Putin rejects charge that Russia meddled in the US election as a ‘load of nonsense’

Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.

Weather

The highs will be in the mid to high 50s, with a clouds and a chance for rain. Check your local forecast here.

National and international headlines

Putin calls US election-meddling charge a ‘load of nonsense’ in Kelly interview

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin testily rejected the idea that his government had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election – or that he is holding compromising evidence against President Donald Trump – in an interview broadcast Sunday night with NBC’s Megyn Kelly.

“They have been misled,” Putin responded when Kelly said that American intelligence agencies had concluded that Russia interfered in the campaign with the goal of electing Trump. “They aren’t analyzing the information in its entirety. I haven’t seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference in the presidential election.”

The interview with Putin — conducted last week during an economic forum in St. Petersburg — was the opening segment in the debut episode of “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly.” Kelly, who was a prime-time star on Fox News Channel, moved to NBC at the start of this year.

The interview was tense at times, with Putin calling Kelly’s questions a “load of nonsense.” “Your lives must be so boring,” if Americans are reduced to making up stories about Russia, he said.

Right-wing free speech rally draws massive counter-protests in Oregon

Protesters listen during the Trump Free Speech Rally in Portland, Oregon, June 4, 2017.
DAVID RYDER | REUTERS

In a city splintered by protest, acrimony and the fresh pain of a pair of killings on a commuter train, demonstrators gathered again — and clashed again — Sunday afternoon, with a right-wing rally drawing thousands of counter-protesters in the heart of downtown.

The planned, permitted free-speech and pro-President Donald Trump rally came just more than a week after 35-year-old Jeremy Christian — a man who performed Nazi salutes and screamed racial slurs at a recent right-wing rally here in late April — allegedly stabbed three men, killing two, following what witnesses said was a hate-filled tirade against two teenage girls on a train.

The deceased, Rick Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and one survivor, Micah Fletcher, were standing up to Christian as he harassed the girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

The slayings shocked the city and exposed the long-simmering racial tension here, with roots in Oregon’s establishment as a white utopia in the Pacific Northwest.

Man charged with stealing Oregon hero’s wedding ring as he lay dying

When police caught up with George Tschaggeny, they say he was wearing the wedding ring of a man fatally stabbed on a Portland train widely hailed as a hero for trying to aid two teen passengers.

That hero, Ricky Best, a 53-year-old Army veteran and father of four, will be buried Monday.

Tschaggeny, 53, will be arraigned on charges of second-degree theft, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse in the second degree.

Policy say Tschaggeny, who is homeless, removed Best’s wedding ring from his finger as he lay dying.

“It’s completely heartless,” Sgt. Peter Simpson told the Oregonian. “There is no other way to describe what happened.”

Four Arab nations sever diplomatic ties with Qatar, exposing rift in region

Four Arab nations announced Monday that they were severing diplomatic relations with the Gulf kingdom of Qatar, moving swiftly to isolate the gas-rich country after accusing Qatar’s government of supporting terrorist organizations and stoking regional conflicts.

The four countries — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain — released separate and apparently coordinated statements saying they would cut air, sea and land links with Qatar, which hosts a base for the U.S. military’s Air Forces Central Command and will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry called the measures “unjustified” in a statement and said the decision to sever ties was a violation of the country’s sovereignty, and “based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact.”

Trump urges end to political correctness in wake of London attack

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump on Sunday urged the world to stop being “politically correct” in order to ensure security, after three attackers drove a van into pedestrians and stabbed revelers in London, killing seven.

At least 48 people were injured in the attack, the third to hit Britain in less than three months and occurring days ahead of a snap parliamentary election on Thursday.

“We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people,” Trump wrote on Sunday morning. “If we don’t get smart it will only get worse.”

Comey to be pressed on whether Trump interfered with Russia probe

Former FBI Director James Comey will be grilled on whether President Donald Trump tried to get him to back off an investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, key U.S. senators said Sunday ahead of Comey’s testimony this week on Capitol Hill.

Comey, who was leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election, was fired by Trump last month, four years into his 10-year term.

The move sparked accusations that Trump dismissed Comey to hinder that investigation and stifle questions about possible collusion between his campaign and Russia.

“I want to know what kind of pressure — appropriate, inappropriate — how many conversations he had with the president about this topic?” Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program on Sunday.

The former FBI chief is due to testify on Thursday before the intelligence committee as part of its own Russia-related investigation.

Local headlines

New Bangor deputy chief began career ‘looking for anything that looked suspicious’

David Bushey, a detective with the Bangor Police Department has been named deputy chief. He replaces Brad Johnston who left the department earlier this year to work in the insurance industry.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN

As a new police officer in 2003, David Bushey spent his nights patrolling the streets of Bangor making sure people were not driving home drunk and checking the neighborhoods to prevent a possible burglary.

