US family sues federal government after 11-hour detention on Canadian border

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National and international

US family sues federal government after 11-hour detention on Canadian border

The family of six say they were stopped at the Canadian border on their way back home to Minnesota. They handed over their U.S. passports and the children’s birth certificates to a border patrol officer and waited in the car. Moments later, they say three border officials emerged from their office, guns drawn and pointed at the family. The children started screaming.

Thus begins Abdisalam Wilwal and Sagal Abdigani’s account of their nearly 11-hour detention at the hands of Department of Homeland Security officials, according a lawsuit filed Thursday on their behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union and a private law firm, Robins Kaplan.

The lawsuit contends that the U.S. government violated the constitutional rights of Wilwal, Abdigani and their four children by allegedly subjecting them to unreasonable search and seizure, and violating their right to due process when the family, all of whom are U.S. citizens, tried to re-enter the United States on March 30, 2015.

Toxic chemicals found in boxed mac and cheese

Boxed mac and cheese is a source of comfort food, but it’s also a source of toxic chemicals called phthalates, according to food safety advocates.

The Environmental Health Strategy Center is among the members of a coalition that had 30 cheese products tested, from sliced and shredded to 10 major brands of mac and cheese.

Executive Director Mike Belliveau says phthalates were detected in all mac ‘n cheese powders. “The phthalate levels in the mac and cheese were more than four times higher than any other cheese product.”

Retooled Senate GOP health care bill already in trouble

Senate Republican leaders released on Thursday a revised plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, playing to the party’s disparate factions by letting insurers sell cheap, bare-bones policies while retaining taxes on the wealthy, but quick criticism showed the health care overhaul is already in jeopardy.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, pushed hard by President Donald Trump to pass a health care bill and make good on Republicans’ seven-year mission to gut Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, is walking a tightrope.

Trump says ‘something could happen’ on climate accord

President Donald Trump held the door open to a reversal of his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord on Thursday, but did not say what he would need in return to persuade him to do so.

Trump, who has made few friends in Europe with his rejection of the 2015 Paris agreement and his “America First” trade stance, met with French President Emmanuel Macron as both leaders sought common ground to reset an awkward relationship.

“Something could happen with respect to the Paris accords, let’s see what happens,” Trump told a news conference. “If it happens, that will be wonderful, and if it doesn’t, that’ll be OK too.”

House Speaker Ryan urges Trump son to testify in Congress

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday urged President Donald Trump’s eldest son to testify to a congressional committee about alleged links between Trump’s team and Russia in the 2016 presidential election campaign.

“I think any witness who’s been asked to testify in Congress should do that,” Ryan said at a news conference.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, a Republican, plans to send a letter on Thursday to Donald Trump Jr. to ask him to testify before his committee in a public session, CNN reported.

If he appeared before the panel, Trump’s son would be the highest member of the Republican president’s inner circle of relatives and White House aides to testify in Congress about the Russia allegations.

Online shopping habits are hurting American jobs

More and more Americans are embracing a trend that labor groups have come to fear: We are shopping online now about as often as we take out the trash.

About a third of adults buy something on a computer or phone at least once per week, up from 21 percent in 2013, according to a new survey from a consulting firm that watches e-commerce trends.

The poll of roughly 1,600 people across the country also found that nearly half prefer to purchase goods on the web, the Walker Sands data show. These days, that includes just about everything: groceries, prescription refills, mattresses, party dresses. Just 4 percent of respondents said they avoided online deliveries entirely.

Our shifting preference, however, is taking a toll on certain retail jobs.


One town’s effort to save Maine’s forest economy reflects a statewide hope

Tom Cushman’s not an energy trader. Not exactly.

Every morning before heading into the woods, he checks the going rate for electricity, estimating whether the wood-to-energy plants he supplies are going to break even.

“If they haven’t got that, then they have to cut back production,” Cushman said. “And that means I’m going to have to cut back my production, which isn’t good.”

Cushman’s concerns from his southern Maine operation in Durham echo through places like the Aroostook County town of Ashland, where the same low power prices are dogging standalone wood-to-energy plants.

National Park Service to increase prices of senior passes eightfold

On Aug. 28, the National Park Service will increase the price of its lifetime senior passes from $10 to $80.

The park service has not increased the price of its lifetime senior pass since 1994. However, the new $80 price far outpaces inflation over the past 23 years — $10 in 1994 had the approximate value of between $16 and $17 in today’s money.

Whatever the cost, the paid passes are only necessary at 118 of the 417 National Park Service sites, as the other 299 don’t charge admission anyway. But here in Maine, this matters, because one of those 118 is Acadia National Park.

