Alaska News

Subscribe to Alaska News feed
Alaska Dispatch News News Feed
Updated: 1 hour 39 min ago

West rolls past Wolves in flag football opener

1 hour 54 min ago

Rebecca Syrup and Isabella Roberts each accounted for three touchdowns Saturday to lead the West Eagles past Eagle River 45-0 in a season-opening flag football game in Eagle River.

Syrup completed 15 of 18 passes for 202 yards and tossed touchdown strikes to Roberts, Nene John and Raymi Ross.

Roberts added two touchdowns on the ground. She rushed for 79 yards on four carries.

Ta'zay Wyche and Sylvia Xaivong also ran for touchdowns. Defensively, the Eagles got five pulls and a blocked pass from Maya Baquiran.

Troopers arrest seventh-grade teacher in Tuluksak on child porn charges

1 hour 54 min ago

A seventh-grade teacher in the Southwest Alaska village of Tuluksak was arrested Saturday afternoon on child pornography charges, according to Alaska State Troopers.

John Paul Donald Douglas, 37, faces one charge of distributing child pornography and eight charges of possessing child pornography, troopers said.

Douglas was a teacher at the Yupiit School District's Tuluksak School, according to state prosecutors.

Prosecutors issued a statement Thursday asking the public to help find Douglas after a grand jury handed up the nine charges against him.

Douglas is accused of using a "peer-to-peer file-sharing software to possess and download videos involving prepubescent female children engaged in sex acts," prosecutors said.

Troopers arrested Douglas at his home in Tuluksak around 12:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Tim DeSpain, troopers spokesman.

Douglas was taken to the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center in Bethel "without further incident," troopers said.

Dimond volleyball team places 3rd in Maui tourney

1 hour 58 min ago

The Dimond Lynx volleyball team got a little sun and a lot of volleyball during a preseason trip to Hawaii.

The Lynx lost a semifinal game Saturday on the final day of the three-day Kamchameha Schools Maui Volleyball Invitational.

They posted a 4-2 record in pool play at the 14-team tournament to advance to Saturday's eight-team championship bracket. They tied for third place overall after winning their quarterfinal match and losing their semifinal match.

Alissa Pili led Dimond with a combined 21 kills, 16 digs and five aces in Saturday's two matches. Mia Ekstrand totaled 12 kills and 22 digs.

Other leaders included Maya Carle (29 digs, four aces) and Callie Pratt (six blocks).

National Park Service searching vast Alaska wilderness for man missing near McCarthy

2 hours 23 min ago

The National Park Service continued to search the vast and remote Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve on Saturday for a 34-year-old Oregon man last seen in McCarthy about two weeks ago.

The man, Nick Larsen, had plans to backpack alone in the backcountry near McCarthy, a tiny community located in the heart of the national park, about 60 miles east of Chitina, according to the National Park Service.

Jamie Hart, a Kennecott-based public information officer for the park service, said the agency had little other information to go on, including when exactly Larsen left for his backpacking trip, where he was going and how long he planned to hike through the wilderness.

"People saw him in town and then that was pretty much about it," Hart said. "He didn't tell anybody specifics."

Larsen was last seen at The McCarthy Lodge on Aug. 7, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers said he told lodge employees and his parents that he planned to backpack by himself "in the backcountry there."

Hart said Larsen was traveling alone and had taken a Wrangell-St. Elias Tours shuttle to McCarthy. Another passenger took a photograph of him smiling in patterned shorts at the Kuskulana Bridge on the way into town.

The park service is now circulating that photograph in its search for Larsen and asking anyone with information that might help it narrow its search area to call 1-800-478-2724. The park service wants to speak with anyone who saw or talked to Larsen or knows of his intended hiking route.

"We don't have a whole lot that we're looking at right now because it's such a broad search area," Hart said.

Wrangell-St. Elias is the America's largest national park. It covers 13.2 million acres, equivalent to Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and Switzerland combined, according to the park service.

Hart said Larsen's family reported him missing to Alaska State Troopers on Friday, Aug. 11, and troopers issued a missing persons bulletin for him Monday. Three days later, troopers notified the National Park Service and transferred the command of the search and rescue operations to the agency, Hart said.

On Friday, park rangers completed an aerial search in the backcountry areas of the Nizina River, McCarthy Creek and the Kennicott Valley, but did not find anything, Hart said. On Saturday, a team searched a nearby trail.

The park service described Larsen as a white man who is 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds. He has brown hair, hazel eyes and a "brightly colored, full right-arm 'sleeve' tattoo from his shoulder to his wrist," according to the park service.

Larsen is believed to be wearing a dark green, long-sleeved shirt and either black pants or the patterned shorts pictured in the photograph at the bridge, according to the park service. He also had a tan REI-brand, two-person tent.

Should I tell my boyfriend that his best friend groped me when he was drunk?

3 hours 2 min ago

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I've been seeing my boyfriend for a year and we have a pretty awesome relationship. I am new to Alaska and he grew up here so one great part of our relationship is I have been accepted into this awesome circle of people who have been friends literally for years. Most of them grew up together in rural Alaska and they are super tight.

Here's the problem: A few times, one of his best friends — I'll call him "Bud" — has hit on me. It gets worse. Bud is married to "Betty," another girl from their hometown, who has gone above and beyond to be good friends with me. And Bud hasn't just come on to me verbally; once, he whispered in my ear that he thought I was adorable and he squeezed my butt. Another time, he rubbed my butt while giving me a hug goodbye.

This only happened when Bud was super drunk and he has never mentioned it. In fact, I don't even know if he remembers he did it.

But I feel like I am keeping a secret from my guy and I hate that. But, I don't want to mess up the dynamic by outing his friend. I really have no idea what to do. Advice?

Wanda says:

Man, was I ever inspired recently by our girl Taylor Swift, who successfully sued a groping DJ for a whole symbolic $1 stemming from an incident several years ago when, during a photo shoot, he slid a hand up her skirt and grabbed her bare booty. Expertly prepped, T-Swift stuck to her guns during the trial, and basically said however many ways they pressed and questioned her; she refused to let them make her feel as though she had done anything wrong and she never, ever veered from her story. #girlpower

It's completely unfortunate and messed up that you are having to deal with the emotional fallout of this guy crossing boundaries and violating relationships, seemingly without remorse. Take a cue from our girl Taytay: This is not your fault and you have done nothing wrong, and this Neanderthal does not deserve your protection.

Yes, it's tricky, negotiating around old friendships and potentially lobbing truth grenades that will ignite hurt feelings, betrayals and more. But what's the alternative? You protect groper Bud, only to have your boyfriend find out that his bro fondled you and you kept quiet? No bueno. The major takeaway here is you did nothing wrong. So continue to stay in the right and be forthright with your man about his handsy buddy.

Wayne says:

Word to Wanda. Word to Taylor. And word to any woman, or anyone, who doesn't let sexual assault or inappropriate comments or actions of any type slide. Sure, it's easy to say from behind this keyboard and easy to fight if you're a megastar and megamillionaire with megalawyers and a megabrand like Taylor Swift.

Not so easy or cut-and-dry when you're new on the job and it's your boss or co-worker being a creep, or when a family member, close friend or a friend of a friend is acting inappropriately. But wrong is wrong, and I'm hopeful that Taylor standing up for what is right in such a powerful way and on such a large platform empowers people to stand up and speak up about all assaults and inappropriate actions.

Your case isn't about the drunken donkey. It isn't about your boyfriend's lifelong friendship with the donkey. It's about you feeling safe, comfortable and respected. So, as awkward as this may be to broach, you need to tell your boyfriend the truth: that his buddy is a habitual line-stepper who touches you and talks to you inappropriately, that the thought of spending time around him makes you feel uncomfortable if not sick, and that you are no longer willing to hang out with him. Period.

No excuses for his being drunk. No easing off because your boyfriend thinks he's usually a really cool dude.

This should immediately feel like a weight off of your shoulders — no more hiding things from your boyfriend, no more future encounters with the donkey. If your boyfriend is truly awesome, he'll understand and have your back. If he doesn't, he's also a donkey who needs to be kicked to the curb.

Relationships are constantly evolving — you and your boyfriend will have a stronger bond moving forward from this. Your boyfriend and his buddy will sever ties. Perhaps after some time passes and a genuine apology comes from the donkey, you may feel comfortable barbecuing with the crew again. But until then, don't feel guilty, don't feel bad. Feel empowered. Feel comfortable. Feel safe.

Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at wanda@alaskadispatch.com.

Big 8 swim meet produces 4 double-winners

3 hours 27 min ago

Two boys and two girls swam to two victories apiece Saturday at the Big 8, the kickoff event for Anchorage high school swimmers.

Erin Moody of Dimond and Wanlaya Jarupakorn of Barlett each posted two wins in the girls competition at the Bartlett High pool. On the boys side, Andrew Kwon of South and Caleb Law of Service won two races apiece.

No team scores were kept.

Girls 200 Medley Relay — 1, Dimond (Camryn Williams, Naomi Oakley, Katie Puls, Anna Ratcliffe), 1:35.88. 2, Chugiak 1:59.72. 3, South 2:01.13. 4, Eagle River 2:07.33. 5, South, 2:09.91.

Boys 200 Medley Relay — 1, Service (Austin Carpenter, Nicky Price, Brian Jarupakorn, Caleb Law), 1:43.03. 2, Chugiak 1:49.01. 3, Dimond 2017, 1:49.86. 4, Service, 1:53.11. 5, South 1:57.48.

Girls 200 Freestyle — 1, Erin Moody, D, 1:57.68. 2, Katherine Jarupakorn, B, 2:06.68. 3, Cheyenne
Burke, C, 2:09.78. 4, Leslie Cockreham, C, 2:12.05. 5, Piper Sato, D, 2:15.36.

Boys 200 Freestyle — 1, Maximus Addington, D, 1:50.43. 2, Reid Blackstone, C, 1:52.91. 3, Brian
Jarupakorn, SE, 1:54.90. 4, Fredric Rygh, D, 1:57.05. 5, Jesse Tatakis, D, 1:57.58.

Girls 200 IM — 1, Summer Cheng, SO, 2:19.33. 2, Addison Morgan, C, 2:26.49. 3, Camryn Williams, D, 2:30.43. 4, Naomi Oakley, D, 2:31.09. 5, Rio Merriman, SO, 2:36.45.

Boys 200 IM — 1, Andrew Kwon, SO, 2:05.16. 2, Nicky Price, SE, 2:14.04. 3, Dalton Lodzins,
C, 2:17.14. 4, David Lundell, E, 2:17.48. 5, Justin Ross, D, 2:20.56.

Girls 50 Freestyle — 1, Aubrey Cheng, SO, 26.19. 2, Katherine Horning, ER, 26.45. 3, Emma Cegelka, D, 26.56. 4, Boo Rogers, SE, 27.85. 5, Ellie Mercer, ER, 28.05.

Boys 50 Freestyle — 1, Caleb Law, SE, 21.60. 2, Sam Horning, ER, 22.59. 3, Scott Babbitt, D,
24.47. 4, Jacob Mitchell, D, 24.86. 5, Ian Sands, SE, 25.32.

Boys 1 mtr Diving — 1, Ethan Larson, D, 303.10. 2, Holt Dannenberg, W, 246.20. 3, Ben Coulter, W, 180.90. 4, Luke Butler, E, 151.50. 5, Gabe Dobson, C, 99.55.

