Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
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National and international
President Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated Sam Clovis, a former college professor and talk radio host who has challenged the scientific consensus that human activity has been the primary driver of climate change, to serve in the Agriculture Department’s top scientific post.
Clovis, whose expected nomination has been previously reported by The Washington Post and several other outlets, is a former economics professor at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, who served as one of Trump’s first campaign policy advisers. In a 2014 interview with Iowa Public Radio, he said he was “extremely skeptical” about climate change and added that “a lot of the science is junk science.”
“It’s not proven; I don’t think there’s any substantive information available to me that doesn’t raise as many questions as it does answers,” Clovis said in the interview. “So I’m a skeptic.”
President Donald Trump harshly criticized his attorney general and one of his most loyal supporters, Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, indicating that he regretted the choice.
In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Trump vented about the probe and said that he would not have appointed Sessions — a top campaign supporter — if he had known Sessions would step aside.
“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said.
Thirty-two million Americans would lose their health insurance by 2026 if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office reported late on Wednesday as President Donald Trump pushed fellow Senate Republicans to reach an agreement on overhauling the country’s health care law.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell planned to hold a vote for a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act next week after a bill to repeal and replace collapsed on Monday with the Republican party sharply divided.
According to the CBO, a nonpartisan office that analyzes pending legislation, 17 million Americans would lose health insurance alone in 2018 with a repeal while premiums on individual insurance plans would rise 25 percent next year and double by 2026.
Notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy has been dead for more than two decades, but some of his victims are still regaining their names, one by one.
James “Jimmie” Byron Haakenson was confirmed as one of the seven remaining unidentified victims the killer buried in the crawl space of his home, thanks to advancements in DNA analysis, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said in a statement Wednesday.
Before July 6, Haakenson, who ran away at age 16 from his Minnesota home and vanished in Chicago in 1976, was known only by a grim moniker: Gacy Victim #24.
The University of California-Berkeley is again blocking a conservative speaker from coming to the flagship public campus, an advocacy group claimed, threatening the constitutional rights of students.
But university officials said they welcome Ben Shapiro and are just trying to find a large enough and safe enough venue for the conservative columnist to speak to students in September.
“We think there’s a very strong likelihood we can make this work,” university spokesman Dan Mogulof said Wednesday evening.
Berkeley, long known for its liberal-leaning student body and its role in the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s, has become a cultural battleground, with pitched fights between far-left and far-right activists.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, his office said Wednesday.
The Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix said tests revealed “a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma” that was associated with a blood clot above his left eye that was removed last week.
“The Senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team,” said the hospital in a statement. “Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.”
President Donald Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials.
The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later.
Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests. The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power.
Fifty years ago, if you’d asked the dinosaur experts, they would have told you that Tyrannosaurus rex was a speed freak — a giant predator that could outrun racehorses. The paleontologists would have pointed to its 3-meter hind limbs, leggy for even a big dinosaur, and described the creature as sprinting after prey at speeds of 40 mph.
But a better understanding of physics kneecapped the swift T. rex concept. Scientists, rather than looking at the bones alone, began to gauge dinosaur locomotion via models of skeletons and muscles. The picture that came into focus was a slower beast: T. rex, although no less of a predator, was certainly less fleet of foot.
President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session Monday as part of the panel’s widening probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
The meeting was confirmed by Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, who said that his client “is prepared to voluntarily cooperate and provide whatever information he has on the investigations to Congress” and “appreciates the opportunity to assist in putting this matter to rest.”
Kushner is expected to answer the committee’s questions and not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, according to a person familiar with Kushner’s thinking.
A greater percentage of Maine kindergarteners entered school last year without being fully vaccinated, according to new data released as the state faces a surge in whooping cough cases and its first measles case in decades.
The vast majority of parents who opted against vaccination — 90 percent — cited philosophical objections. Their numbers increased for the first time since the 2013-14 school year, reversing a trend that had given public health advocates hope of waning skepticism about vaccines.
Corrections officials say Maine’s youth prison is overburdened by children with severe mental illnesses, and this population has driven away staff who are not trained to handle them.
This strain has additionally triggered a fresh round of infighting between two of the state’s largest departments, as health and human services officials clash with their counterparts in corrections over where the blame lies and how to solve the problem.
The continued use of Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland to hold young people with severe mental illnesses has contributed to employees leaving the facility in recent months, creating a staff shortage and forcing guards to regularly work 16-hour shifts, said union leaders and corrections officials.
“As exhausted as they are, [prison staff] are doing a great job, but some of the kids that are coming into Long Creek these days … belong other places,” said Department of Corrections Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick. “They belong in therapeutic, secure settings in the community and I will say that over and over and over again until somebody in the state of Maine makes that happen.”
Another Democrat has jumped into the campaign to oust U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin from his seat representing Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
Jonathan Fulford of Monroe announced Wednesday that he will run against Poliquin, a Republican, if he wins the 2018 primary against at least two other Democrats. Fulford, a carpenter and farmer, has raised his political profile in the past few years with two unsuccessful campaigns for the Maine Senate against Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau of Winterport.
