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Fossils reveal dinosaur forerunner smaller than a cellphone

Mon, 2020-07-06 14:47

This illustration provided by the American Museum of Natural History in July 2020 depicts a Kongonaphon kely, a newly described reptile near the ancestry of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, shown to scale with human hands. Kongonaphon lived roughly 237 million years ago. (Frank Ippolito/American Museum of Natural History)

Meet Kongonaphon kely, a pocket sized dinosaur forerunner that was smaller than your cellphone.

The creature, which predated dinosaurs and flying pterosaurs, was just shy of 4 inches (10 centimeters) tall, according to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Some of these things would have been quite cute animals," said study lead author Christian Kammerer, a paleontology researcher at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Looking like a small dinosaur that could fit in your hand, Kammerer mused that it "would probably make a great pet."


This illustration provided by Alex Boersma in July 2020 depicts a Kongonaphon kely, a tiny relative of dinosaurs and pterosaurs. Kongonaphon lived roughly 237 million years ago and would have stood only 10 centimeters (4 inches) tall. (Alex Boersma via AP) (Alex Boersma/)

Of course, no humans were around when Kongonaphon was roaming the wild, jumping around with its strong hind legs and feeding on bugs with its peg-like teeth, Kammerer said. The name means tiny bug slayer.

The fossils, dug up in Madagascar, date from 237 million years ago. Scientists figure the little guy was an adult because of growth rings in its bones, Kammerer said.



UAA helps Anchorage build workforce capacity

Mon, 2020-07-06 14:40

Buildings on the UAA campus remained closed on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed Alaskans’ lives and impacted our economy in ways we never could have imagined, leaving many people unemployed and struggling financially.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports Alaska’s job count was down 12.2% in May from the same month last year, a loss of more than 42,000 jobs.

Some jobs have been impossible to perform during the pandemic due to workplace restrictions on in-person staffing. Demand for other services has dwindled as Anchorage residents limit their activities to those deemed essential, such as purchasing groceries and household supplies.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, new job opportunities have unexpectedly emerged, particularly in the health-care sector. The need for skilled contact tracing investigators to identify individuals exposed to COVID-19 has skyrocketed. Other jobs, such as those in the IT sector, have remained in demand; hiring increases in other sectors are likely to be needed as organizations across the state reopen.

At the University of Alaska Anchorage, university leaders have been listening to feedback from industry partners and state and local officials regarding real-time employment needs.

When Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services approached UAA in May with the request to facilitate training for COVID-19 contact tracing investigators, the university mobilized immediately, launching training the first week of June. The project coordination between the state and the university is building local workforce capacity and relationships to respond to infectious disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies both now and in the future.

This fall, UAA will offer a suite of Fast-Track Career Certificates based on current and emerging state economic trends. The certificates will help Alaskans retool rapidly and acquire new skills to re-enter the workforce or build upon existing skills in their chosen field.

Certificates will focus on areas like petroleum production, bookkeeping, entrepreneurship, construction, infant and toddler development, automotive repair and maintenance, web engineering and more. The fields were chosen based on careers anticipated to remain in demand in Alaska, with average salaries ranging from $25,000 to $62,000.

Even more impressive: UAA administrators have pivoted to develop these certificates with the resources at hand, while facing a budget crisis. They have identified and sequenced existing courses to facilitate efficient, time-sensitive delivery to expedite education, training and workforce entry.

As we look to the future of our city and state, UAA continues to play an integral role. The university is one of our greatest resources, and it stands ready to innovate as we rebuild a strong foundation for the coming months and years.

Our hometown university will continue to support our students and workforce through the pandemic and its economic fallout. It’s about time we asked ourselves: What can we do to support our university?

Bill Popp is the President and CEO of Anchorage Economic Development Corporation.

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.

Tracking COVID-19 in Alaska

Mon, 2020-07-06 14:36

Big picture
Details
By status
Overview
7-day averages
Non-residents
Hospital resources

Letter: Betrayed by the Assembly

Mon, 2020-07-06 14:35

I attended a neighborhood meeting on the evening of July 1, concerning the city’s proposed purchase of the Golden Lion Hotel and conversion to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. The meeting was attended by residents of Geneva Woods, College Village and Rogers Park, as all three neighborhoods will be adversely impacted by the City’s proposal. Midtown Assembly representatives Meg Zaletel and Felix Rivera were also in attendance.

