Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
The high today will be in the mid-70s, with a scattered showers. Check your local forecast here.
National and international
Kid Rock, an outspoken supporter of Republican President Donald Trump, said Thursday he will decide over the next few weeks on whether to run for the U.S. Senate and in the meantime will work on the “critical cause” of registering voters.
The singer-songwriter said in a statement that he plans to create a nonprofit organization to promote voter registration so he can raise money for the cause and get people registered to vote at his shows as he explores his possible candidacy in 2018.
“The one thing I’ve seen over and over is that although people are unhappy with the government, too few are even registered to vote or do anything about it,” he said.
Rock said he will discuss his political plans at a press conference in about six weeks.
“If I decide to throw my hat in the ring for U.S. Senate, believe me … it’s game on mthrfkers,” he said in the statement.
President Donald Trump said he will ban transgender people from serving in the military in any capacity, a reversal of the Obama administration decision that would have allowed them to serve, he announced on social media Wednesday.
Citing the need to focus on victory, Trump said the military cannot accept the burden of higher medical costs and “disruption” that transgender troops would require.
Maine’s four members of Congress released statements opposing the ban, with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican, saying the armed forces “should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country.”
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st Congressional District, called Trump’s statement “bigoted and wrong” in a statement, saying it would “hurt our ability to recruit others.”
A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Angus King said the Maine independent “believes that brave people who want to serve their country should be able to do so.”
U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, didn’t say whether or not he agreed with Trump in a statement, saying while he respects anyone who wants to serve, “career military leaders … must make decisions on how best to be prepared” to defend the country.
On Twitter Wednesday morning President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military, citing “medical costs” as the primary driver of the decision.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” the president wrote.
While Trump didn’t offer any numbers to support this claim, a Defense Department-commissioned study published last year by the RAND Corp. provides exhaustive estimates of transgender servicemembers’ potential medical costs.
President Donald Trump ratcheted up pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire the acting FBI director, who has been a periodic target of conservative attacks.
In two tweets Wednesday morning, Trump criticized Sessions for not replacing acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, whose wife ran for office in Virginia as a Democrat in 2015 and received contributions from the state Democratic Party.
“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe,” Trump wrote.
The Senate rejected a proposal Wednesday that would have repealed major parts of the Affordable Care Act and provided a two-year delay for lawmakers to develop a substitute, indicating that in the immediate future Republicans can only muster a majority for modest changes to the current law.
In two separate votes over the course of less than 24 hours, lawmakers have rejected different approaches to rewriting the landmark 2010 law known as Obamacare. But many Republicans have expressed an openness to passing a minimalist measure that abolishes two of the ACA’s insurance mandates and a single tax on medical devices, which is being dubbed “skinny repeal.”
GOP leaders have emphasized it is a way for the Senate to start negotiations with the House, and perhaps the one way they can sustain their seven-year drive to dismantle the health care law.
When Travis and Mitch Taylor climbed from their seats on the Ohio State Fair’s Fire Ball ride Wednesday evening, the 18-year-old cousins pondered another spin.
The Fire Ball, an “aggressive thrill” carnival ride that swoops like a pendulum and swings in a circle, had been their favorite for eight years. But Travis had just come from work and was hungry, so he suggested they first get some food.
“And thank God he did,” Mitch Taylor told The Washington Post, “because that’s what saved us.”
Just moments later, the cousins watched with horror as their beloved Fire Ball turned into a lethal machine, killing one man and injuring seven others in what Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich would later describe as “the worst tragedy in the history of the fair.”
The Mount Desert Island estate of billionaire David Rockefeller Sr., who passed away in March, can be yours for $19 million.
The property, known as Ringing Point, consists of 14.5 wooded acres on the eastern side of the mouth of Seal Harbor directly across the harbor from an estate at Crowninshield Point formerly owned by Rockefeller’s brother, the late Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.
