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Admit it: Fox News has been right all along

Tue, 2019-04-16 04:07

Attorney General William Barr appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Andrew Harnik/)

Throughout most of southern Ohio, residents who watch cable news are predominantly glued to one channel: Fox News.

People there don't watch Fox News to know what to think; they already know what they think, and they avoid news channels that insult their intelligence and core beliefs. Yes, Fox News is an echo chamber for the right, but no more than CNN and MSNBC are for the left, as far as conservatives are concerned. To be fair, when a Democrat is in the White House, the networks switch places, with Fox News criticizing every move, and MSNBC and CNN defending the Oval Office fortress.

But for now, while partisans on the left may quibble, the fact remains that on the subject of collusion with Russia by President Donald Trump or his campaign, Fox News was right and the others were wrong. For at least two years, MSNBC and CNN devoted hour upon hour, day after day, to promoting the narrative that Trump colluded with the Russians, and that special counsel Robert Mueller was going to prove it. That turned out to be wrong.

Along with defending Trump, Fox News hosts such as Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and, especially, Sean Hannity have been slammed for spending nearly two years clamoring for an investigation of the investigators, aligning themselves with the president's claim of a politically motivated witch hunt. Most of the media portrayed such accusations as preposterous, designed merely to divert attention from Trump's alleged misdeeds.

But then comes Attorney General William Barr, dropping a bombshell last week by declaring during congressional testimony that he thinks "spying did occur" on the Trump campaign in 2016, and that he is looking into it. Democrats and many in the media immediately blasted Barr for carrying Trump's water. Barr soon clarified his remarks, saying, "I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I'm saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it."

Just three weeks ago, before Mueller wrapped up his report, The Washington Post - in a story representative of mainstream sources at the time - produced a mostly flattering profile of the new attorney general. "A Justice Department official told The Washington Post last month that Barr is viewed at the department as 'a lawyer's lawyer' and is seen as less politically minded than his predecessors," the story noted.

Timothy Flanigan, a former Barr colleague at the Justice Department, described Barr's independent streak, saying, "If Bill starts getting the tweet treatment, Bill is a tough guy. He's a tough, tough guy. Not that Jeff Sessions wasn't, but I don't think Bill's just going to sit there and take it. I think he would make sure that the president understood that it is not really a smart thing to be lambasting the attorney general."

Now, Barr is being cast by the liberal cable channels and others as an unscrupulous political hack attached to the president's leash. On CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that Barr "may be whitewashing" his summary of the report. Such accusations represent an unlikely turn of events for a 68-year-old professional with an impeccable record and a career more behind him than in front of him.

For Fox News devotees in southern Ohio and other Trump strongholds, nothing from the Mueller investigation has provided cause to waver from their preferred news source. Meanwhile, even regular viewers of CNN and MSNBC must certainly recognize the straws being grasped to justify sticking with a conspiracy theory that has been largely debunked - although the expected release of Mueller's report this week will probably provide just enough juice for one last effort.

After two years of conjecture from all sides, some hard truths have emerged. Russia did try to influence the 2016 election. Neither Trump nor his campaign conspired with Russia. The president's actions did not rise to criminal obstruction of justice. And how and why this all began may well turn out to be the most troubling story of all.

During his confirmation hearing in January, Barr told senators, "I am not going to do anything that I think is wrong, and I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong. By anybody. Whether it be editorial boards, or Congress or the president. I'm going to do what I think is right." Observers at the time took Barr's comments as reassurance of his independence from Trump, but in hindsight it should be noted that he mentioned editorial boards and Congress first.

Barr’s career does not paint a portrait of someone who chases tin-foil-hat conspiracies. There’s enough evidence in the public record to raise valid suspicions that the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign was motivated not by real concerns about national security, but rather by a loathing of the candidate. And though new facts may emerge in the full, redacted report, they won’t change the larger truth. It would behoove serious journalists to put aside their political biases and delve into a story that might actually be worthy of Watergate comparisons - even if it includes the painful admission that Fox News has been right all along.

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

Trump is a threat to religious freedom

Tue, 2019-04-16 04:01

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., sits with fellow Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee during a bill markup, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite/)

WASHINGTON -- So another norm of public decency falls, like a historical building demolished to make way for one of Donald Trump’s tasteless towers.

When the president of the United States goes after an American Muslim -- in this case Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who came to the U.S. as a Somali refugee -- using images of the 9/11 attacks, it is cruel, frightening and dangerous in new ways.

It is cruel because Trump essentially delivered his political rant while standing on desecrated graves. The images he employed not only included burning buildings but burning human beings, drafted into a sad and sordid political ploy. Is nothing sacred to Trump? When said aloud, the question sounds like an absurdity. Trump has never given the slightest indication of propriety, respect or reverence. His narcissism leaves no room to honor other people or to honor other gods. Both the living and the dead matter only as servants to the cause of Trump himself.

This cruelty extends to those who have fled war in Syria. Barack Obama did little to serve their interests. Now, the victims of violence are treated as villains in Trump's fictional version of global threats. Syrian refugees, according to Trump, are "trying to take over our children and convince them how wonderful ISIS is, and how wonderful Islam is." On the strength of such calumnies, Trump has essentially destroyed America's asylum system.

This has led to a frightening state of affairs. By all the evidence, Trump is an anti-Muslim bigot. At one campaign event in 2015, a member of the audience stated, "We have a problem in this country; it's called Muslims." And he went on to ask, "When can we get rid of them?" Trump responded: "We're going to be looking at that and plenty of other things." Imagine a normal politician on the left or right being asked about the possibility of getting rid of all the Christians, or getting rid of all the Jews. They would likely use such a moment to clarify that they aren't, in fact, insanely prejudiced monsters. Trump used such a moment to affirm the instinct of mass deportation and to promise a range of other anti-Muslim actions.

Could this have been a slip of the tongue? No, it wasn't. Trump has a long history of animus -- raw animus -- against one of the Abrahamic faiths. He has said, "We're having problems with the Muslims." And: "There is a Muslim problem in the world." And: "The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem." And: "Islam hates us."

The Koran, in Trump's scholarly opinion, "teaches some very negative vibe." He has claimed: "You have people coming out of mosques with hatred and death in their eyes." He once called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." He has variously and publicly considered the closing of mosques, warrantless searches, and the creation of a national database to track Muslims. In Trump's view, "We're going to have to do things that we never did before."

