A 9-year-old ‘alien’ applies to be NASA’s planetary protection officer

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National and international

A 9-year-old ‘alien’ applies to be NASA’s planetary protection officer


When NASA announced that it was looking for a new planetary protection officer, the space agency received some incredulous responses.

But one 9-year-old boy in New Jersey took the vacancy seriously. So he took a sheet of paper and an obviously well-sharpened pencil, and carefully hand-wrote his application.

“Dear NASA, My name is Jack Davis and I would like to apply for the planetary protection officer job,” Jack wrote. “I may be nine but I think I would be fit for the job.”

Among his qualifications? For one, he wrote, his sister says he’s an alien. Jack also said he had watched the TV show “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “almost all the space and alien movies I can” — though not yet “Men in Black.” (In Jack’s defense, the 1997 hit movie with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones came out more than a decade before he was even born.)

Toward the end of his letter, Jack casually mentions that he is great at video games. But his final assertion is perhaps the most persuasive.

“I am young, so I can learn to think like an alien,” Jack wrote.

He signed off with his name and appended it with “Guardian of the Galaxy” and “Fourth Grade.”

Pence calls the prospect of a 2020 White House campaign of his own ‘absurd’

Vice President Mike Pence gestures during a speech at Adriatic Charter Summit in Podgorica, Montenegro, Aug. 2, 2017.

Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday sought to tamp down speculation that he is preparing for his own 2020 White House bid, characterizing the notion as “both laughable and absurd.”

“My entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the president’s agenda and see him re-elected in 2020,” Pence said in the statement in which he praised President Donald Trump’s work on job creation, rebuilding the military and fighting terrorism.

The statement came in the wake of a New York Times story that detailed early steps that Pence and other Republicans purportedly are taking are consistent with preparing for a 2020 campaign, even though Trump has given no indication that he doesn’t plan to run.

China urges North Korea to be ‘smart’ and drop its missile tests

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks through a pair of binoculars during an inspection of the Hwa Islet Defense Detachment standing guard over a forward post off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, in this undated file photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang on July 1, 2014.

China delivered frank advice to North Korea, its outcast neighbor, on Sunday, telling Pyongyang to make a “smart decision” and stop conducting missile launches and nuclear tests.

The statement by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi came on the heels of a U.N. Security Council decision to impose additional sanctions on North Korea and its exports, and suggested that the American push to further isolate the regime of Kim Jung Un is reaping some dividends. But Wang also called on the United States to dial back the tension.

Venezuela quells attack on military base, two killed

Demonstrators run and ride their motorcycles near Fuerte Paramacay military base during clashes with security forces in Valencia, Venezuela Aug. 6, 2017.

Venezuelan authorities quelled an attack on a military base near the city of Valencia by soldiers and armed civilians on Sunday, killing two of them in a dramatic escalation of unrest in the protest-convulsed South American nation.

The predawn raid coincided with a video circulated on social media showing more than a dozen men in military uniform announcing an uprising to restore constitutional order after the creation of a pro-government legislative superbody on Friday, condemned internationally as a power grab by President Nicolas Maduro.

Polish man allegedly kidnapped a 20-year-old British model to sell her on the internet

It sounded like a good opportunity for a 20-year-old British model. Come to Milan for a photo shoot.

It was set up by her U.K. modeling agency, allegedly for an ad campaign.

What happened next, though, is out of a horror movie.

President Trump settles in for 17-day vacation at his secluded New Jersey club

President Donald Trump speaks during an announcement on immigration reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Aug. 2, 2017.

President Donald Trump, who knocked his predecessor’s work ethic and said he probably wouldn’t take vacations as president, has settled in for 17 days here at his secluded golf club in New Jersey’s fox-hunt and horse country.

Aides are billing Trump’s time at one of his favorite properties as a “working vacation,” a notion bolstered by his arrival on Air Force One on Friday with a retinue of aides, including his newly minted chief of staff, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly.

With the Russia investigation gaining steam and looming crises in North Korea and other hot spots, no one expects a truly quiet couple of weeks.