Girls 100 Butterfly — 1, Wanlaya Jarupakorn, B, 1:02.16. 2, Izzy Powers, C, 1:03.52. 3, Summer
Cheng, SO, 1:06.26. 4, Katie Puls, D, 1:07.24. 5, Gracie Keen, ER, 1:10.23.

Boys 100 Butterfly — 1, Reed Dittlinger, D, 53.72. 2, Maximus Addington, D, 54.39. 3, Brain
Jarupakorn, SE, 55.77. 4, Reid Blackstone, C, 58.41. 5, Harold Monroe, W, 59.02.

Girls 100 Freestyle — 1, Izzy Powers, C, 56.08. 2, Mikayla Terry, D, 57.88. 3, Katherine Jarupakorn, B, 58.85. 4, Anna Ratcliffe, D, 1:01.49. 5, Boo Rogers, SE, 1:01.98.

Boys 100 Freestyle — 1, Jesse Tatakis, D, 51.33. 2, Nate Flores, D, 51.36. 3, David Lundell, E, 54.71. 4, Ian Sands, SE, 54.86. 5, Zach Cole, C, 55.59.

Girls 500 Freestyle — 1, Emma Cegelka, D, 5:43.19. 2, Naomi Burgan, D, 5:54.16. 3, Mikayla Terry, D, 6:10.99. 4, Aneesha Bruce, SE, 6:24.25. 5, Riley Cravens, SO, 6:28.50.

Boys 500 Freestyle — 1, Sam Horning, ER, 5:36.99. 2, Owen Kelley, D, 5:44.34. 3, Donovan Lodzins, C, 5:51.40. 4, Aidan Kenna, SE, 5:58.29. 5, Michael Farthing, ER, 6:06.68.

Girls 200 Freestyle Relay — 1, Chugiak (Cheyenne Burke, Leslie Cockreham, Addison Morgan, Izzy Powers), 1:45.25. 2, Dimond 1:46.11. 3, Eagle River 1:49.73. 4, South 1:50.33. 5, South 1:54.75.

Boys 200 Freestyle Relay — 1, Dimond (Reed Dittlinger, Jesse Tatakis, Maximus Addington, Nate Flores), 1:31.82. 2, Service 3, Chugiak 1:38.89. 4, Dimond, 1:42.65. 5, Service, 1:43.41.

Girls 100 Backstroke — 1, Erin Moody, D, 1:02.48. 2, Aubrey Cheng, SO, 1:03.72. 3, Cheyenne Burke, C, 1:03.86. 4, Katherine Horning, ER, 1:07.59. 5, Leslie Cockreham, C, 1:07.63.

Boys 100 Backstroke — 1, Andrew Kwon, SO, 55.12. 2, Reed Dittlinger, D, 56.25. 3, Nicky Price, SE, 59.60. 4, Jacob Mitchell, D, 1:00.78. 5, Robert Kompsie, D, 1:01.84.

Girls 100 Breaststroke — 1, Wanlaya Jarupakorn, B, 1:12.94. 2, Gracie Keen, ER, 1:17.83. 3, Katie Puls, D, 1:18.66. 4, Naomi Oakley, D, 1:19.02. 5, Izabelle Bergmann, SO, 1:20.77.

Boys 100 Breaststroke — 1, Caleb Law, SE, 1:02.00. 2, Ethan Kwon, SE, 1:06.05. 3, Dalton Lodzins, C, 1:06.52. 4, Justin Ross, D, 1:09.50. 5, Tavner Wisdom, SE, 1:10.78

Girls 400 Freestyle Relay — 1, Dimond (Erin Moody, Camryn Williams, Mikayla Terry, Emma Cegelka), 3:51.02. 2, Dimond 4:13.12. 3, South 4:19.98. 4, West 4:39.24. 5, South 4:39.41.

Boys 400 Freestyle Relay — 1, Dimond (Maximus Addington, Jesse Tatakis, Christopher Loudon, Reed Dittlinger), 3:29.99. 2, Dimond 3:42.51. 3, Dimond 3:57.09. 4, West 4:01.23. 5, Chugiak, 5:27.19.

Researchers find wreckage of lost WWII warship USS Indianapolis

3 hours 31 min ago

Naval researchers announced Saturday that they have found the wreckage of the lost World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, 72 years after the vessel sank in minutes after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

The ship was found almost 3 1/2 miles below the surface of the Philippine Sea, said a tweet from Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, who led a team of civilian researchers that made the discovery.

Historians and architects from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, District of Columbia, had joined forces with Allen last year to revisit the tragedy.

The ship sank in 15 minutes on July 30, 1945, in the war's final days, and it took the Navy four days to realize that the vessel was missing.

About 800 of the crew's 1,200 sailors and Marines made it off the cruiser before it sank. But almost 600 of them died over the next four to five days from exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks. Nineteen crew members are alive today, the Navy command said in a news release.

The Indianapolis had just completed a top secret mission to deliver components of the atomic bomb "Little Boy" to the island of Tinian. The bomb was later dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

In a statement on its website, the command call the shipwreck a "significant discovery," considering the depth of the water.

"While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming," Allen said in a statement. His research vessel, Petrel, has state-of-the-art subsea equipment that can descend to depths like those at which the ship was found.

The cruiser's captain, Charles Butler McVay III, was among those who survived, but he was eventually court-martialed and convicted of losing control of the vessel. About 350 Navy ships were lost in combat during the war, but he was the only captain to be court-martialed. Years later, under pressure from survivors to clear his name, McVay was posthumously exonerated by Congress and President Bill Clinton.

The shipwreck's location had eluded researchers for decades.

The coordinates keyed out in an S.O.S. signal were forgotten by surviving radio operators and were not received by Navy ships or shore stations, the Navy command said. The ship's mission records and logs were lost in the wreck.

Researchers got a break last year, however, when Richard Hulver, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command, identified a naval landing craft that had recorded a sighting of the Indianapolis hours before it was sunk. The position was west of where it was presumed to be lying. The team was able to develop a new estimated position, although it still covered 600 square miles of open ocean.

The ship is an official war grave, which means it is protected by law from disturbances. Naval archaeologists will prepare to tour the site and see what data they can retrieve. No recovery efforts are planned.

Hulver and Robert Neyland, the command's underwater archaeology branch head, wrote on the website that "there remains a lot we can learn."

"From the sinking to the battle damage and site formation processes, we hope to gain a better understanding about the wreck site and how we can better protect USS Indianapolis to honor the service of the ship and crew."

The road to hate: For six young men of the alt-right, Charlottesville is only the beginning

4 hours 18 min ago

For all that he did in Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting anti-Semitic slogans, carrying a torch through Emancipation Park, he wasn't even aware that the alt-right existed one year ago. It wasn't until Hillary Clinton condemned the movement in a campaign speech last August that he first learned of it, and from there, the radicalization of William Fears, 29, moved quickly.

He heard that one of its spokesmen, Richard Spencer, who coined the name "alt-right," was speaking at Texas A&M; University in December, so he drove the two hours to hear him speak. There, he met people who looked like him, people he never would have associated with white nationalism – men wearing suits, not swastikas – and it made him want to be a part of something. Then Fears was going to other rallies across Texas, and local websites were calling him one of "Houston's most outspoken Neo-Nazis," and he was seeing alt-right memes of Adolf Hitler that at first he thought foolish – "people are going to hate us" – but soon learned to enjoy.

"It's probably been about a year," he said, "but my evolution has been faster and faster."

Last weekend's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which ended with dozens injured, a woman struck dead by a car, a president again engulfed in scandal and another national bout of soul-searching over race in America, was a collection of virtually every kind of white nationalist the country has ever known. There were members of the Ku Klux Klan, skinheads and neo-Nazis. But it was this group, the group of William Fears, that was not so familiar.

The torch-lit images of Friday night's march through Emancipation Park revealed scores like him: clean-cut, unashamed and young – very young. They almost looked as though they were students of the university they marched through.

Who were they? What in their relatively short lives had so aggrieved them that they felt compelled to drive across the country for a rally? How does this happen?

The answer is complicated and unique to each person, but there are nonetheless similarities, according to lengthy interviews with six young men, aged 21 to 35, who traveled hundreds of miles to Charlottesville to the rally. For these men, it was far from a lark. It was the culmination of something that took months for some, years for others. There were plot points along this trajectory, each emboldening them more and more, until they were on the streets of Charlottesville, ready to unshackle themselves from the anonymity of online avatars and show the world their faces.

[Differing views on past week of Trump's presidency spotlight partisan divide]

From New Orleans, one man journeyed 965 miles. Another arrived from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – 247 miles. Another drove all night, more than 20 hours in all, from Austin, Texas – 1,404 miles. One more traveled from Dayton, Ohio – 442 miles.

The road to Charlottesville, 540 miles away from his home in Paoli, Indiana, began decades ago for Matthew Parrott, who at 35 calls himself "the first alt-righter," referring to a small and decentralized movement of extreme conservatives, many of whom profess white-supremacist and anti-Semitic beliefs and seek a whites-only ethno state.

Parrott was socially awkward and had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at 15. So his family pooled their money and got him a computer with access to the Internet – a rarity in his neighborhood of mobile homes – which he came to see as his "secret portal in my bedroom." In chat rooms, he developed a taste for intellectual combat, always taking the contrarian side, obsessing over how to dismantle progressive arguments until, as he puts it, he "ended up self-radicalizing."

That radicalization was rooted, he said, in his own feelings of alienation, which intensified when he went to Indiana University and confronted an elite he soon came to disdain. "They made fun of my accent and overbite and they called me white trash and hillbilly," Parrott said. "I was never able to identify with a single person."

He dropped out after his first semester, and his disillusionment festered until, at age 23, he went to the national conference of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white-nationalist organization based in St. Louis. He considers this moment when comparing what white nationalism once was and what it has become. "I was the youngest one in the room," he said. Old men, "asked me, 'Whose grandson are you?' They were baffled. . . . And now those guys are too frail to understand what's going on."

What was going on: The same alienation and purposelessness that once defined his life had come to characterize that of so many others. An economy capsized, a job market contracted, a student-loan crisis erupted, and feelings of resentment and victimization took hold among some members of Parrott's generation.

"This is not some hypothetical thing," said Parrott, who soon established the white nationalist Traditionalist Youth Network and started recruiting. "This is, 'I'm stuck working at McDonald's where there are no factory jobs and the boomer economy is gone and we have got this humiliating degrading service economy. . . . They feel the ladder has been kicked away from them."

And who was to blame for all of this? Those who joined the alt-right did not view impersonal economic factors or their own failings as culprits.

"In some respects, it's not that different from Islamist extremists," Ryan Lenz of the Southern Poverty Law Center said. A similar set of conditions – disaffected young men, few jobs for them and a radical ideology promising answers – have fueled recruitment for the alt-right movement. These young men, Lenz said, were told "they were sold a raw bill of goods. The government is working against them and doesn't give a s— about white people, and they were told this during a period when the first African-American president was in the White House."

There came a moment for every young man interviewed when they felt whites, and particularly white men, had become subject to discrimination, a perception that formed the foundation of their new identities.

