Budget airline Allegiant has arrived, JetBlue is back and other signs the summer travel season is in full swing
May is a busy month at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Not only are existing airlines staffing up for more flights, but the summer-only operators are securing counter space for the launch of their seasonal flights.
This year, there’s a new airline at the Anchorage airport, Allegiant Air. The airline’s first flight from Bellingham landed Wednesday, May 22. The airport rolled out the red carpet with a water cannon salute after the airplane landed, plus some snacks for travelers at the gate. Michelle Cohen, Allegiant’s director of station operations, said Anchorage was the carrier’s 122nd destination.
Allegiant, known mostly for its low fares, is flying an Airbus A319 on the route twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays), with 156 seats. Marshall Norman, Allegiant’s first officer on the flight, grew up in Anchorage and is a Service High School graduate. “If things go as planned, I’ll be coming up here each Saturday all summer long,” he said.
Julie Saupe, of Visit Anchorage (left) and Diane Kindle of Bellingham, Washington, were on Allegiant Air’s inaugural flight from Bellingham to Anchorage on Wed., May 22 . (Photo Scott McMurren)
Diane Kindle used to live in Anchorage, but now resides in the Bellingham, Washington, area. “I was so excited when Allegiant announced the new service to Anchorage,” she said. “Until now, the hardest part of a trip back to Alaska was navigating Sea-Tac Airport.”
While Allegiant is this season’s new airline, there are several other new flights, new routes and new developments for travelers.
American Airlines will offer the first-ever Boeing 787 service on its nonstop between Anchorage and Dallas. The airline already is flying a 757 each evening to DFW Airport. But on June 6, American will upgrade it to a daily 787 flight.
American also will start up its nonstop flights from Anchorage to Phoenix on June 7, flying an Airbus “321neo,” which is the latest version of the popular single-aisle jet. American’s three-class configuration has 196 seats.
Five times a week this summer, American will offer nonstop flights between Anchorage and Los Angeles. Alaska Air also offers two flights per day on this route during the summer.
Year round, the only flight United flies each day is Anchorage-Denver. But already this year, United is flying two 737 nonstops each day to Chicago, which leave within an hour and a half of each other.
Between Anchorage and Denver, United will double its lift from one to two daily 737s on June 6. On the same day, United will resume its Anchorage-San Francisco nonstop, as well as its daily Anchorage-Houston flights.
On June 20, United will launch a daily 757 flight from Anchorage to Newark.
Right now, Delta Air Lines is flying four flights each day to Seattle. By June 24, they increase it to six nonstops per day. Delta also resumes its Anchorage-Salt Lake nonstop on June 8. On Friday, May 24, Delta started its popular Anchorage-Atlanta nonstop on a 757.
Delta flies nonstop from Anchorage to Minneapolis all year. But on June 7, they increase it to three flights each day.
Sun Country Airlines re-started its Anchorage-Minneapolis flights earlier this month, but will boost it to three flights daily on June 22. Sun Country also is flying nonstop from Anchorage to Las Vegas.
Although they are smaller planes, regional flights on Ravn and PenAir are important links to rural Alaska. Since Ravn bought PenAir, all of the flights are departing from the “A” concourse. Ravn offers nonstop flights from Anchorage to Kodiak, Valdez, Homer, Kenai, Bethel, Fairbanks, McGrath, Kotzebue (starting June 23), Dillingham, King Salmon, Aniak, St. Paul, Cold Bay, Dutch Harbor, Sand Point and Unalakleet.
Grant Aviation also flies from Anchorage to Kenai with six flights each day, leaving from the “L” gates, near the baggage claim.
The largest airline at the airport, Alaska Airlines, just keeps getting bigger. From Anchorage to Seattle, I counted 21 flights on June 19. From Anchorage to Portland, there are four daily nonstops. From Anchorage to Los Angeles, pick from two daily flights. There’s a single nonstop each day from Anchorage to Honolulu or from Anchorage to Chicago. Choose from seven flights each day up to Fairbanks. Other nonstop destinations include Anchorage-Nome, Anchorage-Adak, Anchorage-Kodiak, Anchorage-Kotzebue and Anchorage-Prudhoe Bay.
JetBlue has started its daily Anchorage-Seattle red-eye. The Anchorage-Portland flight, also a red-eye, starts on June 13.
On the international front, Condor’s nonstop flights to Frankfurt started this weekend. Icelandair’s nonstop flights to Reykjavik started last week. Yakutia Air will offer three flights this summer between Anchorage and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on Aug. 18, 25 and Sept. 1.
A male ruddy duck in Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Adam Grimm, USFWS)
Every spring, millions of ducks touch down on Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, a spread of muskeg and dark water the size of Maryland. These days, more ruddy ducks seem to be among them.
Recent sightings of this handsome, rust-colored bird — the males with a teal-blue beak — suggest ruddy ducks are moving farther northward.
Since the 1960s, biologists for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have flown into the heart of the broad wetland in middle Alaska to count the ducks that have flown north to nest. Songbirds and ducks to which biologists have attached leg bands have shown up in 45 other states and 12 other countries over the years.
Researchers first saw a ruddy duck nest in Yukon Flats in summer 2013. That was a big deal to biologists — the ducklings proved that at least one pair of ruddy ducks was producing new ducks in Yukon Flats. Typical range maps show the northern limit of ruddy ducks’ breeding range to be near Tetlin Lake in eastern Alaska, a few hundred miles south of Yukon Flats.
It may be time to redraw those range maps. Last summer, Yukon Flats volunteer Michelle Lake spotted another ruddy duck female with three ducklings paddling in its wake. People have now seen at least four ruddy duck families in Yukon Flats in summer. In fall and winter, ruddy ducks live as far away as Central America and the Dominican Republic.
“It seems like this species has moved some of their breeding distribution northward,” said Yukon Flats biologist Bryce Lake, husband of Michelle Lake, a teacher at Effie Kokrine Charter School who volunteers with Yukon Flats in summer.
The lowlands of Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo courtesy Bryce Lake, USFWS)
Yukon River ice at the village of Fort Yukon has trended toward earlier spring disappearance in recent decades. Ponds and lakes in Yukon Flats have followed the same pattern, perhaps creating an opportunity for water birds like ruddy ducks.
“The ice-free period is longer,” Bryce Lake said. “Habitat might be opening earlier now than it was 100 years ago.”
University of Alaska Fairbanks biologist Mark Lindberg and postdoctoral researcher Mark Miller found a trend toward farther-north spring movement when they looked at duck surveys in North America from 1958 to 2012.
“Most every duck species we studied was shifting north,” Lindberg said.
In late July 2019, Bryce and Michelle Lake will again fly into the buggy, birdy center of Yukon Flats. Sleeping in a tent on high-ground islands, they will explore the flats with an inflatable boat for 10 days.
“It would not surprise us at all if we picked up another (ruddy duck) brood at one of our spots,” he said.
The Lakes do not expect to see many ruddy ducks. Though Yukon Flats is a vast, intact ecosystem for visiting birds, it is also a protected place for animals that eat them and their eggs.
“Nest survival on Yukon Flats is really low,” Lake said. “Wolves, bears, mink, foxes and gulls are all out there, searching for nests.”
On June 16, 2018, the 20th anniversary of the National Park Service acquisition of the Kennecott properties, McCarthy and Kennecott community members joined present and former park staff to cut the ribbon to formally open new exhibits inside nine of the restored buildings at the national historic landmark. (Photo by Mike Townsend / NPS)
At 13.2 million acres, it’s the largest national park in the United States and covers roughly the same area as the next two biggest national parks combined (Denali and Gates of the Arctic, both also in Alaska). It’s difficult not to talk about the area in superlatives, as that sheer amount of acreage holds a lot: four major mountain ranges; the second- and third-highest peaks on the continent; nine of the 16 highest peaks in the U.S.; incredibly diverse wildlife; and the nation’s largest glacial system.
For true adventure seekers and wilderness lovers, the park acts as a kind of El Dorado. A place rife with opportunities to play — from backpacking, fishing and camping to rafting, hiking and climbing — and see the wilderness in all its glory.
How to get there
Only two roads, both dirt, lead into the park: McCarthy Road and Nabesna Road. Of the two, the 60-mile long McCarthy Road is the one far more traveled. You’ll know when the Edgerton Highway merges with McCarthy Road in Chitina because it will go from pavement to dirt road atop what was once a railroad track. It’s a slow trek, with blind corners and potholes, but the scenery makes up for it: spectacular views of distant mountains, the Copper River raging below and the impressive Kuskulana River Bridge, which spans a vertigo-inducing gorge. The road ends at the Kennicott River and from there you cross the river on a footbridge and can either shuttle or walk the half mile to McCarthy or 4.5 miles to Kennicott.
Alternatively, Copper Valley Air offers bi-weekly flights from Anchorage and Gulkana to McCarthy (907-822-4200, coppervalleyairservice.com). Wrangell Mountain Air does three daily flights from Chitina into the park (800-478-1160, wrangellmountainair.com).
What to see and do
Within 35 years, the Kennecott Mines went from being an established mining camp — pumping out copper around the clock — to a ghost town. For decades, the mill sat empty and abandoned, until 1998, when the National Park Service purchased the mill, power plant and many other camp buildings from private owners and began restoring them. There are tours of the mill, a 14-story behemoth that was used to process ore through a multistage process. The tour is worth it for the glaciers and mountain view from the top floors and the opportunity to check out the massive, nearly 100-year-old machinery. (St. Elias Alpine Guides is one company that guides tours of the mine, steliasguides.com.) There’s also oodles of information about the history of the mines and the people that once worked there at the Kennecott Visitor Center.
While it could be argued that both towns are museums in and of themselves, the actual museum, located in what was once a railway depot, does a good job of showing the history from the town’s inception in the late 1800s to today. You can see old photographs, artifacts, a miniature model of historic McCarthy and a diorama of the Bonanza Mine.
Guided visitors explore Root Glacier in 2015, near Kennecott. The glacier joins the Kennicott Glacier near the Kennecott Mine site in Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve. (Erik Hill / ADN) (Unknown/)
Past all the wagon-red buildings of the mining camp on the far end of town is the start of the Root Glacier Trail. It’s an easy 4-mile round trip jaunt out to one of Alaska’s most accessible glaciers. Even from a distance, you can look for the blue pools and streams speckled across the top of the glacier and admire the nearby peaks. If you intend to walk on the ice, wear appropriate footwear.
Guided wilderness adventures
Companies like Kennicott Wilderness Guides, McCarthy River Tours & Outfitters and St. Elias Alpine Guides offer hiking, ice climbing, packrafting and multiday trips through the spruce forests, alpine tundra, glacier fields and canyons of the park.
