Forget robots — the goats are coming for our jobs

Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.


The high today will be in the low 80s, with plenty of sun across the state. Check your local forecast here.

National and international

Forget robots. The goats are coming for our jobs.

A Michigan chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is warning that somebody is coming to take union jobs. Not immigrants, not robots — but goats.

After Western Michigan University rented a crew of 20 goats to clear weeds and brush this summer, AFSCME “filed a grievance contending that the work the goats are doing in a wooded lot is taking away jobs from laid-off union workers,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

[How to hire a team of goats to landscape your Maine yard]

If you haven’t been paying attention, goat rentals are all the rage in landscaping.

[Runaway goats reunited with owner after ride-along with Belfast police]

If you’re a union representing guys who mow or clear brush for a living, you can see the threat coming from a mile away — even if said threat has two horns and four legs.

A flight attendant smashed wine bottles on a man who tried to open the exit midair, FBI says

A Delta Airlines plane lands at San Francisco International Airport in this April 14, 2015, file photo.

Armed with fists and an unexplained determination, a man attacked Delta Air Lines crew and passengers Thursday as he tried to pry open an exit door midair, according to the FBI.

Joseph Hudek IV was eventually subdued by multiple people on the Seattle-to-Beijing flight — in a melee where bottles of wine became weapons.

Republicans deride Trump’s idea for cyber security unit with Russia

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (left) and President Donald Trump talk during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Klimentyev Mikhail | TASS | ABACA PRESS | | TNS

President Donald Trump said Sunday he and Russia’s president had discussed forming a cybersecurity unit, an idea harshly criticized by Republicans who said Moscow could not be trusted after its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

“It’s not the dumbest idea I have ever heard, but it’s pretty close,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” adding that Trump’s apparent willingness to “forgive and forget” stiffened his resolve to pass legislation imposing sanctions on Russia.

Report: Trump Jr. met Russian lawyer after promise of dirt on Clinton

Donald Trump Jr. arrives at Trump Tower in New York City, Jan. 18, 2017.
Stephanie Keith | REUTERS

President Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. agreed to meet with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during the 2016 campaign after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton, The New York Times reported Sunday, citing three advisers to the White House.

Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also attended the meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, two weeks after Trump won the Republican nomination, the Times reported.

The Times quoted a statement from Donald Trump Jr. in which he acknowledged meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Iraq declares victory against Islamic State in Mosul

Members of the Emergency Response Division celebrate in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq ,July 8, 2017.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul on Sunday and congratulated the armed forces for their “victory” over Islamic State after nearly nine months of urban warfare, bringing an end to jihadist rule in the city.

Islamic State’s defeat in Mosul three years after taking the city is a major blow for the hardline Sunni Islamist group, which is also losing ground in its operational base in the Syrian city of Raqqa from where it has planned global attacks.

The group, however, still controls territory in Iraq and is expected to revert to more conventional insurgent tactics such as bombings as its self-proclaimed caliphate falls apart.

Republican senators at odds ahead of final push for Obamacare replacement

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to reporters after Senate Republicans unveiled their version of legislation that would replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 22, 2017.

Senate Republicans clashed Sunday about the path forward for their stalled health care bill, with passage of any plan before the August congressional recess in doubt and rival factions trying to pull it in opposite directions.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” declared an earlier Republican leadership plan “dead” and suggested turning to a different bill that he drafted with Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. He put the odds of passing a bill in July at “50-50.”

While some conservatives and President Donald Trump have suggested repealing President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and replacing it later in a separate measure if the party can’t pass a combined bill, Cassidy called the idea “a nonstarter” that would raise premiums and betray Trump’s campaign promises.


Van plunges 30 feet at Acadia National Park

National Park Service

Four adults and three children escaped what could have been serious injury when the van in which they were riding plunged 30 feet down an embankment off Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park Friday afternoon, a park spokesman said Saturday.

Maine’s ‘magical island kingdom’ with mansion, tavern and chapel for sale for nearly $8M

Images of Hope Island from its listing by Christie’s International Real Estate.
Christie’s International Real Estate

Hope Island, the sprawling estate of once-controversial developer John Cacoulidis, is on the market for $7.95 million.

The online listing for the 86-acre island property by Christie’s International Real Estate calls it “one of Maine’s most extraordinary estates” and “a unique world unto itself,” complete with a nearly 12,000-square-foot residence, as well as “numerous guest/staff dwellings, a boathouse with deepwater pier, numerous barns and storage buildings and a tavern.”

Memorial service set for Maine woman believed to have been murdered in California

Danielle Bertolini

Family and friends from both coasts of the United States and many points in between plan to gather in Newport next weekend to bid farewell to Danielle Bertolini, a Maine woman believed to have been murdered in California three years ago.

How LePage’s shutdown hardball will shape his last year and the race to replace him

Rep. Deb Sanderson, R-Chelsea (left), counts the votes on a vote board while Rep. Wayne Parry, R-Arundel, looks on during the House of Representatives vote on the state budget at the Maine State House in Augusta.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN

The eventful era of Gov. Paul LePage probably was destined all along for the first state shutdown since 1991, and the fighting that led to it will have lasting implications on Maine.

The state’s three-day shutdown ended early on July 4, when LePage and majority Democrats in the House of Representatives struck a deal eliminating a voter-approved 3 percent surtax, replacing it partially with another $162 million in school funding without raising taxes.

The discord in the debate — real or kayfabe — shows the divisions in Maine’s two major political parties well as both look for a leader to emerge to take LePage’s place in 2018. Until then, he’ll continue to set a tone for Maine’s increasingly divisive politics.

