Mason Zink, 14, plays the video game Fortnite during a tournament Saturday at the Alaska Club East. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)
For those who have had the pleasure of playing Fortnite — Epic Games’ award-winning, battle-royale video game — there are few things as sweet as seeing the famous “Victory Royale!” screen for being the last player standing on the island.
From building impenetrable fortresses to executing insane trick shots and trolling enemies with viral internet dances, Fortnite dominates social media, the video-game scene and households across the world.
On Saturday, the game drew a crowd at The Alaska Club East, where the Anchorage health club and Wasilla’s Fly Trampoline Park collaborated to host a Fortnite tournament. It marked the first time an e-sports event has been held at The Alaska Club.
The tournament attracted 42 participants ranging from grade-schoolers to participants in their 30s. Players got to choose their preferred console — Playstation 4 or XBOX One, the two most popular of the seven platforms Fortnite can be played on.
Bodey Siepert, 12, plays a game of Fortnite. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)
Players competed for the first-place prize of a $100 gift card and $50 game card to Fly Trampoline Park, a GameStop gift card and a trophy. Second- and third-place finishers received the same prizes in smaller quantity.
With competitive, headset-wearing gamers deadlocked in the heat of battle, the event also provided a fun, kid-friendly atmosphere complete with neon lights and fog machines. For those who were eliminated from competition, waiting for their turn or just spectating, open consoles were available to play different games such as NBA 2K19.
A majority of the participants were children who were ecstatic to just be at the event with their friends. Win or lose, attitudes were positive.
“It’s super exciting,” 10-year-old Matias Lottinville said. Lottinville, who was one of the first to play, said the tournament was more challenging than playing at home against his friends online.
Julie Pageau, Lottinville’s mother, cheered on Matias while a younger son played Fortnite on his iPhone.
“I thought dad would be here, not mom,” Pageau said, laughing.
William Smith, 8, was among those who made it to the finals. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)
The single-elimination tournament began with seven waves of six-person matches. In each match, a victor was decided by their total number of kills. In the second and final round, the matches consisted of four contestants.
In the final round, everyone played conservatively, focusing on building defenses and attempting to snipe opponents from afar. It went down to the wire, with 8-year-old William Smith taking an early lead and maintaining it with four kills halfway through the 10-minute match.
In the waning minutes, 12-year-old Tylen Renfroe took a commanding three-kill lead over Smith and the other two contestants. His lead was too big for Smith or the others to overcome, allowing Renfroe to walk away with a decisive 10-kill victory.
Tylen Renfroe, 12, won Saturday's tournament. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)
“It was good to win every round and it was super exciting,” Renfroe said. “I thought I was gonna lose in the second round."
Although the tournament was Renfroe’s first e-sports competition, he is a seasoned Fortnite vet.
“I probably play like six hours a day,” he said.
E-sports leagues and competitions have exploded in popularity over the past five years, spawning pro leagues around the globe and creating scholarship opportunities for college students. In Alaska, it’s a sanctioned activity at several high schools.
Tylen Renfroe, wearing yellow, topped a field of 45 tournament players. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)
Given all of that, The Alaska Club hopes to make Fortnite tournaments a monthly occurrence in order to bring more people through its doors.
“A lot of kids play video games right now, so getting them and possibly other people into the gym and its atmosphere while having the event here allows them to see what else they can do," Alaska Club fitness director and youth activities coordinator Ben Griffith said.
The Alaska Club’s next Fortnite tournament in collaboration with Fly Trampoline Park is scheduled for May 18 at The Alaska Club South.
From left, Lewis Harcombe, Walker Mordecai and Bodey Siepert -- all 12 years old -- focus on their games. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)
Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Lori Hinant) (Lori Hinant/)
PARIS — Firefighters battled a blaze Monday at the French capital’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral that sent ash pouring onto tourists and flames shooting out of the world-famous 12th century monument.
It is unclear whether anyone has been hurt. French media quoted the Paris fire brigade saving the fire is “potentially linked” to a $6.8 million renovation project on the church’s spire and its 250 tons of lead.
Flames are shooting out of the roof behind the nave of the cathedral, among the most visited landmarks in the world.
Sights of the flames stopped passers-by in their tracks along the Seine River that passes beneath the cathedral.
French President Emmanuel Macron postponed a televised speech to the nation because of the stunning blaze. Macron's pre-recorded speech was set to be aired Monday evening, to lay out his long-awaited answers to the yellow vest crisis that has rocked the country since last November.
Associated Press reporters at the scene saw massive plumes of yellow brown smoke filling the air above the Cathedral and ash falling on the island that houses Notre Dame and marks the center of Paris.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is in despair at the "terrible fire." Hidalgo said in a Twitter message that Paris firefighters are still trying to limit the fire and urged Paris citizens to respect the security perimeter that has been set around the cathedral.
Hidalgo said Paris authorities are in touch with Paris diocese.
Photo illustration Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch/)
Picture yourself in a room of 10 friends. Six of us have been sexually assaulted or beaten by a partner. That’s what we know about Alaska women: that most of us have been assaulted or abused in our lifetimes. In our communities, on our streets, in our homes. In our Alaska.
These women are my friends and my family. People I have grown up with and watched grow up. People who share my heart and my life, my world and hopes. Women I have hidden behind barricaded doors with fearing a violent spouse. Women I have comforted after hearing of college parties gone violent. Women I have cried with after learning of their assault at the hands of strangers. Women torn apart after the loss of a loved one at the hands of an abuser.
These women are my inspiration and my responsibility. As a lawyer, I have sat with people who have been raped, trafficked, stabbed and beaten. These women, my clients, were terrified of being deported or having their kids taken from them if they came forward with their truths. These women are anxious to reclaim their lives as women instead of victims. This hope is possible only when there is help.
The truth is, the statistics aren’t the story – they don’t describe the total impact of sexual violence and assault on us as individuals and us as Alaskans. It may be that six out of 10 Alaskan women, and too many men, have been assaulted or abused. But all of us suffer because of the violence. Sexual violence and child sexual assault are a persistent and pernicious piece of our lives in Alaska. This truth defines us for what we are not – safe and secure for the majority of Alaskan women and too many of our children. As we strive for justice, for equity in our state, we have so far to go. No-one is safe until we all are safe.
Our community, our legacy will be measured by our willingness to stand up, not stand by. To fight back against these horrific stories and statistics. For the time being, we who can speak must speak. We who can support local organizations such as Stand Together Against Rape (STAR), the Alaska Institute for Justice, Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis (AWAIC), the Family Wellness Warriors Initiative, and AlaskaCares, must support this work. We are all on the front lines of intervention.
But more importantly, we must stand up to make room for the voices of women and children who are surviving this violence. To reclaim our communities, our homes, our streets. To stand with women and children as we tell our stories without fear. To claim our basic human right to live without violence. And to claim our promise as Alaskans to live equitable, just and safe lives.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month throughout the United States. During this month, we are challenged to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate ourselves on prevention. Picture yourself back in that room of Alaskan women. Realize that violence has impacted the majority of the people in that room. Understand that because everyone in the room is an Alaskan, a friend or neighbor, all have been affected by violence. Ask yourself: What will you do to help?
Mara Kimmel is the First Lady of Anchorage. In that role, she leads efforts to create a more welcoming, safe community.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.
iStock (Getty Images/iStockphoto/)
It may be a bit unsettling for some parents to read about the statistics and the demands of children’s reading abilities by the age of 9, but there are several things parents can do that will be helpful to their young readers.
Phonemic awareness, which is being cognitively aware of the sounds of vowels and consonants, comes early in life for everyone. It is important for us to articulate these sounds in order to blend letters and make words.
Early recognition of letters in the alphabet will help children be aware of words, as they hear sounds being blended and read as words. Putting magnets on a fridge is a great start for recognizing letters. Parents can also point out environmental letters and words wherever they go with their children.
Once children start seeing the letters blended into words, then sentences will follow.
A social constructivist named Lev Vygotsky developed a theory called the Zone of Proximal Development. This just means that each person has their own “zone” in which they learn. When teachers know a student’s zone, instruction can be differentiated to build within that knowledge.
