Alaska News

Subscribe to Alaska News feed
Alaska Dispatch News News Feed
Updated: 1 hour 32 min ago

Alaskana recipe: Village-style doughnuts

Thu, 2018-10-11 12:56

Sunshine doughnut, adapted from the King Cove Women’s Club cookbook published in 1978. (Julia O’Malley/ADN)

In 2015, when I was just starting out my reporting on subsistence food and climate change, I decided to make a trip to Point Hope to attend the whaling feast. I thought I'd set up a place to stay, but then it fell through at the last minute. And I had to get on the plane anyway. And I'll never forget landing, getting out of the plane on a foggy runway, and realizing I had no idea how I was going to get to town from the airport.

But soon someone offered me a ride. And then, soon after that, Aanauraq Lane, or "Aana," adopted me and the photographer I was traveling with, found us a place to stay and invited us in to help her make doughnuts. I spent most of the rest of the trip in kitchens, making doughnuts and then helping with akutuq or akutuuq, and I learned that one way into the history and culture of a small community is through the kitchen.

Aanauraq Lillian Lane Johnson makes doughnuts on a Sunday morning in advance of the whaling feast in Point Hope in 2015. (Julia O’Malley/ADN)

After that, I started to keep track of the places where I encountered doughnuts as I traveled across the Arctic region. Flour, sugar and oil came to Alaska Native communities with contact. Doughnuts and fry bread were then adopted and adapted as Alaska Native traditional foods. They aren't all that healthy, but they are what celebrations taste like. The smell of them frying takes me back to many a village gym gathering.

One of the things I like about the many recipes that I've found in historic cookbooks and been given by readers on Facebook is that they are always for A LOT of doughnuts, like 80 or 100, because they are never made for one family alone, but instead as something to share with a community, which is a core subsistence value. The doughnuts are also an entrepreneurial opportunity in places with no bakery, where bakers are known to advertise on Facebook when they have a fresh batch.

Muktuk, Cool Whip akutuq or akutuuq, and doughnuts on a table in Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. (Julia O’Malley/ADN)

The hardest part about the recipe is getting the frying right. Doughnut-making is so second-nature to the people who write most of the recipes that there is usually no detail about how to fry. For novices, it's made much easier if you use a candy thermometer. If the doughnuts are getting brown on the outside super quickly, like within 20 seconds, your oil is too hot. Alternately, if they don't get pretty close to done on one side after a minute, your oil isn't at temperature. (I burned many in the process of making mine without a thermometer.) Oh, and if you're a newbie, don't forget to put the fan on high and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Chopsticks, which I first saw being used to fry doughnuts in Adak, are great for fishing them out of the oil.

Doughnut served at a whaling feast in Point Hope with a plate of mikigaq, or fermented bowhead. (Julia O’Malley/ADN)

Sunshine Doughnuts

(adapted from King Cove Women's Club "Our Favorite Recipes" 1978)

Makes 40 doughnuts

1/2 teaspoon
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
2 1/2 cup flour plus extra for kneading
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten until stiff
Zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
About 48 ounces of oil, preferably peanut or vegetable

Optional: Sugar and cinnamon

Equipment: Doughnut cutter, candy thermometer

In a large bowl, dissolve salt and sugar in hot water and milk. Sprinkle yeast over the mixture and allow to dissolve. Pour into a standing mixer with a paddle attachment.  With mixer at medium speed, add flour slowly and allow to combine until thoroughly mixed. Pour in butter, eggs and lemon zest. Scrape dough out onto a floured surface and knead, adding a little additional flour, until the dough ball is firm and only slightly sticky. Allow it to rise in a warm place for two hours. Gently roll dough on a floured surface and cut into desired shapes. Allow to rise for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large Dutch oven or heavy pot about a third of the way with oil. Heat it over medium heat to approximately 365 degrees. Fry the doughnuts roughly 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden, turning with tongs or chopsticks and then, if desired, immediately roll in cinnamon and sugar.

U.S. stock losses deepen on tail of global selloff

Thu, 2018-10-11 12:53

U.S. stocks tumbled a second day, with major averages notching wild swings in heavy volume. Treasuries surged after a strong 30-year auction, the dollar fell with oil, and gold, that traditional safe haven, posted its biggest gain in more than two years.

The S&P 500 Index fell more than 2 percent for a second straight day and is now in its longest slide since 2016. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 500 points. Tech shares that bore the brunt of the selling Wednesday fared relatively better Thursday, though the Nasdaq 100 Index's losses from an August record reached 8 percent.

"All of a sudden, you got that severe downturn because the results of the 30-year note auction were better than expected and people said 'We're going to shift now,"' said Donald Selkin, chief market strategist at Newbridge Securities. "It was asset allocation, it was a plunge. That's unusual. That's not a normal rate of decline. That's an accelerated rate of decline. It was an algorithm on the asset allocation because it took place after the bond auction which was better than expected."

The S&P 500 is at a three-month low after a 6 percent slide in what's the longest slump of Donald Trump's presidency. Energy shares bore the brunt of selling after oil plunged by more than 3 percent. Financial firms also contributed heavily to the losses, with banks and insurers down at least 2.5 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 surrendered an earlier rally and added to its 4.4 percent decline on Wednesday. Trading was heavy with volume surging roughly 65 percent above average for this time over the past 30 days.

"This is just a normal run-of-the-mill correction that happens to be concentrated in some of the more expensive and most notable names in technology," said Jamie Cox, managing partner at Harris Financial Group. "But I think it's been precipitated by the uncertainty about global growth and whether or not Fed policy is going too far too fast."

In addition to energy, insurers and household products manufacturers weighed on the market, while media companies and software makers were among the few bright spots. The Cboe Volatility Index rose to its highest level since February.

