Interior Secretary Zinke denies threatening senators over Obamacare repeal defection

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National and international

Interior Secretary Zinke denies threatening senators over Obamacare repeal defection

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke smiles during a tour of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Saturday that there was no threat in his calls to Alaska’s two Republican U.S. senators last week after one of them broke ranks with the GOP on a health care vote.

“That’s ridiculous,” Zinke told the Journal when asked if the calls were threatening. “Quite frankly, it’s laughable.”

His calls to Republican U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan sparked controversy and were portrayed as a warning of repercussions for the nation’s largest state after Murkowski’s vote against proceeding on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

A report by the Alaska Dispatch News said Zinke had complained that Murkowksi put Alaska’s future with the Trump administration in jeopardy. Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie to advance the repeal measure early last week.

“I call Lisa all the time,” Zinke said. “I’m a Republican, Lisa’s a Republican. We talk about teamwork, where we can work together … I talk to Lisa all the time. Lisa will say the same thing.”

Police chiefs blast President Trump for endorsing ‘police brutality’

Police officers laugh at a line by President Donald Trump as he delivers remarks about his proposed U.S. government effort against the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, to a gathering of federal, state and local law enforcement officials at the Long Island University campus in Brentwood, New York, July 28, 2017.

Police leaders across the country moved quickly to distance themselves from — or to outright condemn — President Donald Trump’s statements about “roughing up” people who’ve been arrested.

The swift public denunciations came as departments are under intense pressure to stamp out brutality and excessive force that can erode the relationship between officers and the people they police — and cost police chiefs their jobs.

“It’s the wrong message,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told Washington radio station WTOP while speaking of the trust-building work that departments have undertaken since King’s beating. “The last thing we need is a green light from the president of the United States for officers to use unnecessary force.”

Putin says US must cut 755 diplomatic staff, more measures possible

Cars drive past the U.S. embassy building in Moscow, Russia, July 28, 2017.

President Vladimir Putin said the United States would have to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 people and that Moscow could consider additional measures against Washington as a response to new U.S. sanctions approved by Congress.

Moscow ordered the United States on Friday to cut hundreds of diplomatic staff and said it would seize two U.S. diplomatic properties after the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved new sanctions on Russia. The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump would sign the sanctions bill.

North Korea claims all of US in strike range after latest missile test

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defense detachment on Jangjae Islet and the Hero Defense Detachment on Mu Islet located in the southernmost part of the waters off the southwest front, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on May 5, 2017.

North Korea said on Saturday it had conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, that proved its ability to strike America’s mainland, drawing a sharp warning from President Donald Trump and a rebuke from China.

But later on Saturday Trump wrote on Twitter that he was “very disappointed” in China and that Beijing had done “nothing” for the United States in regards to North Korea, something he would not allow to continue.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally supervised the midnight launch of the missile on Friday night, and he said it was a “stern warning” for the United States that it would not be safe from destruction if it tries to attack, the North’s official KCNA news agency said.


Susan Collins ‘troubled’ by Trump’s threat to eliminate health insurance subsidies

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks to reporters as she arrives for a Senate health care vote on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 27, 2017.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Sunday morning she’s “troubled” by President Donald Trump’s threat to eliminate health insurance subsidies included in the embattled Affordable Care Act.

Collins appeared on NBC’s politics talk show “Meet the Press” and CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning. She was one of three Republican senators to vote against a so-called “skinny repeal” of President Barack Obama’s landmark 2010 health care law Friday, effectively sinking the latest GOP repeal effort in the Senate.

“I’m troubled by the uncertainty that has been created by the administration” by questioning the subsidies, Collins said, adding that the month-to-month uncertainty about the subsidies is “contributing to the destabilization of insurance markets.”

Old Orchard Beach residents complain tourists are pooping all over the place

Old Orchard Beach in a 2014 photo.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN

“They’re using the ocean. They’re using the dunes,” local resident and business owner Sherri Tripp told a Portland TV station. “Just a few weeks ago in broad daylight we saw a gentleman come up behind this bush and do the No. 2, unfortunately. … I sit on my deck and we see at least 10 to 15 people a day, minimum, at that’s when I’m outside.”

Bad mix of ‘everyday pool chemicals’ causes explosion in Chester

Two Chester residents accidentally caused an explosion that shattered a window while “mixing dissimilar chemicals” to clean a swimming pool on Sunday, firefighters said.

The two residents, who were not injured, were doing a “a normal everyday pool operation” when the explosion occurred at a North Chester Road home, Lincoln Deputy Fire Chief Frank Hammond Jr. said.

It was an honest mistake. They were normal everyday pool chemicals. There was no ill intent here,” Hammond added.

Injured in the national monument? Just call 911, if you can get a signal

Monument staff have added signs and volunteers try to be at the monument daily to help keep the place safe.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN

Maine’s national monument managers have a simple plan for visitors who get injured or lost while visiting their controversial new space: Call 911.

Despite the area’s generally poor cellphone coverage, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument officials will primarily rely upon the state’s 911 emergency system. Some monument volunteers, who try to be on-site daily, carry cellphone boosters or radios to help offset the lack of signal, Superintendent Tim Hudson said.

