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Alaska chief justice defends judicial nominating process after Dunleavy rejection

Alaska News - 11 min 39 sec ago

JUNEAU — The Alaska Supreme Court’s chief justice says founders of the state’s constitution intended for a governor to appoint for judgeships candidates nominated by the Alaska Judicial Council.

Chief Justice Joel Bolger, in recent remarks, defended the council’s process for vetting and nominating candidates after Gov. Mike Dunleavy filled one vacancy on the Palmer Superior Court but refused to fill another.

One of the seats is vacant and the second is soon to be.

Dunleavy said he wouldn't select a second candidate from the list of three the council sent him, saying there were qualified applicants "inexplicably" not nominated.

Bolger said the council aims to nominate the most qualified. State law calls for Superior Court vacancies to be filled within 45 days of the governor receiving nominations. That period has passed.


Sexual harassment, discrimination and the workplace rumor mill

Alaska News - 1 hour 20 min ago

Q: I’m the director of operations for our company. When we downsized, I absorbed HR duties. This morning, I received an anonymous email asking me to question the promotions received by an upwardly mobile employee. Our future CEO, the son of our current CEO, thinks highly of this employee, who began as the receptionist. The son has been the driver behind her last two promotions. She now works in the marketing department and it’s been suggested that she take over the department when the current manager retires. She spends a lot of time with the son and I’m aware of rumors that she and the son sleep together.

I’ve always thrown anonymous notes in the trash, as they come from people lacking the guts to sign their names. Can I disregard this note but privately advise the CEO that we don’t promote this woman given that it will add fuel to the rumors?

A: So you’d use this note against this woman even as you toss it?

If this woman and the son do sleep together and they break up, she could later claim illegal sexual harassment.

Currently, she’s potentially the victim of illegal sex discrimination because of a hostile environment created by the rumors, particularly if you withhold a future promotion she deserves. Doing so creates a negative job consequence for her, yet you haven’t mentioned whether the son deserves a consequence for several potentially poor judgment calls, if he’s actually slept with an employee and then urged that she receive promotions.

Most importantly, you haven’t investigated the rumors, which could be malicious gossip spread by a jealous employee or the iceberg tip of a problem you need to address, as the individual who absorbed HR duties. You now hold in your hand a piece of crucial piece of evidence with an IP address you might be able to track down and find out who has been driving the rumor train.

Last month, the 4th Circuit Court ruled that an employer’s failure to stop a false rumor that a female employee slept with her male boss to obtain a promotion potentially constitutes sex discrimination. The plaintiff in that case, Parker v. Reema Consulting Services, Inc., began as a clerk and received six promotions in two years, eventually becoming the assistant operations manager. A male co-worker who joined the company when Parker did but didn’t receive a promotion started a rumor that Parker slept with a senior manager to advance her career. A warehouse manager then spread the rumor and held a mandatory all-staff meeting during which the rumor was discussed, although he didn’t allow Parker into the meeting.

Parker then scheduled a meeting with this warehouse manager, who blamed her for bringing a problem situation into the workplace. He also told her she would not receive future promotions. Parker filed a formal hostile work environment complaint with HR and HR instructed her to avoid her boss. Parker then received written warnings, including one resulting from a complaint by the man who started the rumors. Parker was fired and filed a lawsuit for hostile environment and retaliatory termination.

The 4th Circuit Court ruled that the employer could be liable because they hadn’t quashed the rumor, which perpetuated a “deeply rooted perception” that women, but not men, use sex to advance their careers. The court also noted that the potentially jealous male employee who started the rumor was never sanctioned and that at least one male manager was instrumental in spreading the rumors. The court also noted that the female employee received negative career consequences but that the male employee who was allegedly sleeping with her didn’t suffer similar consequences.

Finally, it’s important that you and other managers realize that you need to take allegations of potential sexual harassment and discrimination seriously even when you learn of potential problems through rumors or anonymous emails.

Trump says release of full special counsel report ‘wouldn’t bother’ him

Alaska News - 1 hour 23 min ago

President Donald Trump waves as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves the White House in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (Manuel Balce Ceneta/)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report “wouldn’t bother me at all” as congressional Democrats clamored for the Justice Department to release the entire document and not just the summary from Attorney General William Barr.

Trump’s remarks came as Democrats prepared to huddle behind closed doors Monday evening to plot strategy for their own investigations of obstruction of justice and Russian election interference, among other matters related to the president, following the release of Barr’s summary. Barr’s four-page document said Mueller did not find that Trump’s campaign “conspired or coordinated” with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election — knocking down arguments from Democrats who have claimed there was evidence of such collusion.

But Mueller reached no conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice, according to Barr's summary, instead setting out "evidence on both sides" of the question and stating that "while this report does not conclude the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." Absent a recommendation from Mueller, Barr stepped in and decided there wasn't sufficient evidence to establish that the president obstructed justice.

While Democrats have said Barr's letter should not be considered the final word on what Mueller found, Trump still claimed total vindication. He said on Monday that "we can never let this happen to another president again." As he has many times before, he suggested the investigation was tainted from the beginning and said it was a "terrible thing."

[Republicans cheer, Democrats challenge special counsel’s findings on Trump and Russia]

He even accused those responsible for launching it of “treasonous things against our country” and said they “certainly will be looked into.”

Trump has spent months railing against former Justice Department officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, accusing them of an illegal witch hunt for the purpose of delegitimizing his presidency. He has also falsely claimed that the investigation was based on memos compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, and even blamed former Sen. John McCain, who died last year, for passing the memos to the FBI. But the investigation began months before the FBI ever saw the dossier — and the FBI already had a copy by the time McCain turned it in.

Trump, asked on Monday if he'd be OK with the release of the full report, responded: "Up to the attorney general, but it wouldn't bother me at all."

Republicans followed Trump's lead, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham promising to "unpack the other side of the story" of the Russia investigation.

Graham, who spent the weekend with Trump in Florida, said his committee will investigate the actions of the Justice Department in the Russia investigation, including the FBI's use of the Steele dossier.

Graham's comments echoed Trump's own complaints Sunday in which he compared the probe to a failed coup and said those behind it should be held responsible. But Graham wouldn't go quite as far, saying he believed that the Mueller investigation was legitimate and had to happen in order to answer questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The South Carolina Republican also had a warning for Trump using his pardon power to help those who were ensnared by Mueller's investigation.

