‘I almost killed my mom with an anti-itch pill’

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


Overcast skies with temperatures in the 50s. Check your local forecast here.

National and international headlines

Pipeline spill by Dakota Access company could have a ‘deadly effect’

The director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on Monday blasted the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners for a “pattern” of 18 spills of drilling materials and said that the size of the biggest spill could reach 5 million gallons, more than double original estimates.

Craig Butler, the Ohio EPA director, said that his agency has imposed about $400,000 in fines on Energy Transfer Partners, the same company that was recently embroiled in controversy over its Dakota Access crude oil pipeline.

But Butler said the company had brushed off his complaints, claiming the state EPA lacked the authority to interfere with its plans for the construction of a natural gas pipeline called Rover.

Butler, a 27-year veteran of the Ohio EPA, said the company’s response was “dismissive,” “exceptionally disappointing” and unlike any other response he has ever seen from a company.

While drilling mud used to cool and lubricate drilling equipment is not toxic, the biggest spill has poured fluid the consistency of a milk shake several feet deep in a previously pristine wetland and would “kill just about everything in that wetland,” Butler said. The company is trying to remove the material by vacuum and even by hand, Butler said.

Islamic State video shows beheading of Russian intelligence agent

MOSCOW — The Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of a Russian intelligence officer it accused of spying on the group in Syria.

The video, which was released on media accounts associated with the Islamic State on Monday, showed the gruesome murder of Cpt. Yevgeny Petrenko, 36, whom the Islamic State said had infiltrated Islamist groups in Kazakhstan and the North Caucasus region of Russia before he was caught last year by the Islamic State in Syria.

The video was accessed through a copy provided on the site of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist publications and media. It confirmed the video Tuesday.

Yates says she warned White House that Flynn could be ‘blackmailed’

WASHINGTON – Former acting attorney general Sally Yates said Monday she warned the top lawyer in the White House that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn could be blackmailed by Russia, and gave the White House a private warning “so that they could take action.”

Carlos Barria | REUTERS

Testifying for the first time about her discussions in January with Trump administration officials, Yates gave her first public accounting of a conversation with White House counsel Donald McGahn that ultimately led to Flynn’s firing.

“We began our meeting telling him that there had been press accounts of statements from the Vice President (Mike Pence) and others that related to conduct that Gen. Flynn had been involved in that we knew not to be the truth,” said Yates. “The vice president was knowingly making false statements to the American public, and Gen. Flynn was compromised by the Russians.”

Alaska’s tundra is filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, worsening climate change

Even as the Trump administration weighs withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement, a new scientific paper has documented growing fluxes of greenhouse gases streaming into the air from the Alaskan tundra, a long-feared occurrence that could worsen climate change.

Brent Frazee | TNS

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that frozen northern soils – often called permafrost – are unleashing an increasing amount of carbon dioxide into the air as they thaw in summer or subsequently fail to refreeze as they once did, particularly in late fall and early winter.

‘I’ll run this place’: Aaron Hernandez’s prison life reportedly included the Bloods

Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star who was found dead in his prison cell last month, belonged to the Bloods street gang and had been disciplined for having gang paraphernalia and other incidents, documents related to the investigation into his death show.

Brian Snyder | REUTERS

Hernandez was disciplined for having “STG” (Security Threat Group) paraphernalia and the Bloods were listed under his gang profile, according to documents obtained Friday by The Associated Press. Hernandez, 27, was discovered hanging from a bedsheet in his cell in the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, early on the morning of April 19. Although his death was ruled a suicide, lawyers for his family have called for an investigation into his death, which came just days after he was acquitted in a 2012 double murder. Hernandez was serving a life sentence without parole after being convicted of the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.

Local headlines

Orono Brewing Company is on the move

Orono Brewing Company, the Orono-based craft brewery, announced Monday morning that, pending town approval, it would purchase and then expand into a 10,000 square foot industrial building on the banks of the Penobscot River.

The building, located at 61 Margin St., was formerly the home of a rock crushing facility owned by Lane Construction, and overlooks Ayers Island in the river. OBC owners Abe Furth, Heather Furth, Asa Marsh-Sachs and Mark Horton plan to move the majority of its brewing operations to the facility, allowing them to initially double their production to meet overwhelming demand.

“We are dedicated to slow and incremental growth,” Abe Furth said.

