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In high-stakes primary, Dunleavy and Treadwell battle for GOP spot in three-way governor’s race

Wed, 2018-08-15 18:54

Mead Treadwell and Mike Dunleavy are Republican candidates for governor of Alaska, 2018. (Bob Hallinen / ADN archives)

In a primary election that could very well determine the next governor, Alaskans will head to the polls Tuesday to decide which of two Republican front-runners will advance to the November ballot.

One contender is Mead Treadwell, who lives in Anchorage and served as lieutenant governor under then-Gov. Sean Parnell. The other is Mike Dunleavy, of Wasilla, who served as a state senator.

For Alaska Republicans, this year is an opportunity to reclaim the state's top elected office, with the race on track to be a three-way fight. In red-state Alaska, some Democrats fear that incumbent Gov. Bill Walker — a Republican-turned-independent who teamed with a Democrat to defeat Parnell — will split votes with former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, handing the advantage to the Republican nominee.

Among the seven candidates in the Republican primary for governor, Dunleavy and Treadwell have emerged as the two main contenders, equipped with significant campaign donations and political experience.

[Early voting has started for Alaska's primary election. Here's what you need to know.]

Both candidates present themselves as pro-life conservatives. Dunleavy campaigns on a plan to "Make Alaska Safe Again." Treadwell blasts current state policy toward criminals as "catch and release."

In an interview this week, 62-year-old Treadwell said, if elected governor, his top priorities would include growing the state economy and "taking care of Alaska families." Dunleavy, 57, named public safety, educational outcomes and the state's fiscal issues as priorities.

Dunleavy has been in the running for governor since last year, resigning from the state Senate in January to focus on his campaign. Treadwell jumped into the race at the last minute, on June 1.

"(Dunleavy) got commitments from people early. Solidified his base," said Curtis Thayer, president of the Alaska Chamber who has long been active in Alaska Republican politics. "That's one thing Mead fights against, he did get late into the game, and people have made commitments."

Parnell, whom Treadwell served with as lieutenant governor, has endorsed Dunleavy. So has former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and organizations such as Alaska Family Action, a Christian conservative group.

Treadwell said this week he had not initially planned to run for governor, but his mind changed as he noticed other Republican campaigns weren't taking off, leaving Dunleavy without a well-funded challenger.

"This opportunity is too strong to leave to somebody who I believe the Democrats could make mincemeat of in the fall," he said.

Dunleavy and an independent expenditure group supporting his candidacy have raised and spent far more than Treadwell, according to reports filed Tuesday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

[Pro-Dunleavy super PAC says supporters have pledged more than $500,000 to boost gubernatorial bid]

By Aug. 11, Dunleavy had raised $311,330 over the course of his campaign and spent $290,676, according to a report filed with APOC.

Treadwell had raised $136,312 and spent $130,595.

Meanwhile, the independent expenditure group Dunleavy for Alaska had raised nearly $750,000, according to an APOC report. A big chunk of that money — more than $500,000 — was donated by two people: Dunleavy's brother, Francis, who lives in Texas, and Bob Penney, a developer and Alaska sportfishing advocate. An independent expenditure group that formed in support of Treadwell has raised a fraction of that amount, according to APOC reports.

Independent expenditure groups can collect unlimited donations from individuals and corporations under a legal framework set out in the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the groups are barred from coordinating with a candidate's campaign.

Given the lopsided fundraising race, Jerry McBeath, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said he expected Dunleavy would likely win the Republican primary.

"He's getting his message out," McBeath said.

Dunleavy said money helps in spreading a campaign's message, but added he doesn't think it can buy an election.

"I have a brother who cares about his brother, who thinks it would be kind of cool to help his brother win an election just like any family member would, whether they lived in state or out of state," he said.

Barring any last-minute attacks, the primary has been relatively uneventful, absent the bare-knuckle jabs that often emerge in statewide races.

James Muller, a political science professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, said it's not unusual for an election in August to seem quiet. Alaskans are still outside — fishing, gardening, enjoying summer. He anticipates that some voting in the Republican primary will decide who they'd prefer for governor right before Election Day.

Conservative voters who know they don't want Walker or Begich might still be undecided on the Republican nominee, in other words.

"Part of the reason for that is the two of them (Dunleavy and Treadwell) agree on a lot of things," Muller said.

Both candidates "seem to be fairly polite in criticizing the other," Muller added.

"I'd say that even though there has been mudslinging, there hasn't been to the extent that we've seen in the past," said Rebecca Logan, who is CEO of oil and gas group the Alaska Support Industry Alliance but spoke independent of her role there. "It's not anywhere near what we've seen before."

[The race is on: Why Begich and Treadwell are joining the crowded fight for governor]

She said Dunleavy and Treadwell are "similar in a lot of their ideas." McBeath said he also doesn't see any stark contrasts between the positions the two candidates have taken on campaign issues. Dunleavy seems slightly more aggressive about cutting the budget, he said, and they're both against cutting the Permanent Fund dividend, the annual payout Alaska residents get from the state's oil wealth fund.

McBeath believes many Alaskans are most concerned about how gubernatorial candidates will protect those PFD checks.

"Elections are often decided on real short-term issues," McBeath said. The PFD, he said, "is a money-in-the-pocket issue — so it's not the general state of the Alaska economy, it's how much money is coming into my pocket? Is it going to be reduced or increased?"

The main place where McBeath sees significant differences between the candidates is in their backgrounds.

Dunleavy has worked as a teacher, principal, superintendent and an education consultant. He also served as a school board member, and was elected to the state Senate in 2012.

Treadwell is a former chairman of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. In addition to serving with Parnell, he was deputy commissioner for the Department of Environmental Conservation under Gov. Wally Hickel in the early 1990s. He most recently worked at private equity firm PT Capital, where he was president.

[Treadwell says he's unbothered by Parnell's support of rival]

There are also five other candidates on the ballot in the Republican primary race for governor: Thomas Gordon, Gerald Heikes, Merica Hlatcu, Michael Sheldon, and Darin Colbry. But, so far, those candidates have raised little to no money and campaign-watchers do not see a potential spoiler among them.

"The reality is, money always makes a difference," said Ivan Moore, a longtime Alaska pollster and campaign consultant.

Polls open statewide at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Find your polling place here.

Dunleavy and Treadwell will face off in a debate on Thursday, Aug. 16, on KTVA Channel 11. The debate will be televised from 6 to 7 p.m. The debate will run longer online, where you can watch it from 6 until 7:30 p.m. at

Two UAA volleyball players named to GNAC preseason team

Wed, 2018-08-15 18:13

When this season's UAA volleyball team debuts Saturday with the annual alumni match, it really will pit the old against the new.

Coach Chris Green's youngest team since he took over 11 years ago will introduce itself to fans in the 7 p.m. match at the Alaska Airlines Center.

The 15-woman roster includes seven freshmen, four sophomores, one junior and three seniors. The seven freshmen are the most for a Green team, as are the combined total of 11 freshmen and sophomores.

But the Seawolves are by no means green.

Among those returning to the team are two seniors and one sophomore who netted major postseason awards in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Two of them Wednesday were named to the GNAC preseason team — Chrisalyn Johnson, a senior outside hitter from Anchorage, and Casey Davenport, a sophomore setter from Auburn, Washington.


Johnson, a powerful 5-foot-9, was a unanimous pick on the 14-player team. She was made the GNAC honorable mention team at the end of last season, during which she averaged 3.05 kills per set. She posted double-doubles in 11 of her final 15 matches last season.

Davenport took over as UAA's starting setter midway through last season and garnered Freshman of the Year honors in the GNAC.

Johnson is one of three seniors on the team. Tara Melton, a 6-foot senior middle blocker from Glendale, Arizona, joined the team last season as a transfer and earned the GNAC Newcomer of the Year award after averaging 1.46 kills per set.


Taylor Noga, a 5-9 defensive specialist from Anchorage, averaged 2.07 digs per set, is a strong server and is one of UAA's top players on serve-receive.

The only junior on the team is 6-1 middle blocker Vanessa Boyer (formerly Vanessa Hayes) of Salem, Oregon. Last season for the Seawolves she ranked third in kills per set with 1.65 and second in blocks per set .82

UAA is coming off a 19-11 season and its fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance. The Seawolves aren't ranked in the Division II preseason top 25, although they received votes in the poll.

