North Korea warns of ‘super-mighty preemptive strike’, ISIS claims responsibility for France attack, and ‘weed nuns’

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


Rainy today with highs in the mid 40s. There’s a flood warning in effect on the Mattawamkeag River. Check your local forecast here.

National and international headlines

Trump praises Chinese efforts on North Korea ‘menace,’ Pyongyang warns of strike

President Donald Trump praised Chinese efforts to rein in “the menace of North Korea” on Thursday, after North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike.”

Trump told a news conference “some very unusual moves have been made over the last two or three hours,” and that he was confident Chinese President Xi Jinping would “try very hard” to pressure Beijing’s ally and neighbor North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.

While Trump gave no indication of what the moves might be, U.S. officials told Reuters that the United States was aware of a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers, signaling a possible heightened state of readiness. The officials played down concerns and left open a range of possible reasons.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Reuters photo.

Islamic State claims Paris shooting, one policeman killed

A French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris on Thursday night in an attack carried out days before presidential elections and quickly claimed by the Islamic State militant group.

President Francois Hollande said he was convinced the “cowardly killing” on the Champs Elysees boulevard, in which the assailant was himself shot dead by police, was an act of terrorism.

California’s ‘weed nuns’ on a mission to heal with cannabis

The Sisters of the Valley, California’s self-ordained “weed nuns,” are on a mission to heal and empower women with their cannabis products.

Based near the town of Merced in the Central Valley, which produces over half of the fruit, vegetables and nuts grown in the United States, the Sisters of the Valley grow and harvest their own cannabis plants.

California “weed nun” India Delgado, who goes by the name Sister Eevee, trims hemp in the kitchen at Sisters of the Valley near Merced, California. LUCY NICHOLSON | REUTERS

The sisterhood stresses that its seven members, despite the moniker, do not belong to any order of the Catholic Church.

Trump launches trade probe targeting foreign steel

Winning praise from U.S. companies that are constantly fighting with foreign competitors, Trump invoked a rarely used trade law that raises the possibility of new tariffs. The action triggered a rally in U.S. steel stocks.

At a White House ceremony where he was surrounded by U.S. steel executives, Trump signed a memorandum ordering the Commerce Department to probe the impact of steel imports on the nation’s defense industrial base.

“Steel is critical to both our economy and our military. This is not an area where we can afford to become dependent on foreign countries,” said Trump.

Wall Street rallies on earnings; Nasdaq hits record

“You look at a day like today and it tells you there is a lot of cash on the sidelines that wants an opportunity to buy when the market sells off even just a little bit.”

Major indexes have fallen for two straight weeks, retreating from record levels as worries about President Donald Trump’s ability to deliver on his pro-growth promises raised some concern about stretched stock valuations.

Mounting tensions between North Korea and the United States, as well as the looming French presidential elections, also served to heighten investor caution.

Local headlines

Penobscot County buys condemned former Bangor YMCA

The sale of the former YMCA on Hammond Street to Penobscot County was finalized Thursday, a day after the city condemned the building.

The locks were expected to be changed Thursday afternoon but the former occupants and owner would be able to retrieve personal property from the building, County Administrator Bill Collins said.

The county purchased the more than 50,000 square-foot building for $825,000 from 127 Hammond St., LLC, after threatening to take it by eminent domain.

Maine State Senator Joins the Healthcare Fray With a Bill of His Own

From the Daily Clout: This bill, sponsored by Maine State Senator Thomas Saviello (R-ME), is called “An Act to Protect and Improve the Health of Maine Citizens and the Economy of Maine.” Sen. Saviello’s bill provides state funding to cover the health care needs of Maine citizens whose income is at the poverty line, or up to 33 per cent above it. Click here to weigh in on the bill.

Alleged Ohio Street gunman has prison record in Connecticut

Antoinne J. “Prince” Bethea, who is wanted by Bangor police, was working as a carpenter and handyman with his girlfriend’s father and had wanted to start breeding Yorkies, said his girlfriend of about three months, Danielle Durel. She is the estranged wife of the man Bethea allegedly shot to death, 36-year-old Terrence Durel Sr., of New Orleans.

“[Bethea] talked about getting old and starting to do good things,” Danielle Durel said Thursday. “That’s what’s so sad. He really was just ready to do something right.”

Hancock County couple dies in South Carolina crash

A crash in South Carolina claimed the lives of a Hancock County couple tied to a popular Route 1 restaurant.

Layn Wilbur, 44, of Hancock and Cinnamon Riddell, 45, of Sullivan died in the Monday night crash on Interstate 95 in Florence, South Carolina, according to a local news station.

Wilbur was the son of the owners of Ruth and Wimpy’s, an eatery in Hancock known for the large red fiberglass lobster out front.

Living and events

How to see ‘Ghost Trains’ deep in the Maine woods

Shane Morrison is putting together a convoy, and he plans on rolling it across Maine to one of the state’s more remote and unlikely reminders of its logging history.

On Aug. 4, Morrison will lead a backroad trip into the North Maine Woods in the First Ghost Train Convoy to visit the abandoned steam engines and tramway between Eagle and Chamberlain lakes.

Old Town-Orono YMCA Wants Kids to ‘Charge into Summer’ During Annual Healthy Kids Day
The Old Town-Orono YMCA is holding a free community event Saturday, April 29, to inspire more kids to keep their minds and bodies active at the annual YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day®, the Y’s national initiative to improve health and well-being for kids and families.

Internationally Acclaimed Bread & Puppet Theater to Perform at College of the Atlantic
Bread & Puppet Theater returns to College of the Atlantic with a new play, Faust 3, a proletarian rumination on displacement, heaven, and satisfaction in the tradition of Medieval Faust puppet shows and Goethe’s epic verse drama.

Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Maine Spring Meeting
The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Maine will hold their spring meeting at the Lucerne Inn on May 6 beginning at Noon. Scholarship and Essay recipients will be honored.

DOT to do maintenance on Penobscot Narrows Bridge April 24-June 6
The Maine Department of Transportation will install new pavement and waterproofing membrane on Penobscot Narrows Bridge, connecting Verona Island and Prospect over the Penobscot River, between April 24 and June 6.