Here are the things you need to  know today......

Snow totals from the National Weather Service as of late Thursday night.

Homicides in Maine were up last in 2017 compared to 2016 and half of those were domestic violence.   The Bangor Daily News reports in four of the cases arrests have not been made.

From the Associated Press:

While data show lower seasonal flu cases in Maine compared to other states, the strain that is circulating is more severe and leading to more hospitalizations. The state Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 373 flu cases through Dec. 23, with 99 requiring hospitalization. State epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett says most of the cases this year are influenza A, which he says is more likely to cause deaths among adults over 65 and young children. About 80 to 90 percent of cases this flu season are influenza A, compared to about 60 percent of cases in the 2015-16 season. Flu season lasts from October to May. Bennett says it's still too soon to predict what the season will be like.

Governors from both political parties are criticizing the Trump administration's move to vastly expand offshore drilling for oil and gas. The plan has drawn immediate opposition from governors up and down the East Coast, including Republican Govs. Rick Scott of Florida and Larry Hogan of Maryland. On the West Coast, Democratic governors of California, Oregon and Washington state say the proposal ignores science and the devastation of past offshore spills.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage is spending $1.7 million of federal welfare dollars on after-school programs. The Bangor Daily News reports over a dozen nonprofit organizations are receiving funding from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant. Maine asks such programs show how they help prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies and encourage two-parent families. The number of Maine families with children receiving cash assistance has fallen from nearly 12,800 in 2012 to 4,200 in December.

A Maine church is holding out hope that figures of Joseph and Mary that were stolen from its nativity scene after Christmas will turn up. The figures, along with one or two sheep, were taken from Most Holy Trinity Church in Saco on Dec. 26. The Journal Tribune reports police could not identify who stole the items from surveillance footage.

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says the first day of the state's annual farm show will focus on linking people with careers in agriculture. The Agricultural Trades Show will hold its second Agricultural Career Fair on Jan. 9 in Augusta. The event will take place at the Augusta Civic Center. The trades show itself runs from Jan. 9 to Jan. 11 at the same venue.

Gov. Paul LePage says Maine Adjutant General Douglas Farnham has been promoted from the rank of brigadier general to major general. LePage presided over Farnham's promotion ceremony on Wednesday. Farnham leads 3,000 airmen and soldiers. He was promoted to brigadier general in January 2016. He also is the commissioner of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management. Farnham graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1984 and joined the Maine Air National Guard seven years later.

Acadia National Park is among 118 national parks nationwide that will offer fewer free entrance days amid budget challenges. After waiving entrance fees for 16 days in 2016 and 10 days in 2017, the National Park Service announced last month that it will have four no-cost days this year. The remaining national parks don't charge entry fees. The free days will be Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15), the first day of National Park Week (April 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 22) and Veterans Day (Nov. 11). The move comes after the Park Service says it is considering raising vehicle entry fees at 17 busy parks including Acadia. The agency estimates the increase would generate an additional $70 million to help address backlogged maintenance and infrastructure projects.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going after legalized marijuana. He's rescinding an Obama-era policy that let legalized marijuana flourish without federal intervention across the country. That's according to two people with knowledge of the decision. The move will let U.S. attorneys where pot is legal decide whether to aggressively enforce federal marijuana law. It likely will add to confusion about whether it's legal to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where it's legalized.

President Donald Trump directed his White House counsel to urge Attorney General Jeff Sessions to not recuse himself from the Justice Department's investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. That's according to a person familiar with the conversation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. Sessions ultimately rejected the suggestion and stepped aside from the inquiry.

A Japanese government spokesman says after the two Koreas agreed to resume long-stalled talks that Japan will do what's necessary to keep up pressure on North Korea to give up its weapons programs. Seoul's Unification Ministry said earlier North Korea accepted Seoul's offer to hold talks on how to cooperate on next month's Winter Olympics and how to improve overall ties.

President Donald Trump says an explosive new book about the first year of his presidency is full of "lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist." Trump is on Twitter the night before the release of "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff. Trump is not naming Wolff, but says he "authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times)." Trump says he never spoke to the author.

The East Coast is bracing for a deep freeze a day after a winter storm brought heavy snow, hurricane-force winds and coastal flooding. Forecasters say Friday will bring a blast of record-breaking cold air and bitter winds that will last through the weekend. Even the South won't be spared.

In demonstrations across Iran, chants are going up against the military's involvement in Syria, one of Tehran's closest allies. While the protests have predominantly focused on economic issues, demonstrators have also voiced strong opposition to the government's policy of sending young Iranians to fight and die in Syria and spending billions of dollars on the military when they say the focus should be on providing jobs in Iran and controlling the rising cost of living.


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