The president claims to have seen "thousands and thousands" of American Muslims cheering on 9/11 when the towers fell -- a lie and a libel. He attacked a Muslim Gold Star mother, claiming that she "wasn't allowed" to speak at the Democratic convention because of her faith -- a lie and a libel. He has praised General John Pershing for executing Muslim insurgents in the Philippines with bullets dipped in pig's blood -- a historical myth, but a revealing fantasy of anti-Muslim war crimes.

By all the evidence, Trump believes that Islam is incompatible with American ideals and that Muslims are, as a group, threatening to American security. This is not only rank religious bigotry; it is the attitude most likely to alienate some Muslims from American ideals and turn a dangerous few toward radicalism and violence.

None of this requires us to believe that Omar is a wise or thoughtful public figure. She isn't. She traffics in the worst anti-Semitic tropes. But Trump's perception of religious liberty as freedom only for the faiths he prefers is a potential threat to every religious group. What if some future leader views Mormonism as incompatible with American democracy, or evangelical Protestantism? By what principle would Trump supporters be able to criticize discrimination against such groups?

Religious freedom is either rigorously equal, or it becomes an instrument of those in power to favor or disfavor religions of their choice. And those believers who are currently in favor may someday discover what disfavor is like.

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

A North Pole student kicked a boy who walked into the girl’s bathroom. Then she got expelled.

Tue, 2019-04-16 03:52

(AP file photo/Bill Sikes) (Bill Sikes/)

A female student at North Pole High School kicked a boy in the crotch when he went into the girls’ bathroom, according to the school district superintendent. Then she got expelled, her family says.

The boy was one of seven male students who decided to go into the girls’ bathroom on April 4 “as a form of protest” after a transgender student took a selfie in the boys’ bathroom, said a statement Monday from Karen Gaborik, superintendent of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

The incident gained attention Friday when Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, brought it up during an unrelated press conference in Juneau. She criticized the district’s response. By Monday, the North Pole bathroom incident became national news.

The girl’s family declined to comment Monday for this article, but confirmed the girl was expelled “indefinitely” and was appealing the expulsion. A boy involved in the incident also declined to comment Monday.

A social media post triggered the incident, according to Gaborik’s statement.

On April 1, a student transitioning from female to male took a selfie in the boys’ bathroom and posted it on Snapchat, she said. Some male students “were upset about the public nature of the post and restroom use,” she said.

“A group of male students decided to go into a girls’ restroom to take a Snapchat of their own, similar to what the transgender student did, as a form of protest,” she said.

“On April 4, a group of male students began to enter the restroom."

When the first boy went into the girls’ bathroom, he was met by a female student. The girl, who was not the transgender student, “kicked the first male student in the groin,” Gaborik said in the statement. Only the first boy had made it past the door frame, she said. The others followed behind him.

“The male students turned around and left the area,” she said.

Gaborik told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that the boy was referred for medical treatment, but she couldn’t confirm whether he got treatment.

“It wasn’t like a 911 call. It was a health aide saying, ‘Hey, you should really go see a doctor,’” she told the News-Miner.

***This statement was updated at 4:40pm on Monday, April 15, with additional information about dates and prom.*** To...

Posted by Fairbanks North Star Borough School District on Monday, April 15, 2019

The district’s Title IX investigator conducted a multi-day investigation into the incident, Gaborik said in the statement. Title IX is a federal law that guarantees gender equity in education.

The girl and seven boys were disciplined, Gaborik said. The superintendent did not name any of the students in the statement.

“The male students were disciplined for attempting to enter the restroom,” she said. “There was not evidence that the male students were threatening any student or using any type of force toward other students.”

The statement didn’t say what sort of discipline the students received. Sharice Walker, district spokeswoman, said that information is confidential under law and district policy.

In her statement, Gaborik said, there was, and continues to be, conversation among students about transgender students at the high school and the use of restrooms. She said teachers and staff were helping with those conversations.

North Pole High School enrolls roughly 650 students in grades nine through 12. Staff have known of 16 transgender students at the high school in the past three years, Walker said.

“When a student identifies as transgender in our district, the student (and often the family) work with school counselors and administration to determine how to best meet that student’s educational needs,” Gaborik said in the statement. “The conversation includes use of restrooms.”

Some transgender students choose to use gender-neutral bathrooms, some choose to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity and some choose to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender at birth, she said.

“Students are not permitted to determine which restroom facility is appropriate for other students,” Gaborik said. “Students who use or attempt to use a restroom facility that a school administrator has determined is not appropriate for the student could be subject to student discipline.”

Wendy Dominique, president of the Fairbanks school board, declined to comment Monday about whether she believed the district handled the bathroom incident appropriately. She said the board had to wait until the incident went through the appeals process and it had more information.

Rep. Wilson said in an interview Monday that a constituent first alerted her of the incident. She said she then spoke with Gaborik, and was upset when the superintendent told her that the girl should have contacted school staff, and shouldn’t have used “excessive force.” It doesn’t send the right message, Wilson said.

“She is somehow being blamed for this situation when she was the only one where she should’ve been,” Wilson said. “If you feel threatened, you should be able to defend yourself.”

Gaborik said in Monday’s statement that if a student uses force against a peer or staff, “that use of force is evaluated for potential discipline under the self-defense laws of the State and the facts and circumstances of the incident.”

Fire out, organ intact but work ahead for charred Notre Dame cathedral

Tue, 2019-04-16 03:49

Notre Dame cathedral is pictured from the top of the Montparnasse tower, Tuesday April 16, 2019 in Paris. Firefighters declared success Tuesday morning in an over 12-hour battle to extinguish an inferno engulfing Paris' iconic Notre Dame cathedral that claimed its spire and roof, but spared its bell towers. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Thibault Camus/)

PARIS — Firefighters declared success Tuesday morning in an over 12-hour battle to extinguish an inferno engulfing Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral that claimed its spire and roof, but spared its bell towers.

What remained was a blackened shell of the monument immortalized in Victor Hugo's 1831 novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," a building that had survived almost 900 years of tumultuous French history but was devastated amid renovation works at the start of Catholic Easter week.

