Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
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National and international headlines
The beginning of the end of Rep. Robert Fisher, a New Hampshire state lawmaker, took root just three weeks ago, when an investigation by the Daily Beast chronicled in painstaking detail years of anonymous, “misogynistic” and “woman-hating” Reddit posts from the user pk_atheist.
His words disparaged feminism, insulted women’s “sub-par intelligence” and called their personalities “lackluster and boring, serving little purpose in day to day life.” He revealed a fear of being falsely accused of rape so extreme that pk_atheist recommended men should install video cameras in their bedrooms. He admitted he already had.
While he continues to deny some of the accusations, Fisher ultimately admitted that he was behind the user name pk_atheist.
On Wednesday, after weeks of changing his story and defending his crusade for men’s rights, Fisher resigned from the Legislature.
Fisher’s resignation came less than an hour after a Republican-led committee in the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 8-6 along party lines to recommend no disciplinary action because the comments attributed to him, while “reprehensible,” were still constitutionally protected free speech.
Chris Cornell, a key figure in the 1990s grunge rock movement as the founder and frontman of Soundgarden and later Audioslave, died Wednesday night in Detroit sometime after playing a show at the Fox Theatre. He was 52.
Brian Bumbery, a representative for Cornell, confirmed the rocker’s death to the Associated Press, calling it “sudden and unexpected.” He was in the middle of a national tour with Soundgarden that, on Friday, was scheduled to play in Columbus, Ohio.
Details are scant at this time.
“His wife Vicky and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause,” Bumbery’s statement read. “They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time.”
Alongside bands such as Nirvana and Alice in Chains, Soundgarden was one of the seminal bands of the grunge rock movement that began in Seattle and ushered in a new era of rock music. Soundgarden, which Cornell founded in 1984, was particularly important to this movement for being one of the first grunge rock bands to sign with a major label.
The U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday it appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russia.
The move followed rising demands for an independent probe of alleged Russian efforts to sway the outcome of November’s presidential election in favor of Trump and against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Pressure has been building on Trump over the Russia issue since his firing last week of FBI chief James Comey, who had been leading a federal probe into the matter.
U.S. intelligence agencies said earlier this year that Russia interfered in the U.S. election.
“My decision (to appoint a special counsel) is not the finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement.
“I determined that a special counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome,” he said.
Federal immigration arrests are up 37.6 percent under President Donald Trump, at a rate of more 400 a day, including violent offenders and gang members across the United States.
But the sharpest increase is among immigrants who have never been convicted of any crime, and those arrests have more than doubled.
Workers at McLane drive forklifts and load hefty boxes into trucks. The grocery supplier, which runs a warehouse in Colorado, needs people who will stay alert – but prospective hires keep failing drug screens.
“Some weeks this year, 90 percent of applicants would test positive for something,” ruling them out for the job, said Laura Stephens, a human resources manager for the company in Denver.
The state’s unemployment rate is already low – 3 percent, compared to 4.7 percent for the entire nation. Failed drug tests, which are rising locally and nationally, further drain the pool of eligible job candidates.
“Finding people to fill jobs,” Stephens said, “is really challenging.”
Laurel Jones is convinced she ran the annual Maine Coast Marathon on Saturday fast enough to earn a spot in next year’s Boston Marathon. Too bad she ran an extra half-mile. The extra time she logged after a course marshal misdirected her and more than half the race’s participants cost them precious time.
“I started freaking out,” she told Runner’s World about the moment she realized she was on track to run 26.7 miles opposed to the standard 26.2. “I, along with a bunch of other people in my situation, were at a loss about what to do.”
A bill that would prohibit lying during legislative hearings failed Wednesday in a narrowly divided vote in the Maine House of Representatives.
The bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Heather Sirocki of Scarborough, would have applied to lobbyists, executive branch officials, state employees and members of the public, but not sitting legislators. Anyone who purposely provided false testimony to a legislative committee under the bill’s provisions would be guilty of a Class E crime if they were not put under oath by a committee chair or a Class D crime if they were.
“I don’t need to tell members of this chamber how important it is that lawmakers base decisions on truthful, accurate information,” Sirocki said. “On the other hand, perhaps I do.”
The Brewer School Department found a way to avoid shelling out $1,400 to unlock its computers from a “ransomware virus” that corrupted the district’s computer system last week, Superintendent Cheri Towle said Wednesday.
The malware locked up the school department’s computer system at around 1:30 p.m. May 10 and came with a demand for $1,400 to decrypt the district’s files, the superintendent said. Towle on Friday indicated the school department paid the ransom in Bitcoin, an anonymous online currency.
But on Wednesday she amended her statement to say that the school had only bought a portion of the Bitcoin required to pay the ransom before information technology employees found a backup of the files.
“We started to get bitcoins but didn’t need to finish the process due to finding the backup,” Towle said. “We are able to sell the $450 worth of bitcoin we purchased to get our money back.”
The new head of the Newburgh Volunteer Fire Department said he wants to work with the firefighters who resigned in protest this week over the town selectmen’s refusal to reinstate the former fire chief.
The entire department resigned Monday night at a meeting of the town selectmen, who turned down a list of demands from the 11 firefighters — including the rehiring of former Chief Glen Williamson.