Peyton Oubre, 21, of Metairie, Louisiana, perceived it after graduating from high school when he was looking for a job. "Where I live, go to any McDonalds or Walmart, and most of the employees are black," said Oubre, who is unemployed. "And I could put in 500 applications and receive one call. Every time I walked into Walmart, there were no white people, and how come they are getting hired and I can't?"

"White privilege," he said. "I'm still waiting on my privilege."

For Tony Hovater, 29, of Dayton, Ohio, it came after he had dropped out of college and was touring with his metal band, for which he played drums, and he passed through the small towns of the Rust Belt and Appalachia. He started thinking that so much of the national narrative focuses on the plight of poor, urban minorities, but here was poverty as desperate as any he had seen, and yet no one was talking about poor whites. "You see how a complete system failed a group of people and didn't take any responsibility for it and has done nothing to help," he said.

For Connor Perrin, 29, of Austin, who grew up upper-middle class, it was during college when he felt campus liberals were ostracizing his fraternity because it was white. "If only people would stop attacking us," he said."I can't say anything just because I'm white. I can't talk about race, and I can't talk about the Jews because I'll be called an anti-Semite, and I can't say I want to date my own race."

For Eric Starr, 31, of Harrisburg, Pa., who has been convicted of disorderly conduct for fighting and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, it was growing up white in a poor black neighborhood. "I got bullied and I got made fun of and I got beat up," he said. "Cracker, whitey, white boy."

And for William Fears, who has been convicted of criminal trespass, aggravated kidnapping and possession of a controlled substance, it happened while he was incarcerated. "I don't think any race experiences racism in the modern world the way that white people do in a jail," he said. "In jail, whites come last."

From these disparate geographies, social classes and upbringings – rich and poor, rural and urban, educated and not – they converged on a single place last weekend, Charlottesville, with a shared belief that they, white men, are the true victims of today's America.

[A neo-Nazi's rage-fueled journey to Charlottesville]

"I wanted to be in the fight," Perrin said.

"I need to be more aggressive," Parrot said.

"We never fight for anything," Fears said.

The violence that they would mete out and receive on the streets of the picturesque college town was the most pivotal moment to date in the evolution of the alt-right movement, the men interviewed believe. The alt-right has always been a diffuse movement, but it has also been intensely communal. People make and share memes that glorify President Trump and make jokes of Hitler and the Holocaust. They discuss events on 4chan, Reddit and Discord. They get to know one another despite a distance of hundreds of miles. They learned not to fear being called a racist or a Nazi, and in fact, some found those descriptions liberating, even "addicting," as Parrott described it.

But Charlottesville represented an opportunity to further transcend what they called confining social taboos. Many came prepared for violence, like Fears, who was wearing a blue business suit, a helmet, gas mask and goggles. He rode a van with a group of other alt-right members, and described it as "being transported into a war zone." Bottles burst against the van's windows, he recalled. People hit the van. It stopped before Emancipation Park, and everyone started yelling to get out as quickly as possible. Gripping a flag like a weapon, Fears strode to the front and melted into the melee. He threw punches. He took punches. He felt disgust. "Someone hit me in the head with a stick," he said, "and it split my goggles off."

"Little savages," Starr said of the counterprotesters.

"Subhuman," Perrin said.

Neither the day's events leading to the car crash that killed Heather Heyer and injured 19 others in Charlottesville, nor the condemnation from politicians and people across the country that followed, has persuaded those interviewed that their beliefs are wrong. For some, it only confirmed their sense of victimhood. They felt silenced and censored, deprived of their rights. They felt as if the death of Heyer had changed everything, and that uncontrollable forces had been unleashed.

"It was like a war, and some people died, and it was an eerie feeling," Fears said. "Things are life and death now, and if you're involved in this movement, you have to be willing to die for it now, and that was the first time that had happened."

Soon after the rally, Fears started the long trip home to Houston, where he is a construction worker. He talked to his family, who "pretty much agree with me." He tried to calm down his little brother, who was "shaken up by it." He thought about what would happen if he died. "If I'm killed, that's fine," he said. "Maybe I'll be a martyr or something, or remembered."

He knows there will be another Black Lives Matter event soon, and he has plans to go. "I'll take a megaphone and see what they have to say," he said. "I would like there not to be more violence. . . . But it might be inevitable, so let's get this out of the way. If there is going to be a violent race war, maybe we should do it, maybe we should escalate it."

– – –

The Washington Post's Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Trump fails, extremes exult, nation suffers

4 hours 39 min ago

After the deadly violence of Charlottesville, Virginia., the amoral man in the White House failed his morality test. And in doing so, he gave the left a powerful weapon.

But now, a question:

Why did nearly half the electorate and 30 states make Donald Trump president of the United States?

Because he wasn't Hillary Clinton and her pack of cultural and media establishment elitists, who reveled in reminding forgotten Americans that they were deplorables for wanting to reclaim lost jobs and keep control of their nation's borders.

Because he wasn't part of the establishment war party endlessly seeking to spend American blood and treasure in constant and disastrous military intervention around the world.

Because he offered economic hope for a country that had been fed President Barack Obama's weak platitudes, even as hope and opportunity fled, and to some extent, Trump has delivered on that.

He also offered strength (or so he said), a willingness to confront the corrosive insidiousness of the politically correct, to fight it and damn it.

But then came the alt-right rally in Charlottesville, with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists, their ridiculous Tiki torches and their Ku Klux Klan hatred, ostensibly to protect a statue of the Confederate South.

Confronting them was an angry group of counterprotesters that included violent fascists of the left, allowed by the local police to shut those white boys down, the way the fascist left had been allowed to shut down several conservative speakers at colleges, including at the University of California, Berkeley.

But this wasn't a college campus in California where young college Republicans could be easily slapped around. This was the South, where history and culture are less malleable. And what happened was inevitable.

So Trump was faced with a question of morality.

All he had to do was be unequivocal in his condemnation of the alt-right mob. His brand as an alpha in a sea of political beta males promised he wouldn't be equivocal about anything.

But he failed, miserably, his mouth and tongue transformed into a dollop of lukewarm tapioca, talking in equivocal terms, about the violence on "many sides."

He then he offered another statement, ostensibly to clarify and condemn the mob. But that was followed, predictably, by even more comments, as he desperately tried to publicly litigate his earlier failures.

In doing so, he gave the alt-right all they could dream of.

He said some attending the rally were "fine people."

Fine people don't go to white supremacist rallies to spew hate. Fine people don't remotely associate with the KKK. Fine people at a protest see men in white hoods and leave.

Fine people don't get in a car and in a murderous rage, run others down, including Heather Heyer, who in her death has become a saint of the left.

Fine people don't make excuses. And fine leaders don't leave gray areas behind them. Trump did.

"You have some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides," Trump said at the Tuesday news conference. "You had people in that group — excuse me, excuse me — I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name."

Trump seemed to be going out of his way not to offend the white boys who voted for him. I don't think this is because he's a racist, or that he joins with the neo-Nazis in hating Jews. His daughter is Jewish. Her husband Jared Kushner, a top White House adviser, is Jewish.

But Trump is by nature a flatterer, a tribal thinker, narcissistic enough to love those who love him. The whites at the rally voted for him, and now the alt-right praises him for his tepid commentary.

Trump's failure of Charlottesville — his failure to condemn the mob immediately in the strongest terms — has given the left a forceful rhetorical advantage.

You see it in much of the media commentary of social justice warriors. They've taken this tragedy and their public piety and forged it into a blade, to stab their political opponents.

And so, now, the argument is pushed that whites who voted for Trump are all presumed to be racists. It is a theme reflected in much of media that has despised Trump for the sin of denying Clinton the presidency.

But is this even possible? Are tens of millions of people who didn't cast ballots for Clinton in November the enablers of the idiotic alt-right and their disgusting henchmen?

Of course not, yet this is how political rhetoric works. Capturing the moral high ground in an argument may be a bloody climb, but once you're up there, you can stab down in the name of peace and justice.

And victory.

And those Trump voters who cast ballots for him for other reasons —from wanting conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court to better trade deals — are forced to defend themselves from the paralyzing charge of bigotry.

This is not a prescription for unifying the country, but it's been expected. It is what happens when an empire's establishment decays, infected by the cynicism of leaders over decade after decade.

The left and right become more violent and strident. Their loud declarations and counter declarations give little refuge to those in the middle. And the president's moral failure over Charlottesville helps feed it.

It is what happens with amoral men who think only in terms of themselves.

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His Twitter handle is @john_kass.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com.

Moe motors to record time in Anchorage Mile

5 hours 1 min ago

Distance runners will take over the city's streets and trails for Sunday's Anchorage Runfest, but Saturday belonged to runners whose times were measured in minutes, not hours.

Jake Moe posted a record time in the Anchorage Mile, the prelude to Sunday's longer races.

Moe finished the flat course along the Delaney Park Strip in 4 minutes, 24 seconds, to shave one second off the 2013 record set by Isaac Lammers.

Jason Coupe finished in 4:27 to place second. He and Moe were among six men who broke the five-minute barrier.

In the women's race, Jess Klain beat Tracie Haan by four seconds with a time of 6:04.

Sunday morning's races — a 49K, a marathon, a half-marathon and a 5K — will put hundreds of runners and walkers on the Coastal Trail and Chester Creek Trail. All of the races begin and end near Town Square on Sixth Ave. and F Street.

Women
1. Jess Klain 06:04; 2. Tracie Haan 06:10; 3. Cindy O'Donnell 06:14; 4. Elizabeth Ross 06:30; 5. Nicole Domaschuk 06:44; 6. Rosario Juarez 06:46; 7. Susan Craig 06:47; 8. Meghan Grotte 07:03; 9. Abigail Velie 07:07; 10. Amy Smith 07:17; 11. Janet Petersen 07:33; 12. Meghan Owens 07:33; 13. Jolene Kullberg 07:41; 14. Sirena Meade 07:50; 15. Julianne Tibbe 07:51; 16. Kiana Peacock 07:53; 17. Debra Moore 07:55; 18. Kelli Taylor 07:58; 19. Anna Boltz 07:58; 20. Heidi Voeller 08:02; 21. Reimion Mcbean 08:05; 22. Lara Zoeller 08:05; 23. Natalie Bickers 08:10; 24. Nichole G Conti 08:11; 25. Jamie Woodall 08:23; 26. Debra Kinn 08:25; 27. Abigail Bigelow 08:33; 28. Kim Lewis 08:33; 29. Stephanie King 08:36; 30. Nancy Lowery 08:38; 31. Dawn King 08:48; 32. Elizabeth Johns 08:50; 33. Susan Coon 08:52; 34. Faith Martineau 08:55; 35. Alyson Miller 08:55; 36. Amity Winborg 08:55; 37. Amanda Yauney 08:56; 38. Terri Thurston 08:57; 39. Kyra Ecklund 09:00; 40. Sophia Ecklund 09:04; 41. Karen Michelsen 09:08; 42. Letitia Ezell 09:12; 43. Jean Cumlat 09:13; 44. Judy Anunciacion 09:14; 45. Christina Brown 09:15; 46. Heidi Hill 09:18; 47. Ella Ross 09:23; 48. Renae Dozier 09:38; 49. M Louise Franklin 09:41; 50. Joyce Bono 09:43; 51. Chantel Roark 09:48; 52. Vanessa Crandell-Beck 10:22; 53. Traci Reddick 10:25; 54. Trudi Reddick 10:25; 55. Mary Neiberger 10:40; 56. Jessica Svetkovich 10:43; 57. Jolene Mcdowell 10:46; 58. Jessie Lavoie 10:56; 59. Judy Krier 10:59; 60. Jacqueline Neumann 11:22; 61. Iesha Jones 11:23; 62. Lauren Miller 11:31; 63. Crystal Hite 11:34; 64. Marinna Meinhardt 11:34; 65. Wyeth Kirkeby 11:53; 66. Molly Mcmanamin 12:11; 67. Ashley Harris 12:11; 68. Avi Kononen 12:13; 69. Lisa Fricke 12:32; 70. Lora Haugaard 12:38; 71. Frances Tanner 13:34; 72. Dianne Voese 14:01; 73. Sandra Walker 14:02; 74. Zoe Ross 14:07; 75. Kylie Taylor 14:07; 76. Karen Caston 14:59; 77. Rhonda Terry 14:59; 78. Debra Wiggs 15:23; 79. Joan Bluestone 16:05; 80. Debbie Del Favero 16:07; 81. Barbara Sisson 17:16; 82. Lauren Bluestone 17:18; 83. Tina Schweichler 22:57.