Its iconic twin bell towers remained visibly intact. Paris officials said the world famous 18th century organ that boasts 8,000 pipes also appeared to have survived, along with other treasures inside the cathedral, after a plan to safeguard heritage was quickly put into action.

At dawn, the twin 69-meter towers swarmed with building specialists and architects, looking tiny from the ground as they conducted analysis.

"The entire fire is out," declared Paris firefighters' spokesman Gabriel Plus, adding that workers were currently "surveying the movement of structures and extinguishing smoldering residues."

"The task is — now the risk of fire has been put aside — about the building, how the structure will resist," said Junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez in front of the cathedral.


This photo provided on Tuesday April 16, 2019 by the Paris Fire Brigade shows fire fighters working at the burning Notre Dame cathedral, Monday April 15, 2019. Experts assessed the blackened shell of Paris' iconic Notre Dame Tuesday morning to establish next steps to save what remains after a devastating fire destroyed much of the cathedral that had survived almost 900 years of history. (Benoit Moser, BSPP via AP) (Benoit Moser /)
Man kneels as people came to watch and photograph the Notre Dame cathedral after the fire in Paris, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Experts are assessing the blackened shell of Paris' iconic Notre Dame cathedral to establish next steps to save what remains after a devastating fire destroyed much of the almost 900-year-old building. With the fire that broke out Monday evening and quickly consumed the cathedral now under control, attention is turning to ensuring the structural integrity of the remaining building. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Christophe Ena/)
Firefighters work at the facade of Notre Dame cathedral Tuesday April 16, 2019 in Paris. Experts assessed the blackened shell of Paris' iconic Notre Dame Tuesday morning to establish next steps to save what remains after a devastating fire destroyed much of the cathedral that had survived almost 900 years of history. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Thibault Camus/)
Smoke and flames fill the sky as a fire burns at the Notre Dame Cathedral during the visit by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below.(Philippe Wojazer/Pool via AP) (PHILIPPE WOJAZER/)

One of the city’s five senior vicars, Philippe Marsset, told AP: “If God intervened (in the blaze) it was in the courage of the firefighters.”

"Notre Dame was destroyed but the soul of France was not," Michel Aupetit, archbishop of Paris, said on RMC radio.

Officials consider the fire an accident, possibly as a result of the restoration work taking place at the global architectural treasure, but that news has done nothing to ease the national mourning.

"Notre Dame has survived the revolutionary history of France, and this happened during building works," said influential former Culture Minister Jack Lang.

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild the cathedral that he called "a part of us" and appealed for help to do so.

As the country woke up in collective sadness, its richest businessman, Bernard Arnault, and his luxury goods group LVMH answered that call with a pledge of 200 million euros ($226 million).

A communique said that the Arnault family was "in solidarity with this national tragedy, and join in the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, a symbol of France, of its heritage and togetherness."

Businessman Francois-Henri Pinault and his billionaire father Francois Pinault also said they were immediately giving 100 million euros from their company, Artemis, to help finance repairs.

A statement from Francois-Henri Pinault said "this tragedy impacts all French people" and "everyone wants to restore life as quickly as possible to this jewel of our heritage."

The 12th-century church is home to relics, stained glass and other works of art of incalculable value, and is a leading tourist attraction. Its organ dates to the 1730s and was constructed by Francois Thierry.

"The organ is a very fragile instrument, especially its pipes. It has not burnt, but no one can tell whether it has been damaged by water. Nobody knows if it is a functioning state or will need to be restored," Bertrand de Feydeau, a senior French heritage preservation official, told the AP.

Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire described authorities' "enormous relief" at the salvaging of pieces such as the purported Crown of Christ, which were quickly transported to a "secret location" by officials after the fire.

Religious statues that were removed last week from the cathedral roof as part of a restoration of the monumental Paris church's towering spire were also spared.

The 3-meter-tall copper figures, which looked over the city from Notre Dame's 96-meter-high peak, were sent to southwestern France for work that is part of a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the cathedral spire and its 250 tons of lead.

On Thursday, the public got a first ground-level look at the statues, representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists, when a huge crane lowered them onto a truck.

Icebergs delight visitors at Portage Lake

Tue, 2019-04-16 02:29

John Limon paddleboards past an iceberg grounded in Portage Lake near the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center on Sunday, April 14, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)

People who arrived at the Portage Lake parking lot at the end of Portage Valley in Chugach National Forest on Sunday were pleasantly surprised to see the icebergs along the shore.

An iceberg the size of a two-story house, along with numerous smaller icebergs, floated in the lake near the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center.

Icebergs were more common decades ago when the terminus of the Portage Glacier was still visible. The Begich, Boggs Visitor Center is open May 25 through Sept. 2.


Icebergs grounded near shore in Portage Lake near the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center on Sunday, April 14, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)
John Limon paddleboards past an iceberg grounded in Portage Lake near the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center on Sunday, April 14, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)
A barefoot Grant Gibbs carries an iceberg to shore at Portage Lake on Sunday, April 14, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)
Bubbles trapped inside glacial ice from Portage Glacier are illuminated by sunshine as it rests on the shore of Portage Lake on Sunday, April 14, 2019. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)
Icebergs from Portage Glacier traveled about three miles across Portage Lake before grounding near the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center on Sunday, April 14, 2019. The vistor center will be open May 25 to Sept. 2. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)
Jon Rippe and John Limon carry paddleboards to the parking lot on Sunday, April 14, 2019, after they paddled across Portage Lake to Portage Glacier, where they witnessed the glacier calving. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)




Letter: Ownership and freedom

Mon, 2019-04-15 19:30

Alaska’s future is forever linked to Article 8, Section 1 of our state Constitution. In 50-plus years since statehood, our Legislature has ignored this. Why? Because they are on a power trip! Policy and rights are two different things in their book. Once, long ago, several governors tried to enforce this constitutional policy and it flowed in sync with this statement.

Gov. Walter Hickel was the first, with his announcement of the “owner state.” He had big plans to realize this in the private sector; in fact, his leaving Alaska to be Secretary of Interior was intended to see that Alaskans would benefit from federal permits to build the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Many Alaskans lived to see this as one of the greatest blessings of his work.

