Millennials are turning to Harry Potter for meaning. That is a mistake.

Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.


The high today will be in the low 70s, with a mix of sun and clouds. Check your local forecast here.

National and international

Trump urges fellow Republicans to move ahead with health-care overhaul

President Donald Trump speaks at the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity at the White House in Washington, July 19, 2017.

President Donald Trump on Monday made a late-hour appeal to senators – targeting members of his own party – to move forward with debate over faltering Republican legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

“Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare, which is what it is,” Trump said in an afternoon address from the White House on the eve of anticipated Senate vote that could spell defeat of the long-sought legislation.

As of Monday, GOP leaders in the Senate were still scrambling to round up enough Republican votes to move forward with debate of the bill.

Kushner questioned by Senate investigators over alleged collusion with Russia

Senior adviser to the president Jared Kushner speaks outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, July 24, 2017.

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, spent about two hours Monday answering questions from Senate investigators about his contacts with Russian officials, insisting he had not colluded with foreign agents before or after the 2016 presidential campaign.

After his closed-door questioning, Kushner spoke briefly to reporters outside the White House.

“Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” Kushner said. “I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses, and I have been fully transparent in providing all requested information.

“Since the first questions were raised in March, I have been consistent in saying I was eager to share whatever information I have with investigating bodies and I have done so today,” he said. “All of my actions were proper.”

Driver in Texas denies he knew immigrants were in stifling truck

Police officers work on a crime scene after nine people believed to be illegal immigrants being smuggled into the United States were found dead inside a sweltering 18-wheeler trailer parked behind a Walmart store in San Antonio, Texas, July 23, 2017.
Ray Whitehouse | REUTERS

The man accused of smuggling at least 100 illegal immigrants inside a sweltering tractor-trailer, 10 of whom died, has said he was unaware of the human cargo he was hauling until he took a rest stop in Texas, court papers showed on Monday.

James Bradley Jr., 60, was arrested Sunday after police said they discovered dozens of undocumented Mexican and Guatemalan nationals, some unconscious in the back of the truck, others staggering around the vehicle in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store in San Antonio.

Charlie Gard’s parents end fight over treatment for their terminally-ill son

Charlie Gard’s parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard read a statement at the High Court after a hearing on their baby’s future, in London, Britain July 24, 2017.

Charlie Gard’s parents have decided to end their legal fight over the treatment of their terminally ill child. The months-long, emotionally charged case sparked a bioethical debate about end-of-life issues and captured the attention of world leaders, including Pope Francis and President Donald Trump.

Attorney Grant Armstrong said the boy’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, are withdrawing their appeal of court orders that say Charlie’s treatment should end, according to The Associated Press.

Yates and Gard cried in court as their attorney said time had run out for their 11-month-old, after a U.S. doctor said it was too late to give the baby an experimental treatment on which the couple had pinned their hopes.

‘Unusually aggressive’ Brooklyn squirrel that attacked five people may have rabies

A squirrel munches a piece of bread after taking it from man’s hand in Deering Oaks Park in Portland.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Health department officials in New York are warning people about a potentially rabid and “unusually aggressive squirrel” that has recently bitten five people in a park in Brooklyn.

[Mainer attacked by rabid raccoon drowns it in puddle]

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene urged anyone who has come under squirrel attack since July 10 to seek treatment for rabies exposure and take victimized pets to a veterinarian.

“This animal has exhibited extremely unusual behavior and we are urging anyone who has been bitten by it, including any pets, to go and see your doctor or veterinarian,” Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett said Friday in a statement. “Most squirrel bites occur when someone attempts to feed the animal. Keep a safe distance from wildlife and never feed wild animals.”

Alaska town’s unofficial cat mayor dies at 20

Stubbs, the cat who became the unofficial mayor and a tourist attraction for the small Alaska town of Talkeetna, has died at 20, his owners said.

Stubbs went to sleep Thursday night in the town about 60 miles north of Anchorage and never woke up, the Spone family said in a statement late Saturday.

“He was a trooper until the very last day of his life,” the family said.

The cat, which liked to drink water and catnip from a margarita glass, was elected unofficial mayor of Talkeetna in 1997.


Collins responds to Texas congressman’s ‘duel’ comment

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks with reporters about the withdrawn Republican health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 18, 2017.

Dueling is illegal in every state, so Collins is unlikely to take up the challenge.

Monday evening, Collins remarked that U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold’s statement was out of the ordinary. “In 20 years in the Senate, I have had a lot of people make suggestions about how to resolve legislative disputes, but until today nobody had ever suggested a duel.”

Man killed after rear-ending logging truck on Golden Road in ‘whiteout’ conditions

An unidentified man was killed on Monday when his pickup truck rear-ended a logging truck.

The driver of a pickup truck died after he ran into the back of a parked logging truck on Golden Road on Monday that he apparently couldn’t see due to dust that created whiteout conditions, authorities said.

