North Korea accuses U.S. of plotting to assassinate Kim Jong Un

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National and international headlines

House votes to defund Planned Parenthood

The health care bill passed by the House brought Republicans closer to their goal of erasing Obamacare from the books. But it also revived another long-cherished aspiration: cutting off the flow of federal funds to Planned Parenthood.

LUCAS JACKSON | REUTERS

A provision in the bill temporarily blocks the 100-year-old women’s health nonprofit organization and abortion provider from participating in the Medicaid program. If enacted, it would deal a devastating blow to an organization that provides reproductive services and other health care to 2.5 million people annually.

It is far from certain that the measure will become law, as it must still pass the Senate, where the Planned Parenthood provision and the larger bill are likely to encounter stiffer political and procedural obstacles. The American Civil Liberties Union also has threatened legal action to prevent such a law from taking root.

But it represents a significant, initial victory for conservatives who have long sought to undercut the country’s largest abortion provider and who had extracted a promise from President Trump during his campaign that he would sign a bill defunding Planned Parenthood.

The twin achievements led conservatives to call the day historic.

NYC coffee shop sues Starbucks over Unicorn beverage

Starbucks Corp. may be in a bit of hot water over its Unicorn beverage as a New York City coffee shop has filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit against the coffee chain over the popular drink, court documents showed.

Reuters

The End Brooklyn and its owner, Montauk Juice Factory, said it created the Unicorn Latte, its own bright pink and blue drink, and began selling it in December, four months before Starbucks launched the Unicorn Frappuccino, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York.

Montauk Juice Factory filed a trademark application for the Unicorn Latte on Jan. 20 after the popularity of its drink soared, accounting for about a quarter of the store’s sales since its launch, it said in the suit.

In addition to similar names, the similar appearance of the drinks creates confusion within the market, the coffee shop noted in the suit.

North Korea accuses US, South Korea of plotting to assassinate Kim Jong Un

North Korea accused the U.S. and South Korean intelligence agencies on Friday of plotting to kill the nation’s leader, Kim Jong Un, using “biochemical agents.”

KCNA KCNA | REUTERS

The accusation came amid sharply increased tensions between the United States and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

On Thursday, the House voted overwhelmingly to tighten sanctions on North Korea by targeting its shipping industry and companies that do business with the reclusive state.

The measure, passed by a vote of 419 to 1, would need to be approved by the Senate before being sent to the White House for President Trump to sign into law.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Friday that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and South Korea’s National Intelligence Agency had bribed a North Korean citizen to “hurt the supreme leadership” using a biochemical substance. KCNA has made similar accusations in the past, none of which have been verified.

Red Sox permanently ban fan who allegedly used racial slur

A fan reported the incident at Fenway Park on Tuesday, in which another fan made racially-charged comments about a Kenyan woman who sang the national anthem prior to the start of the game.

David Butler II | USA Today Sports

Red Sox President Sam Kennedy said that, to his knowledge, this was the first time the team had banned a fan from Fenway Park for life. “I’m here to send a message loud and clear that the behavior, the language, the treatment of others that you’ve heard about and read about is not acceptable,” he said.

Families of San Bernardino shooting sue Facebook, Google, Twitter

Family members of three victims of the December 2015 shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, have sued Facebook, Google and Twitter, claiming that the tech giants permitted Islamic State to flourish on social media.

The plaintiffs assert that by allowing Islamic State militants to spread propaganda freely on social media, the three companies provided “material support” to the group and enabled attacks such as the one in San Bernardino.

Family booted from Delta flight, threatened with jail for not giving up toddler’s seat

A Southern California father said he and his family were booted from a Delta flight after they declined to give up a seat they had bought for their teenage son and were attempting to use for his 2-year-old sibling.

Reuters

Brian and Brittany Schear, of Huntington Beach, were on a red-eye flight April 23 from Maui to Los Angeles when they got into an argument with officials after being told that they had to give the seat to another passenger.

“I bought the seat,” Brian Schear is seen telling the agents in a video of the incident, explaining that he initially purchased the seat for his 18-year-old son but sent the teen home early on another flight so that the toddler would have a seat on the plane. “It’s a red-eye. He won’t sleep unless he’s in his car seat. So, otherwise, he’d be sitting in my wife’s lap, crawling all over the place, and it’s not safe.”

The couple said they were also traveling with a 1-year-old.

An agent told Schear that unless he complied, he would have to leave the plane, which had yet to take off.

Uber faces criminal probe over software used to avoid police

The U.S. Department of Justice has begun a criminal investigation into Uber Technologies Inc’s use of a software tool that helped its drivers evade local transportation regulators, two sources familiar with the situation said.

BDN File

Uber has acknowledged the software, known as “Greyball,” helped it identify and circumvent government officials who were trying to clamp down on Uber in areas where its service had not yet been approved, such as Portland, Oregon.

The company prohibited the use of Greyball for this purpose shortly after the New York Times revealed its existence in March, saying the program was created to check ride requests to prevent fraud and safeguard drivers. The Times report triggered a barrage of negative publicity for the company.

