Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
The highs will be in the mid 70s, with a mix of sun and clouds. There is a chance for afternoon thunderstorms. Check your local forecast here.
National and international headline
As if there weren’t enough reasons to avoid ticks, a symptom can develop in which a bite from a certain kind of tick causes an allergic reaction to red meat.
A bite from the lone star tick, prevalent across the eastern half of the United States, can cause severe symptoms to develop after eating mammalian meat such as pork, beef and lamb. Symptom include hives, shortness of breath and can lead to an anaphylactic reaction. A bite can even be fatal, according to Ronald Saff, an allergist from Tallahassee, Florida.
Saff said the ticks are spreading, and global warming is contributing. Once confined to southeast and eastern states, they are spreading northward and westward.
“They like nice warm environments,” he said. “As the U.S. gets warmer, we anticipate that the tick will migrate to other states.”
Once inflicted with the condition, an allergic reaction can develop after just a single bite of meat.
Senate Republicans’ bill to erase major parts of the Affordable Care Act would cause an estimated 22 million more Americans to be uninsured in the coming decade – about 1 million fewer than similar legislation recently passed by the House, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The forecast issued Monday by Congress’ nonpartisan budget scorekeepers also estimates that the Senate measure, drafted in secret mainly by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and aides, would reduce federal spending by $321 billion by 2026 – compared with $119 billion for the House’s version.
Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Monday evening she would vote against a motion to proceed on the bill, saying the bill “doesn’t fix ACA problems for rural Maine.”
U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, called the score “further proof that this bill will do more harm than good.”
The White House issued an ominous warning to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday night, pledging his regime would pay a “heavy price” if it carried out another chemical attack this year.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the United States detected evidence of preparations for a chemical attack, similar to the preparations that occurred before an attack in April.
“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” Spicer said in a statement.
“As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” he continued. “If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”
In October, a Mississippi historical marker for Emmett Till was riddled with bullet holes in a savage act of vandalism.
Now, less than a year later, a second state historical marker has been defaced, destroying historical information about the black teenager whose name became a civil rights rallying cry after he was kidnapped and murdered in 1955, according to the Associated Press.
“Who knows what motivates people to do this?” Allan Hammons, the owner of a public relations firm that produced the sign located in Money, Mississippi. “Vandals have been around since the beginning of time.”
The House Ethics Committee said Monday it is reviewing charges lodged against two high-profile Democratic lawmakers and a senior Democratic aide.
The lawmakers facing an ethics review are Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and the longest-serving sitting House member, and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The staffer is Michael Collins, chief of staff to Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia.
Statements released Monday by the Ethics Committee did not detail the allegations against the three men, which were forwarded to the committee by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics based on a “substantial reason to believe” a violation has occurred.
The Pentagon is considering a plan to cancel enlistment contracts for 1,000 foreign-born recruits without legal immigration status, knowingly exposing them to deportation, a Defense Department memo shows.
The undated action memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis by personnel and intelligence officials at the Pentagon and obtained by The Washington Post, describes potential security threats of immigrants recruited in a program designed to award fast-tracked citizenship in exchange for urgently needed medical and language skills.
Additionally, 4,100 troops – most of whom are naturalized citizens – may face “enhanced screening,” though the Pentagon voiced concern on how to navigate “significant legal constraints” of “continuous monitoring” of citizens without cause, according to the memo.
Fifty California residents have filed a petition to recall the California judge who drew national criticism for issuing a short jail sentence to Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus.
The effort to recall Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky — the first official move to get him off the bench since Turner’s sentencing in June 2016 — has garnered endorsements from members of Congress, national women’s rights organizations and leaders in Silicon Valley. They argue Persky has favored defendants in sexual assault cases and should be held to account for the imbalance.
“Today we take the first step,” Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor who is leading the recall committee seeking Persky’s removal, said Monday after filing the petition. “Judge Persky has a long history of leniency in cases involving sexual assault. Here in Silicon Valley, women have had enough.”
Wells police Sgt. Chad Arrowsmith told the station a man on a paddleboat said he saw what he believed to be a 12-foot great white shark in the water between Wells Beach and North Beach just after 1 p.m., and authorities cleared the water as a precaution.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office says three Sanford boys have been charged with arson in connection with the fire that destroyed the Stenton Trust Mill in Sanford on Friday.
The boys, a 12-year-old and two 13-year-olds, were arrested Sunday and taken to the Long Creek juvenile detention facility in South Portland early Monday morning.
Leaders in Maine’s immigrant communities said that in its Monday ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court left President Donald Trump too much authority to block entry by Muslims and played into the recruitment narrative of religious extremists, who say the country is anti-Muslim.
Trump is proposing to at least temporarily block travel to the U.S. from six mostly Muslim countries — Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — as well as prevent refugees from entering the country.
“We do disagree with the court decision, because we feel it’s still religious discrimination,” said Elmuatz Abdelrahim, co-founder and officer of the Lewiston-based New Mainers Alliance, a U.S. citizen who was born in Sudan.
Top legislative Democrats negotiating Maine’s stalled two-year budget with Gov. Paul LePage reported mixed results from their meetings on Monday, but it’s unclear whether a deal will be reached to avoid a state shutdown on Saturday.