"If President Trump pardoned anybody in his orbit, it would not play well," Graham said.

Among those whom Mueller charged during the course of his investigation were the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Five Trump aides pleaded guilty and a sixth, longtime confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.

Monday morning, White House aides and allies blanketed television news broadcasts to trumpet Barr's letter and claim that Trump had been the victim in a probe that never should have started. Democrats said they were still waiting for the full report, in addition to the underlying evidence that Mueller used.

"The fact that Special Counsel Mueller's report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement Sunday evening. "Given Mr. Barr's public record of bias against the Special Counsel's inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report."

Given the report, Democrats seemed more likely to focus on their ongoing investigations, calls for transparency and frustrations with Barr, rather than engaging with the talk of impeachment that has been amplified on Pelosi's left flank. As the release of Mueller's report loomed, Pelosi recently tried to scuttle that talk by saying she's not for impeachment, for now.

In a joint statement, Nadler, House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., seemed to concede that collusion had not been found, saying they have confidence in Mueller, "notwithstanding the very public evidence of Trump campaign contact with and willingness to receive support from Russian agents."

Still, they said, "it will be vital for the country and the Congress to evaluate the full body of evidence collected by the special counsel, including all information gathered of a counterintelligence nature."

Ahead of their Monday meetings, Democrats discussed strategy in a flurry of calls over the weekend. Pelosi and Schumer talked repeatedly, including several calls Sunday from her home in San Francisco. As soon as Barr's letter arrived, Pelosi quickly convened a call Sunday with Cummings, Schiff and Nadler to go over its main points. They were on the same page with their response, according to a person familiar with the call. Nadler later held a conference call with Democratic members on the Judiciary panel and reiterated calls for transparency.

People familiar with the calls requested anonymity to discuss them freely.

Republicans unified to call for Congress to move on. "This case is closed," said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in a statement.

___

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Jill Colvin, Mike Balsamo and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

Father of Sandy Hook shooting victim found dead in apparent suicide, police say

Alaska News - 1 hour 57 min ago

The father of a first-grade girl killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was discovered dead in an apparent suicide Monday morning at a town hall in Connecticut, police said.


FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2014 file photo, Jeremy Richman, father of Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting victim Avielle Richman, addresses the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission in Newtown, Conn. Richman was found dead early Monday, March 25, 2019, at the town hall in Newtown, where he had an office. The chief medical examiner's office was to perform an autopsy Monday. Richman’s death comes as officials in Parkland, Florida, are publicizing counseling services after two survivors of a high school massacre there killed themselves. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File) (Jessica Hill/)

Authorities said the body of Jeremy Richman, 49, was found at about 7 a.m. at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, a Connecticut community that has been scarred by the tragic school shooting that left 20 students and six staff members dead. The victims included Richman’s daughter, 6-year-old Avielle Richman. Richman, who was studying the brain and violence, had an office at the town hall.

Police did not say how Richman died or what may have led to his death.

Lt. Aaron Bahamonde, a spokesman for the Newtown Police Department, told The Washington Post that Richman's death "puts Newtown back into the spotlight again."

"We certainly recognize the heartbreak that this is causing," he said in a phone interview. "It's a difficult situation that we're all dealing with here and it's a sad situation."

Following reports that Richman had died, government officials and friends expressed their grief and offered condolences to the family.

Newtown First Selectman Daniel Rosenthal said there were "no words to describe the tragic weight of today's news."

"Jeremy Richman was a loving husband, father and friend to many. I am proud to say he was my friend," Rosenthal said in a statement Monday to the Hartford Courant. "I don't want to speculate as to why Jeremy took his life, except to say none of us can fathom the enormity of loss he carried with him after the death of his beautiful daughter, Avielle."

More than 1,300 miles away in Parkland, Florida, two teenagers have died by apparent suicide in the past week in a town still grieving from the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Authorities have not drawn a connection to the apparent suicide in Newtown. One former student who died was apparently dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder from the shooting, but circumstances surrounding the second student’s death remain unclear.

Richman's daughter Avielle and 19 of her classmates were killed Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Soon after, Richman and Avielle's mother, Jennifer Hensel, both scientists, founded the Avielle Foundation: Preventing Violence & Building Compassion, a nonprofit that aims to prevent violence through brain research.

"When we were faced with this infinite heartbreak we decided we'd play to our strengths as scientists to see if we could answer the 'why' questions everyone had," Richman told ABC affiliate WTNH in 2017. "To see if we can understand what happens in the brain that leads to violence."

According to his biography on the organization's website, Richman was a neuropharmacologist, studying how drugs influence the brain and nervous system.

It states:

"While his roots are in neuroscience, his research experience has spanned the range from neuroscience to cardiovascular biology, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, immunology and inflammation, and kidney disease. Jeremy is passionate about helping people live happier and healthier lives and is dedicated to engaging and educating youth, believing that our future relies on their imaginations. This is manifest in his teaching martial arts, biology, neuroscience, and rock climbing to children and teens for the past 25 years. Most importantly, he believes it is critical to empower youth to advocate for themselves and their peers when it comes to brain health and brain illnesses. Following the murder of his six year old daughter, Avielle, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Murders, Dr. Richman and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, started the Avielle Foundation, committed to preventing violence and building compassion through brain health research, community engagement, and education."

Richman told WTNH that the pain never ended.

"Losing Avielle hurt then and hurts now," Richman told WTNH. "There's no words that really describe the loss and the feeling of emptiness and missing her profoundly that never goes away and is there every waking moment."

Police have not released details about his death.

- - -

To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging 741741.

Disaster aid bill facing a tricky path as it heads to Senate - KTUU.com

Legislative News - 1 hour 58 min ago
Disaster aid bill facing a tricky path as it heads to Senate  KTUU.com

A battle over funding for Puerto Rico is complicating the path forward for a long-delayed disaster aid bill that's a top political priority for some of President Donald ...

The ethical outdoorsman respects the land, the critter being sought and other people

Alaska News - 2 hours 4 min ago

A female mallard. (Bob Hallinen / ADN archive) (Bob Hallinen/)

When I was young, I truly believed I was an ethical outdoorsman. I was wrong.