Navy guided-missile destroyer visits Anchorage

Wed, 2018-08-15 17:45

The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer Momsen docked at the Port of Alaska on Wednesday. The ship's visit to Alaska coincided with the Arctic Maritime Symposium, a multi-agency discussion of the challenges and opportunities presented by Arctic maritime operations.

The USS Momsen will be docked at the port until Saturday and will host small community groups. There will not be any public tours.

The Momsen's crew of roughly 320 will be visiting Anchorage throughout the week, enjoying a few days of shore leave before the ship departs Saturday.

Not just land heat waves: Oceans are in hot water, too

Wed, 2018-08-15 16:32

WASHINGTON — Even the oceans are breaking temperature records in this summer of heat waves.

Off the San Diego coast, scientists earlier this month recorded all-time high seawater temperatures since daily measurements began in 1916.

"Just like we have heat waves on land, we also have heat waves in the ocean," said Art Miller of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Between 1982 and 2016, the number of "marine heat waves" roughly doubled, and likely will become more common and intense as the planet warms, a study released Wednesday found. Prolonged periods of extreme heat in the oceans can damage kelp forests and coral reefs, and harm fish and other marine life.

"This trend will only further accelerate with global warming," said Thomas Frolicher, a climate scientist at the University of Bern in Switzerland, who led the research.

His team defined marine heat waves as extreme events in which sea-surface temperatures exceeded the 99th percentile of measurements for a given location. Because oceans both absorb and release heat more slowly than air, most marine heat waves last for at least several days — and some for several weeks, said Frolicher.

"We knew that average temperatures were rising. What we haven't focused on before is that the rise in the average comes at you in clumps of very hot days — a shock of several days or weeks of very high temperatures," said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate scientist who was not involved in the study.

Many sea critters have evolved to survive within a fairly narrow band of temperatures compared to creatures on land, and even incremental warming can be disruptive.

[Fairbanks archaeologist finds surprising connection between prehistoric China and Alaska cultures]

Some free-swimming sea animals like bat rays or lobsters may shift their routines. But stationary organisms like coral reefs and kelp forests "are in real peril," said Michael Burrows, an ecologist at the Scottish Marine Institute, who was not part of the research.

In 2016 and 2017, persistent high ocean temperatures off eastern Australia killed off as much as half of the shallow water corals of the Great Barrier Reef — with significant consequences for other creatures dependent upon the reef.

"One in every four fish in the ocean lives in or around coral reefs," said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a marine biologist at the University of Queensland. "So much of the ocean's biodiversity depends upon a fairly small amount of the ocean floor."

The latest study in Nature relied on satellite data and other records of sea-surface temperatures including from ships and buoys.

It didn't include the recent record-breaking measurements off Scripps Pier in San Diego — which reached 79.5 degrees Fahrenheit on August 9 — but Frolicher and Miller said the event was an example of a marine heat wave.

Miller said he knew something was odd when he spotted a school of bat rays — which typically only congregate in pockets of warm water — swimming just off the pier earlier this month.

[On the menu for northern snowshoe hares: Dirt]

Changes in ocean circulation associated with warmer surface waters will likely mean decreased production of phytoplankton — the tiny organisms that form the basis of the marine food web, he said.

Marine biologists nicknamed a patch of persistent high temperatures in the Pacific Ocean between 2013 and 2016 "the Blob." During that period, decreased phytoplankton production led to a cascading lack of food for many species, causing thousands of California sea lion pups to starve, said Miller, who had no role in the Nature study.

“We’ve repeatedly set new heat records. It’s not surprising, but it is shocking,” he said.

Is Trump finally ready to turn his sights to remaking the 9th Circuit Court?

Wed, 2018-08-15 16:19

WASHINGTON – There's been a noticeable exception to President Donald Trump's otherwise successful effort to appoint young, conservative judges to the nation's appellate courts.

The Senate has confirmed a record 24 new circuit court judges nationwide in 20 months — with two more nominees scheduled for votes this week. But Trump has made far less progress in the jurisdiction he criticizes the most: the liberal-leaning U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, including California and eight other Western states.

Since Trump took office, the Senate has confirmed only one 9th Circuit judge — in Hawaii — leaving seven openings. A nominee in Oregon was abruptly withdrawn last month when it became clear he lacked the votes for Senate approval.

And Trump has yet to even nominate anyone for the three vacancies in California, partly because of a standoff with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

But there are signs that the administration is beginning to set its sights on the 9th Circuit, likely triggering a bruising fight with Democrats.

For one thing, Trump is running out of vacancies in other circuits, particularly in conservative states where confirmation is easier.

"They've been focusing on lower-hanging fruit," said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. "After a while there are only so many seats to fill."

More than half of the 13 vacancies remaining nationwide are on the 9th Circuit.

[Brett Kavanaugh and 'the end of the regulatory state as we know it']

Why Trump isn't moving faster is a mystery, considering how conservatives have long reviled the 9th Circuit and Trump has frequently attacked its rulings.

Since his inauguration, 9th Circuit judges have ruled that he couldn't legally bar tens of thousands of visitors and immigrants from several mostly Muslim nations from entering the country (a decision the Supreme Court overturned). They've forced him to continue processing renewal applications of immigrants previously approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump ended. Last month, a judge knocked down Trump's order restricting federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities.

"I thought they would have moved more aggressively," San Francisco appellate attorney Ben Feuer said.

But the recent fight over Ryan W. Bounds' nomination in Oregon showed that Trump and the Republican-led Senate are ready to adopt a tougher stance, including scrapping a long-standing Senate tradition to push through Trump's choices if necessary.

Oregon's two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, opposed Bounds and refused to issue their "blue slips," a century-old courtesy in which senators are asked to sign off on nominees from their state.

In the past, rejection by both home state senators was enough to effectively kill a nomination. But for the first time, Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa brushed off the home senators' views and moved forward anyway.

Previously the Senate has only considered a nomination if both or at least one of the home state senators approved.

Bounds' nomination ultimately failed, but not because the Oregon senators didn't return their blue slips. Instead some of Bounds' old racially charged writings raised doubts among enough senators, including at least one Republican, that the White House withdrew his nomination.

But the precedent of breaking with the blue-slip tradition has deep implications for the 9th Circuit, where four of the nine states it covers have two Democratic senators.

Idaho's Republican senators support Trump nominee Ryan D. Nelson, so he is quickly moving through the process without a problem.

And Hawaii's two Democratic senators enthusiastically backed Trump nominee Judge Mark J. Bennett as a consensus pick who had already been vetted by their review committees. He was approved in July by a 72-27 vote.

But the rest of the vacancies will not be so easy.

Trump nominated appellate attorney Eric D. Miller of Washington state though he was not recommended by the review committee created by the state's Democratic senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. Murray says she's reserving judgment on Miller, but Cantwell's office immediately signaled another potential fight ahead, telling the Seattle Times that "the senator did not and does not consent to Eric Miller's nomination."

In Arizona, where Trump doesn't get along with either Republican senator, he's held off as well.

[Analysis: Winners and losers from Tuesday's primaries: Once again, Trump is a big winner]

Trump is saving the biggest battle for last. In California, talks between the administration and the state's senators appear to have stalled.

The White House floated some potential names, which the senators' review committees have examined. In early May, Harris and Feinstein recommended three potential judges to the White House. Neither side would say if there was any overlap between the two groups, but the lack of any nomination suggests there was not.

A White House official said the president intended to fill the 9th Circuit vacancies with more conservatives, but would not provide any timeline.
The recent focus on completing the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court could be delaying action in the 9th Circuit, though it hasn't stopped the Senate from voting on other judicial nominees.

Feinstein said in a statement that they are working to come to consensus.

Trump's best chance to reshape the 9th Circuit will be filling two of the vacant California seats once held by liberal lions: Judge Harry Pregerson, who took a reduced workload in 2015 and died in late 2017, and Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who died unexpectedly in March. Both were President Jimmy Carter appointees and were considered among the most left-leaning judges in the country.

Judge Alex Kozinski, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, retired in December amid accusations of sexual misconduct, creating a third California vacancy.

Though Trump is within striking distance of flipping some circuits from a majority of Democratic appointees to a majority of Republican appointees, the best he can hope for so far in the 9th would be increasing the conservative presence on the court.

Before Trump took office, the 9th Circuit had 20 Democratic and nine Republican appointees. If Trump filled all the current openings with conservatives, the balance would be 16 Democratic appointees to 13 Republican appointees.

Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is livid about Republicans' willingness to move forward without the blue slips and has warned them publicly against proposing nominees in California she and Harris don't support.

"It's no secret that President Trump and Republicans want to reshape the 9th Circuit and we will not accept unwarranted, partisan attacks on our courts," Feinstein said in March. "I am fully committed to ensuring that 9th Circuit nominees reflect our state's communities and values and are well-regarded by their local bench and bar."

Be kind to your mind and make podcasts your new running buddy

Wed, 2018-08-15 16:12

I suppose the easiest route to triple-digit comments on a Facebook post is to spout an incendiary political commentary, or ask people about their favorite podcasts.

I asked about podcasts last week and watched, eyes widening, as the thread grew and grew.

It started because it was my long run day. I sat sipping my coffee extra-slowly, thinking about the hours stretching ahead of me on my feet. I'm training for the Equinox marathon in Fairbanks in mid-September, and the runs on my calendar have only gotten longer and hillier as my plan has progressed.

I run for a duration of time, not miles, and that Saturday my calendar told me I needed to run for between 4.5-5 hours. That's a road trip to Denali. That's a flight to California. That's when I'm most of the way through a work day and have waited too long to eat; it's a double-feature movie.

I was wringing my hands about what to do with my poor old brain. Sure, when race day rolls around I won't be plugged in. But then, unlike during my training runs, I'll have the high of race day and the energy of other runners to buoy me. As I run through those beautiful fall Fairbanks woods I've been picturing, I'll think about how every step and every minute gets me closer to the finish line. Closer to that unique form of post-marathon exhaustion beyond exhaustion combined with euphoria.

Typically I combine a few different tactics to keep myself motivated during long runs.

I may run with someone for all or part of the run. The downside to this for me is that while I love catching up with friends, I also covet the alone time I get from running. It can take all or most of my brain space to focus on moving forward and staying positive, and sometimes when I'm also focused on conversation it feels doubly draining. Still, going for part of a long run with someone helps me to break things up, shaving off an hour or two here or there, so the rest of it doesn't feel as long.

There's music, of course. But that gets old. And I hate that even one song that rubs me slightly the wrong way can impact my mood, which is a fragile and mission-critical thing when running.

So, enter podcasts.

I admit that podcast people, probably myself included, can be fanatical in their enthusiasm. Since the dawn of podcasts in the mid 2000s, genres have exploded. You can download and listen to these bite-sized (typically ranging from 30 minutes to an hour) audio files on topics ranging from current events, true crime, short stories, music, comedy and so much more.

Podcasts have made folding laundry enriching. I scrub down my bathroom to podcasts; I paint; I commute. And they've vastly improved my long runs.

While running, my mind is receptive to any level of stimulation. Listening to an episode of a favorite podcast while running can set off fireworks in my head. I feel synapses fire in concert with bursts of endorphin-fueled euphoria. I want to share what I've just heard with the world, convinced it'll be made a better place with whatever revelations have just poured into my brain.

Yes, it's like I said — it becomes fanatical. I try to convince other people to listen. Like any new hobby or habit, it can be hard to pick up listening to podcasts if it's not already a thing you do. So I try to share and convince people, like my grandma, my dad, my best friend, to just get over that first hump and listen to a damn podcast.

So, with that, podcasts are readily accessible via streaming on the internet and on a number of free podcast phone apps. You can even download podcasts for airplanes, or, say, for long runs that may not have great cell signal.

Like with anything else, I recommend being wary of where it's relatively safe in Alaska to have earbuds in, and where it's not. For my long runs along the Old Glenn Highway, I'm pretty confident I'm not going to run into any bears.

Here are some of my favorite shows:

This American Life. The exact same as the radio show on NPR, but you can download the full hour-long episodes to listen to when it's convenient.

99% Invisible. An incredible and varied series that takes deep dives into the design and thought behind everyday objects and phenomena in the world around us.

Rough Translation. Another NPR podcast, this beautiful series explores worldwide perspectives on issues we talk about in the United States.

Midnight Oil. Produced right here in Alaska via APRN, this excellent podcast delves into the complex history and impacts of oil development in Alaska.

Reply All. An entertaining podcast mostly about the internet.

Love + Radio. One of my very favorites even though it's often one of the most difficult, this show features in-depth interviews that often challenge my morality. Not for the faint of heart.

Some of the shows recommended to me:

Living Myth with Michael Meade. I listened to one episode, No. 82, and was absolutely sold. A stunning and straightforward reflection on life and spirituality.

In the Dark. A Peabody Award-winning true crime podcast.

Ear Hustle. Life inside San Quentin State Prison, produced by two inmates alongside a volunteer artist.

And those are just the ones I've been able to listen to.

Here's to many more miles with many more podcasts, something that have truly made the 21st century a pretty great time to live (and run).

Alli Harvey lives in Palmer and plays in Southcentral Alaska.

Alaska marijuana board taking comment on proposal for onsite cannabis use

Wed, 2018-08-15 15:54

JUNEAU — Alaska marijuana regulators will take public comment on the latest draft proposal for allowing onsite use of marijuana in authorized stores.

The Marijuana Control Board voted Wednesday for a 60-day comment period and to hold a public hearing.

Regulators have gone back and forth on onsite use for several years, adopting rules that contemplate onsite use but never finalizing how that would work.

The draft calls for consumption areas separated from other areas of a retail store by walls and a secure door, a smoke-free place for employees and a special ventilation system.

The draft also allows for outdoor consumption areas if the board finds that compatible with neighboring uses.

Local governments, via ordinance or a ballot question, could bar onsite use or aspects of it, such as smoking.

She works for Trump. He can’t stand him. This is life with Kellyanne and George Conway.

Wed, 2018-08-15 15:47

In this Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 file photo, President-elect Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, center, accompanied by her husband, George, speaks with members of the media as they arrive for a dinner at Union Station in Washington, the day before Trump’s inauguration. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

WASHINGTON – Kellyanne Conway is in her living room, showing me an enormous painting of Audrey Hepburn wearing a peacock on her head, but her husband, George, really wants us to come into his office and look at a photograph of the moment everything changed.

It's a picture he took on election night 2016: Donald Trump is reaching for the first draft of his acceptance speech, just as victory seemed imminent. Back then, George was such an ardent supporter of the president, and so proud of his wife for her historic role as campaign manager, that he wept for joy.

"That photo was from before you cried," Kellyanne says

"Now I cry for other reasons," George mutters.

Kellyanne pretends to ignore that comment, something she's been doing a lot of lately.

"You gotta see this picture," George, 54, says. "You should like this, it's your boss."

"He's not just my boss," Kellyanne, 51, says. "He's our president."

"Yeah," George says, walking out of the room. "We'll see how long that lasts."

Here at the Conways', it's a house divided. She is Trump's loyal adviser, the woman who carried him over the finish line to the White House. He is one of the president's most notable conservative critics and wishes he had never introduced his wife to Trump in the first place.

Kellyanne invited me here because she thought it would be a good symbol for her commitment to, and the enduring strength of, the Trump presidency. The White House may be shedding staff at record speed, but this new home is a sign that Kellyanne isn't going anywhere; that she is, in fact, flourishing.

And that may be true. But as I spent time with Kellyanne and George, I saw an alternative symbol: The Conways, like the rest of the country, have been jolted by the Trump presidency. They love each other, are exasperated by each other, talk about each other behind each other's backs. They share a roof and live in different bunkers.

This may be the story of any marriage – partners can drive each other crazy and still stay together for 50 years – but this marriage is, in many ways, emblematic of our national political predicament, particularly on the right.

And their feud, thanks to George's newfound Twitter hobby, is playing out for more than just the neighbors to see.

When the president was in search of a new communications director last year, George tweeted it was "absurd" that the president so often says one thing and then does the opposite. In addition to various tweets about corgis and the Philadelphia Eagles, he has retweeted dozens of articles critical of the president and his administration, and he penned a 3,473-word essay rebutting Trump's assertion that special counsel Robert Mueller III's Russia investigation was "unconstitutional."

Because George is married to Kellyanne, the chief architect and top saleswoman for Trumpism, and because his dissent seemed to come out of nowhere, George went viral. His retweets were themselves retweeted and topped with bug-eyed emoji. His follower count soared to more than 90,000, and the left adopted this conservative super lawyer as an honorary member of the resistance.

And yet, anyone wondering how Kellyanne and George manage to live in the same place these days should really see the house.