“They’re a little chapped right now, but I’m assuming when things cool down they’ll come talk to me,” said Ralph Shaw, who was sworn in as Newburgh’s volunteer fire chief on Tuesday. “I know a lot of them so that is helping me some.”
“I’m going to try and meet with a few of them over the next week. I’m going to try to get some of the old ones back.”
Last summer and fall, a prolonged drought caused wells to dry up and crops to wither in fields and gardens in most parts of the state. But the drought is a problem of the past right now.
Unusually wet conditions and cold temperatures in the first half of May pose their own issues for Maine farmers who can’t seem to catch a break from a fickle Mother Nature.
“The calendar is behind for the growers,” Rick Kersbergen, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension professor, said Tuesday. “We’re two weeks behind, and that’s going to push things back. There’s a lot of fields that farmers can’t even work right now because they’re just too wet, and it’s really going to crunch their time budgeting.”
Living and events
Rhubarb, it’s not just for pie.
Two Mainers say the crimson plant that grows prolifically in the spring makes the perfect elixir. In the former Rockingham Electric Supply Co. in Portland’s East Bayside, Pete Dubuc and Amanda O’Brien are making rhubarb wine in small batches using simple ingredients from Maine.
“It’s the new Moxie,” said Dubuc, a musician who started experimenting with ways to elicit wine from the plant, a ubiquitous, natural resource he grew up with in western Maine.
After nearly five months closed, Giacomo’s, the popular downtown Bangor eatery and market, will reopen this Friday with a new menu, new market and deli offerings, and a completely renovated interior.
“The whole place is just completely different. From front to back and top to bottom, everything is totally rebuilt and up to code,” Haskell said.
Paninis, salads, soups, breakfast sandwiches, baked goods and espresso and coffee will remain on the menu, alongside new offerings like gourmet sub sandwiches and a full juice and smoothie bar
Live music, local arts and crafts, Food, including fiddlehead quiche by local non-profits, fiddleheads for sale, silent auction, and the annual Cast Iron Chef Cook off, judged this year by chef Herman Ammerman.
Bring your favorite Dish that includes Fiddleheads, a recipe, and enter to win the cook off. Two chef’s will then cook off in front of the crowd for the coveted Cast Iron Award and prizes.
This year’s festival will be held at the Patten Lumbermens Museum from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 20.
The Maine Music Educators Association celebrates its 100th anniversary this month with the performance of a special orchestral piece written by College of the Atlantic Composer in Residence John Cooper.
Cooper’s “Capriccio for Orchestra (the Sublime Struggle)” debuts on May 20, the final day of the 2017 All-State Music Festival. The Maine All-State Orchestra will perform the Capriccio along with works by Hector Berlioz and Franz Liszt at University of Maine’s Collins Center for the Arts in a concert beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 20.
Dr. Carolyn Watson conducts.
The music will include the magnificent setting of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis composed by British musician, Herbert Howells, for the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. The extended anthem will be “Blessed be the God and Father,” an Easter anthem by S.S. Wesley.
All contributions received at Evensong will go to the Fred Jones Music Fund.
The performance will be 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 21, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 225 French Street, Bangor.
Three hundred years ago, the pirate ship Whydah, sank in a storm off Cape Cod laden with bounty from more than 50 captured ships.
On May 26, the classical age of piracy comes to life in Portland when the Portland Science Center at 68 Commercial St., Maine Wharf, welcomes “Real Pirates: An Exhibition from National Geographic.” Tickets for the general public go on sale April 26, at portlandsciencecenter.com.
The 7,000-square-foot interactive exhibition showcases more than 150 artifacts, including everyday objects, personal items, and treasures, from the first fully authenticated pirate ship ever to be discovered in U.S. waters.
Exhibitions International, a leading producer of touring exhibitions, presents “Real Pirates,” with organizational expertise from the National Geographic Society.
Solar prices have never been lower! Solarize Midcoast Maine program participants receive discounted solar pricing.
Come meet Sundog Solar, the Solarize Midcoast Maine installer, learn about the benefits of solar power, and get a free consultation about solar energy for your home.
The session will be held at Belfast Free Library, 106 High Street, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 31.
Every Tuesday in June from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. the Abbe Museum at Sieur de Monts is hosting an archaeologist-led program where you can learn about Wabanaki material culture and the archaeological record in Maine.
This is a hands-on activity where you can touch artifacts and replicas while learning about Wabanaki cultural adaptations over the past 12,000 years.
This is a drop-in event so there’s no registration required!
Aislinn Sarnacki is an outdoor reporter for the Bangor Daily News and author of the new guidebook “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” just released by Down East Books.
She will talk about some of her favorite trails from her new book and also plans to tell some entertaining stories about observing wildlife, hiking solo and endeavoring to Leave No Trace.
Her presentation will include photos and video clips, a Q&A session, and book signing.
The No. 1 pollutant in Maine’s lakes is soil eroding from shorelines, roads, yards, and construction sites.
Join us for a day of service at Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery and help restore the shore and protect the waters of Alamoosook Lake. Volunteers will gather 9 a.m. to noon June 10 at the hatchery to plant native shrubs, improve beach access, and place interpretive signs along the shoreline.