"Volatility is back and it may require more active strategies on the part of investors to pursue their long-term goals," John Lynch, chief investment strategist for LPL Financial, wrote in a note to clients Thursday. "Volatility is also not to be feared, but embraced, as varying data points will cause bouts of market anxiety. But remember that fundamentals are still strong."

Earlier, Asian and European equities plunged as the market rout extended around the world. China's Shanghai Composite gauge closed down more than 5 percent and Taiwan's technology-heavy benchmark plummeted more than 6 percent. Europe's main equity index fell to the lowest since December 2016. The euro and the pound both advanced.

Investors seeking to pinpoint the cause of the equities rout have no shortage of culprits to choose from. U.S companies are increasingly fretting the impact of the burgeoning trade war, while the same issue prompted the International Monetary Fund to dial down global growth expectations. And in the tech sector, which was a key driver of the rally that pushed American equities to a record just a month ago, expensive-looking companies have been roiled by a hacking scandal.

Against this backdrop, the Federal Reserve has been trimming its balance sheet and raising interest rates, provoking Trump's ire and helping to force a repricing of riskier assets.

Elsewhere, West Texas Intermediate crude tumbled below $71 a barrel amid a broad decline in commodities as OPEC cut estimates for demand. Precious metals gained with gold. A Bloomberg index of cryptocurrencies dropped 10 percent.


- The S&P 500 fell 2.1 percent as of 4 p.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 2.1 percent, while the Nasdaq 100 slid 1.1 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index sank 2 percent to the lowest since December 2016. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index plunged 3.3 percent to the lowest since May 2017. The MSCI Emerging Market Index dropped 3.1 percent to the lowest since April 2017 on the biggest decline in more than two years.


- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.5 percent. The euro increased 0.6 percent to $1.1586. The British pound added 0.2 percent to $1.3219. The Japanese yen rose 0.2 percent to 112.06 per dollar.

- Bonds:

The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined three basis points to 3.13 percent. Germany's 10-year yield decreased three basis points to 0.517 percent. Britain's 10-year yield dipped five basis points to 1.674 percent.

- Commodities:

The Bloomberg Commodity Index declined 0.6 percent. West Texas Intermediate crude decreased 3.5 percent to $70.58 a barrel. Gold rose 2.6 percent to $1,225.28 an ounce, its biggest gain since June 2016.

- - -

Bloomberg’s Carolyn Wright, David Ingles, Andreea Papuc, Adam Haigh and Samuel Potter contributed.

Air Force fighter with landing gear trouble lands safely at JBER

Thu, 2018-10-11 12:46

A F-22 Raptor takes off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage on June 23, 2015. (Bill Roth / ADN)

The Air Force says a landing gear malfunction likely was the cause of an emergency landing of an F-22 Raptor fighter jet Wednesday at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

The pilot was not injured.

Air Force spokeswoman Erin Eaton says the base launched in investigation after the emergency landing. A preliminary review pointed to the landing gear problem, the Air Force said Thursday afternoon.

The F-22 is a twin-engine, single-seat fighter produced by Lockheed Martin.

Two Raptors were scrambled last month to intercept and monitor Russian bombers in international air space west of mainland Alaska.

Photos: Bull moose are in their prime and ready for the rut in Kincaid Park

Thu, 2018-10-11 12:08

A bull moose trailed a cow and her calf through Kincaid Park in West Anchorage.

With the rut in full swing, bulls are staking out prospective mates and fighting off rivals. This time of year, bulls can be more aggressive than in the summer.

While the trio was bedded down, another cow moose wandered through, and a third cow and her calf also browsed the area.

Facebook purged over 800 accounts and pages pushing political messages for profit

Thu, 2018-10-11 11:27

SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook said on Thursday it has purged more than 800 U.S publishers and accounts for flooding users with politically oriented content that violated the company's spam policies, a move that could reignite accusations of political censorship.

The accounts and pages, with names like Reasonable People Unite and Reverb Press, were likely domestic actors using clickbait headlines and other spammy tactics to drive users to websites where they could target them with ads, the company said. Some had hundreds of thousands of followers and expressed a range of political viewpoints, including a page which billed itself as "the first publication to endorse President Donald J. Trump." They did not appear to have ties to Russia, company officials said.

Facebook said it was not removing the publishers and accounts because of the type of content they posted, but because of the behaviors they engaged in, including spamming Facebook groups with identical pieces of content and using fake profiles.

"Today, we're removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior," the company said in a blog post. "People will only share on Facebook if they feel safe and trust the connections they make here."

But the move to target American politically-oriented sites, just weeks before the Congressional midterms, is sure to be a flashpoint for political groups and their allies, who are already attacking the tech giant for political bias and for arbitrary censorship of political content.

Ever since Russian operatives used Facebook to target American voters ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook has been under immense pressure to crack down on content that could disrupt the democratic process in the U.S. But the challenge of policing domestic content is even thornier than going after foreign interference because it harder to define what constitutes legitimate political expression. By removing the groups entirely, Facebook is effectively saying that they will not have an opportunity to redeem themselves.

One of the pages - "Nation In Distress" - pitched itself as the "first online publication to endorse President Donald J Trump." Founded in 2012, it had amassed more than 3.2 million likes and over 3 million followers, according to Washington Post review on Thursday. In recent posts and photos, it had criticized journalists for failing to report on Trump's approach to China and shared a link to a story that had called Rep. Maxine Waters "demented." The page affiliated itself with a website called "America's Freedom Fighters," which appeared to post its own content and duplicate press releases written by others about violent crimes and gun rights - all alongside a sidebar of ads.

Another page, Reverb Press, had over 700,000 followers. Posts attacked President Trump and referred to Republicans as “cheating scumbags.” A third left-leaning page, Reasonable People Unite, posted a screenshot from a Twitter user who said, “Somewhere in America, a teenage girl is listening to her parents defend Brett Kavanaugh and she is thinking to herself, if something like that happens to me, I have nowhere to go.”