Committee recommends against adding marijuana blood-level limit to OUI laws

Robert Chute (right) and a man who only gave his name as Michael L. light up a large joint in Portland’s Monument Square on April 20, 2017.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN

A committee convened by the Maine Department of Public Safety says it doesn’t believe that Maine needs to set a limit for determining whether a motorist is impaired by marijuana. The recommendation is likely to stir debate among law enforcement officials and legislators as implementation of the voter-approved recreational marijuana law plods forward.

Bangor infant dies after being injured by family dog

An infant died after the child was injured by the family’s dog, according to the Bangor Police Department.

The Bangor police and fire departments responded on Saturday, July 29, to a local residence after receiving a call about an injured infant, Bangor police Detective Sgt. Brent Beaulieu said Sunday morning in a statement.

The child, who had been injured by the family’s Shepherd mix, was transported to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

“Unfortunately, the child succumbed to the injuries and was pronounced dead at the hospital,” Beaulieu said.

Teen faces felony theft charge after state police find stolen traffic signs in his home

A Mars Hill teen was charged with felony theft after a state trooper found nine stolen traffic and town line signs at his home while investigating an unrelated matter.
Maine State Police

A Mars Hill teen faces a felony theft charge after a state trooper found stolen traffic and town line signs inside his home on Saturday.

The signs were seized into evidence, and the teen was issued a criminal summons for theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. The charge is a felony because of the dollar value of the signs.

Man in critical condition after Buxton shooting

Maine State Police and Buxton police are investigating an overnight shooting on Old Orchard Road in Buxton, with one man in custody and another in critical condition at a Portland hospital.
CBS 13

Buxton and Saco police responded to Old Orchard Road around 2:35 a.m. Sunday after a report of shots fired, according to Buxton police Chief Troy Cline. They found a man who suffered life-threatening injuries from a gunshot, and he was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Living and events

A selfless act: Maine man helps competitor across finish line at Beach to Beacon 10K

Jesse Orach (left) of Gorham is helped across the Beach to Beacon 10K finish line by Rob Gomez of Windham on Saturday. Orach, who won the Maine division of the race, had collapsed just short of the finish line and runner-up Gomez helped him across.
Beach to Beacon 10K

Waldoboro native Robert Gomez, who now lives in Windham, had second place in the Maine division of one of the state’s premiere athletic events in hand, but he could have selfishly taken first after Jesse Orach of Gorham, whom Gomez said commanded the race after the first mile, collapsed about 100 meters from the finish line in Fort Williams Park.

“He had the race in the bag,” Gomez said Sunday morning. “There was no way I was going to catch him.”

Technically, Gomez did. Orach, a former University of Maine standout who had a stellar career with the Black Bears, had gone down just after winding the final turn that takes runners in view of the Portland Head Light. But passing Orach never popped into Gomez’s mind.

“I took a glance at him and just my first thought in my head was, I need to get him off the ground,” Gomez said. “He deserved to win. I felt that it was necessary to get him there.”

Stephen King adaptation ‘Dark Tower’ hits No. 1 on slow weekend

Roland (Idris Elba) and Walter (Matthew McConaughey) in Columbia Pictures’ “The Dark Tower.”
Ilze Kitshoff | Columbia Pictures | TNS

“The Dark Tower,” Sony Corp.’s adaptation of a Stephen King book series, opened as the top North American film, ending a two-week run for “Dunkirk” with one of the lowest weekend tallies for a No. 1 picture this year.

The movie collected an estimated $19.5 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, researcher ComScore Inc. said Sunday in an email. It fought a close battle with Warner Bros.’ “Dunkirk,” which placed second with $17.6 million, and also beat “Kidnap,” the other film opening in wide release, which landed in fifth place.

More wedding parties say ‘I do’ to Maine grown and foraged flowers

Ashley Savage harvests flowers that will be used as decoration at a wedding. Savage and Adrienne Lee, co-owners of Belladonna Floral, grow their flowers at the horse-powered New Beat Farm in Knox.
Gabor Degre | BDN

On a misty, cool July morning, Maine’s produce season was in full swing, but farmers Adrienne Lee and Ashley Savage took to their rolling green fields to harvest a different sort of crop: flowers.

They gathered armloads of cheerful zinnias in shades of orange and red, showy black-eyed Susans, verdant flowering tobacco and deep purple larkspur. The colorful blooms stood out against the gray day and were destined to add their cheer to an important upcoming celebration: a wedding.

