This is bound to be my most-shared column ever

I am pleased to let you know that Gov. Paul LePage is resigning this weekend. Someone in Washington, D.C., alerted me that our governor has accepted a job in the Trump administration, reportedly as an ambassador to a Caribbean nation, something the governor expressed interest in a couple years ago.

For some reason, I’m being alerted to lots more interesting news lately, so I’m going to share some of it with you today.

There’s some good news. Following President Donald Trump’s decision to add tariffs to steel and aluminum imports, two major producers of steel and aluminum in other countries will open plants in Maine’s old paper mills. How about that?

I also saw a recent poll showing that all the legislators who prevented the expansion of Medicaid, which the people of Maine voted to do in a referendum, will be defeated for re-election.

Not all the new news is good, though. A top weather forecaster says we’ll get two more feet of snow in April; something to do with climate change. Of course, that is great news for our ski mountains and skiers, as well as snowmobilers, but not so much for the rest of us.

I’ve gotten the word from those who are focused on deer ticks that the ticks had a good winter and will be out in even greater numbers soon. They predict record numbers of cases of Lyme disease — very bad news indeed.

I’ve heard that three more schools and two medical centers are going to close in rural Maine, another crushing blow to those communities. Imagine having to travel two hours to get to a hospital to deliver your baby. I predict lots of babies will be delivered along rural Maine roads. Maybe we should start posting photos of those babies along the roads where they were born.

Well, enough with the bad news. Here’s some good news. I heard that climate change has brought lots of interesting new birds to Maine, including those magnificent Hoopoes from Italy. Linda and I always enjoyed seeing them outside our apartment at Il Santo in Greve. That did irritate our favorite birding guide, Bob Duchesne, who had searched for them unsuccessfully on two trips to Italy. Now they are in his yard in Old Town.

Our bear population has increased substantially, too, to about 50,000. That means you are likely to encounter a bear when hiking anywhere in Maine. Perhaps in a future column I’ll give you advice on how to deal with that (Tip: Do not run away from the bear).

And here’s interesting news on how to deal with rabid animals. A man in Hope killed one with a butter knife — that’s not recommended, but you use what you’ve got.

OK, you have probably figured out that most of this is fake news.

A news story in this newspaper — and this is not fake news — reported that a new study found that false information on social media travels six times faster than the truth, and reaches far more people.

Scientists calculated that the average false story takes about 10 hours to reach 1,500 Twitter users, versus about 60 hours for the truth. On average, false information reaches 35 percent more people than true news. While true news stories almost never got retweeted to 1,000 people, the top 1 percent of the false ones got to as many as 100,000 people.

So I guess this may be my most read column ever. Go ahead and share it.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon, ME 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

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