Good morning from Augusta, where many state employees and most lawmakers have set sail for the holiday weekend and vacations beyond.
Thankfully, some folks at the U.S. Census Bureau planned ahead to provide us with some interesting Independence Day statistics to fill out the Daily Brief and set the holiday off right. Here’s an appropriately festive soundtrack from Bruce Springsteen, and it’s not the song you think it is.
2.5 million: That’s the number of people who were living in the United States on the first day the United States became the United States in July of 1776.
321.1 million: That’s how many people live in the U.S. today.
56: The number of signatures on the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson receives a lot of credit for writing it, but he had help from the “Committee of Five,” which included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston.
$247.1 million: The value of fireworks imported from China in 2014, of a total of $258 million of fireworks imports by the U.S.
$369.4 million: Fireworks sales by U.S. retailers in 2012.
$508.1 million: Sales of fireworks and firecrackers in 2012 from a total of 162 wholesalers.
$3.6 million: The total dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags in 2014, $3.5 million of which came from China.
$1.8 million: The total value of U.S. flag exported in 2014. The leading purchaser of U.S. flags was Turkey, which bought $673,000 worth.
The Daily Brief would like to dedicate today’s edition to all Americans as well as all the U.S. patriots in Turkey. — Christopher Cousins
Bronze Star awarded
Reps. Bob Nutting of Oakland and Gary Hilliard of Belgrade joined First Lady Ann LePage Thursday at the State House to present a Bronze Star to Air Force Technical Sgt. Matt Bolduc of Oakland.
According to a press release that cited this March 2014 article in the Waterville Morning Sentinel, Bolduc enlisted in the Air Force two days prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and was not long after swept away to the War on Terror. He served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and is credited for successfully protecting U.S. troops at eight military bases under his control in Afghanistan from suicide attacks during Ramadan in 2013.
Bolduc was raised in Belgrade and graduated from Messalonskee High School in 2001.
- LePage orders his chiefs to give him final say on new hires — Mario Moretto, BDN
- Did lawmakers have a LePage investigation in mind in 2002? — Matthew Stone, BDN
- Rural Internet expansion bill carried over to next session — Jen Lynds, BDN
- Maine lawmaker tighten foreclosure rules in win for consumers — David Sherwood, Reuters
- What will Portland’s minimum wage be? There are at least five possibilities — Seth Koenig, BDN
- A community radio station fact-checked a LePage speech. Here’s what it found — Dan MacLeod, BDN
- Eastern Maine Medical Center preparing for nurses strike — Ryan McLaughlin, BDN
- (Happy Fourth of July!) Bald eagle takes to the skies in Orrington after rehabilitation — Ashley Conti, BDN
- The complete guide to where and when you can shoot fireworks in Maine — Pattie Reaves, BDN
50 feet to Europe
Neil Olesetrom, 73, of Old Orchard Beach, sunk a 50-foot putt at a golf course in Massachusetts and won $10,000.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” said Olestrom. “I don’t know why. I just looked at the putt, which was a little uphill and broke to the left.” Not nervous?
Now there’s an achievement. A better achievement? The retiree reports that he’s using the winnings to take his wife on a European cruise. Bon voyage! — Christopher Cousins