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National and international headlines
Seventh grader Lizeth Villanueva has been in her school’s academic honors program for two years. She gets good grades and has never been a discipline problem. Yet on Tuesday, her teacher gave her a “most likely to become a terrorist” award.
It was supposed to be a joke, part of a mock end-of-the-year awards ceremony at Anthony Aguirre Junior High in Channelview, Texas, near Houston, where a group of teachers hand certificates to students. Lizeth, 13, said her teacher “just laughed” when she signed and handed her the certificate, just one day after the Manchester arena terrorist attack in Britain.
But Lizeth’s mother Ena Hernandez didn’t find the award funny at all.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser, is under scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the Russia probe, The Washington Post and NBC News reported Thursday.
Kushner is being investigated because of his meetings in December and other possible interactions with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, the Post reported, citing people familiar with the investigation.
Kushner is the only current White House official known to be considered a key person in the probe, the newspaper reported.
In a stinging rebuke to President Donald Trump, a federal appeals court refused on Thursday to reinstate his travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority nations, calling it discriminatory and setting the stage for a showdown in the Supreme Court.
The decision, written by Chief Judge Roger Gregory, described Trump’s executive order in forceful terms, saying it uses “vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”
A lawsuit alleging that Hershey is intentionally under-filling packages of Whoppers, Reese’s Pieces and other candy has gotten the green light to move forward.
Robert Bratton of Missouri claims that the $1 packages of chocolate he bought last fall were only partially full. The box of Whoppers, he argued in the lawsuit, was about 59 percent full, while the box of Reese Piece’s was 71 percent full. He says Hershey is short-changing customers by being “misleading, deceptive and unlawful,” and is asking the company to pay back at least $5 million to its customers.
Greg Gianforte, the Montana Republican candidate charged with assaulting a reporter, has not quite reached retirement age. But based on what he has said in the past, he may never stop working anyway.
In a 2015 talk at the Montana Bible College, Gianforte said the idea of retirement doesn’t exactly match his religious beliefs.
“There’s nothing in the Bible that talks about retirement. And yet it’s been an accepted concept in our culture today,” he said at the time, according to a report in the Huffington Post. “Nowhere does it say, ‘Well, he was a good and faithful servant, so he went to the beach.’ It doesn’t say that anywhere.”
BRUSSELS — President Donald Trump exported the confrontational, nationalist rhetoric of his campaign across the Atlantic on Thursday, shaming European leaders for not footing more of the bill for their own defenses and lecturing them to stop taking advantage of U.S. taxpayers.
Speaking in front of a twisted shard of the World Trade Center at NATO’s gleaming new headquarters in Brussels, Trump upbraided America’s longtime allies for “not paying what they should be paying.” He used a ceremony to dedicate the memorial to NATO’s resolve in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States as a platform from which to exhort leaders to “focus on terrorism and immigration” to ensure their security.
And he held back from the one pledge NATO leaders most dearly wanted to hear: an unconditional embrace of NATO’s solemn treaty commitment that an attack on a single alliance nation is an attack on all of them.
Mark Zuckerberg finally has his Harvard degree. The Facebook CEO and famous college dropout left the Ivy League university 12 years ago to found the social network, but he returned Thursday to pick up a honorary doctor of laws degree and drop some wisdom on the class of 2017.
In prepared remarks provided to The Washington Post ahead of the speech, Zuckerberg called on his alma mater’s newest graduates to tackle major, ambitious “public works” projects that bring together masses of people for the general benefit of society. He noted that many technologies – including some being developed at Facebook – are changing the world and also presenting new challenges.
A 23-year-old woman has been charged in the death of an 8-month-old girl at a downtown Baltimore day-care facility after surveillance video showed the provider “tortured” her, authorities said.
Leah Walden faces charges of first- and second-degree murder, as well as child abuse and assault.
Baltimore police said the incident happened about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday, when emergency personnel were called for a report of a baby not breathing. When they arrived, they performed CPR on the child, and she was taken to a hospital.