Kayaker drowns over the weekend in flooded Penobscot River

A 25-year-old Millinocket kayaker drowned over the weekend on the swollen waters of the Penobscot River, near where the Nesowadnehunk Stream meets the West Branch.

Joseph Giffune, Jr., 25, died while whitewater kayaking with a friend just after 5 p.m. on Sunday. Just before the junction, Giffune got stuck in a hydraulic at the bottom of some rocks and was unable to free himself.

Shuttered Maine mill land one step closer to becoming an energy park

PORTLAND, Maine — The company seeking to build a $240 million biorefinery in East Millinocket has reached a settlement to buy the property, which it expects to close by early June.

The buyer, EMEP LLC, said in court filings that it has reached a deal with the property owner, North American Recovery Management, which it expects will close within 60 days.

Until then, both sides have asked the court to put all proceedings on hold regarding EMEP’s complaint that it negotiated the right to buy the property for $1.75 million. The court approved that motion Friday and lifted restrictions on the buyer selling the property.

Two UMaine softball players suspended

ORONO, Maine — Two University of Maine softball players, senior catcher Rachel Harvey and junior pitcher Annie Kennedy, have been suspended by school officials for an incident at the Orono House of Pizza on Saturday night.

According to an Orono Police Department report, Harvey and her father, William Harvey, were charged with assault and disorderly conduct, as they allegedly were involved in a physical altercation with other customers in the establishment.

They were summoned, but not arrested, and then released.

Orono police Sgt. Scott Lajoie said Kennedy was listed as a witness on the police report but indicated that more information may be coming.

Fellow Orono Sgt. Dan Merrill said the incident is “still under investigation.”

April showers brought more rain than usual to northern Maine

Statistics from the National Weather Service in Caribou show that precipitation was above average in the state last month except across portions of Down East Maine, where it was slightly below average. Tony Mignone, meteorologist at the NWS, said Friday this was because of a very active jet stream in the eastern part of the nation.

“We had several days of very wet weather in April,” he noted.

Events and living

‘I almost killed my mom with an anti-itch pill’
– By Sheila Sullivan Zubrod, Washington Post

Nobody wants to kill her own mother by accident. Luckily, mine pulled through.

As teachable moments go, this one was huge. I learned that once you or someone you know hits age 65, it’s time to learn which drugs can increase the risk of dementia when taken for long periods. And which, for people who already have dementia, can make them psychotic.

I call them the drugs of fog, and I saw firsthand what these seemingly innocuous pills did to my mom. A pill that might make a 20-year-old or a 40-year-old slightly sleepy made my 95-year-old mother, Ceil Zubrod, into someone I had never seen. Known for her easy smile, great style and a crazy-early bedtime, she morphed in less than five hours into a hallucinating, night-walking, screaming basket case, all thanks to one anti-itch prescription pill I gave her for her eczema.

Coach acquires Kate Spade

Luxury handbag maker Coach is buying rival Kate Spade, a brand known for its whimsical designs and colorful patterns, for $2.4 billion in cash, the companies announced Monday.


The deal would bring together two New York-based brands that have competed in recent years to win over younger customers and build a global presence.

Taking ownership of my boat and fishing around the memories

“I miss fishing. That realization hit me like a two by four recently, and has turned my thoughts to getting the boat ready to go to camp this year,” Julie Harris writes.

“My late husband Jim and I used to spend hours in our boat, fishing and talking and playing cards. We made several major life decisions, confronted difficult problems, and cherished our alone time while fishing from our boat.”

Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine holds 22nd Annual Meeting; raises record $44,000 to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine held its 22nd Annual Meeting Friday, May 5 with guests including U.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin, and raised a record $44,000 for the Log A Load for Kids Foundation to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Acadia National Park poet laureate to read from work

Acadia National Park Poet Laureate Christian Barter and Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing Jeffrey Thomson will read from their new books and answer questions about their work.

Mayo Regional Hospital hosts the 2017 March for Babies walk in Dover-Foxcroft

March for Babies 2017 will take place on Sunday, May 21 at Mayo Regional Hospital. Registration starts at 12:30 pm for the 3 mile walk.

Hermon High School JROTC Cadets volunteer at Special Olympics

Cameron Stadium was filled with light hearts and big smiles on May 3rd during the Spring Special Olympics. Athletes from all over the state of Maine gathered to compete in various track and field events, and cadets from the Hermon High School JROTC program were there to aide announcers to make sure data was recorded accurately and participants were rewarded accordingly.