Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
The high today will be in the low 80s, with early morning fog and patchy rain throughout the day. Check your local forecast here.
National and international
President Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed a new bill in the Senate aimed at slashing legal immigration levels in half over a decade, a potentially profound change to policies that have been in place for more than half a century.
Trump appeared with Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia at the White House to unveil a modified version of a bill the senators first introduced in February to create a “merit-based” immigration system that would put a greater emphasis on the job skills of foreigners over their ties to family in the United States.
The legislation seeks to reduce the annual distribution of green cards awarding permanent legal residence from more than 1 million to just over 500,000. Trump promised on the campaign trail to take a harder line on immigration, arguing that the growth in new arrivals had harmed job opportunities for American workers.
“Among those who have been hit hardest in recent years are immigrants and minority workers competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals,” Trump said while flanked by the senators in the Roosevelt Room. “It has not been fair to our people, our citizens and our workers.”
On Sunday night, a 44-year-old man riding on a Dallas Area Rapid Transit train was beaten by a group of other passengers after he said he asked them to stop smoking marijuana.
The video of the attack has now gone viral.
“When they started smoking, I’m like, ‘Come on, man. We’re on a train. Can y’all just wait? Just wait,” Kennan Jones told NBC5,
Then a young woman spat in his face, Jones said.
In the video, posted on Facebook by another passenger, a group of five to seven people are showing kicking, punching and slapping Jones. One woman yelled “get him” as he tried to deflect the punches.
The fight eventually spilled out onto the platform. At one point, Jones got up off the ground and started walking. The group soon attacked again, at one point with a skateboard, until he was left motionless on the ground.
The group then piled back onto a train and continued their ride.
“In my mind I was like ‘just don’t pass out. God don’t let them kill me,” Jones told NBC5.
A traffic safety organization is warning that two recent studies suggest that legalizing recreational marijuana could lead to an increase in crashes, including deadly ones.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that studies by the Highway Loss Data Institute and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin point to an increase in crash risk in states that legalized the recreational use of pot.
The University of Texas study also found an increase in fatal crashes in two states that fully legalized pot. Yet, the authors of that study — which was published in the online edition of the American Journal of Public Health in June — also said that the increase was too small to be statistically significant.
President Donald Trump grudgingly signed into law new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, a move Moscow said amounted to a full-scale trade war and an end to hopes for better ties with the Trump administration.
Congress overwhelmingly approved the legislation last week, passing a measure that conflicts with the Republican president’s desire to improve relations with Moscow.
Trump signed the bill behind closed doors, without the fanfare that has customarily accompanied his signing of executive orders. He criticized the measure as infringing on his powers to shape foreign policy, and said he could make “far better deals” with governments than Congress can.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the sanctions tantamount to a “full-scale trade war,” adding in a Facebook post that they showed the Trump administration had demonstrated “utter powerlessness.”
A suicide bomb attack killed two American troops in Afghanistan on Wednesday as they were traveling in a convoy near the airport in the southern city of Kandahar, the U.S. military said, in a strike claimed by the Taliban insurgency.
The attack was a reminder of the dangers posed to the 8,400 U.S. forces in Afghanistan as President Donald Trump weighs sending thousands more troops to America’s longest war.
For $226,000 the house that inspired internationally known horror writer Stephen King to write “Pet Sematary” can be yours.
The Orrington house on the River Road is where King came up with the idea for his novel about bringing the dead back to life.
King told the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday that he doesn’t remember the house number of the rental but recognized its picture in the real estate listing. The house has been featured in several news stories, books, blogs and even an A&E biography on Bangor’s most famous writer.
Two 20-something female volunteers stood topless, wilted and all red, their eyes closed, their arms and rubber lobster claw gloves hanging over the sides of a fake lobster pot — like cooked lobsters who had just been boiled to death.
The front of the cloth pot, which had fake flames around the bottom, read, “Put yourself in their place.”
Twenty-year-old Bangor native Bianca Giron and Mary Ann Persad, 25, of Brooklyn, New York, were volunteers through the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization to oppose the boiling alive of millions of crustaceans every year. They had positioned themselves on the corner of Main and Park streets, near the entrance of the 70th annual Rockland Lobster Festival, which runs from Aug. 2 through Aug. 6.
Police have charged a local man with a hate crime for making derogatory comments about the sexuality of workers at downtown deli.