Illustration from "Bears Want to Kill You: The Authoritative Guide to Survival in the War Between Man and Bear," by Ethan Nicolle
Bears Want to Kill You: The Authoritative Guide to Survival in the War Between Man and Bear
Ethan Nicolle, Bearmageddon, 2019, 240 pages. $24.99
It's May and there's no escaping the fact. The bears are out. Actually, according to author Ethan Nicolle, the bears are out and there's no escaping them. Because bears, he tells us, "are able to consume angels, demons, poltergeists, Satan, and other spirits, in addition to rabbits, blueberries, and hikers.”
Consider yourselves warned.
Nicolle is an artist and writer who has been kicking around the world of comics and animated television programming for well over a decade. His series “Chumble Spuzz” was an Eisner Award nominee in the humor category, and he’s written for “VeggieTales,” “Teen Titans Go!,” “Bunnicula” and “Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs!” His web comics include “Axe Cop” and, since 2011, the ongoing “Bearmageddon,” a satire of the horror and apocalypse genre that depicts a world overrun by bears bent on killing everyone in sight (think Chad and Darin Carpenter’s “Moose: The Movie” in overdrive, with an endlessly expanding population of bears taking the place of the psychotic moose and much a higher body count, but the same level of ridiculousness). He also writes for the satirical Babylon Bee website, and oversees his own deliberately fake news page, Bearmageddon News Network (BNN).
Nicolle’s latest publication, “Bears Want to Kill You,” is drawn from the same well as “Bearmageddon” but stands on its own and can be thoroughly enjoyed whether one has read the web comic or not. It starts from a basic premise: Every bear alive is evil, their collective plan is to wipe out humanity, they cannot be killed (in fact, if you blow them up, each little piece quickly becomes another marauding bear), and there’s nowhere to escape to. Not even outer space. Bears are out there too. And unlike us, they don’t need oxygen.
Through text, cartoons, Photoshopped artwork, graphs and more, Nicolle spends 240 pages telling us how bears will be the death of us all, and how none of our efforts at fighting back will save us. And remarkably, for a book built on essentially one joke, he keeps it going the whole way through.
The book begins with an introduction to bears, their physical attributes (they inhale souls and exhale sarin gas), size (from microscopic to planetary), habitats (that bear you imagined seeing in the clouds was in fact a real bear and you better run), and diet (yes, that would include us).
Then Nicolle gets into the gist of his book. Those bears don't just want to kill you, they will inevitably kill you, and they'll do so by employing no end of violent tactics (some of them, especially the piledriver, familiar to professional wrestling fans). They also excel at martial arts. Another favorite trick of our ursine enemies is to drop from the sky and smash their prey, a maneuver so effective that even koala bears (who aren't actually even bears, Nicolle reminds us) have gotten in on the act.
Nicolle’s cartoon renderings of stick figures being dismembered, disemboweled and decapitated really shouldn’t be funny. But they are. And it gets even more absurd as bears smash their human prey into the Great Pyramid, roll it over Sioux Falls, or use it as a surfboard. And when all else fails, bears attack their targets on social media. There truly is no safe space.
Surviving a bear attack, according to Nicolle, is simply not an option. So your only hope is to attempt some brave retaliation that will keep you from looking like too much of a fool while going down. And forget deploying bear spray. It's useless and possibly made of essential oils.
Some of the jokes are gimmes. We all know that if you want to survive hiking in bear country, the first rule is to go with someone who can’t run as fast as you can. And he takes swipes at other easy targets, like millennials, kale and Taco Bell. But he does so cleverly, working them into his broader narrative. And most of the ideas spinning out of his head are entirely his own. Like this one, for instance:
“On occasions when a bear is feeling particularly vicious, the relentless animal will go to Asia and capture an elephant, then drag it to Mexico, hollow it out, then turn it into a pinata full of screaming human beings. It will then beat it to pieces with a board.”
If it all sounds completely over the top, it is, and that’s the point. Nicolle has tapped into one our most primal fears — becoming another animal’s nutrition source, thereby getting knocked off the top of the food chain — and taken it to the hilt. And for Alaskans and others who live and travel in places where bears are present, it’s some much needed levity regarding what we know can be a potentially deadly situation (rare is the summer in Alaska without at least one fatal mauling, but who among those of us who head out into the wilds hasn’t cracked at least one joke about being attacked and consumed; humor is one of humanity’s best defense mechanisms against reality).
Yet there's also restraint. As a humorist in a time when comedy can be overly graphic or far too political, Nicolle shows how these tools can be used in limited doses to good effect.
The blood is comical but never grotesque. There are a handful of scatological jokes, but they’re tossed in at unexpected moments and Nicolle doesn’t use them as an easy fallback. Meanwhile, the very few political cracks are spread across the spectrum, targeting vegan hipsters and conspiracy-minded old men, liberals and conservatives alike. This is how political humor is supposed to work. When everyone is a target, everyone can (hopefully) laugh.
If bookstore humor shelves were further subdivided, “Bears Want to Kill You” would be at the top of the Dad Jokes section. It’s that corny. And with Father’s Day looming, it’s a far more bearable gift than a necktie, which a bear would just exploit as yet another weapon anyway.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy at the Silver Lifesaving Medal award event May 18 at the Atwood Building courtyard. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)
JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is using an unprecedented state-funded advertising campaign on social media to target political opponents and promote his agenda in the Alaska Legislature.
The campaign is legal and appears to be effective in driving public testimony and comment, but lawmakers say it is creating distrust between Alaska’s legislative and executive branches and making it more difficult to find a compromise that ends the ongoing special legislative session.
“Have you ever seen anything like it, Bryce?” asked Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, in a Friday morning meeting.
“No, not anything like this at all,” replied House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham. “(As) somebody who worked in the Capitol throughout the ’90s, and I’ve been a legislator for well over a decade — I’ve never seen an administration employ tactics like this, and especially, apparently using state funding to do it.”
The governor’s campaign involves messages on social media, text messages and automated phone calls to voters in particular legislative districts.
“The messaging has caused the Senate and House to come closer together, and it is driving a wedge between the governor’s office and the Legislature,” said Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage.
According to Dunleavy press secretary Matt Shuckerow, the governor’s office operates at least three issue-specific Facebook pages in addition to the state’s official presence. The pages: “Repeal SB91,” “Restore the PFD” and “Cap Government Spending.”
A fourth page, “Support Amanda Price,” has since been removed. (Price is the Dunleavy-appointed commissioner of public safety, who faced some resistance in the confirmation process earlier this year.)
“I’m not going to be able to speak definitively that those are the only ones,” Shuckerow said in a May 13 interview, explaining that there could be more in the future.
Shuckerow said ads bought under the names of those pages were intended to inform people about public-testimony opportunities.
“That’s probably the No. 1 question the governor has received: How can I get involved?” he said.
He said the purpose of the ads is to answer that question.
“He has provided an outlet for people to connect to their legislators and has encouraged them to do so,” Shuckerow said.
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Lawmakers feel differently, some characterizing them as “attack ads.”
“Today, the House introduced HB 1005. This is a bait-and-switch bill,” began an ad published May 21, and it went on to urge viewers to oppose the legislation.
Ads running at the same time targeted Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, specifically. Previous ads mentioned Senate President Giessel and Sen. Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage.
Wilson is author of House Bill 1005, which would pay a traditional Permanent Fund dividend this year if lawmakers agree to change the dividend formula moving forward.
The governor has consistently opposed changes to the formula unless voters approve them in a statewide advisory vote or constitutional amendment.
“These are campaign-style attack ads, and when it’s coming from the governor’s office, it really breaks down the sense of decorum with that office,” Kopp said.
What makes them attack ads?
“They are not balanced in perspective or messaging. They are appealing to visceral emotions and intended to foment anger and frustration at legislators,” Kopp said.
The governor’s office has spent more than $10,000 on Facebook advertising since February, according to Facebook’s political advertising disclosure system.
The “Repeal SB91″ page has spent $7,641 “on ads related to politics or issues of importance” since the page was created March 14.
The “Restore the PFD” page has spent $1,449 since the page was created Feb. 22, and “Cap Government Spending" has spent $1,632 since that page was created March 28, again according to Facebook’s advertising disclosure system.
A single ad was purchased for “Support Amanda Price,” with the governor’s office spending between $100 and $499.
“When things are shared, they’re done as Facebook requires, saying this is from the governor’s office,” Shuckerow said.
Viewing the ads online shows the disclosure notice: “Paid for by Governor Michael J. Dunleavy.”
The governor’s office also operates a “Protect the PFD” account on Twitter.
Facebook allows ads to be targeted at specific demographics, and Facebook data show each of the ads from each of the accounts was viewed between 5,000 and 10,000 times by Alaskans.
Facebook doesn’t consider itself an arbiter of the truth, the company has said.
“We don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true,” Facebook said in a statement to The Washington Post on Friday about a faked video of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The governor’s office also has hired a firm called SlickText to push text messages to Alaskans who signed up for notifications during the governor’s town hall meetings. It wasn’t immediately clear how much that was costing the state.
On Thursday, those who signed up for notifications on the dividend were urged to “Immediately call ... to oppose HB 1005” and received messages criticizing Wilson.May 24, 2019
Wilson said she also received phone calls from people connected to her office by an automated system run by the governor’s office.
“I’d like to know: How much money is he spending all of this?” Wilson said.
Without metrics from the governor’s office, it’s impossible to know how effective the advertising has been. But circumstantial evidence indicates it has been effective in driving support for the governor’s agenda, and a number of lawmakers believe that’s the case. The House Finance Committee announced public testimony on HB 1005 late Wednesday, but 117 people called in to a 9 a.m. meeting the following morning, and nearly 70 more called in to another session at 5 p.m., an extraordinarily high turnout for the Alaska Legislature.
The vast majority of the calls were against HB 1005.
“We weren’t even able to get the message out as you would in a hearing, go through the graphs, go through the conversation in the committee because we have somebody immediately calling in and doing their own interpretation, a misinterpretation,” Wilson said.
Members of the Republican House minority pointed out Friday morning that they had spread the word as well. Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, said he received thousands of hits on a blog post about the topic, and other lawmakers posted messages on their Facebook pages as well. This newspaper also posted the call-in number, as did other media organizations.
Of the governor’s messages, Eastman said, “I think they’re effective, because that’s what the people have been asking for all along.”
The wife of House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, is employed by the Dunleavy administration on contract in the governor’s communications department. Asked whether he had coordinated with his wife on the topic, Pruitt said, “No. Absolutely not.”