The man, whose name was being withheld pending notification of next of kin, was the pickup’s sole occupant, and couldn’t see the logging truck because of the heavy dust in the air kicked up from the dirt road, according to a statement from Piscataquis County Chief Deputy Robert Young relayed by a dispatcher.

Judge agrees to deal that allows pardoned husky to live

Dakota, the husky pardoned by Gov. Paul LePage, was granted a permanent reprieve Monday when a District Court judge approved a deal that will spare her life, but ban her permanently from the city where she attacked two dogs.

The deal was struck late last week among Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, attorneys for the previous owner, Matthew Perry, and attorneys for Linda Janeski, the woman who adopted the dog.

District Court Judge Valerie Stanfill swiftly approved it during a short hearing Monday at the Capital Judicial Center.

Maine lawmaker who blasted Trump on Facebook resigns from food bank job

Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland
Troy R. Bennett | BDN

The Democratic lawmaker who was publicly castigated for a Facebook post implying he’d hurt President Donald Trump appears to have also paid a private price for the comments.

Rep. Scott Hamann of South Portland resigned last week from his job as a project manager with the Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine, according to Nicole Nadeau, human resources manager for the food bank.

Nadeau said that the organization’s staff appreciated Hamann’s time and work fighting hunger in Maine but declined to explain the reasons for his resignation, which came the same week that the 36-year-old lawmaker gave a lengthy apology on the floor of the Maine House of Representatives for his “vulgar and disrespectful” comments about Trump.

An ‘enemy alien’ from the Middle East created these iconic Maine statues

Portland’s iconic lobsterman statue embodies some of Maine’s most romantic notions about itself. A strong, Anglo-Saxon man, subdues nature while making a living, alone on the sea. He’s wearing his hip boots rolled down and his billed cap sits right beside him. He’s crouched over his lobster trap’s lead line. You can almost “heyah” his Down East accent. Ayuh, that man is a real Mainer.

The artist who sculpted it, Victor B. Kahill, was a Mainer, too. He was a Middle-Eastern immigrant, labeled an “enemy alien” by the government, who went on to serve the United States in two world wars. He was also the only Mainer to greet Charles Lindbergh in Paris after his famous solo flight across the Atlantic.

The city dedicated Kahill’s bronze statue, at the corner of Temple and Middle Streets, 40 years ago this week, on July 27, 1977.

Living and events

School might be out for the summer, but hunger never takes a break

Kids play after lunch at the Bangor Housing Authority Community Center Monday. The center started offering the summer lunch program to kids four years ago, and they also offer free transportation.
Gabor Degre | BDN

This could be the scene at camps across the country, and for these kids, that’s what this one-hour activity feels like every day.

But this isn’t summer camp. This is a federally reimbursed summer lunch program.

At exactly noon the kids line up and are given a bagged lunch by housing authority volunteers. They’ll eat their lunch on site. Once finished, they can join the activities being offered, such as board games or crafts, before boarding the bus again around 1 p.m. to be brought back home.

For the kids, this hour is an opportunity to have fun with friends. But for the organizers, this hour provides the children with a nutritious meal they might not otherwise be able to get during the summer months.

“There are a lot of kids out here who don’t get that extra meal a day,” Christal Curtis, a Capehart resident and volunteer for the summer food program, said. “[At the program] kids know they’re getting that one nutritious meal, but what they’re thinking is ‘Oh, we get to have fun too.’”

Navigating Life As A Muslim Girl in Maine

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.

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

Ghost Hunters at Blue Hill Public Library

Children aged 8 and above are invited to join author Liza Gardner Walsh at the Blue Hill Public Library at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4, when she discusses her recent book, “Ghost Hunter’s Handbook.”

Kids will learn some tips about how to be a good ghost hunter, and how to tell a spooky ghost story. They will also investigate the library for any possible hauntings.

Participants will take home instructions to make their very own electroscopes to help them on their supernatural pursuits.

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.

Solar energy open house and farmers market

Vivint Solar technicians install solar panels on the roof of a house in Mission Viejo, California, Oct. 25, 2013.
Mario Anzuoni | REUTERS

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.

Hiroshima ‘Die in’ planned for Bangor on Aug. 6

A Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be held noon Sunday, Aug. 6, at West Market Square in Bangor.

American singer/songwriter David Mallett to perform at Triangle Park in Calais

David Mallett

The cool breezes of Maine’s northlands have flowed through the songs of David Mallett for more than four decades. His latest, “Greenin Up,” is a compilation of some re-recordings of his finest work. “Greenin’ Up” is the culmination of a musical career that began when Mallett was 11 years old, playing in a country and folk duo.

Join us for a remarkable evening of entertainment and to enjoy the talents of singer/songwriter David Mallett from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 10 at Triangle Park in Calais. This concert is brought to you by The St. Croix Valley Chamber of Commerce and is generously sponsored by Washington County Community College and WQDY, Calais.

The concert is free and open to the public. This event helps kick off the 2017 International Homecoming Festival.

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.