On Saturday, Portland police arrested Jesse James Taylor, 37, after employees of Sisters Gourmet Deli reported that he was yelling and knocking things off the counters of the Monument Square restaurant, according to a Wednesday statement from the city and police department.
Maine will become the fourth state to make 21 the legal age to buy tobacco products after the Legislature overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s veto during a long Wednesday session.
Lawmakers adjourned for the year after overriding 13 of 27 lingering vetoes from the Republican governor, ending a session that gave Maine its first government shutdown since 1991. That fight over the two-year budget stretched legislative business six weeks past a scheduled end date.
A majority of LePage’s final vetoes were upheld on Wednesday, with largely loyal House Republicans backing him to kill bills that would have banned handheld cellphone use while driving and directed regulators to draft a long-term solar energy policy.
Living and events
Passion elevates the casts of “Othello” and “Red Velvet” — both stories of black men with a modicum of power and privilege in white society — to emotional heights that nearly drown theatergoers. There is an energy consistently coming off the Cumston Hall stage this year that has been absent in previous seasons. Magic is the only word to describe what’s happening.
Judith Jones, the legendary editor who rescued “The Diary of Anne Frank” from a publisher’s reject pile and later introduced readers to the likes of Julia Child and a host of other influential cookbook authors, died Aug. 2 at her summer home in Walden, Vermont. She was 93.
The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease, said her step-daughter Bronwyn Dunne.
Jones helped open a world of cuisines to a public previously bound by convenience foods, and her impact on cookbook publishing, home cooking and the American palate was monumental.
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.
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.
Coast Guard cutter Eagle, “America’s Tall Ship,” is scheduled to visit Portland Aug. 4-7.
The 295-foot Barque Eagle is set to dock around 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4, downtown at Portland Ocean Terminal and will be giving free tours 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 5 and 6.
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.
Take a one hour trip into the world of spiders with guide, Donne Sinderson, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Old Town.
Donne, an amateur arachnologist and Maine Master Naturalist, will introduce attendees to different types of spiders and how their survival strategies. Then, attendees will head out to look for spiders in the field and forest.
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.
The Maine House of Representatives narrowly sustained Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would have placed solar power incentives into state law while regulators study a replacement.
The bill also would have raised the cap on solar plants with shared ownership, or community solar, allowing 100 utility customers to share the net metering benefits, up from the current cap of 10.
Maine’s Senate voted to override the veto 28-6. The House voted 88-48, with 14 members absent, falling three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to enact the law over LePage’s objections.
A local company that makes smoked salmon and other seafood products is taking over a shuttered building next door to meet increased national demand for its products.
Ducktrap River of Maine, based in the city’s business park, has purchased a former apparel manufacturing facility across the street, and plans to spend $5 million converting it to produce cold-smoked salmon, according to Don Cynewski.
“At this point, we’re at capacity in our current building,” Cynewski told the Belfast City Council as he filled members in on the plans during a meeting Tuesday night. “The smoked salmon business nationwide is increasing.”
In the wake of a second consecutive quarterly loss, albeit one that was smaller than originally forecast, struggling athletic apparel company Under Armour announced Tuesday that it is laying off 2 percent of its 15,000 employees worldwide, or about 280 people, as part of a restructuring plan.
Roosevelt is rightly seen as a father of conservation in American history. During his presidency, he advocated tirelessly for the conservation of America’s most beautiful and historically important places. He used the Antiquities Act and his other presidential authority to protect approximately 230 million acres of public land. President Roosevelt created 18 national monuments, 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves and five national parks. Roosevelt’s recognition of the importance of unspoiled wilderness began on the very land now recognized as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Maine has only had these loose coalitions for the past decade. Now, over the course of two years, the LePage administration has eliminated all of their direct state funding.
Because of these cutbacks, it should surprise no one that Maine is failing to combat the opioid epidemic that’s claiming more than a life per day. It should surprise no one that the portion of Maine’s non-elderly population without health insurance now exceeds the national average. It should surprise no one that Maine posted the largest, one-year decline of any state in the United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings report released last year.
And it should surprise no one the next time Maine proves it’s unprepared to handle the next infectious disease outbreak.
I still hold some dim hope that things could change. Maybe there is something about John Kelly’s gravitas that will compel Trump to behave like a president should.
The anti-Trumpers say nothing about how this president can change, but just hear me out.
Perhaps the appointment of the former four-star Marine Corps general as the White House chief of staff is Trump’s cry for help.