, stomach pain, nausea and tingling in the hands and feet.

The major problem is that Maine has a high reliance on wells, but very few people test their wells,” Anna Farrell of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor said while presenting a poster at the conference. “And knowing what to do with that information once you get it is also not known.”

This Mainer raised in Italy is serving up Tuscan-inspired cuisine in her home state

Chef Sara Jenkins was born in Camden, raised in Italy and opened two restaurants in New York City — but now she’s back with her newest eatery, Nina June, in Rockland.