Men
1. Jake Moe 04:24; 2. Jason Coupe 04:27; 3. Brian Kirchner 04:34; 4. Joshua Baker 04:43; 5. Chris Smith 04:46; 6. Nick Coury 04:53; 7. Christopher Miko 05:02; 8. Sam Saunders 05:03; 9. Jonny Hughes 05:04; 10. Faris Hanhaz 05:11; 11. Brian Haviland 05:14; 12. Joe Reser 05:27; 13. Justin Smole 05:30; 14. Jamieson Barnes 05:33; 15. Samir Patil 05:40; 16. Garrett Baker 05:47; 17. Murphy Kimball 05:48; 18. Casey Kirkeby 05:54; 19. Andrei Tsyganenko 05:55; 20. James Linder 06:00; 21. Bill Schneider 06:02; 22. Henry Zidek 06:12; 23. Jon Schultz 06:15; 24. Zach Hill 06:16; 25. Michael B Franklin 06:18; 26. Dean Denter 06:20; 27. Iain Maley 06:28; 28. Zachery Pasag 06:28; 29. Timothy Johnson 06:31; 30. Greg Macdonald 06:34; 31. Thomas Perri 06:45; 32. Toby Widdicombe 06:56; 33. Scott Jordan 06:57; 34. William Griffith 07:02; 35. Zachary Herman 07:03; 36. Mark Skrade 07:10; 37. Christopher Prasad 07:22; 38. Max Schneider 07:29; 39. Jesse King 07:34; 40. Evan R Steinhauser 07:39; 41. Thomas Pittman 07:44; 42. Ken King 08:00; 43. J Biff Franklin 08:01; 44. Alan Neumann 08:05; 45. Parker Walton 08:05; 46. Jonathan Walton 08:06; 47. Lawrence Bigelow 08:17; 48. Aliyas Sargento 08:22; 49. Mark Thomas 08:26; 50. Brandon Thomas 08:26; 51. Otto Schneider 09:21; 52. Tyler Thomas 09:22; 53. Ed Del Favero 10:15; 54. Corbin Walton 10:25; 55. Anthony Anderson 13:19; 56. Craig Haugaard 13:42; 57. Gregory Miller 16:04; 58. David Bluestone 16:05; 59. Joey Schweichler 22:37.

In wake of Charlottesville, University of Alaska leaders call for tolerance and inclusion

5 hours 2 min ago

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, University of Alaska leaders sent emails to students, faculty and staff calling for inclusion and tolerance, as well as the rejection of hatred.

"Now, more than ever, we must all rally around these ideals: UAF welcomes all, including those of different nationalities, religions, races and genders," said the email Thursday from University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Daniel White.

"We are a place for diversity of thought and civil discourse," White wrote to faculty, students and staff. "We reject the type of violence and hatred wrought on the community of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia campus by white supremacists and neo-Nazis."

Last Saturday, a rally in Charlottesville turned violent as white nationalists, some waving Confederate flags and banners bearing the Nazi swastika, clashed with counterprotesters. During the mayhem, a car plowed into a crowd, leaving one person dead and nearly 20 injured.

[Alaska senators speak against bigotry in Charlottesville; hundreds of protesters turn out in Anchorage]

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen mentioned the violence in his welcome-back email Wednesday to faculty and staff, underscoring UA's commitment to opportunity, equity, "the peaceful freedom of expression," diversity, non-violence and inclusion.

"As we prepare for a new academic year, we will continue efforts to make our university welcoming to all, including those of different ethnicities, races, religions, sexual orientations and gender identities," he wrote. "While discourse on important values and difficult issues may not always be polite, it must always be non-violent."

The chancellors at the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau also sent emails with a similar tenor to faculty, staff and students, about a week and a half before the start of fall classes.

UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield wrote in an email Wednesday: "As Chancellor, I find the actions of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semitics, and others who would threaten the rights and dignity of our community to be an affront to our core values of justice, tolerance, equity, and cultural safety. Freedom of speech is not an excuse for violence and intolerance."

Caulfield encouraged students to be involved in "the difficult but essential conversations" about race, power and privilege.

UAA Interim Chancellor Samuel Gingerich called on the university community to oppose hatred and violence and honor and encourage tolerance.

"We value and celebrate our diverse community," Gingerich wrote in the Thursday email. "This is inherent in our mission: to maintain a campus where all can teach, learn and serve."

Classes at UAF, UAA and UAS start Aug. 28.

Mere seconds decide races at Tsalteshi Invitational

5 hours 8 min ago

The first big race of the high school cross-country season produced close finishes Saturday at the Tsalteshi Invitational in Soldotna.

In the girls race, the winner and the runner-up recorded the same time, with the third-place finisher just one second behind.

In the boys race, four seconds separated the top three runners.

Kenai Central's Addison Gibson edged South's Ava Earl to take the girls 5-kilometer victory. Both clocked times of 19 minutes, 33 seconds while finishing one second ahead of Service's Grace Fahrney (19:34).

Claiming the boys 5K victory was Santiago Prosser of Dimond in 16:13. A pair of West High runners were right behind — Declan Dammeyer (16:14) and Ethan Davis (16:17).

Team titles went to the West boys, who placed four runners in the top six, and the Kenai girls.

Tsalteshi Invitational

Girls team scores

1. Kenai Central 48, 2. Chugiak 89, 3. West 141, 4. Service 144, 5. Eagle River 147, 6. Dimond 157, 7. South 173, 8. Grace Christian 175, 9. Colony 193, 10. Palmer 195, 11. Homer 268, 12. Kodiak 289, 13. Soldotna 309, 14. Bethel 410.

Boys team scores

1. West 34; 2. Dimond 109; 3. Service 112; 4. Homer 149; 5. Chugiak 167; 6. Soldotna 187; 7. Wasilla 191; 8. Grace Christian 203; 9. Eagle River 232; 10. Colony 234; 11. South 237; 12. Kodiak 247; 13. Palmer 326; 14. East 333; 15. Kenai 372; 16. Bethel 427.

Girls

1. Gibson Addison, Kenai Central 19:33; 2. Earl Ava, South 19:33; 3. Fahrney Grace, Service 19:34; 4. Meeds Maggie, South 19:43; 5. LeClair Aubrey, West 19:51; 6. Proffitt Adrianna, Chugiak 19:58; 7. Walsh Emily, Eagle River 20:03; 8. Judd Kylie, Dimond 20:13; 9. Howard Clare, Service 20:15; 10. Boonstra Riana, Kenai Central 20:20; 11. Calvert Jaycie, Kenai Central 20:24; 12. Bergholtz Ithaca, Kenai Central 20:28; 13. Nelson Emma, Chugiak 20:29; 14. Satathite Brooke, Kenai Central 20:30; 15. Gould Brooklynn, Chugiak 20:35; 16. Bowker Jill, Colony 20:37; 17. Eski Ivy, West 20:41; 18. Wright Sophie, Palmer 20:47; 19. Atkinson Leola, Bartlett 20:56; 20. Dorris Ryann, West 21:03; 21. Demientieff Charlee, Grace Christian 21:07; 22. Miller Brooke, Homer 21:09; 23. Moseley Alex, Homer 21:16; 24. Day Breanna, Chugiak 21:20; 25. Nelson Claire, Eagle River 21:20; 26. Sherman Kiara, Eagle River 21:21; 27. Maurer Madeline, Service 21:28; 28. Reinbold Mary, Dimond 21:28; 29. Ortiz Lydia, Palmer 21:30; 30. Annett Grace, Grace Christian 21:31; 31. Kalytiak Nina, Palmer 21:32; 32. Christiansen Maddie, Kodiak 21:33; 33. Gerlach Lindsey, Chugiak 21:34; 34. Mueller Gwendolyn, Chugiak 21:34; 35. Manwaring KayLee, Chugiak 21:35; 36. Spaic Sofija, Colony 21:43; 37. Cvancara Maria, Dimond 21:43; 38. Bell Nicole, Colony 21:47; 39. Walsh Ashley, Eagle River 21:57; 40. Cvancara Sophia, Dimond 22:00; 41. Morgan Maddy, Grace Christian 22:01; 42. Glover Carly, Kodiak 22:03; 43. McLaughlin Anna, Grace Christian 22:03; 44. Tumey Jania, West 22:07; 45. Jackson Mazzy, Grace Christian 22:09; 46. Arthur Kellie, Soldotna 22:10; 47. Blackwell Cameron, Soldotna 22:11; 48. Brandt Trophe, Dimond 22:11; 49. Young Lucy, South 22:12; 50. Arthur Erika, Soldotna 22:13; 51. Deering Kylee, Colony 22:13; 52. Copp Zoe, Palmer 22:15; 53. Dworian Nadia, Service 22:17; 54. Perkins Bonnie, Eagle River 22:17; 55. Whittaker Quyanna, Service 22:29; 56. Smith Claire, Colony 22:31; 57. Reynolds Roxanna, South 22:34; 58. Johannes Kelsey, West 22:34; 59. Slatonbarker Lily, West 22:36; 60. Carey Shine, Homer 22:41; 61. Widener Kiah, Grace Christian 22:42; 62. Binder Tessa, Grace Christian 22:44; 63. Kopsack Alyson, Colony 22:45; 64. Armbrust Hannah, South 22:48; 65. Smith Quincy, Dimond 22:58; 66. Drury Sarah, Kenai Central 22:58; 67. Wright Adeline, Service 23:02; 68. Steiner Brynn, Wasilla 23:05; 69. Western Lindsey, South 23:20; 70. Vasquez Carissa, Wasilla 23:27; 71. Shepler Tabea, Palmer 23:29; 72. Stark Calee, Dimond 23:34; 73. Ulrich Emma, South 23:39; 74. Raisley Ella, Kodiak 23:43; 75. Parnell Katie, Kodiak 23:44; 76. Rachels Giselle, Eagle River 23:44; 77. Fagan Malina, Kodiak 23:45; 78. Beans-Polk Lindsey, Bethel 23:50; 79. Draayer Amber, West 23:52; 80. Bukowski Dorothy, Bethel 24:03; 81. Carver Brooklynn, Eagle River 24:10; 82. Carey Sienna, Homer 24:11; 83. Salzetti Maria, Kenai Central 24:15; 84. Neff Shalom, Kodiak 24:24; 85. Gebauer Ann, Service 24:38; 86. Morse Brynn, East 24:49; 87. Charlie Dellarae, Bethel 25:33; 88. Dammeyer Isabella, Soldotna 25:36; 89. Thomas Sophie, Soldotna 25:51; 90. Dema Fiola, Bethel 26:22; 91. Davidson Harmony, Homer 26:22; 92. Foster Mykenna, Soldotna 26:43; 93. Gray Sydney, Bethel 26:51; 94. Martin Sonora, Soldotna 28:02; 95. Stanley Julian, Bethel 30:15; 96. Ochoa Anahi, Homer 30:33; 97. LaBelle Suzanne, Port Graham 33:56; 98. Syth Ellie, Homer 37:42

