FBI nominee Wray pledges he would resign before improperly dropping an investigation

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National and international

FBI nominee Wray pledges he would resign before improperly dropping an investigation

Christopher Wray is sworn in prior to testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next FBI director on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 12, 2017.

Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the FBI, told Congress Wednesday that if the president tried improperly to get him to drop an investigation, he would first try to talk him out of it — and if that failed, resign.

He also testified that no one has asked him for any loyalty oath as part of his nomination. “And I sure as heck didn’t offer one,” he said.

Wray, a low-key former senior Justice Department official, was nominated after Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey in May amid a bureau investigation into potential collusion between Trump associates and the Kremlin to interfere in last year’s presidential election.

In his opening remarks, Wray promised to be independent and resistant to political pressures, including from the White House.

Wray said he would never allow the bureau’s work to be driven by “by anything other than the law, the facts and the impartial pursuit of justice.”

He said: “My loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law.”

House Democrat files first articles of impeachment against President Trump

President Donald Trump waves as he returns to the White House in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, July 8, 2017.
Olivier Douliery | TNS

A California Democrat has followed through on threats to file impeachment articles against President Donald Trump, but there remains little indication that the effort will progress in the near future.

The resolution filed Wednesday by Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., is largely identical to a draft Sherman floated last month – one that accuses Trump of obstructing justice by “threatening, and then terminating” former FBI Director James B. Comey and includes language lifted from the impeachment charges against President Richard M. Nixon.

A man freed a whale from a fishing net. Then it killed him, friends say.

Joe Howlett was no stranger to the risky work of rescuing whales.

More than 15 years ago, the Canadian lobster fisherman co-founded the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, an “intrepid group of fishermen who care so much about whales that they are willing to risk their lives to save them.”

From their base on Campobello Island, just across the border from Maine, the group’s volunteer members would respond to dozens of reports of whales entangled in fishing gear off the coast of New Brunswick. Though the giant marine animals could be unpredictable when trapped, for Howlett, setting a whale free was worth the painstaking, dangerous work, friends said.

“This is something he loved and there’s no better feeling than getting a whale untangled,” Mackie Greene, the captain of the whale rescue group, told the Canadian Press.

However, tragedy struck Monday when Howlett was killed in an operation to free a trapped North Atlantic right whale off the coast of New Brunswick.


Future of harness racing in Bangor questioned

Drivers and horses make their way around the track at the Bangor Raceway
Gabor Degre | BDN

A panel is recommending that the city look into new uses for Bass Park — putting into question whether Bangor’s 166-year-old harness racing industry has a future.

“Finding new revenues for the entire Bass Park complex is imperative, especially as the complex’s buildings mature,” the advisory board wrote in a June 6 report to the city — which also recommended that Bangor hire a traffic planner to study the impact of charging to park at the Cross Insurance Center.

And at least three members of the city council say it’s time to do something new with the property.

LePage: ‘Narcan will save lives’

Gov. Paul LePage speaks to members of the community during a drug summit at Crosspoint Church in Bangor.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN

Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday declared that an overdose-reversing drug he previously criticized is actually effective at saving lives — but that he still wants drug abusers to pay for it or be sent to rehab.

“I believe that Narcan will save lives. However, if you allow it to go 12, 13, 14, 15 times with the shots, the odds are against you,” the governor said Tuesday. “We have to say when we give you a shot: ‘You have to go to rehab or pay for it.’”

Narcan is the brand name of naloxone and can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The governor’s comments at a Bangor forum on substance abuse came after he last year vetoed a bill, which has since become law, to allow pharmacists to dispense to medicine without a prescription. At that time, LePage said, “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose.”

Maine lawmaker suggests in Facebook rant he would harm Trump

Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland
Troy R. Bennett | BDN

State Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland, has said he regrets a Facebook rant in which he seemed to imply he would harm President Donald Trump if given the chance.

“Trump is a half term president, at most, especially if I ever get within 10 feet of that pussy,” Hamann wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.

Maine philanthropist Peter Alfond dies of malaria at age 65

The late Peter Alfond. Photo courtesy of the Alfond Foundation

Maine philanthropist and former Dexter Shoe Co. executive Peter Alfond died Monday from malaria contracted during a recent trip to Africa, according to news accounts and his family’s foundation. He was 65.

A scion of one of Maine’s best-known families, Alfond contracted the disease while traveling with family, the Morning Sentinel reported.

Living and events

Belfast painter thrives off of the hustle of the art world

Artist Jerri Finch in her gallery in Belfast. Finch is a painter with a long history in midcoast Maine, but before arriving there she worked a wide variety of jobs all over the country.
Gabor Degre | BDN

If there is a driving force at the core of Belfast-based artist Jerri Finch’s career, it’s work. Hard work. Sometimes even back-breaking, lung-busting, demanding, physical work.

Though oil painting is her preferred medium these days, Finch has explored countless mediums including airbrushing, acrylics, graphite, bronze sculpture and quilting. But before art was her full-time gig, she did just about any job that came her way, no matter how physically demanding the task was. Work is what drives her, creative or otherwise.

“I can’t not paint. I can’t not create. But I also have to have the painting be something I can do for work. If it stops being work, I don’t want to do it anymore,” said the easy-going, chatty Finch, now 64. “I can’t have this be just a hobby. It doesn’t work that way for me.”