The baby, identified as Reese Bowman, was pronounced dead a short time later, police said.
Kathy Klyce was worried. Her husband, Jack Wheeler, a prominent consultant and former Pentagon official, had been out of touch for a few days. They had argued about his decision to head to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 28, 2010, while she stayed at their condo in New York, but silence from her normally voluble husband was unusual.
She was stunned when her stepdaughter arrived, on Jan. 2, 2011, to tell her police from Newark, Delaware, had called: Jack was dead, they said. And the details Klyce learned when she traveled to Delaware were shattering: Jack had been beaten severely and suffered a heart attack. His body had been discovered in a landfill after being dumped from a trash truck. His killing was a shocking end to a lifetime of service.
John “Jack” Parsons Wheeler III, intense, brilliant and troubled, had built a distinguished résumé in his 66 years. He graduated near the top of his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, earned a business degree from Harvard and a law degree from Yale, served in Vietnam and co-founded the organization that built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, known as the Wall, which draws more than 5 million visitors per year.
KATAHDIN WOODS AND WATERS NATIONAL MONUMENT, Maine — Amid an ongoing federal review and contention over the signs advertising it, Maine’s national monument opened fully for its first full year on Thursday with a handful of visitors more interested in nature than politics.
About a half dozen people came to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument on Thursday, Superintendent Tim Hudson said, adding that attendance will likely increase this Memorial Day weekend. The Loop Road was the last entrance to open. The monument’s north gate opened on May 13.
One visitor, Connecticut resident Ron Goulet, described the land as pristine wilderness.
PORTER, Maine — Maine game wardens on Thursday recovered the body of a Porter man who did not return from a fishing trip on Plain Pond the previous day.
Duane Day Sr., 53, had left to go fishing for hornpout at 6 p.m. Wednesday. He was expected home around 9 p.m. that night.
When he had not returned home by the next morning, family members went to Plain Pond, where they found his truck and capsized flat bottom boat, Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service said in a news release.
Day was reported missing shortly after 9 a.m. on Thursday, MacDonald said.
MONSON, Maine — A nonprofit foundation bought a huge chunk of this small rural town and plans to spend as much as $10 million revitalizing it.
The Libra Foundation has since October spent $750,000 buying a dozen houses, a community center and a general store along Monson’s main drag — as well as a farm on North Guilford Road, said Erik K. Hayward, Libra’s senior vice president.
The plan is to convert the houses into artist residences and the center into studio space. The store would sell art and produce from farms in Piscataquis County, which the U.S. Census Bureau rated as Maine’s poorest in 2015.
BANGOR, Maine — A former girlfriend of the man who survived a 2015 double shooting on Center Street gave emotional testimony on Thursday about her efforts to stop the bleeding after he was shot multiple times.
Tera Choquette, 30, testified that she was smoking a cigarette on the front steps of 201 Center Street about 3:30 a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving, when Thomas “Ferg” Ferguson, and Robert “Rocco” Hansley rushed past her and up the stairs to the apartment where she was staying.
“I knew they weren’t welcome there,” said Choquette, who said she did not see whether the two men were carrying guns. “I heard a lot of ‘What’s up?’ Then, I heard the shots.”
AUGUSTA, Maine — In a sharp reversal of a plan announced last week, Gov. Paul LePage is expected to endorse funding the Machiasport prison that his administration intended to close.
Legislative Republicans said Thursday that the Republican governor — who proposed closing Downeast Correctional Facility in his two-year budget plan — now wants to fund the prison for another nine months.
House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, said Thursday that LePage was expected to formally submit the change soon. The governor’s spokespeople didn’t respond to a request for comment, but Finance Commissioner Richard Rosen said that LePage is still considering options around closing or maintaining the facility, calling it “a work in progress.”