The trouble was I did not truly understand the meaning of the word “ethics.” Ethics, put simply, are not how you act in a particular circumstance, but rather who you wish to become.

Hunting and fishing both require certain accepted types of behavior. The difficulty or challenge in this is there are seldom onlookers, thus your acts must be dictated by your own conscience.

Must you really shoot the duck in the air? I was hunting with a buddy when we came up on a group of young, uneducated mallards swimming serenely down a slough. Red raised up his gun to shoot.

“Hey,” I said, “you going to shoot them while they're swimming?”

“No,” he replied, “I'm going to wait till they stop.”

That may not sound like an ethical way to take a duck. Nor does it seem to meet the definition of fair chase. But, ducks are food. There is a conflict here.

Jim Posewitz, in his book “Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting,” describes fair chase as “the balance that allows hunters to occasionally succeed while animals generally avoid being taken.” (Which sounds like I should only shoot at ducks that are flying.)

John McAdams, who writes the Big Game Hunting Blog, states in his treatise on ethical hunting, “If there is doubt in your mind that you are going to hit the animal you are shooting at, then you should not take the shot.” (Looks like Red was right.)

Obviously, ethical hunting is going to mean different things to every hunter. We choose our hunting partners based on similar views of how our hunt should progress.

Respect is a key tenant of ethics. Respect for other hunters and respect for the critter being hunted. Don’t trespass, don’t litter and be courteous, not just to other hunters but to non-hunters you may meet in the field.

Transport your game home without making a garish display of it on the hood of your truck. Not everyone wants to see a dead animal. Remove the gut piles from the side of the highway and out of immediate view from trail sides. There are enough anti-hunting advocates without us creating more.

Make every effort to track down wounded game. I will grant you that it is not always possible to find an animal you think you may have wounded, but make a good attempt.

Bring all of the edible parts of the animal out of the woods. Do not only carry out what is edible to you. Some folks leave the rib cage, the heart and the liver. These are edible parts of the animal to many folks. It is not acceptable to leave them behind. A good rule of thumb on what to take out of the woods is this: If you can be comfortable in a room full of strangers describing the parts of the animal you left in the woods, then you likely did just fine. After all, one of the best parts of hunting is talking about it after you return.

When we hunt, we must remember that hunting is similar to a bank loan. Follow the rules and pay back everything that was borrowed. The animals we hunt and the fish we catch are not truly ours. They are borrowed from the land and from the legacy of our children. Leave the next generation their fish and game. Leave them the land, not just as it was when you first saw it, but in the condition you would like it to become. Ethics.

John Schandelmeier is a lifelong Alaskan who lives with his family near Paxson. He is a Bristol Bay commercial fisherman and a two-time winner of the Yukon Quest.

Fairbanks residents voice opinions on Dunleavy budget in House community meeting - Anchorage Daily News

Legislative News - 2 hours 22 min ago
Fairbanks residents voice opinions on Dunleavy budget in House community meeting  Anchorage Daily News

Public testimony lasted more than four hours, with the vast majority of speakers opposing the governor's proposed budget cuts.

Fairbanks residents voice opinions on Dunleavy budget in House community meeting

Alaska News - 2 hours 33 min ago

FAIRBANKS — Cruel, shortsighted, heartless, draconian, a nonstarter, extreme, unrealistic and BS.

Those are just some of the ways Fairbanks residents on Sunday described Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget at a community meeting — one of multiple meetings around the state hosted by the House of Representatives’ Finance Committee.

Republican Reps. Tammie Wilson and Bart LeBon, and Democratic Rep. Adam Wool were on hand to listen directly to constituents.

Wilson is co-chair of the House Finance Committee, on which LeBon also serves, while Wool is not a member.

Public testimony lasted more than four hours. With one hour remaining, approximately six budget opponents spoke for every supporter.

[Crowd at Anchorage hearing gives lawmakers an earful on severe budget cuts proposed by governor]

[Groups mobilize against Alaska governor’s budget meetings sponsored by Americans For Prosperity]

Many people were critical of the budget in general, while others stuck to specific topics, such as the University of Alaska, Medicaid, mental health services, Pioneers’ Homes, oil-tax credits or the PFD.

Wilson kicked off the meeting by giving a brief presentation on proposed cuts and possible budget outcomes using a total expected revenue of $5.27 billion.

“Taking more from the earnings reserve is unsustainable. Our goal this year is to make sure we stay within the means we have, and that means the $5.27 billion,” she said.

Her PowerPoint gave three scenarios. First, a $3,000 Alaska Permanent Fund dividend (total $1.9 billion in distributions) with $1.5 billion in budget cuts.

Second, a $1,600 PFD (total $1 billion) with $600 million in cuts.

Third, a $630 PFD with a status quo budget.

After the presentation, public testimony quickly took aim at both revenue and expenditures. Many opponents agreed with Dunleavy that a budget crisis does exist, except it’s the result of poor management by Dunleavy and the Legislature.

Carl S. Benson received one of the day’s loudest applauses when he criticized the combination of oil-tax credits and large PFD distributions.

“We don’t raise money, and our biggest expense is to give away money. What kind of business plan is that? ... Your job is to not to give money away,” he told the legislators directly.

Kathy Karella hit on a similar point: “It doesn’t make sense that our income is so short, but we’re giving everyone a bigger check.”

Karella added she’s not a fan of taxes, which will hurt her fixed income, as would a smaller PFD, but “if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. ... We’ve been cutting and cutting and cutting and cutting. At some point we have to get a second job.”

Through the legislators, Rebecca Dunne asked Dunleavy why he thinks residents can spend PFDs better than the state can.

“How many individual Alaskans will spend their PFD windfall to pay for monitoring a plume of chemicals in the ground water in North Pole? ... Or paying for nurses in Pioneer Homes, or restaurant inspections?” she asked.

Tim Brennan had one of the most blunt assessments. “I think we can all agree that Dunleavy’s budget is BS. It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. ... Gov. Walker already made the cuts there are to make,” he said.

Dunleavy did have supporters in the crowd on Sunday, who thanked and praised him for a budget that would reduce government and give people their PFDs, such as Christine Robbins, Vivian Stiver and Dustin James.

Robbins said the PFD belongs to the children of Alaska, as their heritage and inheritance.

“We can’t afford new taxes, nor for you to take away our PFD, which would not just be a tax, but a theft as well,” Robbins said. She also called for a list of all state employees, their job titles and pay.