The $7.7 million Mediterranean revivalist, with its terra-cotta roof and three-story turret, looks like a mini Mar-a-Lago. Clocking in at 15,000 square feet, it gives the Conways room for their four children, two corgis and art collection, with plenty of space left over for the kind of dinner parties typical in this tony neighborhood off Embassy Row.

Inside, Kellyanne, who's shorter than she appears on television, scrambles up the staircase barefoot to put on workout clothes. George, a stocky man with a mop of dark hair ("He looks Hawaiian,"as Kellyanne puts it), retires to his office.

"George, we're going for a walk," Kellyanne, now wearing sneakers and her hair in a ponytail, shouts.

George never comes on these walks.

– – –

In fairness to George, Kellyanne is difficult to keep up with.

We're in the woods, chugging up a steep incline. We're in Georgetown going on and off the sidewalk, and on and off the record. We're in Tenleytown, weaving through the sideways glances of lookie-lous, then power-walking through Glover Park.

It's a swampy August night, but Kellyanne doesn't have a drop of sweat on her.

And she talks, about any and everything: issues with her father (he left when she was 3), feminists (the funny thing, she says, is she's living the life they claim to want), or her thoughts on the administration's practice, since reversed, of having federal agents separate migrant families at the border (She didn't like it, she says, but that wasn't the president's fault).

It's never his fault. Kellyanne prides herself as someone willing to "go into any den, and talk about any subject," and often the subject is her boss, our president – whether he deserves the latest volley of outrage from the left, the center, and occasionally the home office just off her living room. She goes on CNN and takes the fight to the journalists Trump calls the enemy. If the president throws playground punches at the press, the Justice Department, his fellow Republicans, she'll find a way to explain that he was the one being bullied. She'll do it with the ferocity of a mother – or a daughter.

It can be a spectacle. Fans call her courageous; critics call her shameless; TV bookers just call her.

Now we're somewhere back near the house, and we've arrived at a different view of family loyalty, one she'd rather not discuss.

"If you make this story all about him, I'll definitely push back on that after it's printed," Kellyanne says, talking about George. "There's no story about me, except the overcoming of circumstance and the fact that I'm so independent."

But it's a story about both of them. Of course it is. The more time I spend with them, the more I know that. It's the story of people who love Trump, and the people who are trying to love them.

Kellyanne remembers how encouraging George was of that independence when they first got married 17 years ago. Back then, Kellyanne was just finding her footing as a sought-after pollster in Washington. She remembers one of George's friends telling him that the best thing for their marriage would be for her to shut down her business – the company she built from scratch – and how George, even though he made enough money himself to support the family, encouraged her to keep working toward her own dream.

And now?

"I feel there's a part of him that thinks I chose Donald Trump over him," Kellyanne says as we walk. "Which is ridiculous. One is my work and one is my marriage."

Naturally, though, the two things overlap. When George criticizes the president publicly, Kellyanne says, the media coverage and the implication that they are pitted against each other bothers their children. And as for the president himself, Kellyanne won't say it irks him, but she does think he finds it "impolite." On that, she'd agree.

"I think it's disrespectful," she says. "I think it disrespects his wife."

Kellyanne is an independent woman, an independent woman stuck between two men who could blow up her day with a tweet.

"Nobody knows who I am because of my husband," she says. "People know of my husband because of me."

After our six-mile sojourn, it is late when we get back to their house. George is in his office, eating a bowl of cereal and yawning. He's too tired for an interview at the moment, he says. He's never done an interview on his thoughts on Trump, preferring to let the tweets speak for themselves.

Two hours after I leave, he's awake and online. A tweet from Merriam-Webster has caught his eye, and he presses the retweet button:

Merriam-Webster: 'Mendacious' (adj.) – likely to tell lies

'Mendacity' (n.) – a lack of honesty or a lie

– – –

There's a theory among District of Columbia Trumpologists that this is all a charade. A way for the Conways to be part of both the Trump White House and the Trump-leery establishment. They live in a part of the city where wealth and influence serve as a cooling balm for the partisan inflammation that has spread elsewhere. In their neighborhood, everybody – Democrat and Republican – belongs to the garden party.

They live across the street from Vernon Jordan, once a top adviser to Bill Clinton, just down the way from Adrienne Arsht, the uber-rich philanthropist and Democratic donor, and next door to a house that until recently belonged to Oleg Deripaska, the Vladimir Putin ally who owned Paul Manafort's debt. Other than the Russian oligarch, whom they never met, the Conways say they get along with their neighbors swimmingly.

From here it's easy to imagine, if you'd like, that not much has changed since Trump took office, save for a bump in everyone's stock portfolio. Mendacity is a vocabulary word, and the border is 1,500 miles away. Here, a husband subtweeting his wife's boss may seem less an act of moral courage than a juicy gossip item, or possibly a way for the family to hedge its bets. (After all, isn't this the same George Conway who once – allegedly! – leaked details of the curvature of Bill Clinton's genitals to the Drudge Report?)

Kellyanne, for her part, told me that part of George's motivation might be that he's just playing his favorite "role" of "agitator."

She, too, is familiar with playing a role. Back before she was the president's wingwoman – a gut check for his political agenda and messaging – she worked for Ted Cruz during the 2016 campaign. Then, she called on Trump to release his tax returns, called him "vulgar" and "unpresidential."

Now she's bound to Trump, both on and off camera. She speaks with the president daily, offering advice both on policy and messaging. She hits the road in her "personal" capacity to stump for candidates and spread the gospel of Trump. She is helping run the administration's war on opioids, works to maintain relationships with Republicans on the Hill and is one of the only threads from the White House that goes all the way back to the campaign. For a president who fears betrayal, that's worth a lot.

"I think he looks at her as part of the family," said Jim McLaughlin, a Republican pollster who knows both the president and Kellyanne.

In Washington, changes in allegiance are nothing new, nor is the art of redirecting any criticism that might follow. Trump loyalists have not changed the fundamental rules of the city – the weapon of shame remains most powerful in the hands of the shameless – but they have redefined the boundaries of play. Some people seem uncomfortable with that, but not Kellyanne. Here's a conversation from a few days after our walk:

Me: You told me you found [George's tweets] disrespectful.

Kellyanne: It is disrespectful, it's a violation of basic decency, certainly, if not marital vows . . . as "a person familiar with their relationship."

Me: No, we're on the record here. You can't say after the fact "as someone familiar."

Kellyanne: I told you everything about his tweets was off the record.

Me: No, that's not true. That never happened.

Kellyanne: Well, people do see it this way. People do see it that way, I don't say I do, but people see it that way.

Me: But I'm saying we never discussed everything about his tweets being off the record. There are certain things you said that I put off the record.

Kellyanne: Fine. I've never actually said what I think about it and I won't say what I think about it, which tells you what I think about it.

– – –

It's three days after the house tour, and we're in Ventnor, New Jersey, just a boardwalk away from Atlantic City, and George is out walking the two Corgis, Skipper and Bonnie.

"I have a dog trainer friend who says when they start pulling, the trick is to turn around quickly and pull in the other direction," George says, spinning on his ankles and gently yanking the dogs to demonstrate. This has always been George's way – not just resisting the current of the world, but trying to redirect the stream itself.

We're outside of George and Kellyanne's beach house, and I'm drowning in metaphors.

Kellyanne bought this house, back in the late '90s when she was single and just starting to make good money. She had to renovate it a few years later, after learning it had been built by boatbuilders who didn't know much about constructing a foundation.

She picked this spot because it felt like home; her mother had been employed at a casino nearby for more than 20 years and still lives in the house where she raised Kellyanne less than an hour away. The beach house also happens to be right down the road from Trump's old Taj Mahal resort and casino.

"It was wildly popular," says Kellyanne.

"It went bankrupt twice," says George.

George isn't from around here. He grew up in Massachusetts, a contrarian since, as a child, he decided to root for the Yankees instead of the Red Sox. By the time he was 30 he was a hotshot lawyer, a partner at a big-time law firm in New York City. While there, George fell into a clutch of Republicans secretly working behind the scenes to lay the groundwork for Bill Clinton's impeachment. It wasn't his day job, just a hobby, but one that got him a lot of attention. One of his friends from that time, Ann Coulter, introduced him to Kellyanne.

George would, in turn, introduce Kellyanne to Donald Trump.