In Friday’s testimony, many of the callers were frustrated, exasperated and even angry about the idea of changing the traditional dividend formula.
Shuckerow said that’s an organic response to what Alaskans feel.
“It is frustrating. Alaskans are tired of politicians who will not listen to the public and think they know what is best," he said. “For whatever reason, there’s this idea that when public testimony supports their idea, the Legislature is very proud to tout it. But what we’re seeing is organically, people trying to weigh in, and we’re seeing lawmakers who are dismissive.”
Kopp said he feels Alaskans might be frustrated because they’re not hearing the whole story.
“I have not lost faith in my belief that most people listen and respond to a reasoned argument,” Kopp said, but he believes the governor’s advertising doesn’t allow a reasoned argument.
“They are very much intended to — I would even say — incite violence against the people that they’re targeting,” Kopp said.
Speaking to reporters earlier in the week, Edgmon said his office has received several threatening phone calls, including one that referred to the House speaker as a n - - - er. Other offices have received similarly angry calls.
The governor has suggested that if lawmakers are unable to reach agreement on a budget by June 15, he will call the Legislature into a second special session, this one on the road system. The governor’s office has been scouting locations in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Shuckerow said.
Edgmon and Giessel each said the Legislature is unlikely to accept a Mat-Su location because of the costs involved. Speaking to reporters, Edgmon said some of those increased costs would include a greater need for security.
“I would not characterize us as fearful of the people,” he said Friday, clarifying his remarks.
Shuckerow said the governor’s office rejects the idea that the Mat-Su would be unsafe for lawmakers.
“We think that’s an inappropriate characterization. The reality is that the Mat-Su Valley is a kind and generous group of people,” Shuckerow said, adding that questions about security are insulting.
“At some point, maybe lawmakers should just take a step back and ask if their views are out of line with Alaskans,” he said.
Parks & Recreation worker Will Miller tosses a garbage bag in the back of a Ranger filled with items, including a pair of skis, that were remove from an abandoned homeless camp on Thursday, April 25, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)
The way 36-year-old Dwayne Nelson died should shame us all.
If you thought “Who?” upon seeing Nelson’s name, you’re not alone. He was the man who fell down on Benson Boulevard at around 1 a.m. on May 8, laying in the roadway for more than an hour before he was hit by a vehicle and killed. Upon reading his story, many of us likely had a similar response: a pang of conscience that no one driving past him on Benson had stopped to help or call 911 — and, even in the wee hours of the morning, there must have been many. This was shortly followed by our minds reassuring us that surely, had we ourselves encountered him, we would have done something. Wouldn’t we?
It’s nice to think we would, but we shouldn’t be so sure. Overcoming our fear of uncertain situations and developing the will to confront them is harder than we think. Diverting from our own affairs to check on something that looks wrong in the middle of the night — or even calling authorities so that they will — is an easy thing to believe we’ll do in theory and a much harder thing to do in practice. We’ve been desensitized by the visibility of people experiencing homelessness in high-traffic to the point that we don’t react to situations where things are obviously not right and need attention. And we owe it to ourselves and our community to be the ones who do stop and make that call or assess that situation rather than simply driving past.
Fortunately, the municipality, community nonprofit organizations and private businesses are doing their part in not standing idly by. In recent weeks along the Chester Creek Trail, Anchorage Parks and Recreation employees have been doing the hard work of zone-based clearing and cleanup of encampments. They’re moving out trash, clearing undergrowth and making attempts to connect illegal campers with services they can benefit from, such as temporary or permanent housing, medical care or mental health services. The crews’ efforts are already paying huge dividends with regard to the character of the city’s central green space, and helping move some of Anchorage’s most vulnerable residents to places where better care and more stable living arrangements are possible. Once zones are cleared, we should do our best to keep them this way. Maintaining a well-kept space is easier than allowing the mess to repeatedly build up. Enforcing rules against illegal camping will lead those who want help to seek it, as well as discourage the criminals who don’t.
Meanwhile, efforts to develop and expand temporary and permanent housing solutions are underway. The municipality and its partners are working to increase cold-weather shelter capacity to provide for the estimated need of 150 more beds when it’s too cold to be outside overnight. New families are being housed in the Path to Independence and Providence Rapid Re-Housing Services programs. And the Pay for Success pilot program will house its first candidate in June.
And there are ways we can help address the situation on a personal level. The Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness’ Homeless Management Information System contains helpful information about the state of homelessness in Anchorage, as well as tips for being a good neighbor. There’s also a site where you can report homeless camps and give information that will help the municipality’s Mobile Intervention Teams to connect campers with services they may need and direct them to safer, more stable places to stay.
Making progress on homelessness and related issues in Anchorage starts with compassion and not turning away from the problem. Pitching in to help when and where we can isn’t often the easiest path, but it’s the one that leads toward a better community. If any of us were laying in the road, we’d hope our neighbors would do something.
Two-year-old Dallas Pfouts and Danny Garcia along with volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1685 in Spenard placed American flags at the graves of veterans resting in the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day in 2016. (Bill Roth / ADN archive) (Alaska Dispatch News/)
The Municipality of Anchorage will honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives by laying wreaths at this downtown Memorial Day ceremony. Speakers include Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and JBER’s 673rd Air Base wing commander Col. Patricia Csànk. 9:30-10:30 a.m. Monday at the Delaney Park Strip Veterans Memorial. (West Ninth Avenue and I Street)
Families can gather and tend to grave sites of loved ones at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery, which is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday. Please refrain from bringing balloons, barbecues, games, glass and pets onto cemetery grounds, as they are prohibited. (535 E. Ninth Ave.)
Fort Richardson National Cemetery will be holding a ceremony on its grounds to celebrate Memorial Day with guest speaker Gov. Mike Dunleavy and master of ceremonies Sgt. David Foli. Music will begin at 11:30 a.m. Monday, featuring the Midnight Sons Chorus and the Glacier Brass. Service begins at noon. Civilians can enter the grounds through the JBER-Richardson main entrance. Seating is limited; bringing blankets and lawn chairs is encouraged.
The American Legion Post 15 will be honoring those who have served at the Veterans Wall of Honor next to the Mat-Su Visitors Center in the valley on Monday. The ceremony begins at 1 p.m., followed by a barbecue and celebration at 2 p.m. Side dishes and desserts are appreciated. (1550 S. Mystic Circle)
A number of veterans’ organizations will be hosting services Monday, including:
Birch Hill Cemetery service: 12:30 p.m.
Clay Street Cemetery service: 11:45 a.m.
Pioneer Park service: 12 p.m.
Veterans Memorial Park service: 11 a.m.
Northern Lights Cemetery service: 1:30 p.m.
Golden Heart Park service: 2:30 p.m.
On Sunday, the U.S. Navy Pearl Harbor Brass Quintet will perform at Homer’s Boat House at 3 p.m and the following day at Christian Community Church at 5 p.m.
According to the Homer News, Memorial Day events will be on Monday at the following cemeteries:
Hickerson Memorial Cemetery: 10 a.m.
Anchor Point Kallman Cemetery: 12 p.m.
Ninilchik Cemetery: 2 p.m.
The public is invited to attend.
In this Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, photo, workers place sections of metal wall as a new barrier is built along the Texas-Mexico border near downtown El Paso. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay/)
A federal judge has temporarily blocked part of President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border with money Congress never appropriated for that purpose.
U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr., of the Northern District of California, said that those challenging Trump's actions had a good chance of prevailing on their claims that the administration is acting illegally in shifting money from other programs to pay for the wall.
Gilliam wrote that the government's position "that when Congress declines the Executive's request to appropriate funds, the Executive may simply find a way to spend those funds 'without Congress' does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic."
The law the administration invoked to shift funds allows transfers for "unforeseen" events. Gilliam said the government's claim that wall construction was "unforeseen" "cannot logically be squared" with Trump's many demands for funding dating back to early 2018 and even in the campaign.
With some contracts already awarded for construction, Gilliam said that allowing work to go forward before the legal issues have been fully resolved could cause irreparable harm.
He ruled in response to lawsuits brought by the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition.
The plaintiffs sought preliminary injunctions against the administration's diversion of billions of dollars meant for other purposes. The plaintiffs alleged that Trump's actions violate the constitutional requirement that no money may be spent without an appropriation from Congress as well as legal restrictions on the purposes for which funds can be reallocated.
The suits asked Gilliam to block any wall-related activity paid for with those funds while he fully considers the merits of the suits.
About $1 billion has been moved from military pay and pension accounts, transfers that Gilliam ruled against Friday, but no money has been transferred from the emergency military construction fund for which the president declared a state of emergency in February. That fund represents about $3.6 billion of the money President Trump wants to use.
Gilliam said he would rule on that issue separately when the administration actually shifts money using that authority. He doubted the administration would prevail on that, either, questioning whether a border fence met the definition of "military construction," an interpretation that would give the government "unbounded authority" not authorized by law, he said.
The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment late Friday.
A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, Dror Ladin, who argued the plaintiffs' case, called the order "a win for our system of checks and balances, the rule of law and border communities."
Friday's order applies to wall segments around Yuma and El Paso. Sanjay Narayan, Sierra Club managing attorney, said additional segments announced too late for Friday's decision will be taken up in early June.
The ruling is the latest chapter in Trump's quest for a "big, beautiful wall" on the southern border to keep out undocumented migrants. Construction of the wall at Mexico's expense was a central promise of Trump's presidential campaign. Mexico refused, and the president was rebuffed by the Democratic-controlled House, which after a 35-day partial shutdown of the government, appropriated only $1.375 billion, for non-wall border security, of the more than $4 billion the president had requested for wall construction.
Trump vowed that if he did not "get a fair deal" from Congress, he would shift money from other government accounts to close the gap. He declared a state of emergency on the southern border on Feb. 15 to tap into one Pentagon fund meant for emergency military construction. So far, the government says that fund has not been touched, allowing the government to argue that it should not be an issue in the cases.
He authorized additional diversions from the Defense and Treasury departments of funds never intended for wall-building.
With anti-American movies and memories of the Long March, China digs in for a struggle bigger than the trade war
A video screen shows a live broadcast of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (Mark Schiefelbein/)
BEIJING — The 10-minute segment that ran on Chinese state television this week showed cadet trainees of the People’s Liberation Army scrambling over towering walls, dragging enormous tires, crawling through mud and shouting motivational slogans as President Xi Jinping exhorted the academy to be ready to fight and win a modern war.
The trade war with the United States went unmentioned.
But the message was clear: Beijing is ready not only for a protracted battle over trade but also for what could be a much larger geopolitical struggle.