Stiver, whom Dunleavy nominated to be a representative on the Marijuana Control Board, credited the governor for introducing the budget Alaskans asked for.

“I think it does something greater, it’s making the Legislature focus on the budget. And it has a downward pressure on municipalities, the university and school districts,” she said.

James identified as a private sector worker and roundly criticized the University of Alaska, “For the University of Alaska to continue, and demand like a spoiled child, continued funding and funding as a whole, is selfish. It’s not a university worth funding anymore.”

He said state services need to operate more like the private sector, “I run a small business. And I know how to pay my way, and it’s tough going.”

Another person to identify as a private sector worker was Mike Quinn. While Quinn didn’t take a specific stance on the budget, he did take a different approach than James, and advocated for a higher fuel tax, a head tax and a seasonal sales tax.

Local political figures were among those testifying Sunday, most notably Borough Mayor Bryce Ward.

Ward also didn’t express a position on the state budget, but he was sure to point out the negative impact it would have on borough finances: a reduction of approximately $48 million in funding.

Ward said the legislature is facing a monumental tax because “the shortfall of state revenue is unprecedented and the state can no longer rely on savings.”

Connie Moore commented that belt tightening is appropriate but implored the Legislature “not to destroy the economic engines that are working in Alaska.”

Moore also said that everyone has a role to play in the state’s fiscal future, which is jeopardized by Dunleavy’s fiscal plan.

“The proposed budget pits groups of Alaskans against one another, rather than encouraging everyone to come together. Pulling together is the only way we’re going to build a better, more secure future, for us and our families,” she said.

This article originally appeared at NewsMiner.com and is republished here with permission.

Attorney Michael Avenatti charged with extortion by federal prosecutors in New York

Alaska News - 2 hours 42 min ago

Michael Avenatti, the high profile critic of President Donald Trump, was charged Monday by federal prosecutors with trying to extort Nike by threatening to issue damaging allegations against the company unless it paid his client millions.


Attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing an alleged R. Kelly victim, speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago after the R&B singer entered a not guilty plea to all 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Monday morning, Feb. 25, 2019. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) (Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times/)

The charges mark the latest and most remarkable chapter in the strange public saga of the California lawyer who has represented Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress who was paid to keep quiet during the 2016 presidential campaign about her alleged sexual tryst with Trump several years ago.

That case catapulted Avenatti to cable television news fame, but prosecutors now say he threatened to use that platform to extract money from the company.

Authorities charge Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference on the eve of the NCAA basketball tournament to reveal damaging allegations against the firm unless it paid his client $1.5 million and agreed to hire Avenatti and another lawyer for $15 to $25 million to conduct an "internal investigation" into the allegations.

The charging document said that Avenatti proposed another alternative to hiring him to conduct an investigation - “a total payment of $22.5 million from Nike to resolve any claims (the client) might have and additionally to buy Avenatti’s silence.”

Governor's team contrasts 10-year plan and alternatives, but House speaker says message is ill-timed - Alaska Public Radio Network

Legislative News - 3 hours 24 min ago
Governor's team contrasts 10-year plan and alternatives, but House speaker says message is ill-timed  Alaska Public Radio Network

Gov. Mike Dunleavy's office released the administration's 10-year plan for state revenue and spending. The report comes out every year and usually doesn't get ...

New class of US Navy destroyer pays surprise visit to Ketchikan

Alaska News - 3 hours 43 min ago

KETCHIKAN - One of the U.S. Navy’s newest class of warships has docked at a Southeast Alaska port for a rare visit.

The USS Zumwalt docked in Ketchikan for a weekend stay beginning Saturday, the Juneau Empire reported.

Big US #destroyer #ZUMWALT #DDG1000 is at #Ketchikan, Alaska this weekend - - and is open for public tours today, Sunday 24 March. Let's see some pics, people! https://t.co/NehUpMoToG pic.twitter.com/bNwHXYU9Is

— Chris Cavas (@CavasShips) March 24, 2019

The 610-foot guided missile destroyer launched in October 2013 and based in San Diego was scheduled to be open for public tours.

Steve Corporon, Ketchikan's port and harbors director, said bigger fenders were needed to make sure the ship would fit without damaging the vessel or the dock.

Navy Cmdr. Brandon Raile said the last Navy visit to Ketchikan was by the USS Ogden in 2005, while the USS O’Kane guided missile destroyer stopped in Juneau nearly 300 miles farther north in May 2017.

The 15-year gap and strategic reasons were behind the Alaska stop, according to Raile, who explained that receding ice in the Arctic is creating waterways that previously did not exist. He added that “everybody is more interested in the area for trade and other purposes.”

"It's important that the Navy does more and more exercise up in this part of the world," Raile said. "We have the opportunity of a ship that needs something to do and something that needs to be done. It works out pretty well."

The ship will continue to undisclosed locations after leaving Ketchikan, Raile said.

Serious reporters should be proud of - not bullied for - reporting on Russia probe

Alaska News - 4 hours 19 min ago

It should be no surprise to anyone that President Donald Trump’s reaction to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report is to attack reporters for doing their jobs.

That's exactly what he has been doing for years. It's a predictable political strategy - an ugly, undemocratic one - that works as a way to feed raw meat to his base.

And it should be no surprise that his media echo chamber - led by Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity - is calling for the heads of journalists whose work Hannity couldn't begin to emulate even if given 100 years.

As for the rest of the harsh criticism that's being leveled at journalists who dug into the connections between Trump, as candidate and president, and Russia, it's largely misguided.

Fairly typical of this was conservative writer Rich Lowry, who said the three biggest losers from Mueller's report were "the media, the media, the media," which he described as "obsessed and hysterical for 2 years."

There are calls for a "reckoning" on news coverage.

All right, then. Here goes.

I reckon that American citizens would have been far worse off if skilled reporters hadn't dug into the connections between Trump's associates - up to and including his son Don Jr. - and Russians. That reporting has not been invalidated.

I reckon that the felonious lying to the public about a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow remains a scandal - and that we know about this in large part because journalists were doing their jobs aggressively.

I reckon that the hard-nosed reporting about former national security adviser Michael Flynn - roundly denied, you might recall, before it was proved - was an early sign of the venality that was to follow.