Shortly after getting married in 2001, Kellyanne and George moved into an apartment in Manhattan's Trump World Tower. There, George made an impression on the future president at a condo board meeting where he argued against removing Trump's name from the building. The speech earned George an offer to join the condo board, which he declined but passed on to his wife, who accepted.

"Knowing what I know now," George told me later, back in Washington, "I would have said no, and never mentioned it when I got home."

Nevertheless, George liked Trump well enough for a time that he considered joining his administration with a top role in the Justice Department. But his pre-nomination process coincided with Trump firing FBI Director James Comey and the beginning of the Mueller investigation. Friends of George told me he decided he didn't want to be part of a DOJ that would constantly be at odds with the president.

Instead, George immersed himself in the small fraternity of anti-Trump conservatives. He is now a man without a party: In early May of this year, George changed his affiliation from Republican to "unaffiliated." He has, according to Politico, offered unsolicited advice to journalists who have written articles critical of the president. And recently, he has been spotted at a semi-secret group of Trump skeptics known as the Meeting of the Concerned, eviscerating his wife's boss among fellow conservatives who would like to see Trump, and by extension Kellyanne, out of a job.

If he's being honest, that would make George happy, too.

"If there's an issue," George said, "it's because she's in that job, for that man."

His wife may find his gestures of resistance disrespectful of her, but George disagrees. He can redirect criticism as deftly as she can. "Her problem is with her boss," he says, "not me."

"If my wife were the counselor to the CEO of Pepsi and I had a problem with her boss, I would simply drink my Coke and keep my mouth shut," he says. "If the president were simply mediocre or even bad, I'd have nothing to say. This is much different."

George is clearly worried about Kellyanne and her reputation, just as Kellyanne told me she is worried about George's. But that doesn't mean everything has changed. He's still proud of what she's been able to accomplish, he says. And when he looks at that picture from election night, he's still reminded of the sheer elation he felt.

"I'm just saddened by how things turned out," he says.

On their last full day together on the beach, George is in the kitchen with his wife by his side. Their four kids (Claudia and George, Jr., 13-year-old twins; Charlotte, 10; Vanessa, 8) are running around with their friends before the family takes a trip to the water park. Kellyanne has left her work phone in another room, and so has George. She's more than her job, she says; he's more than his tweets.

Tomorrow this house will be set up for "Face the Nation," after which Kellyanne will be swarmed on the street by fans while George watches the second half of the show – the part where pundits analyze his wife's interview – alone in the kitchen. But for now, things feel almost like they used to be. This is what George misses at times, his simpler life.

He starts to open up about his tweets. Kellyanne is cutting vegetables 10 feet away with a longtime friend. The women start singing "The Glory of Love," a central song in the weepy movie "Beaches," which also took place on the Jersey Shore and is about two childhood best friends.

"It's an outlet, that keeps it a small part of my life," George says of his tweeting.

You've got to win a little, lose a little, yes, and always have the blues a little.

"It's a quick easy way to express myself, that keeps me from making it a bigger part of my life," he says.

You've got to give a little, take a little, and let your poor heart break a little.

"I think I'm actually holding back a little," he says. "I think the reason why is obvious."

Kellyanne is now singing loudly into a cucumber, completely drowning out George, who has stopped talking and just looks on.

That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

A rising concern? After straws, balloons get more scrutiny

Wed, 2018-08-15 15:35

In this Oct. 14, 2017, file photo balloons are released in Memorial Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Indiana and Michigan in Bloomington, Ind. The celebration of releasing balloons into the air has long bothered environmentalists, who say the pieces that fall back to earth can be deadly to seabirds and turtles that eat them. So as companies vow to banish plastic straws, there are signs balloons are among the products getting more scrutiny. (AP Photo/AJ Mast, File) (AJ MAST/)

NEW YORK — Now that plastic straws may be headed for extinction, could Americans' love of balloons be deflated?

The joyous celebration of releasing balloons into the air has long bothered environmentalists, who say the pieces that fall back to earth can be deadly to seabirds and turtles that eat them. So as companies vow to banish plastic straws, there are signs balloons will be among the products to get more scrutiny, even though they're a very small part of environmental pollution.

This year, college football powerhouse Clemson University is ending its tradition of releasing 10,000 balloons into the air before games, a move that's part of its sustainability efforts. In Virginia, a campaign that urges alternatives to balloon releases at weddings is expanding. And a town in Rhode Island outright banned the sale of all balloons earlier this year, citing the harm to marine life.

"There are all kinds of alternatives to balloons, a lot of ways to express yourself," says Kenneth Lacoste, first warden of New Shoreham, Rhode Island, who cites posters, piñatas and decorated paper.

Following efforts to limit plastic bags, the push by environmentalists against straws has gained traction in recent months, partly because they're seen as unnecessary for most. Companies including Starbucks and Disney are promising to phase out plastic straws, which can be difficult to recycle because of their size and often end up as trash in the ocean. A handful of U.S. cities recently passed or are considering bans. And the push may bring attention to other items people may not have considered — like festive balloons.

[Public weighs in, but no action yet on plastic bag ban in Anchorage]

"The issue of straws has really broadened the marine debris issue," says Emma Tonge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. People might not realize balloons are a danger, she says, because of their "light and whimsical" image.

Balloons are not among the top 10 kinds of debris found in coastal cleanups, but Tongue says they're common and especially hazardous to marine animals, which can also get entangled in balloon strings.

Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor of ecology at the University of Toronto, says people should think systemically about waste and pollution, but that efforts to bring attention to specific products shouldn't be dismissed as too minor.

"If we said that about everything, we wouldn't get anything done," she says.

Already, a few states restrict balloon releases to some extent, according to the Balloon Council, which represents the industry and advocates for the responsible handling of its products to "uphold the integrity of the professional balloon community." That means never releasing them into the air, and ensuring the strings have a weight tied to them so the balloons don't accidentally float away.

Lorna O'Hara, executive director of the Balloon Council, doesn't dispute that marine creatures might mistake balloons for jellyfish and eat them. But she says that doesn't mean balloons are necessarily causing their deaths.

Clean Virginia Waterways still thinks balloons can be harmful. Included in its report last year: A photo of a soaring bird with a deflated balloon trailing behind it.

The report addresses the "rising concern" of balloons, which also often use helium, a non-renewable resource. It notes the difficulty of changing a social norm and that even typing "congrats" in a Facebook post results in an animation of balloons. It even claims the media play a role and that some groups conduct balloon releases "just so reporters will cover the event."

"We don't want to say don't use them at all. We're saying just don't release them," says Laura McKay of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program.

Some states such as California ban balloon releases for other reasons. Pacific Gas & Electric, which serves northern and central California, says metallic balloons caused 203 power outages in the first five months of this year, up 22 percent from a year ago.

Lacoste thinks other towns, particularly those along the coasts, will also ban balloons as people become more aware of environmental issues. He notes that plastic bags were once seen as harmless, but many places now ban them.

6.6 magnitude earthquake shakes Aleutian Islands

Wed, 2018-08-15 15:31

A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 hit the of the Aleutian Islands Wednesday afternoon, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center.

No tsunami is expected, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The earthquake struck at 1:56 p.m., about 75 miles southwest of the community of Adak, the center said, at a depth of about 7 miles.

Beth Carroll, Adak city clerk, said she had just returned to her office after her lunch break when the earthquake struck.

"It was pretty intense for about 15 seconds," Carroll said. "It started out slow, and then it got heavier and heavier, and then it finally died down."

Carroll said she hadn't heard of any earthquake damage in Adak.

"Every time I live through one of these, I'm thankful," Carroll said.

The quake was near the Andreanof Islands, a group of islands near the western edge of the Aleutians.

We'll have reviewed info soon for the strong earthquake in the Andreanof Islands. Preliminary magnitude is 6.6, but that could move a bit up or down. No tsunami expected.

— AK Earthquake Center (@AKearthquake) August 15, 2018

If you felt the earthquake, you can report your experience to the U.S. Geological Survey.

An icy reminder in an Arctic thaw

Wed, 2018-08-15 15:22

The the stern of the USS Abner Read was recently found the off the Aleutian island of Kiska, where it sank during World War II after hitting a mine. Seventy-one Navy sailors were lost in the aftermath of the blast. (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

USS Momsen (DDG 92) visited Anchorage this week in support of the 2018 Arctic Maritime Symposium. The three-day event focuses on providing participants opportunities to engage with Arctic intergovernmental and military representatives, academics and experts. Given that the Navy has operated in the Arctic for decades, this kind of visit might not look like anything special. Couple the ship's visit, however, to calls on Alaska by the Navy, Army and Air Force service secretaries — all this month — and it's obvious something has our collective attention. Have no illusions: There are competing interests in the waters at the top of the world. The race is on.

