Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
Light rain will start this afternoon and continue throughout the evening. Temperatures will be in the low to mid-60s. Check your local forecast here.
National and international headlines
Matthew Fenner was leaving a Sunday prayer service in January 2013 when a group of church members surrounded him.
As he told police, a church leader and more than 20 other members of the Word of Faith Fellowship – based in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Spindale, North Carolina – repeatedly punched, beat and knocked him down for about two hours. At one point, someone grabbed him by the throat and shook him, he said.
That attacks took place “to break me free of the homosexual demons they so viciously despise,” Fenner, who identifies as gay, told television station WSPA a year later. After the episode, he left the fellowship.
In December 2014, a minister and four members of the Rutherford County church were indicted on charges that they kidnapped, beat and strangled Fenner, then 21. They pleaded not guilty.
WASHINGTON — A noose was found Wednesday in a public gallery at the National Museum of African American History and Culture museum, the second such incident on Smithsonian grounds in less than a week, officials said.
David Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian, said in an email announcement that he had to share “deeply disturbing news” that the rope was found in a public exhibition space Wednesday afternoon. It was in the Segregation Gallery on the second floor of the history galleries.
“The Smithsonian family stands together in condemning this act of hatred and intolerance, especially repugnant in a museum that affirms and celebrates the American values of inclusion and diversity,” Skorton wrote.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday said he will withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, spurning pleas from U.S. allies and corporate leaders in an action that fulfilled a major campaign pledge.
“We’re getting out,” Trump said at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden in which he decried the Paris accord’s “draconian” financial and economic burdens.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said. But he added that the United States would begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or “a new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.”
At least one gunman burst into a resort complex in Manila early Friday, opening fire with an assault rifle and setting fires in an ambiguous attack that initially ignited fears of terrorism in the Philippine capital. Authorities later expressed doubt that it was terror-related.
Several hours after the attack began at Resorts World Manila, Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters that a single gunman was believed to be responsible for the assault and was still at large. Dela Rosa said the attacker set fire to gaming tables in a casino at the complex by pouring gasoline on them but did not fire at people.
The resort said it was on “lockdown” following the attack, which it attributed to multiple assailants.
President Donald Trump will not move to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from secular Tel Aviv to the capital Jerusalem, at least for now, reversing a campaign promise dear to some of his most conservative supporters.
He signed a waiver to defer action on an embassy relocation mandated by Congress in 1995.
“While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance,” the White House said in a statement. “President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests. But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.”
In the nine months since the official designation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Lucas St. Clair said the emotional climate in that part of the state has changed quite a bit.
St. Clair, who oversaw the monument formation effort on behalf of his mother, landowner Roxanne Quimby, said the reaction by local residents has been welcome.
“I’ve been blown away,” St. Clair said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of controversy, and we fought a lot of battles with folks on all different sides of this. Some worried about too many people coming, and some people thought nobody was going to come. Some people thought it was going to ruin the forest products industry, and other people thought it was going to be the greatest thing to ever happen to the region.”
PORTLAND, Maine — The former head of the University of Southern Maine’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs is suing the University of Maine System, claiming that it wrongfully fired her in 2015 following a complaint that she created a hostile work environment and aggressively pushed her views on race and gender onto students and staff.
In a federal lawsuit, Susan Hamilton alleges that the university botched an investigation into the complaint, violating her civil rights and rights to due process under a labor agreement before firing her. She called the finding that she had discriminated against students “absurd” and “baseless.”
BANGOR, Maine — Police miscommunication may have helped murder suspect Antoine Bethea escape after he allegedly shot another man on Easter Sunday, according to an arrest warrant affidavit released after his court appearance on Thursday.
On Easter at about 7:15 p.m., four hours after Terrance Durel Sr. was shot dead in Bangor, a state trooper spotted a white SUV with Illinois license plates at a Fairfield Circle K store, according to the affidavit.
The trooper approached Cindy McVicar, who was with the vehicle, and saw a safe inside the SUV along with some plastic bags, according to the affidavit, which was written by Bangor police Detective Joshua Kuhn.
AUGUSTA, Maine — Two bills introduced by Gov. Paul LePage related to drug and alcohol use appear headed for defeat after votes in the Maine House of Representatives on Thursday.
The governor’s bills — one that would essentially treat alcohol and drug use by pregnant women as child abuse, and another that would force towns to charge people revived more than once by an opiate overdose antidote — failed in the House on Thursday.
Even if the Senate endorses the bills, disagreement between the two chambers would doom LePage’s proposals in all but very rare cases of reconsideration.
PORTLAND, Maine — A Jonesboro biomass plant spent its second full month offline in May, after the company said in late March that a boiler leak and continuing shortage of wood supply posed challenges for the facility.
Regulatory records show the Jonesboro plant has been offline for 10 straight weeks. Dan Cashman, a company spokesman, said the company remained offline to continue to build up supply and try to find a long-term solution to wood supply issues that he said also existed for the previous owner, Covanta.
