Woman sues Confederate group after Sir Camelot the camel bit her at Jefferson Davis’ old house

Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.


It will be mostly cloudy today, wet, and with a high in the low 50s. But the extended forecast shows plenty of sun and highs climbing into the 70s and by Thursday the 90s. Check your local forecast here.

National headlines

Woman sues Confederate group, says camel bit her at Jefferson Davis’ old house

A Florida woman recently filed a lawsuit in Mississippi’s Harrison County Circuit Court against the United Sons of Confederate Veterans claiming a camel named Sir Camelot attacked her at Beauvoir, the site of the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library.

A camel stands next to a flooded paddock in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie near Rockhampton, Australia, April 4, 2017.

The suit claims the camel, whose name is Sir Camelot, “attacked” her, causing “serious injuries and fractures, including, but not limited to, injuries to her back and wrist.” It added that she “also experienced physical and metal pain and suffering and has undergone treatment with physicians.”

The lawsuit called Sir Camelot “dangerous” and claimed the animal has “a propensity toward attacks,” though no specific attacks are mentioned.

Some, however, disagree with this characterization. To many, the camel is merely a living local legend, adored for its goofy name and its supposed love of caffeine — Sir Camelot reportedly loves Dr Pepper and coffee.

Alt-right’s Richard Spencer leads torch-bearing protesters defending Confederate statue

Self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer led a large group of demonstrators carrying torches and chanting, “You will not replace us” Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting plans to remove a Confederate monument that has played an outsize role in this year’s race for Virginia governor.

“What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced,” Spencer said at an afternoon protest, the first of two rallies he led in the college town where he once attended the University of Virginia.

Conway blames negative coverage on ‘sexist’ and ‘Trumpist’ media

Kellyanne Conway doubled down on her criticisms of the media, specifically on the level of negative coverage of the Trump administration and how the president’s surrogates are treated on air. The harshness and combativeness of TV interviews, she suggested, are attributable to “the quest to go viral,” especially “when there’s nothing else to say.”

Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway speaks about the firing of FBI Director James Comey at the White House in Washington, May 10, 2017.

Her comments, it appears, were inspired by her combative interviews with CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo last week in the aftermath of Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey. Cooper rolled his eyes in response to a statement by Conway, inevitably paving the way for a viral GIF of his eyeroll. Cuomo, on the other hand, berated Conway throughout the interview.

Cooper’s eyeroll is “possibly sexist,” Conway said, and “definitely what I’d call Trumpist,” a new term that apparently describes anything anti-Trump.

Hanford nuclear site accident puts focus on aging facilities

The collapse of a tunnel used to store radioactive waste at one of the most contaminated U.S. nuclear sites has raised concerns among watchdog groups and others who study the country’s nuclear facilities because many are aging and fraught with problems.

“They’re fighting a losing battle to keep these plants from falling apart,” said Robert Alvarez, a former policy adviser at the Department of Energy who was charged with making an inventory of nuclear sites under President Bill Clinton.

“The longer you wait to deal with this problem, the more dangerous it becomes,” said Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he focuses on nuclear energy and disarmament.

No radiation was released during Tuesday’s incident at a plutonium-handling facility in the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, but thousands of workers were ordered to take cover and some were evacuated as a precaution.

From death row to adoption: Saving animals by car, van, bus and even plane

May was supposed to be dead by now. The charcoal-and-white pit bull mix had languished for more than two months at a high-kill animal shelter in east Los Angeles County, and though she’d passed one “temperament test” required for adoption, she failed a second. That essentially put her on death row at the facility.

According to some estimates, animal shelters killed as many as 20 million cats and dogs annually in the 1970s. That had fallen to 2.6 million by 2011 and to 1.5 million today.

But a small rescue group got to May first and reserved her a spot on a school bus that would take her 840 miles north to Eugene, Oregon; there, another rescue had pledged to find her a home. And so on a sunny Saturday morning, she bounded up the steps of the red bus and quickly settled into a large crate near the back.

Holocaust museum gets center to house memories of a nightmare

Guta Strykowski’s terrors would often come at night as she slept. She wouldn’t wake up right away, but she would dream that she was back in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and her screams would disturb everybody in the little house on 28th Street in San Francisco.

Her husband would rouse her. Frightened and shaking, she would be unable to go back to sleep.

So reported a psychiatrist on Jan. 18, 1966, in a letter that resides in a tan folder on a shelf in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s new collections and conservation center in Bowie, Maryland.

It is the only document in her file — a 15-page, neatly typed glimpse into the horror of one woman’s encounter with the Holocaust.

It’s one of the array of items that have just been moved into the $50 million facility that now houses the bulk of what the museum says is the most comprehensive Holocaust collection in the world.

North Korea launches ballistic missile that traveled about 450 miles into sea

North Korea fired a ballistic missile early Sunday, sending it from a launch site near its border with China some 450 miles into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

People watch a news report at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, on North Korea firing a ballistic missile.

It was launched from the same site where North Korea fired two mystery missiles that some analysts thought could have been intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the mainland United States.

But the U.S. military said that the flight pattern was “not consistent” with an ICBM and did not threaten the United States.