Democrat Mark Eves launches Maine gubernatorial run

Former Democratic Maine House Speaker Mark Eves told supporters on Thursday that he’ll run in 2018 to replace the term-limited Republican Gov. Paul LePage, his political and personal foe during his tenure in Augusta.

Eves, 40, a family therapist who now serves as executive director of Woodfords Family Services in Westbrook announced his bid during a Thursday evening barbecue at his North Berwick home after teasing the announcement in a video posted Thursday morning.

Eves told supporters that he’s “not Gov. LePage’s favorite person,” but implored people to not see political foes as “us and them” but rather as “friends.”

Zinke reaffirms status of two national monuments

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Thursday reaffirmed the status of two of the 27 national monuments under federal review.

Zinke, who has not yet said whether he would recommend changing the designation of Maine’s national monument, will advise President Donald Trump to leave untouched Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve in Idaho and Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington state. His review is due on Aug. 24.

“When the President and I began the monument review process we absolutely realized that not all monuments are the same and that not all monuments would require modifications,” Zinke said in a statement.

US suspends rescue efforts for entangled whales after Canadian fisherman dies

U.S. officials are temporarily barring anyone from approaching an entangled whale after a Canadian fisherman was killed trying to free one in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Joe Howlett, a fisherman from Campobello, was struck by a North Atlantic right whale on July 10, moments after he and other responders had freed it from fishing gear near Shippagan, New Brunswick, on the province’s northeast coast.

Campobello fisherman Joe Howlett [New England Aquarium]

“Because ensuring the safety of responders is of paramount importance, NOAA Fisheries is suspending all large whale entanglement response activities nationally until further notice, in order to review our own emergency response protocols in light of this event,” said Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for the fisheries division of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Clam Festival parade ‘tradition’ irks some Yarmouth residents

The Yarmouth Clam Festival is now less than two weeks away, and while some parade goers have already picked out, and locked up, their spots, others are accused of taking that tradition too far. They come in all sizes as early as January.

Big chairs, little chairs, old chairs, lawn chairs, lining up along Main Street weeks before the annual parade. For many it’s a tradition that makes them as happy as a clam, but recently something else has caught the attention of Yarmouth residents.

More Atlantic salmon are swimming in Penobscot, Down East rivers

On an average day in greater Bangor, most of the city’s residents pay little attention to the river that flows past, and even less attention to the invisible fish that are streaming northward in an annual return from the sea.

But the river flows on. And the fish, in various quantities each year, are there.

This year, fisheries experts at the Maine Department of Marine Resources say that there’s more Atlantic salmon in the Penobscot, and in Down East rivers then there have been in recent years.

Living and events

Unusual Maine moon sparks alien conspiracy theories

A photo of the moonrise over Casco Bay captured Sunday isn’t stirring up talk of Maine’s natural beauty. For some, it’s proof that aliens do exist.

The photo, snapped by John Stetson during an outing with the Southern Maine Community College at Dyer Point in Cape Elizabeth shows a bizarre, rectangular moon.

“The rising moon looked like an iceberg, faint and shaped like a giant block of ice,” Stetson told

In reality, the effect was the result of warm and cold air meeting off of Maine’s coast.

Meet a Maine man who can shuck 1,000 pounds of lobsters in a day

This man looks friendly, but lobsters should beware. He’s a trained killer. He thinks nothing of dropping them into boiling seawater by the bucketful. Not only that, he can turn a steaming, red-shelled carcass into a mound of mouthwatering meat in just a few seconds.

That’s bad for lobsters, but oh, so tasty for the rest of us.

Steve Cymbrak, 69, started shucking lobsters at The Clam Shack in Kennebunk 26 summers ago. Since then, with help from his disassembly line team, he’s dismembered something like a million pounds of lobster.

Made famous by Martha Stewart Living, Maine sea glass jewelry maker reflects on life and art

MOUNT DESERT, Maine — Inside Lisa Hall’s jewelry studio and store in Northeast Harbor, glass once carelessly tossed into the sea is transformed into art.

Cobalt blue, white, green, brown and other, rarer shades of lavender, red, orange and turquoise seem to glow in the sunlight streaming through the windows. Time and tides have worked their weathering magic on the shards of old bottles and other types of glass. Hall, who is perhaps Maine’s best-known maker of sea glass jewelry, said she still enjoys walking the shores of Great Cranberry Island off Mount Desert Island in search of more raw material to turn into necklaces, earrings, rings and more.

But it’s not as easy as it used to be.

“There’s not that much glass left,” Hall, 49, said.