Boys

1. Prosser Santiago, Dimond 16:13; 2. Dammeyer Declan, West 16:14; 3. Davis Ethan, West 16:17; 4. Latva-Kiskola Niko, Dimond 16:24; 5. Cason Everett, West 16:26; 6. Bausch Daniel, West 16:26; 7. Block Gavin, Colony 16:42; 8. Martin Gabe, Grace Christian 16:43; 9. Szweda Mittelstadt Sebastian, Service 16:43; 10. Davis Jacob, Homer 16:46; 11. Dunham Maison, Kenai Central 16:47; 12. Maurer Xander, Service 16:48; 13. Carl Nick, Eagle River 16:54; 14. Fritzel Luke, Grace Christian 16:54; 15. Bradley Jacob, Eagle River 17:00; 16. Earnhart Michael, Chugiak 17:01; 17. Hayes Hunter, Wasilla 17:04; 18. Lynch Brycen, West 17:04; 19. Meier Lane, Colony 17:05; 20. Fasulo Luciano, Homer 17:06; 21. Cvancara George, Dimond 17:09; 22. Beloy Kaleb, South 17:16; 23. Belanger Jacob, Service 17:18; 24. Vinson Koby, Soldotna 17:19; 25. Dennis Miles, Chugiak 17:20; 26. Robertson Lev, Palmer 17:24; 27. Verg-in Sean, Soldotna 17:25; 28. Walters Bradley, Soldotna 17:25; 29. Baez-Terry Liam, Chugiak 17:28; 30. Gardiner Dallin, Dimond 17:28; 31. Beiergrohsle Max, Chugiak 17:28; 32. Rygh Dakota, Service 17:29; 33. Thompson Brenden, Kodiak 17:30; 34. Beachy Jordan, Homer 17:32; 35. Taylor Josh, Colony 17:34; 36. Spencer David, Service 17:39; 37. Reed Sebastian, West 17:39; 38. Greathouse Kaleb, Wasilla 17:41; 39. Steiner Taft, Wasilla 17:43; 40. Chamberlain Seth, South 17:47; 41. Monrean Bryston, South 17:50; 42. Rich Bill, Homer 17:51; 43. Waclawski Denver, Homer 17:54; 44. Owens Connor, Palmer 17:55; 45. Winegeart Paul, Kodiak 17:56; 46. Chilton Lance, Soldotna 17:57; 47. Bell Isaak, Wasilla 17:58; 48. White Ryan, Service 18:01; 49. Haywood Beck, East 18:02; 50. Larson McKinley, Wasilla 18:03; 51. Maddox Michael, Eagle River 18:04; 52. Gruner Braxton, Kodiak 18:04; 53. Tibbits Dastzeni, Dimond 18:04; 54. Miller Jaylon, East 18:04; 55. Denton Kaden, Dimond 18:04; 56. Leach Kevin, Grace Christian 18:14; 57. Coverdell Vincent, Grace Christian 18:15; 58. Nummer Gabe, Kodiak 18:16; 59. Seto Youji, Kodiak 18:17; 60. Kearns Dylan, Service 18:17; 61. Howe Luke, East 18:18; 62. Metcalf Bechler, Soldotna 18:21; 63. Putnam Spencer, South 18:22; 64. Danielson Karl, Kenai Central 18:25; 65. Post Ben, West 18:27; 66. Lewis Owen, Chugiak 18:32; 67. Yturbe Camrin, Kodiak 18:35; 68. Fritzel Cole, Grace Christian 18:36; 69. Swalling Sean, Dimond 18:38; 70. Metzger Warren, Grace Christian 18:38; 71. Simmons Kris, South 18:40; 72. Birbilas Riley, Kodiak 18:42; 73. Keffalos Simon, South 18:44; 74. Horwath Hudson, Wasilla 18:45; 75. Maclean Amiqaq, Palmer 18:48; 76. Senden Karsten, Eagle River 18:50; 77. Carl Alex, Eagle River 18:50; 78. Poe Lawrence, Bethel 18:57; 79. Logsdon Alexander, Wasilla 18:57; 80. Roach Orion, East 19:00; 81. Streit Garrett, Colony 19:02; 82. Crow Jamin, Bethel 19:03; 83. Beachy Clayton, Homer 19:07; 84. Hayes Mose, Homer 19:08; 85. Villanueva Josh, Palmer 19:16; 86. Daniel Ray, Bethel 19:17; 87. Poe Gary, Bethel 19:21; 88. Estes Josh, Eagle River 19:24; 89. McNab Andrew, East 19:24; 90. Gannon Aiden, Grace Christian 19:26; 91. Lien Tucker, Eagle River 19:30; 92. Ferland Alexandre, Colony 19:32; 93. Edwards Austin, Colony 19:33; 94. Phelan Thomas, Bethel 19:34; 95. Mueller Tucker, Kenai Central 19:47; 96. Copp Ethan, Palmer 20:05; 97. Reynolds Chance, Soldotna 20:08; 98. Desaulniers Daniel, South 20:17; 99. Stockton Evan, Kenai Central 20:31; 100. Phelan Shane, Bethel 21:15; 101. Beans-Polk Sam, Bethel 21:33; 102. Gilila Josiah, East 22:02; 103. Foster Josh, Kenai Central 22:15; 104. Bezdecny Andrew, Kenai Central 22:37

Stand with Trump, lose standing and soul

5 hours 8 min ago

"O mother

What shall I cry?

We demand a committee, a representative

committee, a committee of investigation

RESIGN RESIGN RESIGN"

— T.S. Eliot, "Difficulties of a Statesman"

WASHINGTON — It is ironic that Steve Bannon, the alt-right conscience of the White House, was dismissed at the moment of his triumph. President Donald Trump's recantation of his staff-enforced moral clarity on the Charlottesville, Virginia, clash was a high point for the Breitbart worldview.

About that unequivocal condemnation of Nazis, racists and murder? Never mind. The left is just as bad. Both sides share the blame.

This might be defensible — if you leave out the 400 years of oppression, segregation, violence and cruelty black people have experienced in North America. If you leave out a bloody Civil War started by slave interests to defend an economic system based on theft of labor and the lash.

If you leave out the millions shot, gassed and incinerated under the Nazi flag, their wedding rings and gold fillings carefully collected by their killers. If you leave out every grave of every American who fought and died to defeat fascism and militarism.

So moral equivalence is an option — for those who are willfully blind to history and have a shriveled emptiness where their soul once resided.

This is now, sadly, an accurate description of America's 45th president, who felt compelled to reveal his true convictions. Such compulsion has the virtue of honesty. It has the drawback (from Trump's perspective) of leaving his defenders without excuse.

[Trump fires controversial chief strategist Bannon]

Following the departure of Bannon, the question has become: "Why should anyone who doesn't agree with Bannon stay at the White House?"

There are, of course, some true believers who constitute a deep state of lunacy and malice. And it would be difficult for relatives to resign in protest from the family.

But consider poor chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, standing beside Trump during his moment of sympathy for the "very fine people" at a white supremacist rally. (Cohn was "somewhere between appalled and furious," according to sources who talked to Axios.)

Or consider poor chief of staff John Kelly, who watched helplessly as message discipline swerved into the alt-right abyss.

But "poor" is not quite the right adjective. People with jobs at the White House or in the Cabinet are not victims. They hold positions of public influence and trust, with their primary duty owed to the U.S. Constitution (go and look at the oath they take), not to the president.

Loyalty to the president is a good thing, in the proper context. It is rooted in gratitude for the opportunity of a lifetime. There is a natural tendency, I can attest as a former White House staffer, to defend the leader you know from attacks by outsiders who know him not at all.

Being an assistant to the president or a Cabinet officer is the chance to do great good — a chance that may never come again. Besides, the president won an election and has the right to set his own agenda.

But Trump is knocking out the props that support this type of reasoning. He is a president who shows precious little downward loyalty, frequently subjecting his closest aides to public humiliation as a kind of management tool.

The chance to do great good is dwindling day by day, as Trump systematically alienates natural allies and embitters enemies through compulsive taunting. His disordered character is preventing him from pursuing any sort of mandate that his election might have represented.

And it is not possible for a Cabinet officer or White House staffer to comfort himself or herself that "At least the president's heart is good." That is something I did not doubt when serving George W. Bush.

Now Trump has opened his own chest for all to see. And the cavity is horrifyingly empty.

Every additional day of standing next to Trump — physically and metaphorically — destroys reputation and diminishes moral standing. The rationalizations are no longer credible.

But resignation, in contrast, would be a contribution to the common good —showing that principled leadership in service to the Constitution is still possible, even in the age of Trump. When loyalty requires corruption, it is time to leave.

Michael Gerson is a columnist for The Washington Post. Email, michaelgerson@washpost.com.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com. 

Dozens of Anchorage city executives got big pay boosts earlier this year

5 hours 10 min ago

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz boosted the salaries of more than 30 city executives this year, in some cases by more than 10 percent, according to data reviewed by Alaska Dispatch News.

Seven top Berkowitz executives now earn more than $137,000 a year in salary. As of last fall, no executives made more than the mayor, whose salary is fixed by an independent commission at $132,960.

Across sixteen departments, 36 executives received raises in excess of the city's standard 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase. It was by far the biggest raise in years for many of the executives, records indicate.

Male executives saw a 9 percent bump in salary on average. Female executives received an average 12 percent raise. The annual cost to the city is nearly $361,000.

Alaska Dispatch News obtained the data about raises and past salaries through public records requests. In an interview, Berkowitz, who is up for re-election next year, characterized the raises — which came even as city was facing a steep budget gap — as a general attempt to correct for key positions whose pay had not been boosted in some time, and where female employees were being underpaid.

"We're very mindful of the fact we have to do things in a way that's equitable across everyone who works for the municipality," Berkowitz said. "But some areas had seen pay decreases, and it was putting our ability to do our work in jeopardy."

The top-paid executives, records show, are Mike Abbott, the city manager; Justin Doll, the police chief; Denis LeBlanc, the fire chief; Bill Falsey, the city attorney; Robert Harris, the chief fiscal officer; Mark Johnston, general manager of Municipal Light & Power; Brett Jokela, general manager of Alaska Water and Wastewater Utility; and Alden Thern, a deputy chief fiscal officer tasked with finishing a long-overdue upgrade for city business software.

