Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
The highs will be in the mid- to high 70s, with a mix of sun and clouds. Check your local forecast here.
National and international headlines
Like some bizarre parody of a Trump rally, a belligerent man in a “Make America Great Again” hat was booted off a plane in Shanghai Sunday – defiantly waving as a crowd of passengers jeered in the terminal: “Lock him up! Lock him up!”
It’s unclear whether Chinese police did jail the man or who he was. As others on the United Airlines flight described it, he started arguing before he stepped onto the plane.
“Obviously, the hat provoked some of the stuff,” said Alexis Zimmerman, who was flying back to Newark from a business trip.
The man said he was a diabetic, Zimmerman said. But at one point, passengers said, he also dared the flight crew to cuff him and drag him off the plane — reminding other passengers of last month’s infamous deplaning, amid a barrage of in-plane horror stories that have plagued United and the rest of the airline industry in recent years.
But the United crew in Shanghai remained polite and patient throughout Sunday’s ordeal, said Clark Gredona, another passenger.
A lone attacker blew himself up at a pop concert filled with teenagers and their parents killing 22 people in an apparent effort to harm as many young people as possible in the English city of Manchester, police said Tuesday, describing it as a terror attack.
Hundreds of police officers swarmed through the city in the aftermath of the blast at the performance by an American pop singer, trying to determine if the suicide bomber acted alone or was part of a larger network. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, which also injured 59 others.
“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident,” Greater Manchester police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said at a televised press conference. “We believe at this stage the attack last night was conducted by one man.”
He said the priority was to establish whether he was working alone or as part of a network. More than 400 police officers have been deployed in the wake of the attack.
A new scientific analysis finds that the Earth’s oceans are rising nearly three times as rapidly as they were throughout most of the 20th century, one of the strongest indications yet that a much feared trend of not just sea level rise but its acceleration is underway.
“We have a much stronger acceleration in sea level rise than formerly thought,” said Sönke Dangendorf, a researcher with the University of Siegen in Germany who led the study along with scientists at institutions in Spain, France, Norway and the Netherlands.
The cause, said Dangendorf, is that sea level rise throughout much of the 20th century was driven by the melting of land-based glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms, but sea level rise in the 21st century has now, on top of that, added in major contributions from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.
“The sea level rise is now three times as fast as before 1990,” Dangendorf said.
President Donald Trump placed his right hand on Judaism’s holiest prayer site Monday, spending a moment of symbolic silence amid a Middle East trip he has said he hopes will bring peace to this volatile region.
Trump’s visit to the Western Wall in East Jerusalem was itself the subject of controversy here, as is virtually everything that involves the disputes between Israelis and Palestinians, and within the larger Muslim world that he has pledged to help resolve.
The White House has said that Trump declined an offer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accompany him to the site — where he followed tradition and slipped a private note between the stones — lest he appear to be endorsing Israel’s claim to the disputed area.
Standing beside Netanyahu at a morning airport arrival ceremony in Tel Aviv, Trump said his trip, which began over the weekend in Saudi Arabia, has given him “new reasons for hope” and offers “a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace.”
“But we can only get there working together,” he said. “There is no other way.”
Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence
President Donald Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.
Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser under President Donald Trump, will not comply with a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena for documents related to its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, invoking the Fifth Amendment and his right against self-incrimination.
Flynn’s decision, which his attorneys announced in a letter sent Monday to committee chairman Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and vice chairman Mark Warner, D-Virginia, comes as evidence continues to mount elsewhere in Congress that the former national security adviser appears to have misrepresented his Russia ties.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former chairman of President Donald Trump’s transition team, said Monday he repeatedly recommend that Trump not give a job to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser under investigation for potential collusion with Russia during the campaign.
“If I were president-elect of the United States, I wouldn’t let General Flynn in the White House, let alone give him a job,” Christie said during a during a wide-ranging news conference in Trenton, New Jersey.
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature unlawfully relied on race when drawing two of the state’s congressional districts.
The decision continued a trend at the court, where justices have found that racial considerations improperly predominated in redistricting decisions by Republican-led legislatures in Virginia, Alabama and North Carolina. Some involved congressional districts, others legislative districts.
The states had contended their efforts were partisan attempts to protect their majorities, which the Supreme Court in the past has allowed, rather than attempts to diminish the impact of minority voters, which is forbidden.
A Louisiana private investigator tried to exploit a loophole in an online student financial aid tool to illegally obtain Donald Trump’s tax records during last year’s presidential campaign, federal prosecutors allege in court records.
Jordan Hamlett, 31, was unsuccessful in his attempts to get Trump’s tax information and has been charged with false impersonation of a Social Security number.
Hamlett allegedly tried to get Trump’s tax records on Sept. 13, 2016, according to records filed in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Louisiana — two months before the Republican businessman won the presidency in a stunning upset. Trump refused to share his tax returns during the campaign, contrary to the standard practice of presidents and major-party presidential nominees for the past four decades, and he has shown no sign he intends to release them as president.