Chinese media coverage of the trade war turned sharply nationalistic over the last week. References to national dignity and the willingness of the Chinese people to suffer any burden in the confrontation with the U.S. underscore how bad the situation has become.
Some analysts have warned that a Cold War 2.0 has already started in the wake of the break in U.S.-China trade talks this month and Washington's moves to hike tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25% from 10% and ban U.S. suppliers from selling to Chinese tech giant Huawei without government permission.
Huawei, the world's biggest telecommunications manufacturer, is dependent on U.S. chips and software. A U.S. Department of Commerce decision Tuesday to allow component sales until Aug. 19 was seen less as a reprieve for Huawei than as a cushion for American companies that do business with Huawei.
The province that Xi toured this week — Jiangxi — carries potent symbolism in China: It was the starting point for the Red Army's Long March in 1934, a storied odyssey in the history of the Communist Party, leading to the ascent of Mao Zedong, and is often used in propaganda to urge Chinese people to show grit and endurance.
Xi told the cadets and their officers that China was facing a new "Long March," signaling that Chinese authorities are preparing for a protracted trade war and increasing military and geopolitical rivalry between the world's two largest economies.
"We are now embarking on a new Long March, and we must start all over again," he said to rapturous applause.
A day earlier, Xi visited a firm that produces rare earth elements, which are crucial in high-tech manufacturing, provoking speculation that China, the world's dominant source, could ban their export to the U.S. should the trade war worsen.
Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at People's University in Beijing, wrote this month on the state-owned news website Guancha that a ban would give Chinese chip makers the chance to catch up and compete with American ones — and have dire consequences for U.S. markets.
"Once the high-end chips in the United States are finished, Wall Street will be finished," he wrote.
Another threat in an all-out trade war is that U.S. companies such as Apple could face nationalist boycotts.
Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-owned Global Times, tweeted Monday that he had switched from an iPhone to a Huawei phone "because Huawei is being unreasonably suppressed by the U.S. government and I wish to support Huawei."
Chinese state media coverage of the trade war, which began in July when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, had long been restrained in its criticism of the United States in hopes of not aggravating the fraying relationship. That is no longer the case.
Last weekend Chinese state television changed its regular programming and aired three anti-American movies about Chinese victory over the U.S. in the Korean War.
The state-owned People's Daily warned Monday that U.S. actions threatened to return the relationship between the two countries to a "barbaric era."
An editorial Tuesday by the state-run New China News Agency said that the United States has been using "trade bullying," "the logic of gangsters" and "the law of the jungle" and that Washington had disgraced itself internationally.
A front-page editorial in the People's Daily last week said the Chinese people were "at one in their conviction to protect the interests of our people and the dignity of the nation."
Bill Bishop, an American who authors the Sinocism newsletter, which offers political analysis of China, wrote this week that he could not remember feeling so pessimistic about U.S.-China relations.
"If I were still living in China with my family, I would be far along with my exit plan and ready to execute it at very short notice," Bishop tweeted Sunday. "The U.S.-China trajectory is clear and looks like there is now much more sudden, downside risk than there was even a month ago."
What remains murky is the Trump administration's objective in dramatically upping the ante with its action against Huawei.
Is it a negotiating tactic aimed at securing a deal that would see America continue to engage economically with China from a more advantageous position? Or does it signal determination in Washington to decouple the U.S. economy from China's and hinder China's inexorable rise?
Either way, analysts said, the risk is a new cold war.
The next chance to escape the dangerous spiral will come next month at a meeting between Trump and Xi at the Group of 20 summit in Japan.
In the meantime, the situation continues to deteriorate, with recent warnings from the U.S. that Chinese drone companies pose a security threat and new reports Wednesday that the U.S. may now target Chinese digital surveillance companies such as Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology.
Analysts have been warning for months of a risk that the trade war may herald a severe deterioration in relations.
Henry M. Paulson, the former Treasury secretary, warned in a February speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that the intensifying geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and China could result in an "economic iron curtain" dividing the world.
"National security concerns are now bleeding into virtually every aspect of our economic relationship," he said.
He added, “And against that backdrop, we must look warily at the prospect that what, until now, has been a healthy strategic competition could head in directions that tip us into a full-blown cold war.”
With its left engine missing, American Airlines Flight 191 goes into a steep roll, then crashes in a burst of flames less than a mile away from the runway in 1979. These photos were taken by Michael Laughlin, 24, a student pilot who was on a layover in the O'Hare terminal when he witnessed the tragedy. (Michael Laughlin/Chicago Tribune/TNS) (Michael Laughlin/)
CHICAGO — As 258 passengers filed on to American Airlines Flight 191 at O’Hare International Airport the Friday before Memorial Day in 1979, nothing suggested that they would never reach Los Angeles.
They would have listened to the flight attendant instruct them how to buckle the seat belt and where to find the emergency exits.
None of that would matter.
As the three-engine McDonnell Douglas DC-10 accelerated down the runway, reaching takeoff speed, the left engine broke away, vaulting over the aircraft's wing. The pilots heard a thunk.
"Damn," one of the pilots said.
It would be the last word captured by the cockpit voice recorder.
The plane continued to rise, its wings level, despite the nearly 13,500 pounds suddenly missing from its left side. But as it reached 300 feet, the plane slowed and rolled left until it began to overturn, its nose tipping down.
After just 31 seconds of flight, the plane plunged back to earth, killing all the passengers and 13 crew members on board.
The wreckage strafed an open field and mobile home park, scattering debris and erupting into flames. Bodies were burned beyond recognition.
Forty years later, the crash of Flight 191 remains the deadliest passenger airline accident on U.S. soil.
Its legacy helped spur reforms that contributed to a vast improvement in commercial aviation safety.
"It had a lasting impact on how aircraft maintenance is overseen," said former Federal Aviation Administration chief of staff Michael Goldfarb. "It was just a stark reminder those things are very important."
The changes didn't happen overnight. A series of air disasters in the decade and a half that followed, coupled with rising demand for air travel that put more passengers on more airplanes each day, forced the industry to reckon with its safety record, aviation safety experts said.
It worked. With improvements in technology, training and systems meant to flag problems before they lead to accidents, it's been more than a decade since the last fatal crash on a scheduled passenger flight by a U.S. airline.
But two months ago, weeks after that 10-year milestone was achieved, the industry faced another crisis. The second fatal crash of a Boeing 737 Max overseas within less than six months led to a global grounding of the plane — one of the only times regulators grounded an entire fleet since Flight 191 crashed in Chicago. As investigations into those two accidents continue, regulators and industry officials worldwide are conducting a reassessment of safety procedures.
To some, the crashes of the 737 Max served as a necessary caution against complacency.
Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate whose niece died in the March 10 Max crash in Ethiopia, likened the industry's approach to safety to a rubber band that has been repeatedly stretched without breaking.
"You get complacent about how much you can stretch it, and it snaps," he said.
Dan Cirignani, a police officer patrolling the airport roads on foot that afternoon, didn't see the plane go down. But it was impossible to miss the black smoke clouding the sky over the airport. He wondered if it was a drill.
But a voice on his radio called all personnel to a "strike on the field" — a plane crash. Then he heard the sirens.
Firefighters from Elk Grove Village, which borders O'Hare, were on the scene in four minutes. They'd been told a plane had crashed. But the smoke was so thick that Bill Clark, a lieutenant at the time, said he couldn't be certain until he sliced through a fence and saw the deep furrow the aircraft made in the ground, along with debris and victims.
It was obvious that no one on board could have survived, he said.
"It was total devastation. There was nothing we could do to change what happened," said Clark, now Schaumburg's emergency management coordinator.
In addition to the passengers and crew, two people on the ground were killed and two more suffered second- and third-degree burns when hit by burning jet fuel, Clark said. An old aircraft hangar, several cars and a mobile home were also destroyed.
Cirignani, 76, who retired in 2005 and now lives in Barrington, had worked fires and crashes before. But the first time he saw one of the victims, he didn't immediately recognize it as a body.
"I had to ask the pathologist," he said. "They looked like black coal."
For a while, he refused to light a grill, and remains cautious when it comes to anything to do with fire.
"The carnage, it was just one of the most horrible things you've ever seen," he said.
The intensity of the blaze and sheer number of people on board made identifying the victims unusually difficult, said Edward Pavlik, an orthodontist and chief of forensic sciences for the Cook County sheriff's office, who was part of a team of forensic dentists that worked to identify victims of Flight 191.
High-pressure hoses used to extinguish the blaze left a crater in the ground filled with "a tangled mess," said Pavlik, 76, of Homer Glen.
Several of the victims had been headed to the American Booksellers Association convention in Los Angeles, including local author Judith Wax and her husband, Playboy Magazine Managing Editor Sheldon Wax. Other travelers came from as far away as Australia, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The wreckage was too badly damaged to give investigators much useful information, except for the engine that broke away from the wing.
It would provide important answers to both questions facing investigators: Why had the engine and structure attaching it to the wing broken off? And why had pilots lost control of a plane that, though badly damaged, was designed to fly even if an engine failed?
Within days of the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered other carriers to inspect their DC-10s, focusing on the area where the engine attaches to the wing.
Ernie Gigliotti was one of the night shift mechanics United Airlines tapped at O'Hare. As he did the inspection, "I just had the feeling there was something not right," said Gigliotti, 71, who retired in 2002 and lives in Pittsburgh. He pushed on the engine nose and felt it move side to side rather than up and down, and heard an unusual metallic noise. He and his partner removed more panels and found obvious damage: fractures, and bolts with the heads sheared off.
When American and Continental Airlines also found damage to their DC-10s during the ordered inspections, the FAA grounded the DC-10 fleet on June 6, 12 days after the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board traced Flight 191's damage to American's decision to ignore McDonnell Douglas' instructions during a maintenance procedure that required removing the engine and the pylon connecting it to the wing.
The DC-10's manual instructed workers to take off the heavier engine before detaching the pylon. But removing the engine and pylon as a unit saved about 200 man-hours per aircraft, according to the NTSB.
"That equals money," said Anthony Brickhouse, associate professor of aerospace and occupational safety at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. "And that's the battle you constantly fight in safety, it's safety versus money."
American also decided to use a forklift, which wasn't precise enough to remove and reattach the engine without risking damage, the NTSB said.
But if damage during a maintenance check at American's facility in Tulsa, Okla., two months earlier explained why the engine came off, it didn't fully explain why pilots lost control.
According to the NTSB, hydraulic lines that powered other critical systems were severed when the engine and pylon broke away, leaving the aircraft unusually vulnerable to a stall and disabling warning systems.