Experts in attendance discussed the substantial impact on neighborhood property values, increased crime and trash that the proposed center would bring to the neighborhoods. Experts also discussed what an inappropriate location the Golden Lion Hotel is for a drug treatment center, and that such centers should not be placed in residential areas. Several other more appropriate locations and building were also discussed.

After hearing Meg Zaletel and Felix Rivera talk, it was readily apparent that the project is being rushed with very little notice to the neighborhoods affected, and with very little planning or forethought as to the impact on the adjacent neighborhoods. Last, residents in attendance were shocked to learn that Meg Zaletel, our representative to the assembly, was actually a co-sponsor of the proposed purchase and conversion. Needless to say, residents of the Geneva Woods, Roger’s Park and College Village neighborhoods feel very betrayed by Meg Zaletel’s efforts to push this rushed and poorly conceived proposal on us. With representatives like Meg Zaletel and Felix Rivera, who needs enemies?

Will Moseley

Anchorage

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

First Alaska ferry passenger with COVID-19 confirmed in traveler from Washington state

Mon, 2020-07-06 13:22

The M/V Kennicott is docked at Old Harbor. (Photo by Geraldine Young / Alaska Department of Transportation)

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The first passenger on an Alaska state ferry with a confirmed positive coronavirus test boarded in Washington state in late June with a negative test result at the time.

The person tested positive for the virus eight days later after arriving in Cordova.

State transportation officials said the case demonstrates the need for passengers and crew to follow protocols to safeguard against the spread of the virus even after they take a test, as required for longer ferry trips.

The passenger, whose age and sex are not being released, boarded the ferry Kennicott in Bellingham on June 27, according to Meadow Bailey, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

The person’s only close contact on the vessel was a traveling companion who later tested negative for the virus, Bailey said.

The announcement comes amid spiking COVID-19 case numbers in Alaska, with outbreaks occurring across the state.

The passenger and traveling companion had private sleeping quarters and, when they were outside their cabin, wore face coverings and kept 6 feet from others, according to a statement transportation officials issued late Sunday. Both the passenger and companion are isolated and not having contact with anyone else.

It’s unknown when and where the passenger became infected, or when the passenger became contagious, state officials said.

The infected passenger arrived in Whittier on July 1, then got back on the ferry July 3 for the trip to Cordova, Bailey said. The person tested positive for COVID-19 on July 4 in Cordova.

State health officials didn’t immediately respond to a question about possible contacts during the times the person was off the ferry.

The infected passenger had very mild “allergy-like” symptoms that they did not attribute to COVID-19, officials said.

But they followed the ferry protocols for face covers and social distancing anyway, Bailey said.

“All of those things are also really important because testing is not foolproof,” she said.

People who feel healthy can be contagious without knowing it, health officials say, potentially threatening others who are more vulnerable to the virus.

[Anchorage names more than a dozen businesses with COVID-19 exposure, urges monitoring and testing]

The Alaska Marine Highway System that operates the ferries last month implemented strict new policies in response to the pandemic including requiring tests within 72 hours of departing on longer trips and face covering and social distancing on board.

After the passenger tested positive, 52 AMHS employees were tested, according to Cordova city officials. None of the employees tested positive for the virus, the city’s statement said.

It was the Kennicott’s first sailing to Whittier of the season, and the first ferry into Cordova since last fall.

The vessel normally carries about 500 people. But, like the state’s other ferries, the Kennicott is operating with sharply reduced capacity to allow passengers to spread out during travel.

The ferry Tustumena, which experienced a coronavirus outbreak among crew members on its first trip of the season from Homer to Unalaska, was just returned to service last week. It’s carrying 60 passengers but has a capacity for 160.

The Kennicott carried 125 passengers -- a quarter of its capacity.

[For high-risk Alaskans navigating the pandemic, there’s no return to normal life in sight]

“This is something that we anticipated would probably happen considering how prevalent COVID is in all of our communities which is why we have these protocols in place,” Bailey said. “We wish it wasn’t so early in the season when we were seeing this.”

The state is recommending anyone who traveled on the Kennicott wear a face covering in public; maintain at least a 6-foot distance from non-household members; avoid crowded places; monitor for symptoms and get tested for COVID-19 if any arise.

[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]

Anchorage woman pointed gun at witnesses after fatally shooting 66-year-old man, court documents say

Mon, 2020-07-06 12:45

A memorial on Sunday, July 5, 2020, honors the man who was fatally shot at the 130 block of Klevin Street in Mountain View on Independence Day. Sharlene Townsend was questioned by detectives and arrested on charges of first-degree murder, assault and evidence tampering. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)

An Anchorage woman turned her gun on witnesses after she fatally shot a man in the Mountain View neighborhood on the Fourth of July, according to charging documents.