A great-power competition has re-emerged as the central challenge to U.S. security and continued prosperity for all Pacific nations. The globe is still round. And more than 70 percent of it is still covered in water. What's changed? The once inhospitable maritime environment in and around the Arctic is thawing. The same is true for the icy waters at the top of the Pacific Ocean in the Bering Sea, bracketed on the south by Aleutian Islands and to the north where it connects to the Arctic Ocean. The means to operate in this region for military and commercial interests are more possible than ever. These warmer climes bring new opportunities — but also vulnerabilities — to our commerce, security and way of life.

Amazingly, as if a macabre prequel to this week's symposium, the stern section of the World War II destroyer USS Abner Read (DD 526) was discovered off the coast of Kiska Island. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research released exploration imagery of the watery grave for 70 sailors. This announcement comes some 75 years to the week after the ship was believed to have hit a mine. The U.S. and Japan had been battling each other and the harsh elements there since early June 1942.

For some of the same reasons as today, the waters off Alaska and the Arctic were key strategic areas in WWII. Many Americans are aware of the Battle of Midway, but it was a complementary action off the Aleutians launched simultaneously by the Japanese that gives leaders pause now. While the famous naval aircraft carrier battle in the middle of the Pacific captured the world's attention, Japanese carrier-based aircraft were also attacking Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians. For roughly the following year, Japanese forces occupied the U.S. territory. Japan understood the geography, and hoped to prevent the U.S. from using the islands as a base from which they could more directly attack their homeland. USS Abner Read was operating there in support of operations to eradicate the occupiers — only to find in mid-August that the Japanese had abandoned the island.

It was early the morning of Aug. 18, 1943, when an otherwise quiet patrol was rocked by a violent explosion aft. Although much of the Abner Read's hull plating at the rear of the ship was buckled, fast-acting repair parties shored the damage and prevented further flooding. It didn't take long for the stern section to literally break away and sink. The remainder of the Abner Read remained afloat. After recovering surviving sailors, the ship was towed first to Adak, and eventually to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington. In only a few short months, a new stern section was fashioned and affixed. Remarkably, the vessel and her determined crew returned to service in the Pacific War on Dec. 21, 1943. After contributing to numerous actions, she was sunk by a Japanese kamikaze on Nov. 1, 1944, while she patrolled a beachhead during the famed Battle of Leyte Gulf. Remarkably, only 22 members of Abner Read's crew were lost in this action. In her relatively short service, the ship earned four WWII battle stars.

Things are a little different in northern waters today. In 2012, Arctic sea ice reached its smallest extent in recorded history — 1.3 million square miles. As Arctic sea lanes grow more open and navigable, so too do America's interests in the waters there. U.S. maritime forces are charged with the responsibility to secure shipping lanes, protect natural resources, deter conflict and safeguard national interests. Shrinking ice notwithstanding, the region's unpredictable, harsh weather and unforgiving sea conditions remain limiting factors for Arctic Ocean operations. U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels, aircraft and shore facilities are actively improving interoperability in order to maximize sea control and maritime security capabilities. Working together, the sea services will provide sea ice, hazardous weather and ocean current forecasting necessary to operate in the evolving Arctic region maritime environment.

Beyond these operational efforts, our nation must work alongside interagency and international partners to improve information sharing, and communications capabilities in the Arctic region. Promoting a safe, stable, and secure Arctic region by strengthening existing and fostering new cooperative relationships will be essential to fostering a climate of peace and prosperity. Doing so will require enduring commitment, investment and focus. What's the alternative?

The global security environment is increasingly complex as revisionist and emerging powers compete across all dimensions of power. There's ample evidence China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model: Gaining veto authority over other nation's legitimate economic, diplomatic and security decisions.

The men of the USS Abner Read who gave their lives 75 years ago who figuratively surfaced this week should haunt our national conscience. Their sacrifice should lend renewed urgency and commitment to our efforts in the region. These men also serve as a testament to our national resolve in sustaining a fair, rules-based international order that has benefited all like-minded countries for decades.

The world is getting warmer. And this great-power competition is heating up. Fast.

Capt. Dave Werner retired from the U.S. Navy in 2012 after 24 years. He currently serves as a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

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) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Bishops accused of brushing off sexual abuse complaints

Wed, 2018-08-15 14:27

Victims of clergy sexual abuse, or their family members react as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. A Pennsylvania grand jury says its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A priest raped a 7-year-old girl while visiting her in the hospital after she had her tonsils removed. Another priest forced a 9-year-old boy into having oral sex, then rinsed out the youngster's mouth with holy water. One boy was forced to say confession to the priest who sexually abused him.

An estimated 300 Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children — and possibly many more — since the 1940s, according to a scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report released Tuesday that accused senior church officials, including the man who is now archbishop of Washington, D.C., of systematically covering up complaints.

The "real number" of victimized children and abusive priests might be higher since some secret church records were lost and some victims never came forward, the grand jury said.

U.S. bishops adopted widespread reforms in 2002 when clergy abuse became a national crisis for the church, including stricter requirements for reporting accusations to law enforcement and a streamlined process for removing clerics. But the grand jury said more changes are needed.

"Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability," the grand jury wrote in the roughly 900-page report. "Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all."

Top church officials have mostly been protected, and many, including some named in the report, have been promoted, the grand jury said, concluding that "it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal."

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, leader of the Washington Archdiocese, was accused in the report of helping to protect abusive priests when he was Pittsburgh's bishop from 1988 to 2006.

Wuerl has disputed the allegations.

In this Dec. 12, 2010, photo, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, greets a woman after giving a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. (Rebecca Droke/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

At a Mass held Thursday in Washington on the feast of the Assumption of Mary, Wuerl did not address the accusations against himself but urged parishioners not to lose confidence in the church over the "terrible plague" of abuse.

In nearly every case, the Pennsylvania grand jury said, prosecutors found that the statute of limitations has run out, meaning criminal charges cannot be filed. More than 100 of the priests are dead. Many others are retired or have been dismissed from the priesthood or put on leave.

Authorities charged just two as a result of the grand jury investigation, including a priest who has since pleaded guilty, though some of those named were prosecuted years ago.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the investigation is still going on.

The investigation of six of Pennsylvania's eight dioceses— Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton — is the most extensive investigation of Catholic clergy abuse by any state, according to victims' advocates. The dioceses represent about 1.7 million Catholics.

Until now, there have been nine investigations by a prosecutor or grand jury of a Catholic diocese or archdiocese in the U.S., according to the Massachusetts-based research and advocacy organization

"One thing this is going to do is put pressure on prosecutors elsewhere to take a look at what's going on in their neck of the woods," Terry McKiernan of said.

The Philadelphia Archdiocese and the Johnstown-Altoona Diocese were not included in the probe because they have been the subject of three previous scathing grand jury investigations.

The grand jury heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed more than a half-million pages of internal diocesan documents, including reports by bishops to Vatican officials about the allegations against priests.

The panel concluded that a succession of bishops and other diocesan leaders tried to shield the church from bad publicity and financial liability. They failed to report accused clergy to police, used confidentiality agreements to silence victims and sent priests to "treatment facilities," which "laundered" the clergymen and "permitted hundreds of known offenders to return to ministry," the report said.

The conspiracy of silence extended beyond church grounds: Police or prosecutors sometimes did not investigate allegations out of deference to church officials or brushed off complaints as outside the statute of limitations, the grand jury said.

Diocese leaders responded Tuesday by expressing sorrow for the victims, stressing how they've changed and unveiling, for the first time, a list of priests accused of sexual misconduct.

James VanSickle of Pittsburgh, who testified he was sexually attacked in 1981 by a priest in the Erie Diocese, called the report's release "a major victory to get our voice out there, to get our stories told."

The report is still the subject of a legal battle, with the identities of some current and former clergy blacked out while the state Supreme Court weighs their requests to remain anonymous.

The findings echoed many earlier church investigations around the country that found widespread sexual abuse and attempts to conceal it. U.S. bishops have acknowledged that more than 17,000 people nationwide have reported being molested by priests and others in the church going back to 1950.