Coming up: Howl for ‘Wolf Day’ at the zoo or howl with laughter at weekend comedy acts

Thu, 2018-10-11 11:18

Alaska Zoo education director Stephanie Hartman pets 10-year-old Alaska gray wolf Denali on Oct. 5, 2016. The Alaska Zoo will celebrate its annual Wolf Day on Saturday between noon and 4 p.m. where visitors will have the opportunity to get close and learn about wolves. (Bill Roth / ADN archive)

Wolf Day — Get ready to howl for the Alaska Zoo’s annual Wolf Day. The event educates visitors about Alaska’s wolves as they meet the zoo’s gray wolf pack. After that, visitors can also participate in a wolf-themed scavenger hunt, a canine tough table, wolf story time, kids crafts and a howling contest. The Alaska Zoo will also have other education stations that explain the wolf family structure and diet. Noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, Alaska Zoo, 4731 O’Malley Road. (

Vusi Mahlasela — "The Voice" of South Africa, Vusi Mahlasela will share his music in Anchorage this weekend. His music was born during the struggle of apartheid, and his music has been prominent at political celebrations like Nelson Mandela's presidential inauguration in 1994. Mahlasela has shared the stage with music legends as well as political legends, and he's performed alongside the Dave Matthews Band, Sting and Josh Groban. $40.25-$56. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, Discovery Theatre, 621 W. Sixth Ave. (

Tig Notaro  — This comedian pokes fun at life's awkward and absurd moments and makes them something to laugh about. Tig Notaro was named as one of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time by Rolling Stone and has performed on late-night talk shows and "This American Life." The comic also created the Amazon series "One Mississippi," and his style of comedy is perfect for fans of dry humor. $43.75-$66. 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, Discovery Theatre, 621 W. Sixth Ave. (

Comedian Eliot Chang — Chang has performed his stand-up performances on Comedy Central, E!'s "Chelsea Lately" and Showtime. Chang is originally from New York City but he brings his comedy all over the world and shares his upbeat tone and positive energy. 18 and older. $20. 7 p.m and 9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, Hard Rock Cafe 415 E. St. (

First Annual Alaska Native Book Fair — This inaugural event celebrates more than 20 Alaska Native authors and illustrators and allows members of the public to hear from publishers and writers as well as purchase featured works. Several panel topics will include discussions on how to write for children, how to tell a story and how to get published. Participating Alaska Native authors include Phyllis Adams author of "The Gingerbread Moose" and "A Mother's Tears for a Missing Son" author Dolly Hills. 1-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, ANTHC Consortium Office Building, 4000 Ambassador Dr. (

Anchorage Concert Chorus strives to tell Alaska stories as we’ve rarely heard them before

Thu, 2018-10-11 11:05

The Anchorage Concert Chorus tour chorus performs in Pordenone, Italy, during a tour of the country in 2018. (Photo by Cindy Crewdson)

When Roland Rydstrom and Grant Cochran sat down to chart the course for the 2018-19 season of the Anchorage Concert Choir, they identified a few targets.

They wanted to develop an opening program that would be present, ambitious and most importantly, uniquely Alaskan.

With "One Voice: Music and Stories of Alaska," they believe they've hit all those touchstones.

The show, which opens Sunday, includes composer Emerson Eads' Fairbanks Four rumination "Mass for the Oppressed," a collaborative performance with Yup'ik group Pamyua and a commissioned piece based on John Muir's "Travels in Alaska."

"We did set out to do some stuff that's beautiful and important music and also relevant," said Rydstrom, the ACC executive director. "We wanted to look at some things we wouldn't normally look to program and focusing on Alaska was a priority."

Cochran, the ACC conductor and artistic director, knew Eads — but not as a composer.

"I started thinking of Alaska composers and I'd worked with a young man named Emerson Eads with the Anchorage Opera," Cochran said. "He was singing tenor. In my mind, Emerson was a singer from Fairbanks. I knew he'd done some conducting up there but I didn't know he was a composer. I listened to it on YouTube and got really excited about it."

Eads was completing a graduate degree at Notre Dame when he started work on the piece.

Emerson Eads (Courtesy Emerson Eads)

"Having been in Fairbanks, I'd been baptized by all the news about the Fairbanks Four," Eads said. "They had been put in prison the year I graduated from high school so we're about the same age. I was at Notre Dame my first year in grad school when they were released. I wrote the last movement immediately within a few days. It was written with a real irony with joy of their release but that awful realization things are not as they should be. Here I am finishing my degree at a great university and these guys are getting out after spending 18 years in prison wrongfully."

The text of the traditional Latin mass is based on diary entries from Pope Francis along as well as writings of Emerson's brother, Evan Eads.

The piece, which debuted at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival in July 2016, is unique from other masses in that it emphasizes four soloists who break out from the whole choir.

And while there is a heavy social theme to the mass, Eads believes there is also a more unifying message.

"There's a political aspect to the piece," he said. "There are people who still believe they're guilty.

"There are a lot of political ramifications around the piece, people really connected to the emotional arc and the message of the piece. Instead of getting hung up on the politics of the actual issues of the Fairbanks Four, more broadly addressing what it's like to be oppressed."

Cochran's graduate school connection to composer Eric Banks helped generate the work based on Muir's writings.

"To Have Been There Before," based on Muir's "Travels in Alaska," was commissioned by ACC with funding from the Atwood Foundation.

Eric Banks (Courtesy Eric Banks)

Banks' approach used some intricate processes.

He used Muir's words on a single pitch as sort of a chant, with the orchestral music swirling around to mimic the natural landscape Muir encountered.

"It's truly about the environment around the words," he said.

The performance will include up to 150 singers, which at some points will be split into three groups. Those three groups will be split into four parts for a maximum of 12 voice parts.

He superimposed those voices over a color wheel and the circle of fifths, using matching tonal locations when Muir describes the colors he sees.