Reading tests, such as Measures of Academic Progress, Accelerated Reading and the Scholastic Reading Test are given in school that help measure an individual’s comprehension and fluency. Once we know the Accelerated Reading level or the Lexile level, we are able to find books that are just right for a child to read: challenging enough to stimulate a child’s reading interests and skills, but not too hard that they don’t enjoy it.
On Lexile.com, there is a form to fill out for the reader’s interests, and the Lexile level can be plugged in to find a plethora of books that are “just right” for readers.
Another way to help kids is to read to them every day. When adults read and discuss stories with children, it enhances comprehension.
If a child finds a book they love to read, encourage them to read it as much as they want, and read it to other kids. The more they read it, the more fluent they get.
Once they get that feeling of being a fluent reader, they will want to read even more!
An easy test to see if a book is good for someone is the “five-finger rule.” As a child reads the first page of a book (say, a chapter book), count all the words that are missed. If they miss more four to five words on the first page, then they are not ready for that book. Children can then be encouraged to practice reading until they can build their skills up enough to read that book.
These are just a few tips on helping children read in a positive way. Reading can be a lot of fun!
Karen Krejci, M.Ed., Reading Specialist (UAF), is also a retired Alaskan teacher, a mother, grandmother and always an advocate of reading.
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 email@example.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.
Attorney General William Barr leaves his home in McLean, Va., on Monday, April 15, 2019. Barr told Congress last week he expects to release his redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation report "within a week." (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) (Jose Luis Magana/)
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department expects to make a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation public Thursday morning, a spokeswoman said Monday.
The redacted report would be sent to Congress and also made available to the public, spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
As Washington counted down until the release, President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks in an eleventh-hour effort to undermine the report's findings.
Trump unleashed a series of tweets on Monday — including two just minutes after the Justice Department's announcement — focusing on the favorable toplines in the previously released summary produced by Attorney General William Barr.
Mueller officially concluded his investigation late last month and submitted the confidential report to Barr. Two days later, the attorney general sent Congress a four-page letter that detailed Mueller's "principal conclusions."
In his letter, Barr said the special counsel did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump associates during the campaign, but Mueller did not reach a definitive conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice. Instead, Mueller presented evidence on both sides of the obstruction question. Barr said he did not believe the evidence was sufficient to prove that Trump had obstructed justice.
"Mueller, and the A.G. based on Mueller findings (and great intelligence), have already ruled No Collusion, No Obstruction," Trump tweeted. "These were crimes committed by Crooked Hillary, the DNC, Dirty Cops and others! INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS!"
In his letter, Barr noted that Mueller's team did not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice.
Democrats immediately called for Mueller to testify and for his report to be released. Portions of the report being released by the Justice Department will be redacted to protect grand jury material, sensitive intelligence, matters that could affect ongoing investigations and damage to the privacy rights of third parties, the attorney general has said.
Trump and his allies are also attacking the origins of the Russia investigation, portraying it as an effort by Democrats and career officials in the Justice Department who wanted to bring down a president.
"The Mueller Report, which was written by 18 Angry Democrats who also happen to be Trump Haters (and Clinton Supporters), should have focused on the people who SPIED on my 2016 Campaign, and others who fabricated the whole Russia Hoax. That is, never forget, the crime." Trump tweeted.
Trump's long- asserted accusation — though not supported by evidence — that his campaign was spied upon was given new life last week when Barr, testifying before Congress, said he thinks "spying did occur" in 2016.
Barr may have been referring to a surveillance warrant the FBI obtained in the fall of 2016 to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing. The warrant was obtained after Page had left the campaign and was renewed several times. Critics of the Russia investigation have seized on the fact that the warrant application cited Democratic-funded opposition research, done by a former British spy, into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.
Barr later softened his tone, adding "I am not saying improper surveillance occurred."
The attorney general's comments have frustrated Democrats, already anxious for the release of the full, uncensored report and concerned that Barr may withhold pertinent information. The report could provide new information that could prompt further investigations or even consideration of impeachment proceedings, a tricky political calculation since Mueller did not conclude there was collusion or obstruction.
The scores of outstanding questions about the investigation has not stopped the president's allies from declaring victory.
The Russia probe began on July 31, 2016, when the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 presidential campaign and the question of whether anyone on the Trump campaign was involved. That probe was prompted by former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos' contacts with Russian intermediaries, including a Maltese professor who told the young aide that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails.
Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writer Chad Day contributed to this report.
Question: I believe I’m going to be fired today. My manager is unfair and throws others under the bus with our corporate senior management to escape trouble for himself. I’ve heard he’s made me the scapegoat for everything that’s gone wrong in our branch. I want to ask him, point blank, what exactly I’ve done that’s been bad enough to fire me. I want to record him and use his misinformation to fight my termination.
We moved here from Seattle for this job, which has turned out to be a nightmare because of this manager. When I told my sister my plan, she said I need to ask my manager for permission, first which I know he won’t give me. Can I secretly record our meeting?
Answer: Yes, unless your company has a policy banning recording. Alaska, like New York, the District of Columbia, Colorado, Texas and Virginia, is a “one-party consent” state, meaning you’re generally permitted to record a face-to-face conversation even without the other person’s knowledge or consent. The Alaska Supreme Court has held that Alaska’s eavesdropping statute, A.S. 20.20.310, addresses third-party interception of communications and doesn’t apply to someone who is a party to a conversation. In Washington, all parties need to consent to the recording of any private conversation, whether conducted face to face or over the phone.
The media is full of those who have successfully recorded termination meetings. Omarosa Manigault-Newman recorded her termination meeting with her then-boss, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, to support her claim that Kelly threatened her.
Additionally, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notes that employees can record a supervisor’s alleged harassment, as occurred when Simone Grimes supported her sexual harassment lawsuit by recording Federal Housing Agency Director Mel Watt urging her that they explore what he sensed was an “attraction” between the two of them and noting that he could fast-track a promotion for her. According to Grimes’ allegations in her EEOC complaint and separate lawsuit, the pay increase she had been promised required Watt's approval, but when she brought it up, he seemed interested in a quid pro quo. Wyatt denied wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, an employer can prohibit its employees from recording conversations at work without getting others’ consent when its policy is based on the employer’s legitimate business needs and doesn’t violate its employees’ right to engage in protected “concerted” activities such as discussing wages and working conditions with coworkers. For example, an employer could restrict employee recordings in hospitals or medical facilities as those recordings might violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
To be in compliance with the National Labor Relations Act, employer policies need to note that employees may record conversations if they do so to address harassment, discrimination, unsafe or hazardous conditions, grievances, inconsistent application of employer rules or discussions with management or coworkers about the terms and conditions of their employment.
Finally, while Alaska’s one-party consent status allows you to secretly record your manager, you take a risk. If your senior management realizes you regularly and secretly record others, they may decide to exercise their employment “at will” right and terminate you. Also, if you surreptitiously record your manager to gain an unfair advantage, for example to blackmail him with a recording to secure a bonus or promotion or avoid a legitimate termination, your recording might be criminally illegal.
Lawrence Cherono, of Kenya, breaks the tape to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in front of Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, right, on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Charles Krupa/)
BOSTON — The two-time Boston Marathon champion turned onto Boylston Street with a sliver of a lead, leaning in front of two others with the finish line in sight.
But one of them was Lawrence Cherono, the fastest man in the field.
And he needed every bit of his speed.
Cherono outkicked Lelisa Desisa and passed him just steps away from the tape, winning the 123rd Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 7 minutes 57 seconds on Monday to claim his first major victory.
Desisa, the Ethiopian who won the 2013 race that was marred by the finish line bombing and claimed a second victory in '15, eased up after realizing he was beaten and finished 2 seconds back. Kenneth Kipkemoi was third, another 8 seconds behind, one of seven Kenyans in the top 10.
Worknesh Degefa, of Ethiopia, breaks the tape to win the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Charles Krupa/)
Worknesh Degefa broke away from defending champion Des Linden and the rest of the women’s pack in the Framingham flats and ran alone for the last 20 miles to her first major marathon victory.
