Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
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National and international headlines
On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said President Donald Trump should turn over tapes of conversations he had with fired FBI Director James Comey — if they exist.
“He should voluntarily turn them over not only to the Senate Intelligence Committee, but to the special counsel,” Collins told Brianna Keilar on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I don’t understand why the president just doesn’t clear this matter up once and for all,” she added.
Collins added that she would support a subpoena being issued if the White House stonewalled, though she said such an order would likely come from special counsel Robert Mueller and not from the Senate committee.
“I would be fine with issuing a subpoena,” Collins said.
Nearly one year after effectively conceding the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders was the star of this year’s People’s Summit, which has quickly become the country’s largest progressive political conference. At least 4,000 people trekked to Chicago for a weekend of teach-ins, panels and dance parties. In a Saturday night speech, Sanders planned to tell activists to charge ahead because “ideas that, just a few years ago, seemed radical and unattainable, are now part of Main Street discussion.”
But as Sanders used his star power to unite activists behind the Democrats, some debated whether the Democratic Party could ever be fixed to their liking. Faced with unified Republican control of Washington, progressives were less interested in simple unity than in a purity that they believed could win.
Much of the discussion at the People’s Summit focused on the need to leave “neoliberal” politics in the dust. But there was disagreement about how to do so. On Friday night, activists cheered at a clip of National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro telling California Democrats not to “assume the activists in California and around this country are going to stay with the Democratic Party.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a letter Saturday that he will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday to address matters former FBI Director James Comey brought up last week in testimony to the same panel.
In a letter seen by Reuters, Sessions told U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, that the Intelligence Committee is the “most appropriate” place to address matters that came up during Comey’s hearing on Thursday.
The letter did not say whether Sessions planned to give public testimony or to appear before the panel behind closed doors.
“In light of reports regarding Mr. Comey’s recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum,” Sessions said in the letter.
Adam West, who portrayed the superhero Batman in a wildly popular television show in the 1960s and who seemed trapped in the character’s cape and tights for the rest of his career, died June 9 in Los Angeles. He was 88.
The cause was leukemia, his publicist, Molly Schoneveld, said in a statement.
Other actors, including Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, Val Kilmer and Oscar winners George Clooney and Christian Bale, have taken on the role of the Caped Crusader, but no one was as closely identified with the character as West.
His dozens of other film and television credits, from westerns to police dramas, seemed to be forgotten, as popular culture remembered him solely for his role on a half-hour adventure comedy that lasted just three seasons, from 1966 to 1968.
“I decided early on to embrace the character,” West told the Guardian newspaper in 2014. “I mean how many actors are lucky enough to play a character that becomes iconic?”
Anti-Muslim activists hoisted American flags and delivered fiery speeches in rallies across the country Saturday, facing off against crowds of counter-demonstrators in several cities and exposing the visceral rage that has come to define America’s political extremes.
ACT for America, a lobbyist organization with close ties to the Trump administration, organized nationwide marches to oppose Islamic law, which the group believes is a threat to American society.
The turnout was relatively small, with rally crowds of a few dozen in many cities outnumbered almost 10 to one by counter-demonstrators who tried to drown out their voices with drums, bullhorns and cowbells.
ACT, which has drawn condemnation from civil rights groups for its frequent criticism of Islam and its efforts to pass state-level bills targeting Islamic law and refugees, organized the protests as a nationwide “March Against Sharia” and a defense of human rights.
“We’re here protecting their rights, and they’re trying to shut us down!” Pax Hart, the organizer of the New York City rally told his audience, referring to the gathering of hundreds of leftist activists and masked anarchists across the street. “It’s insane!”
Emmanuel Macron’s fledgling party seized a big lead in the French parliamentary election first round Sunday, projected results polls showed, setting the president on course for a massive majority to push through his pro-business reforms.
The results, if confirmed, are another blow to the country’s mainstream Socialist and conservative parties already reeling from Macron’s election in May, which blew apart the left-right divide that has shaped French politics for the past century.
