Good morning, Maine. Here is your morning briefing.
The high today will be in the mid-80s, with plenty of sun and a few clouds. Check your local forecast here.
National and international
Justice Department officials are planning a new project to investigate and sue universities over affirmative action admissions policies they determine discriminate against white applicants, according to a U.S. government official.
The project will be based out of the department’s civil rights division, which is now looking for lawyers interested in working on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions,” according to a person familiar with an internal announcement in the civil rights division.
“Yet again, the Sessions Justice Department, led by the political leadership and marginalizing the career employees, is changing course on a key civil rights issue,” Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Obama, said in a statement to The Washington Post.
Gupta, who is now president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, called the new project “an affront to our values as a country and the very mission of the civil rights division.”
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed former Justice Department lawyer Christopher Wray as FBI chief, nearly three months after the agency’s previous director, James Comey, was fired by President Donald Trump.
Wray, who was confirmed by vote of 92-5, will take charge of the country’s top domestic law enforcement agency during a federal probe into allegations of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.
The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration said in an email to staff members over the weekend that President Donald Trump had “condoned police misconduct” in remarking to officers in Long Island that they need not protect suspects’ heads when loading them into police vehicles.
Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg wrote that he felt obligated to respond to the president’s comments “because we have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong.” He cited the agency’s core values – among them integrity, accountability and respect and compassion.
“This is how we conduct ourselves. This is how we treat those whom we encounter in our work: victims, witnesses, subjects, and defendants. This is who we are,” Rosenberg wrote.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Tuesday for a dialogue with North Korea and acknowledged that U.S. relations with Russia have worsened during the Trump administration.
During wide-ranging comments at the State Department marking six months since his confirmation, Tillerson told reporters the United States does not aim to depose the government in Pyongyang or use military force.
“We do not seek a regime change, we do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th Parallel,” he said.
“We are trying to convey to the North Koreans: ‘We are not your enemy, we are not your threat. But you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond.’”
Dial 911 for poo.
That’s Old Orchard Beach Town Manager Larry Mead’s message to people concerned about beachgoers publicly defecating in the southern Maine vacation town.
Last week, resident and visitors raised complaints about people pooping in public places along the town’s long beach because of a lack of public restrooms nearby.
A lengthy airing of grievances by Portland city leaders ended Monday night without a clear path to resolving the long-simmering tensions between Mayor Ethan Strimling and City Manager Jon Jennings.
The City Council workshop brought into full public view the degree to which the two men’s enmity and distrust has occupied city government over the last year — a distraction that Councilor Nicholas Mavodones decried as taking up “more time … than any of you have any idea.”
“The council is telling you, Mr. Mayor, that you need to get it together,” Councilor Spencer Thibodeau said. “This cannot continue.”
Maine on Tuesday joined 14 other states in a lawsuit seeking to force the federal government to adhere to a deadline laid out in the Clean Air Act.
In October 2015, when President Obama was still in office, the EPA raised national air quality standards for smog. The Clean Air Act requires the agency to publicly identify within two years — in this case, by Oct. 1, 2017 — which areas of the country are in compliance with new standards.
But EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently extended the deadline for making such determinations by a year. Pruitt in June said that there was “insufficient information” to make the designations and that he would postpone the deadline for doing so until Oct. 1, 2018.
The states are hoping to force EPA and Pruitt to stick to the schedule as laid out by the Clean Air Act.
The Phippsburg Board of Selectmen on Monday filed an appeal with the Maine Board of Environmental Protection asking that it reconsider a permit granted to a Popham Beach homeowner to remove about 150 pilings that previously supported a pier used by the Eastern Steamship Company.
Jackson and Susan Parker of Woolwich received permits from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers to remove the pilings, which are set on the beach below the low tide line.
Jack Parker said at a November selectmen’s meeting that he wanted to remove the pilings “to protect the beach from erosion with rising sea levels,” according to meeting minutes. “He claimed he had no ulterior motive, as had been rumored, for building a dock or adding a mooring and offered to answer any questions.”
Living and events
There was a time, said Sister Cynthia Serjak, spokeswoman for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, when a Catholic girl had daily interactions with nuns, either at school or through the church.
“Things are different now and that world no longer exists,” she said. “Many women grow up very Catholic but never meet a sister because there are not so many of us left, so as those girls come into adulthood they may not know sisterhood is an option.”
It was hard to miss the spate of headlines declaring the Amazonian’s candidacy last week. Variety got the ball rolling with a report that Warner Bros. is considering a big-time push for the film to get a best picture nomination and for director Patty Jenkins to get a nod. And the reason Warner Bros. thinks now’s the time for a comic book to break through the pulp ceiling? The film’s brilliant artistry? Its director’s impressive filmmaking chops? The genius performances?
Nah. It’s just partisan politics. Or identity politics. Or some lame combination of the two.
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.
Poland Spring owner Nestle’s plan to draw up to 172 million gallons per year from a well in Lincoln received the blessing of utility regulators who deemed Tuesday that such a deal wouldn’t harm other customers of the Lincoln Water District.
Nestle wants to fill about 100 tankers per day and haul the water from Lincoln to bottling plants in Poland; Hollis; Kingfield; Framingham, Massachusetts; and other bottling facilities, according to its permit request.
The company and water district said that quantity of water roughly equals what the shuttered Lincoln Paper and Tissue mill drew annually from the Lincoln Water District’s Well No. 4.
The ferry that runs between between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, was canceled Monday, July 31, and Tuesday, Aug. 1, because of technical problems.
Bay Ferries made the announcement on its website Monday that 3 p.m. departure trip from Portland to Yarmouth, and the trip back to Portland, which was scheduled to leave at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, would not run.
Furniture company West Elm announced plans Tuesday to build a 150-room boutique hotel as part of the redevelopment of a larger waterfront complex in Portland.
The hotel is proposed to be included in the redevelopment of the historic Portland Co. complex on the eastern waterfront, overseen by Portland Foreside Development Company, LLC.
West Elm, which has a furniture retail store in the city’s downtown, has been branching out into hospitality through a partnership with hotel management company DDK.
Appraisers dropped the value of Verso’s Jay paper mill more than 18 percent this year, which the Sun Journal reported will likely cause a spike in property taxes as the town also reimburses the company for valuations in past years.
Jay’s industrial appraisers valued the property at $291.4 million, down from a value of $357.9 million in 2016. Town officials told the Sun Journal that’s likely going to mean an increase in taxes as they also try to pay back past years of contested tax bills.
Maine lawmakers have been working over the last several months on a bill — LD 182 — that would ban the sale of new furniture containing flame retardants. Their actions are no doubt driven by a desire to reduce people’s exposure to chemicals, and while the intentions are laudable, the science shows the outcome may leave Mainers more vulnerable to fires with no discernible benefits to human health.
This bill does not move Maine’s solar policy forward as much as it keeps it from moving backward. Should LD 1504 pass, Maine still will be setting unfortunate precedents for solar policy, including an arbitrary stepped-down compensation scheme for solar energy credits that has yet to be implemented anywhere else in the country.
Last month, New Jersey became the third state to raise the legal age for tobacco purchases to 21. Maine should become the fourth.
In June, Maine lawmakers easily passed a bill to do just that and voted again in late July to send the bill to the governor after financial issues were resolved. Gov. Paul LePage told WVOM last week that he vetoed the bill, which would raise from 18 to 21 the legal age for the purchase of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices. The governor did not actually sign a letter vetoing LD 1170until Tuesday.
Lawmakers should override this veto when they return to Augusta on Wednesday.