MACHIASPORT, Maine — Despite recent political wrangling to save Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport, prisoners are being moved in preparation for the facility’s closure.
On Thursday, 15 prisoners were shifted to other correctional sites in the state, Maine Department of Corrections Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick confirmed. He said that the “routine moves” were conducted in anticipation of the shuttering of the position.
Waterfront Concerts kicked off its summer concert series Saturday night in Bangor with a hard rock show that yielded fewer noise complaints than expected.
Twenty two people called police to complain about the noise during the Tool concert, and one person emailed an officer, City Manager Cathy Conlow said.
The concert was one of 10 shows on this year’s Waterfront Concerts lineup, which Conlow feared would generate the most noise complaints because of the nature of the music and the fact it was the first show of the year.
“Typically the first one out of the gate is the one when we get the most complaints,” Conlow said. “I expected Tool to be one of concern, but it appears they did a good job.”
WESTBROOK, Maine — Right now, a rocky pool behind a small waterfall on Mill Brook is thick with alewives. Their sleek, dark bodies are pointing upstream in the thousands. In ones and twos, they dart, flop and leap up the frothing, three-foot drop. They’re on their way home, to Highland Lake, where they will spawn before returning the same way, back to the sea.
They do it every year, in this secluded, woodland pool, like nature’s clockwork. The only difference this year is that they will have an audience to cheer them on.
A new trail network, opened late last year, is giving the public a chance to see the natural spectacle for the first time. The paths run beside the brook on land recently acquired by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. The trust was formed 30 years ago to promote healthy lands, waters, wildlife along the heavily industrialized river.
Adam Powers and Jeremy Rush know a thing or twelve about barbecuing. As owners of Elsmere BBQ and Wood Grill in South Portland, they smoke, grill and sear meat, chicken and oysters to perfection in what’s become known as “Maine style barbecue.” On Coffee with Cooks this week, the pair broke down the process.
“Barbecue is a technique not a flavor,” Powers said. “It’s a slow way to cook meat over low temperatures.” Before you craft your own smoker, he suggests getting started with a store-bought Weber Smokey Mountain or an R2D2 from Brinkmann.
“It’s about finding something you are comfortable with and starting simple,” said Powers. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
Generations of Madawaska Lake residents remember when Stan’s General Store was central to life at the lake, especially in the summer. Known for its 10-cent cup of coffee, its ramshackle exterior and vibrant interior, Stan’s attracted regular groups of customers at various times of day and evening for relaxed camaraderie that bound the lake community together.
The lakeshore building is gone, but visitors at New Sweden’s annual Midsommar Festival June 16-18 will be able return to Stan’s via film.
Owner Stan Thomas himself will be the guest of honor at a showing of the 30-minute film “Stan’s: A Jewel in the Crown” at the New Sweden Baptist Church June 17 at 2:30 p.m.
When College of the Atlantic senior Grace Burchard graduates this weekend, she won’t immediately start looking for job opportunities. Instead she’ll be working to grow a startup business that she and COA sophomore Anita van Dam have gotten off the ground this year.
Their business [Re]Produce aims to purchase surplus or imperfect produce grown on local farms that otherwise would be put towards compost or animal feed and process the produce so it can be frozen and sold to food retailers in Portland.
“What we want to try and match is basically what the farmers have excess of and what there is demand for,” van Dam said. “It’s something to really help the community all around.”
Samsara founder Lynn Stark, 74, took a break from morning chores to watch an alpaca frolicking clumsily in a plastic wading pool of icy water from the nearby well while a curious llama looked on. A flock of homing pigeons chortled and cooed in their covered pen. Across the clearing, a miniature donkey grazed with some horses and a few sheep. Further back, in a pen with guinea fowl, ducks and geese, a couple of emus stalked back and forth, waiting for their breakfast.
Stark sighed and wiped her hands on her dungarees. She wore heavy-duty rubber boots. A wool cap was pulled low on her head. Blue eyes, big smile, firm handshake.
“There was a time when we had three llamas and eight alpacas,” she reminisced. “It takes time to find good homes for them all.” The refuge attempts to place all its animals in safe “forever” homes, but many of these creatures will never leave this sanctuary.
She’s a large blue crab from the Chesapeake Bay with a sight impairment — she has two oysters growing on either side of her head near her eyes.
The crab is estimated to be about 2 years old and was found last week in a crab pot that belonged to the mayor of Tangier Island.
The mayor, James “Ooker” Eskridge, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. As of Wednesday, wildlife experts at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said the crab was still alive.
Watermen and wildlife experts said she’s unique, and there’s a tale of how she got stuck with two oysters on her head.
In an increasingly chaotic and confusing world, I am choosing to be happy about the little things. A sunny afternoon. A good hair day. A nice cup of covfefe. Coffee. Sorry.
Anyway, I’m happy about all the fun things happening in Bangor on Friday night, starting with the first Downtown Bangor Art Walk of the season, set for 5 to 8 p.m.