Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
The high today will be in the mid-80s, with a mix of sun and clouds. Check your local forecast here.
National and international
Some of President Donald Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.
Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.
With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.
A conflict of interest is one of the possible grounds that can be cited by an attorney general to remove a special counsel from office under Justice Department regulations that set rules for the job.
Chester Bennington, the lead vocalist of rock band Linkin Park, was found dead in a Southern California home Thursday, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirmed.
He was 41.
Law enforcement called the L.A. County Medical Examiner-Coroner shortly after 9 a.m. on Thursday, reporting an apparent suicide, said department spokesman Brian Elias. The investigation into Bennington’s death is ongoing.
The news, first reported by TMZ, came just hours after Linkin Park released a music video for “Talking To Myself” off the band’s 2017 album, “One More Light.”
The son of Cecil the lion – Zimbabwe’s beloved big cat, whose death at the hands of an American trophy hunter triggered widespread outrage two summers ago – has been killed as well, according to reports.
The Facebook group Lions of Hwange National Park said Thursday that Xanda, who was 6 and had several cubs, was fatally shot several days ago by another trophy hunter in Zimbabwe.
“We can’t believe that now, 2 years since Cecil was killed, that his oldest Cub Xanda has met the same fate,” it said. “When will the Lions of Hwange National Park be left to live out their years as wild born free lions should?”
O.J. Simpson will soon be a free man. Again. A four-member parole board in Carson City, Nevada, voted unanimously Thursday to curtail his 33-year prison sentence for kidnapping and armed robbery, stemming from a confrontation over sports memorabilia in Las Vegas in 2007.
The football legend and abusive husband, now 70 years old, could be released as soon as October 1 into a world that’s still fascinated by his plummet from grace.
As the proceedings got underway around 10 a.m., Nevada time, a smiling Simpson entered the hearing room at the Lovelock Correctional Center dressed in a light blue shirt with billowy sleeves, his hair splotched white, his voice gravelly. Seated at a desk with his attorney, Simpson was by turns affable and testy, humbled and defiant.
“I always thought I’ve been pretty good with people,” Simpson told the four-member parole board by video link, “and have basically spent a conflict-free life.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, used his signature snark to warn colleagues that he will be returning soon to Washington – and chastised the Trump administration for ending assistance to moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad.
The twin statements served as reminders of the outsized role the 80-year old senator plays on Capitol Hill. Republicans badly need him to return as they try to shore up a weeks-long debate on a health-care overhaul. And he has been more willing than most Republicans to buck his party and the president to demand more decisive action to bolster the nation’s security, particularly in areas involving the country’s cyber defenses and posture against Russia.
McCain announced late Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with a tumor called a glioblastoma after surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye last week. The tumor is an aggressive type of brain cancer, and the prognosis is generally poor.
The embattled Democratic lawmaker who was kicked off two Legislative committees for online comments implying he’d hurt President Donald Trump, offered a lengthy apology from the floor of the Maine House of Representatives Thursday.
Last week, Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland was embroiled in controversy over a Facebook post in which he wrote that Trump is likely to serve an abbreviated term in office “especially if I ever get within 10 feet of that pussy.”
The comments were reported by both national and state media, and Hamann has been raked over the coals by Democrats and Republicans alike. On Thursday, the 36-year-old lawmaker told his colleagues in the House that he was there “to own each and every word” of the post.
Gov. Paul LePage said he may jump into the U.S. Senate race after all.
Speaking to a Portland radio station Thursday morning, the governor said he’s getting pressure to reconsider his decision to steer clear of the 2018 contest.
U.S. Sen. Angus King, a first-term Maine independent, has only one challenger to his re-election bid so far, Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn.
LePage said Brakey is “a great guy and a good person,” but his campaign hasn’t yet caught hold with voters.
If Brakey “doesn’t start resonating pretty quick” with the public, LePage said, he may change his mind and jump into the race after all.
The rusted fishing boat that has been stuck in river mud in Hampden since 2011 doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
Six years after the boat ran aground in the Penobscot River near the Bangor city line, the state has decided not to try to force its owner to pay to get rid of it. And if the owner of the mudflat wants the boat gone, he can pay for its removal, state officials say.
But the property owner says he’s in no rush.
“I’m not jumping right on it,” said Wendell Sproul, who owns Waterfront Marine, which includes the mudflat. “I don’t care about the boat. The state doesn’t care. The town doesn’t care.”
Police are investigating the body of a woman found in around dawn Wednesday morning in Cherryfield as a homicide.
The woman’s body was spotted along the side of Route 193 by a passing motorist around 5:30 a.m., Maine State Police Lt. Troy Gardner said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Beddington.
Gardner said the death is being investigated as a homicide.
Maine State Police divers have been searching the Presumpscot River in Westbrook this week in hopes of finding clues to the location of a missing Portland man.
A brief update provided by Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland Thursday afternoon did not indicate what investigators hoped to find in the river, but described the search as being “for clues.”
“The nine-member dive team spent three hours in the water this morning and nothing was found,” McCausland said in a short email statement. “The team was also in the river on Saturday.”
Police are looking for anything that might point to the whereabouts of Sebastian Kelley, 30, of Portland, who was last seen around Gilman Street in the city on June 17.
A $105 million transportation bond proposal cruised through the Maine Legislature on Thursday, but Republican opposition stalled a $40 million student debt relief plan from a strange tag-team: Gov. Paul LePage and Democrats.