Population losses continued to sweep inland communities north of Augusta last year, according to local estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The latest figures show communities in Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington and Penobscot counties posted the largest estimated population losses, by percentage change.
In raw numbers, Bangor posted the steepest loss of population, with an estimated 324 fewer people in 2016 than the prior year. From 2010 to 2016, the Queen City lost more than 1,000 people.
Bangor voters will be asked to approve a school budget hike when they go to the polls on June 13.
The city council on Monday approved the proposed $45.2 million Bangor Public Schools fiscal year 2018 budget, which has changed little since it was first introduced by school administrators to the school committee in March. Major drivers of the 2.14 percent budget hike include increased costs for employee benefits, textbooks and special education.
There was no debate before members of the city council approved the budget, but councilors Dan Tremble and Ben Sprague both defended the increase. Sprague cited the school district’s high student achievement despite a majority of students being eligible for receiving free or reduced lunch — 51 percent in 2015, according to the Department of Education.
Living and events
The Royal River runs 39 miles from Sabbathday Lake, in New Gloucester, to the sea in Yarmouth. It’s possible to paddle the upper stretches but there has to be enough water. The lower part, after the dam at Elm Street in Yarmouth, is crazy with waterfalls and tidal currents. The bit we did — from Route 9 to Elm Street — is passable all summer and easy going. It’s basically a long pond backed up behind the dam.
It was striking how isolated we felt on the river, being so close to town. Only a few houses popped up along the way. The banks were thick with trees. The Royal River appears in many Stephen King stories, flowing near his imagined town of Castle Rock. King grew up in these parts. The classic 80s movie “Stand By Me” and the story that inspired it — “The Body” — were set here.
As anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight will attest, the extra pounds and inches pile on much more easily than they slide off. But for men and women in their 50s, 60s and older, the weight-loss challenge comes with some powerful motivators to succeed, as well as some particular difficulties.
On the motivation side of the equation, excess weight puts us at increased risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, stroke, sleep apnea and more. It worsens arthritis, back pain and joint deterioration and strains our hearts, lungs, livers and other essential organs. It also can interfere with our relationships, our social lives and routine activities, from maintaining personal hygiene to driving a car. These considerations can lend powerful support to a midlife decision to slim down.
It’s boom times for pork enthusiasts.
Americans celebrating Memorial Day this weekend — the unofficial kick-off to summer and the grilling season — can keep the party going with cheaper pork chops.
Even amid voracious domestic and foreign demand, retail prices have stayed relatively low thanks to ample supplies. Bumper grain crops have reduced costs to feed animals, and the U.S. is heading for a year of record red meat and poultry production.
While output is booming across the board, pork is looking especially attractive since it’s discount to beef has been widening, favoring more pig pickin’s and baby-back-rib feasts for the summer.
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — For 14 years, Skyler McAtee of Presque Isle has made frequent visits to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston. The 18-year-old was diagnosed at age 4 with a bone deficiency which caused one leg to be shorter than the other, and has had to undergo multiple surgeries to correct it.
So when the teen and her family were thinking up creative ways to arrive at the Presque Isle High School prom this year, she looked to the organization that has been supporting her all of her life. That is how McAtee and date Grant Bridges ended up in a limousine full of clowns as they made their way to the dance.
The teens were shuttled to the prom on May 20 in a stretch limousine with 11 Shrine Circus clowns that Saturday. The clowns exited the car one by one in colorful flourishes and with balloon animals in hand, until all had departed the vehicle but the couple.
Two rescue dogs will be more likely to find new homes after their graduation from Beyond the Bars, a new dog obedience program at Two Bridges Regional Jail.
Coastal Humane Society trainer Mike Gould and Two Bridges inmates Norman Palmer and Dustin Campbell presented rescue dogs Jake and Melvin with certificates of completion during a ceremony at the jail Tuesday, May 23.
The canines were the first to graduate from the program, which has been in the works for several years and which the jail hopes to expand, according to Capt. James Bailey, the jail’s acting administrator.