Caribou police are seeking the public’s help in locating the Rev. Clement Thibodeau, 85, of Caribou, according to information posted Wednesday on the department’s Facebook page.
Thibodeau, a retired Catholic priest, was last seen in Caribou on Saturday, the post said. He drives a gray 2013 Chevrolet Equinox.
An Aroostook County man admitted in court Wednesday to killing two people and wounding three others in a two-county rampage in 2015, according to the Maine attorney general’s office.
Anthony Lord, 37, of Crystal pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts each of murder, attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault, theft of firearms and one count each of arson, aggravated assault and eluding an officer, according to his attorneys. A kidnapping charge and two counts of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon were dismissed.
Living and events
The Choeur d’Enfants d’Ile de France will perform at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 20 at St. John Catholic Church, York Street, in Bangor.
The Paris-based choir, under the direction of conductor Francis Bardot, will perform works of French and German composers, including Berlioz, Faure, Franck, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Schumann.
Admission is free. Donations are appreciated.
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 Seal Cove Auto Museum will host a murder mystery dinner amid its collection of elegant early 1900s automobiles from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 23. The event is hosted in partnership with the Jesup Memorial Library.
“Murder is for the Birds” is a classic whodunit, a play in three acts written by local murder mystery authors Bob and Robin Lawton. Guests will be transported back to July of 1909, when an eclectic mix of auto racers gather in Bar Harbor for a two-day road rally. But the event goes horribly awry when a murder occurs! It is the task of the guests to unravel the mystery and identify the killer before dessert is served.
Featuring photography by Catherine Frost, this exhibition showcases photographs of 30 Muslim young women from Deering and Lewiston High Schools.
Each of these young women has engaged with the Justice for Women program, an organization formed in collaboration with Catherine Lee of Lee International and the University of Southern Maine School of Law with the stated mission, “To promote global conversation about justice that inspires people to transform the lives of women and girls in both Maine and the developing world.”
The exhibit is on display from July 28 to Aug. 16 at Maine College of Art, Zand Head an Friedman Galleries, Congress Street, in Portland.
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, mainelobsterfestival.com/
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.
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.
Join ReVision Energy and Full Circle Farm for a solar open house 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Aug. 5. The solar open house will take place during Full Circle Farm’s regularly scheduled farmers market.
Guests can stop by to learn how Full Circle Farm is locking into long-term energy savings and lowering their carbon footprint as a local business. Guests can also pick-up their favorite locally-sourced foods during the visit to Full Circle Farm.
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.
Verso Corp. has decided not to bring back 120 employees laid off earlier this year after the company idled its No. 3 paper machine in Jay.
Verso announced Tuesday it will shut down that machine permanently in response to declining demand for coated paper, used in magazines and other glossy publications.
The company announced last fall that it would make the layoffs permanent if it could not find sufficient customers for products coming off the No. 3 machine.
Randy Bernard has been a member at the nine-hole Hidden Meadows Golf Course in Old Town since it opened nearly 20 years ago.
As the course prepares for its 20th-anniversary celebration on Aug. 15, Bernard reflected on the course’s transformation.
“It has gone from being a hay field to a real nice golf course now,” he said. “I appreciate Peter Dufour for starting the course. He owned the land and built it. [Next owner] Willy Lucas made some improvements. He built the clubhouse. And [current owners] Joe [Perdue] and Rob [Olsen] have done an incredible job.
“They really have spent the money needed to do the upkeep and they are constantly doing upgrades. The greens are as good as anybody’s around.
“One of the things I love is people have come from all over to play here and they say everybody is friendly here. I like hearing that,” added Bernard.
With a stop-work order looming over his Route 1A business, Josh Gammon of Gammon Lawn Care said this week that the past year “has been hard on me. It’s hard on my family. This business was started by my father back in 1989. He told me recently, ‘I would take it back if I could just so you don’t have to deal with this.’”
The town issued a notice of violation last week to Gammon and ordered him to shutter his York Harbor business until he successfully filed paperwork complying with a Planning Board order of last December.
Poverty, unemployment and the environment used to be top priorities for Democrats. We depended upon Democrats to protect workers from unfair labor practices and minimize wealth disparities. Recognizing the impact of immigration numbers on all these goals, Democratic leadership once called for strict enforcement and meaningful reductions.
Lincoln pointed to an even greater menace than rampaging mobs, “a probable case, highly dangerous.” He warned against the emergence of a man driven to power by a fierce desire for “celebrity and fame” who “thirsts and burns for distinction.” This demagogue “scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious,” and believing that “nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.”
As the widow of a career firefighter and fire chief who suffered for 3½ years with a rare form of cancer, I can tell you about the devastating costs of cancer in the fire service. Firefighter wives are widowed every year by the cancers our husbands contract on the job. In fact, cancer has become a leading cause of workplace-related death in the fire service.