I reckon that reporting by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, CNN, Bloomberg News, the Daily Beast, Mother Jones, ProPublica and others drove forward a national conversation that needed to happen. As Americans saw with their own eyes Trump's bizarre efforts to ingratiate himself with Russian President Vladimir Putin, that reporting mattered and provided context.

And that shouldn't be forgotten or swept aside now.

And yes, I reckon that endless speculative threads and the explosions of tiny cannons on Twitter were ridiculous and over the top - and that the cable pundits who made a living off such speculation aren't really journalists anyway.

It's important to acknowledge the value of the serious journalism because there's a real risk that news organizations will take the edges off their coverage of this subject now.

You could see it starting to happen over the weekend.

It was strange, for example, to see Scott Pelley's lead-in to CBS's "60 Minutes" erroneously describe the Mueller report's findings in a way that Trump might have scripted: He flatly stated that the report, as described by Attorney General William Barr, exonerated the president.

In fact, Mueller came to no such conclusion on obstruction of justice, and on the contrary stated clearly that his investigation did not exonerate him.

Perhaps cowed by the criticism — which came from the left as well as the right, most notably from author Matt Taibbi — some news organizations may back down from aggressive coverage of Trump.

That would be a serious mistake. With some regrettable and damaging exceptions — individual stories that seemingly went too far — reality-based news outlets have done quite well on this story.

And it's far from over. So this is no time to retreat.

What would be a good idea, though, is to be less obsessed with this subject to the exclusion of others that are far closer to home for most Americans: health care, the economy, affordable housing and crime.

"We've done two listening tours across the U.S. in the past two years, and it was striking how Trump, Russia and Mueller just never came up," HuffPost Editor Lydia Polgreen told me Sunday. As a result, "we haven't invested heavily in covering the Trump/Russia story in terms of enterprise."

Similarly, I've been thinking of Christine Radwan, a Trump voter (and former Democrat) I interviewed in rural New York state in 2017.

When I asked her whether possible Russian collusion mattered to her, she paused and then answered thoughtfully: "Yes, it's important, but not as important as our economy and what's happened to our middle class."

This observation is worth thinking about, and acting on.

But that's not to suggest that serious news organizations should drop the Trump/Russia story, which is still playing out.

Nor should they allow themselves to be bullied about the important work they’ve done, and must continue to do.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Israel mobilizes after rocket attack from Gaza; escalation looms

Alaska News - 4 hours 28 min ago

A police officer inspects the damage to a house hit by a rocket in Mishmeret, central Israel, Monday, March 25, 2019. An early morning rocket from the Gaza Strip struck a house in central Israel on Monday, wounding six people, including one moderately, an Israeli rescue service said, in an eruption of violence that could set off another round of violence shortly before the Israeli election. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) (Ariel Schalit/)

KFAR SABA, Israel — A long-range rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into a house in central Israel and wounded seven people early Monday, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a high-profile visit to Washington and prompting the military to deploy troops along Israel’s southern border.

Netanyahu promised a tough response while Gaza's Hamas leaders went into hiding, setting the stage for a possible major conflagration just two weeks before Israeli elections.

The early-morning rocket strike came at a sensitive time for both sides. Netanyahu, locked in a tight race for re-election, came under heavy criticism from his rivals Monday and faced tough pressure to strike back at Hamas.

The Islamic militant group, meanwhile, is facing perhaps its toughest test since seizing control of Gaza 12 years ago. An Israel-Egyptian blockade, imposed to weaken Hamas, combined with sanctions by the rival Palestinian Authority and mismanagement by the Hamas government have all fueled an economic crisis.

Hamas has been leading weekly protests along the Israeli border for the past year in hopes of easing the blockade, but the demonstrations, in which some 190 people have been killed by Israeli fire, have done little to improve conditions.

Last week, hundreds of Gazans took to the streets to protest the dire conditions, a rare expression of public discontent, prompting a violent Hamas crackdown that drew heavy public criticism.

Although neither side would seem to have an interest in a full-fledged war, they appeared to be on a collision course toward further violence.

Netanyahu, in Washington to meet President Donald Trump, held emergency consultations with military officials back in Israel. He said he would return home immediately after the White House meeting, canceling an address to the AIPAC pro-Israel lobby group and meetings with congressional leaders.

"There has been a criminal attack on the state of Israel and we will respond forcefully," he said.

The sounds of air raid sirens jolted residents of the Sharon area, northeast of Tel Aviv, shortly after 5 a.m., sending them scurrying to bomb shelters. A strong sound of an explosion followed.

The rocket destroyed a residential home in the farming community of Mishmeret, north of the city of Kfar Saba, wounding six members of a family. The Magen David Adom rescue service said it treated seven people, including two women who were moderately wounded. The others, including two children and an infant, had minor injuries.

The Israeli military said Hamas militants fired the rocket from southern Gaza. It said its Iron Dome rocket-defense system was not activated because the attack in central Israel had not been anticipated. The army added it was reinforcing its missile defense batteries in preparation for an escalation.

Maj. Mika Lifshitz, a military spokeswoman, said it was a self-manufactured rocket with a range of 120 kilometers (75 miles), making it one of the deepest rocket strikes ever carried out by Hamas.

Lifshitz added that two armor and infantry brigades were being mobilized to the Gaza front and that a limited drafting of reserves was also taking place.

The family home in Mishmeret was left in ruins, with tiles, broken furniture and debris scattered about. A shattered baby's crib lay among the rubble and two family dogs died in the explosion.

"I nearly lost my family," said Robert Wolf, grandfather of the injured residents. "If we hadn't gotten to the bomb shelter in time, I would now be burying all my family."

Israel and Hamas, a militant group that seeks Israel's destruction, are bitter enemies. They have fought three wars since Hamas overran Gaza in 2007, most recently in 2014, and engaged in dozens of minor flare-ups of fighting.

Monday's attack came 10 days after rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel's densely populated commercial capital of Tel Aviv. The Israeli military at the time struck back and the sides appeared to be hurtling toward another confrontation. But Gaza's Hamas leaders said the rocket was fired accidentally.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday's attack, but it would seem to be much harder to dismiss the latest incident as another misfire. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket fire out of Gaza.