Then came Gov. Jay Hammond, seeing that our legislators didn’t or couldn’t follow this policy, and created the big equalizer of the owner state: the Permanent Fund. This was followed by the dividend; rightfully so. All Alaskans would get a share of the new wealth. For 35-plus years it worked as it should, raising Alaskans’ wealth at the same time Alaska grew.

Our Legislature hasn’t yet got a grip of the work our constitution has established without their wisdom or greed. Rights and ownership are synonymous with freedom.

America is the last bastion of ownership and Alaska is still the “North to the Future” state. Please see this clearly, as freedom is eternal vigilance that this generation must undertake. Our Alaska has established its policy.

If our Legislature wants to change this statement of policy to suit its greed, then bring it on in a constitutional amendment. Otherwise, follow it!

— Ed Martin

Cooper Landing

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

Letter: Support a president of climate change action

Mon, 2019-04-15 19:25

If you care about the future of our planet and its inhabitants, “The Uninhabitable Planet: Life After Warming” by David Wallace-Wells lays it all out there in scary detail. Not for the faint of heart, it will scare the bejeebers out of you. But, it is not a fictional horror story. It is a horror story of a very real and undeniable climate future of unheard of proportions. Literally. Most of you won’t read it (“normalcy bias” won’t let you). But you should, as climate change unfolds into the very dark reality it will become.

Everyone should know what’s coming. More than 10 years ago, scientists and climatologists around the planet predicted this current decade as our first taste of abnormally huge and frequent natural disasters. That speaks for itself.

In the next decade, those same scientists predict our military will make the necessary shift from protectors of the homeland to disaster relief agents on a national scale. Later in the same decade and into the 2030s, American politicians, as they always do, will throw alarming (and misguided) amounts of money at the problem, as politicians on both sides of the aisle believe more money cures everything. Sadly and alarmingly, the folks who have the resources to actually do something about it will respond (if at all) after it’s too late. That would be the top 1% who garner most of the nation’s (and the world’s) wealth.

Call me an alarmist or a realist — or a quack. In any event, the presidential candidate I vote for in 2020 will be the one who has climate change action as the base of their political platform. If humanity fails to address this herd of elephants in the room, all other issues will be moot.

— Wayne Jones

Palmer

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

Letter: Budget thoughts

Mon, 2019-04-15 19:22

Like it or not, our great state is mired in a recession, evidenced by the fact that a typical Alaska private-sector business, GCI, depends on the generosity of the American taxpayers. Unlike the former governor, the company is laying off nearly 90 Anchorage taxpayers.

Let’s get this straight: 29,000 Anchorage government, Anchorage School District and non-profit, government-dependent employees are not the voice of Alaskans, but they are the squeaky wheel.

Each year, Sen. Bill Wielechowski, sends out a survey of possible issues to the voters of a safe Democratic district; the findings should put all elected representatives on notice.

For example, Alaskans are calling for cuts in spending and a broad-based revenue measure, flat education spending, and hugely support a hands-off-the-dividend policy.

I encourage everyone to go to Bill’s Facebook page and take a good look at the results of this years survey, because the voice of the silent majority matters too!

— Clinton Hodges

Anchorage

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

Letter: The real issues

Mon, 2019-04-15 19:16

In these tumultuous times with the U.S. president, and now also volatile times with Gov. Mike Dunleavy, I believe we need to focus on the big picture: traffic patterns in Anchorage.

Fireweed Lane dead-ending into Rogers Park does not have the right of way over the inbound and outbound Seward Highway. Time the lights. Spenard Road crossing Minnesota Drive is not the main artery. Time the lights. Mountain View Drive turning into Airport Heights is not as important as the inbound and outbound Glenn Highway. Time the lights.

I understand these are “calming” intersections, but if you time the lights to the safe speed of these sections of road, people going too slow or too fast will have to stop at every intersection. Those moving at or near the speed limit will be able to smoothly get to their destination without the headache and stress of gridlock.

Also, if you are on Tudor Road, please try to drive the speed limit. It’s not that scary.

— Grant Hedman

Anchorage

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

Union sues to block privatization of Alaska Psychiatric Institute

Mon, 2019-04-15 18:52

JUNEAU — Alaska State Employees Association Local 52 filed suit Monday against the state of Alaska, alleging the Department of Health and Social Services has violated bargaining agreements, state law and the Alaska Constitution as it seeks to privatize operations of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute.

“We want the state of Alaska to do this the right way, and it hasn’t been done the right way,” said Jake Metcalfe, executive director of the union, by phone Monday.

Matt Shuckerow, press secretary to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, said the administration does not comment on ongoing litigation.

The association represents more than 200 employees at the state’s only public psychiatric hospital, according to the complaint filed Monday in Anchorage District Court. The complaint seeks damages and an injunction against the state, blocking it from privatizing the hospital.

The union is also asking for a temporary restraining order, meaning the first hearings in the matter are likely to happen this week.

Metcalfe said the union’s disagreement with the state is over the second part of a two-phase agreement between the Department of Health and Social Services and Wellpath Recovery Solutions, a Tennessee-based firm. In February, the governor’s administration said it would turn over management of API to Wellpath.

Under that agreement, Wellpath is in charge of resolving an ongoing staffing and safety crisis at the hospital that has left its Medicaid and Medicare certification in jeopardy. (The hospital was accredited by an independent review body on Friday.)

After that situation is resolved, Phase 2 of the state’s agreement with Wellpath is scheduled to begin Sept. 1. That arrangement pays Wellpath $40.4 million per year (plus $3.3 million in pass-through costs) for five years to operate the facility.

Shuckerow said by email that the Wellpath agreement was not driven by budgetary considerations but by the emergency state of the hospital.

The Wellpath agreement was a sole-source contract, which has drawn the attention of skeptical lawmakers. In a committee hearing earlier this month, members of the House of Representatives were told by the state’s chief procurement officer that he was not aware that Providence Health Services had also expressed interest in management of the hospital.

The union’s lawsuit incorporates information from that hearing but is predicated upon the idea that the union was shut out of the state’s decision to privatize.

“We’ve spent a good couple of months trying to convince them that they have to follow a certain procedure, and I guess they’ve basically refused to listen to us because they haven’t replied,” Metcalfe said.

According to the union’s contract with the state, any privatization program should be preceded by a financial feasibility study, and the union is to be allowed a chance to offer a counterproposal.

