‘Bags and bags and bags’ of meth-infused lollipops seized in $1 million Texas bust

Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.


The highs will be in the high 60s to low 70s, with a mix of sun and clouds. Check your local forecast here.

National and international headlines

‘Bags and bags and bags’ of meth-infused lollipops seized in $1 million Texas bust

Sheriff deputies in Harris County, Texas, seized 600 pounds of drug-laced candy with a street value of nearly $1 million.The meth-pops had been molded into kid-friendly shapes: flowers, butterflies, Batman and the Star Wars characters R2-D2 and Yoda.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff’s deputies in Harris County, Texas, thought they were responding to a routine burglary call until they took a closer look at the car.

It was crammed with so much candy-shaped meth that the suspects had trouble closing the trunk, police said.

The meth-pops had been molded into kid-friendly shapes: flowers, butterflies, Batman, and the Star Wars characters R2-D2 and Yoda.

“It was just bags and bags and bags of what appeared to be candy lollipops,” Lt. Ruben Diaz, with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, told the Houston Chronicle.

Special counsel investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice

President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops at the Naval Air Station Sigonella before returning to Washington D.C. at Sigonella Air Force Base in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017.

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Trump’s own conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from former FBI Director James Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

The moment the Democratic baseball team got news of GOP shooting

Police investigate a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria, Virginia, June 14, 2017.

Rep. Mike Doyle, the Democratic team’s manager, got a text from a member of his staff asking him if he was OK. The congressman from Pennsylvania then saw a news article about a shooting at a congressional baseball practice.

“I stopped the practice and told everybody to come into the dugout” and then shared the news, he said.

Soon after, Capitol Police arrived and had the Democrats shelter in place.

During the shelter in place, “I said, ‘Let’s pray for our colleagues,’” Doyle said.

“We said a couple prayers for them and waited for the police officers to tell us (they could leave),” Doyle said.

“Thank God Steve Scalise had two armed security detail right there on the field,” Doyle said. “Had that happened on our field, we have nothing but baseball bats.”

Michigan DHHS head, four others charged with manslaughter in Flint water crisis

People stockpile purified water on June 27, 2016, in Flint, Michigan.
Olivier Douliery | TNS file

The Michigan attorney general’s office on Wednesday charged the director of the state’s health department and four other public officials with involuntary manslaughter for their roles in the Flint water crisis, which has stretched into its third year.

Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, also faces a felony count of misconduct in office.

While much of the attention in Flint has focused on the lead-tainted water that exposed thousands of young children to potential long-term health risks, the crisis also has been linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that contributed to at least a dozen deaths.

Lyon was aware of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak by early 2015 but “did not notify the public until a year later,” according to charging documents filed in court and reviewed by the Detroit Free Press. According to the documents, he “willfully disregarded the deadly nature of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak,” later saying “[we] can’t save everyone,” and “everyone has to die of something.”

Southern Baptists voted overwhelmingly to condemn ‘alt-right white supremacy’

Members of the Southern Baptist Convention voted Wednesday to condemn a white nationalist group during their annual convention, but only after fierce backlash following their decision a day earlier not to move forward with a resolution opposing the movement.

The decision was met with a standing ovation as about 5,000 members of the denomination voted to affirm their opposition to the alt-right movement, which seeks a whites-only state. But it was not a decision easily reached.

Trump sued for foreign business profits by Democrats in Congress

President Donald Trump

A group of nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers filed a federal lawsuit challenging profits that President Donald Trump’s global businesses have taken in from foreign entities.

Trump has stepped down from running his $3 billion empire but retained his ownership interests, a decision the lawmakers say in the latest lawsuit violates a clause in the U.S. Constitution that forbids the president from receiving payments or gifts from foreign governments without Congress’s approval.

An official state germ? New Jersey may have one soon

Known for its oddities and quirks, New Jersey may soon have another: an official state germ.

New Jersey would become only the second state in the country with a state germ. A bill introduced last month in the Legislature would make Streptomyces griseus New Jersey’s official microbe.