The NTSB said it wasn't reasonable to expect Flight 191's captain, Walter Lux, and first officer, James Dillard, to have recognized what was wrong with the aircraft in time to prevent a crash.
The fallout from the accident was, if nothing else, a call to action for an industry and its regulators.
The FAA slapped American and Continental with fines of $500,000 and $100,000, respectively, for improper maintenance.
Airlines were ordered to inspect their DC-10s for damage and stick to the Douglas-endorsed maintenance procedure. The FAA ordered improvements to the DC-10's warning systems and revised flight manual procedures for handling an engine failure.
In addition, an Illinois law now encourages that dentures be marked with information identifying the wearer. Pavlik, the forensic dentist, said he pushed the measure after realizing it could have helped verify victims' identities.
The NTSB also called for broader changes, such as better tracking and reporting of maintenance-related damage, stricter oversight of maintenance and tougher vetting when airlines sought to deviate from manufacturer-endorsed methods.
Both airlines and regulators missed opportunities to spot the risks before the Flight 191 crash, either by better vetting the hazards of using the forklift or spotting red flags, the NTSB said in the report. Continental, for example, twice caught and repaired damage similar to that found on Flight 191 before the crash, but American told the safety board that it wasn't aware other airlines had experienced problems.
The FAA declined to act on some of those recommendations at the time, arguing that existing regulations already went far enough or that the changes wouldn't improve safety enough to justify the extra cost.
But there were changes, said Robert Swaim, national resource specialist with the NTSB, who has investigated accidents including the Trans World Airlines 800 crash that killed 230 people in 1996.
"We had this accident (Flight 191), and continued to have a number of accidents ... and the FAA kind of came around after we investigated and reiterated some points, that we really do have to do this stuff," he said.
In a statement, American said it actively works with federal regulators and its industry officials to improve air safety.
"We honor our customers, crew members and those on the ground whose lives were lost, and our hearts go out to those personally affected by the tragedy of Flight 191," the airline said. United Airlines also said it continually works to improve safety.
Fatal crashes continued in the years that followed. All the while, demand for travel was growing, meaning more passengers, more flights — and more crashes, Swaim said.
"The major power players basically came to the same realization that we can't keep going like we are," he said.
Advancements in technology helped. Engines grew more reliable and airlines adopted systems that warned pilots if they were in danger of colliding with another aircraft or flying into the ground or an obstacle, said Hassan Shahidi, CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation.
Other changes targeted human errors, including improvements in training and rules barring casual conversation in the cockpit below a certain altitude.
Swaim also pointed to a change in the way the industry thought about accidents and collected data: Instead of focusing solely on an individual incident, officials tried to identify patterns pointing to reforms that could have broader benefits. Over the years, airlines, manufacturers and regulators have worked to improve the way they gather, share and analyze data to try to spot red flags before they lead to accidents, Shahidi said.
The result has been a golden age of air travel when it comes to flight safety. The last time a scheduled passenger flight on a U.S. commercial airline ended in a fatal crash was outside Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009. All 49 people on board were killed, along with one person on the ground.
To be sure, U.S. air travel hasn't been without incident: There have been fatal accidents involving smaller aircraft or foreign carriers in recent years.
Boeing 737 Max
Then came the two fatal crashes of the Boeing 737 Max. Boeing has acknowledged a system was erroneously activated on both flights and said Thursday it has updated its flight-control software.
It's not clear whether that fix would have prevented either accident. But some have questioned whether more direct oversight by federal regulators could have identified problems before the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents. In the years leading up to the crash, federal regulators have ceded greater authority to manufacturers like Boeing to certify the safety of their own planes.
The system generally works despite the apparent conflict of interest, said Shawn Pruchnicki, who teaches aviation safety at Ohio State University. "It's a little bit like having the fox guard the henhouse because there's so much self-policing, but they have the same interests as everyone else. They don't want the aircraft to crash either," he said.
The FAA disputed the idea that companies were allowed to police themselves, saying it exerts "strict" oversight and is directly involved in testing and approving new features and technologies. In the case of the Max's certification, FAA safety engineers and test pilots put in 110,000 hours of work and flew or supported 297 test flights, the FAA said in a statement.
Still, the 737 Max situation raises questions about exactly how much latitude manufacturers should have and when changes are significant enough to require an outsider's view, Pruchnicki said.
"There needs to be a point at which we decide this isn't your father's 737 anymore," he said.
The NTSB has also pushed for stricter FAA oversight and urged the industry to be quicker to accept safety-enhancing regulations. But Swaim, who declined to comment on the 737 Max case due to the ongoing investigation, noted concerns about the industry's inertia and the extent to which the FAA delegates authority to the companies it regulates have been around for decades — even as safety improved.
"This has been going on for a long time, and for the thousands of flights that take off a day, that's pretty phenomenal," he said. "It cannot be luck."
But Goldfarb said the amount of oversight handed over to airlines and manufacturers has grown over the years and that he worries the industry's excellent record can undermine the case for costly but beneficial changes.
The odds of a crash grow so slim, there are "little things you overlook," he said. "They start to add up, and you're only as safe as your last flight."
There are few public reminders of the 1979 crash today. American no longer operates a Flight 191, and for more than three decades after the crash, there was no Chicago-area site honoring the victims. Creating one took a group of Chicago sixth graders, who led the push to build the memorial in Des Plaines after learning their assistant principal, Kim Jockl, lost her parents in the crash.
But there's no danger of Fight 191 being forgotten by those connected to the crash, or in the aviation community.
"Not a semester goes by that we don't talk about it," said Brickhouse, the Embry-Riddle professor.
“To me, it’s one of the seminal moments.”
President Donald Trump speaks as he meets with Japanese business leaders, Saturday, May 25, 2019, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Evan Vucci/)
TOKYO — President Donald Trump opened a state visit to Japan on Saturday by needling the country over its trade imbalance with the United States. “Maybe that’s why you like me so much,” he joshed.
Trump also promoted the U.S. under his leadership, saying "there's never been a better time" to invest or do business in America, and he urged corporate leaders to come.
The president's first event after arriving in Tokyo was a reception with several dozen Japanese and American business leaders at the U.S. ambassador's residence. He said the two countries "are hard at work" negotiating a trade agreement .
"I would say that Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years, but that's OK," Trump said, joking that "maybe that's why you like me so much."
His comments underscored the competing dynamics of a state visit designed to show off the long U.S.-Japan alliance and the close friendship between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe even as trade tensions run high.
Trump landed from his overnight flight shortly after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck just south of Tokyo and rattled the city.
Abe has planned a largely ceremonial, four-day visit to suit Trump's whims and ego. It's part of Abe's charm strategy that some analysts say has spared Japan from the full weight of Trump's trade wrath.
Abe and Trump planned to play golf Sunday before Abe gives Trump the chance to present his "President's Cup" trophy to the winner of a sumo wrestling championship match. The White House said the trophy is nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and weighs between 60 pounds and 70 pounds (27 kilograms and 32 kilograms).
On Monday, Trump will become the first head of state to meet Emperor Naruhito since he ascended to the throne this month.
"With all the countries of the world, I'm the guest of honor at the biggest event that they've had in over 200 years," Trump said before the trip.
The president is threatening Japan with potentially devastating U.S. tariffs on foreign autos and auto parts. He has suggested he will go ahead with the trade penalties if U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer fails to win concessions from Japan and the European Union.
Trump had predicted that a U.S.-Japan trade deal could be finalized during his trip. But that's unlikely given that the two sides are still figuring out the parameters of what they will negotiate.
He nonetheless portrayed the negotiations in a positive light in his remarks to the business group.
"With this deal we hope to address the trade imbalance, remove barriers to United States exports and ensure fairness and reciprocity in our relationship. And we're getting closer," Trump said. He also urged the business leaders to invest more in the U.S.
He praised the "very special" U.S.-Japan alliance that he said "has never been stronger, it's never been more powerful, never been closer."
Abe made a strategic decision before Trump was elected in November 2016 to focus on Japan's relationship with the U.S.
Abe rushed to New York two weeks after that election to meet the president-elect at Trump Tower. Last month, Abe and his wife, Akie, celebrated first lady Melania Trump's birthday during a White House dinner.
Abe and Trump are likely to meet for the third time in three months when Trump returns to Japan in late June for a summit of leading rich and developing nations.
Behind the smiles and personal friendship, however, there is deep uneasiness over Trump's threat to impose tariffs on Japanese autos and auto parts on national security grounds. Such a move would be more devastating to the Japanese economy than earlier tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Trump recently agreed to a six-month delay, enough time to carry Abe past July's Japanese parliamentary elections.
Also at issue is the lingering threat of North Korea, which has resumed missile testing and recently fired a series of short-range missiles that U.S. officials, including Trump, have tried to play down despite an agreement by the North to hold off on further testing.
Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton , told reporters Saturday before Trump arrived that the short-range missile tests were a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and that sanctions must stay in place.
Bolton said Trump and Abe would "talk about making sure the integrity of the Security Council resolutions are maintained."
It marked a change in tone from the view expressed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a recent television interview. He said "the moratorium was focused, very focused, on intercontinental missile systems, the ones that threaten the United States." That raised alarm bells in Japan, where short-range missiles pose a serious threat.
Bolton commented a day after North Korea’s official media said nuclear negotiations with Washington would not resume unless the U.S. abandoned what the North described as demands for unilateral disarmament.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The finish was messy and long negotiations behind closed doors stirred up indignation, but Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota legislative ...
I have never in my lifetime ever seen so much division between the public, media and government politicians, both in the state and federal governments.
In state soccer, South and Dimond will tangle for the girls title and the West boys will take on Colony
For the second time in three years, the South Wolverines and Dimond Lynx soccer teams will meet in the girls state championship match.
And for the first time since 2009, the West Eagles will play in the boys title match.
The Eagles eked out a 1-0 semifinal win over West Valley on Friday night at Service High. The victory puts them in Saturday’s 5 p.m. Division I championship against Colony, which knocked off previously undefeated Service 1-0 in the other semifinal.
West will be vying for its first state championship since 1993. Colony, last year’s runnerup, won the 2014 state title.
The 7 p.m. Division I girls championship will feature South, the defending champions, and Dimond, the 2016 and 2016 champs. In 2017, Dimond beat South 2-1 in the championships match.
The Cook Inlet Conference rivals both registered 1-0 victories in Friday’s semifinal matches to advance, with South downing Wasilla and Dimond stopping Colony.
In Division II competition, Juneau-Douglas has a shot to sweep the titles. The defending champion Juneau girls will face Soldotna at 2 p.m., and the boys will play at noon against the winner of Friday’s late semifinal match between Ketchikan and defending champion Kenai Central.