Abbott, Doll, LeBlanc, Falsey, Harris, Johnston, Jokela and Thern are all being paid the exact same salary, at $137,110. Previously, Abbott was the top-paid executive, followed by Harris.

Group of a few dozen

Anchorage's mayor makes roughly 160 executive appointments and has some discretion to set salaries. Berkowitz unilaterally approved standard 1.5 percent raises for all executive employees in early January 2017, according to Abbott.

In addition, Berkowitz singled out a group of 36 executives for salary boosts in excess of the standard amount. About half of the executives who received the raises pre-dated Berkowitz's tenure as mayor, the data show. The higher raises did not extend to members of the mayor's office.

In the interview, Berkowitz said the salaries of some executives had been "held unnaturally low" over time.

Of the group that got the bigger raises, nearly all are making between $10,000 and $30,000 more than they or their predecessors made in 2013, salary data show.

The data reviewed by Alaska Dispatch News has not yet been publicly reported to the Anchorage Assembly. While Berkowitz is required to report compensation data for new executive hires to the Assembly on a quarterly basis, a comprehensive report on executive compensation in 2017 won't be due to the Assembly until next year.

The upper limits of executive salaries are set in city code. Berkowitz didn't exceed them with any of the raises, but he needs Anchorage Assembly approval to go above the limits. In an interview, Abbott, the city manager, said that when Berkowitz first took office, newly hired executives were intentionally paid at the lower end of their salary ranges.

The administration has since systematically identified people who were "underpaid and exceeding expectations," Abbott said.

He said special attention was paid to female executives. Of the group that got raises, about half were women, who make up about a quarter of city executives.

Pay of union staff could exceed supervisors

Stephanie Mormilo, the city traffic engineer, was earning a salary of $100,880 in 2016, records show. She's since been boosted to $119,184, a raise of about 20 percent.

Mormilo, who was hired in 2011, indicated in an interview that she hadn't asked for a raise but appreciated the recognition.

"I didn't take this job because of what I was getting paid," Mormilo said. "I took this job because I cared."

Even so, Mormilo said, she'd had moments of pause when lists of city employee salaries appeared and she could compare her pay with that of people who work for her and are members of city unions.

"It's a bit disheartening when 50 percent of your staff makes more than you do," Mormilo said.

In a tradeoff for boosting wages, Abbott said the administration wanted to reduce huge amounts of non-cashable leave, or leave that can't be converted to cash at the end of the year, built up by some individuals. He characterized non-cashable leave as a technique that had been used by the city to boost compensation without increasing salary.

Public works director Alan Czajkowski, for example, had accumulated about eight weeks of non-cashable leave, on top of regular leave, records show. This year, Czajkowski's salary rose by 10 percent, from $104,686 to $119,995, but he's now capped at two weeks of non-cashable leave.

Abbott said the cost of the raises amounted to less than a tenth of a percent of the overall city budget. He said departments incorporated the added costs into their annual budgets without cutting services.

"If we want those organizations to be led productively and efficiently, we have to be willing to compensate as fairly as we can," Abbott said. "And for senior executives like this, these are far less than what comparables would be in other local governments around the West Coast, and even to a certain extent in Alaska."

He later emailed links to where government jobs are posted on the websites of the International City/County Management Association and the Alaska Municipal League to show where the administration obtained the comparisons. Abbott said the pay scales are "radically less" than what similar responsibilities would require in private-sector pay.

Police, fire pay changes

Abbott also emailed a table of salaries that have been used to recruit police chiefs for police departments in five other cities in the Lower 48. In Henderson, Nevada, which is similar to Anchorage in its police budget number of sworn officers, the salary range is $125,000 to $193,000. A smaller city, Gilbert, Arizona, was offering up to $228,000 to prospective chiefs, according to the data Abbott provided.

Justin Doll, the Anchorage police chief, and Denis LeBlanc, the fire chief, got raises of 8 percent and 15 percent at the start of the year, respectively. The two officials now both earn $137,110, along with the other top executives.

Earlier in August, the Assembly extended the upper pay range for police and fire chiefs and deputy chiefs. Berkowitz also said he wanted to correct a situation where a promotion means a pay cut from a lower-ranking job. The pay disparities were causing gaps in leadership, officials said at the time.

[Anchorage mayor wants to raise police and fire department executive pay]

Doll is now eligible to earn up to about $178,000 a year, while LeBlanc is eligible to earn up to about $172,000. Berkowitz has yet to sign off on any additional pay raises, Abbott said.

Within the group of 36 that received the bigger raises, the only executive position that saw a pay decrease when Berkowitz took office was that of the city attorney, records show. Bill Falsey was hired in 2015 with a salary set about $6,000 below that of his predecessor, Dennis Wheeler.

After this year's pay raises, Falsey is now making $137,110, compared to $119,995 when he started.

A more typical example of changes in pay over time is John Rodda, the longtime director of the city's parks and recreation department. Rodda's salary grew by 1.5 percent annually between 2013 and 2016. He received a 16 percent raise in early 2017, and now makes $120,931. The raise was based on performance, Abbott said.

Rodda had also accumulated about eight weeks of non-cashable leave. His leave was reduced to two weeks, at the same time as his wages grew, records show.

Colony barn restoration rescues vestiges of vanishing Matanuska farm history

5 hours 11 min ago

PALMER — The big wooden barns of the historic Matanuska Colony are dwindling in the face of development and decay.

More than 80 years ago, government agents seeking farmland for 200 Depression-stricken families from Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin plotted the Colony on some of the Matanuska Valley's most fertile land. After they started arriving in 1935, the colonists built classic Midwest barns.

But over the years, subdivisions replaced many of the original farms. Gravel beneath the soil became the Valley's most lucrative crop.

Now, only about a quarter of the barns remain and many are dilapidated. One of them is the sagging brown-gray structure on Tracy and Kathy Moffit's farm. It has survived, though with a drunken lean to the north.

As cows grazed on green fields last week, barn restorer Michael Stitt crouched in the hayloft and, with a winch, hand-tightened a chain and cable wrapped around the beams of the barn's upper wall.

Jacks held up the roof. Decades of pigeon manure spattered the floor. Below, the rotting logs waited among bigger problems.

The wall moved as Stitt cranked the winch.

"We had to start up here first — with the best part of this building and get it under control," he said.

Redemption on the frontier

Nearly 1,000 new Alaskans arrived in 1935 to the mud and mosquitoes of a sprawling tent camp that became tidy homes — chosen from five models — on farms of 40 acres or more. They intended to reverse their fortunes and help Alaska grow its own food instead of importing $6 million worth every year, according to a 1985 Matanuska-Susitna Borough publication called, "Knik, Matanuska, Susitna: A Visual History of the Valleys."

The new settlers came bearing the burden of $3,000 federal loans, cleared 7,500 acres of farmland, and built identical, still unmistakable barns: 32-foot-by-32-foot square with two-sided, two-sloped gambrel roofs.

Today, only about 60 barns are left in varying condition, according to a count by Helen Hegener, author of "The Matanuska Colony Barns." Many barns collapsed or disappeared with the farms that gave way to high-density developments.

[Photos: Portraits of people and their Matanuska Colony barns]

Homes sprouting from the soil

The land selected for the Matanuska Colony was the best farmland in Alaska, according to Arthur Keyes, who owns a farm on the Springer Loop system along the Glenn Highway in Palmer and serves as director of the Alaska Division of Agriculture.

Today, farmland is "low-hanging fruit" for developers who go into bidding wars with deeper pockets than farmers, Keyes said. But back in the Colony days, federal agents selected that same land for new settlers who used horses, not tractors.

"They identified the best agricultural land for this project because they had the very best chance of making it," he said. "And that's literally what's being converted into subdivisions."

Keyes owns a Colony barn he and his wife decided to buy for $10,000. The barn was also on Springer Loop, but not on their farm.

The purchase price was the cheapest part of the deal, he said. "It was in pretty bad shape. The one wall was rotten. The roof was leaking. The floor was rotten. In hindsight, if I knew what I know now, I probably wouldn't have bought it."

Along with all the work needed, his contractor made his own rough-cut lumber.

"And mine is by no means done," Keyes said. "If you drive by, it's square now. It would have fallen over if someone hadn't done something with it. It was headed to the history of a former Colony barn."

Barn fever

Some of the remaining barns are swaybacked shells of their original tidy lines. Others that have been moved from their original farms sit restored at public spots like the Alaska State Fairgrounds or Wasilla Museum of Transportation and Industry.

Mark Loomis now lives in one. Loomis grew up on Outer Springer Loop playing in the Colony barn across the street. Gradually, it fell into disrepair. The property owner talked about getting the fire department to burn it down.

Loomis convinced her to sell it to him instead for $250. He didn't really need a barn.

"I just wanted to save this one," he said.

Loomis and his wife, Nickie Jordan, decided to turn the barn into a house and moved it to his property. He also got the bug for Colony barns: at one point, working with a partner, Loomis had five.

"I just grew up around them and they're just kind of, to me, they represent what Palmer was," he said. "I just hated to see anything happen to them."

Time and the elements

Originally, the barns were built on piles driven into the ground but without solid foundations. Most of the barns that remain sit on retrofitted foundations or moved to foundations already in place.

Barns without maintained roofs also suffer.

Stitt, who lives in Willow, hopes to finish the Moffit project by October. He's restored several other Colony barns already, and shows photos of the finished ones with bright red tops and fresh log bottoms.

Despite the originally identical blueprints, the remaining barns vary, Stitt said. "They take on the accent of the man that's farming the farm."

Native groups hold up health care systems as a model for visiting Health and Human Services secretary

5 hours 13 min ago

Several Alaska Native health groups got the chance to show off their integrated health programs with facility tours and presentations to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Friday during a brief visit to Anchorage.

Price said his tour of Native health facilities in Anchorage was meant to help him understand how the federal government can learn from and support Native health programs.

Price, who was a Georgia congressman before he was appointed to the position by President Donald Trump, said he was hoping to expand upon what he learned about the Indian Health Service in briefings after being sworn into his position.

"And so what I said to my team – I need to get out there and see what's going on. And so this is part of that process to get there and see how they're doing the kind of things they're doing," Price said.

On Friday he visited primary care, maternity, child care and addiction treatment centers run by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the Southcentral Foundation and the Cook Inlet Tribal Council.

Price's trip through Anchorage was brief but busy, a stop on his way to China, Vietnam and Japan.

Representatives from the groups who met with Price said afterward that they spent less time pressing Price for improvements and federal changes than they did attaching faces and stories to the work and financing provided by the federal government.

Tim Blum, head of communications for the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, said that HHS is a critical partner for his group, and it was important to the organization to demonstrate to Price how they've used federal resources. It was a "good visit for Alaska," he said.

They aimed to talk not about problems, but "how we might move the system a little bit and make things more efficient and more impactful," he said.

Price lauded his tour guides' "remarkable testimony to their sense of responsibility, their sense of commitment to their people and providing the highest quality care."

From that, he said he took a sense of "the incredible importance of the self-governance that they have the ability to take the resources that they have — limited resources that they have — and turn it into the kinds of facilities that are again providing just remarkable care for so many of their people."

Price said that those with whom he spoke implored him to keep regulations to a minimum, so as not to inhibit creative care. "They know best how to care for their people, and that we need to facilitate that," he said.