Sharlene Townsend, 48, is facing charges of first-degree murder, assault and tampering with evidence in the death of 66-year-old Donald Jordan.

Several witnesses told police Jordan was sitting in a chair next to a fence at 128 N. Klevin St. when Townsend walked up to him and said something they could not hear, according to documents filed Sunday. She then pointed a gun at Jordan and shot him, the charges said.

Multiple witnesses called 911 just after 7 p.m. to say a man “had been shot multiple times by a female wearing a light-colored floral dress,” the charges said. The witnesses tried to help the man, who had several gunshot wounds in the upper body, but he died after he was brought to a hospital, police said in an online statement.

Townsend had been driven to the area by another woman, who told investigators she saw Townsend point the gun toward other people standing nearby after Jordan had been shot. Townsend returned to the woman’s car and the two struggled with the gun as the woman tried to disarm Townsend, charges said.

The woman was unable to get the gun away from Townsend and told police that Townsend had threatened to shoot her and her children during the struggle.

Townsend got out of the vehicle and walked down Klevin Street, charges said. While police were on scene interviewing witnesses, Townsend returned about 30 minutes after the shooting and was pointed out by multiple witnesses.

Townsend was questioned by detectives and detained. The gun used in the shooting had not been found by police as of Sunday morning. A police spokeswoman did not provide an update Monday.

Flowers, Fourth of July decorations and a balloon sat along the fence Sunday afternoon where Jordan was shot.

Police did not provide details Monday concerning if or how Townsend and Jordan knew each other and what may have motivated the shooting.

It was the fifth homicide in Anchorage this year, not including one fatal officer-involved shooting.

[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]

The big factor holding back the U.S. economic recovery: Child care

Mon, 2020-07-06 11:45

Manda Jaramillo holds her 10-month-old son Lucas Jamarillo while Stephanie Strother takes his temperature at Penn Quarter KinderCare in Washington, D.C. on June 26. (Photo by Manda Andrade-Rhoades for The Washington Post)

The child-care crunch triggered by the pandemic has rapidly become a crisis for many workers and companies that is hindering the economic recovery, disproportionately harming women, and threatening to leave deep scars for years to come.

A consensus is emerging among top economists and business leaders that getting kids back into day cares and schools is critical to getting the economy back to normal. And the American Academy of Pediatrics warned this week that keeping children out of school in the fall would threaten a degree of "social isolation" for children that could lead to mental and physical harm.

Yet many school systems are discussing only a partial reopening in the fall or remaining virtual, and up to half of America's child care centers may shut permanently since they can't survive financially, industry leaders warn, leaving families with even fewer options.

As parents struggle with this new reality, some employers are not showing much flexibility. Florida State University announced that effective Aug. 7, employees can no longer care for children while working remotely.

The impact of the lack of child care won't be evenly distributed, say economists and other experts. While big companies might be able to provide white-collar workers with generous work-at-home flexibility, blue-collar and "essential" industries often can't. That's expected to disproportionately affect low-income women - who have already been hardest hit by the crisis - as well as smaller businesses.

If schools and child-care centers remain closed, German researchers estimate 8.4 percent of economic activity in Europe won't happen, a substantial loss that could hit the United States similarly, researchers say.

Small business owner Bridget McGinty made the painful decision to close her restaurant in May, partially because she and many of her staff have small children they couldn't find care for.

"I'm a single mom, and my son won't be in school. It was just impossible to take on that much work physically and mentally of reopening," said McGinty, who ran Tastebuds in downtown Cleveland for two decades.

McGinty is not alone. Eleven percent of the U.S. workforce - 17.5 million workers - are taking care of young kids on their own and will be unlikely to return to work full time until schools and day cares fully reopen according to an analysis by the University of Chicago's Becker Friedman Institute.

Large companies like Microsoft, Google, Medtronic and Evergy have expanded paid leave to make it easier on families struggling to find child care during this pandemic, but not all businesses have the resources to help.

"If schools don't open, a lot of people can't go back to work," Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said in an interview.

Eliza Navarro was forced to quit her nursing job at a hospital in San Benito, Texas, when she couldn't find child care for her two children. It's been a devastating financial blow, but she felt out of options.

"I want to work, but because of everything that happened with schools and day cares closed, I wasn't able to," said Navarro, 33, a single mom who is the custodial parent. "I've been working since I was 17. I love working. I love my patients and my job."