Regardless, the apparent success of the launch and the steady pace of firings will only heighten tensions in the region.

Local headlines

Genetically engineered potatoes approved for Maine

With little fanfare, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control unanimously approved on Friday morning the registration of three new types of genetically engineered potatoes that have been developed by a major Idaho agribusiness company.

Impact of late blight disease on rows of conventional potatoes (left) and Innate™ Gen 2 potatoes (right) in Michigan as seen in this Nov 2015 photo.

“Once people understand that it’s [potato-to-potato], they soften,” Sharie Fitzpatrick, a senior biotech regulatory manager at Simplot, said Monday after the board meeting. “It doesn’t hit the same sort of emotional triggers.”

However, Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Family Farm in Bridgewater, who sells organically grown seed potatoes to customers in all 50 states from his Aroostook County farm and who has been a longtime opponent of genetically engineered crops, disagrees.

“These GMO potatoes run the very strong risk of depressing demand for potatoes of all types, both organic and conventional,” he said this week. “There’s a growing body of evidence that consumers do not want genetically engineered food. What I worry about is that there will be a vague recollection that new potatoes will be genetically engineered. That’s going to damage every potato farmer. Not just organic ones but regular ones, too.”

How ‘worst-case scenario’ at Canadian nuclear plant could affect Maine

Point Lepreau is a nuclear power plant just across the border in Saint John, New Brunswick. Next month its operating license expires, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is considering whether to renew it for another five years. While that’s not a long amount of time for a 30-year-old plant, there are passionate arguments for and against its operation and implications for an entire region.

Hard hats line the wall at Point Lepreau. Lepreau executives say the facility has a laser focus on safety.
Jennifer Mitchell | Maine Public

“I just spent some time with four survivors of Fukushima and I’m told, you know, after the worst-case scenario happened there, that there are now people dropping on the streets, 30 years old, 40 years old. We’re still not finished with Chernobyl. There are still human health effects, cancers, childhood conditions,” Willi Nolan told Maine Public.

After the 1979 disaster at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, nuclear plants developed a more sinister reputation, and ever since, facilities like Point Lepreau have been battling that legacy.

“Well, many of the people that live around here also work here, so it’s helpful that they’re inside and have an understanding of the place,” said Paul Doucet, the communications manager for Point Lepreau.

A disabled, nearly forgotten veteran finally got a headstone 163 years after he died

Two dozen people gathered in the Eastern Cemetery on Saturday morning to honor William Brown. Nobody there, however, ever knew him. The veteran died in 1854.

“There are no pictures of him,” said local historian Herb Adams. “There’s no writing from him — he could not read or write. There are no kin descended from him. There’s just a few fragments of paper.”

He had no gravestone, either, until Saturday when two members of a local VFW post unveiled a new, marble marker under blue, sun-drenched skies.

William “Billy” Brown was a child soldier who went to sea in 1798. He served as a powder boy on the USS Constellation. His job was to carry buckets of gunpowder from the magazine to the cannons during battle. During one battle — during the nearly forgotten Quasi War with France — he was shot in the foot. It never healed properly and he had trouble walking for the rest of his life.

Brown was then cast aside by his country.

The Brewer School Department says it needs more than $1 million for new students

The Brewer School Department is asking the city for an increase of more than $1 million for the coming school year to hire more staff.

The request would be equal to 13.9 percent more than last year’s budget — which the city says raises concerns.

Saint Joseph’s College gets its largest individual gift ever

A St. Joseph’s College alumna and trustee announced Saturday a major contribution that will help address critical shortages in the nursing workforce in Maine and beyond.

Dr. Jeanne Donlevy Arnold of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, announced her $2 million gift to the school’s Center for Nursing Innovation during St. Joseph’s 104th commencement exercises Saturday morning at the school’s Sebago Lake campus.

Her contribution is the largest capital gift by any individual in the college’s 105-year history, college spokeswoman Patricia Erikson said in a news release.

Living and events

‘Real Pirates: An Exhibition from National Geographic’ opens to public May 26 in Portland

Three hundred years ago, the pirate ship Whydah, sank in a storm off Cape Cod laden with bounty from more than 50 captured ships.

On May 26, the classical age of piracy comes to life in Portland when the Portland Science Center at 68 Commercial St., Maine Wharf, welcomes “Real Pirates: An Exhibition from National Geographic.” Tickets for the general public  go on sale April 26, at portlandsciencecenter.com.

The 7,000-square-foot interactive exhibition showcases more than 150 artifacts, including everyday objects, personal items, and treasures, from the first fully authenticated pirate ship ever to be discovered in U.S. waters.

Exhibitions International, a leading producer of touring exhibitions, presents “Real Pirates,” with organizational expertise from the National Geographic Society.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program Sign-Up Clinic at Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s “Annex”

Eastern Area Agency on Aging will hold a Commodity Supplemental Food Program sign-up clinic at their Annex location at the Airport Mall 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 16.

This is a government food program for low-income seniors who are 60 and older. The program provides eligible seniors with a monthly 30 pound box of nonperishable goods and a block of cheese.

Those who are eligible during the clinic will leave with a box of food.