In particular, Price said that he heard about the importance of the Indian Health Service's budget and of "decreasing the hurdles that they had to jump over in order to expand services."

"Oftentimes … they are held to the same kind of standard that health facilities in the states are, even though they're not subject to the same laws or the same regulations," Price said.

The secretary said he doesn't yet have specific plans for changes for how the federal government interacts with Alaska Native health programs. The tours Friday were part of an opening effort to listen and learn, he said. "They've done so much with really limited resources," he said.

Price said he was impressed with the methods of care run by Southcentral Foundation, which focuses on a one-campus method of care for a variety of ailments, be it mental or physical health.

The secretary said Southcentral Foundation's efforts are a model for the rest of the United States and the world in the group's holistic approach and its impacts. "They've decreased emergency room visits by over 50 percent in a remarkable way — again it's addressing the entire person," he said.

Dr. Steve Tierney, a physician and director of quality improvement at Southcentral Foundation, joined one of Price's tours and presentations during his visit, and said that much of his time was geared towards orienting Price to a focus on delivering "high quality, timely, cost-effective health care," and not on how to pay for it.

At Southcentral, the system is integrated to avoid the process of sending patients from one doctor to another. Instead, the doctors come to them, moving from patient to patient, throughout the complex, Tierney said. The system has been in place for 16 years, he said.

It cuts down on paperwork and time, and avoids costly delays, he said. That frees up doctors, making appointments easier to schedule and consequently cutting down on emergency room visits, Tierney said.

Asked about interest in Washington for reforming Medicaid and paring back health care spending, and how that might impact Native health funding, Price said that "the goal of the administration — the goal of the president and our goal at the department — is to make sure that every single individual has coverage in some manner or fashion, whether it's through Medicare, or through Medicaid, or through their employer, or through the individual or the small or group market, or through IHS or through the (Department of Veterans Affairs)."

In Washington, much of the argument is about how to cut the cost of health care. "Our argument is if you cut the cost of service that we deliver by 50 percent, premiums become no big deal" because they don't need to be as high, Tierney said.

While both the Native organizations and Price painted a largely rosy vision of the visit and state of Native health care, Price did acknowledge areas where the groups could use additional help, which he said lines up with his department's priorities: managing growing opioid addictions, mental illness and childhood obesity.

The unique challenge for Alaska Native populations, Price said, is the many villages that lack access by road. That causes problems for obtaining care, and dramatically increasing costs for people to get it. "That transportation is a real challenge. And they need to continue to work on that," he said.

Andy Teuber, president of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, said that he and other Native leaders from across the state discussed those geographically driven high costs with Price during the visit.

He said the secretary was "empathetic" to their plight, and was open to considering new flexibility in HHS grants for make sure that tribal operation of grant money wasn't so onerous and took into account the state's diverse geography.

They also discussed eliminating duplicative reporting requirements between programs, and boosting the funding threshold for approval of IHS-funded construction projects — currently set at $1 million. Teuber said that amount is low and adds a bureaucratic process that slows work.

Readers write: Letters to the editor, August 20, 2017

6 hours 23 min ago

Luck to new owners, old staff

Yeah (!) for the new owners who have Jerry "G" (Grilly) helping them get ADN back on track. Now, let's get the newsroom straightened out, and bring Howard Weaver back out of retirement to assist with that job. Here's my wish that the new owners bring ADN back to its former glory.

— Donna K. Daniels
Anchorage

Trump comforts the terrorists

Alaska's clergy, citizens, community groups and congressional delegation have spoken with one clear voice: White supremacist terrorism is a moral abomination that has no place in America. Tragically, President Donald Trump will go to any length to comfort these terrorists. First he blamed "both sides," even though there is only one group of white supremacist terrorists that attacked and killed innocent people in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Then, under pressure, he issued a terse statement saying "racism is evil." And yet today, he retreats from his own statement, and again blames "both sides." There are not two equal sides of this debate. There is America, and there are American terrorists who are attacking peaceful Americans.

There is no numerical or moral equivalence between the millions of Americans who support our democracy and the few unhinged psychopaths such as the white supremacists who bludgeoned and ran over peaceful citizens in Charlottesville.

Trump is offering aid and comfort to American terrorists even as they slaughter innocent American citizens and perpetuate Nazi ideology.

— Kevin McGee
president, Anchorage branch
NAACP

Seeing is believing

Tinted windows are dangerous.

— David McCargo
Anchorage

No place for hatred in 2017

Check out the June 1, 1927 New York Times article "Warren Criticizes Class Parades." Oh, and don't forget the 1973 Department of Justice civil action case number 73c 1529. A couple of names turn up on both items. Why is anyone surprised and shocked by recent comments made by the president? There was no reason for hatred and violence in 1927 and no reason for discrimination in 1973, and there is no place for hatred, violence or discrimination in 2017.

— Karen Delkettie
Anchorage

No necessary link between Nazis and Confederacy

One aspect of the conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia, that deserves discussion is the connection between Nazis and the Confederacy (and neo-Nazis and modern nostalgia for the Confederacy). We read and hear repeatedly that the perpetrators in Charlottesville were hate groups, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and people attached to the Confederacy. These links quickly became a journalistic formula.

Yet I find it difficult to find any necessary connection between Nazi beliefs and ideas behind the Confederacy (though Lt. Col. Kamal Kalsi almost gets there in his excellent opinion piece, ADN, Aug. 16).

It is worthwhile to refer to an American literary classic (and excellent movie) "To Kill a Mockingbird." (Can you remember ninth grade?) Author Harper Lee knew her native Alabama and the South intimately, of course. When Scout's teacher, Miss Gates, expresses outrage at developments in Germany: Hitler and his henchmen are increasing their persecution of Jews. Cecil speaks up, declaring "that (money changing) ain't no cause to persecute 'em. They're white ain't they?"

Young Cecil cannot make the connection between persecution of Jews in Germany and persecution of the local African-American community by his neighbors, who were willing, even eager, to lynch a framed African American. The Germans are bad, the locals are good. Even worse, Miss Gates is equally hypocritical; we overhear her discussing how the local African Americans needed someone to "teach 'em a lesson, they were gettin' way above themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us." Young Scout is dismayed and confused at Miss Gates' ability to express moral outrage on one hand, racial hatred on the other.

Young Cecil is an incipient fascist; Miss Gates a willing and unthinking apologist; and the unjustly accused Tom ends up dead. Lee was a master of her subject; she knew her people. She knew the impulses behind Nazi behavior were similar to the impulses behind the KKK and lynching with impunity. This story has played out thousands of times in the South, and not just there.

Apparently the Charlottesville aggressors, whatever the superficial differences and labels of the various groups, are at heart one.

(There is at least one major difference between German Nazism and Confederate racism, though. The old South, and then the Confederacy, were founded on human economic exploitation; the Final Solution was pursued for entirely different reasons.)

— Clarence Crawford
Anchorage

Dog whistle now a megaphone

During the eight years of the Obama administration, as you may recall, the Republican Party took great glee in calling the Democratic Party the "Democrat" Party. A small slight, but they made a point of every Republican doing it. Along with this was the racist dog whistles the Republicans persist in blowing.

Well, with the election of Donald Trump as the leader of their party, the dog whistles have been replaced by a megaphone. As the party's leader, Trump has set the tone for the remaining time of his administration. It is time to change the name of his party to the Republican Party. Doesn't that have a nice ring to it?

— Jay Cross
Big Lake

Salmon is Alaska's lifeblood

Wild salmon. In these divisive times it is nice to grab onto something that most Alaskans can agree on, namely the great value our wild salmon gives to the Great Land. And all those wild salmon aren't here by accident, but because Alaska hosts free flowing spawning rivers with good water quality. We literally are the last remaining wild salmon fish hatchery of the world.

Because I love wild salmon, I love learning about the dismantling of the Eklutna River dam. This project has the potential of restoring a historic salmon river to its former spawning significance. This benefits everyone, and the Great Land Trust and the Eklutna Native Corp. deserve thanks for removing this dam. As the Elwha River Restoration in Washington state shows, such restorations see immediate positive effects on local salmon spawning. The last piece of the restoration will be getting Municipal Light & Power to release a minimal amount of water from Eklutna Lake to feed the river system, the historic situation for thousands of years. Destroy the dam and feed the river, the salmon will do the rest.

We know that our veins and arteries, and the blood they carry, are a critical part of personal health. Let's treat the Eklutna as a vital piece of the "salmon circulatory system," restoring its free flow so that the salmon who once spawned there can flourish again.

— Ted Eischeid
Anchorage

ADN made its share of mistakes

In the ADN bankruptcy story on Aug. 13, it was announced that a new publisher is set to purchase the largest newspaper in the state.

I applaud the Binkley family for taking action to preserve a statewide newspaper presence in Alaska.

I have subscribed to home newspaper delivery in every community my career has taken me. The Alaska Dispatch News was the first paper I cancelled a subscription to in my life.

There are many business reasons that led to the slow decline of the former Anchorage Daily News and modern Dispatch News. The biggest mistake ADN made was turning away from its core audience.

Alice Rogoff spent her life surrounded by wealth and power-players. Rogoff's biggest miscalculation was not the $34 million price she paid to purchase the ADN.

Her biggest mistake was believing Alaskans would be eager to financially support an ideology that is left of the Libertarian bent of the state populace.

A hired pitchman tried to draw me over to the ADN booth to sign up for a subscription at the state fair last year. I told him politely I would be interested in renewing my subscription when ADN returned to a more balanced approach to news. He immediately dismissed me. That is what Rogoff has done to the people of Alaska.

— Chase Spears
Owings, Maryland

Longing for 'Leave it to Beaver'

Since the out of touch, nonsensical, irrational, mamby-pamby humans in our nation are banning free speech and parts of our history, (statues and idols are ridiculous anyhow), I suppose the Southern accent, which the Confederates had, will be on the ban list next. After all, that dialect must be offensive? Well let's head overseas and get rid of the British accent while we are at it. We did win our independence from Britain, didn't we? I long for the "Leave it to Beaver" days. Even a large dose of Eddie Haskell would be pleasant right now.

— Rolf L. Bilet
Anchorage

Jesus healed the sick for free

Many have believed the United States has the best health care system in the world, but now our leadership tells us, the whole system is imploding.

The problem is, we have an exploding elderly population, combined with expensive medical advances that enable life-extension, combined with private insurance, pharmaceutical and medical corporations all trying to maximize profits at our expense.

Health care givers should not be capitalists. President Donald Trump has it backwards. A capitalist health care system is unethical, wrong and can no longer work.

Jesus never charged money to heal, and the time has come for us to follow His lead, and take all profit out of our health care system. Providers can make a fine salary without greed-driven private corporations and profit-seeking middlemen. Only in this way, can we enjoy a solvent, affordable, well-balanced health care system.