The website Hamlett allegedly attempted to exploit allowed students filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — the form colleges and the government use to determine grants and loans — to upload tax information by submitting a Social Security number and other data.
The University of Maine System Board of Trustees approved a $540 million budget for the coming fiscal year that will increase tuition for the first time in six years.
The board backed the budget Monday during the second day of a regular meeting held at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
With the inflation-based tuition hike, the weighted cost of attending Maine universities would increase by just under 3 percent, to $19,074. The annual in-state tuition rate at UMaine is increasing from $8,370 to $8,580, while three of the system’s smaller campuses in Fort Kent, Machias and Presque Isle will see their annual tuition increase to $6,840. Rates for out-of-state students, which typically are about three times that of Maine students, also will be seeing an increase.
Maine’s insurance co-op, Community Health Options, is back in the black after sustaining operating losses of nearly $90 million in the past two years.
A report from Maine’s Bureau of Insurance says in the first quarter of 2017, Community Health Options had a surplus of $3.7 million.
The co-op’s Mike Gendreau says the company was able to pull itself out of a deficit by reducing administrative costs, increasing rates and educating members on when to go a doctor’s office or clinic instead of the emergency room.
Mayor Ethan Strimling said Monday that he will not veto the $240 million municipal budget in response to the city council eliminating the job of his assistant and called for a public review of the city charter.
In a press conference on the steps of city hall Strimling repeated his criticism of the council’s vote last week, saying that eliminating the year-old position of his assistant “undermines the ability of the independent office of the mayor to do the work the voters expect it to do.”
But he said that issuing a veto would only draw out “maneuvering, grandstanding and infighting” on the council, which voted 8-1 to approve the budget last week.
Federal prosecutors will recommend that prominent developer and entrepreneur Michael Liberty serve six months in jail or under home arrest for illegally masking $22,500 donations to a presidential campaign.
Liberty, 56, earlier this year pleaded guilty to making $22,500 in illegal campaign contributions, which court documents indicate benefited Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.
In a sentencing memo filed Monday, federal prosecutors wrote that Liberty’s sentence and possible minimum fine of $67,500 should serve as an example of the crime they said is typically hard to prove.
Some members of the Legislature’s budget committee on Monday called for public hearings over the impending closure of the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport — but they’ll need the approval of Gov. Paul LePage to question state employees.
Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, who co-chairs the committee, said Monday during committee deliberations that lawmakers need to know how the closure plan will affect inmates, employees and the community.
“It would just give us some additional facts so we don’t just have to read about it in the newspaper,” Gattine said. “We could do this hopefully within the next couple of days.”
Two Republicans on the committee said the hearings aren’t necessary.
“The administration is working within its authority,” said Rep. Tom Winsor, R-Norway. “I don’t know what we can and can’t do about it. I object to holding a public hearing about it when we have other work to do.”
Former Palm Beach Central High and University of Maine football star Zedric Joseph was sentenced to life plus 15 years in prison for the May 2014 slaying of the lover of his child’s mother.
The sentence came just days after the three-year anniversary of Joseph’s brutal May 14, 2014 attack on Richardy Chery, who died after Joseph stabbed him 27 times over the course of 40 minutes after Joseph caught the 23-year-old having sex with his daughter’s mother.
Joseph’s sentence capped an emotional sentencing hearing where Joseph was already facing a mandatory life sentence based on the first-degree murder conviction.
Living and events
When it comes to weird wildlife sightings, Andrew Day of Bangor now has one for the books — four baby squirrels tangled together by their tails, and they were in danger.
On May 21, Day was visiting his parents’ house in Bangor when he looked out the window and something caught his eye. At first, he thought the ball of fur tumbling across the street was a cat attacking an injured squirrel. Worried about the wild animal, he ran outside to find not one but four squirrels, and they appeared to be tied together by their tails.
It’s served at smoothie shops, breweries, bowling alleys and high-tech offices.
Originating in the coffee-obsessed Northwest, the invention that infuses cold brew coffee with nitrogen gas, and it is served on tap is giving coffee purveyors and specialty shops a new way to capture customers.
Resembling Guinness, the nitro-fueled coffee is now reaching beyond the cafe walls. Spotted in Portland and Bangor lunch counters, food co-ops and breweries on the coast, one wonders if gas stations will soon dispense nitro filler ups at the pump.
“Coffee has moved from a commodity to a specialty product. People tried cold brew and said wait a second, this is really good. Cold brew increased in popularity and people said what if we served it from kegs?” said Connor Roelke, of Nobl Coffee, a nitro wholesaler in New Hampshire now servicing 26 Maine accounts.
By summer’s end Roelke predicts that number will quadruple.
The 175 acres of forest and farmland that’s home to Leaves and Blooms Greenhouse on Route 15 has been in Jackie Robinson’s family for four generations.
But because of the damage that defaulting on her student loan payments has done to Robinson’s credit, it’s uncertain whether the farm will continue in the family for a fifth generation.