ASAA/First National Bank state soccer championships
Division I girls
South 1, Wasilla 0 (semifinal)
Dimond 1, Colony 0 (semifinal)
West 2, Eagle River 1 (loser out)
West Valley 2, Service 1 (loser out)
Saturday’s matches (location in parenthesis)
8 a.m. – West vs. West Valley, 4th place (Eagle River)
1:15 p.m. – Colony vs. Wasilla, 3rd place (West High)
7 p.m. – South vs. Dimond, championship (Service High)
Division I boys
Colony 1, Service 0 (semifinal)
Dimond 1, Chugiak 0 (loser out)
South 3, Wasilla 1 (loser out)
West 1, West Valley 0 (semifinal)
Saturday’s matches (location in parenthesis)
11:30 a.m. – Dimond vs. South, 4th place (Eagle River)
11:30 a.m. – Service v. West Valley, 3rd place (West High)
5 p.m. – Colony vs. West, championship (Service High)
Division II boys
Juneau 1, Thunder Mountain 0 (semifinal)
Monroe 3, Palmer 1 (loser out)
Homer 2, Grace Christian 1 (loser out)
Ketchikan vs. Kenai, late (semifinal)
Saturday’s matches (location in parenthesis)
8 a.m. – Homer vs. Monroe, 4th place (West High)
9 a.m. – Thunder Mountain vs. Kenai-Ketchikan loser, 3rd place (Service High)
Noon – Juneau vs. Kenai Ketchikan winner, championship (Service High)
Division II girls
Juneau 5, Kenai Central 0 (semifinal)
Soldotna 3, Thunder Mountain 1 (semifinal)
North Pole 2, Kodiak 0 (loser out)
Homer 4, Palmer 9 (loser out)
Saturday’s matches (location parenthesis)
9:45 a.m. – North Pole vs. Homer, 4th place (Eagle River)
9:45 a.m. – Kenai vs. Thunder Mountain, 3rd place (West High)
2 p.m. – Juneau vs. Soldotna, championship (Service High)
A community-wide rally was held at Veteran's Memorial Park Thursday afternoon to support the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
East’s Colton Herman blazes to state record in 100 meters; Dimond’s Alissa Pili collects another shot put title
Division II girls clear their first hurdle in the 100-meter hurdles race Friday at the ASAA/First National Bank track and field championships at Machetanz Field in Palmer. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
East High’s Colton Herman broke the state record in the 100 meters and Dimond High’s Alissa Pili captured her fourth straight state title in the shot put Friday at the state track and field championships in Palmer.
Herman clocked a time of 10.86 seconds in the preliminaries to erase the record of 10.9 set in 1995 by Joel Knight of Soldotna. The time wasn’t Herman’s personal best – he ran 10.79 at last week’s Cook Inlet Conference championships — but he’ll get a chance to lower the state record again in Saturday’s finals at Machetanz Field.
Pili added to her impressive total of state championships — she has 12 in four sports — by winning the shot put with a throw of 42 feet, 9.25 inches. Pili has won four volleyball championships, two basketball championships, four shot put championships, one discus championship and one wrestling championship in her epic four-year career with the Lynx. She’ll go for a 13th state title Saturday when she compete in the discus.
Chugiak's Daniel Bausch leads the pack in the 3,200. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
Also enjoying a big day Friday was West Valley’s Terrell Johnson, a double winner who topped the high jump (6 feet, 3 inches) and the long jump (21-3.5). His winning leap in the long jump gave him a 1.25-inch edge over second-place Herman (21-2.75).
Action continues Saturday at Machetanz Field, with field events beginning at 9 a.m. and track finals beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Division I boys
3,200 – Daniel Bausch, Chugiak, 9:21.78.
Discus – Thomas Sio, Bartlett, 163-8.
High jump – Terrell Johnson, West Valley, 6-3.
Long jump – Terrell Johnson, West Valley, 21-3.5.
Division I girls
3,200 – Kendall Kramer, West Valley, 10:27.18.
Shot put – Alissa Pili, Dimond, 42-9.25.
High jump – Khadijah Morgan, East, 5-3.
Long jump – Jocelyn Chanonto, Service, 16-8.25.
Division II boys
3,200 – Tristian Merchant, Anchorage Christian, 9:31:76.
Discus – James Coulombe, Grace Christian, 156-0.
High jump – Kyler LaBonte, Valdez, 5-10.
Long jump – William Parks, ACS, 20-2.25.
Division II girls
3,200 – Jaycie Calvert, Kenai, 11:26.27.
Shot put – Anna Brock, Homer, 36-7.25.
High jump – Maya Mossanen, Su Valley, 5-0.
Long jump – Laura Ellis, Grace, 17-3.5.
Chugiak's Kenny Huffer throws the discus. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
Rosie Frankowski nears the finish line Thursday after a record run at Kal's Knoya Ridge mountain race. (Photo by Gary Snyder).
Rosie Frankowski, the mountain runner who led the charge up Mount Marathon last year only to lose her lead with a slow descent, will get another chance to test herself in Seward’s famous Fourth of July race.
Frankowski on Thursday won an automatic spot in this year’s Mount Marathon by winning Kal’s Knoya Ridge run with a stunning performance. She crushed the women’s record by nearly 2.5 minutes.
Knoya Ridge is part of the seven-race Alaska Mountain Runners Grand Prix. A victory in any Grand Prix race comes with an automatic entry in Mount Marathon, which has a limited field and is notoriously difficult to get into.
“I only entered Knoya because I needed to win back a spot in Mount Marathon,” Frankowski said.
She finished in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 34 seconds, blowing away the 2016 record of 1:07:52 set by Christy Marvin, a two-time Mount Marathon champion.
“I was totally surprised,” Frankowski said. “I had no idea. I didn’t know till I got back to the bottom and (a friend) said, ‘Oh, you set a record.’ It was kinda crazy. I knew I was pretty far ahead of the other women because I just wanted to win this spot back (in Mount Marathon). It’s cool to see it was that fast.”
Also delivering a record performance was David Norris, the defending Mount Marathon champion. He cruised to a time of 56:54, winning by more than two minutes and lopping 31 seconds off Jim Shine’s 2015 record of 57:25.
It was a fast night all around on Knoya Ridge, a Chugach Mountain peak located on JBER military land.
Second place among women went to Denali Strabel, whose 1:12:15 was the seventh-fastest women’s time in race history, which dates back to 2007. Second place among men went to Lars Arneson, whose 59:19 was the ninth-fastest men’s time.
Also earning a spot in the all-time top 10 was Ann Penelope Spencer, who finished third among women in 1:13:18 for the 10th-fastest women’s time ever.
In the shorter 5.6-kilometer run to the Dome, which requires 2,900 feet of climbing, men’s winner Chad Trammell ran the second-fastest time in race history (39:11) and runnerup Michael Connelly ran the fourth-fastest time (40:00). Neither approached Eric Strabel’s 2014 record of 37:50.
The women’s Dome winner was Darcy Dugan in 49:31, well off Marine Dusser’s record of 44:58 set in 2017.
Thursday’s race shows that Frankowski, a 2018 Olympic cross-country skier, is in fighting shape as Mount Marathon approaches – at least when it comes to running uphill. Knoya Ridge runners climb 4,300 feet in 8.5 kilometers, but the race ends when the climb ends, so it’s difficult to assess how Frankowski might fare at Mount Marathon, where the descent can and often does decide the race.
There are a couple of downhill stretches on the run up Knoya, and Frankowski — who ran with some of the race’s top men and finished ninth overall — said she lost ground on all of them.
“They would drop me on the downhill and I would catch up on the uphill,” she said.
She knows she needs to improve her downhill running if she wants to contend for a Mount Marathon win — last year, she was first to the top of the mountain but wound up placing seventh after getting passed by six women on the descent.
“I’m working on this. I’m trying. People are just so good at it. I don’t know how they do it. They look like fairies — they don’t even touch the ground. I’m totally trying.”
Kal’s Knoya Ridge
Full Monty (8.5 kilometers, 4.300 feet)
1, David Norris, 0:56:54.0; 2, Lars Arneson, 0:59:19.0; 3, Kenneth Brewer, 1:02:05.0; 4, Lyon Kopsack, 1:02:22.0; 5, Eric Strabel, 1:02:28.0; 6, Adam Loomis, 1:02:43.0; 7, Ryan Phebus, 1:03:44.0; 8, Matias Saari, 1:05:03.0; 9, Christopher Kirk, 1:05:51.0; 10, Marshall Genn, 1:07:34.0; 11, Taylor Turney, 1:09:55.0; 12, Tom Ritchie, 1:10:54.0; 13, Brian Kirchner, 1:11:16.0; 14, Mike Monterusso, 1:11:30.0; 15, Chris Maus, 1:12:57.0; 16, Miles Knotek, 1:12:59.0; 17, Nathan Smith, 1:13:01.0; 18, David Berg, 1:13:02.0; 19, Tom Bronga, 1:14:04.0; 20, Jim McDonough, 1:14:20.0; 21, Brad Benter, 1:16:11.0; 22, Tony Slatonbarker, 1:17:40.0; 23, Josh Allely, 1:18:44.0; 24, Fred West, 1:19:21.0; 25, Andrew Baalerud, 1:19:24.0; 26, Luke Rosier, 1:19:51.0; 27, John Weddleton, 1:20:07.0; 28, Patrick Conway, 1:20:20.0; 29, Mason Wick, 1:21:12.0; 30, Marek Kolendo, 1:22:11.0; 31, Ben Rich, 1:22:13.0; 32, Jacob Bera, 1:22:48.0; 33, Wes Hoskins, 1:23:13.0; 34, Marc Lickingteller, 1:23:24.0; 35, Alex Youngmun, 1:23:48.0; 36, Scott Ezell, 1:24:18.0; 37, Greg Michaelson, 1:24:24.0; 38, Martin Schuster, 1:25:04.0; 39, Dan Myers, 1:25:10.0; 40, Dan Brokaw, 1:25:25.0; 41, Garrett Evridge, 1:25:46.0; 42, Lance Kopsack, 1:27:40.0; 43, Dan Virgin, 1:28:06.0; 44, Barclay Roeder, 1:28:35.0; 45, Nield Buitrago, 1:29:05.0; 46, Troy Larson, 1:29:24.0; 47, Jordan Huckabay, 1:29:38.0; 48, Tully Labelle-Hamer, 1:31:51.0; 49, Cody Lourie, 1:33:39.0; 50, John Clark, 1:34:07.0; 51, Mark Fineman, 1:36:22.0; 52, Dane Crowley, 1:42:30.0.