He wrote all his reports on paper rather than a computer, didn’t have a video camera in his cruiser and could not record a conversation with a suspect or a victim and had to use a handheld tape recorder when interviewing people rather than press a button on the microphone worn on a shoulder.

“I drove around a lot looking for anything that looked suspicious,” Bushey, who recently was appointed deputy chief of the Bangor Police Department, said Friday.

A lot has changed in his years on the force and how police officers approach the job.

Collins: Trump travel ban is ‘not the right way to go’

BDN File

Maine’s senior senator says that despite the recent brutal attack on London, the travel ban that President Donald Trump is pushing is “not the right way to go.”

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Trump’s attempt to ban citizens from six mostly Muslim countries from entering the U.S., which is now before the Supreme Court, “is too broad, and that is why it has been rejected by the courts.”

“The president is right, however, that we need to do a better job of vetting individuals who are coming from war-torn countries into our nation. But I do believe that the very broad ban that he has proposed is not the right way to go,” Collins said.

An isolated Maine town is losing 24-hour emergency care

MaineGeneral Health will close its nursing home and end management of urgent care services in Jackman, leaving the small Somerset County community near the Canadian border without around-the-clock emergency medical care.

On May 19, MaineGeneral told town officials that it would be ending its operations in Jackman, which include the remote town’s ambulances, according to Selectman Alan Duplessis.

Scheduled for September 1, the health care provider’s exit means that Jackman residents will have to travel nearly 50 miles or further to the nearest hospital if they need emergency care outside of regular business hours, and may temporarily leave the town without ambulance services, Duplessis said.

Augusta city hall shut down after angry man lets 100 live bed bugs loose

The Augusta city hall was forced to close after an angry man slammed a container of live bed bugs onto a counter, and more than 100 got loose.

City manager William Bridgeo confirmed to CBS 13 the Augusta City Center was closed as a precaution Friday afternoon and an exterminator was brought in to treat the building.

Bridgeo said employees immediately called police, who quickly located the man.

The city manager also said there is a possibility that charges will be filed.

Union fears staff cuts could leave Bangor Fire Department ‘inadequately staffed’

Lt. Andrew Emery, Bangor Fire Department, looks out from the balcony of an apartment in a multi-facility building on Walter Street in Bangor that had a kitchen fire Thursday morning.
Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Bangor officials want to eliminate four firefighter positions previously funded through a federal grant, a move union leaders claim could leave the fire department inadequately staffed when responding to calls.

Keeping the positions without the grant would be too costly, and firefighters can fully respond to fires and emergency calls without them, city officials said.

Living and events

Inside the remote refuge saving Maine’s abandoned exotic animals

Lynn Stark moved to Greenfield with her family in the early 1980’s. She took in animals as her children brought them home over the years and eventually she started Samsara Exotic Animal Refuge. The state certified refuge takes in all types if animals from exotic pets to farm animals.
Gabor Degre | BDN

The unpaved road to Samsara is long and dusty — or long and muddy, depending on the weather. It arcs around the expansive Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Milford and crosses the Stud Mill Road, cutting through miles of spruce forests and spanning streams turned brown with tannins. Small homes and hunting camps appear through the trees from time to time, but much of the drive is uninterrupted by signs of human habitation.

Then, suddenly, there is a broad opening in the forest. “Samsara Exotic Animal Refuge,” reads a homemade sign. A gated driveway leads into a maze of securely fenced pens and corrals, a scattering of barns, sheds and trailers.

Maine Whoopie Pie Festival seeking bakers and volunteers

The 2017 Maine Whoopie Pie Festival, scheduled for June 24, has several open slots remaining for bakers. This year, a couple of local bakers who have been with the festival since its inception were not able to make it due to prior commitments, leaving space for new talent to register.

Anyone interested in a booth at the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival should visit mainewhoopiepiefestival.com/bakers for information as soon as possible.

Last year, Dover-Foxcroft saw nearly 10,000 visitors come through the gates. For those who register as vendors or bakers, the day promises success.

Festival organizers are always on the lookout for volunteers, and this year is no different. Help is needed at the festival gates, to sell merchandise and to offer support to our vendors.

Layers in Time: Hands-on Exploration of Wabanaki Life and Culture Through the Ages

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!

Everyone knows it’s windy — The state of wind energy

The Northeast Wind Resource Center, in partnership with Clean Energy Group, E2Tech, and the Maine Ocean and Wind Industry Initiative, is hosting a forum 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 9 to discuss onshore and offshore wind power on a national, regional, and state level.

Volunteer Shoreline Restoration Day

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.

The struggles of Ugandan children and families

The struggles of children and families in Uganda will be the topic for a talk at 7 p.m. June 12 at the Wilson Museum’s Hutchins Education Center in Castine.