"A lot of the composition is around colors," Banks said. "He goes into a forest and talks about layers of moss growing on the trees and in the forest, and it's all yellow. When he's in the Alexander Archipelago, there's a lot of green. He writes about a crimson sunrise."

A portion of the music will be sung in Tlingit, which made for some interesting translations along the color wheel, according to Banks. For instance, there is no Tlingit word for purple, he said, so they described the color as "blueberry juice."

The 11-chapter composition was delivered in three installments, which presented some challenges for Cochran and the singers.

"(With most pieces) there's a familiarity with the melody and the harmony," he said. "This is beyond anything we've ever done. Not knowing what to expect was really the single greatest challenge I faced getting things ready. There is probably more text per minute than in any other concert I've prepared."

To complete the opening program, Rydstrom and Cochran added Pamyua, an Inuit group formed over 20 years ago by brothers Phillip and Stephen Blanchett. Pamyua will perform some original material before teaming with the chorus and orchestra.

Pamyua (Photo courtesy Pamyua)

"It really is all about connecting with our heritage and having the group really embrace where we are and take advantage of the performers whose culture comes from the land," Cochran said.

Our Voice: Music and Stories of Alaska
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14
Atwood Concert Hall
Tickets: $32-$48

Troopers: Napakiak tribal officer arrested for sexually abusing minor

Thu, 2018-10-11 10:48

The tribal police officer in a Kuskokwim River village near Bethel has been arrested for sexually abusing a minor.

The arrest was part of another investigation into a sexual assault on the job, Alaska State Troopers said.

The agency's Violent Offenders Unit on Monday arrested 22-year-old Napakiak tribal police officer William Smith for second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, according to a troopers dispatch Thursday.

The arrest was made during a separate investigation into charges Smith sexually assaulted a woman in his care for protective custody at the public safety office, troopers said. They described that as unrelated to the sex abuse case.

An investigation continues, and more charges are to follow, troopers said.

A man who answered the phone Thursday at the village tribal offices said, "No comment. Sorry," when asked about the arrest.

The village's tribal government never submitted Smith's name to the Alaska Police Standards Council as required by notification laws, Alaska Department of Public Safety spokesman Jonathon Taylor said Thursday.

A rarely followed state regulation says village and tribal governments are supposed to notify the council within 30 days of a new police hire.

A background check is performed to make sure the officer doesn't have any felony convictions in the past 10 years. Then, within a year of hire, the officer must complete 48 hours of training to be certified by the state.

Village police officers can be hired when they're 19, while village public safety officers and police officers generally must be 21. They also receive less training and aren't necessarily disqualified by prior convictions for misdemeanor-level domestic violence or drug use convictions.

Napakiak is about 10 miles downriver from Bethel and has roughly 350 residents.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

Satisfy your cravings with this DIY In-N-Out burger, ‘animal-style’

Thu, 2018-10-11 10:07

Make-it-yourself In-N-Out burger, animal style. (Maya Wilson / Alaska From Scratch)

I grew up in the land of In-N-Out Burger. My early years were spent in Southern California, the birthplace of the iconic burger joint (founded in Baldwin Park, California, in 1948). The big yellow arrow with classic red lettering was as familiar to me in my childhood as the golden arches at McDonald's. The logo has never changed. The menu, too, has remained constant throughout the decades — hamburger, cheeseburger, double double. Milkshakes, hand-cut fries. The food is fresh, simple and inexpensive. Always consistent in flavor and quality.

By high school, when I lived in Northern California and the chain wasn't as widespread as it is today, I would drive eight or nine hours down the entire length of the state of California to stop at the first In-N-Out Burger in my path and sink my teeth into a cheeseburger (I was never there for the fries). My friends and I all had multiple In-N-Out Burger T-shirts we would wear as pajama shirts every night, cult followers to the core.

My order has been the same since high school: cheeseburger, animal style. "Animal style" is a not-so-secret off-menu customization that means grilled onions, extra sauce, and some sort of magical mustard pizzazz, described on the In-N-Out website as "mustard cooked beef patty." Here in Alaska, where it would require a passport and days of driving to get to the nearest In-N-Out Burger, I often try to replicate this nostalgic favorite at home. I come close, just close enough to touch the food memories of my youth and leaving me longing for more.

Cheeseburgers Animal Style
Serves 2

For the special sauce:
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar

For the onions:
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the burgers:
1/2 pound ground beef, formed into two 1/4-pound patties
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 slices American cheese
8 dill pickle chips
1 tomato, thickly sliced
iceberg lettuce leaves, torn into bun-size pieces
hamburger buns (no seeds), toasted

To make the special sauce: Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside (or cover and refrigerate until ready to use).

To make the onions: Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan and add the onions. Season generously with salt. Cook, stirring and tossing often, adding small amounts of water (1 tablespoon at a time) whenever onions appear to be dried out (you'll need to add water several times). Cook 10-15 minutes until onions are very soft and browned. Set aside.

To make the burgers: Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Toast the interior of the buns. Place the toasted buns into a 200-degree oven to keep warm. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the patties with salt and pepper and add them to the hot pan. While they cook on the first side, spread 1 tablespoon of mustard onto the raw sides of the patties. Flip. Place a cheese slice on each patty. Remove patties from pan when cheese is well melted and burgers are cooked through.

To assemble the burgers:

On the bottom bun, spread a generous amount of the sauce. Top with 4 pickle chips followed by tomato and lettuce, then patty. Place the grilled onions directly on top of the cheese. Complete with the top bun and serve.

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats.

Melania Trump says she doesn’t trust some people working in the White House.

Thu, 2018-10-11 10:02

First lady Melania Trump pauses for photographs as she visits the historical site of the Giza Pyramids in Giza, near Cairo, Egypt. Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. First lady Melania Trump is visiting Africa on her first big solo international trip. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (Carolyn Kaster/)

WASHINGTON - First lady Melania Trump said in an interview broadcast Thursday that there have been people in her husband’s White House whom she doesn’t trust, including some who still work there, and that she considers herself one of the most bullied people in the world.

