Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
The highs will be in the low to mid-70s, with plenty of sun. Check your local forecast here.
National and international headlines
Emily Cain, a former minority leader in the Maine Legislature who lost two bids for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat, will take the helm as executive director of the influential women’s political group Emily’s List with the goal of helping female candidates prevail in the 2018 midterm elections, the Washington Post reports.
The group hopes Cain will be able to help novice candidates develop winning strategies, as she did for Democrats in Maine, leading them to a majority in the Maine House of Representatives.
“There is an incredible wave of women’s energy and leadership on the ground to stop Trump,” Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily’s List, told the Washington Post. “We’re watching women resist across the country, whether in town halls or phone calls or marching and now running. … Emily brings with her something that’s so incredibly important, which is a real understanding of what it is to be a candidate.”
Cain lost two bids — in 2014 and 2016 — for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat to Republican Bruce Poliquin. Cain told the Post she believes her experience campaigning in a rural, conservative district will help her relate to candidates in red districts across the nation.
“My hope is I’ll have instant credibility with the candidates we talk to across the country because I’ve been there,” she said. “The opportunity for us is not only to win seats that have been traditionally Democratic, but to do everything we can to meet the voters in the Trump-won districts — to connect with them, hear their stories and meet their needs.”
A gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington early Wednesday, wounding several people including House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise before being taken into custody, police and media reports said.
Fire engulfed a 24-story block of flats in central London on Wednesday, killing some people, injuring at least 50 more and trapping some residents asleep inside the towering inferno.
Flames licked up the sides of the block in the north Kensington area as 200 firefighters, backed up by 40 fire engines, fought the blaze for hours.
Plumes of black and grey smoke billowed high into the air over the British capital hours after the blaze broke out at the Grenfell Tower, where several hundred people live.
Residents rushed to escape through smoke-filled corridors in the housing block after being woken up by the smell of burning. Some said no fire alarm sounded.
Witnesses said they saw trapped residents desperately shouting for help from windows on upper floors as flames enveloped the building.
London Fire Brigade said the fire engulfed all floors from the second to the top of the block which contained 130 apartments.
“In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale,” London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton told reporters
“I am very sad to confirm that there have been a number of fatalities, I cannot confirm the number at this time due to the size and complexity of this building.”
Jeff Sessions refuses to say whether he spoke to Trump about Comey’s handling of Russia investigation
Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to comment Tuesday on whether he spoke to President Donald Trump about former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the investigation into coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential race.
Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee he could not discuss his conversations with Trump because they were private.
“I am not able to discuss with you or confirm or deny the nature of private conversations that I may have had with the president on this subject or others,” Sessions said.
President Donald Trump told Republican senators Tuesday that the House GOP health care bill was “mean” and he expects the Senate to “improve” the legislation considerably, according to several Republicans familiar with the gathering.
Trump’s comments, during a White House lunch with a group of 15 GOP senators from across the ideological spectrum, signaled that he may be willing to embrace a less-aggressive revision of the Affordable Care Act than Republicans have previously promised.
The meeting came as Senate Republicans were struggling to build support for their health care rewrite among conservatives who are concerned that the legislation is drifting too far to the left.
Trump’s labeling of the House bill as “mean” was a significant shift of tone that followed months of private and public negotiations, during which he called the bill “great” and urged GOP lawmakers to vote for it.
After 12 hours of deliberation Tuesday, the jurors in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case had enough, telling court staff they were exhausted. Judge Steven T. O’Neill sent them back to their hotel at 9:15 p.m. with a warning they should be careful about what they say to their loved ones. Their deliberations, which have stretched 16 hours, will resume Wednesday morning.
The armed North Carolina man who commandeered a pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington apologized to his victims and residents in the nation’s capital Tuesday in a letter to a federal judge seeking leniency at his June 22 sentencing.
Writing in his own hand, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, said he was “truly sorry for endangering the safety of any and all bystanders who were present that day. Unfortunately, I cannot change what I did, but I think I owe it to the families and the community to apologize for my mistakes.”
President Donald Trump has given the Pentagon new authorities to decide the troop levels in Afghanistan, a U.S. official said Tuesday. The move could lead to a deployment of thousands more troops as commanders decide the way forward in the 15-year-old war.
The U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak more freely, said the move is similar to the April decision that gave the Pentagon more authority to set troop levels in Iraq and Syria. The change, the Pentagon said, was so that units could deploy at their proper strength to better maintain unit cohesion.
With the new authority, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis could authorize deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan, something commanders on the ground there have been requesting for months.
University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who has been detained in North Korea for 17 months, has been medically evacuated from the country in a coma, his parents told The Washington Post Tuesday.
The Warmbiers were told that he had come down with a case of botulism soon after his trial — which lasted only one hour — and had been given a sleeping pill, from which he never woke up.
Stephen King has been blocked by President Donald Trump from reading the president’s tweets, the writer reported on Twitter morning.
Trump has blocked me from reading his tweets. I may have to kill myself.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) June 13, 2017
Stephen King is no fan of the president. In April we compiled several insults King lobbed at Trump during the first three months of his presidency.
Lots of prominent Twitter users have reported being blocked by the President on Twitter, from Saturday Night Live cast member Ana Gasteyer to the left-leaning veteran’s rights group VoteVets.
Some, including the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, have questioned the constitutionality of blocking access to tweets considered official communications from the President of the United States.
Maine finance chief Richard Rosen resigned on Tuesday, surprising key legislators as they were making a final push to finalize a two-year budget with barely a week to go in the legislative session.
Rosen, a former legislator from Bucksport, was named commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services in 2015 after stints as a deputy commissioner in the budget department and directing Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s policy office.