1, Rosie Frankowski, 1:05:34.0; 2, Denali Strabel, 1:12:15.0; 3, Penelope Spencer, 1:13:18.0; 4, Julianne Dickerson, 1:13:25.0; 5, Najeeby Quinn, 1:13:30.0; 6, Jessica Vetsch, 1:16:40.0; 7, Klaire Rhodes, 1:18:14.0; 8, Sheryl Loan, 1:18:47.0; 9, Patricia Franco, 1:22:18.0; 10, Annie Connelly, 1:22:31.0; 11, Alyse Loran, 1:23:22.0; 12, Aubrey Smith, 1:23:35.0; 13, Kimberly Fitzgerald, 1:28:26.0; 14, Hannah Lies, 1:29:30.0; 15, Kimberly Riggs, 1:32:01.0; 16, Karol Fink, 1:34:43.0; 17, Kristina Storlie, 1:36:31.0; 18, Casey Wright, 1:36:54.0; 19, Jocelyn Kopsack, 1:38:10.0.
Dome (5.6 kilometers, 2,300 feet)
1, Chad Trammell, 0:39:11.0; 2, Michael Connelly, 0:40:00.0; 3, Jerome Ross, 0:43:23.0; 4, Zanden McMullen, 0:43:27.0; 5, Forrest Mahlen, 0:43:49.0; 6, Chip Schoff, 0:44:57.0; 7, Ethan Eski, 0:46:24.0; 8, Ethan Howe, 0:47:43.0; 9, Kurtis Brumbaugh, 0:47:53.0; 10, Dante Petri, 0:48:39.0; 11, Forrest Rodgers, 0:48:49.0; 12, Kai Meyers, 0:48:52.0; 13, Luke Duffy, 0:49:50.0; 14, Mark Brady, 0:50:09.0; 15, Kevin Donley, 0:50:42.0; 16, Brandon Rinner, 0:50:50.0; 17, Colin Reedy, 0:51:03.0; 18, Westley Dahlgren, 0:51:04.0; 19, Jeff Levin, 0:51:20.0; 20, Rowan Robinson, 0:51:32.0; 21, Luke Howe, 0:51:58.0; 22, Chris Cronick, 0:52:23.0; 23, Galen Johnston, 0:52:27.0; 24, Zachary Williams, 0:52:35.0; 25, Thomas Nenahlo, 0:52:49.0; 26, Roman Gross, 0:53:01.0; 27, Tom Werth, 0:53:06.0; 28, Cameron Reitmeier, 0:54:00.0; 29, Gunner Bahn, 0:54:20.0; 30, Johnny Hughes, 0:55:03.0; 31, Ryan Conti, 0:55:18.0; 32, Luke Martensen, 0:56:12.0; 33, Frank Witmer, 0:56:24.0; 34, Marten Martensen, 0:56:43.0; 35, Michael Ottenweller, 0:56:49.0; 36, Hale Loofbourrow, 0:56:59.0; 37, Sawyer Barta, 0:57:02.0; 38, Christopher Walker, 0:57:06.0; 39, Robert Whitney, 0:57:11.0; 40, Sam Young, 0:57:45.0; 41, Joe Engel, 0:58:15.0; 42, Joshua Zuber, 0:58:46.0; 43, Michael Ulroan, 0:59:12.0; 44, Daniel Willman, 0:59:19.0; 45, James Latimer, 0:59:23.0; 46, Matt Bethke, 0:59:29.0; 47, Jim Falconer, 0:59:32.0; 48, Sean Zumwalt, 0:59:37.0; 49, Kibo Kang, 1:00:51.0; 50, Noel Nocas, 1:01:04.0; 51, Joe Pottock, 1:02:33.0; 52, John Wirum, 1:02:37.0; 53, Conner von Huene, 1:03:18.0; 54, Daniel Crumpacker, 1:03:23.0; 55, Mike Huckabay, 1:03:34.0; 56, Dylan Garbe, 1:03:40.0; 57, Douglas Ketterer, 1:03:57.0; 58, Alec Kay, 1:04:00.0; 59, Isaak Keskula, 1:05:03.0; 60, Michael Clark, 1:05:46.0; 61, Brent Veltkamp, 1:05:52.0; 62, Keith Sanfacon, 1:06:41.0; 63, Gunner Hodgson, 1:07:00.0; 64, David Shaw, 1:07:08.0; 65, John Pahkala, 1:07:21.0; 66, Joe Rozak, 1:07:33.0; 67, Keith Cook, 1:07:48.0; 68, Thane Barta, 1:07:52.0; 69, Michael Earnhart, 1:09:31.0; 70, Porter Blei, 1:09:31.0; 71, Evan Steinhauser, 1:10:29.0; 72, Jason Cooper, 1:10:56.0; 73, Bruce Davison, 1:11:02.0; 74, Derek Meier, 1:11:05.0; 75, Cato Palmer, 1:12:19.0; 76, Fred Moore, 1:12:23.0; 77, Stephen Mayer, 1:12:25.0; 78, David Wilkinson, 1:12:52.0; 79, Jeff Barber, 1:13:34.0; 80, Scott Jones, 1:13:45.0; 81, John White, 1:14:01.0; 82, Josef Gross, 1:15:07.0; 83, Shannon Clem, 1:15:26.0; 84, Tab Ballantine, 1:16:20.0; 85, Tim Garbe, 1:20:17.0; 86, Chace Hardy, 1:21:25.0; 87, Bryan Hardy, 1:21:43.0; 88, Evelyn de Paz, 1:22:29.0; 89, Robert Schroeter, 1:23:50.0; 90, Marcus Knight, 1:24:18.0; 91, Roy Longacre, 1:24:35.0; 92, Austin Corbitt, 1:31:29.0; 93, Ernest Stolen, 1:31:33.0; 94, Jesse Cooper, 1:31:54.0.
1, Darcy Dugan, 0:49:31.0; 2, Nowelle Spencer, 0:49:55.0; 3, Yvonne Jeschke, 0:52:10.0; 4, Holly Brooks, 0:52:11.0; 5, Lauren Fritz, 0:53:21.0; 6, Lisa Anglen, 0:53:26.0; 7, Tamra Kornfield, 0:57:03.0; 8, Shannon Donley, 0:57:28.0; 9, Susan Casey, 0:57:33.0; 10, Karen Kirk, 0:58:14.0; 11, Kylee Sam, 0:58:49.0; 12, Hannah Ingrim, 0:58:51.0; 13, Natalie Hood, 0:59:07.0; 14, Gwendolyn Mueller, 0:59:56.0; 15, Jessica Pahkala, 1:00:27.0; 16, Kaylee Heck, 1:00:44.0; 17, Tiffanie Bird, 1:00:56.0; 18, Jacqueline Klecka, 1:01:30.0; 19, Kelley Maves, 1:01:41.0; 20, Georgia Kubik, 1:02:01.0; 21, Clare Shea, 1:02:32.0; 22, Jennifer Loofbourrow, 1:02:56.0; 23, Haley White, 1:03:38.0; 24, Cecilia Nocas, 1:04:01.0; 25, Hannah Cryder, 1:04:59.0; 26, Kayla Knotek, 1:05:32.0; 27, Nicole Wollgast, 1:06:33.0; 28, Charlotte Edmondson, 1:06:55.0; 29, Mia Stiassny, 1:07:08.0; 30, Megan Kemp, 1:07:33.0; 31, Emily Dougherty, 1:07:48.0; 32, Becky Coveny, 1:07:56.0; 33, Gwendolynn Stuart, 1:08:38.0; 34, Sarah Webster, 1:08:54.0; 35, Jared Kern, 1:11:13.0; 36, Katherine Chung, 1:11:26.0; 37, Christy Ante, 1:11:28.0; 38, Brittany Winternheimer, 1:12:01.0; 39, Karen Looney, 1:12:07.0; 40, Cynthia Lacy, 1:12:21.0; 41, Patricia Casey, 1:12:38.0; 42, Jennifer Smith, 1:13:01.0; 43, Katrina Garner, 1:14:04.0; 44, Joey Eski, 1:14:12.0; 45, Milca Widmer, 1:15:45.0; 46, Fern Leclair, 1:16:42.0; 47, Piper Sears, 1:16:42.0; 48, Jahna Pollock, 1:17:07.0; 49, Laura Jungreis, 1:17:27.0; 50, Emily Niebuhr, 1:19:29.0; 51, Andalyn Pace, 1:19:39.0; 52, Jodi Harskamp, 1:20:16.0; 53, Dyann Hardy, 1:21:42.0; 54, Anna Johnson, 1:23:19.0; 55, Haley Finch, 1:23:49.0; 56, Rose Garner, 1:24:09.0; 57, Kristen Collins, 1:25:52.0; 58, Callie Jones, 1:29:31.0; 59, Sue Wilkens, 1:32:46.0.
Barr could expose secrets, politicize intelligence with review of Russia probe, current and former officials fear
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr arrive for a ceremony in the East Room at the White House on Wednesday. (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford) (Jabin Botsford/)
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump’s new executive order giving the attorney general broad authority to declassify government secrets threatens to expose U.S. intelligence sources and could distort the FBI and CIA’s roles in investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections, current and former U.S. officials said.
On Thursday, Trump allowed Attorney General William Barr to declassify information he finds during his review of what the White House called "surveillance activities during the 2016 Presidential election."
Trump has long complained that the U.S. government engaged in illegal "spying" on his campaign, alleging without evidence that his phones were tapped and that American officials conspired with British counterparts in an effort to undermine his bid for the White House.
It appeared unprecedented to give an official who is not in charge of an intelligence agency the power to reveal its secrets. Current and former intelligence officials said they were concerned that Barr could selectively declassify information that paints the intelligence agencies and the FBI in a bad light without giving a complete picture of their efforts in 2016.
Officials are also concerned about the possible compromise of intelligence sources, including those deep inside the Russian government.
Ordinarily, any review of intelligence activities would be done by the Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats. But in giving that authority to Barr, the president has turned to someone he perceives as a loyalist and who has already said that he thinks the government spied on the Trump campaign.
"This is a complete slap in the face to the director of national intelligence," said James Baker, the former FBI general counsel. "So why is the attorney general doing the investigation? Probably because the president trusts the attorney general more," said Baker, now a director at the R Street Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.
Trump has never considered Coats a close or effective adviser, and earlier this year administration officials said they thought the president might fire him.
Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director, called it "potentially dangerous" to let Barr decide what to declassify, because "the DNI is in the best position to judge the damage to intelligence sources and methods."