Partial solar eclipse, night hike and picnic on John B. Mountain

Come join us for a hike up John B. Mountain in Brooksville and bring your picnic supper — we have entertainment of stellar quality!

Starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, we will experience a partial solar eclipse positioned in the beautifully picturesque direction over Cape Rosier and Penobscot Bay.

Plan on at least a 10 minute hike to the top. The maximum eclipse will occur at 6:47 p.m. and the sun will set by 7:31 p.m.

Midcoast Tour de Farms

Carol Gardner

Enjoy an early fall bike ride while supporting local farmers and producers. Ride 56, 42 or 17 miles through the Midcoast countryside, stopping at farms along the way to sample and purchase their products.

The ride is 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at The Morris Farm, 156 Gardiner Road, Wiscasset.


See how state officials want to change the price of Maine liquors

A glass of cognac is pictured on a bar in Manhattan in a November 2015 file photo.

If sipping a Brandy Alexander is your idea of a good time, you’re in luck. It’s about to get cheaper.

That’s one of the few categories of liquors that would cost less under a new pricing formula set to take effect Oct. 1.

Maine lobstermen, wholesalers worry Trump could ruin access to Asian markets

A man sorts lobsters at Ready Seafood on Thursday April 28, 2016, in Portland, Maine. China has become a large market for Maine lobster.
Matt McClain | The Washington Post

Canaan Letourneau, owner of the wholesaler Maine Lobster Outlet on Route 1 in York, said there’s a growing and lucrative Asian market for Maine lobster.

And he’s one of a number of voices in the local lobstering community worried that the opportunity will be lost if the U.S. or its outspoken President Donald Trump does something to offend the leaders of countries like China or Japan.

Portland attorney wants to give neighbors veto power over zoning changes

Pedestrians pass by a view of Portland Harbor on Fore Street in Portland, Nov. 3, 2015.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN

A group led by a local attorney wants to give Portland neighborhoods veto powerover zoning changes, according to a report Monday by MaineBiz.

Attorney Mary Davis is leading an attempt to collect signatures to force a citywide referendum, which, if passed, would allow 25 percent of the registered voters who live or own property within 500 feet of a proposed zoning change to block it, MaineBiz reported.

That has developers who have proposed high-profile projects around the city worried Davis’ plan would slow down Portland’s already often tedious planning process.

WebMD agrees to be bought by buyout firm KKR for $2.8 billion

Private equity firm KKR & Co has agreed to buy WebMD Health Corp. in a deal valued at about $2.8 billion, bringing a slew of popular online health information websites under one umbrella.

The deal comes five months after New York-based WebMD said it would explore strategic options amid a slowdown in advertising paid for by pharmaceutical companies.

KKR will fold WebMD’s websites, including and, into its Internet Brands unit, which houses sites such as and


Millennials are turning to Harry Potter for meaning. That’s a mistake.

Cosplay fans (left to right) George Massingham, Abbey Forbes and Karolina Goralik travel by tube dressed in Harry Potter themed costumes, after a visit to one the literary franchise’s movie filming locations at Leadenhall Market in London, Britain, March 10, 2017.

One evening last week more than 500 people, most under 35, crowded into a historic synagogue for a recording of the podcast “ Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.”

The podcast — currently on around Episode 60 of a planned 199 — aims to give J.K. Rowling’s children’s novels the same treatment as the Bible or Quran. In the words of the two Harvard Divinity School graduates who host the program, the books are to be scrutinized “to glean what wisdom and meaning we can make” as “instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives.”

The hosts are aware that “Harry Potter” is not, in fact, a sacred text. Their tagline, thankfully, is “reading something we love as if it were sacred.” Even so, news of this event filled this Potter-loving millennial with dismay. It seems more a reversion to childhood than a real search for meaning.

Trump administration quietly cut funding for projects to prevent teen pregnancy

The teen pregnancy rate in the United States has been declining for years, but still remains well above the rates in other developed countries. Now is not the time to cut back on prevention work, but that is exactly what the Trump administration has done.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN

The decision to end the grant funding appears to be motivated by ideology, not what is most effective. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and other top officials at the department oppose comprehensive sex education. Instead, they support an emphasis on abstinence only, which has proven not to be effective at reducing teen sexual activity or teen pregnancies.

It’s time to fix our outdated air traffic control system

George Danby | BDN

In a world where $150 smartphones have satellite-based GPS navigation systems, we still use 1950s-era radar and slips of paper to track the planes in our airspace. Our air traffic controllers do an amazing job with this archaic manual system, and our system is still the safest in the world, but it is not up to the challenge of efficiently managing the current volume and projected growth in America’s airspace.

The clock may have just run out on the White House press corps

New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci addresses the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, July 21, 2017.

Having the communications director serve as on-camera spokesperson seems an apt metaphor for Trump’s disdainful view of the press. In his mind, reporters do not exist to press him for answers on behalf of the American people but to communicate whatever message Trump chooses to give the American public.