Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
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National and international
Are chronic marijuana users really more relaxed than everyone else?
You might be surprised to learn that the research to date on this question is mixed. One recent study found that while low doses of THC (the active chemical compound in pot) helped people cope with stressful situations, moderate to higher doses actually made people stress out even more.
But that particular study simply measured the effects of a single dose of THC — what about the effects of repeated heavy cannabis use?
Enter new research from Washington State University, recently published in the journal Psychopharmacology. The study recruited two groups of 40 people: One group had used marijuana nearly every day for at least a year, and the other comprised people who weren’t marijuana users.
Researchers found that the heavy users subjected to a battery of stress tests reacted with equanimity and chill even though they weren’t stoned at the time of the test.
This is somewhat unsurprising: Surveys show that “relaxation” is the No. 1 reason cited by marijuana users for why pot is their drug of choice. This research confirms that they’re probably not just deluding themselves and that over the long term, marijuana use does perhaps lead to a somewhat more relaxed outlook on life.
resident Donald Trump’s communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, is leaving the job after little over a week, the White House said on Monday, in the latest staff upheaval to hit the Republican’s six-month-old presidency.
Days after Scaramucci launched a profanity-laced tirade against fellow aides, the New York Times and Politico reported on Monday that Trump removed him at the request of the new White House chief of staff, retired General John Kelly.
“Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director,” the White House said in a statement. “Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best.”
Scaramucci’s departure follows one of the rockiest weeks of Trump’s presidency in which a major legislative effort — a healthcare overhaul — failed in Congress and both his spokesman and previous chief of staff left their jobs.
President Donald Trump took aim at insurers on Monday in an escalating threat to cut the healthcare subsidy payments that make Obamacare plans affordable, after repeatedly urging Republican senators to keep working to undo his Democratic predecessor’s health care law.
“If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldn’t it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what public pays?” Trump, a Republican, wrote on Twitter.
Trump, frustrated that he and Republicans have not been able to keep campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, has threatened to let it implode. So far, the administration has continued to make the monthly subsidy payments, but withholding them would be one way to make good on Trump’s threat.
Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff whose extreme stance on illegal immigration made him a household name, was convicted Monday of criminal contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton wrote that Arpaio had shown a “flagrant disregard” for the court’s command and that his attempt to pin the conduct on those who worked for him rang hollow.
“Not only did Defendant abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise,” Bolton wrote.
The White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued a preliminary report Monday stating that its “first and most urgent recommendation” is for the president to “declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.”
“With approximately 142 Americans dying [of drug overdose] every day,” the report notes, “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”
The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, states the goals of such a declaration would be to “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”
In 2015, according to CDC figures, heroin deaths alone surpassed gun homicides for the first time. More than 33,000 people died of opioid overdose, with another 20,000 dying from other drugs. A recent federal study found that prescription painkillers are now more widely used than tobacco.
Los Angeles reached an agreement with the leaders of the International Olympic Committee on plans to host the 2028 Summer Games.
The accord calls for the IOC to contribute $1.8 billion to $2 billion toward the hosting costs, depending on the value of potential new marketing deals for the city, according to a statement released Monday by the LA 2024 bid committee.
“This is an historic day for Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in the statement. “L.A. 2028 will kick-start our drive to make L.A. the healthiest city in America, by making youth sports more affordable and accessible than ever before.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that President Donald Trump has “100 percent confidence” in all of his Cabinet members, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose performance Trump has repeatedly publicly criticized.
Sanders was asked during a White House briefing about rumors that Trump could move Sessions to lead the Department of Homeland Security, where there is now a vacancy after Trump’s appointment of Secretary John Kelly as his new White House chief of staff.
“There are no conversations about any Cabinet members moving in any capacity, and the president has 100 percent confidence in all members of his Cabinet,” Sanders said.
Ryan Lizza, politics writer for The New Yorker magazine, said Monday that he pretty much knew right away last week, as soon as he hung up the phone with Anthony Scaramucci, that he had a big story on his hands.
He did not know, he told a lecture hall full of people at College of the Atlantic, that Scaramucci’s tenure at communications director for President Donald Trump would last only a few more days. News of Scaramucci’s firing broke Mondayafternoon only a couple of hours before Lizza’s planned appearance at the Bar Harbor college.
The mother of an 18-year-old woman who was shot to death by police in February in Vassalboro plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the three officers who fired their weapons.
Jessica Fagre filed a notice of claim against the officers, as well as the Vassalboro Police Department, the town of Vassalboro, Kennebec County and Col. Robert A. Williams, the head of the Maine State Police.
Her daughter, Ambroshia “Amber” Fagre, 18, of Oakland, was fatally wounded along with Kadhar Bailey, 25, of Gardiner on Feb. 10 on Arnold Road. Bailey was driving the truck in which Fagre was a passenger and reportedly had rammed a police cruiser moments before the shooting.
Gov. Paul LePage looks to be leading a Republican civil war against U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ 2018 gubernatorial bid before anyone’s sure she’ll declare one and as she sits at the center of the national health care debate.
The governor railed against the moderate Republican senator at a Saturday pig roast put on by the Somerset County Republican Committee in Canaan, where an attendee said LePage repeatedly mentioned working to defeat Collins if she runs for governor next year.
The number of great white sharks may be increasing in the Gulf of Maine.
That’s because population management of both the sharks and their main food, seals, means that there are a lot more of both than there once were — so populations are spreading.