A possible trigger could have been a prison riot late Sunday when Hamas-affiliated inmates stabbed an Israeli guard in the neck in southern Israel. Guards moved in to subdue the rioters, wounding about a dozen prisoners, three of them seriously. In a statement, Hamas called for an end to the crackdown.

Hamas may also be seeking to heat things up with Israel to divert attention from its domestic problems. Senior Hamas officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media, said the group does not think that Netanyahu will launch a new war so close to the April 9 election.

Netanyahu, however, came under heavy criticism from allies and opponents for what they say has been an ineffective policy containing Gaza militants.

Netanyahu has conducted indirect cease-fire talks through Egyptian mediators in recent months, and even allowed the delivery of millions of dollars of Qatari aid to Hamas to ease harsh conditions in Gaza.

"The reality in which Hamas turned Israel into a hostage is unprecedented and unfathomable," his chief challenger, Benny Gantz, wrote on Twitter on Monday. Gantz is a former military chief who led the army during the last Gaza war in 2014.

Netanyahu also came under attack from his own nationalistic allies.

"Israel's deterrence has collapsed, and it has to be said in all honesty Netanyahu has failed against Hamas," said Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Yamin HeHadash faction in Netanyahu's coalition.

Anticipating a strong Israeli response, Gaza's Hamas leaders apparently went underground.

Witnesses reported seeing Hamas evacuating personnel from government premises. Hamas also announced that its Gaza chief, Yehiya Sinwar, had canceled a public speech. Other leaders turned off their mobile phones, while Hamas police were seen evacuating their stations. Hamas even released some prisoners it was holding, in another sign of anxiety.

Israel also shut down its main crossings into Gaza and imposed restrictions on fishing off the Gazan coast.

Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations are trying to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas but that effort has yet to bring an agreement. At the same time, there has been an uptick in violence in the West Bank over the past week, with a stabbing and shooting that left two Israelis dead near a West Bank settlement and Israel's killing of two Palestinians it said attacked troops.

___

Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed.

Second Parkland student dies in ‘apparent suicide,’ police say

Alaska News - 6 hours 14 min ago

Stones are placed at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the one-year anniversary of the school shooting, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Parkland, Fla. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP) (AL DIAZ/)

PARKLAND, Fla. - In the span of one week, two teenagers have died by suicide in Parkland, the community still grieving the loss of 17 teachers and students last year in a deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The mother of a recent graduate told CBS Miami last week that her daughter had taken her own life. Sydney Aiello, 19, was a senior at the school during the massacre. One of her friends, Meadow Pollack, was killed. In the year since the shooting, Aiello had struggled with survivor's guilt and had recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, her mother said.

During the weekend, word began to spread that another Parkland teenager had also died in what authorities called an "apparent suicide." The student's name and age were not released, and authorities said the death was under investigation.

The circumstances surrounding the second student's death are unclear, and mental health advocates cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

But in the South Florida community, student and parent activists quickly linked the two deaths - placing them in the context of the 17 other lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas last year.

"17 + 2," tweeted Ryan Petty, who is the father of Alaina Petty, a student killed in the shooting, and the founder of The Walkup Foundation, a school safety organization. Hillary Clinton tweeted Sunday that "nothing is worth the tremendous costs our young people bear because of our inaction on guns." David Hogg, one of the student activists who rose to prominence in the wake of the Parkland shooting, called for officials to do more to prevent such deaths.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Parent Teacher Association tweeted a flier with the contact information of trauma counselors on Sunday, which was retweeted by an account for the school's principal.

News of the second student's death came on the first anniversary of March for Our Lives, the massive student-led demonstration against gun violence that was held in several U.S. cities last March. The protest was led by student activists from Parkland, including senior Aalayah Eastmond, who spoke at the Washington march.

"This day is so heavy," Eastmond, 18, said Sunday afternoon while visiting a memorial garden called Grow Love outside the gates of her school. "It's the anniversary of the march, and then this sad news. It's all a lot."

Eastmond travels the country, speaking to community groups about school violence. There aren't enough resources for students across the country, she said, but there's also a shortfall in her own school. Eastmond said she sees a school therapist who has helped her, but she said there's only a handful available.

"This school of all places should have the resources. We're known nationwide because of the shooting," she said. "If we can't get it right here, where can we get it right?"

Elected officials, school personnel and members of various county organizations met Sunday afternoon to discuss how to improve the availability of counseling services and raise awareness about mental health, Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky said in an interview.

The first priority would be "communicating to parents the need to talk to their children, and students to talk to each other," about mental health and suicide prevention, she said.

"I think we need to talk about it, I think we need to be educated more about it," she said. "Everybody deals with tragedy and trauma in their own trauma and their own way. Some people are doing better than others, and some are still struggling severely."

Parents and students would be provided with copies of the Columbia Protocol, the mayor said, which friends, family and loved ones can use to determine if a person is at risk of suicide. The group also decided to move up the opening of Eagles' Haven, a wellness and support center that would be available to members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community seven days a week.

A "resilience center" has also been set up by Broward County schools; it provides crisis and grief counseling, as well as support groups, for those who still grapple with trauma from the shooting.

But some at the school believed that the current resources provided to students were insufficient.

"The kids need help, and many of them that do need help are not getting any," history teacher Greg Pittman, who taught Aiello, told the Miami Herald. "They want to talk to people that were there."

He added that "many of them think that they don't need help, that only their friends who were there understand. More resources probably would help, but also the resources that knew them (are) leaving."

To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging 741741.

- - -

Mettler and Epstein reported from Washington.

Young Parkland voters’ ballots were rejected at a higher rate than Florida average

Alaska News - 6 hours 24 min ago

School crossing guard Wendy Behrend lights a candle at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the one-year anniversary of the school shooting, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Parkland, Fla. A year ago on Thursday, 14 students and three staff members were killed when a gunman opened fire at the high school. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee/)

PARKLAND, Fla. - Ronni Isenberg was away at college when one of her former neighbors stormed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year and killed 17 people, including one of her friends.

As she watched the aftermath of the tragedy unfold from Syracuse University in New York, feeling too far away from home, Isenberg immediately knew she had to join other Parkland, Florida, students in channeling her anger into political support for tougher gun laws.

Last March, a month after the shooting, Isenberg flew from college to Washington to participate in the March for Your Lives demonstration on the Mall, organized by Parkland students. She made sure she was registered to vote in Florida, and then encouraged her friends at Syracuse University to also register.