The report comes at a time of fresh scandal at the highest levels of the U.S. Catholic Church. Pope Francis last month stripped 88-year-old Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of his title amid allegations that McCarrick had for years sexually abused boys and committed sexual misconduct with adult seminarians.


Associated Press writers Nicole Winfield in Vatican City, Claudia Lauer and Michael Rubinkam in Pennsylvania and David Porter in New Jersey contributed to this report.

Trump revokes security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan

Wed, 2018-08-15 13:49

Former CIA director John Brennan testified before the House Intelligence Committee on the Russia investigation in Washington, D.C. Must credit: Washington Post photo by Melina Mara (Melina Mara/)

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump has revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday, citing “the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.”

Brennan is a leading critic of Trump who as recently as Tuesday sharply denounced the president for calling his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman "that dog."

Trump is also reviewing security clearances of other former officials including former FBI director James Comey, Sanders said during a regular White House news briefing.

"First, at this point in my administration, any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior," Trump said in a statement read by Sanders at Wednesday's briefing.

"Second, that conduct and behavior has tested and far exceeded the limits of any professional courtesy that may have been due to him," Trump said in the statement. "Mr. Brennan has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility."

Last month, Sanders said Trump was "looking to take away" the clearances of Brennan, Comey and several other former senior national security and intelligence officials who served in the administrations of George W. Bush or Barack Obama.

Those officials included former CIA director Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former director of national intelligence James Clapper Jr. and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

On Wednesday, Sanders expanded that list to include former acting attorney general Sally Yates, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.

[Trump administration, North Slope Borough eye protected Teshekpuk area for drilling]

Yates was fired by Trump last year after she defied the president and ordered federal attorneys not to defend his controversial travel ban. Strzok and Page, two of Trump's favorite targets on Twitter, became the centerpiece of Republicans' efforts to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller III's Russia probe after anti-Trump texts between the two were revealed last year. Strzok was fired over the texts this week.

Ohr is also the frequent object of GOP criticism; he was named by Republicans in a memo earlier this year that targeted his ties to the former British intelligence officer who wrote the controversial dossier on the Trump campaign's alleged contacts with Russian officials.

The announcement Wednesday that Brennan's clearance had been revoked triggered an outcry from critics who argued that the move was aimed at silencing critics of the president.

In an appearance on CNN shortly after Sanders' appearance in the White House briefing room, Clapper described the move as "unprecedented" and an "infringement on our rights of speech," noting that all of the former officials on Trump's list have been outspoken in their criticism of Trump at one point or another.

Clapper maintained that the move would not affect his own decision on whether to speak out against the president.

"If they're saying that the only way I can speak is to be in an adulation mode of this president, I'm sorry, I don't think I can sign up for that," he said.

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration, echoed Clapper's criticism in an appearance on MSNBC in which he blasted the move as "authoritarianism in its purest form."

Some Democrats argued that by revoking Brennan's clearance, the White House was aiming to change the narrative away from several days of damaging coverage of Trump's escalating feud with Manigault Newman over her accusations that Trump is a racist.

"This might be a convenient way to distract attention, say from a damaging news story or two," Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said on Twitter. "But politicizing the way we guard our nation's secrets just to punish the President's critics is a dangerous precedent."

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump's move demonstrates "how deeply insecure and vindictive he is - two character flaws dangerous in any President."

"An enemies list is ugly, undemocratic and un-American. I also believe this action to silence a critic is unlawful," Schiff said in a tweet.

Trump's targeting of Brennan also prompted disapproval from within his own party. Alberto R. Gonzales, attorney general under President George W. Bush, said in an appearance on Fox News Wednesday afternoon that while Trump appears to have the authority to revoke the clearances, his actions come across as "petty and somewhat childish."

"I think in this position as president of the United States, you're going to be criticized, and people are going to disagree with you, and you have to accept that," Gonzales said, casting doubt on the White House's contention that the revocation was due to national security concerns.

[Analysis: Winners and losers from Tuesday’s primaries: Once again, Trump is a big winner]

Last month, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had downplayed Trump's threat to revoke the officials' security clearances, telling reporters at the Capitol, "I think he's trolling people, honestly."

The move comes one day after Brennan took to Twitter and cable TV to issue a particularly biting condemnation of Trump's performance as president.

After Trump described his former aide Manigault Newman as "that dog," Brennan responded on Twitter that the president's rhetoric was "so disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation."

"It's astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity," Brennan tweeted. "Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person."

Brennan later said in an interview on MSNBC Tuesday night that Trump had "badly sullied the reputation of the office of the presidency with his invective, with his constant disregard, I think, for human decency."

He also took aim at what he cast as Trump's cozy relationship with authoritarian leaders and argued that "America's standing in the world has also been tarnished."

"What he is doing here in the United States is very polarizing," Brennan said, calling Trump "the most divisive president we have ever had in the Oval Office."

Some of Trump's own White House officials have had security clearance troubles in the past.

Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, had his clearance level downgraded in February before being granted a permanent clearance in May.

Democrats also raised questions regarding the granting of a security clearance to former White House staff secretary Rob Porter after allegations surfaced that he had been violent toward his two ex-wives. Porter, who has denied the accusations, later resigned.

Survivor of newly found WWII shipwreck: ‘So many’ to rescue

Wed, 2018-08-15 13:15

ANCHORAGE — Daryl Weathers remembers trying to pull men from the sea off Alaska's Aleutian Islands after a U.S. Navy destroyer hit a mine left by the Japanese following the only World War II battle fought on North American soil.

The explosion, which ripped the stern off the USS Abner Read, also covered many of the men in oil, which prevented some from being rescued.

"They were so slippery, you couldn't get ahold of them," the 94-year-old Weathers said this week from his home in Los Angeles.

The remaining 250 crew members made the ship watertight, and it limped back to the West Coast for repairs. Only one body among the 71 men killed was recovered.

Nearly 75 years later, scientists using multi-beam sonar have discovered the 75-foot stern about 290 feet below the Bering Sea.

The scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Delaware found it last month during a research mission funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The researchers confirmed the discovery with a remotely operated craft, which provided high definition video in real time to those on the research ship.

Coral-encrusted USS Abner Read stern wreckage. (Courtesy of Project Recover)

"To hit success is obviously extremely joyous for everybody. There's lots of cheering you know, it's like scoring a touchdown," said Andrew Pietruszka, an underwater archaeologist with Scripps.

[Officials are racing an Alaska glacier that threatens to swallow what's left of a 1952 plane crash that killed dozens]

The euphoria ended with the realization that it was the final resting place for U.S. service members. Those aboard the research vessel held a wreath-laying ceremony to honor the dead.

There are no plans to raise the stern.

"We take the protection of these wrecks seriously because we believe that they are war graves," said Paul Taylor with the Naval History and Heritage Command.

The original stern of the Fletcher-class destroyer named for a naval officer killed in the Civil War lay on the seafloor near Kiska Island for three-quarters of a century. The area is a crowded underwater remnant of the Battle of Attu, which became known as WWII's forgotten battle, though it was the only fought in North America.

Japanese forces took Attu Island in June 1942 and captured about 45 Aleuts as prisoners of war. U.S. forces reclaimed Attu on May 30, 1943, after a bloody battle that left nearly 2,500 Japanese and 550 Americans dead.

The Abner Read was sent to look for Japanese submarines. During one of the ship's figure 8 maneuvers, the explosion blew off the stern.

"We thought it was a submarine that got us with a torpedo," Weathers said. "We were waiting for another torpedo."

Weathers said the crew put boats in the water to help rescue the men.

"So many," he said. "We couldn't find them all."

It was nearly impossible to pull the men covered in oil into boats unless they were wearing life jackets, which gave rescuers something to grab onto.

"The water was so cold, you were only good for a few minutes in there, then you had hypothermia," Weathers said. "They just give up. I seen the guys just say, 'Oh, forget it,' and just quit swimming."

After getting a new stern, the ship fought in the South Pacific until Nov. 1, 1944, when a Japanese plane dropped a bomb on the rear engine room and then dive-bombed the deck, striking the gun Weathers had been manning.

The kamikaze attack during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines sank the destroyer, killing 22 sailors.

Weathers said he knows he's one of the lucky ones, twice surviving attacks on the Abner Read. First launched in 1942, the ship had a "short life, but it was very active," he said.

Beer and wine will continue to flow at Arctic Valley Ski Area

Wed, 2018-08-15 13:12

The taps can keep flowing at Arctic Valley.

