Why ravens should be in charge

It turns out, ravens may be smarter than a lot of people you know.

Although I guess, depending on the people you know, that may not be difficult.

We’ve known for a long time that these birds are capable of solving puzzles, fairly nuanced communication and intentionally playing tricks on other animals.

But the latest round of research indicates they’re capable of advance planning, too, making ravens the ideal candidates to start managing the Brooklyn Nets. Swedish university researchers found that, unlike most children (and Brooklyn Nets executives), ravens who are given a choice between a small amount of food now and a tool that will open a box with more food in 15 minutes, the birds will pick the tool.

Just the fact that ravens can use a tool to open a box puts them on a level higher than most of the animal kingdom. And me, when I’m trying to get my shaving razors out of that awful plastic packaging.

Now let’s use this newsletter as a tool to open a box of news headlines:

What we’re talking about

Congratulations to Rob Parritt of Portland’s Oxford Street Shelter, who is a finalist for an Excellence Award given out by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The city’s Oxford Street Shelter is the state’s largest homeless shelter with a capacity to house more than 150 people.

The Harold Alfond Foundation backed up the proverbial Brinks truck to the University of Southern Maine campus in Portland today, announcing a $7.5 million donation to help bring several high-profile University of Maine and USM graduate programs under a single roof in Maine’s largest city. The BDN’s Nick McCrea reports that this represents the largest private gift to a project involving multiple campuses in the system’s history.

Elsewhere in Maine, an armed standoff between police and an accused rapist ended this morning after about 22 hours, when William Bradbury, 56, reportedly surrendered to Maine state troopers. Police had previously, and unsuccessfully, used tear gas to drive Bradbury out of his Lincoln home. Bradbury has now been charged with sexually assaulting two youths, ages 14 and 15, over an approximately 18-month period.

Lewiston’s Dempsey Center is expanding to Greater Portland location. In case you missed this news, famous actor Patrick Dempsey and his associates announced this week that his Lewiston-based cancer care center is splitting off from the Central Maine Healthcare organization and merging with the South Portland-based Cancer Community Center. The slightly rebranded Dempsey Centers for Quality Cancer Care will operate in both locations starting in 2018.

Only two major privately financed gubernatorial candidates declared early enough to have to report Quarter 2 fundraising totals, but both showed promising starts to their campaigns. Democrat Adam Cote, a Sanford attorney, raised a total $265,000 between his April 19 announcement and June’s end, according to filings with the Maine Ethics Commission. Republican Mary Mayhew, a former DHHS commissioner, raised $91,000 between her June 6 announcement and the end of the month. Former state senator and Gorham consultant James Boyle announced today he’s entering the race, as well, and becomes the sixth Democrat to declare.

Tweet of the day

From Portland Pay Phones:

The Big Idea

Most people can’t tell when photographs are fake. People are already sharing fake news stories on social media, then calling real news stories that don’t align with their political beliefs “fake news.” That takes care of the written word. Now, a researcher from a university in England has devised a test that found people also struggle to differentiate between real and doctored photographs, too. The Washington Post reported that participants in the study could tell when a photo was faked only “a little better than if they guessed completely at random,” and even when they were told outright which ones were faked, less than half could figure out what had been altered. You can take a little self test here and see how you do. Or maybe you can ask a raven to take it for you.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email us at jbleiberg@bangordailynews.com or skoenig@bangordailynews.com or tweet @JZBleiberg or @SethKoenig.

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