The 28-year-old Ethiopian finished in 2:23:31 to become the eighth Ethiopian woman to win the race and the third in seven years. Kenya's Edna Kiplagat was second, American Jordan Hasay was third and Linden was fifth.
One year after an icy rain and a near-gale headwind resulted in the slowest winning times in four decades, race organizers again prepared for the foul New England weather. But overnight thunderstorms moved on before the runners left Hopkinton; the sun even made an appearance about halfway through.
Linden took advantage of last year's storm to splash her way to the first win for an American woman since 1985.
But with conditions back to normal, so were the results: East Africans from Kenya and Ethiopia dominating the podiums.
Fans cheer on the third wave of runners at the start of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne) (Stew Milne/)
A field of 30,000 runners followed the elites, ditching their trash bags and ponchos on the Hopkinton Green before embarking on the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Copley Square. It’s the first time the race has been run on April 15 since the 2013 attacks; officials planned a ceremony at 2:49 p.m. to honor those killed or maimed by the two pressure cooker bombs that exploded near the finish line.
Daniel Romanchuk, 20, became the youngest-ever men's wheelchair champion in Boston. He finished in 1:21:36 for the fastest time ever for an American.
Manuela Schar won the women’s race for the second time, adding it to her titles in in Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo. If she wins in London in two weeks, she will have swept the World Marathon Major series.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. workers remotely make operation for removing fuels at Unit 3 of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan Monday. April 15, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP) (110445+0900/)
TOKYO — The operator of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant began removing fuel Monday from a cooling pool at one of three reactors that melted down in the 2011 disaster, a milestone in what will be a decades-long process to decommission the facility.
An operation is underway to remove fuel from a cooling pool at Unit 3 of the Fukushima nuclear plant Monday. (Tokyo Electric Power Co. via AP)
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said workers started removing the first of 566 used and unused fuel units stored in the pool at Unit 3. The fuel units in the pool located high up in reactor buildings are intact despite the disaster, but the pools are not enclosed, so removing the units to safer ground is crucial to avoid disaster in case of another major earthquake similar to the one that caused the 2011 tsunami.
TEPCO says the removal at Unit 3 will take two years, followed by the two other reactors, where about 1,000 fuel units remain in the storage pools.
Removing fuel units from the cooling pools comes ahead of the real challenge of removing melted fuel from inside the reactors, but details of how that might be done are still largely unknown. Removing the fuel in the cooling pools was delayed more than four years by mishaps, high radiation and radioactive debris from an explosion that occurred at the time of the reactor meltdowns, underscoring the difficulties that remain.
Workers are remotely operating a crane built underneath a jelly roll-shaped roof cover to raise the fuel from a storage rack in the pool and place it into a protective cask. The whole process occurs underwater to prevent radiation leaks. Each cask will be filled with seven fuel units, then lifted from the pool and lowered to a truck that will transport the cask to a safer cooling pool elsewhere at the plant.
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2018, file photo, an installation of a dome-shaped rooftop cover housing key equipment is near completion at Unit 3 reactor of the Fukushima Dai-ich nuclear power plant ahead of a fuel removal from its storage pool in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeast Japan. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday, April 18, 2019, workers started removing the first of 566 fuel units stored in the pool at Unit 3. The fuel units in the pool are not enclosed and their removal to safer ground is crucial to avoid disaster in case of another major quake. (AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi, File) (Mari Yamaguchi/)
The work is carried out remotely from a control room about 500 meters (yards) away because of still-high radiation levels inside the reactor building that houses the pool.
"I believe everything is going well so far," plant chief Tomohiko Isogai told Japanese public broadcaster NHK. "We will watch the progress at the site as we put safety first. Our goal is not to rush the process but to carefully proceed with the decommissioning work."
About an hour after the work began Monday, the first fuel unit was safely stored inside the cask, TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said. Monday's operation was to end after a fourth unit is placed inside the cask, he said. No major damage was found on the fuel unit Monday, but plant officials will closely examine if there are any pinholes or other irregularities, Kimoto said.
The removal, however, raises a storage capacity concern at the plant because the common pool, where fuel from the Unit 3 pool heads to, already has 6,000 fuel units and is almost full. Kimoto said TEPCO has made room at the common pool for the incoming fuel by moving years-old and sufficiently cooled fuel into dry casks for safer, long-term storage, though further details are being worked out.
In 2014, TEPCO safely removed all 1,535 fuel units from the storage pool at a fourth reactor that was idle and had no fuel inside its core when the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami occurred.
Robotic probes have photographed and detected traces of damaged nuclear fuel in the three reactors that had meltdowns, but the exact location and other details of the melted fuel are largely unknown. Removing fuel from the cooling pools will help free up space for the subsequent removal of the melted fuel, though details on how to gain access to it have yet to be decided.
Experts say the melted fuel in the three reactors amounts to more than 800 tons, an enormous amount that is more than six times that of the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, where one reactor had a partial core melt.
In February, a remote-controlled robot with tongs removed pebbles of nuclear debris from the Unit 2 reactor but was unable to remove larger chunks, indicating a robot would need to be developed that can break the chunks into smaller pieces. Toshiba Corp.'s energy systems unit, which developed the robot, said the findings were key to determining the proper equipment and technologies needed to remove the melted fuel, the most challenging part of the decommissioning.
TEPCO and government officials plan to determine methods for removing the melted fuel from each of the three damaged reactors later this year so they can begin the process in 2021.
Severe storm damage to homes is seen on Plymouth Springmill Road just south of the intersection of Ohio Route 96 in Shelby, Ohio, Sunday, April 14, 2019. (Tom E. Puskar/The Times Gazette via AP) (Tom E. Puskar, Times-Gazette.com/)
The National Weather Service says more than a dozen tornadoes have been confirmed in the South after a weekend of violent weather that left at least eight people dead.
The agency says a survey team found evidence of an EF-3 twister with winds of at least 136 mph near Weches, Texas, and two other smaller tornadoes touched down in the same region Saturday. Another EF-3 twister flattened part of Franklin, Texas.
The system moved eastward into Mississippi, where the weather service says teams have confirmed eight tornadoes. And at least three weak tornadoes struck Alabama on Sunday.
The weather says the numbers could go up because teams are still assessing damage.
Four people were killed in Texas. The other victims died in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Meanwhile, much of the eastern Great Lakes and mid-Atlantic woke up Monday to damaged buildings, closed schools, and dark homes and businesses after powerful storms that spawned at least one confirmed tornado.
A marquee features one of Howard West's favorite sayings at the Memorialpalooza that Dayna West gave for her late father at the Sony Pictures Studio in 2015. (Photo for The Washington Post by Spike Mafford) ( Spike Mafford/)
Dayna West knows how to throw a fabulous memorial shindig. She hired Los Angeles celebration-of-life planner Alison Bossert - yes, those now exist - to create what West dubbed “Memorialpalooza” for her father, Howard, in 2016 a few months after his death.
"None of us is going to get out of this alive," says Bossert, who helms Final Bow Productions. "We can't control how or when we die, but we can say how we want to be remembered."
At Howard's remembrance, there was a crowd of more than 300 people at Sony Pictures Studios. A hot-dog cart from the famed L.A. stand Pink's. Gift bags, the hit being a baseball cap inscribed with "Life's not fair, get over it" (a beloved Howardism). A constellation of speakers, with Jerry Seinfeld as the closer (Howard was his personal manager). And babka (a tribute to a favorite "Seinfeld" episode).
"My dad never followed rules," says West, 56, a Bay Area clinical psychologist. So why would his memorial service?
Death is a given, but not the time-honored rituals. An increasingly secular, nomadic and casual America is shredding the rules about how to commemorate death, and it's not just among the wealthy and famous. Somber, embalmed-body funerals, with their $9,000 industry average price tag, are, for many families, a relic. Instead, end-of-life ceremonies are being personalized: golf-course cocktail send-offs, backyard potluck memorials, more Sinatra and Clapton, less "Ave Maria," more Hawaiian shirts, fewer dark suits. Families want to put the "fun" in funerals.