Pollsters said well over 30 percent of those who voted had picked Macron’s party in the first round, a result which they said could deliver him as much as three quarters of lower house seats when the second round results come in next week.
A downtown Bangor church that has spent the last four years helping local homeless people, drug users, and ex-inmates is trying to set up a permanent home in the neighborhood where much of its congregation is.
The local Christian ministry, the Mansion Church, wants to relocate to a building at 126 Third Street — an area of the city where many of its parishioners live, including people suffering from drug addiction or experiencing homelessness, or those trying to build a future after serving time at Penobscot County Jail.
But the church, which has around 75 active members, is struggling to get the approval it needs from the city to move there, delaying its plans to extend its Sunday services, hold daily bible studies and pass out clothes to people living in the neighborhood.
For high school dropout Sarah Lemery, who recently finished a 98-day sentence in the county lockup for a drug conviction, finding a reading and writing tutor behind bars changed her life.
Last Wednesday, the 34-year-old, pregnant with her fourth child, walked down the aisle at the Peakes Auditorium at Bangor High School in a graduation gown and received her high school equivalency diploma.
“When you’re a drug addict, you always feel like a failure,” Lemery said just before the ceremony. “I always felt like I would fail it.”
She took the test to get her diploma on April 18, the day before being released from Penobscot County Jail in Bangor, and she cried when she heard she passed with a good score.
Former U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II is likely to be headed back to the bench.
Gov. Paul LePage last week nominated Delahanty to serve as an active retired Superior Court justice.
Delahanty, 71, of Falmouth previously served as a Superior Court judge from 1983 to 2010, when President Barack Obama appointed him to serve as Maine’s top federal prosecutor.
A Wells woman suffered head injuries when she was knocked from a motorcycle as a deer leapt over it to cross the road.
Carol Delisle, 80, was riding with Clifford Wescott, 84, both of Wells, on Route 11 between Wal-Mart and Tractor Supply in Rochester when a deer emerged into the road, according to the Rochester Police Department. It tried to leap over the motorcycle, but it grazed Wescott’s helmet and struck Delisle, knocking her off the motorcycle and into the road.
Officer Erick Halpin of the Damariscotta Police Department helped save the life of a man who had overdosed by using two doses of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan before paramedics arrived the afternoon of June 2.
Halpin was dispatched to respond to a potential overdose in Damariscotta just after 1 p.m. When he arrived, he found a man in his 30s who “appeared to be deceased,” according to interim Damariscotta police Chief Jason Warlick.
The man was not breathing and did not have a pulse, Halpin said. His skin was cold to the touch and started to turn color.
Halpin immediately used both doses of the Narcan nasal spray he carries and performed CPR until Central Lincoln County Ambulance Service arrived minutes later, Warlick said.
“He saw what was going on and his training kicked in,” Warlick said. “Without a doubt he saved that man’s life.”
Living and events
Trevanna Grenfell dropped into a crouch, arranged her skirt so it wouldn’t get in her way and began the work of making a fire the old-fashioned way.
The really old-fashioned way, that is. Grenfell, 32, eschewed matches for a bit of stone-age technology, using a bow and spindle to create enough friction to drill a hole in the fireboard. As she spun the bow, her brother, Trevanion Grenfell, and his partner, Ali Palm, lifted their voices in a song meant to encourage the wisp of smoke that wafted up from the small pile of wood dust she was making. Long minutes later, when there was enough smoke, she placed the hot dust in a small nest of tinder she had on hand and started blowing on it, gently at first and then with more vigor.
As the singing came to a crescendo in the otherwise quiet forest around them, the tiny spark in the tinder began to smolder and catch. The Grenfell siblings smiled as they placed the glowing tinder into the kindling they’d arranged in the fire pit on the ground, looking forward to a smoky campfire that would keep away the blackflies and mosquitos. But they also were glad to have shown a bit of the skill and style that goes into Northwood Natural Learning, the educational business they started three years ago to help people to connect with nature, and, in the process, to support what they call “regenerative community.”
“Just making the fire isn’t enough,” Trevanion Grenfell, 30, said. “You’ve got to do it with singing and ceremony. We’re making a culture. That’s what we’re doing — we’re making a nature-connected culture.”