During the interview with ABC News, conducted during her recent solo trip to Africa, Trump was asked by interviewer Tom Llamas whether the president has had people working for him she didn't trust.

"Yes," she replied, adding that she has let her husband know.

"Some people, they don't work there anymore," the first lady said.

Asked whether there are still people in the administration she cannot trust, Trump said yes.

"It's harder to govern," the first lady said. "You always need to watch your back."

Her comments come in the wake of an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times last month claiming that there is a “resistance” within the Trump administration. The Times said the piece was written by a senior administration official, whose identity has not become public.

Asked about his wife's assertions during an interview Thursday on Fox News Channel, President Donald Trump blamed being a newcomer to Washington for some of his picks and said he is happier with his team now.

"Are there some I'm not in love with? Yes, and we'll weed them out," he added.

During the ABC interview, Llamas asked Melania Trump whether she has the most control over her husband's decisions of those in the White House.

"Oh, I wish," she said, laughing.

"I give him my honest advice and honest opinions, and then he does what he wants to do," Trump said.

During the interview, Trump also discussed her child-welfare initiative, Be Best, which includes a focus on combating cyberbullying.

"I could say I'm the most bullied person on the world," she said.

Pressed on that assertion, she added: "One of them, if you really see what people are saying about me."

"That's why my Be Best initiative focuses on social media and online behavior," Trump added. "We need to educate the children of social, emotional behavior, so when they grow up and they know how to deal with those issues."

Asked for examples of the first lady being bullied, spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham pointed to comments her boss has received in response to Twitter posts.

Since her arrival at the White House, Trump’s appearance and clothing choices have been heavily scrutinized and her accent has been the source of jokes, including by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. Her Be Best initiative also has been the target of heavy online criticism.

Steep drop in Alaska workers’ compensation rates to save employers $35 million, state says

Thu, 2018-10-11 09:49

Come 2019, Alaska workers' compensation insurance rates are expected to fall the most in 40 years, according to state managers.

Gov. Bill Walker's office announced Oct. 4 that workers' compensation insurance premiums should decrease an average of 17.5 percent statewide starting in January and worker's compensation voluntary loss costs similarly could drop 14.8 percent.

The proposed rate decreases for 2019 follow a 5.4 percent average rate decrease this year from 2017 and workers' compensation premiums are down roughly 25 percent since 2015, according to the governor's office.

Workers' Compensation Director Marie Marx said the reductions should save employers an estimated $35 million or so statewide.

State officials are attributing the favorable trend to fewer claims and medical cost reductions.

"These proposed rate reductions are welcome news for Alaska businesses — lower workers' compensation costs reduce the burden on the small businesses that strengthen our economy," Walker said in a formal statement. "Thank you to the Alaska state Legislature and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development for their work on payment reform, contributing to significant rate reductions for 2019."

The rates are proposed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance and subsequently reviewed and approved by the state Division of Insurance.

Marx said employers of oil and gas pipeline workers would see some of the most significant reductions at more than 26 percent versus current rates, while rates could drop for clerical workers — typically with fewer on-the-job dangers — in the 9 percent range if the proposals are approved. Automobile technicians should see rate reductions of about 13 percent, for example, she added.

Following approval by the Legislature in 2014, the Alaska Workers' Compensation Board approved new practices and fee structures for paying medical providers for procedures paid for through workers' compensation insurance in October 2015.

The fee structure changes put provider reimbursement rates more in-line with general group health insurance rates, according to Marx. It replaced a system of paying medical service providers at the 90th percentile of "usual and customary" fees in a given region.

Alaska was the 33rd state to adopt the new payment system, Marx said at the time. At the time, Alaska also had the highest workers' compensation rates in the nation, state officials said.

"Alaska has some of the highest medical, if not the highest, medical costs in the country and workers' compensation was right at the top and we're bringing it down with the reform over a number of years," Marx said in an interview.

Alaska Chamber CEO Curtis Thayer noted that the reimbursement rate revisions were based on Medicaid guidelines. He said that it's correct rates are going down — a very good thing — but stressed the credit should go to employers and their workers for not needing to file as many claims as in years past.

"It's just the fact that our employers are providing a safer working environment," Thayer said.

Reforming the state's workers' compensation program has been a major policy initiative of the Alaska Chamber for several years.

Last session the Legislature also took on other aspects of the workers' compensation system when it passed the governor's House Bill 79, which Walker signed in August. Among other things, the legislation clarified who is an independent contractor and who needs to be covered by workers' compensation insurance and eased the process for obtaining workers' compensation exemptions, reporting data and making payments.

Thayer said HB 79 "brought Alaska into the 21st century" but did nothing to address premiums.

He said the Chamber will continue advocating for caps on legal fees for workers' compensation cases and other changes, such as treatment guidelines.

"There's a lot of work that's been done but a lot of work that still needs to be done," Thayer said.

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at

Permitting to start on Ambler copper prospect early next year

Thu, 2018-10-11 09:45

Trilogy Metals Inc., formerly NovaCopper, is moving toward engineering and permitting at the Arctic deposit in Northwest Alaska. (Photo courtesy Trilogy Metals Inc.)

More than 60 years after it was initially prospected, Trilogy Metals is almost ready to apply for the major environmental permits it will need for the first project in one of Alaska's premier areas with mining potential.

Trilogy Metals Inc. CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse said Oct. 4 that the company has started pre-permitting work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its Arctic copper, zinc and precious metals prospect in advance of an environmental impact statement that should be initiated in the first half of 2019.

The Clean Water Act Section 404 wetlands fill permit from the Corps — large enough to trigger an EIS — is likely the only federal permit the mine will need, Van Nieuwenhuyse said, noting the Environmental Protection Agency has oversight of the water and air quality permits issued by the State of Alaska.