Federal judge orders environmental review of Dakota Access pipeline

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters are seen at the Oceti Sakowin campground near the town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov. 19, 2016.

A federal judge Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to conduct further environmental reviews of the Dakota Access pipeline but stopped short of halting oil-pumping operations pending further hearings beginning June 21.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg handed a limited victory to Native American tribes in North Dakota that had challenged the administration’s effort to speed the project, and his dense, 91-page opinion directed both sides to appear before him next Wednesday to decide next legal steps.

Local headlines

LePage asked to deputize legislators so they can carry guns in State House

Gabor Degre | BDN

After a congressman was shot during a congressional baseball practice in Virginia, three Republican lawmakers wrote Gov. Paul LePage asking to carry concealed handguns in the State House.

The requests from Reps. Matthew Harrington of Sanford, Richard Cebra of Naples and Lester Ordway of Standish came after the Wednesday shooting of U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, at a baseball practice in Virginia.

State law and Maine Department of Public Safety rules bar people other than police from carrying weapons on the State House complex, but Cebra’s letter asks LePage to deputize lawmakers who have concealed-handgun permits to allow them to carry. The entrance to the State House is guarded by armed Capitol Police and visitors must go through metal detectors to access the upper floors

Zinke says he’s unlikely to advocate scaling back Katahdin monument

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Wednesday hinted support for retaining federal control of Maine’s national monument, but did not address whether he would recommend that President Donald Trump rescind its status or make major changes to it.

Zinke did not appear to favor turning the land over to private or state ownership — for which Gov. Paul LePage and U.S. Rep Bruce Poliquin have pressed — saying that he was “not an advocate for the transfer of public lands.”

Maine woman attacked by raccoon drowns rabid animal in puddle

Rachel Borch, 21, stands in the woods near her home in Hope. Borch was attacked while on a jog in woods near her home by a rabid raccoon and had to drown the animal in self-defense.
Alex Acquisto | BDN

While jogging on a familiar, overgrown, wooded trail near her home on a recent warm afternoon, Rachel Borch thought to herself. “What a beautiful day.”

Little did she know she was about to be attacked by a rabid raccoon that she would end up killing with her bare hands.

Bangor’s new buses could be the first step in offering later routes

Passengers wait at the bus terminal in Pickering Square in downtown Bangor on Monday afternoon. Expanded service could happen in several years thanks to the arrival of new buses.
Gabor Degre | BDN

A Bangor City Council member hopes that upgrading the city’s bus fleet over the next five years will lead to Bangor offering night service.

The city is replacing half of its aging, 22-bus fleet over the next five years, using a mix of federal, state and local funds. The upgrade would give the city-operated Community Connector transit service the inventory it needs to one day offer rides after 5:45 p.m., the time the last buses now leave the downtown Bangor bus depot.

Maine family patriarch gets 20 years for running heroin ring

The patriarch of a Buxton family that distributed heroin in northern York County was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday to 20 years in prison and six years of supervised release for his role in running the drug distribution ring, officials said.

Dale Pinkham Sr., 57, in September pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to distribute heroin, conspiracy to possess stolen firearms and attempted witness tampering on the day a jury was to be selected for his trial. His plea agreement with federal prosecutors called for 10 other charges to be dismissed at sentencing.

Living and events

‘My spirit is so happy’: Maine woman embraces mindful lifestyle, shares it with others

An Ayurveda Yoga class is led by Deborah Keene at her studio in Liberty.
Gabor Degre | BDN

Old farmhouses, greening livestock pastures and freshly tilled garden plots line the winding Stevens Pond Road in Liberty. At a gentle dip and curve in the road, a small sign identifies the Ayurveda Yoga Center. The studio — bright, airy and spare — is located on the second floor of a new barn. Yoga mats and folded blankets are arranged on the polished floor. The sound of birdsong drifts through the open windows.