The movement will accelerate as the nation approaches a historic spike in deaths. Baby boomers, despite strenuous efforts to stall the aging process, are not getting any younger. In 2030, people over 65 are expected to outnumber children, and by 2037, 3.6 million people are projected to die in the United States, according to the Census Bureau, 1 million more than in 2015, which is projected to outpace the growth of the overall population.
Just as nuptials have been transformed - who held destination weddings in the 1990s? - and gender-reveal celebrations have become theatrical productions, the death industry has experienced seismic changes over the past couple of decades. Practices began to shift during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, when many funeral homes were unable to meet the needs of so many young men dying, and friends often hosted events that resembled parties.
Now, many families are replacing funerals (during which the body is present) with memorial services (during which the body is not). Religious burial requirements are less a consideration in a country where 36% of Americans say they regularly attend religious services, nearly a third never or rarely attend and almost a quarter identify as agnostic or atheist, according to the Pew Research Center.
Funeral homes adapt
More than half of all American deaths lead to cremations - about 28% did in 2002 - due to expense (they can cost a third the price of a burial), the environment and family members living far apart with less ability to visit cemetery plots, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. By 2035, the cremation rate is projected to be 80%, the association says. And cremation frees loved ones to stage a memorial anywhere, at any time, and to store or scatter ashes as they please. (Maintenance of cemeteries, if families stop using them, may become a preservation and financial problem.)
Mark Musgrove, a former president of the association who runs a network of funeral homes and chapels in Eugene, Oregon, says his industry, already marked by consolidation, is adapting to changing demands.
"Services are more life-centered, around the person's personality, likes and dislikes. They're unique and not standardized," he says. "The only way we can survive is to provide the services that families find meaningful."
A hot dog cart from the famed Los Angeles stand Pink's fed attendees of the Memorialpalooza that Dayna West gave for her late father, Howard West, at the Sony Pictures Studio in 2015. (Photo for The Washington Post by Spike Mafford) ( Spike Mafford/)
Funeral homes have hired event planners, remodeled drab parlors to include dance floors and lounge areas, acquired liquor licenses to replace the traditional vat of industrial-strength coffee. In Oregon, where cremation rates are near 80%, Musgrove has organized memorial celebrations at golf courses and Autzen Stadium, home of the University of Oregon’s Ducks football team. He sells urns that resemble giant golf balls and styles adorned with the University of Oregon logo. In a cemetery, his firm installed a “Peace Columbarium,” a retrofitted 1970s VW van, brightly painted with “Peace” and “Love,” to house urns.
Change has sparked nascent death-related industries in a culture long besotted with youth. There are death doulas (caring for the terminally ill), death cafes (to discuss life's last chapter over cake and tea), death celebrants (officiants who lead end-of-life events), living funerals (attended by the honored while still breathing), and end-of-life workshops (for the healthy who think ahead). The internet allows lives to continue indefinitely in memorial Facebook pages, tribute vlogs on YouTube and instamemorials on Instagram.
Memorials are no longer strictly local events. As with weddings and birthdays, families are choosing favorite vacation idylls as final resting spots. Captain Ken Middleton's Hawaii Ash Scatterings performs 600 cremains dispersals a year for as many as 80 passengers on cruises that may feature a ukulele player, a conch-shell blower and releases of white doves or monarch butterflies.
"It makes it a celebration of life and not such a morbid affair," says Middleton. His service is experiencing annual growth of 15% to 20%.
From coffins to compost
With increased concern for the environment, people are opting for green funerals, in which the body is placed in a biodegradable coffin or shroud.
The industry is thinking outside the box.
"My work is letting people connect with the natural cycle as they die," says Katrina Spade of Recompose in Seattle, who considers herself part of the "alternative death care movement." If its legislature grants approval this month, Washington will become the first state in the nation to approve legalized human composting. Her company plans to use wood chips, alfalfa and straw to turn bodies into a cubic yard of topsoil in 30 days. That soil could be used to fertilize a garden, or a grove of trees, the body returned to the earth.
Spade questions why death should be a one-event moment, rather than an opportunity to create an enduring tradition, a deathday, to honor the deceased: "I want to force my family to choose a ritual that they do every year."
A film commemorating Howard West features a photo of him and his parents in the Bronx. (Photo for The Washington Post by Spike Mafford) (Spike Mafford/)
Death has inspired Etsy-like enterprises that transform a loved one’s ashes into vinyl, “diamonds,” jewelry and tattoos. Ashes to ashes, dust to art.
After Seattle artist Briar Bates died in 2017 at age 42, four dozen friends performed her joyous water ballet in a public wading pool, "a fantastic incarnation of Briar's spirit," says friend Carey Christie. "Anything other than denial that you're going to die is a healthy step in our culture."
Funeral consultant Elizabeth Meyer wrote the memoir "Good Mourning" and named her website Funeral Guru Liz. Her motto: "Bringing Death to Life." She notes, "Most people do not plan. What's changing is more people are talking about it, and the openness of the conversation. Our world will be a better place when people let their wishes be known."
In 2012, Amy Pickard's mother "died out of the blue." She was unprepared but also transformed. Now, she's "the death girl," an advocate for the "death-positive movement," sporting a "Life is a near-death experience" T-shirt, teaching people how to plan by hosting monthly Good to Go parties in Los Angeles and offering a $60 "Departure File," 50 pages to address almost every need.
"We're still in the really early days of supercreative funerals. There's this censorship of death and grief," Pickard says. "You have the rest of your life to be sad over the person who died. The hope is to celebrate their time on Earth and who they were."
Some practitioners worry that death has taken a holiday, and grief is too frequently banished in end-of-life celebrations that seem like birthday blowouts.
"Do you think we're getting too happy with this?" asks Amy Cunningham, director of The Inspired Funeral in Brooklyn. "You can't pay tribute to someone who has died without acknowledging the death and sadness around it. You still have to dip into reality and not ignore the fact that they're absent now."
But even sadness is being treated differently. In some services, instead of offering hollow platitudes that barely relate to the deceased, "we are getting a new radical honesty where people are openly talking about alcoholism, drug use and the tough times the person experienced," Cunningham says. Suicide, long hidden, appears more in obituaries; opioid addiction, especially, is addressed in services.
West, who hosted such a memorable send-off for her father, has some plans for her own: "Great food and live music, preferably Latin-inspired," and "my personal possessions are auctioned off," the proceeds benefiting a children's charity. Why can't a memorial serve as a fundraiser?
An avid traveler, West plans to designate friends to disperse her cremains in multiple locations “that have significance in my life” and leave funds to subsidize those trips - a global, destination ash-scattering.
An endangered cassowary in Daintree National Forest, Australia. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring, File) (Wilson Ring/)
A Florida man was killed on Friday by what ornithologists say is an extremely dangerous bird. It was a cassowary - an enormous, flightless bird around which even experienced zookeepers take precautions.
He raised the animal on his farm, along with other exotic birds, authorities said.
The man, who police identified as Marvin Hajos, 75, owned the farm where the cassowary was located and the altercation took place. Emergency medical workers responded to a call about 10 a.m. Friday at a farm near Alachua, Florida, according to Lt. Josh Crews of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.
Hajos fell, they said, and the bird attacked him, injuring him severely. He was transported to the hospital, where he died.
Authorities are investigating the circumstances that led to his death.
A woman who identified herself as Hajos’ fiance told The Gainesville Sun “he was doing what he loved.”
The bird has been secured, authorities said. The Sheriff's Office said they may coordinate with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission as the investigation moves forward. The FWC identifies cassowaries as "Class II Wildlife," which can "pose a danger to people." The commission requires a permit for the sale, public exhibition, or possession of these animals.
Cassowaries, of which there are three species, are native to the tropics of Queensland, Australia and New Guinea. They are a relative of ostriches, emus and rheas. Thick black feathers cover their bodies, from which a cobalt blue and vibrant red neck protrudes, leading to a head adorned with a keratin "casque," or crest.
What makes them dangerous are their feet. Three toes have pointed nails, the most dangerous of which is the middle, which ends in a veritable dagger several inches long.
