There’s still no state budget, but we do have a black widow spider

With the last newsletter of the week, allow me to say Eid Mubarak.

Unfortunately, a threatening letter received by the Islamic Society on Portland Street earlier this week has cast something of a shadow over the end of Ramadan and upcoming Eid al-Fitr celebration, with Portland police saying today they’ll increase security at Muslim gathering places.

Thankfully, members of Portland’s Muslim community have told the Portland Press Herald they remain undaunted in the face of this unacceptable hatred, will continue worshipping and that they feel safe.

Here’s to a truly joyous Eid al-Fitr and a triumph over hatred..

Here are a few headlines you might be interested in.

What we’re talking about

Another week in the books, and the state still doesn’t have a two-year budget. If one isn’t in place by July 1, we’ll have our first state government shutdown since 1991. In your daily gridlock update, Republicans and Democrats are getting closer to agreement on education funding, but still have a sizable chasm on how to pay for it, as well as whether to push for a statewide teacher contract, as Gov. Paul LePage wants.

While cities like Portland have long been open and accepting of the LGBTQIA community, acceptance in rural communities has been slower to evolve. The BDN’s Abigail Curtis found that gay, lesbian and transgender farmers living and working in rural Maine have a wide range of experiences. A couple running a family farm in Morrill said they feel accepted in the community, while another source in Somerset County expressed concerns about safety.

Matt Miner, the writer of the new comic book series based on the famously costumed metal band GWAR, will be signing copies at Coast City Comics Saturday night around 6 p.m. An after-party is scheduled for Bayside Bowl with local hardcore band Covered In Bees and the GWAR-inspired Gwell-O. If comic books and metal aren’t your thing, the Greek Food Fest and PortFringe festival are also continuing Saturday. Some tidbits on those were in last night’s newsletter, which you can read here.

A study found that states where marijuana is legal have more car crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that between 2012 and 2016, the first states to legalize marijuana saw sharper increases in car crashes than surrounding states. Police in Maine told local NBC television affiliate WCSH that they’re watching the roads closely, as voters approved a referendum legalizing recreational use of the drug here last fall. Legalization advocates from the Marijuana Policy Project told the station there’s no way to prove pot use is responsible for the extra crashes.

In case you need a creature to be afraid of this weekend, Portland television station WGME, CBS 13, confirmed that a spider found in grapes purchased down the road at an Old Orchard Beach convenience store was, in fact, a black widow. The spider has been killed in a preemptive strike, as a black widow’s venom is 15 times stronger than that of a rattlesnake, and one bite can be deadly. Enjoy your grapes this weekend, everyone.

Tweet of the day

From local TV reporter Marnie MacLean, passing along a message from some Portland schools:

The Big Idea

The reunification of Korea may be far-fetched, given the military posturing going on in the region, but the medical community in South Korea is actively planning for a future in which the two warring halves are together once more. Doctors are conducting a medical study of more than 1,000 North Korean refugees to gauge the deficiencies in the healthcare system of the closed-off northern country, and by extension how massive a care crisis the medical establishment in the south will absorb when they become a single country again.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg or Seth Koenig at or, or tweet @JZBleiberg or @SethKoenig.

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