Quarter of miles traveled in the US by 2030 seen as driverless

Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.


Expect clouds and a light southerly breeze. Our highs will be in the 60s today. Check your local forecast here.

National and international headlines

Decomposed bat is found inside bag of organic salad from a Florida Wal-Mart

Fresh Express issued a recall notice over the weekend, saying only that some “extraneous animal matter” found its way into a single five-ounce container of Organic Marketside Spring Mix, somewhere on the continent, The Washington Post reports..

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on the other hand, will tell you possibly more than you wanted to know.

“Two people in Florida reported eating some of the salad before the bat was found,” reads the agency’s notice of an investigation of the incident.

That sounds bad, though the CDC offers reassurance that the chance of a live rabies virus making its way into the salad is very small. And the two people who ate the salad appear healthy.

To DeVos, Florida shows the path to school choice

The Washington Post reports that Florida has channeled billions of taxpayer dollars into scholarships for poor children to attend private schools, using tax credits to build a laboratory for school choice that the Trump administration holds up as a model for the nation.

The voucherlike program, the largest of its kind in the country, helps pay tuition for nearly 100,000 students from low-income families.

(David Santiago | TNS)

But The Post reports that there is scant evidence that these students fare better academically than their peers in public schools.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a longtime advocate for school choice, does not seem to be bothered by that complaint.

Dozens killed in Islamic State bombings of Egyptian Coptic churches

At least 44 people were killed in Egypt in bomb attacks at the cathedral of the Coptic Pope and another church on Palm Sunday, prompting anger and fear among Christians and leading to troop deployments and the declaration of a three-month state of emergency, Reuters reports.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also injured more than 100 people and occurred a week before Coptic Easter, with Pope Francis scheduled to visit Egypt later this month.

Quarter of miles traveled in the US by 2030 seen as driverless

A convergence of three trends — ride sharing, autonomous driving and vehicle electrification — will drive a radical shift in the auto industry that could lead to a quarter of all miles driven in the U.S. be in shared, self-driving electric cars by the end of the next decade, according to Bloomberg News.

Local headlines

It took nearly 200 years for the US to do right by this Portland veteran

The BDN’s Troy R. Bennett tells the story of William “Billy” Brown who served as a child soldier in the U.S. Navy in 1798 during the Quasi-War with France. Maimed in battle in a now-forgotten war, Brown was then cast aside by his country.

The African-American man never got medals or the pension he was due. Instead, his reward was a life of pain and poverty. When he died, he ended up a forgotten man in an unmarked grave in Portland’s Eastern Cemetery.

Until now.

Spring melt, expected rain pose risk of ice jams, flooding in parts of Maine

The combination of warming temperatures and anticipated rainfall has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a hazardous weather outlook statement through at least the middle of this week, the BDN’s Dawn Gagnon reports.

“We’ll have some chances for rain, so with all those things combined we’ll see increasing snowmelt and increased runoff that’ll make the rivers rise, which then can cause the ice to move and anytime the ice moves and it breaks up, there’s a possibility of a jam,” Meteorologist Maureen Hastings of the Nation Weather Service office in Caribou said.

The hazardous weather outlook applies to northern and central Maine, including Aroostook, Piscataquis and Penobscot counties as well as Down East and eastern Maine.

Among the rivers being monitored are the Aroostook River, the Piscataquis River and the St. John River.

Saving ailing hospitals created fiscal strain for Eastern Maine Healthcare

If a major credit rating agency follows through on a downgrade to Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, the hit would reverberate throughout the extensive financial ties that bind the hospital network, the BDN’s Jackie Farwell reports.

Perhaps best known for its flagship hospital, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, the system stretches from Presque Isle to Portland.

EMHS says this model has reduced administrative costs and decreased variation across the system. The financially struggling hospitals it has acquired in recent years faced uncertain futures without the purchasing power and scale of a big network.