The Arctic prospect is roughly in the middle of the extensive Ambler mining district. Stretching for about 75 miles along the southern flank of the Brooks Range, there are more than 30 known metal deposits in the district, but its remoteness has precluded significant development.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority is leading development of a 211-mile industrial road to access the mining district. The Bureau of Land Management is writing a separate EIS for the road and the first draft of that document is expected in March 2019, with a final EIS following late next year, based on the current schedule.

"This project is in the middle of nowhere and this road has been studied, discussed, many, many, many times," Van Nieuwenhuyse said.

The road project, which is separate from Trilogy's mine work, has drawn stiff opposition from residents of the area and environmental groups who are worried the project will disrupt caribou migrations, which Van Nieuwenhuyse acknowledges is the most significant subsistence food source in the region.

The proposed mines have also drawn scrutiny for potential impacts to salmon and whitefish runs in the Kobuk River drainage.

The National Park Service is also preparing an environmental and economic analysis that is also expected to be finished next spring.

AIDEA estimates constructing the most basic single-lane gravel road would cost between $305 and $346 million. It would be financed by the authority with bonds that would be paid back through tolls paid by Trilogy Metals and any other companies that would develop one of the other prospects in the Ambler mining district.

The plan is very similar to the Red Dog mine-DeLong Mountain Transportation System — also an AIDEA-owned and financed mine access road —in far Northwest Alaska that development proponents have cited as a model for other isolated resource prospects in the road-scarce state.

At its core, the Arctic prospect is about as good as undeveloped metal deposits come these days, according to Van Nieuwenhuyse. With just more than 43 million metric tons of probable reserves averaging 2.3 percent copper, 3.2 percent zinc and smaller amounts of lead, gold and silver, it's "about 10 times the average grade being mined in open pit copper mines today," he said.

"It's not a huge mine, but it produces metal above its weight class because of the grade — 160 million pounds of copper annually, 200 million pounds of zinc, 33 million pounds of lead, over 3 million ounces of silver and 30,000 ounces of gold."

Those numbers are based on a short, 12-year mine life. According a pre-feasibility study released in February, Arctic would generate costs of $911 million to build and operate over that time but with roughly $450 million in annual free cash flow would have just a 2-year payback.

"We don't need higher metal prices to make this thing work," Van Nieuwenhuyse said. "We just need a road."

The mill and other facilities at Arctic could also be used for Trilogy's other, larger but less explored Bornite copper and cobalt prospect about 20 miles to the southwest or other undeveloped prospects in the area, he added.

The company currently estimates Bornite contains upwards of 6 billion pounds of copper, a figure that could grow this coming winter when the results from this year's drilling campaign.

The last two years of exploration at Bornite have been funded by $10 million annual payments from the Australian mining company South 32, which, after a third payment, will have the option of investing another $150 million in the project and forming a 50-50 joint venture with Trilogy, according to Van Nieuwenhuyse.

Trilogy has spent $122 million exploring its Alaska prospects overall.

The company also has a partnership with NANA Regional Corp., the Northwest Alaska Native regional corporation, which owns land at Bornite. NANA can receive up to a 2.5 percent royalty on the ore concentrates produced from Trilogy's mines under the partnership, according to a company presentation.

Another open-pit prospect, Bornite holds about 125 million metric tons of reserves with about 1 percent copper, but there is potential for an underground mine with 58 million tons of 3 percent copper, he noted.

Bornite was also discovered in the 1950s by a prospector well known in mining circles named Riney Berg, according to Van Nieuwenhuyse, who offered a brief anecdote about his work.

"He was out there looking for uranium; he had worked at the Kennecott mine so he knew what copper minerals looked like, found some on the surface, did some trenching and got the Kennecott guys all excited. They eventually wrote him a check for $6 million," he said, noting the value of that much money roughly 60 years ago. "Riney, being a good prospector, spent it all on prospecting. There's probably a dozen different prospects in Northern Alaska that have his name on it."

Trilogy is also finishing up an study to see if ore sorting systems used by recycling companies can be applied in mining Arctic. The process uses sensors similar to magnetic resonance technology that "recognize what rocks have copper, silver, lead and what rocks don't," Van Nieuwenhuyse said. "If we could just mine the stuff we want we could get 3 percent copper, not 2 percent," he said.

The sorting process is proven to work, it's just not proven to be economic yet, he added.

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at

He promised to protect their pets during Hurricane Michael. Then the walls collapsed.

Thu, 2018-10-11 09:06

Dogs at the Pawaday Inn kennel and grooming all survived, even though the walls collapsed. Sadly, a cat drown when he was trapped in rising rain water behind a downed wall

— David Ovalle (@DavidOvalle305) October 10, 2018

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- For six years, Charles Burgess ran Pawaday Inn, building up a loyal customer base that brought him their beloved dogs and cats for grooming and boarding.

As Hurricane Michael approached, customers entrusted Burgess to care for their pets as they left town.

So Burgess holed up with 12 dogs, two cats and several employees in the squat concrete building building on East Sixth Street, figuring it was strong enough to endure whatever was coming. But Michael, whipping to the top of the Category 4 scale just before landfall near the Panhandle city, proved too powerful.

As the winds howled, much of the building collapsed around them. Burgess and his employees whisked the dogs into a small, stronger inner room holding the wash tub for dogs. Two of the animals escaped as sheets of driving rain lashed the building.

"We thought the building would hold up but it didn't," Burgess said. "The roof caved in. Then, the walls caved in."

[Hurricane Michael leaves a path of destruction across Florida Panhandle]

After midafternoon, as Michael moved deeper into the state and the sun peeked out from behind gray clouds, Burgess and his workers picked their way out of the tangle of concrete blocks, air-conditioning ducts and foam insulation. The remaining dogs barked in their cages, sopping wet but wagging their tails.