[State announces more money for Alaska child care providers after uncertainty over pandemic funding]

Thirteen percent of U.S. parents had to quit a job or reduce their working hours due to a lack of child care, according to survey of 2,557 working parents conducted by Northeastern University from May 10 to June 22. The survey found parents were losing an average of eight hours of work a week - the equivalent of a full day - because they had to address their kids' needs.

Economics professor Alicia Sasser Modestino, who led the study that has not been made public yet, said even she was surprised how much of an effect child-care challenges are having on America's workforce.

Parents who can work from home are struggling to produce the same amount of work while balancing child-care. As the mom of two boys under 6, Karin Brownawell has come to dread videoconferences.

In late March, on her first video chat with her top bosses, she told her sons to play in the backyard and not come inside unless it was an emergency. Ten minutes into the call, her 3-year-old burst into the kitchen and yelled at the top of his lungs, "Mom, I have to poop!"

She had to leave the video chat to deal with it.

"I'm way more productive when my kids aren't there," said Brownawell, 38, a licensed clinical social worker in Mechanicsburg, Pa. "It's an anxiety roller coaster. You are trying to prioritize not just your workday, but your kids' schedule."

As stressful as it's been, Brownawell is thankful she can work from the desk that's wedged between her kitchen and living room. Her husband is an essential worker for the U.S. Postal Service and can't alter his schedule.

Relief for parents like Navarro and the Brownawells looks unlikely until there is a vaccine.

Tom Wyatt, chief executive of KinderCare Learning Centers, said in an interview that his inbox is filled with parents begging him to find a place for their children. All 1,500 KinderCare centers are open now, but most classrooms are restricted to 10 children, down from 24 before the pandemic. With costs up and enrollment limited, the company isn't making money. "Obviously, that is not sustainable," he said.

"The child-care industry is going through a gut-wrenching challenge right now," Wyatt said. "We literally have waiting lists at this point."

Already, there were not enough day-care spots, and quarter of child-care workers - 258,000 people - have lost their jobs. Wyatt says without aid from Congress in the coming months, thousands of day cares could close, exacerbating the crunch.

Industry groups are urging Congress and the Trump administration to approve $50 billion in federal aid to ensure child-care centers don't go out of business and families, especially those looking for work, can afford to send their kids. Business leaders and economists have joined that call.

"The child-care industry supports all others. Without it, a lot of these other industries are not able to get back to where they need to be," said Cheryl Oldham, vice president for education policy and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


Children maintain social distancing while riding scooters indoors at emergency child care provided to health care workers in San Francisco at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March. (Photo by Max Whittaker for The Washington Post)

The burden is falling heavily on women. Research shows that in “child-care deserts” where there aren’t enough day-care spots for kids, there’s a 12 percentage point drop in mothers’ labor force participation. There is no detectable impact on fathers. During this pandemic, more women have lost their jobs than men, Labor Department data show. Economists are deeply worried the pandemic will set American women’s job prospects back for years.

So far, Congress has allotted $3.5 billion for child-care help during the pandemic. That's less than the emergency aid for Delta Air Lines, notes Haley Swenson, deputy director of Better Life Lab, a left-leaning think tank. Congress is also debating heavily whether to extend unemployment benefits beyond July 31, but many economists think child care is a bigger issue.

"It's amazing to me how many people are worried that Americans won't go back to work because unemployment pays too darn much," said Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economics professor. "I'm way more worried about people not going back to work because they have no child care."

Almost a third of the U.S. workers have children under 18 at home.

It's hard to put an exact dollar figure on how much kids interrupting their parents' workdays is hampering the economy, but Nicholas Bloom believes the productivity loss is substantial. Most parents of young kids are ages 30 to 45, census data show, which are prime working years.

"You can't run an economy with so many people aged 30 to 45 missing. It's like the doughnut economy. You just have younger and older workers and none of the middle-aged people working," said Bloom, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Bloom is known for a study he did that found working from home makes workers way more productive, but he says that is not true during the pandemic. His study looked at 1,000 Chinese workers who did not have kids at home during working hours, a complete contrast to the situation now. Bloom himself has been attempting to work from home lately with four kids. (During a phone call with The Washington Post, he had to bribe his 4-year-old with TV and candy to be able to talk to a reporter.)

He's also concerned about a drop in research and high-level thinking that tend to lead to breakthrough ideas. A study of 4,500 top scientists in the United States and Europe found a "sharp decline" in research during the pandemic. Child-care problems were the biggest factor.

In an early warning sign, new patent applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office fell 9 percent this May vs. May 2019, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation found.