"If you were kicked by a cassowary with that nail, it would do a lot of damage to you," said Eric Slovak, assistant curator of birds at the National Zoo in Washington. "You would wind up in the hospital for sure."
Cassowaries, while dangerous, tend to be reclusive, Slovak said. In the wild, they hide deep in the rain forests, but they occasionally encounter humans when they come across a road or a neighborhood.
"It's just kind of a big, 200-pound, 6-foot bird roaming around eating fruit all day," Slovak said.
The National Zoo's cassowaries are on loan while their enclosures are remodeled, but when they lived at the zoo, Slovak said they took serious precautions with the birds. Their enclosures were built with doors and gates to separate them from the humans who needed to enter.
"At no time, ever, do we ever go in with the cassowary," he said. "Not because they're mean, but because we know how dangerous they could be if they got spooked for any reason."
"I would not understand why anyone would want to keep a cassowary as a pet," Slovak added.
There have been a handful of frightful encounters with the birds, mostly in their native Australia, though the last known death happened back in 1926, according to Smithsonian Magazine. In a 1999 study, Christopher Kofron of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service tallied 221 cassowary attacks in that Australian state, and 150 were on humans.
Kofron noted that the attacks tend to happen "every year" and that the birds most frequently attacked when they were expecting to be fed by a human, or when they were defending themselves, their food or their offspring.
In 2012, an Australian tourist named Dennis Ward was kicked off a cliff into a body of water by a cassowary when he and his family were visiting Babinda Boulders in Queensland. "It just came straight up to me, decided to pick on me for some reason, I don't know what for," Ward told The Cairns Post.
“Next thing, thump, I copped a boot in the back and I was tumbling down the bank,” Ward said. “It was pretty high, about 7 foot. I hit this ledge near the bottom and bounced off into the drink.”
Well, here we are. After eight years; 67 episodes; countless deaths - actually, make that 2,339 deaths; approximately that many fan theories and predictions; and enough content to keep the entire Internet full, we’ve made it to the home stretch. These are the last six Sunday nights we get to spend with “Game of Thrones” and like the Unsullied marching toward Winterfell, we have a lot of ground to cover.
So let's take inspiration from both the straightforward fact-recitation style of Samwell Tarly and the sarcastic quip style of Euron Greyjoy and look back at the episode titled, simply, "Winterfell." (I will also point you, as always, to the complementary recap from our pals over in Opinions, this week with Drew Goins pinch-hitting for Alyssa Rosenberg.)
Jon Snow finds out that he is Aegon Targaryen
Last season we (the viewers) found out that the most popular fan theory was, in fact, true: Jon Snow was not Ned Stark’s bastard son, but was the child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. And not just that, but he was the legitimate son of those two, which makes him the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne.
And now Jon Snow knows the truth about his heritage as well, thanks to a visit in the Winterfell crypt from an old pal. While Jon is paying respects to his not-dad, Ned, he hears the sound of a bumbling man that could only be one person, Samwell Tarly. He is there to deliver the news to Jon that he's not who he thinks he is. Why is Sam the one to deliver this news? Because Three-Eyed Raven Bran, who has taken to just chilling in the middle of the Winterfell town square like a weirdo, told Sam that he's the one Jon trusts most. Sam tried to convince Bran that since he was Jon's brother the news would best be delivered coming from him. But, of course, Bran actually isn't his brother.
Jon is pleasantly surprised to see Sam in the hard-to-access crypts of Winterfell, even though Sam is supposed to be hundreds (thousands? The geography of the Seven Kingdoms has always been tough to figure out) of miles away at the Citadel. In the interest of time, they decide not to dwell on the unlikely nature of their meeting and soon enough Sam drops the bomb on Jon. He read a Septon’s diary and confirmed with Bran and . . . whatever he’s got going on . . . that Jon’s parentage makes him true “king of the bloody Seven Kingdoms.”
"My father was the most honorable man I ever met. You're saying he lied to me all my life?" an incredulous Jon asks Sam, who tells him that Ned was in fact being honorable because he promised his sister he would keep her son safe, which meant hiding his identity. (And doing this knowing that it meant lying to his wife, Catelyn, and making her think he was unfaithful to her.)
Unsurprisingly, Jon has trouble fully taking in this information. He's lived his entire life as Jon Snow, now all of a sudden he's told that he's Aegon Targaryen and is the one who should be sitting on the Iron Throne. Jon (we're going to keep calling him Jon, the same way we kept saying Ol' Dirty Bastard instead of Dirt McGirt) is a man who follows protocol and he has already professed his support (and that's not all) for Daenerys. She's our queen, he tells Sam. You gave up the crown to protect your people, Sam tells him and adds: "Would she do the same?"
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in a scene from "Game of Thrones." (HBO via AP)
Cersei Lannister always has a plan
In last season’s finale, Cersei pledged her army to support the battle in the North against the White Walkers and the army of the dead, but of course she was lying. She was really in league with Euron Greyjoy, who arrives back in King’s Landing with a whole bunch of ships carrying 20,000 mercenary soldiers called the Golden Company. (Love to have brand new armies introduced into the storyline a few episodes before the end.) That’s why Cersei is happy when Qyburn brings her the news that the White Walkers have broken through The Wall; she plans to use her new army to defeat whoever is left standing.
Euron, some dude named Captain Strickland of the Golden Company and 19,997 or so of his men (apparently there was a dice game gone wrong that resulted in the loss of a few soldiers) are now in the service of Cersei. She's also got a couple thousand horses but no elephants, to her great disappointment. (Apparently elephants are tough to transport by sea, who knew?) Having delivered on his promise to Cersei, Euron would like to "talk in private" with the Queen. At least that's how he said it in public; while talking to his captive niece, Yara, while sailing back to King's Landing, he put it a little more bluntly: "I'm gonna f--- the Queen."
Cersei isn't so quick to give Euron what he wants, telling him they can talk in private "after the war," which honestly I'm going to start using for when someone tries to schedule a meeting that I don't want to attend. "You want a whore, buy one. You want a Queen, earn her," Cersei snaps at him. He counters that he's given her justice (remember the Sand Snakes), an army and an iron fleet. Cersei grudgingly allows him to follow her to her personal quarters.
After the deed is done, the only thing on Cersei's mind is that she really wanted those elephants. Unbothered by what seems like a decidedly negative review of his abilities, Euron wants to know how his sack skills compare to the late Robert Baratheon (pushing it) and then the Kingslayer himself, Jaime (too far). "You might be the most arrogant man I've ever met," Cersei tells him, which she notes is a compliment, but it's very hard to be convinced that Cersei actually enjoys his company. Before leaving her, Euron promises to put a prince in her belly; too bad for him that there already is likely one in there, although that's not been confirmed, and neither has the possible father.
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in a scene from HBO's "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO via AP) (Helen Sloan/)
Daenerys and Jon in Winterfell
Unsurprisingly, most of “Winterfell” took place in Winterfell, where Jon and Daenerys rode in with their Unsullied/Dothraki armies in an attempt to show a unified front and build popular support for the coming war with the army of the dead. This might be a tough task for a variety of reasons. For one, the Northeners are as “stubborn as goats” (well put, Ser Davos) and their loyalty must be earned. They’re loyal to Jon, not Daenerys, and look upon foreigners with suspicion at best, scorn at worst.
Then there's the houses they are counting on for support. Poor Lord Umber is at the age where he should still be getting tucked into bed at night, but instead he's charged with finding soldiers who will follow him into battle against the White Walkers. Another young house leader, Lyanna Mormont, is just angry at Jon for leaving Winterfell as King in the North and coming back as. . . whatever he is now. Lord? Nothing at all? Boy toy?
Tyrion (remember him? Used to be the main character/best character on the show, now mostly an afterthought? That guy steps in to say that if everyone survives, Jon will be thanked and that he knows the prospect of Northerners teaming with the Lannisters seems preposterous, but this is the situation that calls for it.
The Karstarks come back to support the cause; Lord Glover does not. Sansa, who has been viewing the Jon and Dany alliance skeptically since their arrival, delivers the news about Lord Glover to Jon, which makes Jon go into his whole spiel again about how he never wanted a crown, he only wanted to protect the North and really, Jon, we get it: You are truly the most selfless person to ever walk the Seven Kingdoms. Sansa has a more direct question for Jon: Did you bend the knee to save the North or because you love her? It's a question we don't get an answer to.
