Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
The high today will be in the high 70s, with a mix of sun and clouds. Check your local forecast here.
National and international
The Trump administration struggled Thursday to explain the details of a ban on transgender service members announced a day earlier by the president, amid criticism from Republicans that the policy change went too far.
The military’s highest-ranking officer said in a letter to senior leaders Thursday that there would be “no modifications” to the current policy on transgender troops until further direction was received from the president.
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” said Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The lack of clear direction from officials left the status of thousands of active transgender service members in limbo, one day after President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement on Twitter. Dunford’s message to his troops suggested that those in leadership roles were caught off guard, despite Trump’s insistence that he was implementing the ban at the behest of the military.
Senate Republicans suffered a dramatic failure early Friday in their bid to advance a scaled-back plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, throwing into question whether they can actually repeal the 2010 health law.
Their latest effort to redraw the ACA failed after Sen. John McCain’s decision to side with GOP Sens. Susan Collins, Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, Alaska against President Trump and GOP leaders. The Arizona Republican, diagnosed with brain cancer last week, returned to Washington Tuesday and delivered a stirring address calling for a bipartisan approach to overhauling the ACA, a process that may have compelled McCain to cast his rebellious vote.
The vote was 49 to 51.
A leader of the Boy Scouts of America apologized Thursday for a speech that President Donald Trump gave to thousands of teenage scouts earlier this week — in which Trump broke with the Scouts’ earnest traditions by criticizing his political opponents, recounting his election victory, and talking about parties on yachts.
“I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent,” Michael Surbaugh, the chief scout executive, wrote in a message posted online.
The Trump administration told a U.S. appeals court that federal law does not ban discrimination against gay employees, a sharp reversal of the position former President Barack Obama took on a key civil rights issue.
The U.S. Department of Justice, in a friend of the court brief, told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Wednesday that Congress never intended Title VII, which bans sex discrimination in the workplace, to apply to gay workers.
The department also said the court owed no deference to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces Title VII and has argued since 2012 that the law bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Russia announced Friday it would seize U.S. diplomatic properties and demand the State Department reduce its staff in Russia, a tit-for-tat punishment the Russian Foreign Ministry said was spurred by a financial sanctions bill awaiting a signature from President Donald Trump.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok should reduce the number of their “diplomatic and technical employees” to 455, in apparent parity with the number of Russian diplomatic staff in the United States.
The Foreign Ministry also said it would seize a Moscow warehouse and dacha complex used by the U.S. Embassy.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office said Thursday that a second request for state voting data from President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission raises concerns about the panel’s work.
The Presidential Commission on Election Integrity’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent letters to Maine and other states on Wednesday seeking personal voter information. It’s similar to a June request to all states that was rejected by Dunlap’s office.
In a statement, Dunlap’s office said the new request “raises concerns” about the process because it hasn’t been discussed by the panel. The statement said he’s reviewing the request with lawyers and plans to delay a decision until the commission’s next meeting — likely in September.
“If we’re going to act as a commission, we should really be considering the entire request for data as a body, and determining what it is we’re researching and how to look for it,” Dunlap said.
Narcan saves dozens of Mainers every year, and Thursday, a dog from York County benefited from the opioid antidote.
The owner flagged down a police officer because she was fearful her dog, Addie, had overdosed on oxycodone.
Waterboro selectmen on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance designed to keep water levels at Little Ossipee Pond under local control. Folks in the audience applauded the vote.
It’s unknown whether the new ordinance will head off an Aug. 21 public hearing by the Department of Environmental Protection, along with a DEP ruling about lake levels in response to a decade-old petition to lower them.
The town has controlled the level of Little Ossipee Pond since the 1700s, and through policy since 1969, when the summer level was set at 6 feet, 6 inches. But a petition filed in August 2007 asked the state to lower the lake level to try and head off an erosion problem.
The three boys — a 12-year-old and two 13-year-olds — charged with Class A felony arson in connection with the Stenton Trust mill fire on River Street in Sanford on June 23 will undergo risk assessment and mental health evaluations before their next court date.
