Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
The high today will be in the low 70s, with a mostly cloudy sky and a chance for scattered showers. Check your local forecast here.
National and international
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, plans to detail four meetings he had with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and transition period — including one with a Russian lawyer set up by Donald Trump Jr. — but deny any improper contacts or collusion in testimony to Congress on Monday.
Kushner describes his interactions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and other Russian officials as typical contacts in his role as the Trump campaign’s liaison to foreign governments, according to an 11-page prepared statement he plans to submit for the record, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.
Kushner is scheduled to testify in closed-door sessions, first before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday and then before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, as part of the congressional probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election and contacts between Russia and Trump campaign officials and associates.
In his testimony, which will be submitted to the congressional committees before he answers questions from lawmakers, Kushner says he has had only “limited contacts” with Russian representatives and denies any wrongdoing.
“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” Kushner writes. “I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.”
Wayne Atkins thought little of the blisters he had gotten while hiking. He was trekking up and down the 4,500-foot-high Mount Garfield in New Hampshire — a 10-mile round trip — and blisters were no surprise.
He was in the Granite State for a family member’s early June wedding, which went off without a hitch, even with the blisters. But things soured when he returned to Miami, according to Manchester, New Hampshire, ABC affiliate WMUR-TV.
The blisters didn’t go away. In fact, they started hurting more than Atkins expected, according to the news station. And he started feeling ill.
Worried, he went to the hospital, where he learned things were much worse than he’d thought, his mother told news organizations. Atkins would spend the next month fighting for his life as his body was devoured by flesh-eating bacteria.
“I’ve done a bad thing.”
That’s what the 5-year-old daughter of Andre Spicer told her dad, in tears. Her crime? Selling lemonade for about 66 cents at a stand she set up herself at the end of her block.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions about a Washington Post report that he may have discussed campaign-related matters with Russia’s ambassador to Washington last year.
Franken, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, said he believes Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, also wants Sessions to testify on the matter.
“What I do know is what I read, which is that I guess someone in Kislyak’s position can sometimes distort what he says when he is reporting back to build himself up,” Franken told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I also saw in those reports that Kislyak isn’t that type. And it seems to me that since Attorney General Sessions hasn’t been terribly truthful regarding these things that it’s more likely that what Kislyak was saying was the case.”
At least nine men were found dead on Sunday alongside dozens of people discovered inside a sweltering tractor-trailer parked at a Walmart store in San Antonio, Texas, in what authorities called a case of “ruthless” human trafficking.
Thirty people, many in critical condition and suffering from heatstroke and exhaustion, were removed from the trailer, which lacked air conditioning or a water supply, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said. Temperatures outside the vehicle topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Walgreens’ pharmacies are the only ones in Bangor selling the anti-overdose medication Narcan without a prescription even though for nearly a month state law has allowed such over-the-counter sales.
Emergency legislation that became law in late June specifically authorized pharmacists not to require prescriptions for naloxone, which can reverse an opiate overdose and is commonly sold as Narcan nasal spray. Yet the Bangor Daily News has found that of the 15 pharmacies in Bangor, only the two Walgreens stores, on Broadway and Oak Street, sell Narcan that way.
If all goes to plan, a $69 million waste-to-energy plant planned for Hampden will be up and running by April 1, 2018, according to the partnership that is building it.
Sargent Corp. began earth work at the site on July 5 and foundation construction is expected to start in late summer or early fall. Building construction is scheduled to get underway in mid-fall or early winter, the Municipal Review Committee said in its July newsletter.
“The MRC, Fiberight, the town of Hampden, Sargent Corporation and CES [the Brewer-based engineering firm involved in the planning] have developed a construction timeline for the remaining items to be completed that meets the needs of all parties,” the MRC said in its newsletter.
“We are very pleased to report that this timeline is realistic and still shows the Fiberight facility opening by April 1, 2018, despite the many setbacks and hurdles we have had to overcome,” it said.
Luddon was traveling south on Route 2 about 3:30 p.m. when a woman drove her car out of the parking lot of Drinkwater’s Variety and into the path of his motorcycle, according to police.
The Department of Health and Human Services vastly overestimated how much a local nonprofit organization must repay for overbilling, state officials said Friday.
Rather than $1.3 million, Manna Ministries only owes the state $496,836, according to department spokeswoman Samantha Edwards.
When the Bangor Daily News told Manna Executive Director William Rae on Friday how much the debt had dropped, he said, “I feel totally blessed.”
Living and events
The butterflies were roosting on a recent foggy morning in Charlotte Rhoades Park and Butterfly Garden. Wings shut, they clung to the undersides of leaves and colorful blossoms, waiting in shelter for the sun.
“Their bodies need to be warm in order for them to function — and functioning is nectaring, mating, laying eggs, flying around,” said Ann Judd, master gardener and volunteer at the butterfly garden since it first opened in 1998 on Main Street in Southwest Harbor.
Judd knows her butterflies, and she’ll be sharing her knowledge with attendees of the garden’s annual butterfly release Thursday, July 27, starting at 3:30 p.m., when volunteers will pass out containers holding painted lady butterflies.
Maine gets sweltering hot in the summer, but having an AC can be expensive on the electricity bill, not to mention they are loud and heavy. For as little as $20 you can make your own AC unit and impress your friends with some sick MacGyver skills.
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/
Children aged 8 and above are invited to join author Liza Gardner Walsh at the Blue Hill Public Library at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4, when she discusses her recent book, “Ghost Hunter’s Handbook.”
Kids will learn some tips about how to be a good ghost hunter, and how to tell a spooky ghost story. They will also investigate the library for any possible hauntings.
Participants will take home instructions to make their very own electroscopes to help them on their supernatural pursuits.
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.
Catalyst Paper Corp. wants Maine taxpayers to sweeten a $56-million investment in a tissue-making machine at its Rumford mill, as part of a company overhaul plan of untold cost that it calls Project Falcon.
The company said the project would allow it to take advantage of a growing market for the tissue paper, and even has a “major paper merchant” lined up to buy all that the new machine can produce. Catalyst told state investors the tissue paper enterprise will be able to support 62 full-time jobs, worth $79 million in annual payroll and benefits.
The development team interested in developing the east side of Saco Island hopes to begin construction in 2018.
This was one of the pieces of information shared at a public meeting held Tuesday at Thornton Academy by developer Bernie Saulnier and his associates.
Saco Island, located in the Saco River on the south side of the city, was once a busy factory district.
The west side of the island is now home to the city’s train station as well as former mill buildings that have been redeveloped into residential and commercial units. However, the east side of the island is a six-acre plot that has long been vacant.
It is not hard to see why people celebrate Independence Day and forget the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War, even though that period was, in many respects, a Second Founding that re-created the republic and the Constitution.
John McCain embodies the American ideal of service and dedication. His brain cancer diagnosis is a sad and upsetting development and we join many others in wishing him a full and speedy recovery.
If we can sympathize with the health woes of a rich, well-connected man, we should be doubly sympathetic to a single mom without insurance who faces a similar diagnosis, or to an elderly nursing home resident who long ago drained his bank account paying for care.
He blusters and bumbles, and the business of government limps along despite him, rather than following his lead.
But is this how a future dictator prepares the way for a seizure of power? It looks a lot more like the thrashings of a man who got his training for leadership on the set of “The Apprentice.” Trump is a dilettante, and it shows.