“No longer am I a young farmer, no longer do my 20 years of work matter, and I still owe this debt for this [education] that I’m using. It’s heartbreaking really,” Robinson said. “And because it’s a federal debt I’ve never had credit anywhere.
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.
Solar prices have never been lower! Solarize Midcoast Maine program participants receive discounted solar pricing.
Come meet Sundog Solar, the Solarize Midcoast Maine installer, learn about the benefits of solar power, and get a free consultation about solar energy for your home.
The session will be held at Belfast Free Library, 106 High Street, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 31.
Every Tuesday in June from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. the Abbe Museum at Sieur de Monts is hosting an archaeologist-led program where you can learn about Wabanaki material culture and the archaeological record in Maine.
This is a hands-on activity where you can touch artifacts and replicas while learning about Wabanaki cultural adaptations over the past 12,000 years.
This is a drop-in event so there’s no registration required!
The Camden Public Library will have a book sale in the renovated Blue Door Book Shed located in the parking lot just beyond the Library Amphitheatre on Atlantic Avenue 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 2-4. Just follow the balloons from the library to the book shed!
There you will find hardcover, softcover, and paperback books on subjects from art to travel, cookbooks and maritime-related books; books for children and teens; a variety of CDs, audiobooks, movies, and music; and a selection of reference books that might be particularly helpful to area homeschoolers.
Aislinn Sarnacki is an outdoor reporter for the Bangor Daily News and author of the new guidebook “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” just released by Down East Books.
She will talk about some of her favorite trails from her new book and also plans to tell some entertaining stories about observing wildlife, hiking solo and endeavoring to Leave No Trace.
Her presentation will include photos and video clips, a Q&A session, and book signing.
The No. 1 pollutant in Maine’s lakes is soil eroding from shorelines, roads, yards, and construction sites.
Join us for a day of service at Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery and help restore the shore and protect the waters of Alamoosook Lake. Volunteers will gather 9 a.m. to noon June 10 at the hatchery to plant native shrubs, improve beach access, and place interpretive signs along the shoreline.
Chris Palmer stuck his head into a rush of water pouring from a wellhead and took a long drink. He had just finished digging a well on Lincoln Water District land off Route 2 on Tuesday, and his sip was part of a ritual.
“I give every well I dig a taste test,” Palmer said. “It’s the pride of ownership.”
The water, Palmer said, tasted great, but taste tests alone will not determine whether Poland Spring will build a $50 million bottling plant and bring 50 to 100 jobs to the struggling Lincoln Lakes region.
It was a rare lucrative business for Wall Street in the aftermath of the financial crisis: snapping up properties in foreclosure and renting them out. So good, in fact, that now, as the distressed pool dries up, some investors are refusing to let the rental-model fizzle. They’re building more and more of the houses themselves.
General Electric is the latest U.S. company to be investigated by European Union for possibly turning in misleading information during a merger review, according to two people familiar with the GE case.
The European Commission is reviewing whether GE misled EU officials examining a deal to buy LM Wind Power, a maker of wind-turbine blades, for 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), said the people, who asked not to be named as the case is confidential.
The company may be in trouble for telling regulators it didn’t have any plans to develop a new giant offshore wind turbine when the company did have such a project on hold, said one of the people.
President Donald Trump has landed in Israel amid controversy over the disclosure that Israel was the source of highly classified intelligence on details of an Islamic State plot he reportedly shared with Russian diplomats — evidence, his critics say, that Trump cannot be trusted with U.S. secrets
One problem with that: Trump did not reveal to anyone that Israel was the source of the intelligence he shared with the Russians. So how did The New York Times, which broke the news of Israel’s role, find out? According to the Times, its sources were “a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States obtained the information” who “spoke on the condition of anonymity” because they “were not authorized to discuss the matter.”
Ponder the irony: These geniuses were so appalled by Trump sharing sensitive intelligence with the Russians that they shared even more sensitive intelligence with the media — and thus the entire world — in order to demonstrate that Trump cannot be trusted with sensitive intelligence.
One of the most important components of a functioning representative democracy is not necessarily a person or place. It’s information. Without it, leaders and voters cannot make the difficult decisions required for governing.
That’s why it’s so disturbing to see, over and over, a disregard within Maine state government for releasing public information. State officials do not own the state’s data and materials. The public does. Taxpayers paid for them.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services in particular has gone to great lengths to control the flow of public information, even to the point of firing a freedom of access coordinator working in the department’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention who authorized the release of a public report to the Bangor Daily News last August.
There has been, however, a disturbing trend in Augusta in recent years to take budgetary decisions out of the hands of the Appropriations Committee. The budget is too important to be negotiated behind closed doors. I challenge legislators to negotiate the budget in its entirety in the public eye so the people of Maine hear the debate. Voters need to see and understand what their legislators stand for and who they are fighting for in Augusta. How can ordinary people make their voices heard if we don’t know what elected officials are talking about and whose interests they are representing behind closed doors?