But do we really need an answer? Didn't Jon and Dany Go Dragon Riding Through the North give us all the answer we need? They fly off to a secluded waterfall where Jon is worried that the southern girl isn't built for the Northern cold. "So keep your Queen warm," she tells him. One of the dragons starts to get red with envy as the two embrace, but maybe he was just blushing because of the bad dialogue or his dragonsense is telling him that aunt-and-nephew shouldn't be getting along like this.
Sam finds out the fate of his family
It’s supposed to be an uplifting moment when Jorah and Daenerys find Sam to thank him for saving Jorah’s life back at the Citadel, curing him of his greyscale. Dany wants to give him something, Sam says she could help out with some overdue fees on a few library books that are a bit past their return date and that he also stole the Tarly family sword that had been in his house for generations that his father had other plans for.
"Not Randall Tarly," asks Daenerys, realizing that she is talking to the son of the man that she had executed by burning-to-a-pile-of-bones-by-dragon-fire. She says she offered to let the elder Tarly retain his land and title if he bent the knee, but he didn't and so. . . Sam is shaken but not exactly upset; it's not like Randall was good to Sam in the slightest. And at least he'll be able to return home now that his brother is in charge. Which makes Dany basically say, see, about that...
Bran and Jaime Lannister meet again
Arguably the most intriguing moment of the episode was the final one. A cloaked figure rides into Winterfell and removes his hood to reveal that he’s Jaime Lannister - a decidedly more grizzled, less-blonde Jaime Lannister. And who is the first person to greet him upon his arrival? None other than Bran; the same Bran who he paralyzed by pushing out of a window at the end of the first episode of the first season.
Bran was expecting Jaime. Earlier when Sam came up to Bran to ask why he was sitting in the middle of the square, Bran mentioned he was "waiting for an old friend," so his all-seeing abilities seem to be working well. The previews for next week show us that Jaime will have to deal with some (rightfully) angry Stars on their home turf.
Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow meet at Dragonstone in the penultimate season of "Game of Thrones." (HBO) (HBO/)
Who else is around?
Gendry, who seems to have the only grooming kit in the North because he is looking sharp and put together compared to those ragged Northerners he’s surrounded by. He’s also making some sharp stuff - a dragonglass ax for The Hound and a weapon TBD for Arya.
Speaking of those two, they see each other for the first time in ages, since Arya left The Hound for dead. It's a short conversation in Gendry's iron shop: "You're a cold little b---- aren't you? I guess that's why you're still alive," he tells her.
Bronn thought he had it bad when one of the three prostitutes he was with wouldn’t stop talking about bodies charred by dragons, but then Qyburn walked in to really kill the moment. He came to deliver a message - the Queen’s brothers were not likely to survive their time in the North, but if they did. . . and with that, Qyburn handed Bronn a crossbow, the weapon that Tyrion used to kill their father, Tywin. Bronn has always been consistent in saying he works for whatever money is best. Would he really kill both Jaime and Tyrion for the right price?
We didn't actually see any White Walkers in this episode, but we did see their handiwork. Tormund, Beric and their exploring crew run into Lord Commander Eddison and his exploring crew and find what they believe to be a message from the Night King - poor little Lord Umber, very dead and left in some sort of pinwheel of arms.
And the redemption of Theon Greyjoy continues as he and a small extraction team are able to rescue Yara Greyjoy from under Uncle Euron. Upon untying her hands, Yara brutally headbutts Theon since it was his abandonment of her that helped get to this point, but then they reconcile. She seems to be headed back to the Iron Islands to reclaim their home; he seems to be off to Winterfell to help with the battle there.
Anchorage police say a man has been arrested after a stabbing in Mountain View on Sunday afternoon.
According to a report online, officers responded to an apartment on the 200 block of North Park Street on Sunday. Their initial investigation indicated that an argument between two men turned physical when Blaine Williamson, 24, stabbed the other man, who police describe as a roommate.
The victim was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Williamson remained on the scene and was charged with assault in the first degree.
Meghan Redmond, right, assistant principal at Chief Ivan Blunka School in New Stuyahok, helps students Blunka Blunka Jr. and Daria Gust with edits to their graduation speeches in May 2018. (Photo by David Piazza)
Meghan Redmond said she never wants her students in the Southwest Alaska community of New Stuyahok to feel like they’re missing out on something because of where they’re from.
“I want them to have any opportunity that they want. I want them to have any future that they want, whether that’s staying here or going somewhere else,” Redmond, assistant principal at Chief Ivan Blunka School, said in an interview Friday.
So Redmond plans trips for students, brings in guest speakers and leads the school’s exploration weeks.
For that work and more, Redmond was recently named the 2019 National Assistant Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. In a statement Wednesday, the organization’s executive director, JoAnn Bartoletti, praised Redmond for her leadership and providing “a platform for students to fulfill their greatest potential.”
Redmond was selected from a group of about 50 nominees from across the country. She’s the second assistant principal from Alaska to receive the national distinction in the award’s 25 years. Johanna Naylor from Central Middle School in Anchorage was the 2003 National Assistant Principal of the Year.
This is Redmond’s third school year as the assistant principal at Chief Ivan Blunka School, which enrolls 140 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the community about 50 miles northeast of Dillingham.
School principal Robin Jones described Redmond, 34, as resourceful, creative and personable.
“The biggest thing that stands out about Meghan is just how she works tirelessly to ensure that our students have every possible opportunity afforded to them,” Jones said. “Being from rural Alaska, sometimes we’re put in a disadvantaged position and Meghan just won’t let anything get in the way of closing that equity gap."
Redmond has helped raise funds and plan student trips to cities from Juneau to Washington, D.C. She leads the school’s quarterly exploration weeks, a time when students can take elective courses to explore interests from construction to sewing to nursing. Some of the courses lead to industry-based certifications, Jones said.
Redmond said she also focuses on incorporating Yup’ik language and culture into the school day, including though the “Yup’ik Value of the Month” program that she created while teaching in the tiny Southwest Alaska village of Twin Hills.
Under the program, each month students learn to say a value in Yup’ik and participate in activities related to the month’s theme. They’re also recognized for exemplifying the value.
In April, the value is “always trying, never without,” Redmond said.
“So when we see students who are going above and beyond, trying new things, they get recognized for that,” she said.
In addition to being the assistant principal, Redmond is also the school’s guidance counselor, student council adviser and senior class adviser.
“She definitely wears a lot of different hats,” Jones said.
Redmond is originally from Wisconsin, where she earned her bachelor’s degree and later worked as a third-grade teacher. Looking for a change, she said, she accepted a job as a teacher in Twin Hills in 2010. Redmond taught in Twin Hills for six years and started the “Small Schools Matter” campaign in 2015 to keep Alaska’s small schools open.
Redmond now lives in New Stuyahok with her husband and their three children.
She said she sees teacher turnover as the biggest challenge vexing rural schools. In an attempt to combat that, Redmond said, she and her school’s principal try to make the school feel like a family for its teachers and staff, since some are from far away and don’t have relatives in town.
“We plan holiday meals together. We celebrate birthdays and babies,” she said. “If someone goes out on their snowmachine and it breaks down, they know that there’s someone here who can go out and get them."
None of the school’s 34 teachers and staff members left between last school year and the current one, Redmond said. Next school year, the school will have to replace just one teacher, she said.
Redmond will formally receive her award in July during the National Principals Conference in Boston.
Robert Scott looks through a family Bible that he pulled out of the rubble Sunday, April 14, 2019, from his Seely Drive home outside of Hamilton, Miss., after an apparent tornado touched down Saturday night. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle) (Jim Lytle/)
Powerful storms swept across the South on Sunday after unleashing suspected tornadoes and flooding that killed at least eight people, injured dozens and flattened much of a Texas town. Three children were among the dead.
Nearly 90,000 customers were without electricity in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Georgia as of midday Sunday, according to www.poweroutage.us as the severe weather left a trail of destruction.