Living and events
Sam Shepard, paragon playwright of the American West, was born to roam.
With a father who was an Army officer and sometime farmer and a mother who was a teacher, Shepard — born in 1943, the oldest of three — spent his childhood bouncing around the heartland. This would later inform his writing, which often explored the fringes of society and the failure of the nuclear family.
Shepard eventually found a home in California — in Duarte, where he would graduate high school, and in Chico, where he worked as a stable hand. But eventually his roaming would take him east, to New York City and the stage that would make him a legend.
Shepard died Thursday, surrounded by family, at his home in Kentucky of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 73.
There was the dry, husky voice that hinted at a million smoked Gauloises. There were the dark eyes, carnal and enigmatic. There was the brooding, slightly downward curve of her lips, a sultry pout that could flash capriciously into a beguiling smile. She was playful and dangerous.
The French actress Jeanne Moreau, who became one of the most popular and bewitching film stars of the 1960s, died July 31 at 89 in Paris. Her career spanned seven decades and nearly 150 movie and TV roles, establishing her as the thinking man’s femme fatale.
Cable channel HBO urged critics of its planned slavery-themed drama “Confederate” to reserve judgment until the show develops further, in response to an intense social media campaign demanding that the project be axed.
The hashtag #NoConfederate was a top-trending Twitter topic worldwide on Sunday after April Reign, the woman behind the #OscarsSoWhite campaign two years ago, urged people to send a message to HBO objecting to the show.
Critics of the concept have deemed it both offensive and inappropriate, especially coming from two white male creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of HBO’s medieval fantasy series “Game of Thrones.”
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.
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.
Coast Guard cutter Eagle, “America’s Tall Ship,” is scheduled to visit Portland Aug. 4-7.
The 295-foot Barque Eagle is set to dock around 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4, downtown at Portland Ocean Terminal and will be giving free tours 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 5 and 6.
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.
Take a one hour trip into the world of spiders with guide, Donne Sinderson, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Old Town.
Donne, an amateur arachnologist and Maine Master Naturalist, will introduce attendees to different types of spiders and how their survival strategies. Then, attendees will head out to look for spiders in the field and forest.
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 cool breezes of Maine’s northlands have flowed through the songs of David Mallett for more than four decades. His latest, “Greenin Up,” is a compilation of some re-recordings of his finest work. “Greenin’ Up” is the culmination of a musical career that began when Mallett was 11 years old, playing in a country and folk duo.
Join us for a remarkable evening of entertainment and to enjoy the talents of singer/songwriter David Mallett from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 10 at Triangle Park in Calais. This concert is brought to you by The St. Croix Valley Chamber of Commerce and is generously sponsored by Washington County Community College and WQDY, Calais.
The concert is free and open to the public. This event helps kick off the 2017 International Homecoming 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.
The Brunswick Downtown Association will host the 11th annual Brunswick Outdoor Arts Festival 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19.
Works from more than 100 artists will be displayed along the sidewalks of Maine Street and the Town Mall. This juried, fine arts and crafts exhibit represents a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, mixed media, graphics and drawing, photography, and fine crafts.
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.
The 40th Annual Northeast Harbor Road Race to benefit the Northeast Harbor Ambulance Service will be held 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Great Harbor Museum on Main Street in Northeast Harbor.
The first 75 entrants will receive T-shirts. Registration is $30 until Aug. 12.
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.
Maine’s utility customer advocate and attorney general joined counterparts in 27 other states to oppose cutting federal heating assistance programs for low-income households, which is proposed as part of President Donald Trump’s 2018 federal budget.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and Public Advocate Barry Hobbins, both Democrats, co-signed a letter to members of Congress that asks them “to oppose any measure that would reduce or eliminate funding for these critical programs” and instead increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program.
“Accidental restaurateurs” Will and Pia Neilson opened Solo Bistro on Front Street in Bath 13 years ago after spending a year searching for someone to open “an upscale restaurant” in the building they’d bought.
“We were actually never restaurant people at all,” Will Neilson said Friday. “I used to be a corporate lawyer in New York.”
“In the end, we decided to give it a try by ourselves, which was hardly the wisest thing to do, but it became quite a good restaurant,” he said.
Amazon.com is under federal investigation for possibly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, the online giant said Friday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company says it sold and delivered about $34,000 worth of products — including books, software, consumer electronics, musical instruments and jewelry — to an Iranian embassy, as well as to others with links to the Iranian government, between January 2012 and June 2017. The company says it also sold about $300 worth of items to a person on the U.S. government’s terrorism watch list.
Bangor has a lot going for it — a rejuvenating downtown and growing arts scene are drawing people and their money. But, like much of the rest of Maine, it is facing challenges as its population stagnates and businesses struggle to find workers.
To draw new residents, the city needs to up its profile as a great place to live.
There is a deep and growing cultural divide between rural Americans and those living in urban centers, with seven in 10 rural residents saying their values differ from those who live in the big city.
Nowhere is that divide more visible than in Maine’s referendum process, which is largely driven by out-of-state organizations gathering signatures around Maine’s largest cities to get their issues on our ballot.
Ten years ago last month, Maine joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This historic, market-based initiative among nine states puts a limit on climate-changing carbon pollution from power plants. It has been a remarkable success by any measure. Now, the states are nearing the end of a periodic review of the program. Maine leaders at that table must work to strengthen the program to ensure it continues benefiting Maine’s environment, economy and energy consumers.