Rockefeller and his wife Margaret “Peggy” Rockefeller, who died in 1996, built a summer cottage and associated building on the property in the early 1970s, according to a statement released Wednesday by The Knowles Company, a real estate firm based in the neighboring village of Northeast Harbor.
Gov. Paul LePage issued an executive order on Monday scrutinizing a tax break aimed at preserving commercial woodlots, telling his forestry bureau to reach out to local assessors who administer it and submit a report to his office by December.
The Republican governor wants to tighten the Maine Tree Growth Tax program, which preserves commercial woodlots by giving property tax breaks to their owners. A 2009 state report said 11.1 million acres are enrolled, with 7.5 million in the Unorganized Territory.
That’s been relatively stable since the program was created in the early 1970s and most of the property is owned by families with plots of less than 100 acres. But assessors have long perceived problems with wealthy waterfront landowners using the program to avoid taxes.
Two Rhode Island men were struck and killed in Oxford late Tuesday while trying to cross Route 26 to get from Oxford Casino to the Hampton Inn, according to the Lewiston Sun Journal.
Daniel Mercardo, 31, of Providence and Ronald Nodrega, 55, of Greenville, Rhode Island, were pronounced dead at the scene, the newspaper said. The men were crossing the road around 10:30 p.m. when they were struck by a northbound pickup driven by Christine Kimball, 70, of Hampstead, New Hampshire.
Carine Reeves, 37, and Quaneysha Greeley, 19, were arrested in New York City on Wednesday morning by local police and charged in connection with Shaw’s death, according to a press release from Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
“Both will be charged with murder when they are brought back to Maine,” McCausland wrote in the press release.
When David Mercier, chief of the Harpswell Neck Fire Department, told town officials last year that volunteer firefighters on the town’s three departments were so sparse, he couldn’t guarantee anyone would be around to fight the flames should a fire ignite on a weekday, the Board of Selectmen took action.
“He put the town on notice that they had to come up with something to try to fill that,” Ben Wallace Jr., chief of the town’s other two fire departments, Cundy’s Harbor and Orr’s and Bailey islands, said Monday.
A year after Portland police ended a Black Lives Matter demonstration with a mass arrest, the resulting legal drama has come to a close with the criminal charges against 17 protesters being dismissed.
The charges were expected to be dropped since May, when a court hearing failed to repair a botched settlement agreement between the demonstrators and the Cumberland County District Attorney.
The deal, which would have also seen the misdemeanor charges dropped, hinged on police and protesters talking through their differences in a so-called “restorative justice” session.
Living and events
Forget whatever you may have heard about old dogs learning new tricks. Researchers at the University of Maine are teaching a group of older Mainers who have little or no previous training to read music and play a musical instrument. And, so far, everyone agrees the research project, soon to schedule its second series of lessons, is a success.
For the researchers, it’s an opportunity to study the theory that challenging the older brain to learn and coordinate new skills helps stave off age-related cognitive decline and dementia. For the students, residents of Brewer Housing Authority’s senior housing units, the free lessons offer adventure, socialization and a sense of accomplishment as they master and integrate the skills needed to play their new recorders.
Actor, director and producer Jason Bateman, best known for starring in the critically acclaimed U.S. television series “Arrested Development,” called himself “fortunate” as he unveiled his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Wednesday.
“I just simply feel very, very grateful to have had a chance to hold my job in a business that’s not known for its longevity,” Bateman, 48, said.
Getting his start in television at the age of 12 with a role on the “Little House on the Prairie” TV drama series, Bateman achieved teen fame in the late 1980s with “The Hogan Family” sitcom.
Bateman won a Golden Globe in 2005, and received two Emmy nominations for his deadpan portrayal of protagonist Michael Bluth in the offbeat comedy series “Arrested Development.”
Eastport’s third annual Bay Day, a celebration of life on Passamaquoddy Bay will be held 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 29.
It’s a free, fun filled day for kids and families sponsored by Sweeties Downeast and Eastport Area Chamber of Commerce.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Brunswick Downtown Association will host the 11th annual Brunswick Outdoor Arts Festival 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19.