"This is yet another destruction of norms that weakens our intelligence community," said Morell, now the host of the Intelligence Matters podcast. "It is yet another step that will raise questions among our allies and partners about whether to share sensitive intelligence with us."
Trump told reporters Friday that the Russia probe was "an attempted coup or an attempted takedown of the president of the United States." He said he hoped Barr would investigate several foreign countries, including two of the United States' closest allies.
"I hope he looks at the U.K. and I hope he looks at Australia and I hope he looks at Ukraine," Trump said. "I hope he looks at everything, because there was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country."
Others questioned whether Barr would take intelligence officials' advice or act on his own when deciding what he might make public.
"The part of this order that I find the most troubling says that the attorney general should consult with intelligence community elements on declassification 'to the extent he deems it practicable,' " said Robert Litt, who is a former general counsel for the office of the director of national intelligence and is now with the law firm Morrison & Foerster. "He apparently doesn't have to consult with them if he thinks that would be impracticable."
In a statement, Coats signaled that he expected Barr and the agencies to work together.
"Much like we have with other investigations and reviews, the Intelligence Community will provide the Department of Justice all of the appropriate information for its review of intelligence activities related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election," Coats said. "As part of that process, I am confident that the Attorney General will work with the IC in accordance with the long-established standards to protect highly-sensitive classified information that, if publicly released, would put our national security at risk."
A senior official said Barr has expressed concerns privately that the CIA may not have done much to try to use its own source networks in Russia to figure out whether allegations in a document written by British former intelligence officer Christopher Steele were accurate.
Trump and his allies in Congress have seized on the document, often called "the dossier," as evidence that the Obama administration built an investigation of Trump predicated on unsubstantiated and salacious claims.
A former senior CIA official said the dossier played no role in an intelligence community assessment, released in January 2017, that concluded Russia tried to help Trump win.
"First, the CIA was falsely accused of using the dossier in the [assessment], and once people finally realized they did not use it, now the CIA is being criticized for not investigating the dossier," said the former official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
"It is not the CIA's job to investigate a document that was in the hands of the FBI and floating around the media," the former official said. "The CIA was focused on trying to identify what the Russians were doing to interfere in our election. The FBI is who was focused on counterintelligence concerns with respect to U.S. persons."
Special counsel Robert Mueller III found that the FBI began an investigation into potential coordination between Russia and Trump campaign associates in July 2016, after an Australian diplomat told U.S. officials that a Trump adviser claimed to know about incriminating information Russia possessed about Hillary Clinton. Earlier that month, emails that Russian government hackers stole from the Democratic National Committee had been published by WikiLeaks.
Republican lawmakers have previously demanded information about the FBI investigation that has revealed the identity of an informant and led to the partial disclosure of an application for surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Those disclosures came after lengthy negotiations between Justice Department officials and members of Congress.
Now, Barr has the authority to declassify such information on his own.
"This extraordinary assignment and the reaction it has provoked shows how far we have moved from historical norms," said David Kris, a former head of the national security division at the Justice Department and the founder of Culper Partners, a consulting firm. "Since the mid-1970s, the country has expected the attorney general to help oversee and enforce a system of intelligence under law, appropriately respectful of privacy and rigorously apolitical.
"Now, because of the president's relentless efforts to politicize law enforcement, many observers fear that the attorney general is a threat to apolitical intelligence under law."
- - -
The Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.
Amanda Furdge of Jackson and a mother of three boys, relates her experience seeking an abortion in the state, as she addresses abortion rights advocates at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., during a rally to voice their opposition to state legislatures passing abortion bans that prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The rally in Jackson was one of many around the country to protest abortion restrictions that states are enacting. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) (Rogelio V. Solis/)
JACKSON, Miss. — A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, at about six weeks of pregnancy.
"Here we go again," U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves wrote in his order. "Mississippi has passed another law banning abortions prior to viability."
His new order stops the law from taking effect July 1. Reeves is the same judge who struck down a 2018 Mississippi law to ban abortion at 15 weeks.
Mississippi is one of several states that have pushed this year to enact bans on early abortions. Opponents of abortion are emboldened by new conservative Supreme Court justices and are looking for ways to challenge the court's 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
Reeves heard arguments Tuesday from attorneys for the state's only abortion clinic, who said the law would effectively eliminate all abortions in Mississippi because cardiac activity is often first detectable when many women may not know they are pregnant. Lawyers with the state attorney general's office said the law should be allowed to take effect because it's not a complete ban on abortion but is, rather, a limit on when the procedure could be done.
Alabama’s Republican governor recently signed a law to ban most abortions. Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted or neared approval of measures barring abortion once there’s a detectable fetal heartbeat. Missouri lawmakers approved an eight-week ban. All of those laws are expected to face legal challenges, and the Kentucky one was temporarily blocked by a federal judge in March.
Reeves ruled last year that Mississippi's 15-week ban is unconstitutional because it would prohibit access to abortion before a fetus could survive outside the pregnant woman's body. Viability is generally considered to be about 23 or 24 weeks.
In an indication of which way he is leaning on the request to block the new law with the earlier ban, Reeves asked attorneys Tuesday: "Doesn't it boil down to: Six is less than 15?"
Also during the hearing, Reeves criticized Mississippi lawmakers for passing an earlier ban after he struck down the one at 15 weeks.
"It sure smacks of defiance to this court," he said.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bills, banning the procedure on or beyond eight weeks of pregnancy, Friday, May 24, 2019 in Jefferson City, Mo. (AP Photo by Summer Balentine) (Summer Ballentine/)
Reeves will hear arguments later about the question of whether the six-week ban is constitutional. He wrote Friday that the new law "prevents a woman's free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy. This injury outweighs any interest the State might have in banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat."
The state is appealing Reeves' ruling on the 15-week ban, and Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the new law in March. The state's only abortion clinic, Jackson Women's Health Organization, quickly sued the state.
Bryant said in a statement Friday that he is disappointed in Reeves' ruling.
"As governor, I've pledged to do all I can to protect life," Bryant said. "Time and time again the Legislature and I have done just that."
Nancy Northup is president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the groups representing the Mississippi abortion clinic.
"The sponsors of Mississippi's six-week ban, like those of other extreme bans across the country, are shamelessly seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade," Northup said after Friday's ruling. "We will block them at every turn. The Constitution protects a woman's right to make decisions over her body and her life."
The Mississippi law says physicians who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected could face revocation of their state medical licenses. It also says abortions could be allowed after a fetal heartbeat is found if a pregnancy endangers a woman’s life or one of her major bodily functions. Senators rejected an amendment that would have allowed exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration moved Friday to revoke newly won health care discrimination protections for transgender people, the latest in a series of actions that aim to reverse gains by LGBTQ Americans in areas ranging from the military to housing and education.
The Health and Human Services Department released a proposed regulation that in effect says "gender identity" is not protected under federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in health care. It would reverse an Obama-era policy that the Trump administration already is not enforcing.
"The actions today are part and parcel of this administration's efforts to erase LGBTQ people from federal regulations and to undermine nondiscrimination protections across the board," said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney on health care at Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization representing LGBT people.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, said the action shows "utter contempt for the health, safety and humanity of women and transgender Americans."
The administration also has moved to restrict military service by transgender men and women, proposed allowing certain homeless shelters to take gender identity into account in offering someone a bed for the night and concluded in a 2017 Justice Department memo that federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work. As one of her first policy moves, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos withdrew guidance that allowed students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.
More than 1.5 million Americans identify as transgender, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank focusing on LGBT policy at the UCLA School of Law. A bigger number — 4.5% of the population— identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), according to Gallup.
Pushing back against critics, the HHS official overseeing the new regulation said transgender patients would continue to be protected by other federal laws that bar discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability.
"Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect," said Roger Severino, who heads the HHS Office for Civil Rights. "We intend to fully enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination."
Asked about the charge that the administration has opened the door to discrimination against transgender people seeking needed medical care of any type, Severino responded, "I don't want to see that happen."
In some places LGBT people are protected by state laws, said Lambda Legal attorney Gonzalez-Pagan, "but what do you say to people living in a state that doesn't have state-explicit protections? Do they move their home?"
Behind the dispute over legal rights is a medically recognized condition called "gender dysphoria" — discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between the gender that a person identifies as and the gender at birth. Consequences can include severe depression. Treatment can range from sex-reassignment surgery and hormones to people changing their outward appearance by adopting a different hairstyle or clothing.
Many social conservatives disagree with the concept.
"Sex is not subjective, it is an objective biological reality," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement supporting the Trump administration's move. The proposed rule will ensure that federal law "isn't used as a vehicle to advance transgender or abortion politics," he said.
Under the Obama-era federal rule, a hospital could be required to perform gender-transition procedures such as hysterectomies if the facility provided that kind of treatment for other medical conditions. The rule was meant to carry out the anti-discrimination section of the Affordable Care Act, which bars sex discrimination in health care but does not use the term "gender identity."
The proposed new rule would also affect the notices that millions of patients get in multiple languages about their rights to translation services. Such notices often come with insurer "explanation of benefits" forms. The Trump administration says the notice requirement has become a needless burden on health care providers, requiring billions of paper notices to be mailed annually at an estimated five-year cost of $3.2 billion.
The American Civil Liberties Union served notice it expects to challenge the rule in court when it is final. Louise Melling, ACLU deputy legal director said the potential impact could go beyond LGBT people and also subject women to discrimination for having had an abortion.
That's because the proposal would remove "termination of pregnancy" as grounds for making a legal claim of sex discrimination in health care, one of the protections created in the Obama years. Abortion opponents had argued that the Obama regulation could be construed to make a legal argument for federal funding of abortions.
UCLA legal scholar Jocelyn Samuels, who oversaw the drafting of the HHS transgender anti-discrimination rule under Obama, said that rule reflected established legal precedent that transgender people are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws.
"This administration has manifested its intent to roll back that well-considered understanding in every context," she said.
Samuels questioned the timing of the Trump action, since the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear three cases this year looking at whether federal civil rights law bans job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The proposed rule change is unlikely to have immediate consequences beyond the realm of political and legal debate. It faces a 60-day comment period and another layer of review before it can be finalized.
HHS official Severino said the Trump administration is going back to the literal text of the ACA's anti-discrimination law to correct an overly broad interpretation.
The Obama rule dates to a time when LGBT people were gaining political and social recognition. But a federal judge in Texas has said the rule went too far by concluding that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of sex discrimination.
Severino said the proposed rule does not come with a new definition of a person's sex. Earlier, a leaked internal document suggested the administration was debating whether to issue an immutable definition of sex, as based on a person's genital organs at birth.
AP writer David Crary in New York contributed to this report.