They were loaded into trucks and vans to head to Burgess' home but the rescue effort wasn't done.

"We got to go find the two that ran off," Burgess said.

"We got one," one of his employees said.

Then another employee, Brian Bon, emerged from behind the shattered building with a leashed bull terrier.

"That's Star," Burgess said. "We got you now, baby."

Star looked shell-shocked and confused, but sat down, her tail wagging slightly. They led her into a SUV, the last of the rescues.

There was one casualty. One of the caged felines, named Tomcat, got stuck behind rubble and drowned.

"When the wall caved in, it blocked us from getting to him and the water just kept coming in,"Burgess said.

Burgess shook his head.

He said: “I’ve got to start over. I had a good client base, but it’s hard finding a good decent building in this area.”

University of Michigan promises to discipline faculty in Israel boycott controversy

Thu, 2018-10-11 07:56

University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, Michigan (University of Michigan photo)

The University of Michigan this week promised “serious consequences” for instructors whose “personal views” cause them to withhold letters of recommendation, responding to mounting concern that protest against the Israeli state is harming students on the Ann Arbor, Michigan, campus.

The announcement follows two separate cases this fall in which a professor and a teaching assistant reneged on their commitments to provide references for undergraduates after learning that the students were applying to study abroad in Israel. The actions have turned the university into a site of contest over the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS.

"Withholding letters of recommendation based on personal views does not meet our university's expectations for supporting the academic aspirations of our students," Michigan's president, Mark S. Schlissel, and the provost, Martin A. Philbert, wrote in a letter to the university community, published online Tuesday. "Conduct that violates this expectation and harms students will not be tolerated and will be addressed with serious consequences. Such actions interfere with our students' opportunities, violate their academic freedom and betray our university's educational mission."

The university leaders said that each case is "being addressed with those involved through our existing policies" and that Michigan doesn't "share protected personnel information."

But an Oct. 3 letter obtained by the Michigan Daily spells out punitive measures directed against the professor, John Cheney-Lippold, who last month agreed to support a student’s application for a study-abroad program - until he learned that she was headed to Tel Aviv University.

A dean for Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts told Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor of internet and cultural studies, that he would not qualify for a salary increase for the 2018-'19 academic year, according to the campus newspaper, and that his eligibility for sabbatical leave would be frozen for two years. Further conduct of this nature, the dean wrote, would be subject to additional discipline, "up to and including initiation of dismissal proceedings."

"Faculty are not required to write letters for every student who requests them, and have discretion to decline for legitimate reasons such a lack of time, information about the student, and academic assessment," the dean, Elizabeth Cole, wrote. That discretion, though, "does not extend to withholding a letter because of your personal views regarding the student's place of study," she added, "and then using the student's request as a political platform to gain an audience for your own opinions, both in the media and in the classroom."

A second episode unfolded just last week, when a teaching assistant in a political theory course, Lucy Peterson, withheld a recommendation letter from a junior, Jake Secker, after learning that he planned to study abroad at Tel Aviv University.

When Secker identified his destination, she said she could no longer provide the reference, according to emails provided to The Washington Post.

"I'm so sorry that I didn't ask before agreeing to write your recommendation letter, but I regrettably will not be able to write on your behalf," she explained. "Along with numerous other academics in the US and elsewhere, I have pledged myself to a boycott of Israeli institutions as a way of showing solidarity with Palestine."

Secker, a native of Great Neck, New York, was able to obtain a letter from an associate dean instead, but he and his father weren't satisfied, telling The Post that Michigan was obligated to follow up on its apology with action. The student's father, Ed Secker, said the instructor should be disciplined. Peterson didn't respond to messages seeking comment, and a university spokesman declined to comment on details of the incident.

Both instructors were labeled anti-Semitic by critics - a charge that Cheney-Lippold vehemently denied in an interview with The Post. He defended his decision to withhold the letter, saying his protest didn't interfere with his teaching duties and was protected by his academic freedom.

"I can't prevent a student from going to Israel," Cheney-Lippold reasoned. "But everybody has the right to withhold something, and I chose to exercise that right based on what the movement needs from me as a solidarity activist."

Cheney-Lippold is a member of the American Studies Association, which voted in 2013 to endorse BDS. The movement seeks the end of Israeli occupation of "all Arab lands," the full equality of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and "the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194."

In their Tuesday letter, the president and provost underscored Michigan's opposition to the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. "Our view is that educators at a public university have an obligation to support students' academic growth, and we expect anyone with instructional responsibilities to honor this fundamental university value," they wrote.

A differing view was taken by more than 200 Michigan alumni, who have signed a letter of support for the instructors.

"We write to condemn the disciplinary actions the University plans to take, and to express our opposition to the University of Michigan's longstanding position on this issue, a position that puts it at odds with international law, the constitutionally protected right to boycott, and its own non-discrimination policy," the letter states.

The alumni argue that Israeli universities have been "directly complicit in the ongoing occupation through their development of military and surveillance technologies and through their regular violation of the academic freedoms of Palestinians living in Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in diaspora."

In response to revelations in The Post about a second denial of a recommendation letter, Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, warned in a statement of a "chilling effect on Jewish and pro-Israel students."

Adding to the pressure on the university has been outcry over images displayed last week by Emory Douglas, the minister of culture for the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and '70s, at a required lecture for University of Michigan art students. Slides in the presentation likened Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler and depicted pigs - a highly fraught animal for some Jews - drinking from bottles of money and holding wands with Jewish stars at the end, according to images posted on social media and provided to The Post.

The presentation drew rebuke from Israel's minister of education, Naftali Bennett, who this week addressed a letter to Michigan's president saying, "The time has come for you as head of the University to make a strong stand against what has clearly become a trend of vitriolic hatred against the Jewish state on your campus."

In their letter, the president and the provost apologized to students who were offended but defended the lecture as an exercise of free speech, also saying that Israel hadn't been singled out for criticism.