This is where certified ayurvedic yoga specialist and consultant Deborah Keene, 61 and a native of Waterville, leads a dedicated cadre of area students through a variety of yoga classes each week.

As she approaches 62, she can’t imagine she’ll ever retire from the work that has brought her such deep satisfaction and interest.

“This work is my dharma, my life’s purpose,” she said. “My spirit is so happy, because I know this is what I’m meant to be doing.”

2017 is going to be a great year for Stephen King fans

Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in the upcoming “IT” movie.
New Line Cinema

There have been more than 60 feature films and more than 25 TV series based on the works of Stephen King since the film version of “Carrie” came out in 1976. But there’s about to be a lot more. This year and next are jam-packed with King adaptations. This summer alone, two TV series and two movies are planned, with more set for the fall and for early 2018.

Maine Whoopie Pie Festival seeking bakers and volunteers

The 2017 Maine Whoopie Pie Festival, scheduled for June 24, has several open slots remaining for bakers. This year, a couple of local bakers who have been with the festival since its inception were not able to make it due to prior commitments, leaving space for new talent to register.

Anyone interested in a booth at the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival should visit mainewhoopiepiefestival.com/bakers for information as soon as possible.

Last year, Dover-Foxcroft saw nearly 10,000 visitors come through the gates. For those who register as vendors or bakers, the day promises success.

Festival organizers are always on the lookout for volunteers, and this year is no different. Help is needed at the festival gates, to sell merchandise and to offer support to our vendors.

Layers in Time: Hands-on Exploration of Wabanaki Life and Culture Through the Ages

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!

Penobscot County Federal Credit Union to get colorful with Glow 5K

Penobscot County Federal Credit Union is excited to host its third annual Color 5K for Ending Hunger in Maine on June 17. This year, they are introducing a new theme: a Glow 5K. This fun and exciting event is open to adults and children, of all ages and fitness levels.

Pre-registration is open online until this Thursday. Individuals are able to register for only $15, children (under 10) are free! Registration also will be available the evening of the event, beginning at 7 p.m.

Father’s Day Paddle

Paddling Pushaw Stream
Gudrun Keszöcze

End Father’s Day with a special paddle along Pushaw Stream in Hirundo Wildlife Refuge. Listen to the evening call of the birds and watch the local, nocturnal wildlife as it begins its “day.”

Suggested donation is $5 per person.

Meet at 35 Hudson Road in Alton at gate 3 at the refuge.

Registration requested, please call 207.394.2171

Opioid addiction seminar to be held at the Old Town Public Library

The Old Town Public Library, in partnership with the Bangor Public Health and Community Services, will be hosting a seminar entitled “Be a Life Saver” from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 21.

Heath Myers, an Overdose Prevention Coordinator with Bangor Public Health and Community Services will discuss overdose symptoms and risk factors, how to react to an overdose, medication safety, naloxone, and treatment and recovery.

Free take-home materials will be provided.

Maine Summer Adventure Race set to take place in Jefferson

More than 50 teams will take part in the 2017 Maine Summer Adventure Race 7 a.m.-7 p.m. June 24, Hidden Valley Nature Center, 131 Egypt Road. The teams are composed of more than 115 individuals from 11 states, who will all get the chance to explore the Midcoast region by boat, bicycle and foot in a single day.

Now in its second year, the Maine Summer Adventure Race involves teams of two, three or four competing in a nonstop race including trail running or trekking, road and mountain biking, sea kayaking and orienteering. Teams will have to combine athleticism with strategy and navigation to guide themselves to as many checkpoints as possible within the race’s time limit.

Strawberry Festival slated at Grange in Freedom

A Strawberry Festival will be held 4-6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at Dirigo Grange Hall, Route 137.

S.W. Collins 5K Road Race & Fun Run

The annual S.W. Collins 5K Road & Fun race will be held June 25.

Registration is from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at S.W. Collins Co. Caribou Yard. The 5K starts at 10:00 a.m., walkers start at 9:45 a.m., and kids Fun Run starts at 9:00 a.m.