Finding affordable child care has long been a problem in the United States, but the pandemic has caused a unique challenge: Families can no longer rely on grandparents for help.

Erin Palmer, 37, is an emergency room nurse in Salt Lake City. She works the 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shift and used to leave her 7-year-old daughter with her parents, but she the risks are too high to do that now. Palmer nearly quit her job as she struggled to find another option. An overnight babysitter on Care.com cost $30 an hour - more than she makes as an ER nurse.

In the end, Palmer's younger brother and his girlfriend scaled back their work hours to help out, but it isn't sustainable, she said.

"If schools don't reopen in the fall, I don't know what I am going to do. Mentally, emotionally, financially, I'm not prepared for that," Palmer said.

Congress passed a law in March that was supposed to help parents who had no choice but to stay home to care for - and educate - their children get unemployment aid while schools and day cares are closed. Getting that money has not been easy for Navarro, the nurse who had to quit her job in Texas.

Navarro says she filed her first unemployment claim ever in April and received one payment. Then the money stopped. After days of calling, she learned Texas keeps marking her case as "under review." She's been saying a daily prayer to Saint Jude, the Catholic patron saint of desperate cases, that she can get another payment before July rent is due.

“Until this spring I was always able to pay all my bills. This pandemic has totally changed my life,” Navarro said. “My son just told me what he wants for his birthday, and for the first time, I might not be able to get it.”

White woman charged after racist confrontation with bird watcher in New York’s Central Park

Mon, 2020-07-06 11:23

This image made from Monday, May 25, 2020, video provided by Christian Cooper shows Amy Cooper with her dog calling police at Central Park in New York. A video of a verbal dispute between Amy Cooper, walking her dog off a leash and Christian Cooper, a black man bird watching in Central Park, is sparking accusations of racism. (Christian Cooper via AP) (Christian Cooper/)

NEW YORK — A white woman walking her dog who called the police during a videotaped dispute with a Black man in Central Park was charged Monday with filing a false report.

In May, Amy Cooper drew widespread condemnation for calling 911 to report she was being threatened by "an African-American man" when bird watcher Christian Cooper appeared to keep his distance as he recorded her rant on his phone.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement on Monday that his office had charged Amy Cooper with falsely reporting the confrontation, a misdemeanor. She was ordered to appear in court on Oct. 14.

After the backlash, Amy Cooper released an apology through a public relations service, saying she "reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions."

“He had every right to request that I leash my dog in an area where it was required,” she said in the written statement. “I am well aware of the pain that misassumptions and insensitive statements about race cause and would never have imagined that I would be involved in the type of incident that occurred with Chris.”

[People called police on this black birdwatcher so many times that he posted custom signs to explain his hobby]


No more delays: What to know about the July 15 income tax deadline

Mon, 2020-07-06 11:14

A portion of the 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) (Mark Lennihan/)

It’s time to do your taxes — no more delays.

As the coronavirus pandemic took hold this spring, the federal government postponed the traditional April 15 filing deadline until July 15.

The move provided some economic and logistical relief for taxpayers dealing with the disruptions and uncertainty brought on by lockdowns, school closures and shuttered businesses. But now that new deadline is rapidly approaching.

Taxpayers must file or seek an extension by the new deadline or face a penalty. The IRS is expecting about 150 million returns from individuals and as of last count, it had received almost 139 million.

So for those of you still waiting to file, make a payment or with other questions, a few answers:

___

DO I HAVE TO?

Yes. In most cases, you must file and pay your taxes by July 15.

Taxpayers who need more time can request an extension on the IRS website. That will give them until Oct. 15 to file. However, an extension to file does not mean added time to pay. So those planning on filing later should estimate what they owe and make that payment by July 15.

___

I CAN'T PAY NOW, WHAT DO I DO?

Go ahead and file your taxes even if you cannot pay.

The IRS is willing to set up payment plans or make other arrangements with taxpayers who cannot pay in full. Many of those can be set up online. And the penalty for failure to file will be much more expensive than the failure to pay, says Kathy Pickering, chief tax officer at H&R Block.

___

WHAT ABOUT REFUNDS?

The IRS is still processing and issuing refunds, most within 21 days.

Those getting refunds will be paid interest, dating back to April 15, if they file on time. The interest rate is 5% per year through June 30. Starting July 1, it drops to 3% per year. The interest is compounded daily for refunds. Any refund issued after July 1 will get a blended rate.

___

I DON'T WANT TO GO TO ANYWHERE. CAN I DO THIS ONLINE?