Living and events

Utah restaurant named The World’s Best Lobster Roll in Portland competition

Ben and Lorin Smaha take home the trophy.
Kathleen Pierce | BDN

What does a land-locked state like Utah know about lobster rolls?

Enough for Freshies Lobster Co. of Park City to nab the World’s Best Lobster Roll title Saturday afternoon in a heated competition held at Thompson’s Point.

Pirate parley at Fort Knox

Leon Seymour

The Friends of Fort Knox and The Pirates of the Dark Rose crew would like you to join in a Pirate Parlay July 14-16 at Fort Knox on scenic Penobscot Bay on the Maine coast. Because of past years’ fun and skullduggery, this year the pirate festival at the Fort will be a whole weekend. Pirate Crews from up and down the East Coast will be meeting in a Pirate Parlay, and some will be sailing their pirate ships into cannon range of the Fort.

Film: ‘Something Good Will Come of This: A Maine Man’s Journey through the Opiate Epidemic

College of the Atlantic senior Ursa Beckford will host a screening of his film, “Something Good Will Come of This: A Maine Man’s Journey through the Opiate Epidemic,” at the Blue Hill Public Library at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 19.

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker, Ursa Beckford, and the subject of the film, Mike Bills.

Red Cross and Old Town Fire Rescue partner to install free smoke alarms

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.

Volunteers needed for 70th Maine Lobster Festival

The Maine Lobster Festival is looking for volunteers to help with this year’s festival to be held Aug. 2-6. It takes more than 1,300 volunteers to run the festival each year.

Volunteer jobs include everything from setting up and taking down tents, to taking tickets, or cooking the lobsters served to guests. Volunteers will receive an exclusive “volunteer” shirt and free admission the day you volunteer.

If you wish to sign up, fill out an Online Volunteer Form from our website,, or print a paper volunteer form and mail it in. Be specific about which job you’d like to sign up for. If you have any questions, email

Appalachian Trail Conservancy 2017 Maine Conference coming to Waterville

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Waterville will host the 2017 Appalachian Trail Conservancy Conference. It will be held at Colby College Aug. 4-11.

The week-long event features over 240 hikes, numerous workshops, and excursions to local areas of interest.

Each evening there are exciting adventure presentations and stellar entertainment.

Maine Huts & Trails backwoods duathlon with Baxter Outdoors

Baxter Outdoors and Maine Huts & Trails are bringing back the Maine Huts & Trails Backwoods Duathlon 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Aug. 5. This 25 K mountain bike/trail run can be tackled either solo or as a team.

Schooner Fare to kick off Paris Hill Music Festival

The Paris Hill Music Festival will kick off with Schooner Fare at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, at First Baptist Church of Paris, 500 Paris Hill Road, South Paris. Tickets are $25 and available at Paris Hill Country Club and Bolster’s Decorating in Market Square and Books-n-Things in Norway or by calling 743-9390.


Feds to buy $10 million in wild Maine blueberries to help absorb glut

Blueberries wait to be raked in 2016 in one of the Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Company fields in Township 19, Washington County.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN

The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved buying up to $10 million in Maine wild blueberries to help farmers deal with an oversupply heightened by competition from cultivated berries.

The USDA’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program acquires surplus agricultural goods and distributes them to food banks and other charitable organizations.

Early this year, the Maine Wild Blueberry Commission asked the federal government to buy up 30 million pounds of frozen berries to clear up some of the oversupply from the harvests of the past two years.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin dismisses idea of 40 percent top tax rate for the rich

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, June 9, 2017.

The White House is “absolutely committed” to getting its tax overhaul proposal through Congress by the end of the year — and that plan won’t include a 40 percent tax rate for the richest Americans, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday.

“Our plan is to have a full-blown release of the plan in the beginning of September, with being able to vote and getting this passed before the end of the year,” Mnuchin said on ABC’s “This Week.”

The “objective” of the proposal is still that no one in the middle class will have a tax increase, Mnuchin said. “We’re finalizing the details of the plan, so there’s certain issues that are still on the table.”

Tesla gives first official glimpse of finished Model 3

The public is getting its first look at Tesla’s completed Model 3, more than a year after the electric car was first announced by chief executive Elon Musk.

On Sunday, Musk tweeted a couple of photos showing off the Model 3, a battery-powered vehicle priced for mainstream Tesla consumers.


Bruce Poliquin is not accessible to all his constituents

George Danby | BDN

We have found that U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is not accessible for people in his district to tell him what they think about the many issues that affect us in our community.

Poliquin’s office recently moved to a location inaccessible to those with handicaps and essentially closed to anyone who wants to talk to members of his staff, especially about policy issues.

North Korea: The Rubicon is crossed

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the test-launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 5, 2017.

Across 25 years and five administrations, we have kicked the North Korean can down the road. We are now out of road.

On July 4, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile apparently capable of hitting the United States. As yet, only Alaska. Soon, every American city.

Moreover, Pyongyang claims to have already fitted miniaturized nuclear warheads on intermediate range missiles. Soon, on ICBMs.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s initial reaction to this game changer was not encouraging. “Global action is required to stop a global threat,” he declared.

This, in diplo-speak, is a cry for (multilateral) help. Alas, there will be none.

Maine’s 2017 shutdown lesson? Compromise, not threats, closed the deal.

Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, puts his hands to his face while listening to arguments during the Senate’s hearing on the state budget at the Maine State House in Augusta.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN

Mainers, especially state employees, are breathing a sigh of relief that the state’s government shutdown ended quickly and without much disruption to state services. Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Paul LePage have taken victory laps for killing a voter-approved surtax on high incomes and a proposed lodging tax hike. Democratic leaders are touting an increase in school funding, although it is half as large as what voters approved, and needed financial support for social services.