Registration is $13 for adults, and the fee for the kids fun run is by donation. All proceeds will go to the Caribou Athletics Department.

History of Maine fire towers

Collin Brown

Bill Cobb, director of the Maine chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association, will give a presentation about several historic fire towers Down East, including the much beloved Grand Lake Stream tower that sits atop Indian Hill. The tower was built in 1934, and it is currently the oldest standing, enclosed wooden tower in Maine, and potentially New England. Following the presentation, we will take a group walk up to the GLS Tower to examine the site.

The talk will be 5 to 7:30 p.m. June 30 at the Grand Lake Stream School Building, 15 Water St., in Grand Lake Stream.

195th Army Band to play Old Town concert series

Performing for audiences around the world and in their own backyard in Maine, the 195th Army Band’s Concert Band is carrying on a proud tradition of military bands past and present by presenting free patriotic public performances.

The band will perform 6:30 to 8 p.m. July 6 at Riverfront Park, North Main Street, in Old Town.

Red Cross and Old Town Fire Rescue partner to install free smoke alarms

The American Red Cross of Maine and the Old Town Fire Rescue Department are teaming up to install free smoke alarms in residents’ homes and teach people how to be prepared for home fires.

Old Town residents can sign up for the free smoke alarm installation by calling Ron Springel of the Red Cross at 874-1192, ext. 113. The Red Cross, the Old Town Fire Rescue Department and community volunteers will follow-up with the installation on July 22.

“Working smoke alarms are key to escaping a home fire safely. That early warning, along with a practiced escape plan to a designated meeting area and early notification to emergency services can greatly reduce death and injuries,” Capt. David Daniels of the Old Town Fire Rescue Department said.

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.

Business headlines

Maine’s $50 million tech bond appears likely to pass easily

BDN File

A $50 million bond question targeted at equipment upgrades for Maine’s technology sector looked to be headed for passage after the Tuesday statewide election, according to unofficial results from cities and an early tally from the Maine secretary of state.

Drop in retail sales signals uneven consumer spending

A shopper walks past a sales sign on display outside a retail store, June 5, 2017.

U.S. retail sales fell in May by the most since the start of 2016, reflecting broad declines in categories including motor vehicles and electronics, Commerce Department figures showed Wednesday.

The May figures highlight a cautious consumer.

GE power chief exits after losing CEO contest

General Electric’s Steve Bolze, once a leading contender to succeed Jeffrey Immelt as CEO, is leaving the company just days after missing out on the top job.

“Some time ago, Jeff Immelt and I agreed that when the succession process was complete, and if I were not chosen, I would retire from GE and move on,” Bolze, 54, the head of GE Power, said in a note to employees Wednesday. “I cannot tell you how proud and grateful I am to have been considered.”

Opinion headlines

I asked my former students what made learning memorable. Here’s what they said.

George Danby | BDN

Teachers’ genuine interest in their students, combined with a visible enthusiasm and excitement for the learning occurring in their classroom, will not only raise the level of learning, but it will also propel students to discover their own passions.

The three pillars of Republican health care reform: sabotage, speed, secrecy

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is rushing a health insurance overhaul bill through the Senate.
Alex Edelman | TNS

Secrecy breeds suspicion, so there is good reason to be very suspicious of a health care bill crafted by the Senate’s Republican leaders. They are being extremely secretive about the details of health care legislation that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. We fear Republicans’ efforts to keep the bill hidden mean that, like the House Republican bill, their legislation will leave millions of American without health insurance while driving up costs and weakening protections for others.

Republicans have refused to make the bill’s language public. There are likely to be no hearings before the bill is brought to the floor for a vote, which leadership wants to hold before the July 4 recess, when few are likely paying attention. Debate will be limited.

Government shutdown is better than budget nonsense

Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon
BDN file

Is this how you think budgets should be built? I don’t, and ironically neither do a majority of the members of both houses of the Legislature, which is why the possibility of a government shutdown inches higher by the minute.

And if this is how things are going to be done, then I say shut it down.