But a Michigan senior, Alexa Smith, said the response was insufficient.

"This is not thought-provoking. This is not educational. This is university-endorsed bigotry," she told The Post.

Cheney-Lippold, in an interview last month, said the controversy had been a useful teaching moment, as he had invited his students to disagree with him and ask him questions, turning the classroom into a safe environment to debate BDS and the Israel-Palestine conflict.


The Washington Post’s Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.

How will 9 billion or 10 billion people eat without destroying the environment?

Thu, 2018-10-11 07:43

Beef cattle at the Texana Feeders feedlot in Floresville, Texas. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg) (Daniel Acker/)

The human population has reached 7.6 billion and could number 9 billion or 10 billion by midcentury. All those people will need to eat. A sobering report published Wednesday in the journal Nature argues that a sustainable food system that doesn’t ravage the environment is going to require dramatic reforms - including a radical change in dietary habits.

To be specific: Cheeseburgers are out, fruits and veggies are in.

The 23 authors of the report - hailing from Europe, the United States, Australia and Lebanon - reviewed the many moving parts of the global food system and how they interact with the environment. The authors concluded that current methods of producing, distributing and consuming food are not environmentally sustainable, and that damage to the planet could make it less hospitable for human existence.

A core message from the researchers is that efforts to keep climate change at an acceptable level will not be successful without a huge reduction in meat consumption.

"Feeding humanity is possible. It's just a question of whether we can do it in an environmentally responsible way," said Johan Rockström, an earth scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and a coauthor of the study.

The report comes on the heels of a warning from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global leaders need to take unprecedented action in the next decade to keep the planet’s average temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Global warming has typically been linked to the burning of fossil fuels, but food production is a huge and underappreciated factor, and the new report seeks to place food in the center of the conversation about how humanity can create a sustainable future.

"Everybody knows that energy has something to do with climate - we need to transform our energy system. There's very few people who realize that it's just as, and maybe more, important to transform our food system," said Katherine Richardson, director of the Sustainable Science Center at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Richardson, who was not part of the team producing the new study, added, "The food system is broken and needs to be fixed if we have any hope of feeding 9 to 10 billion."

Already, half the planet's ice-free land surface is devoted to livestock or the growing of feed for those animals, Richardson said. That's an area equal to North and South America combined, she said. Rain forests are steadily being cleared for cropland. And the demand for food is increasing faster than the population: Rising income in China and many other formerly impoverished countries brings with it a higher demand for meat and other forms of animal protein. Some 70 percent of the world's fresh water is already used in agriculture, and the demand for that water will intensify.

The Nature report, titled "Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits," contends that, without targeted changes, pressures on various environmental systems will increase 50 to 90 percent by 2050 compared with 2010. There's no simple solution, the authors write; rather, "a synergistic combination of measures" will be needed to limit the environmental damage.

One obvious measure is a change in diets. Researchers say meat production - which includes growing food specifically to feed to livestock - is an environmentally inefficient way to generate calories for human consumption. Moreover, ruminants such as cows are prodigious producers of methane as they digest food, and methane is a potent greenhouse gas. The report says greenhouse-gas emissions from the global food system could be reduced significantly if people curb red-meat consumption and follow a diet built around fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.

To limit greenhouse-gas emissions, "We won't get very far if we don't seriously think about dietary changes to a more plant-based diet," said Marco Springmann, lead author of the report and a senior researcher at the Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food.

He said that what is good for the planet is good for the eater. For most people consuming a typical Western diet, eating less meat will generally mean better health.

Two representatives of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, asked to respond to the Nature report, said the U.S. beef industry is focused on improving the efficiency of beef production. The United States had 128 million head of cattle (including dairy cows) in 1976 and 94 million cattle as of this past January, yet it produces just as much beef today as it did in the 1970s, in part because of breeding efforts that boosted the growth rate of the livestock, said Sara Place, the Beef Association's senior director for research on sustainable beef production.

Ashley McDonald, senior director of sustainability for the association, said, "We're trying as an industry to take a proactive stance and really make a commitment to continuous improvement."

The report notes that the current food system is incredibly wasteful, with about one-third of the food produced eventually being discarded. Most of that food waste comes from spoilage. Halving the amount of wasted food would put a dent in the overall environmental problem, they said, and reducing waste by 75 percent is theoretically possible.

The report is agnostic on whether the world should adopt genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food supply. The report also does not take a position on population growth. Although birth rates have declined dramatically in many countries - to levels far below the replacement rate - the global population continues to rise. A 2015 U.N. report estimated that the population would reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

Decades ago, the prospect of so many human beings crowding the planet inspired predictions of widespread famine. The "green revolution" in agriculture changed the equations. Still, the food is not evenly distributed. About 3 billion people are malnourished today and 1 billion of them suffer from food scarcity, according to Rockström.

At the core of this research is the argument that Earth has several limits, the "planetary boundaries," that cannot be exceeded without potentially dire consequences. These boundaries - which involve factors such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, atmospheric aerosols (smog), stratosphere-ozone depletion and the supply of fresh water - define the "safe operating space" for humanity. Proponents of the hypothesis say that human civilization has thrived in the geological epoch known as the Holocene, covering a period of roughly 11,700 years since the end of the last ice age, but that damage to the environment could put humanity into an existential crisis.

"You can imagine a scenario in which contemporary society starts to unravel" because of degradation in the environment, said Will Steffen, an emeritus professor of Earth-system science at the Australian National University and a proponent of the planetary-boundaries hypothesis. "So it's a long fuse, big bang."

He noted a movement in Australia to promote the consumption of kangaroo meat, since kangaroos are not ruminants and don't have the same ecological footprint.

“It’s a gamier taste, but it’s also a much leaner meat. It takes more talent to cook it to make it easy to chew and digest,” he said, before quickly adding, “I don’t like the thought of the poor little guys getting shot.”