His departure is another hurdle for legislators, who have presided over a dysfunctional budget process to date.
The Maine Attorney General’s Office has asked a judge to dismiss Anthony Sanborn’s claims that police and a state prosecutor acted improperly in pursuing the case that led to his 1992 murder conviction.
In the state’s first detailed response to the court challenge that, in April, saw Sanborn, 44, released on bail after decades behind bars, Assistant Attorney General Paul Rucha denied a number of allegations including that officials had suppressed evidence and coerced a key witness to testify in the trial over the 1989 murder of 16-year-old Jessica Briggs.
Maine’s Department of Labor plans to lay off up to 10 counselors who help Maine’s long-term unemployed and unemployed veterans, as that that group has dwindled to record lows.
Outgoing Maine Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette said the department will stop participating in the federal grant program that supports those positions because of the way it is funded.
Paquette said Maine is the first state to officially put the program on hold, though others are considering it. The move comes as unemployment insurance claims are at a 32-year low and Maine’s unemployment rate is at the lowest rate recorded.
Living and events
Since long before James Beard Award-winning chefs, culinary tourism, Instagramming hipsters and Food Network scouts turned this city into a culinary capital, Mark Gatti has hawked steamed hot dogs on the streets of Portland.
Stationed in Tommy’s Park five to six days a week in all kinds of weather, year round, the Wayne native is almost ready for his second set of keys to the city. “The mayor gave me the keys to the city on my 25th anniversary,” says the friendly hot dog vendor. “I think my wife lost them.”
That was almost a decade ago. On Tuesday June 13, Gatti reaches his 34th year in business.
His red cart, simply labeled Mark’s Hotdogs, is a reassuring presence in a city full of fickle food trends.
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!
Penobscot County Federal Credit Union is excited to host its third annual Color 5K for Ending Hunger in Maine on June 17. This year, they are introducing a new theme: a Glow 5K. This fun and exciting event is open to adults and children, of all ages and fitness levels.
Pre-registration is open online until this Thursday. Individuals are able to register for only $15, children (under 10) are free! Registration also will be available the evening of the event, beginning at 7 p.m.
End Father’s Day with a special paddle along Pushaw Stream in Hirundo Wildlife Refuge. Listen to the evening call of the birds and watch the local, nocturnal wildlife as it begins its “day.”
Suggested donation is $5 per person.
Meet at 35 Hudson Road in Alton at gate 3 at the refuge.
Registration requested, please call 207.394.2171
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.
A Strawberry Festival will be held 4-6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at Dirigo Grange Hall, Route 137.
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 American Red Cross of Maine and the Old Town Fire Rescue Department are teaming up to install free smoke alarms in residents’ homes and teach people how to be prepared for home fires.
Old Town residents can sign up for the free smoke alarm installation by calling Ron Springel of the Red Cross at 874-1192, ext. 113. The Red Cross, the Old Town Fire Rescue Department and community volunteers will follow-up with the installation on July 22.
“Working smoke alarms are key to escaping a home fire safely. That early warning, along with a practiced escape plan to a designated meeting area and early notification to emergency services can greatly reduce death and injuries,” Capt. David Daniels of the Old Town Fire Rescue Department said.
The state’s Liquor and Lottery Commission will consider ending the sale of 50-milliliter liquor bottles in Maine following a promise by Gov. Paul LePage to do so if the Legislature enacted a bill that adds the containers to Maine’s bottle redemption program.
Delisting nips would cost the state and nip producers money. Maine sold 8.4 million nips in the 2016 fiscal year — a number that has grown by 40 percent in each of the past five years, according to testimony from state liquor regulators, who projected sales above $12 million in the next year.
Sen. Nathan Libby, D-Lewiston, has a spirits bottler in his district that would be affected by a nips ban. He called the proposed action “misguided in the extreme.”
More than half of the Democrats in the Maine House of Representatives joined Republicans on Tuesday to endorse a bill to repeal changes for tipped restaurant servers that were approved by voters in a 2016 minimum wage referendum.
The vote in the Democratic-led House will rankle progressives, who last year led the referendum passed by 55 percent of Maine voters, which set Maine’s regular hourly minimum wage to rise to $12 by 2020 and began to phase out a lower minimum wage for tipped workers.
The Bon-Ton department store at the Maine Mall in South Portland will close in August, according to Portland television station WGME, CBS 13.
The 55 store employees who will lose their jobs as a result of the closure will receive severance pay, CBS 13 reported.
The downtown Freeport women’s clothing boutique Sashay’s has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, seeking to liquidate all of its assets to pay off what debts it can.
The company filed for bankruptcy last week, seeking to resolve about $180,790 in liabilities, more than half of which is from a family business loan.
“Here is your country,” President Theodore Roosevelt once told us. “Cherish these natural wonders. Cherish the natural resources. Cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage — for your children and your children’s children.”
Roosevelt, the father of American conservation, knew the beauty of Maine well. Indeed, as a young man he climbed Katahdin and spoke admirably of the very land that last year was designated as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Now, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, another champion of American conservation, will have the same opportunity to appreciate Maine’s beauty by exploring the monument — and it is my hope that he, like Roosevelt, will come to cherish this land as a part of our sacred heritage.
We are pleased that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is visiting the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and surrounding area as part of his assignment from President Donald Trump to review 27 recently created monuments. It is important for him to meet with area residents firsthand and to spend time exploring the monument land himself before making a recommendation to the president.
Presumably, Comey was trying to convey his humility juxtaposed with the steamrolling Trump. What Comey may be constitutionally unable to fully grasp, however, is that integrity is no weapon in a knife fight.