Yes, you can file or pay your taxes online. The IRS urges taxpayers to use electronic options to support social distancing and speed the processing of returns, refunds or payments. The agency is still working its way through a backlog of mail that built up during its closure in response to the pandemic.

Accountants and tax preparation services say they have a variety of means to help people prepare their taxes without meeting face to face.

___

WHAT ABOUT ESTIMATED TAXES?

Taxpayers who make estimated quarterly tax payments have until July 15 to make the payments for the first and second quarter. Those were originally due on April 15 and June 15 respectively.

___

WHAT ELSE?

There are a host of other tax deadlines linked to July 15. Check out the IRS website or reach out to a tax professional for answers to your specific question.

One worth noting is that July 15 is also the deadline to claim a refund for 2016 tax returns. An estimated $1.5 billion refunds for 2016 are sitting unclaimed because people failed to file tax returns. The law provides a three-year window of opportunity to claim a refund. But if taxpayers do not file a return within that time, the money becomes property of the Treasury. There is no penalty to file a later return if a refund is due.

It's also a good time to check in with a tax professional if you have had a major shift in income, employment or other tax situations in 2020. With all the changes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be need for added help when it comes to taxes.

“Reach out to (your tax professional) about what 2020 is going to look like,” says Michael Eisenberg, a CPA and attorney at Squar Milner in Los Angeles.

Letter: Bring back the Saturday paper

Mon, 2020-07-06 10:23

This 84-year-old, 61-year resident of Anchorage is wondering how long before the ADN will resume publishing the Saturday morning paper. Before retirement, I cherished the time I had on Saturday morning to read about the previous day’s happenings. During the week, because of job obligations, my morning reading time was especially limited, and after work I was just too tired. Saturday morning was a much-awaited time to enjoy an unhurried breakfast, and leisurely time for reading the newspaper. Can’t remember the year, but I know I was extremely disappointed when the decision was made to discontinue the Saturday paper. I’m sure other readers felt the same way.

My wife’s Alzheimer’s has caused her and I to move from our Hillside home to the Pioneer Home located in Palmer. I now have lots of time for newspaper reading seven days a week. During the two years we’ve resided here, I’ve noticed that there’s about approximately 10 residents subscribing to the Daily News. These folks, once done reading the paper, share it with other residents. Not all folks can afford the monthly subscription cost.

Now that the ugly virus is part of our lives, the Home does not allow visitors. It’s really difficult for residents, especially the older ones, not to see their loved ones. The average age of our 79 residents is 87, with 14 of these suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. I moved into this wonderful facility to with my wife as she experiences Alzheimer’s. I’m extremely fortunate to have cable TV, computer and printer, and a subscription to the Anchorage Daily News. Many at the home cannot afford these luxuries.

There are three group-watching television rooms located throughout this facility. All have very large, wall-mounted television sets. At one time, the cost of cable television for these sets was donated by MTA, but hard times have caused this to be discontinued. Unless a donor steps forward, no cable TV will be available for residents to enjoy.

So Saturdays, without visitors, no cable TV, few computers available and no ADN to read, life is extremely boring for many of these forgotten folks. Hope for a change to make life much better for us old Pioneers.

— Bill Brokaw

Palmer

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

Letter: Don’t trust Big Oil

Mon, 2020-07-06 10:18

Remember when you last got a full Permanent Fund dividend, the state’s bank accounts were full and government was fully funded? All of that happened before Senate Bill 21was passed. Once SB 21 passed, we started paying tax credits to Big Oil and collecting less in taxes.

Now look at us: big cuts to the state, big cuts to the ferries, empty bank accounts, big cuts to schools and the university system. Big Oil, on the other hand, has walked away with billions of our dollars; they care about shareholders, not the state of Alaska. Big government wasn’t our problem, as the governor said after he promised everyone $6,500 — the problem is and always will be Big Oil ripping the state off because they bought off the politicians. Just saying.

— David Lewis

Homer

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

Letter: Differentiation

Mon, 2020-07-06 10:14

I read and appreciated the front page article on June 28 about a man who was stopped by a woman while on a run on the Hillside. I, like many others, am aghast at this woman’s behavior. I feel for her family and hope she gets the psychological help she needs so she doesn’t hurt anyone again in any way.

I am writing because I didn’t understand the grammar in these two sentences found in the second paragraph: “The woman was white. Ingram is Black.” Why is white in lower case and Black is in upper case, I asked? I was made aware that the Associated Press has issued a change that governs the newspapers. Black is to be spelled with a capital B, “… conveying an essential and a shared sense of history … The lowercase black is a color, not a person.” So, shall we now capitalize Yellow for Asian, Brown for Hispanic, and so on?