The union alleges that didn’t happen.

Metcalfe said the union filed suit reluctantly but feels legal action is necessary to protect the hospital’s patients and the interests of the union’s members.

“It’s not something we want to do. We really think it’s the last process that we can engage in, and it’s really, really disappointing that they would put their own employees and our most vulnerable people in society through this process,” he said.



State officials: No progress yet on senior benefits funding shortfall

Mon, 2019-04-15 18:35

JUNEAU — State officials have not yet resolved a funding shortfall that threatens to halt benefit payments to more than 4,700 senior Alaskans in May and June.

Speaking to members of the House Health and Social Services Committee Saturday, the director of the state Department of Health and Social Services was asked if employees had found a way to shift money to cover an estimated $800,000 gap in the state’s senior benefits program.

“They’re evaluating to see if there are funds available throughout the department to see if we can actually fill that. At this point in time, we don’t have a clear answer,” said the commissioner-designee, Adam Crum.

Without a solution, an estimated 4,731 Alaskans will miss their payments of $76 per month. The money is designated for seniors who earn between $1,300 and $2,275 per month. Seniors who earn more than that amount are not eligible for the senior benefits program; payments for poorer recipients are not affected.

“Those people need that money, and not giving it to them is not going to improve their situation,” said Rep. Harriet Drummond, D-Anchorage on Saturday.

In an April 11 letter addressed to Crum, the leaders of the Senate’s majority and minority caucuses asked to pinpoint the source of the shortfall and what could be done to fix it.

The Legislature is in the middle of its annual budget process, and if the situation isn’t resolved, lawmakers risk running into the same issue next year.

Lawmakers are “trying to get a better grasp on the situation,” said Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, and chairman of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee. “We don’t want to create the same situation for next year.”

The coalition House majority and the governor’s office have issued dueling statements of blame, but a close reading of the situation shows both may be at fault.

Last year, lawmakers voted 35-1 in the House and 19-0 in the Senate to renew the senior benefits program through 2024. At the time, fully funding the program would have cost about $25 million per year, but lawmakers supplied only $20 million.

As Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a statement Saturday, lawmakers "knowingly underfunded it.”

That didn’t cause an interruption in benefit payments, however. In the text of the original senior benefits legislation, passed in 2007, there is a clause that states “the department (of Health and Social Services) may reduce or eliminate the cash benefit available to recipients” if funding runs short.

Knowing that, the department reduced the minimum payment from $125 per month to $76 per month, expecting there would be enough money to last the year.

Shawnda O’Brien, director of the state Division of Public Assistance, said Friday that the state processed a backlog of applicants, which led to more people entering the program than expected.

Matt Shuckerow, the governor’s press secretary, said Monday that the total was about 300 people.

O’Brien said Friday that the problem was first identified earlier this spring. That timing has led to additional questions from lawmakers.

The Dunleavy administration has not requested additional funding for senior benefits in a supplemental appropriations bill, and it does not appear to have used budget permission to move money between accounts and cover the gap.

The Legislature last year gave the Department of Health and Social Services permission to move up to $20 million between programs. Asked Friday, O’Brien said she was not aware of any unused money available to fill the gap.

Former Anchorage runner Cheseto clocks world’s fastest marathon by a double amputee

Mon, 2019-04-15 17:40

In this Aug. 19, 2018, photo, former UAA Seawolves runner Marko Cheseto competes in the Skinny Raven Half Marathon during the Anchorage RunFest in Anchorage, Alaska. Cheseto, a former University of Alaska Anchorage runner who lost both of his feet to frostbite in 2011, ran his first marathon Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, and became an American citizen two days later. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News)

Marko Cheseto, a star runner in Anchorage before and after he lost both of his feet to frostbite in 2011, surpassed the world marathon record for double amputees Monday at the Boston Marathon.

Cheseto, racing on carbon-fiber running blades, completed the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 42 minutes, 24 seconds. In a field of more than 30,000 runners, he placed 483rd overall and 450th among men.

Cheseto beat the world’s previous-best time by a below-the-knees double amputee by 28 seconds. Richard Whitehead of Great Britain set the double-amputee world record of 2:42:52 at the 2010 Chicago Marathon.

“It went very well,” Cheseto said. “Going to Boston, I didn’t think I was going to run that fast. But after mile 22, I realized I was within (Whitehead’s) record time, (and) at that point I pushed the last 4.2 miles and I got it.”

He said he doesn’t know how or when his time will be recognized as the new world record.

Cheseto, 35, made his marathon debut in November by running 2:52:30 at the New York City marathon to become the second double amputee in history to break the three-hour barrier. Whitehead was the first.

Earlier this year, Cheseto was named the 2018 Challenged Athlete of the Year by the Road Runners Club of America.

Cheseto came to Anchorage from Kenya in 2008 to run for UAA, where he earned All-America honors six times in track and cross country. In November 2011, despondent over a teammate’s suicide and not dressed for winter weather, he overdosed on prescription drugs and vanished into the woods near campus. He emerged more than two days later with his sneakers frozen to his feet.

Within 18 months he was racing again. In his first race after losing his feet, Cheseto cracked the top 30 in a field of more than 900 runners in the Skinny Mini 6K race in May 2013.


Marko Cheseto, second from left, warms up with some of his former UAA teammates before the 2013 Skinny Mini 6K race. (ADN archives)

He got his degree, got married, started a family and became an assistant coach at Chugiak High. Chesto stayed in Anchorage until last spring when he and his family moved to Florida, where he works for Prostethic & Orthotic Associates of Orlando. He became an American citizen late last year, a couple of days after he ran the New York City marathon.

In February, Cheseto ran a swift 1:120.23 half marathon at Florida’s Gasparilla Distance Classic. That same month, Brian Reynolds of New Jersey ran a world-record 1:19:43 at the New York City Half Marathon.

On Monday, Cheseto completed the first 13.1 miles of his race in 1:20:41.

“If I was only running half, it would have been faster than 1:19.43,” he said. He said his next race will be the Chicago Marathon in October.

Among the thousands of runners who competed Monday in Boston were about 50 Alaskans.

Keri McEntee of Fairbanks was the top Alaska woman in 2:45:28, a time that left her 28 seconds shy of meeting the qualifying time for the U.S. Olympic marathon trials.