Navigating Life As A Muslim Girl in Maine

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.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy 2017 Maine Conference coming to Waterville

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

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.

American singer/songwriter David Mallett to perform at Triangle Park in Calais

David Mallett

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.

Schooner Fare to kick off Paris Hill Music 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.

Brunswick Outdoor Arts Festival

Brunswick Downtown Association

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.

Partial solar eclipse, night hike and picnic on John B. Mountain

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.

40th annual Northeast Harbor Road Race and Family Fun Walk

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.

Midcoast Tour de Farms

Carol Gardner

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.


After Lewiston bottler blows top, Maine reduces proposed liquor price hikes

Maine is scaling back its proposal to hike the prices of many low-end “value” spirits.

Gregg Mineo, executive director of the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, said Thursday that after hearing from companies in the liquor business he agreed to cap the increase to any particular product so that nothing would go up in price more than $1.

Though the move won’t change the price increase for tiny bottles known as “nips,” which are slated to rise from 99 cents to $1.49, it will reduce the bottom line for many larger bottles that had been slated for larger hikes on Oct. 1.

Maine ‘bud and breakfast’ wants to offer pot vacations, but some locals don’t approve

The Cornish Inn, at the edge the northern York County town’s historic district, is set to be transformed to a “bud and breakfast’ called the Laughing Grass Inn for a 3-week stint starting Aug. 15. Folks who pay to stay overnight may be gifted marijuana edibles and take part in a happy hour, if they so desire.
Tammy Wells | Journal Tribune

Voters at a special Town Meeting in Cornish will decide whether to prohibit all manner of retail marijuana — stores, social clubs, cultivation, testing and manufacturing in town.

The following Tuesday, Aug. 15, barring some unforeseen circumstance, the Laughing Grass Inn, where paying guests may choose to accept gifts of complimentary edible marijuana products and take part in a free happy hour, will open for a three week stint.

The special event is scheduled to wind down Sept. 7, according to the Laughing Grass Inn Facebook page.

The job market just recovered from the recession. Men and white people haven’t.

A help wanted sign is posted at a taco stand in Solana Beach, California.
Mike Blake | Reuters

While the employment level as a whole looks similar to that of November 2007, some groups of Americans are still feeling the recession’s pain more keenly.

The report shows that men continue to lag behind women in recovering pre-recession jobs, in part because the recession hit the male-dominated industries of manufacturing and construction particularly hard. While American men are still employed at significantly higher rates than women are, men lost more jobs in the recession and still have more ground to make up.


I’m a domestic violence investigator. It’s the small victories that keep me going.

George Danby | BDN

After 14 years in my position as a domestic violence investigator and handling more than a thousand cases of domestic violence in Sagadahoc County, I often am asked what drives me given, the unpleasant nature of my job. My reply is simple: It is the small victories that make this job worth it.

I admittedly came into this position without the unrealistic idealism that I would solve the relentless societal scourge of domestic violence. Before taking this position, I served with the Topsham Police Department for 26 years. During that time, I came to learn of the dynamics of domestic violence and the complexities that prevent resolutions that most would find acceptable.

Putin’s interference in our election clearly backfired

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (left) and President Donald Trump talk during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Klimentyev Mikhail | TASS | ABACA PRESS | TNS

With his interference in the 2016 election, Russian President Vladimir Putin hoped he could tilt Washington onto a more pro-Moscow course. But after President Donald Trump signed legislation tightening sanctions on Russia on Wednesday, it should be clear that Putin’s strategy backfired in a big way.

From captivity in Cambodia to aging in Maine, Richard Dudman never tired of a good story

Richard Dudman was a Washington correspondent with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 31 years and posted stories from around the world, including Argentina, the Middle East, China and Vietnam. He was the BDN’s senior contributing editor for 12 years.
Missouri History Museum

Richard Dudman had an informal motto: “Reporter who sits on hot story gets ass burned.” There was no risk of Dudman getting burned. He didn’t retire from journalism until 2012, when he was 94. And even then he continued to write an occasional story, including a 2015 remembrance of the Vietnam War.

The longtime newspaper man and passionate advocate for the betterment of the world and Maine passed away Thursday morning. He was 99.