On Tuesday, the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted 4-1 to renew the ski area's beer and wine license during the board's meeting in Denali Park.

"We got exactly what we hoped for," Arctic Valley general manager John Robinson-Wilson said Wednesday.

The decision went against a recommendation made by Alaska Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office staff to not renew the license based on her determination Arctic Valley didn't fit the criteria for a "recreational permit."

In a letter to the board, AAMCO director Erika McConnell argued Arctic Valley didn't meet the requirements of a recreational site license, which include that license holders "may sell beer and wine at a recreational site during and one hour before and after a recreational event…"

McConnell said two legislative audits "called out, among other things, bowling alleys and pool halls as ineligible businesses." She argued Arctic Valley fell into the same category as such businesses, and therefore should not be renewed.

But lawmakers themselves disagreed.

In one of numerous letters sent by legislators, state Sen. Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River, argued the ski area is an important part of the local economy.

"I must emphasize how important a resource the Arctic Valley ski area and it's (sic) continued financial success is to the town of Eagle River," Saddler wrote.

The license renewal had the support of the entire Chugiak-Eagle River legislative delegation, as well as the Anchorage Assembly and several Southcentral Alaska legislators. Support for the renewal was widespread and bipartisan, with the likes of conservative Assembly member Amy Demboski of Eagle River and liberal Anchorage Assemblyman Chris Constant finding common ground.

"It was hard to find anyone who didn't think we qualified as a recreational license," Robinson-Wilson said.

The renewal ends months of worry on the steep slopes overlooking both the Anchorage Bowl and the Eagle River Valley. The issue was supposed to be settled in June, but was postponed until Tuesday's meeting due to a high number of items on the board's agenda. Robinson-Wilson said losing the license — which Arctic Valley has held since 2010 — would have dealt a severe blow to the small, nonprofit-run ski area's business, and he's happy to be moving forward with business as usual.

"We're doing maintenance projects and getting ready for winter," he said.

The ski area and tube park typically opens in late December or early January, depending on snow conditions. In the summer, Arctic Valley hosts weddings and is a popular alpine hiking destination. The area's main draw this time of year, Robinson-Wilson said, are blueberries.

The berries are a bit late this year, he said, but he expects prime picking over the next couple weeks.

"They're slowly ripening up," he said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at

Comedian Kevin Hart will perform in Anchorage this November

Wed, 2018-08-15 13:08

In this Thursday, July 27, 2017, file photo, comedian Kevin Hart speaks to reporters as he arrives on the red carpet for Eat My Shorts at the Short Films Premiere at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Comedian Kevin Hart – who has starred in major film releases ranging from the Scary Movie franchise to "Ride Along" and 2017's "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" – will perform in Anchorage this November.

The Nov. 27 show at the Sullivan Arena is part of Hart's international "The Irresponsible Tour." Almost all his U.S. tour dates have sold out so far, according to Hart's websiteRolling Stone reported that during Hart's previous "What Now?" world tour in 2015 and 2016, he became the first comedian to sell out a NFL stadium.

Tickets will be from $59.50 – $135.50 and go on sale at 10 a.m Friday at

There's no word yet whether Hart, an avid runner, will be organizing one of his famous 5K runs while he's in Alaska.

Warning: The video below contains profanity

Man dies in apparent drowning off south end of Kodiak Island

Wed, 2018-08-15 13:00

KODIAK — A man died after falling into ocean water off Kodiak Island.

The Coast Guard late Monday afternoon reported that an unconscious man was receiving CPR about a mile from the fish cannery at Alitak at the southern tip of the island.

Alaska State Troopers say the man was in a skiff that overturned.

The lifesaving measures were not successful and the man died.

Troopers say the man's next of kin has not been notified.

Crime rose 6 percent across Alaska in 2017

Wed, 2018-08-15 12:25

Crime rose 6 percent in Alaska in 2017 compared to the previous year, according to new statewide statistics released today by the Department of Public Safety.

Violent crime rates, including murder, rape, robbery and assault, increased 7 percent. Property crimes such as car theft and burglary, rose 6 percent compared to 2016.

Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth said in a news conference this morning that the rising violence and property crimes go "hand in hand" with the ongoing state opioid epidemic.

Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, asked about the spike in violence, said gangs are partly to blame.

"We've seen a lot more activity in the urban areas in regards to some of the violence that (is) kind of related to gangs … that's probably driving our numbers up quicker than elsewhere," he said.

The Daily News requested Anchorage-area crime statistics for 2017 earlier this year for a special report on record-breaking property crime in the city.

The statistics, known as the Uniform Crime Report, are reported by Alaska law enforcement agencies to the FBI. Find historical numbers here.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

Anchorage’s first public radio station celebrates four decades on air

Wed, 2018-08-15 11:55

The cover of KSKA’s program guide in 1982. (ADN)

There was excitement in the air. We were about to celebrate the new radio station's first day of broadcasting. The guests were thrilled. The staff was jittery. And the audience was delighted.

The sign-on ceremony for KSKA, Anchorage's first public radio station, was 40 years ago, August 15, 1978, and it happened at Grant Hall on the campus of Alaska Pacific University. As its founding general manager, I had led the team that put the new station on the air.

The voices of Jim, Corky, Barbara and Jeff soon became familiar to Anchorage listeners. But there were well over 100 others working on the air and behind the scenes — all volunteers with lots of energy and enthusiasm. In those heady, early months of broadcasting, we worked hard and had fun.

Six months later, Bede Trantina, ultimately the most familiar voice of all, joined the team. And she stayed longer than any of us, retiring only recently after 39 years of service to listeners across Southcentral Alaska. Bede signed off just a few months ago with her last "Yippee, it's Friday!"

At 103.1 on the FM dial, KSKA was an instant success. Our telephone rang constantly. Listeners were glad to have a public radio station, but some had trouble picking up our signal. We told them how to rig up an antenna to help with reception, but the real problems were our low transmitter power and the height of our transmitting antenna, which sat atop a 70-foot tower on the roof of APU's Grant Hall. I sometimes climbed that tower to adjust the antenna and improve our signal. It was just one of my many duties as general manager.

In those days, power and antenna height meant a lot. We sometimes joked that KSKA was just a "peanut whistle," radio slang for a low-power station.
But the station later moved to 91.1 on the dial, with increased power and a much higher antenna. The coverage area was expanded dramatically, extending to the far reaches of the Mat-Su and the Kenai peninsula.

The people of Anchorage welcomed public radio. Yet Anchorage was not the first Alaska community to get a public radio station. In fact, it wasn't even near the head of the line. By 1978, eight public radio stations were already on the air serving communities in western Alaska and in Southeast, communities previously with little radio service — or none at all.

In 1978, the managers of those other public radio stations and I banded together to form a new statewide radio network. We called it the Alaska Public Radio Network. In our centerpiece program, a Juneau reporter used a pay phone in the capitol building to broadcast a 15-minute report on each day's legislative activities. It was an early, primitive version of today's "Gavel-to-Gavel" coverage. APRN is now a well-known and respected source of Alaska news. Its programs are carried on 27 stations across the state.

Yes, KSKA and APRN are all grown up. And they've merged with KAKM, Anchorage's public television station. The three are housed in the Elmo Sackett Broadcast Center — still on the campus of APU.

Technology has changed the way we use radio. The car radio's KSKA button is often pushed, but we also listen to KSKA live on the Internet, and we can do that from anywhere in the U.S. or the world. If we miss a KSKA or APRN program, a podcast is waiting, available with only a click.

With the Internet, it's no longer a question of who has the most powerful transmitter. Now people listen to the station with the best, most appealing, and most relevant programs.
For many of us, that station is KSKA.

Alex Hills, Ph.D., who lives in Palmer, worked through the decade of the 1970s to establish public broadcast stations and telecommunication networks across Alaska. His adventures in rural Alaska are the subject of his latest book, "Finding Alaska's Villages: And Connecting Them."

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) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

That little shaker was a 4.3 magnitude earthquake near Talkeetna

Wed, 2018-08-15 10:28

PALMER — A small earthquake rumbled across parts of Southcentral Wednesday morning.

The quake, initially estimated as a magnitude 4.3, triggered numerous reports from the public, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center.

Most of the reports came from Anchorage, Wasilla and Chugiak and Eagle River, according to the center website. A few came in from Talkeetna and Willow.

The quake was centered about five miles east-southeast of the Talkeetna "Y" and 63 miles north of Anchorage.