But Isenberg recently learned that her vote - as well as those of dozens of students from Parkland - was probably never counted.

About 1 in 7 mail-in ballots submitted by college-age voters in Parkland was rejected or failed to arrive in time to be counted, according to a new analysis. The findings are adding to questions about the reliability and fairness of the Florida electoral system, including its ballot signature requirement that became a flash point in the November recount between U.S. Sen Rick Scott, R, and the Democrat he ousted from office, Bill Nelson.

"We wanted to make a change and vote for change," Isenberg said. "I should have had the right to vote, and my vote should have been counted."

The problem with Isenberg's ballot was discovered by Daniel A. Smith, chairman of the political science department at the University of Florida who analyzed Florida's open-source voting file. A veteran researcher of Florida elections, Smith said that 15 percent of mail-in ballots submitted by Parkland residents between ages 18 and 21 were never counted in the midterm election, far exceeding the statewide average.

Among all Floridians between 18 and 21, about 5.4 percent of mail-in ballots were rejected or uncounted, Smith said. The statewide average of rejected or uncounted mail-in ballots for all ages was 1.2 percent, Smith noted.

"If you are voting in Florida, and you are young in Florida, you have a good chance of your ballot not being accepted," Smith said. "Imagine going to the ATM, and every 10 times you go, instead of spitting out your money, they take it or they lose it."

A spokesman for the Broward County Supervisor of Elections said he could not comment on Smith's findings "unless and until" the office reviewed his data and methodology.

But the office found a countywide rejection rate within the 18-to-21 age range that was "half" of the 10 percent that Smith discovered. Among all mail-in ballots cast in Broward County regardless of age, 5,464 ballots were not counted - a rejection rate of 2.8 percent, the elections office said.

More than half of those ballots, 3,458, were not accepted because they arrived after Election Day and could not be legally counted. Others were not signed, contained a mismatched signature, were signed by someone other than the voter, or returned to the elections office as "undeliverable," according to country records.

Under Florida law, elections officials must compare the signature on an absentee ballot to the signature on the voter's registration form.

If the signatures do not match, the voter can file an affidavit, along with proof of identify, to try to rectify the problem. But the Vote-by-Mail Ballot Cure must be received at the elections office by 5 p.m. on the day of the election.

In a report issued in September and written by Smith, the American Civil Liberties Union concluded that Florida's vote-by-mail system disenfranchises younger voters as well as racial and ethnic minorities.

During the 2016 election, the report stated, people under 30 made up just 9 percent of all vote-by-mail participants but accounted for about 31 percent of all rejected ballots. Black voters made up 9 percent of the vote-by-mail participants but accounted for 17 percent of rejected ballots, the report concluded.

In November, as the nail-biter election between Scott and Nelson went to a recount, there was a flurry of lawsuits challenging Florida voter laws.

One lawsuit noted that Florida elections officials had rejected more than 4,000 ballots for mismatched signatures. And under existing law, those challenged signatures needed to be rectified by 5 p.m. on Election Day, even though state law gave voters until 7 p.m. for their mail-in ballot to arrive at local elections offices. (There is an exception for overseas and military ballots, which are accepted up until 10 days after the election).

Siding with the plaintiffs, a federal judge ruled that the state's signature-match standards were unconstitutional. The judge gave Florida voters a 10-day extension to fix their signatures. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld that lower-court ruling.

Myrna Pérez, a voting rights lawyer with New York University Law School's Brennan Center for Justice, said more public education is needed to better inform voters about mail-in ballot deadlines, especially those voting for the first time. But Pérez isn't sure major changes are needed to the state's signature requirement, saying such laws help prevent legislators from enacting even more onerous conditions.

"We don't want people to demand strict voter ID instead of a signature," Pérez said.

In Parkland, Smith suspects, many students preregister to vote in high school before their 18th birthday. As they age into young adults, he added, their signatures evolve.

"Many of those students go off to college, develop a new identity, including some more-sophisticated signatures," Smith said. "Their new signature may not look anything like it did in high school civics class."

About 250 Parkland residents ages 18 to 21 registered to vote between last February, when the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting took place, and Election Day. More than half of them voted, an unusually strong turnout among young voters in a midterm election, Smith noted.

Many of the Parkland young adults whose ballots were rejected say state and local elections offices are to blame.

Luciany Capra, a 19-year-old student at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, said she requested her absentee ballot at least a month before the election. It still had not arrived weeks later, and for two consecutive days, no one answered the phone at the Broward County elections office, Capra said.

She said she finally got through the Friday before the election. After being placed on hold for an hour, "They were like, 'Oh, you should have gotten it.' But I never got it," Capra said.

The elections office mailed it again and she received it on Election Day.

Capra filled out the ballot, voting for mostly Democratic candidates. She mailed the ballot back, even though she doubted it would arrive in time to be counted.

Then, a few days after the election, Capra said somebody called her and told her that her ballot had been rejected because her signature did not match and that a judge had granted her more time to re-sign her ballot.

"I submitted the request for it to be counted, and signed a whole bunch of papers, and then I never heard back from anyone," said Capra, a sophomore who was voting in her first election. "If there was any mistake, it was a mistake on their end."

The Broward County elections office said that for years it has expressed concern about how slowly the post office has delivered ballots and other correspondence to voters. It noted that all mail from Broward County is first sent to a processing center in Miami-Dade County.

But Reagan Edgren, 19, said she doesn't think the problem with her ballot rests with the Postal Service. She believes the Broward elections board was too overwhelmed to diligently account for all the mail-in ballots.

Elections board records examined by Smith show that Edgren, a student at American University in Washington, D.C., requested her mail-in ballot Oct. 27. The records show the elections board mailed it to her Oct. 30,and didn't receive it back until Nov. 17, nearly two weeks after the election.

Edgren is certain she mailed it before Election Day.

“They kept telling us that voting is going to be the way we can make a change,” Edgren said. “But when they don’t allow our votes to be counted, they are essentially saying we don’t get a voice.”