John Shiundu, director of the Kidron Valley Children’s Home and Boarding School in Jinja, Uganda, will speak about adoption and the fate of unadoptable children in African orphanages, the Ugandan dowry system and its challenges, the plight of prison inmates, and the work he and his wife are doing to empower women and families with small home businesses — including chicken farming and hair care training. His organization also runs a clinic for malaria, childbirth, and emergency care.

Joining Shiundu will be two young Ugandan-born children who have recently been adopted into a family from the local area.

Opioid addiction seminar to be held at the Old Town Public Library

The Old Town Public Library, in partnership with the Bangor Public Health and Community Services, will be hosting a seminar entitled “Be a Life Saver” from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 21.

Heath Myers, an Overdose Prevention Coordinator with Bangor Public Health and Community Services will discuss overdose symptoms and risk factors, how to react to an overdose, medication safety, naloxone, and treatment and recovery.

Free take-home materials will be provided.

History of Maine fire towers

Collin Brown

Bill Cobb, director of the Maine chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association, will give a presentation about several historic fire towers Down East, including the much beloved Grand Lake Stream tower that sits atop Indian Hill. The tower was built in 1934, and it is currently the oldest standing, enclosed wooden tower in Maine, and potentially New England. Following the presentation, we will take a group walk up to the GLS Tower to examine the site.

The talk will be 5 to 7:30 p.m. June 30 at the Grand Lake Stream School Building, 15 Water St., in Grand Lake Stream.

Business headlines

More cruise ships expected in Maine as 2017 season expands

The Holland America ship Veendam is anchored in Frenchman Bay in Bar Harbor.
Bill Trotter | BDN

Adam Babbitt opened the Bar Harbor Pick-A-Pearl Co. in May, just after the start of this year’s cruise season. The wedding planner and officiant, and former Disney Cruise Line employee, sells “jewelry with a memory” in a small shop right on the water where customers can fish oysters from a tank containing pearls of varying colors that can be set into pendants within minutes.

Like other local merchants, Babbitt stands to gain from more ships arriving this year and a longer season, not just in Bar Harbor, but Maine as a whole.

“We get a lot of business from the cruise ships, but it could always be better,” he said.

The cruise ship industry is reaching cruising speed in Maine, with 410 ship visits expected this year, compared to 361 in 2016 and 271 a decade ago. Some 39 ships from 21 cruise brands are projected for 2017, including newcomers Disney and TUI Cruises.

NOAA launches survey on health of Maine’s scallops, corals

A Mount Desert Island scallop diver cuts out the innards of a scallop.
Bill Trotter | BDN

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is launching two new surveys in the Gulf of Maine to gather data on two species whose management has become controversial — scallops and corals.

The scallop survey announcement follows a dispute in March over the New England Fishery Management Council’s closure of the northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishery, after the quota had been reached. NOAA research liaison Ryan Silva says there’s evidence that the scallop population in the area has increased while the quota has been relatively unchanged.

“The area closed when there was a likelihood that there wasn’t a problem with the resource, it was just the way that area was managed and the quota being met,” he says.

Top court: Maine regulators did not improperly cut energy efficiency spending

Maine Supreme Judicial Court hears arguments on ranked-choice voting at the Capital Judicial Center in April.
Linda Coan O’Kreisk | BDN

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday ruled utility regulators did not violate state law during budget-making for Maine’s energy efficiency program, Efficiency Maine.

The court determined state law is not clear about how the Maine Public Utilities Commission should develop that budget, which provides subsidies for energy efficiency investments at homes and businesses.

Opinion headlines

I got pregnant. I chose to keep my baby. And my Christian school humiliated me.

My principal called an assembly of the entire high school, and invited school families, to tell everyone what had happened. He told me I didn’t need to be there, but I volunteered. I was a senior and a campus leader, so I felt as if I should tell them myself.

In front of the whole school, I got up and started to read a statement I wrote explaining that I had broken the rules, that I was repentant and that I asked for forgiveness. But I couldn’t get through it. My dad had to read some of it while I composed myself. It was one of the hardest things I ever did, and I’m so sorry, not for myself but for any girl in that audience who will get pregnant in the future and may consider abortion because of what I had to go through.

Our schools can’t pay our teachers with liberal sentiments

Washburn Elementary School teacher Kathy Adler leading an activity at the district’s after-school program with students Colt Curtis, Mitchell Hewitt, Sean Silver, Brandon Wordsley, Katie Mendoza and Ella Snyder.
BDN file

There are better ways to fund our schools, roads and critical programs than higher taxes, lower revenue and rolling budget shortfalls. Driving away small-business owners, doctors and other professionals is no way to run a state or grow an economy.

Judges’ anti-Trump end does not justify their means

Beth Kohn protests against U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order travel ban, outside the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals courthouse in San Francisco, California, Feb. 7, 2017.
BDN file

Donald Trump is unfit to be president, it is said, and sure enough there are problems. But what should be more often said is that there are a bunch of judges out there who are unfit to be judges.