Two children were killed on a back road in East Texas when a pine tree fell onto the car in which they were riding in a severe thunderstorm Saturday near Pollok, about 150 miles (241 kilometers) southeast of Dallas.
The tree "flattened the car like a pancake," said Capt. Alton Lenderman of the Angelina County Sheriff's Office. The children, ages 8 and 3, were dead at the scene, while both parents, who were in the front seat, escaped injury, he said.
At least one person was killed and about two dozen others were injured after a suspected tornado struck the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in East Texas during a Native American cultural event in Alto, about 130 miles (209 kilometers) southeast of Dallas. Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis said the fatality that was reported was of a woman who died of her critical injuries.
In neighboring Houston County, the sheriff's office said one person was killed in Weches, 6 miles southwest of Caddo Mound.
Roman Brown, left and Sam Crawford, right move part of a shower wall out of their way as they help a friend look for their medicine in their destroyed home Sunday, April 14, 2019, along Seely Drive outside of Hamilton, Miss. after an apparent tornado touched down Saturday, April, 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle) (Jim Lytle/)
Leslie Harrington kneels down to help a former neighbor and family friend look for jewelry in her destroyed home along Seely Drive outside of Hamilton, Miss., after a deadly storm moved through the area on Sunday, April 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle) (Jim Lytle/)
A man looks at a piece of wood that was blown through the windshield of his daughters truck in Hamilton, Miss., after a storm moved through the area Sunday, April 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle) (Jim Lytle/)
A vehicle drives through a flooded section of Muskingum Avenue on Saturday, April,13, 2019, in Odessa, Texas. (Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP) (Jacob Ford/)
There was widespread damage in Alto, a town of about 1,200, and the school district canceled classes until its buildings can be deemed safe.
A tornado flattened much of the south side of Franklin, Texas, overturning mobile homes and damaging other residences, said Robertson County Sheriff Gerald Yezak. Franklin is about 125 miles (200 kilometers) south of Dallas.
The weather service said preliminary information showed an EF-3 tornado touched down with winds of 140 mph (225.3 kph).
It destroyed 55 homes, a church, four businesses, a duplex, and part of the local housing authority building, authorities said. Two people were hospitalized for injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening, while others were treated at the scene, Yezak said. Some people had to be extricated from damaged dwellings.
Heavy rains and storms raked Mississippi into the night Saturday as the storms moved east.
Roy Ratliff, 95, died after a tree crashed onto his trailer in northeastern Mississippi, Monroe County Road Manager Sonny Clay said at a news conference, adding that a tornado had struck. Nineteen residents were taken to hospitals, including two in critical condition. A tornado was reported in the area 140 miles (225 kilometers) southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, at the time.
In Hamilton, Mississippi, 72-year-old Robert Scott said he had been sleeping in his recliner late Saturday when he was awakened and found himself in his yard after a tornado ripped most of his home off its foundation.
His 71-year-old wife, Linda, was in a different part of the house and also survived, he said. They found each other while crawling through the remnants of the house they have lived in since 1972.
"We're living, and God has blessed us," Scott, a retired manager for a grocery store meat department, said Sunday as neighbors helped him salvage his belongings.
National Weather Service meteorologist John Moore said a possible twister touched down in the Vicksburg, Mississippi, area. No injuries were reported, but officials reported damage to several businesses and vehicles.
The storm damaged a roof of a hotel in New Albany, Mississippi, and Mississippi State University's 21,000 students huddled in basements and hallways as a tornado neared the campus in Starkville.
University spokesman Sid Salter said some debris, possibly carried by the tornado, was found on campus, but no injuries were reported and no buildings were damaged. Trees were toppled and minor damage was reported in residential areas east of the campus.
The large storm system also caused flash floods in Louisiana, where two deaths were reported.
Authorities said 13-year-old Sebastian Omar Martinez drowned in a drainage canal after flash flooding struck Bawcomville, near Monroe, said Deputy Glenn Springfield of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Department. Separately, one person died when a car was submerged in floodwaters in Calhoun, also near Monroe.
As the storm moved into Alabama, a possible tornado knocked out power and damaged mobile homes in Troy, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Montgomery.
Near the Birmingham suburb of Hueytown, a county employee died after being struck by a vehicle while he was helping clear away trees about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, said Capt. David Agee of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. The man, whose name was not immediately released, died after being taken to a hospital.
The forecast of severe weather forced officials at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, to start the final round of the tournament early on Sunday in order to finish in midafternoon before it began raining.
FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2010 file photo, an employee looks through the scope of long gun at a gun store in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. When Canada first sought to restrict gun access in the 1990s, the National Rifle Association threatened a boycott by U.S. hunters spending tourism dollars in the country. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) (Jeff McIntosh/)
BOISE, Idaho — The recent revelation that National Rifle Association representatives had met with Australian politicians to discuss talking points after a mass shooting generated outrage from various politicians.
The reality is that the NRA has been exerting its influence on gun debates outside the U.S. for a number of years, exporting its firebrand rhetoric and belief that more guns will lead to less crime.
The lobbying group has sought sway at the United Nations to make it easier to sell American guns overseas and has on more than one occasion guided gun-rights groups in Brazil, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. It advised gun activists in Russia, entanglements that in recent years made the NRA vulnerable to allegations it allowed alleged Russian operatives to use the organization to influence American politics.
While American gun rights are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — something that doesn't translate to most countries around the world — the group's track record of aggressively shaping the debate has nevertheless turned it into the go-to group for other gun-rights activists outside the U.S.
There are several reasons why the NRA doesn't confine itself to the U.S.
For one, it's helpful to American gun makers if other countries make it easier for citizens to buy and possess firearms, opening up new markets. And when other countries ease restrictions, it helps bolster one of the NRA's most prominent messages.
"They can make the argument, you know, 'Look, other nations don't like stricter gun laws either,' because one of the debate points that has hurt the NRA is that pretty much every other democratic nation has stricter gun laws than us and lower gun ownership," said Robert J. Spitzer, chairman of political science at the State University of New York at Cortland and a longtime watcher of the NRA.
FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 file photo, a salesperson checks rifles in a gun shop display in Sydney, Australia. A documentary aired in March 2019 by Al Jazeera reported officials with Australia's far-right One Nation party met with two National Rifle Association representatives and other gun-rights advocates seeking money to undermine Australian gun laws. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft) (Rick Rycroft/)
FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2005 file photo, people walk past graffiti in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a day before a vote to ban the sale of firearms and ammunition to civilians. Backed by the Roman Catholic church and other powerful forces in the country, one poll a month before the referendum put support at 73 percent. The U.S.-based National Rifle Association worked with activists in Brazil to help defeat it. (AP Photo/Renzo Gostoli, File) (RENZO GOSTOLI/)
FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2002 file photo, National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston holds up a rifle as he addresses gun owners during a "get-out-the-vote" rally in Manchester, N.H. While American gun-rights are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution - something that doesn't translate to most countries around the world - the NRA's track record of aggressively shaping the debate has nevertheless turned it into the go-to group for other gun-rights activists outside the U.S. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File) (Jim Cole/)
A documentary aired last month by Al Jazeera reported officials with Australia’s far-right One Nation party met with two NRA representatives and other gun-rights advocates seeking money to undermine Australian gun laws. During the meeting, captured on video by an undercover journalist posing as a gun lobbyist, they ask the NRA officials for advice on how to respond after a mass shooting. They’re told to start with silence and then if it persists, to go on the offensive.
The NRA said it met with the Australians but did not provide any of the requested money sought at the meeting.
The NRA has a long overseas track record.
Perhaps its biggest success has been in Brazil, where the NRA worked with activists to help reject a referendum in 2005 that would have banned the sale of firearms and ammunition to civilians.
Working with gun-rights activists in that country, the NRA helped shape the debate. A turning point, some observers have said, was a television ad that flashed scenes from key moments in history: Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nelson Mandela's release from prison. The ad emphasized gun rights as a fundamental right to freedom and liberty.