After a harrowing ordeal aboard cruise ship, passengers were terrified by helicopter rescues

Alaska News - 6 hours 54 min ago

The cruise ship Viking Sky as it drifts after sending a Mayday signal because of engine failure in windy conditions near Hustadvika, off the west coast of Norway, Saturday March 23, 2019. The Viking Sky is forced to evacuate its estimated 1,300 passengers. (Odd Roar Lange / NTB scanpix via AP) (Frank Einar Vatne/)

STAVANGER, Norway — Rodney Horgen recalled the moment he thought he was facing the end: when a huge wave crashed through the Viking Sky cruise ship’s glass doors and swept his wife 30 feet across the floor.

Horgen, 62, of Minnesota, was visiting Norway on a dream pilgrimage to his ancestral homeland when the luxury cruise quickly turned into a nightmare.

The Viking Sky was carrying 1,373 passengers and crew, going from Norway’s Arctic north to the southern city of Stavanger when it had engine trouble along Norway’s rough, frigid western coast. Struggling in heavy seas to avoid being dashed on the rocky coast, the ship issued a mayday call Saturday afternoon.

Horgan said he knew something was badly amiss when the guests on the heaving ship were summoned to the vessel’s muster points.

“When the windows and door flew open and the 6 feet of water swept people and tables 20 to 30 feet that was the breaker. I said to myself, ‘This is it,’” Horgen told The Associated Press. “I grabbed my wife but I couldn’t hold on. And she was thrown across the room. And then she got thrown back again by the wave coming back.”

Photos posted on social media showed the ship listing from side to side and furniture smashing violently into the ship's walls. The hands and faces of fellow passengers were cut and bleeding from the shattered glass, he said.

An experienced fisherman, Horgen said he had never before encountered such rough boating conditions.

“I did not have a lot of hope. I knew how cold that water was and where we were and the waves and everything. You would not last very long,” he said. “That was very, very frightening.”

And yet, the scariest part was yet to come.

That was when hundreds of passengers, including Horgen, were winched off the heaving ship by helicopter, one-by-one as winds howled around them in the dark of night, by rescue workers trying to evacuate everyone on board.

Waves up to 26 feet high were smacking into the ship, making it impossible to evacuate anyone by boat.

The ship was within 300 feet of striking rocks under the water and 2,950 feet from shore when it stopped and anchored in Hustadvika Bay so passengers could be evacuated, Coast Guard official Emil Heggelund told Norway’s VG newspaper.

Norway's Joint Rescue Coordination Center stepped in, sending in five helicopters. Passenger Alexus Sheppard told the AP that people with injuries or disabilities were winched off the cruise ship first.

"It was frightening at first. And when the general alarm sounded it became VERY real," she wrote in a text.

Janet Jacob, among the first group of passengers evacuated to the nearby town of Molde, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the winds felt "like a tornado" and prompted her to start praying for everyone on the ship.

"I was afraid. I've never experienced anything so scary," she said.

"We saw two people taken off by stretcher," passenger Dereck Brown told Norwegian newspaper Romsdal Budstikke. "People were alarmed. Many were frightened but they were calm."


This photo provided by Alexus Sheppard shows passengers on board the Viking Sky, waiting to be evacuated, off the coast of Norway on Saturday, March 23, 2019. Rescue workers off Norway's western coast rushed to evacuate 1,300 passengers and crew from a disabled cruise ship by helicopter on Saturday, winching them one-by-one to safety as heaving waves tossed the ship from side to side and high winds battered the operation. (Alexus Sheppard via AP) (Alexus Sheppard/)

Viking Ocean Cruises, the company that owns and operates the ship, said 20 people were injured and received treatment at medical centers.

The airlift evacuation went all through the night and into Sunday morning, slowing for a bit when two of the five rescue helicopters had to be diverted to save nine crewmembers from a nearby ailing cargo ship.

In all, 479 passengers were airlifted to land, leaving 436 passengers and 458 crew members onboard, the company said, when the Viking Sky's captain decided on a new plan.

Einar Knudsen of Norway's Joint Rescue Coordination Center said the airlift was halted when the captain decided before noon Sunday to try to bring the cruise ship to the nearby port of Molde on its own engines.

"The conditions were good enough for the captain to have no more evacuations," Knudsen told the AP.

Three of the ship's four engines were working so a tug boat and two other vessels assisted the Viking Sky as it slowly headed to Molde under its own power. It finally docked at the port late Sunday afternoon, the cruise company said.

The Viking Oceans Cruise company said the ship's next scheduled trip, to Scandinavia and Germany that was to leave on Wednesday, was cancelled. Norway's Accident Investigations Board said the ship would remain in Molde, pending an investigation.

The Viking Sky was a relatively new ship, delivered in 2017 to operator Viking Ocean Cruises.

It had departed for a 12-day cruise from the southern Norwegian city of Bergen, visiting the Norwegian towns and cities of Narvik, Alta, Tromso and Bodo before its scheduled arrival Tuesday in the British port of Tilbury on the River Thames. The passengers were mostly an English-speaking mix of American, British, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian citizens.

Viking Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen praised the rescue operation by Norwegian authorities and the actions of the vessel's crew.

He told the VG newspaper that the events surrounding the Viking Sky were "some of the worst I have been involved in, but now it looks like it's going well in the end and that we've been lucky."

Shipping tycoon Hagen is one of Norway's richest men and the founder of the Switzerland-based Viking Cruises that operates river and ocean cruises.

"I'm very proud of our crew," Hagen told VG.

When asked why the cruise ship ventured into an area known for its rough waters in the middle of a storm that had been forecast by meteorologists, Knudsen, from Norway's rescue service, said it was the captain's decision to proceed with the cruise.

__

Tanner reported from Helsinki, Finland.

Opinion: Be very afraid of politicians who say not to worry - Juneau Empire

Legislative News - 9 hours 44 min ago
Opinion: Be very afraid of politicians who say not to worry  Juneau Empire

If you chill out as they want, your needs will be funded last.

‘Not Just One of the Boys’: How Women Fought Their Way to N.Y.’s Seat of Power - The New York Times

Legislative News - 11 hours 44 min ago
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A century after the first two women arrived in Albany, New Yorkers elected a record number of women to state government. Here are the stories about how they ...

University unified for education funding in Juneau - UAA Northern Light

Legislative News - 12 hours 8 min ago
University unified for education funding in Juneau  UAA Northern Light

Members of the Union of Students of the University of Alaska Anchorage stand on the steps of capitol building during the Monday spent in Juneau. Photo credit: ...

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