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.
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 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.
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.
The annual S.W. Collins 5K Road & Fun race will be held June 25.
Registration is from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at S.W. Collins Co. Caribou Yard. The 5K starts at 10:00 a.m., walkers start at 9:45 a.m., and kids Fun Run starts at 9:00 a.m.
Registration is $13 for adults, and the fee for the kids fun run is by donation. All proceeds will go to the Caribou Athletics Department.
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.
Performing for audiences around the world and in their own backyard in Maine, the 195th Army Band’s Concert Band is carrying on a proud tradition of military bands past and present by presenting free patriotic public performances.
The band will perform 6:30 to 8 p.m. July 6 at Riverfront Park, North Main Street, in Old Town.
The Bremen Lobster Pound Co-op on Keene Neck has been a fixture of Bremen’s working waterfront for decades. After a merger between the fishermen’s association and Community Shellfish LLC, the co-op’s new owner is looking to keep it that way.
Boe Marsh is a Bremen selectman and owns Community Shellfish LLC, a dealer in lobster, clams and shrimp. The company buys from harvesters at its processing and distribution center at 656 Waldoboro Road in Bremen and at the co-op.
The co-op will continue in its current role as a base of operations for local lobstermen and other commercial fishermen, and Marsh is reintroducing aquaculture, a field the co-op first experimented with in previous years.
He said that regardless of future efforts in aquaculture, the co-op will always welcome lobstermen and other commercial harvesters.
“There are a lot of great fishermen here and in no way will the oysters impede on those lobstering at the co-op. We will keep the lobster and wild-caught seafood the focus of the working waterfront with the added benefits of aquaculture,” Marsh said.
MaineHealth, the largest health care system in the state, is moving forward with a proposal to consolidate all member hospitals under a single authority, a move that has the potential to affect hundreds of thousands of Mainers.
If the plan is formally approved by local hospital boards this fall, those boards will relinquish budget oversight and governing authority to MaineHealth in Portland in 2018. In return, under the current proposal, each hospital group would get at least one representative on the MaineHealth board, but that’s guaranteed only for the first five years.
“We don’t want this to feel like the UN, where everyone’s sitting behind a sign that says where they’re from. We want this to feel like a board where everybody is rowing in the same direction,” Bill Burke, a member of the Maine Medical Center board, said. “The sooner we can do that, the better.”
I’m still astounded that our brief endorsement of Trump garnered such attention. In the end, Trump won the state by a solid eight-point margin. Consider the fact that Trump won the popular vote in 30 states, but in most of those states not a single newspaper endorsed him. Could there be better evidence of the gulf that exists between what is called the “mainstream media” and millions of Americans?
After the election, some news media leaders pledged to re-examine their approach. If they are even slightly successful in retooling political coverage, perhaps by 2020 a small southern Ohio newspaper’s endorsement of a major-party candidate for president won’t qualify as national news, no matter which candidate it chooses.
As a former FBI counterintelligence agent, what I saw as the most explosive aspect of the testimony didn’t involve any legal violation of the U.S. code or questions about whether Comey had broken established U.S. Department of Justice protocols. Instead, it was the prima facie evidence that Comey presented that Trump appears unwilling to uphold his oath “to preserve, protect, and defend” the country — which puts the security of our nation and its democracy at stake. In the nine times Trump met with or called Comey, it was always to discuss how the investigation into Russia’s election interference was affecting him personally, rather than the security of the country. He apparently cared little about understanding either the magnitude of the Russian intelligence threat, or how the FBI might be able to prevent another attack in future elections.
After lawmakers last year failed to pass legislation to update the state’s rules around solar energy sales, the Maine Public Utilities Commission has adopted rules that are unworkable, will unnecessarily cost ratepayers millions of dollars, and do nothing to encourage needed development of solar energy resources in the state.
Lawmakers again have an opportunity to put Maine on a better course. But, unlike last year, enough of them must vote for what is best for all Mainers and not let themselves be bullied by Gov. Paul LePage.