McEntee, the two-time defending champion of Anchorage’s Mayor’s Marathon, placed 50th among women and 670th overall. The 29-year-old was 10 minutes faster than she was a year ago in Boston, when runners contended with pouring rain.

Also running faster this year than last year was Jerry Ross of Anchorage, 43, who once again was Alaska’s top finisher. He was 211th overall and 197th among men in 2:35:19, beating his time from a year ago by more than eight minutes.

Other notable Alaska finishes included marathon newcomer Lyon Kopsack of Palmer, 23, who finished two seconds ahead of Cheseto in 2:42:22 for 479th place. John Huffer of Fairbanks, 55, placed 10th in his age group and 2,618th overall in 2:59:54, and Laura Fox of Anchorage, 38, placed 163th among women and 2,511th overall in 2:59:29.



Conversation: UAA’s new pastry professor talks about her sweet journey with food and teaching

Mon, 2019-04-15 16:06

Kellie Puff drips chocolate from a mold back into a warming pan. Puff hosted a chocolate workshop at the UAA Campus Bookstore on April 4, 2019. A first-year assistant professor in UAA’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality program, she showed about 40 people how to create Easter-themed chocolate eggs and bunnies. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)

Chef Kellie Puff hosted a workshop, and it was sweet.

Puff’s chocolate workshop April 4 drew about 40 people to the UAA Campus Bookstore, where she discussed different kinds of chocolate, equipment and molds to create Easter-themed bunnies and eggs. At the conclusion of the free class, attendees each got a generous sample.

Puff is a first-year assistant professor of baking and pastry arts at UAA’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Administration program. Before that, she worked with Orso, Kincaid Grill and City Diner. She also taught baking and pastry arts at King Career Center (now called King Tech High School) for 10 years and also taught at Allen and Petersen’s cooking school.

As her students devoured her chocolate samples, Puff spoke with ADN about the delicious journey of her life. The interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

Tell me about your background with pastries?

I’ve loved baking since I was a little girl. My mom hated it, so she was really happy when I took an interest in it. ... Everybody had an Easy-Bake Oven, but I didn’t and I wanted one so bad. ... So my mom, she went out and bought the kit that you used to make the cakes in the Easy-Bake Oven. So, I had the little pans and the little mixes and the little spatula. And she taught me how to use the big oven. Eight years old, with my big oven mitts on and pulling cakes in and out of the oven. ... And then she showed me how to measure and how to read a recipe.

And so I took over baking for the family and that developed into my teen years. I had no idea that culinary was something that I could do as a profession. They didn’t have that kind of vocational education in my high school at the time. I figured it out at my 10-year high school reunion. I made all the pastries for opening night. People thought it was done by a professional. I was so excited. I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is amazing.”

And that same week, UAA had sent out a fall flyer, and on the front of it was the culinary program. They highlighted it. I had no idea there was a program here. I toured it. I was hooked. I was like, “I gotta do this. This is the place I need to be. I love this.”


Kellie Puff, left, hosted a chocolate workshop at the UAA Campus Bookstore on April 4, 2019. Student Kyle Furuuchi assists at right. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)

It was a total career change for you?

Total. And I had kids in diapers. There was a lot of juggling. I was working, raising babies. ... We made it work. ... I looked at my sons and thought, I could come up with all kinds of reasons not to do this, but I want to show them that you can do anything you set your mind to.

There’s a lot of obstacles and a lot of hard times that you go through in the process, but in the end it pays off. And it has. I’ve gone so many places with this career that I never dreamed I would’ve gone to.

Will you highlight just a couple of them for me?

I got to do a hands-on intensive class in Oaxaca, Mexico, with Rick Bayless, who owns Topolobompo and Frontera Grill in Chicago ... just a huge culinary force. ... I got to learn cooking from him and I got to cook alongside him ...

I got to meet the Galloping Gourmet ... Graham Kerr. I got to work with him.

Why do you think, of all the different culinary arts, you’re drawn to pastries and desserts?

As a kid I was a really picky eater. I hated onions. I would find them in everything, and I’d pull them out and I’d have a pile of onions on my napkin. I always loved sweet things and I’ve always been intrigued by contrasting flavors and textures. And so, I think I was born with it.

They also seem to make people happy in a different way.

They do. Well some people, not so much. They’re so afraid of eating something sweet, it’s almost like it’s a bad thing. It’s like, oh my goodness, everything in moderation. You don’t have to eat the whole cake. Have a slice. Enjoy it.


Visitors to Kellie Puff's chocolate workshop reach for samples of her work. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)

Watching you today, it looks like you’re pretty enthusiastic, not only about the product but also about teaching. Tell me about teaching.

I love it. I got my first dabble into the teaching side of this when I started working at Allen and Petersen. I went home after a class and I was like, “What is wrong with my jaw?” I realized I had been laughing and smiling so much that my face hurt and it was tired. ... It’s such a blast when you make those connections with people and you inspire them. You can see the light going on and they’re like, “I’m going to go home and try this.”

... Then transitioning into working with high school students, kids are scary. But then you realize, they’re just kids. They’re just people too. There’s usually a reason why they’re being grumpy and snarky. Just have some patience for them.

I feel like I’ve had a lot of impact on some youth over the years. I really enjoy being a strong female figure for the girls coming through the program, and just showing them that you can be feminine and strong and smart and successful in this industry as a woman.

A traditionally very male-dominated industry?

It is.

Still?

Yes, although when you look at our program, you’ll see that we have a lot more females than we do males in our classes.

So the future looks a little different?

It does. It’s just kitchens are intimidating, because it’s fast-paced. It’s hot. It’s a pirate ship of people. You’ve got a guy with an ankle bracelet on one side of you and another guy getting his master’s degree on the other. You just don’t know. It’s just an interesting mix of people and it can be really intimidating to women. And so I try to tell them, “They’re all just people. Don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine.”

Tell me about your first year in the university program?

Oh my goodness. I thought I knew everything about teaching, and then I started teaching adults. ... I was used to doing two-hour classes over at KCC. Here I’m doing five-hour classes, and then I have overlap three days a week, so I’m doing seven hours of instruction nonstop. It takes a lot of energy. ...

