Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
National and international headlines
Russia has banned a picture depicting President Vladimir Putin as a potentially gay clown, saying it constitutes internet “extremism,” The Washington Post’s Avi Selk and David Filipov report.
The Moscow Times thinks it looks like a poster that became popular in 2013, after Russia passed a law banning propagandizing to children about “nontraditional sexual relations,” and gay rights protesters were beaten and arrested.
— The Moscow Times (@MoscowTimes) April 5, 2017
Gay Putin memes have proliferated as Russia has cracked down on sexual liberties and online speech in recent years, including a 2015 order banning transgender people from driving.
PepsiCo pulled a controversial commercial featuring model Kendall Jenner on Wednesday after the ad prompted outrage over its trivialization of protests and unrest in the United States, Reuters reports.
The ad shows Jenner, a fashion celebrity and reality TV star, in a photo shoot, when she sees nearby protest march. Removing her wig and makeup, she joins the crowd, and hands a baseball cap-wearing police officer a can of Pepsi, prompting him to smile while marchers cheer and hug.
President Donald Trump reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, and downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, Bloomberg News writer Jennifer Jacobs reports.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was given responsibility for setting the agenda for meetings of the NSC or the Homeland Security Council, and was authorized to delegate that authority to Bossert, at his discretion.
Under the move, the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, are again “regular attendees” of the NSC’s principals committee.
The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham reports that the Treasury’s inspector general has found that the Internal Revenue Service seized millions of dollars in cash from individuals and businesses who obtained the money legally.
(JONATHAN ERNST | REUTERS)
In order to combat criminal activity, individuals and businesses are required to report all bank deposits greater than $10,000 to federal authorities. Intentionally splitting up large sums of cash into sub-$10,000 amounts to avoid that reporting requirement is known as “structuring” and is illegal under the federal Bank Secrecy Act.
But many business owners engaged in perfectly legal activities may be unaware of the law. Others are covered by insurance policies that don’t cover cash losses greater than $10,000. Still others simply want to avoid extra paperwork and keep their deposits less than $10,000 on the advice of bank employees or colleagues.
The new book “Sleeping Beauties,” a collaboration between Stephen King and his son, fellow novelist Owen King, isn’t even due out until Sept. 26, but the rights to it have already been picked up for its eventual development as a TV series, according to the BDN’s Emily Burnham.
(Cover art for the upcoming Stephen and Owen King book “Sleeping Beauties”)
The story is set in a small Appalachian town. The women of the town all mysteriously go to sleep, growing an odd, gauze-like material, with their minds transported to another place. If they are disturbed or otherwise awakened, the women go completely, violently bonkers. The men are left to their own devices in the town, though one woman, Evie, is left awake.
President Donald Trump has proposed adding more than $1 billion in funding to the U.S. Department of Education to support “school choice,” an emphasis that leaves many educators in rural Maine concerned, Maine Public’s Robbie Feinberg reports.
“Here, you get a really strong sense of who you are individually,” said Olivia Scott, a senior at Mt. Abram Regional High School, north of Farmington. “You get to know all of your classmates and all of your peers and all of your teachers, even.”
While it’s still unclear what exactly school choice would mean, a common approach is to give families vouchers for a certain amount of money and let them choose where they want their kids to go to school. It has been tried in places such as Wisconsin and Florida, to mixed results.
Payless ShoeSource, one of the largest family footwear retailers in the U.S., has filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to close 400 stores across the country, including four in Maine, the BDN’s Danielle McLean writes.
The Broadway Shopping Center store in Bangor as well as those in Presque Isle, Biddeford and Ellsworth are among 400 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico that the Kansas-based retail giant is planning to close, according to the firm’s website.
The BDN’s Judy Harrison reports that a former Westbrook tax collector was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to six months in prison for skimming cash deposits between July 2015 and April 2016.
Ann Marie Williams, 52, of Falmouth also was ordered to pay $118,000 in restitution, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
In addition to prison time, Williams was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
She was ordered to report to prison in May.
Here’s your Maine Dog of the Day — Molly, aka “The Thing of Evil”
Molly, aka the Thing of Evil, is in training to take on Pennywise and the Man in Black in a tag-team match. She says they’ll both float. pic.twitter.com/jDem8jH5lo
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) April 1, 2017