Living and events
It all started with the hoochie-coochie girls at the Skowhegan Fair. When Eleanor Cain was a little girl growing up in the Somerset County town of Madison, her family made an annual pilgrimage to the sprawling agricultural fair at the county seat.
On the dusty midway, she remembers glimpsing the undulating dance of scantily-clad women, wiggling and swaying and beckoning to the men in the crowd to part with a few hard-earned dollars in exchange for unspecified pleasures beyond the curtained entry to the tent behind the dance platform.
The cheesy carnival setting, the tattered costumes, the unskilled moves of the underpaid dancers — it left a big impression on the small-town girl, a common impression she thinks has tainted the perception of belly dancing for many New Englanders.
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.
The Seal Cove Auto Museum will host a murder mystery dinner amid its collection of elegant early 1900s automobiles from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 23. The event is hosted in partnership with the Jesup Memorial Library.
“Murder is for the Birds” is a classic whodunit, a play in three acts written by local murder mystery authors Bob and Robin Lawton. Guests will be transported back to July of 1909, when an eclectic mix of auto racers gather in Bar Harbor for a two-day road rally. But the event goes horribly awry when a murder occurs! It is the task of the guests to unravel the mystery and identify the killer before dessert is served.
Featuring photography by Catherine Frost, this exhibition showcases photographs of 30 Muslim young women from Deering and Lewiston High Schools.
Each of these young women has engaged with the Justice for Women program, an organization formed in collaboration with Catherine Lee of Lee International and the University of Southern Maine School of Law with the stated mission, “To promote global conversation about justice that inspires people to transform the lives of women and girls in both Maine and the developing world.”
The exhibit is on display from July 28 to Aug. 16 at Maine College of Art, Zand Head an Friedman Galleries, Congress Street, in Portland.
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/
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.
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.
Join ReVision Energy and Full Circle Farm for a solar open house 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Aug. 5. The solar open house will take place during Full Circle Farm’s regularly scheduled farmers market.
Guests can stop by to learn how Full Circle Farm is locking into long-term energy savings and lowering their carbon footprint as a local business. Guests can also pick-up their favorite locally-sourced foods during the visit to Full Circle Farm.
A Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be held noon Sunday, Aug. 6, at West Market Square in Bangor.
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.
Come join us for a hike up John B. Mountain in Brooksville and bring your picnic supper — we have entertainment of stellar quality!
Starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, we will experience a partial solar eclipse positioned in the beautifully picturesque direction over Cape Rosier and Penobscot Bay.
Plan on at least a 10 minute hike to the top. The maximum eclipse will occur at 6:47 p.m. and the sun will set by 7:31 p.m.
Enjoy an early fall bike ride while supporting local farmers and producers. Ride 56, 42 or 17 miles through the Midcoast countryside, stopping at farms along the way to sample and purchase their products.
The ride is 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at The Morris Farm, 156 Gardiner Road, Wiscasset.
Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling wants to require developers in the city to include more low-income housing in their projects.
Strimling announced Wednesday a proposal to raise the percentage of low-income housing to be included in large residential projects to 20 percent, as well as lower the income eligibility requirements for tenants seeking access to those units.
“Portland’s housing crisis has not gone away,” Strimling said in a Wednesday statement. “While our current Ordinance was an important step in the right direction, it is clear we must do more. Additionally, I feel the current income eligibility requirements are too high to make enough of an impact so I am proposing they be lowered to reach more of our residents.”
The Treasury Department fined ExxonMobil Corp. $2 million for “egregious” violations of sanctions against Russia when now-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson still was chief executive.
Exxon violated Ukraine-related sanctions by signing eight legal documents related to oil and gas projects in Russia with Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft, who is on Treasury’s list of sanctioned Russian nationals. The violations occurred from about May 14-23, 2014, while Tillerson led the company, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement released Thursday.
Exxon “did not voluntarily self-disclose the violations,” which “constitute an egregious case,” according to the statement. “Exxon Mobil’s senior-most executives knew of Sechin’s status” as subject to the sanctions when the documents were signed, the Treasury Department statement said.
Albert Yee said the coffee was everywhere you looked in the densely packed vendor stalls along avenues in Malaysian cities: an instant mix with a natural ingredient similar to what’s found in Viagra that helps men with erectile dysfunction. And he wanted a piece of the action.
“There are whole streets of it, like tequila in Mexico,” Yee told The Washington Post by phone Thursday, describing how his one-man import business outside of Dallas is now at the center of a nationwide voluntary recall coordinated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The Department of Justice announced on Thursday it had dropped a requirement that Harley-Davidson spend $3 million to fight air pollution as part of a settlement reached with the Obama administration.
The Milwaukee-based company will remain responsible for $12 million in fines for selling illegal “Screaming Eagle” motorcycle tuners. But it will no longer be compelled to pay $3 million to an American Lung Association project promoting cleaner burning cook stoves.
I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government.
I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.
The number of such cases seems endless, the stories repetitive. They detail frequent abuse, drunkenness, fleeing wives and pursuing husbands. Their ownership of their wives challenged, husbands delivered a clear message: “If I can’t have you, nobody can.”
The physical site of Pineland has been transformed into a beautiful and productive resource, but I fear the institutional neglect of Pineland has taken on a more modern form in Maine.