By then, a resolution could have been reached. Assistant District Attorney Tonya Pierson said she and the attorneys representing the boys will attempt to negotiate a disposition of the case by their next court appearance.
Pierson told reporters following the brief appearances that the first goal of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation.
“Punishment is the last criteria,” she said.
Living and events
There’s a terrifying clown waiting in the sewer for you.
The official trailer for the “IT” movie just dropped Thursday, and yes, it’s as scary as you expect it to be, expanding upon the things seen in the teaser trailer released in March, and adding even more creepy stuff to try to not think about as you fall asleep.
Thanks for the nightmare fuel, Stephen King.
The equation is pretty simple, deer biologists will tell you: If the winter is mild, more deer — especially young, vulnerable deer — survive.
And in Maine, when that happens, hunters are often the beneficiaries, receiving more any-deer permits from the state. With one of those permits in hand, a hunter is allowed to target a doe or fawn during hunting season. Without it, that hunter has to target deer sporting antlers, which are typically bucks.
And this year, the state’s hunters will likely be smiling.
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.
Central Maine Power Co. wants to make Gov. Paul LePage’s hydropower dream come true.
The utility and Hydro Quebec jointly filed a proposal Thursday with regulators to build 145 miles of new transmission lines that would bring a massive amount of hydropower across Maine’s western border with Canada onto New England’s regional grid.
Portland officials announced Thursday afternoon that they’re poised to tap the payment processing firm WEX to develop a waterfront site in a deal expected to bring 450 jobs to the city.
WEX is one of Maine’s top employers, with about 800 of its workers based at the company’s facility in neighboring South Portland, where a spokeswoman said the organization would continue to maintain “a significant presence,” according to a previous MaineBiz report.
Maine regulators have rejected a Lewiston-based health insurance cooperative’s request to alter its 2018 plan under the Affordable Care Act, a move the insurer made in response to competitors.
The Maine Bureau of Insurance on Wednesday rejected the request from Maine Community Health Options to make changes to the individual silver-level plans it will offer Mainers in the online marketplace set up by the federal health care law.
Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn on Wednesday announced plans to build a $10 billion LCD display panel screen plant in Wisconsin, a deal President Donald Trump asserted would not have happened without his efforts.
The company said it plans to invest $10 billion over four years to build a 20-million-square-foot plant that could eventually employ up to 13,000.
Trump praised Foxconn chairman Terry Gou at a White House event, saying, “If I didn’t get elected, he definitely wouldn’t be spending $10 billion … This is a great day for America.”
It remains to be seen how the Pentagon, which apparently knew nothing of Trump’s announcement, turns Trump’s tweets into official policy. Kicking thousands of transgender service members out of the military is, of course, needlessly cruel to them and disruptive to the military operations Trump says he cares so much about.
America has the finest military in the world. Our soldiers are highly trained, physically fit and 100 percent committed to their country and their mission. They spend months and years preparing for whatever they are called upon to do. Their health and readiness is paramount to their success.
Tobacco is not their ally.
The idea that forcing health care back into a free market will reduce costs not only ignores economic reality but would place health care in an ailing market. Competitive markets only work when producers can exclude those who don’t pay for their products. Hospitals and emergency centers cannot exclude sick and injured patients from their services. The cost of their treatment will be borne by the those who purchase medical insurance instead of the taxpayers.
Most of us have heard about the Wells Fargo scandal in which employees opened bank and credit card accounts without customers’ knowledge or consent to hit sales targets and get bonuses. Wells Fargo may have opened as many as 3.5 million fraudulent accounts for existing customers — including 217 or more in Maine — dating back to 2002.
As this fraud came to light, starting in 2013, Wells Fargo relied on mandatory arbitration clauses in customer agreements to keep these cases out of court and, later, to prevent those affected by the fraud from banding together in group lawsuits to hold the bank accountable for the fees and charges and the impact on their credit reports from those fraudulent accounts.