I grew up in Iowa and Nebraska in the early 1960s with parents who never used the ‘n' word. I went to a rural Iowa high school in the 70s with only one Black family. One of the children of that family won homecoming king in my sophomore year. He was elected because he was popular and kind to all. We thought nothing of his skin color. I now know that this was unusual in that time, but at the time, I didn’t think anything about it. I feel very lucky to have had and continue to have, good relationships with people of all colors and nationalities.

I later realized that not all people view the world the same way my parents did. I have Black friends who have told me their horror stories firsthand, and I am appalled. We need change. We need to be tolerant. We need to value all lives and we need to work to eliminate the racism that exists in our society today. I will not personally tolerate racism and will stand up and voice this when and if I see it. I don’t have to yell and scream, but I must not tolerate it in my presence. Having said all that, what I am saying is this, all lives matter. Treat your brothers and sisters as you would like to be treated; it is the golden rule!

— Margaret Varlamos

Anchorage

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Letter: Revenue solutions

Mon, 2020-07-06 10:12

By now we’ve all heard and seen the One Alaska campaign ads against Proposition 1. Proposition 1 is designed to undo the harmful effects of Senate Bill 21, passed several years ago, which has had the effect of reducing Alaska’s income from its legacy fields to near zero. The ads, sponsored by the oil companies, claim that it is a terrible time to tax the oil companies.

Four things: First, Alaskans acknowledge that wealth from the oil sector has paid the cost of state government and the public goods the state creates — schools, roads, police, justice system, income support in the form of welfare and the Permanent Fund dividend, etc. — for the past 40 years.

Second, having spent down our easily accessible savings, we lack the needed shock absorber to our state’s fiscal needs should there be, for example, a break in the pipeline, a drastic drop in the world price of oil, or a crash of the stock market — all things that we have experienced, two of them recently.

Third, a growing number of Alaskans understand that the days of Alaskans being free of the duty of a state individual income tax are over. But even a tax which constitutes 20% or 25% of the individual’s federal income tax liability will only generate something on the order of $750 million to $1 billion. But we must step up and pay to support the kind of community that we can be proud of.

Fourth, there is no “good time” to institute taxes. Taxes are imposed because that is how organized societies pay common costs for the common good. Our tax holiday was a foolish mistake in the first place, and that we haven’t acted sooner in our common interest is, frankly, shameful.

The fact is, Alaskans must be and are grateful for the partnership they have had with the oil industry. But it is time for the oil industry, too, to step up and start paying a higher percentage — a fair share — of profits to the community in which they make their living. We should vote yes on Proposition 1.

— Peter A. Michalski

Anchorage

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Letter: Enough is enough

Mon, 2020-07-06 10:10

Our president won’t do it, thus our governor must, in order to save Alaskans’ lives. Close this state down for three or four months. Use the money from the Permanent Fund to continue unemployment benefits for just those individuals that are out of work. Those who are retired have their Social Security, pensions and retirement distributions to live on. People in this great state are dying, and it’s up to our leadership to act or we need to change our leadership, as we will in November on the national scale.

Don’t let the virus take more Alaskans’ lives. Close the state, borders and all.

— Mike Gumbleton

Palmer

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Letter: Minority rule

Mon, 2020-07-06 10:07

The Republican District Committee of District 24 (South Anchorage) recently endorsed a primary candidate running against incumbent State Rep. Chuck Kopp.

There are 3,500 registered Republicans in District 24. The Republican Rules call for 14 members to be on the “district committee.” Only six of the 14 positions are actually filled. Eight are vacant. Only three of the six voted to endorse the primary opponent.

According to the Republican Party, six of 14 is a quorum and three is a majority vote on a 14-member committee.

Does this represent the consensus of the 3,500 or the preference of three among them? I have campaigned for Republican candidates for more than 55 years. I am disappointed in the Republican Party.

— John Pletcher

Anchorage

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Letter: Get smart on COVID-19

Mon, 2020-07-06 10:05

When a local disaster strikes a community, it makes sense for local officials to organize the response, with federal backup when needed. A national disaster needs a nationally organized response. With COVID-19, this has not happened. President Donald Trump walked away, saying “I’m not responsible.” Instead, we have had a mishmash of proclamations, mandates, rules and suggestions, some in conflict with others and frequently not following the advice of senior health experts.

