Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
Mostly cloudy today with highs in the low 50s. Check your local forecast here.
National and international headlines
Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for murder, was found dead in his prison cell, Massachusetts Department of Corrections officials tell The Washington Post.
Officials say Hernandez, 27, was found in his cell in the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, at about 3:05 a.m. Wednesday. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m.
A little less than a week ago, he was acquitted in a double murder trial but was convicted of a gun possession charge. He was serving the life sentence for the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.
To reach a suicide prevention hotline, call 888-568-1112 or 800-273-TALK (8255), or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.”
Self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer spoke at Auburn University in Alabama Tuesday night after a federal judge reversed the school’s cancellation of the event on First Amendment grounds, The Washington Post reports.
He was greeted by protests that quickly turned violent and led to three arrests.
Hundreds gathered before his talk around Foy Hall, where Spencer appeared, according to AL.com. The video showed a portion of this crowd chanting, “No alt-right. No KKK. No racist USA.” One protester carried a sign reading, “Fighting Fascism an American Tradition Since 1941.”
Spencer indeed cited race during his speech, saying, “The alt-right is about being a white person, being a European in the 21st century,” and later adding, “There’d be no history without us.”
In a fiery speech at George Washington University, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly took aim at congressional critics of his department, saying they should “shut up” and let the agency enforce the laws it’s charged to enforce or change the laws.
“If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to enforce, then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws,” Secretary John Kelly said. “Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.”
The speech follows months of complaints from Congress, civil rights groups and protesters that Homeland Security is targeting Muslim travelers for unfair scrutiny.
The problem, Kelly said, is not the practices of the federal agents enforcing immigration laws, but the political games that have been played around such issues.
“For too long, the men and women of my department have been political pawns,” he said. “My people have been discouraged from doing their jobs for nearly a decade, disabled by pointless bureaucracy and political meddling, and suffered disrespect and contempt by public officials who have no idea what it means to serve.”
President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered a review of the U.S. visa program for bringing high-skilled foreign workers into the country, putting technology firms and the outsourcing companies that serve them on notice that possible changes may be ahead, according to Reuters.
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush has been readmitted to a Houston hospital for treatment of a mild case of pneumonia, his second bout of that respiratory illness in three months, but his spokesman said he “is going to be fine,” according to Reuters.
Family spokesman Jim McGrath said the 92-year-old former president was hospitalized on Friday “for observation due to a persistent cough that prevented him from getting proper rest.”
Bush, the nation’s oldest living ex-president, served a single term in the Oval Office as America’s 41st commander-in-chief from 1989 through 1992.
Health insurance executives seeking certainty on the future of federal funds that help lower-income Americans with their out-of-pocket health care costs got no commitment that they would be paid next year in an hour-long meeting with Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, two insurance industry officials with knowledge of the meeting told The Washington Post.
Insurers have been stressing the importance of the payments, with growing urgency, as they begin to face deadlines to decide whether to participate in the insurance marketplaces next year and how to set their rates.
The meeting included representatives of the major lobbying groups, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and executives from Molina Healthcare, Oscar Health, Kaiser Permanente, Geisinger Health Plan and Tufts Health Plan.
We “reiterated our most pressing concern: the instability in the individual market created by the uncertainty of funding for the cost sharing reduction program,” Kristine Grow, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, said in a statement. “We are committed to working with Administrator Verma, the Administration and Congress to ensure CSR funding is addressed quickly to provide clarity for consumers in 2017 and 2018.”
Drivers in Belfast are experiencing some heavy moose traffic
Belfast police were advising commuters to seek an alternate route this morning as a moose attempted a detour over the Passagassawakeag River Veterans Memorial bridge.
A former manager of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Bangor on Friday sued the restaurant chain in U.S. District Court, claiming that he was fired illegally after spending a month last summer on duty with the U.S. Army Reserves, the BDN’s Judy Harrison reports.
Daniel Bossie, 41, of Carmel said that he found out the Bangor store was closing just over a week after returning to work from duty. The company refused to transfer him to run the Brewer or Waterville restaurants and instead hired other people as managers, even though Bossie applied for both positions, the complaint said.
James Vitrano, spokesman for the restaurant chain said Tuesday in an email that the company does not comment on pending litigation.
“[W]e have the upmost respect and admiration for our country’s military personnel and abide by all laws relating to military leave,” he said. “We believe this lawsuit is without merit and we intend to defend it vigorously.”
The pilot who made an emergency landing on I-295 in Bowdoinham told Portland-based CBS affiliate WGME about the split-second decision he made to bring his plane down.
John Gayley said once the engine failed, he had just seven seconds to land. Fortunately, he cleared the trees, and drivers on I-295 swerved to avoid him.
That’s when he brought the plane down on top of a guardrail.
Gov. Paul LePage fleshed out his plan to slash the number of school superintendents in Maine with the release Tuesday of a new bill that continues on a path the governor has already laid with an executive order and numerous public statements, the BDN’s Michael Shepherd reports.
The proposal would allow for between nine and 12 “Maine School Management Centers” that could share administrative costs, creating a path toward a goal that the Republican governor outlined in January of nudging districts toward school consolidation with incentives, not penalties.
The centers would be created voluntarily, relying on agreements between existing districts. Costs for accounting, payroll and student information systems would be fully paid by the state. Each center would have an executive director and the state would cover 55 percent of that person’s salary.
Living and events
Talk on “1779-1783 Fort George — Protected by the Crown” by Anette Ruppel Rodrigues at the monthly meeting of Penobscot County Genealogical Society, 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, Bangor Public Library’s Lecture Hall, 145 Harlow St. She will discuss the international importance of Fort George in Castine, and the “peaceful” state of affairs that existed between Locals, Loyalists, British soldiers and their German reinforcements, who lived together in the Castine community between 1779 and 1783.
“Down to Earth Climate Justice Stories: Changing Hearts, Inspiring Action,” 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, 96 Harlow St., Suite 100, in Bangor. Free and open to public. Filmmaker Andy Burt to facilitate discussion. Visit downtoearthstories.org for more information.
Community meet and greet with Starr Kelly, the Abbe Museum’s new curator of education, and Angela Raup, new manager of guest experience, noon-2 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at the museum, 26 Mount Desert St. Participate in white glove artifact experience, learn about upcoming events and explore a special exhibit. Light refreshments. Free.
Auditions for Ten Bucks Theatre’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” 2-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 30, Community of Christ Church, 128 Pierce Road. Rehearsals begin June 5 and will be held generally 6-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays. Performance dates July 20-23 and 27-30, at Indian Trail Park in Brewer; and Aug. 3-6 at Fort Knox in Prospect. For another audition time, contact email@example.com or 884-1030.
Spring book sale, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 29, Edythe Dyer Library, 269 Main Road North in Hampden. For information, call 862-3550.
Two new Maine Historical Society exhibitions exploring Maine’s wartime experience: “World War I & the Maine Experience,” and “The War to End All Wars,” Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St. in Portland.