Pirate parley at Fort Knox

Leon Seymour

The Friends of Fort Knox and The Pirates of the Dark Rose crew would like you to join in a Pirate Parlay July 14-16 at Fort Knox on scenic Penobscot Bay on the Maine coast. Because of past years’ fun and skullduggery, this year the pirate festival at the Fort will be a whole weekend. Pirate Crews from up and down the East Coast will be meeting in a Pirate Parlay, and some will be sailing their pirate ships into cannon range of the Fort.

Jazz for Kids at the Blue Hill Public Library

The Blue Hill Public Library invites kids of all ages to a “Jazz for kids” concert by Fuchsia, a local jazz combo made up of recent George Stevens Academy alumni, at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 19.

This will be an interactive concert designed to introduce kids to jazz, improvisation, and interpreting jazz standards in a new way.

Film: ‘Something Good Will Come of This: A Maine Man’s Journey through the Opiate Epidemic

College of the Atlantic senior Ursa Beckford will host a screening of his film, “Something Good Will Come of This: A Maine Man’s Journey through the Opiate Epidemic,” at the Blue Hill Public Library at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 19.

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker, Ursa Beckford, and the subject of the film, Mike Bills.

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.

Volunteers needed for 70th Maine Lobster Festival

The Maine Lobster Festival is looking for volunteers to help with this year’s festival to be held Aug. 2-6. It takes more than 1,300 volunteers to run the festival each year.

Volunteer jobs include everything from setting up and taking down tents, to taking tickets, or cooking the lobsters served to guests. Volunteers will receive an exclusive “volunteer” shirt and free admission the day you volunteer.

If you wish to sign up, fill out an Online Volunteer Form from our website, mainelobsterfestival.com/festival-info/volunteer, or print a paper volunteer form and mail it in. Be specific about which job you’d like to sign up for. If you have any questions, email volunteer@mainelobsterfestival.com.

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.

Maine Huts & Trails backwoods duathlon with Baxter Outdoors

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.

Schooner Fare to kick off Paris Hill Music 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.


Poland Spring wants faster rail service for possible Lincoln bottling plant

A Pan Am Railways worker looks at rail cars along a section of track near the Coldbrook Road in Hermon.
Kevin Bennett | BDN

Poland Spring official says the region’s slow-moving freight train service may hurt its chances to host a $50 million bottling plant.

Due to wear and tear, track speeds are limited to about 10 mph on the Lincoln to Waterville track line owned by Pan-Am Railways, said Poland Spring Senior Natural Resource Manager Thomas Brennan.

That means that trains running from Lincoln to the Pan Am Railways facility the company uses in Waterville — 110 miles by road — would take nine hours to arrive.

“That’s not favorable,” Brennan said Wednesday. “Improved rail service could play a key role in where we go.”

Midcoast general store that first opened in 1832 goes up for sale

The General Store in Hope, Maine is for sale.
Alex Acquisto | BDN

The Hope General Store, an anchor in its small midcoast Maine town, has been put up for sale.

Michael Forcillo of Rockport, who co-owns the business with his wife Heather, announced the sale on the store’s Facebook page.

The Forcillos are asking $365,000 for store itself and the three-bedroom apartment on the second floor. The goal is to sell it to a buyer who intends to continue operating it as a general store, Forcillo said Tuesday afternoon.

With latest deal, Circle K owner steps up invasion from Canada

Vehicles pull up to the gas pumps at the Irving Circle K on Main Street in Bangor, Jan. 15, 2013.
Brian Swartz | BDN

A Canadian company is trying to corner the corner-store market in the United States.

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., which is based outside of Montreal and better known as the owner of Circle K stores, is poised to expand its footprint to 48 states with the acquisition of closely held Holiday Stationstores Inc., a deal announced Monday. The transaction, valued by analysts at $1.5 billion to $2 billion, extends a buying spree that crossed the border 16 years ago and has now gone global.


LePage, GOP claim victory for a budget full of policies they’ve long fought

Gabor Degre | BDN

The claims that Democrats lost big have come from the right and left sides of the political spectrum. And some Democratic priorities certainly took a hit.

But a close reading of the budget tells a more complicated tale — a tale that includes some victories for low-income Mainers that mostly happened under the radar, that will prove significant, and that fly in the face of LePage’s agenda.

Defunding Planned Parenthood takes away women’s control of their economic futures

George Danby | BDN

The people of Maine deserve policies coming out of Washington that better our lives and ensure our economic security. Having healthy residents and workers is key to ensuring a healthy economy, and new analysis suggests that Planned Parenthood has a significant impact on Maine’s economy. Through birth control, cancer screenings and STI testing and treatment, Planned Parenthood in 2014 saved Maine $7.9 million.

Yet, Republicans in Congress are considering legislation that jeopardizes access to the comprehensive reproductive health services Planned Parenthood provides.

SNAP cuts make it harder for Maine families to put food on the table

George Danby | BDN

I recently met a mother named Orianna. She receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits to help her afford enough nutritious food for herself, her son and her husband, who suffers from a debilitating medical condition. When her family receives SNAP, everything else becomes a bit easier — she can use the income from her job as a gas station cashier to pay the rent and other bills, and she knows her son will get the food he needs to learn and grow. But there have been times when her family lost access to SNAP, making their struggles harder.

What you come to realize quickly, when you talk with people like Orianna who receive help from SNAP, is that food is the foundation of a stable and healthy life.