— Daniel N. Russell
Anchorage

Joint Chiefs show real courage

In the most stunning and precedent-setting rebuke of a sitting commander in chief in our nation's history, all the Joint Chiefs issued statements schooling President Donald Trump on the subject of racism and coddling Nazis, essentially a sixth grade lesson in civics. Our Joint Chiefs are all quite expert on the subject of Nazis. They read up on it in war college. Our president is an expert on how to sell overpriced condos and hawk frozen beef steaks, on settling disagreements between Gary Busey and Lil John, and setting up fraudulent real estate "universities" that bilk the unsuspecting out of their life savings. He is also quite a pro at neat tricks like bragging about sexually assaulting women,while married to his third wife, and then still convincing the religious right he is their path to legislate moral purity. My party, the party of Lincoln, bartered away its legacy and legitimacy in exchange for the chance to end "Obamacare" and reverse the progressive tide of the last eight years. The party did that so we could go back to the good old days, so we could take our country back from people who did not look, or sound, like "us" (much like Germany immediately preceding WWII ). The jury is now in. Electing Trump was an exercise of cutting your own throat just so you could bleed on the enemy.

— Bob Lacher
Palmer

High school activities unite our communities in the best way

Pep rallies. Friday night lights. Running trails. Swimming pools. Ball courts. The new school year is here. And that's exciting news for student-participants and high school sports fans alike.

Research shows that being a student-athlete is about a lot more than fun and games. It teaches important life lessons, too. In fact, high school athletes not only have higher grade point averages and fewer school absences than nonathletes, they also develop the kind of work habits and self-discipline skills that help them become more responsible and productive community members.

Attending high school activities teaches important life lessons, too.

Among them, it teaches that we can live in different communities, come from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures, cheer for different teams and still have a common bond.

That's why attending the activities hosted by your high school this fall is so important. It's not only an opportunity to cheer for your hometown team, it is also an opportunity to celebrate our commonality. And that's something our country needs right now.

The bond we share is mutually supporting the teenagers in our respective communities. We applaud their persistence, tenacity, preparation and hard work, regardless of the color of the uniform they wear.

We acknowledge that education-based, high school activities are enhancing their lives, and ours, in ways that few other events could. And we agree that, regardless of what side of the field we sit on, attending a high school sporting event is an uplifting, enriching, family-friendly experience for all of us.

Many of the high schools in our state lie at the heart of the communities they serve. They not only are educating our next generation of leaders, they also are a place where we congregate, where people from every corner of town and all walks of life come together as one. And at no time is this unity more evident than during a high school athletic event.

This is the beginning of a new school year. Opportunities abound in the classroom and outside it. Let's make the most of them by attending as many athletic events at the high school in our community as possible.

Turn on the lights, and let the games begin.

— Bob Gardner, executive director, National Federation of State High School Associations
— Billy Strickland, executive director, Alaska School Activities Association, Anchorage

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email letters@alaskadispatch.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to commentary@alaskadispatch.com.

Once again, GOP reaps what it sows

6 hours 40 min ago

It is important to look beyond the riot.

Yes, last week's violent demonstration by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, culminating in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, made for a carnival of obscenity as sickening as it was riveting. But the thing is, it did not spring from nowhere.

And while your first instinct — unlike the moral imbecile in the White House — is condemnation, that's the easy part. What you have to remember is that this is said to have been the largest public gathering of white supremacists in many years. There is, it seems, an unmistakable new energy on the extreme right.

So you might want to ask yourself: Why?

It's easy to blame the aforementioned moral imbecile, but truth is, he didn't create this energy. It created him.

The election of the first African-American president surely had something to do with it. By simply existing, Barack Obama embodied a reminder that the days until white people become a racial minority are ticking down fast. Some handle this pending demographic demotion better than others.

[Charlottesville is a case of moral clarity; white supremacists are wrong]

Right-wing radio and Fox "News" have also played a role. For years, they've pushed a drumbeat narrative of white normalcy under siege from job-grasping Mexicans, terrorist Muslims, degenerate gays, and criminal blacks. Small wonder some white people retreat into bunkers of unreason and fear.

But without question, the most repugnant contribution to this new dawn of white supremacy comes from the Republican Party. It has called to these people, invited these people, for decades.

It has done so overtly, with laws and statements demonizing LGBTQ people, Muslims, and immigrants. Republicans have also employed so-called "dog whistle" politics, coded words, policies and imagery that preserve deniability while speaking with implicit clarity to white racial and cultural fears.

From the Willie Horton ad that helped George H.W. Bush become president to the suggestive white woman ad that helped sink a black candidate's Senate bid in Tennessee, from photo ID voter suppression to birther conspiracies, from Newt Gingrich condemning a "food stamp president" to Rep. Paul Ryan's complaining about "a tailspin of culture in our inner cities," the GOP has seldom missed a chance to lay out the welcome mat for white supremacists.

Maybe it was just political strategy. Maybe it was true belief. Doesn't really matter.

Its machinations have delivered to the GOP the presidency and both houses of Congress. Yet seldom has a party controlled so much and looked so bad doing it.

Republicans find themselves saddled with an incompetent president elected on an implicit promise to make America white again. Under him, they are able to accomplish exactly nothing.

They cringe as he suggests moral equivalence between bigots and those who protest them. As if all that were not bad enough, a newly revived hate movement now arrives, looking to cash in its chits.

You think it's unfair to lay all this on the "party of Lincoln?" How many Hillary Clinton voters do you really think were out there rallying for racism? Indeed, whose name did those bigots chant?

"Hail Trump!" they cried. "Hail Trump!"

No, Republicans may denounce what happened in Charlottesville to their heart's content. This mess is on them. And while they may rush to condemn this ugliness, the more moral thing would be to own their role in creating the environment for it and repent thereof.

There is no wiggle room here. They've sent invitations for years. They can't be surprised to see guests arrive.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Email, lpitts@miamiherald.com.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com.

Going through one of the most infamous – and narrow – straits of the Northwest Passage

6 hours 47 min ago

Bellot Strait, THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE – Too often, we tend to talk about the fabled Northwest Passage as if it's a single route through the Canadian Arctic.

It's actually at least seven main routes through a complex array of islands, peninsulas and straits. There are more commonly used routes and less commonly used routes. Different routes were discovered by different explorers.

Still, even as passage is made easier by receding sea ice and improved tools, technology and knowledge, some of the routes stand out. That's certainly true of the Bellot Strait, one of the passage's narrowest and notorious, for being a difficult trip.

"Has complex currents," one Northwest Passage authority warns.

That turns out to be an understatement, as two journalists from The Washington Post recently found out when they – with a full complement of scientists from the ArcticNet consortium at Université Laval in Quebec City – passed through the strait last week aboard a Canadian coast guard icebreaker, the CCGS Amundsen.

[How a middle-aged Midwestern nobody made his mark in the Arctic]

The navigator Henry Larsen, who made the second and third full Northwest Passage transits in the 1940s, made the first successful west-to-east completion Northwest Passage, using a route that included the Bellot Strait. He described it in vivid terms.

"This strait is only half a mile wide and there is a terrific current," Larsen wrote, as quoted in the chronicle "Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage," by Glyn Williams. "As the ice came pouring in behind us, there was nothing else to do but crash into it and attempt to drift through. This we did; the strong current causing large whirlpools in which large cakes of ice spun and gyrated. Many times we thought the ship would crack like a nut under the pressure."

(The strait is named for Frenchman Joseph Bellot, one of the many adventurers who set out in the 1850s to search for the doomed Northwest Passage mission of Sir John Franklin.)

Larsen made it through the strait aboard the 104 foot vessel the St. Roch. The CCGS Amundsen is 300 feet long, weighs 6,000 tons and splits ice with a sharp hull. And today, it is safe for a ship like the CCGS Amundsen to travel through – thanks to a modern understanding of the complex tides that wash through the narrow waterway.

Bellot Strait occupies a key strategic location – it separates the Boothia Peninsula, which thrusts northward out of the North American continent, from Somerset Island. If we hadn't opted to take it, we would have to travel much farther north, around the entirety of Somerset Island, before getting another chance to progress eastward and then south toward our ultimate destination.

At the beginning, the strait certainly had an ominous look. There was a heavy fog as we approached, breaking through thick sea ice along the way. (One group not intimidated: polar bears. After not seeing many through much of our journey, we saw two in quick succession as we neared the strait and a third later.)

As we moved into the strait, the ice cleared and ocean soundings showed that the waters were extremely deep – several hundred meters. The canyon walls showed vertical striations of rock layers, even as small waterfalls poured down from above.

The great depth suggests a glacial history, according to Mark Furze, a geologist with MacEwan University who was along for the trip. Probably, during a succession of ice age advances and retreats, glaciers helped to scour out the bottom of the strait.

The Amundsen stopped in the middle of the strait for around two hours, a window that allowed the scientists on board to conduct oceanographic research and to survey the nearby landscape by helicopter. Meanwhile, along the sides of the strait, floes of ice were moving by rather quickly.

[Frenchman finishes first known transit of Northwest Passage by solo rowboat]

Later, after we'd passed through safely, Claude Lafrance, the ship's commanding officer, took some time to explain how the strait worked with the help of a navigational chart. In the process, he lent credence to some of the observations made by Larsen more than 70 years ago, while also explaining how modern knowledge has made navigating it safe with a proper tidal understanding.

The essence is that depending on when you are in Bellot Strait, the waters can be flowing either westward or eastward at and around high or low tide, respectively. So timing your crossing makes a great deal of difference.

The danger is that if you're coming from the west (as we were) with the current to your back, you can be moving too fast, and have difficulty steering your vessel as you approach rocks at the end of the strait.

"We always want to go through where it's more difficult, with the current against you, because it's a lot easier to control the movement of your ship," Lafrance said.

Therefore, the two-hour wait was quite intentional: The CCGS Amundsen stayed put until the tide began to shift and the waters to flow back westward, in effect neutralizing the current. Then the ship steamed out easily. "We just passed at the ideal time to go through," Lafrance said.

But he acknowledged that without today's knowledge, navigating could have been more difficult and dangerous for Larsen or others. Lafrance also said he did see small whirlpools at the end of the strait.

So when the time came for the CCGS Amundsen to leave the strait, the scientists withdrew their samples, the helicopter returned from surveying, and we were on our way.

We passed, unremarked, Zenith Point, the most northern point of the Boothia Peninsula and also in continental North America, at slightly above 72 degrees North Latitude.

From the ship, we watched as a polar bear scaled the steep walls on the Somerset Island side of the strait. There was little ice around, and we wondered how the bear would get back to sea. Perhaps it had chosen to spend the rest of summer there until the ice returned.

Soon we saw, against a distant hillside on Boothia Peninsula, a herd of muskox, huge thick-furred animals that are common in the Canadian archipelago.

As the clouds parted and the sky cleared, the ship called out a whale sighting off the starboard side as the strait widened, and we moved out of it and into the little charted Gulf of Boothia. Meanwhile, from space, the WorldView-1 satellite, owned by DigitalGlobe, homed in on the CCGS Amundsen and captured its exit from above as it emerged from the clouds.

The early explorers struggled with Bellot Strait – modern navigation, though, has conquered it. We understand the tides and currents, can even monitor our progress from space.

But these modern abilities only serve to deepen the sense of awe with which one must think about those who came before – who took it all on anyway, with only a shred of our knowledge, and many times the risk.

Portraits of people and Matanuska Colony barns

7 hours 4 min ago

Original Matanuska Colony barns — some fully restored, others in disarray — are scattered around Palmer, Alaska. Mark Loomis has converted a Colony barn to a modern home that includes an addition featuring a silo-shaped room. Here are some portraits of people and their barns, and people working on restoring their barns.

Read more: Colony barn restoration rescues vestiges of vanishing Matanuska farm history

Pages