Consequently, we now have more than 2.5 million known cases. There are at least 126,000 deaths, growing daily by 600 to 700. At least 600 of these deaths were health professionals, some caused by an extreme lack of personal protective equipment, especially in the early stages. Because many people have continued to ignore instructions to reduce travel, maintain social distance, wear masks and avoid crowds, state and cities are having to backtrack on reopening places where people gather.

We are still discovering the extent of the long-term damage this virus can cause in some people. There has been a drastic reduction in the number of people arriving at emergency rooms with heart attacks and strokes; people are still having them, they are not being treated and many will die, indirectly adding to the overall death rate.

We need to increase testing by a factor of 10, the tests must be more reliable, increase contact tracing with quarantines and reopen in accordance with good health data, not on a political whim. This is a long-term situation; we have to make some permanent changes. The rest of the world is stunned by the incompetence that the richest nation on Earth, with the most expensive health system, has shown in dealing with this crisis.

— Peter Jenkins

Eagle River

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Letter: Indirect messaging

Mon, 2020-07-06 10:00

I have been writing to our congressional delegation for months asking them to put their country ahead of their jobs, but you have done very little — Sen. Lisa Murkowski — or nothing — Sen. Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young, if he’s still out there. I read that they may read the newspaper more than they read their emails, so I am writing to the Anchorage Daily News.

Most Americans know President Donald Trump repeatedly lies; he only talks about how wonderful he is rather than providing positive solutions for America’s challenges. Today’s polls show he is a loser, not a winner, and now he is taking Republicans down with him.

Maybe now that he is a risk to our delegation’s valuable jobs rather than an asset, they will rebuke him instead of meekly burying their heads in the sand. Are they really going to stand by as he continues to attempt to tear this country apart and ruin what is left of it?

— David Irons

Anchorage

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No serious injuries when floatplane crashes on Lake Spenard in Anchorage

Mon, 2020-07-06 09:56

Two people were on board a Cessna 180 floatplane when it crashed into Lake Spenard and flipped Sunday morning, according to Ted Stevens International Airport Police and Fire.

The crash happened around 11 a.m., according to an online post from airport police. The two people in the plane were able to evacuate, and officers brought them to shore by boat, the post said.

Lake Spenard is linked to Lake Hood, where there is a major seaplane base.

[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]

Letter: Put on a mask

Mon, 2020-07-06 09:55

So now wearing a mask while in public spaces is controversial. Really? There are studies showing that transmission of the COVID-19 virus is significantly reduced when mask wearing is prevalent. Studies using both experimental and empirical evidence show the effectiveness of this simple act. Consider that the mask a surgeon wears isn’t necessarily of the N95 variety. She wears the mask not because she’s worried about the patient infecting her, she’s worried about microscopic droplets in her breath infecting the patient in her care. Would you allow her to operate on you if you knew she wasn’t going to take the precaution of wearing a mask?

But the psychology here is interesting. The non-maskers often talk of their rights being trampled on if they’re required to wear a mask. Remember when laws dictating the wearing of a shoulder and lap restraints when driving were controversial? Now how many feel safe if they haven’t buckled up? These laws have saved tens of thousands of lives, perhaps yours or a loved one’s.

Consider the “No shirt, no shoes, no service” signs that are prevalent in the windows of businesses in warm coastal communities. Are there protests over this requirement? Not that I’m aware of, and any health risks associated with patronizing a business bare-chested or free of flip-flops pales in comparison to the potential danger unmasked customers pose to their fellow customers.

So what if our infection numbers begin to rise as they are in Florida, Texas, Arizona, Missouri, and Oklahoma — to name the states where the infection rate rises are most prevalent — and a new crackdown on venturing out is implemented? It will need to be far more onerous than what we experienced in March and April, because the virus will be much more widespread. If you think businesses are suffering now, just allow the infection rate to begin rising significantly. The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure,” couldn’t be more relevant than it is today when it comes to whether or not to wear a mask.

— Mark Lovegreen

Anchorage

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Letter: Enforce policies

Mon, 2020-07-06 09:51

On the front page of the June 25 paper, the caption beneath the photo said, “Everyone entering the Assembly Chambers was required to wear a mask, complete a contact tracing log, and have a forehead temperature check.” Then, on page A6, most of the people pictured inside the Chambers were not wearing masks. Did they remove their masks after entering?

Even President Jair Bolsonaro was ordered by a Brazilian federal judge to wear a mask in public, with a fine for each infraction. There should be ways of enforcing these common-sense policies.

— Jeannette Rice

Kasilof

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