That has been my big learning curve here. It’s a high-energy job and I love it and I have a lot of creative freedom. And I love having this huge bakery to spread out and teach students in, but I gotta take care of myself and keep that pace up.

Today you wanted to teach about molding (chocolate) into eggs and molding bunnies. If somebody missed your workshop today wanted to get started, what are a couple tips?

The big thing is getting high-quality chocolate, making sure that you’re not buying the bars of chocolate from the grocery store. You need to invest a little bit of money in your chocolate. ... Invest in a thermometer. Just start playing with the chocolate. Each type of chocolate and each brand of chocolate has its own personality and acts very differently. ...

If you’re just starting out, pick out a chocolate that you like by flavor and then start melting it down and seeing what you can do with it in tempering. Don’t spend a lot of money on molds. Use some of those cheaper plastic molds. Just polish them with a microfiber cloth. And start playing with fillings and ganaches and buttercreams and stuff.

If someone wants to try the work that your students do, where can they go and how can they sample it?

They can sample my students’ work in two ways.

We run a bakery cart Tuesday through Thursday, just outside of the entrance of Lucy’s in the Cuddy Center. We open at 9 and we close at 11. You’re going to see a lot of croissants and danishes, muffins, scones, cookies. Everything is fresh-baked that morning. A lot of times it’s still warm when we put it in the baskets. ...

If you want to see what the advanced students are up to, make a reservation at Lucy’s. You can go online to Open Table and reserve or call in to make a reservation. We’re open Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 to 1:30. Last seating is 12:15 (p.m.).


Kyle Furuuchi holds a paper piping bag as Kellie Puff fills it with melted chocolate. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)

Three dead after snowmachines crash through ice in Northwest Alaska

Mon, 2019-04-15 15:24

Three people died after two snowmachines broke through ice near a Northwest Alaska village, the Alaska State Troopers said on Monday.

The Alaska State Troopers in Kotzebue were notified of the incident at about 1 a.m. on Monday, after one member of the group was able to reach the village of Noatak and notify search and rescue official, according to a report from troopers. It was not immediately clear which frozen body of water the party fell into.

The snowmachines each carried “several people," the report said.

The deaths come amid a remarkably warm spring statewide that has softened ice on rivers and lakes earlier than normal.

Related:

March records for warm weather across Alaska were ‘obliterated’ this year

2 dead near Bethel when four-wheelers fall through river ice amid warnings to stay off




Actress Lori Loughlin and other accused parents plead not guilty in college admissions case

Mon, 2019-04-15 12:36

BOSTON — “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that they paid $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California.

The couple is among 50 prominent parents, athletic coaches and others charged in a sweeping college admissions bribery scam that has embroiled elite school across the country, such as Stanford, Georgetown and Yale.


Actress Lori Loughlin, front, and husband Mossimo Giannulli, left, depart federal court in Boston on April 3. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) (Steven Senne/)

Loughlin and Giannulli filed court documents Monday waiving their right to appear for an arraignment and entering not guilty pleas to the two charges against them. The judge granted their requests, meaning they will not have to show up at Boston’s federal court to be arraigned.

Thirty-three wealthy parents were charged last month in what authorities have called the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department. They are accused of paying admissions consultant Rick Singer to rig standardized test scores and bribe college coaches and other insiders to get their children into selective schools.

Loughlin and Giannulli are charged with paying bribes to have their daughters designated as crew recruits to USC, even though neither of them is a rower. Authorities say Loughlin and Giannulli helped create fake athletic profiles for the teens by sending Singer photos of their teens posing on rowing machines.

After their older daughter was admitted to USC, authorities say Giannulli, whose Mossimo clothing had long been a Target brand until recently, sent Singer an email with the subject line, "Trojan happiness," thanking him for his "efforts and end result!"

Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the sitcom "Full House," and Giannulli haven't publicly addressed the allegations against them.

Their daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli — a social media star who has a popular YouTube channel — was dropped from deals with cosmetics retailer Sephora and hair products company TRESemme after her parents' arrest.

Prosecutors last week added a money laundering conspiracy charge against Loughlin, Giannulli and more than a dozen other parents who are still fighting the case, increasing the pressure on them to plead guilty. Several other parents who were indicted alongside Loughlin and Giannulli have also filed court documents entering not guilty pleas.

Each of the charges Loughlin and Giannulli faces call for up to 20 years in prison, although first-time offenders would get only a small fraction of that if convicted.

Fellow actress Felicity Huffman, who starred in ABC's "Desperate Housewives," and 12 other parents announced last week that they have agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Huffman is scheduled to appear in Boston on May 21 to enter her plea.

Prosecutors have said they will seek a prison sentence on the low end of four to 10 months for Huffman, who was charged with paying $15,000 to boost her daughter's SAT score.

On Friday, a former Florida prep school administrator pleaded guilty to taking entrance exams for students, or correcting their answers, as part of the scam. Prosecutors have said they will seek between 33 to 41 months in prison for Mark Riddell, a Harvard graduate oversaw college entrance exam preparation at IMG Academy.

____

Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at http://www.twitter.com/aedurkinricher


Supreme Court justices avoid saying the name in fashion trademark case

Mon, 2019-04-15 12:24

Los Angeles artist Erik Brunetti, the founder of the streetwear clothing company "FUCT," poses for a photo in Los Angeles Thursday, April, 11, 2019. “We wanted the viewer to question it: Like, is that pronounced the way I think it’s pronounced?” he said of his streetwear brand “FUCT,” which began selling clothing in 1991. On April 15, the Supreme Court will hear Brunetti’s challenge to a part of federal law that says officials should refuse to register trademarks that are “scandalous” or “immoral.” (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) (Damian Dovarganes/)

WASHINGTON — None of the Supreme Court’s justices wanted to say the four-letter word.

The high court was discussing a trademark case Monday involving a Los Angeles-based fashion brand FUCT. But the justices did some verbal gymnastics to get through about an hour of arguments without saying the brand’s name.

Chief Justice John Roberts described it as the "vulgar word at the heart of the case." Justice Samuel Alito called it "the word your client wants to use." And Justice Stephen Breyer called it "the word at issue."

The case has to do with a portion of federal law that says officials should not register trademarks that are "scandalous" or "immoral." Officials have refused to register the brand's name as a result.