Works from more than 100 artists will be displayed along the sidewalks of Maine Street and the Town Mall. This juried, fine arts and crafts exhibit represents a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, mixed media, graphics and drawing, photography, and fine crafts.
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.
The 40th Annual Northeast Harbor Road Race to benefit the Northeast Harbor Ambulance Service will be held 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Great Harbor Museum on Main Street in Northeast Harbor.
The first 75 entrants will receive T-shirts. Registration is $30 until Aug. 12.
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.
From Maine’s lengthy coastline to its vast forest — and everywhere in between — the outdoor recreational economy is a major driver that injects $8.2 billion in spending to the state each year, according to a report released by the Outdoor Industry Association on Wednesday.
In addition, that outdoor economy, which includes everything from hunting and fishing to wildlife watching, motorcycling, skiing, and hiking, generates 76,000 jobs in the state, according to the report.
“No matter your political affiliation, where you live, or your walk of life, the outdoors brings us together,” said Amy Roberts, the OIA’s executive director in a press release accompanying the state-by-state breakdown. “From Maine to California, consumers are spending more on outdoor recreation as millions of Americans depend upon it for their livelihoods.”
You might want to sit down for this: Five Guys is set to open in Biddeford within the next few weeks.
The restaurant chain, which specializes in hamburgers and cheeseburgers, french fries and milkshakes, will open the second week of August in the plaza at 580 Alfred St. along Route 111, franchisee Gene Prentice said Tuesday.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a popular fast-casual restaurant franchise, has several other locations throughout Maine. Currently, there are stores in Portland, South Portland, Brunswick, Augusta and Bangor.
Prentice’s group owns all Five Guys establishments in Maine and Rhode Island, and some in Massachusetts.
Since starting work, Julia Trujillo Luengo has covered most of one wall in her downstairs City Hall office with a sprawling flowchart titled “Socio-Ec. Fabric.”
With scribbled notes crowding a tangle of hard and dashed lines reaching between boxes and triangles with labels like “Civic Engagement,” “Workforce Dev.,” and “Language Access,” the large whiteboard is how the director of the city’s new Office of Economic Opportunity is thinking through her job.
“This is the second or third iteration of the board,” she said.
Trujillo’s first day at the head of the new office was May 1. Created by a unanimous vote of the City Council last December, it is the first of its kind in Maine and has the goal of helping immigrants and disadvantaged Mainers find work in the state’s economic hub.
The CEO of Birkenstock USA has emerged as an unlikely crusader in a growing battle between smaller retailers and ever-expanding giant Amazon.com.
His message to shop owners: Don’t even think about selling our shoes to Amazon.
In a blistering five-page email obtained by The Washington Post, David Kahan last week derided the online behemoth for contacting shop owners and offering to buy their products at full price.
Birkenstock stopped selling its shoes on Amazon earlier this year, citing a rise in counterfeit products and unauthorized sellers.
Only two Republican senators stood up for their constituents — and the decorum of the Senate, which their colleagues, including McCain, say they value. Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska found the Senate process for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act so egregious that they took the unusual step of voting against beginning debate.
Collins and Murkowski voted no on the motion to proceed because it was entirely unclear what the Senate would proceed to.
Their actions matched their words.
Yes, it takes some nerve to face our problems and especially hard to ask for another’s help to solve them. But I have seen so many people make incredible recoveries when they took that risk. So, reach out and take a step toward wellness. You can still grow your own potatoes.
Later this year — unless President Donald Trump intervenes — the American people will get access to the last of thousands of secret government files about a turning point in the nation’s history: the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The National Archives this week released several hundred of the documents, which come from CIA and FBI files, and of course, JFK researchers are scrambling to see whether they contain any new clues about the president’s murder. But many more documents remain under seal, awaiting release by this October, the 25-year deadline set by the 1992 Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act.
The law gives only one person — the president — the ability to stop the release from happening. He can act only if he certifies in writing that the documents would somehow endanger national security.