LePage has threatened to wait the full 10 days allowed by law before signing or vetoing a budget, so even if legislators strike a deal, Maine could see its first state government shutdown since 1991 if that deal does not satisfy the Republican governor.
Talks stayed mostly in a holding pattern on Monday, when the governor’s staff wasn’t discussing his role in negotiations. However, LePage will be in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with President Donald Trump on energy issues, according to Politico.
Three legislative leaders said they expect to vote on a budget by week’s end, but there’s no agreement on a package to win the two-thirds support in both chambers required to enact a budget by Saturday.
A Warren man pleaded guilty on Monday to shooting a seal off the coast of Acadia National Park last fall, according to federal prosecutors.
Joseph A. Martin, 54, was sentenced to serve three days behind bars and was ordered by federal Magistrate Judge John C. Nivison to pay a $1,000 fine for shooting the animal, which is protected by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Living and events
Three years ago, Gardiner native Walter Beckwith was working at a dig at a very old, very high altitude archaeological site in southern Peru, searching for insights into the people who lived there millennia ago, when someone found an obsidian projectile point.
Beckwith, who was working on his master’s degree in climate studies from the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine, got out his camera and took a photo of the point, its shine and sharp edges juxtaposed against the muddy hand of the person holding it. It’s a powerful image, and one that is now part of the “Art of Climate Science” exhibit of photography and artwork that is on display at the University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast through the end of September.
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!
BookSpeak, a literary forum based in Damariscotta, will hold a panel discussion by scientists and environmental writers titled “Mountain Lions in Maine: Rewilding the Maine Woods” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 28, in the Darrows Barn at Damariscotta River Association’s Round Top Farm, 3 Round Top Lane.
The Rt. 17 Ramblers featuring Rosey Gerry are on tap and will play a free lawn concert at the Rockport Masonic Center from 6 to 7 p.m. June 28. The event is free to the public with pass the hat donations taken for the band. You are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy the summer night and music.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 per hour, they hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect.
The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found.
The costs to low-wage workers in Seattle outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one, according to the study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city. The study, published as a working paper Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, has not yet been peer reviewed.
On the whole, the study estimates, the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 per month because of the hike in the minimum.
Bangor Savings Bank’s new headquarters will will alleviate staff crowding and bring foot traffic to Bangor’s waterfront, the company’s CEO and president said Monday.
“We’re at the point where we have people in halls and closets and people sharing desks,” said Bob Montgomery-Rice. “Activity has been void [at the waterfront] for a long time and this will bring that there.”
The Bangor-based bank next year plans to move about 400 employees from its corporate headquarters at 99 Franklin St. — as well as a pair of Maine Avenue locations, and its State Street branch — to its new multimillion dollar campus along Main, South, Summer, and Railroad Streets.
If you’re planning to travel by car this Fourth of July weekend, you’re in luck — gas prices are down.
In Maine, the price of gas is down 3.5 cents to $2.23 a gallon.
An improving economy and continuing southern expansion helped Bangor Savings Bank rack up record profits for the fiscal year it ended in March.
The bank took in about $25 million in net income for the year, an 8.4 increase over the previous year. CEO Bob Montgomery-Rice said in an interview Monday that the bank’s mortgage portfolio and payroll servicing business have fueled much of that growth.
The Commerce Department said on Monday it had made a preliminary decision to exclude three of Canada’s Atlantic provinces from a U.S. investigation into whether Canada is dumping or subsidizing exports of softwood lumber.
The decision to exclude Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island follows a preliminary finding by the department in April that Canada subsidizes its softwood lumber exports, which prompted the United States to slap on countervailing duties of 20 percent.
In a statement announcing the latest decision, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said those duties would still be collected pending a final determination.
Delivering affordable, high-quality health care is challenging in any setting these days. Across our industry, providers are challenged with deploying the most current technology and care models, recruiting talented staff and making it all work within a payment system often at odds with delivering the best care.
These difficulties are further magnified in rural communities, particularly those that are economically stressed.
It’s alarming that these same rural areas stand to lose the most, should the Affordable Care Act be repealed without an adequate replacement.
The House Republicans, mirroring Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget, want to cut $5 million from General Assistance and deny aid to asylum seekers. These are people who are here legally, who want to be part of our community and who want to work and pay taxes but are caught in a federal immigration impasse that limits their opportunity in the short term.
Asylum seekers and some other immigrants in the country legally — repeat, legally — are barred from working for at least six months while their paperwork is processed by the federal government.
It’s an impossible trap. During the time they’re stuck in this bureaucratic limbo, these new arrivals have no way to make ends meet and provide for their families. If they work and get caught, they put their asylum application at risk. It’s high stakes for good people who have escaped violence and persecution, who are hoping only for safety and a better life in their new communities.
There is a place for contempt in our public discourse. We should have contempt for a regime in North Korea that brutalized a young American student named Otto Warmbier. We should have contempt for a regime in Syria that uses poison gas to massacre innocent men, women and children. We should have contempt for Islamic State terrorists who behead Americans, burn people alive in cages and systematically rape Yazidi girls.
But we should not have contempt for each other.
Yet, we do.