But the artist behind the brand, Erik Brunetti, argues that portion of law should be struck down as an unconstitutional restriction on speech.

The government is defending the century-old provision, arguing it encourages trademarks that are appropriate for all audiences. Lawyer Malcolm Stewart, who was arguing for the Trump administration, said the law is not a restriction on speech but rather the government declining to promote certain speech.

Stewart, for his part, also went to great lengths not to say the name of the brand, calling it "the equivalent of the profane past participle form of a well-known word of profanity and perhaps the paradigmatic word of profanity in our language."

Brunetti and others like him who are denied trademark registration under the "scandalous" provision can still use the words they wanted to register for their business, nonprofit or brand, a point some justices underscored. They just don't get the benefits that come with registering a trademark. For Brunetti, that would largely mean a better ability to go after counterfeiters who knock off his designs.

Brunetti's lawyer, John R. Sommer, got the closest to saying the brand's name, using the phrase "the F word" and noting his client's brand "isn't exactly" a "dirty" word.

"Oh, come on. You know, come on," responded Alito, adding: "Be serious. We know...what he's trying to say."

It wasn't clear from arguments how the case might ultimately come out, but Brunetti would seem to have a strong case. Two years ago, the justices unanimously invalidated a related provision of federal law that told officials not to register disparaging trademarks. In that case, an Asian-American rock band sued after the government refused to register its band name, "The Slants," because it was seen as offensive to Asians.

During Monday's argument, some of the justices seemed troubled by what they suggested are inconsistent decisions by the United States Patent and Trademark Office about what gets tagged as scandalous or immoral.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that the office has refused to register some trademarks both by saying they are scandalous and, ironically, too confusingly similar to something that is already registered. For example, the office refused to register "FUK!T" for being scandalous and immoral but also confusingly similar to the already registered "PHUKIT."

Justice Neil Gorsuch said, "There are shocking numbers of ones granted and ones refused" that "do look remarkably similar." Gorsuch suggested that the outcomes in such cases were as arbitrary as the "flip of a coin."

“I don’t want to go through the examples,” he said to laughter. “I really don’t want to do that.”

Letter: Black rifles do matter

Mon, 2019-04-15 12:03

Black rifles do matter

It’s hard to believe that AP writer Mark Thiessen is either so devoid of journalistic curiosity or so biased against guns and conservatives that he failed to research the words, “Black Rifles.” For me, typing in “Black Ri” was enough to bring up the Black Rifle Coffee Co., a veteran-owned small-batch coffee company. Its website offers advertising merchandise, shows support of gun rights and celebrates all veterans present and past, including 2nd Ranger Company: the first and last all-black Army Ranger Unit.

When a reporter and news establishment fail to talk to the parties involved and avoid simple research, they neglect the basic fundamentals of reporting. Please do better in the future.

— Steve Hickman

Anchorage

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

Letter: Keep food Alaska Grown

Mon, 2019-04-15 12:01

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget significantly affects Alaska’s blossoming attempts at food security. Food that isn’t grown in Alaska is imported primarily via Anchorage’s port (mired in a struggling project to provide critical upgrades) and only one highway. We are one major earthquake, port emergency, or missed barge away from significant impacts to our food supply.

The governor’s proposed budget would effectively eliminate the state’s dairy industry and important loans to our state’s farmers. Not only is Alaska’s food security significantly strengthened when we have a robust network of local farmers providing us with food from our own “backyard,” but our economy is also strengthened because our food dollars remain in the state rather than going to large corporations outside of Alaska. Alaska Grown food is truly the freshest, tastiest, healthiest food I can possibly provide for my family.

These farmers need only a modest investment from their local government, an investment that has been paid back over generations as the specialized knowledge about growing food in Alaska is passed down and preserved. Every Alaskan benefits from this investment which ensures we have a steady supply of local food available to us all year long. Contact your legislator and ask them to preserve support for the Agriculture Revolving Loan Fund and the Department of Environmental Conservation’s dairy inspector!

— Kristi Wood

Anchorage

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

Letter: Young does right on domestic violence prevention measure

Mon, 2019-04-15 11:59

The amendment to the Violence Against Women Act, proposed by Rep. Don Young and passed through the U.S. House, is the kind of creative policy Alaska needs, especially with the high rates of violence against indigenous women. Giving these five tribal governments special criminal jurisdiction will be valuable for those villages in rural areas where there is little to no law enforcement. This allows tribal communities to take action when there is a crime committed under VAWA, including sexual assault and rape.

This is important because more than half of sexual assault victims in Alaska are Alaska Natives, even though they only make up 20% of the population. Additionally, in 2016, Alaska had the highest rate of female homicides by men, with 60% of the victims being Alaska Native women. This amendment is a step in reducing the crisis-level rates of violence against Alaska Native women.

— Amanda Capitummino

Sitkans Against Family Violence

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

Letter: The dividend and its effects

Mon, 2019-04-15 11:55

In the 1970s, Alaska had a yearly boom-and-bust economy. From mid-October to the end of April, many businesses closed and people left Alaska in droves as there was no work. In April, people from the Lower 48 came to Alaska to work construction, fisheries and tourism-related fields, then left in October, taking the money they earned with them.

Then the Permanent Fund dividend was established, and that cash infusion allowed many businesses to operate year-round, paying employees so they could afford to stay in Alaska. Construction workers’ partners could work retail or in restaurants or other fields and those families stayed in Alaska and spent their money in Alaska.

Alaska’s economy still depends on construction, oil, tourism and fishing, with the dividend providing a fluid cash infusion in October, allowing businesses to remain open until spring. As the dividend has been reduced, Alaskans have seen many businesses close and the jobs they provide disappear. This will continue as long as the dividend is reduced, and when it is taken by greedy politicians, Alaska will return to the yearly boom-and-bust economy of the 1970s. The money earned will go to the Lower 48; more Alaskans will live in poverty and children will leave the state to find employment as they did before.

The cure to this problem is to continue the dividends until Alaskans find a way to sustain the economy during the winter months. Alaska cannot accomplish this until we stop being a preserve for the rest of the United States. Most of Alaska’s accessible and usable land is owned by the United States government, the state and Native corporations. We must find a way to get accessible land into the hands of businesses and private individuals so that these lands can produce income and reduce regulations on mining so that we can produce materials for production.

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

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