Kaci Hickox drops lawsuit for ‘Bill of Rights’ in quarantine cases

Nurse Kaci Hickox (left) joined by her boyfriend Ted Wilbur, speaks with the media outside of their home in Fort Kent, Maine in this Oct. 31, 2014, file photo.

A former Maine nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey when she returned to the U.S. from treating Ebola patients in Africa in 2014 has settled her lawsuit against the governor, according to filings in U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey.

In exchange for dismissal of the complaint filed in federal court in Newark, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration agreed to new rules that will guarantee quarantine only occurs after exposure to the Ebola virus when medically necessary.

Living and events

Mainland clunkers find new life on Maine islands

Many of the vehicles on Isle au Haut are unregistered, old and have operational problems. It’s difficult to get junkers off the island because it means paying for a pricey barge to haul the vehicles away.
BDN file

On Matinicus Isle Plantation, Maine’s most remote island community, the lobster boats generally are well-kept, powerful, expensive machines, bristling with all the bells and whistles required by a sometimes dangerous trade plied miles and miles out to sea.

But head ashore and the transportation landscape looks vastly different. Cruising the island’s unpaved roads, you’ll spot rusty cars, beat-up Jeeps, pickups with plants and flowers growing out of their beds and other vehicles that might have last passed a mainland inspection decades ago but which are a critical component of island life nonetheless. Think of the famed vintage cars of Cuba but with much less spit and polish and many more lobster traps. In Maine, the Yankee ingenuity that keeps old cars running is not as magazine-ready as the Cuban version, but the island car spirit is the same in both places.

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.

Brunswick Outdoor Arts Festival

Brunswick Downtown Association

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.

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.

40th annual Northeast Harbor Road Race and Family Fun Walk

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.

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.


Three recent coffee shop openings have locals buzzing about downtown Saco

Quiero Cafe owners, Alejandra Herrera and Carlos Guzman show off their Latin roots in their extensive menu.
Lindsey Hall | Journal Tribune

These three coffee shops will add to the surplus of coffee spots in Saco, which currently comes in at six. Soon to follow will be Krispy Kreme and a cafe coming in the fall.

Rob Biggs, director of Saco Main Street, says the new coffee shops have brought life to Saco.

“I’ve been here for two years now and Saco had a real downtown but nothing was happening,” Biggs said. “Now we have three to four new restaurants and cafes and you can see huge change.”

Developer wants to convert historic Maine island property to luxury campground

A granite “engineer’s” wharf on House Island offers a view of Portland.
Greater Portland Landmarks

The owner of part of House Island is looking to turn its southern end into a 21-site, luxury campground that would speckle the historic island with yurts and timber-frame canvas tents.

On Thursday, Stefan Scarks submitted an initial plan to develop the Casco Bay island to the city.

The 24-acre island, which over the centuries has served as a military base, a fish processing plant, a corporate retreat and a holding facility for quarantined immigrants, sits between Peaks Island and South Portland’s Spring Point. It is dominated by the 1800s-era Fort Scammel and was designated historic site in 2015.

Old Orchard Beach considers food truck moratorium

Old Orchard Beach is considering a moratorium on mobile food businesses, following confusion in interpretation of the town ordinance regarding food trucks.

Town ordinance allows food stands in the downtown area between the beach and Milliken and First Streets. At the July 18 meeting, the town council said food trucks are not food stands and are thus not allowed in this area.

Maine Beer Box returns full of Icelandic brews

The Maine Brewers’ Guild plans to refurbish a refrigerated shipping container into the “Maine Beer Box.” It will have 50 taps and will make its first trip as the “ambassador for Maine beer” in June, heading to a beer festival in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Darren Fishell | BDN

The Maine Beer Box is a project from marine shipping company Eimskip and the Maine Brewer’s Guild. In March, the Box was sent on a refrigerated cargo container full of Maine craft beers, with over 50 taps on the outside.

It returned to Portland filled with Icelandic beers, completing the first-ever global beer exchange.


It’s time Zinke let us know what he, Trump have in mind for Katahdin monument

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke smiles during a tour of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN

Zinke should also recommend no modifications to Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. And, he should do so now, not weeks from now, so the rural region can focus on building on the momentum the new monument has created, not worrying about its status.

Zinke’s recommendations are due on Aug. 24, one year after President Barack Obama signed an executive order to create the Katahdin monument. But there is no reason to delay a Katahdin Woods and Waters determination.

Trump’s transgender military ban is far more cruel than you realize

A rainbow flag flies as people protest U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, July 26, 2017.

Trump promised jobs, and he promised to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people; instead, he’s selling us out for votes. In Trump’s America, trans people can’t serve in the military, we don’t deserve employment protections and we’re not welcome in schools. But we’re still people, we’re still Americans. Where do we fit in American society? Well, the president gave his answer: We don’t.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn’t the president’s lackey — or his pinata

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions leaves the West Wing of the White House in Washington, July 26, 2017.

The attorney general is not — and cannot be — the president’s “hockey goalie,” as new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci described Sessions’ job. In fact, the president isn’t even his client. To the contrary, the attorney general’s client is ultimately “We the People,” and his fidelity has to be not to the president but to the Constitution and other laws of the United States. Indeed, the attorney general’s job, at times, is to tell the president “no” because of the supervening demands of the law. When it comes to dealing with the nation’s top legal officer, you will do well to check your Twitter weapons at the Oval Office door.