The criminal probe could become a significant problem facing the company that is already struggling with an array of recent business and legal issues.

Local headlines

Sheriff: Maine weatherman who died would have been charged in sexual assault case

Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant said Thursday that former WCSH-TV meteorologist Tom Johnston was the “one and only suspect” in an alleged gross sexual assault a month ago near Sunday River ski resort in Newry.

Johnston, 46, of Old Orchard Beach, was found dead by apparent suicide five days later in Auburn.

Gallant said that based on reports from the alleged victim, witnesses and informants — who will remain anonymous — police are confident they have solved the case.

Maine’s Poliquin helps Republicans pass plan to replace Obamacare

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin voted on Thursday to back fellow Republicans’ plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, breaking his silence on the American Health Care Act just before the vote in the House of Representatives.

Christopher Bouchard | Aroostook Republican

The impact that it would have on Poliquin’s 2nd District, which is older and more rural than the rest of Maine, is unclear. Estimates for an earlier version of the Republican plan showed it would decrease subsidies for older, low-income Mainers in rural counties.

[MORE: The part of Maine that backed Trump is least likely to benefit from GOP health plan]

Republicans pulled that plan for lack of support from conservatives in March, but a revised version passed in a 217-213 vote on Thursday after the addition of a provision based on Maine’s 2011 health care reform law that established high-risk pools to subsidize premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.

Mainers return home after being caught in South Sudan’s civil war

Peter Machar, 65, spent most of the past year trapped in a refugee camp in the capital city of Juba, as the country around him was ravaged by starvation, burning villages, ethnic cleansing and gang rape “so prevalent that it’s become ‘normal,’” according to the United Nations.

Jake Bleiberg | BDN

As fighting and food shortages in the country grew more severe over the winter, Machar and his family back in Maine had been on the brink of despair, until he recently was rescued from the camp by U.S. government forces, who helped him travel back to Maine.

Events and living

Maine’s Good To-Go, gourmet trail food, reaches 600 stores

What happens when you put together a professional chef and a seasoned backpacker? Gourmet trail food, naturally.

That’s the story of Good To-Go, a company that offers Maine-made dehydrated meals inspired by cuisines from around the world. Based in Kittery, the company was co-founded by Jennifer Scism and David Koorits, a married duo that melded their two life passions — good food and outdoor adventure — to fill a niche they believed had serious potential.

And based on their instant success, they were right.

Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN

In just three years, Good To-Go has infiltrated more than 600 stores, including the major outfitters REI, Eastern Mountain Sports and L.L.Bean, and has raised the standard for trail food.

“We just want to make food fun in the outdoors,” said Koorits. “I think it’s just a thing that’s constantly overlooked.”

77-year-old using cannabis for Alzheimer’s is ‘much less fearful’

Dair Gillespie, 77, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about three years ago, has been using cannabis tincture for about a year, after being certified through an area hospice agency. At the time, Ann Leffler said, her spouse’s health had taken a sudden downturn, perhaps related to a series of smaller strokes that left her nearly comatose.

“At one point we thought she only had 72 hours to live,” she recalled.

Gillespie eventually recovered from her lethargic state, but assumed a heightened level of agitation and confusion. She became increasingly fearful and combative with her caregivers.

Gabor Degre | BDN

“On cannabis, she’s very, very different,” Leffler said, screwing the dropper-top back on the one-ounce bottle. The drug has drastically reduced Gillespie’s overall agitation and combativeness. It’s made it easier for her to eat and sleep, and easier for caregivers to tend to her many needs. And, far from making her sleepy or “out of it,” Leffler said, cannabis has restored a small bit of awareness and responsiveness to her dear one.

“She is much less anxious, much less fearful,” Leffler said. “She’s much more ‘there’ — she’ll laugh, she’ll smile, sometimes she’ll say a word or two that can be understood.”

Two-town food program premieres in Harmony

Residents of Harmony and Wellington will no longer need to travel such distances to have their food needs met. Food insecure members of both communities will now be served by the conveniently located Harmony Cares: Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Program.

Maine educator summer institute to host national speakers at Thomas College

Maine PreK-12 educators have a unique opportunity this June to engage with three inspirational speakers who are leaders in working with students to develop their creative, problem solving skills, to build their sense of self-efficacy, and engage them in authentic learning scenarios at Thomas College’s Center for Innovation in Education Summer Institute: Weaving a Tapestry of Learning.

National Park Service is set to conduct prescribed fire burns in Acadia National Park

The National Park Service is planning to conduct a number of prescribed fire burns in Acadia National Park through June 1 and again from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, provided weather and fuel conditions meet the conditions established in the park’s prescribed fire plan.

BDN File

The purpose of the prescribed fire burns is to perpetuate native plant species and open space landscapes by preventing the successional invasion of grasslands by shrubs and trees. The prescribed fire burns will also reduce natural hazard fuels, which will help minimize fire risk to park and adjacent lands.