Brazil has a low rate of gun ownership — an estimated 2 million among its 59 million residents — and gun control was backed by the Roman Catholic Church and other powerful forces in the country. One poll a month before the referendum put support for it at a stunning 73 percent. It was rejected handily.
Brazil suffers from high crime rates, especially in the poor areas around big cities, and what resonated were the NRA messages that are familiar to Americans: Owning a gun is a fundamental right of freedom, and if good guys have their guns taken away, only criminals will still have them.
Canada's own gun-rights movement has been closely tied to the NRA since the 1990s. In the decades since, NRA leaders have traveled to the country to warn that gun restrictions would interfere with a citizen's right to bear arms, though that country does not consider it a constitutional right.
When Canada first sought to restrict gun access in the 1990s, the NRA threatened a boycott by American hunters spending tourism dollars in the country.
The NRA also has worked closely to advise such groups as the Canadian Shooting Sports Association on how to lobby against that country's registry of gun owners. It took more than a decade but Canada's gun registry was ultimately repealed in 2012.
Gun-control advocates weren't surprised to hear the NRA's advice heard in the Al-Jazeera video on how to respond to mass shootings.
"It's the two-step playbook: It's one, silence, and two, if the pressure gets too hot, to deflect by arguing that we shouldn't politicize a shooting by talking about policies that could prevent these shootings from happening in the future," said Peter Ambler, executive director of the gun-control group named after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was seriously injured after being shot during a constituent meeting in 2011.
Gun-rights supporters viewed it differently.
“While it came across on the Al Jazeera clips as manipulative, it’s Defense 101 and I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all,” said Jeff Knox, an NRA member and director of the Firearms Coalition, adding: “It is such a difficult situation because you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. When some horrific act is perpetrated by some deviant, if you immediately come out and say something in defense or support of the right to arms, then you’re heartless and you’re politicizing this tragic event. But at the same time, the other side does not hesitate to jump out.”
Some Alaska advocacy groups are pushing back against Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s interest in moving toward block grant funding for the state’s Medicaid program.
Block grant funding for Medicaid means a specific amount of federal money would be allocated to the program, rather than the federal government paying for a percentage of the program like it does now.
In a March 1 letter to President Donald Trump, Dunleavy said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma “has urged us” to be the first state to receive Medicaid dollars as a block grant.
“We are eager to do this,” Dunleavy said in the letter, “but your support of her on this ‘first’ will keep the proper focus and speed on the application.”
The way Medicaid funding currently works is that the federal government pays for an open-ended percentage of the program, and pays for a higher percentage in poorer states. In return for the money being open-ended, “states must cover certain services and people — for instance, children, pregnant women who meet income criteria and parents with dependent children,” according to a Kaiser Health News article from 2017.
“Under a block grant, states would have more freedom to decide who qualifies, and for what services,” that article said. Republicans have multiple times proposed block grant funding as a way to manage Medicaid.
There is no formal proposal or request from the governor’s office to shift to block grant funding, said Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow. Right now, these are “just discussions,” he said, and block grants are just one part of the discussions.
“We as a state are looking to gain as much flexibility as possible in how we effectively spend Medicaid dollars," Shuckerow said. "We recognize we have a certain fiscal challenge here, and the governor has built a budget based on expenditures and revenues. Part of that is making changes.”
The federal government pays for about 70 percent of the cost of Alaska’s Medicaid program.
The Trump administration has shown interest in allowing states to shift to block grant funding for Medicaid, The Washington Post reported last month.
While conservatives say block grants are more efficient, “others say that would mean less funding for the program — eventually translating into greater challenges in getting care for low-income people,” according to Kaiser Health News.
Because there are few details, it’s difficult to comment specifically on how block grant Medicaid funding might affect health care here, said Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association CEO Becky Hultberg. But her group is concerned because of what its members have seen in past block grant proposals.
“Block grants with a hard spending cap are a way to stop paying for the current health care delivery model,” she said. “If the state hit the funding cap, it would have to provide supplemental state funding or cut back services. It just shifts risk to the state.”
Soon after Dunleavy’s administration took office, “early overtures from our federal partners” included ideas such as block grants, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said in a statement. Then Dunleavy mentioned it in his letter to Trump, sent after the two met during Trump’s flight refueling stop in Anchorage in February.
“This opened the door for us to have ongoing conversations with CMS about possible ideas and flexibility we can pursue as a state,” Crum’s statement said.
Representatives from several other advocacy groups also voiced opposition to the possible change.
“Block grants are fiscal handcuffs for states,” said Trevor Storrs, president of nonprofit group Alaska Children’s Trust, in a written statement. “It dangles the promise of flexibility in exchange for cutting federal funds.”
That statement was one of several messages included in a news release this week from health care group Protect Our Care Alaska.
“Block grants would mean that we would lose federal protections that guarantee certain people get coverage and guarantees people get particular services,” Mark Regan, legal director for the Disability Law Center of Alaska, said in a statement.
Four cruise ships are docked in Juneau in southeast Alaska on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (Bob Hallinen / ADN) (Bob Hallinen/)
JUNEAU — State lawmakers are weighing whether to axe Alaska’s on-board cruise ship inspectors program.
Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune recently told state lawmakers that the cruise industry is over regulated and that the Ocean Rangers program doesn't do much for the state, CoastAlaska reported on Friday.
"The number of observations that the Ocean Rangers have made in the 11 years that actually led to state-issued Notices of Violation can be counted on my two hands — six," Brune said.
But a series of public records requests by CoastAlaska found that Ocean Rangers have documented a pattern of potentially serious water pollution in the form of foamy, oily sheens discharged by cruise ships both in port and while underway.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation' public reports show the inspectors logged 373 potential violations over the past two years.
The source of many of these discharges is ironically Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems, or pollution-control equipment installed to meet EPA regulations. The cleaning systems, commonly known as scrubbers, effectively use seawater to "scrub" engine exhaust of sulfur and heavy metals contained in the cheaper, but dirtier heavy fuel oil favored by the shipping industry.
Carnival Corporation said it has invested $500 million in open loop systems designed to discharge the scrubbed wash water out to sea. And partially redacted records show the Department of Environmental Conservation received a number of public complaints about those systems.
Carnival Cruise Lines Senior Vice President of Marine Technology Mike Kaczmarek denied that its fleet is polluting Alaska's waters.
Carnival and EPA signed a consent agreement a year ago over its newly installed scrubbers failing to meet federal quality water standards in Alaska.
Carnival paid a $14,500 fine and agreed to monitor its scrubber discharges last year. It was to report its findings to EPA and the Department of Environmental Conservation by the end of January and eventually make them public.
Both agencies say they haven't received the report.
Carnival's executive Mike Kaczmarek said the cruise industry doesn't see a problem.
"All of our research and individual investigations always lead us back to the same conclusion and that is ... we're doing a very good thing for air emissions quality," Kaczmarek said. "But beyond that, we're also extremely confident in the fact that we have a negligible impact upon the ocean environment as well."
Ocean Rangers will be on board for Alaska’s cruise season, which begins at the end of April. But whether they’ll remain in place after that depends on the Legislature.
With the upcoming Anchorage hearing on April 16 and the written comment period ending on May 30, Alaskans should know that there is no reference to the possibility of a catastrophic failure with Pebble in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. There should be.
Pebble cannot “ensure” anything. Nature creates … floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones. Engineers make mistakes.
Check out: http://www.wise-uranium.org/mdaf.html , a chronology of major tailings dam failures around the world.
Following are highlights of some disasters.
BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company, is “responsible for Brazil’s largest environmental disaster in history, when, on November 5, 2015, two of the dams encompassing its toxic tailings ponds burst, suddenly releasing millions of tons of poisonous slurry into the Rio Doce river, killing all aquatic life downstream.”
Rio Tinto, the second largest company, took its name from the Rio Tinto River. The company took over management of the mines in 1873.
“The Rio Tinto watershed was … prior to the era of open pit sulfide mining, a thriving commercial fishing area, but ever since the mining corporations began exploiting the area …, the estuary fed by the Rio Tinto no longer has any fish or other aquatic life in it.”
2019: Brumadhino. Seeing actual clips would serve the reader well.
“ ‘Rio Paraopeba has started to die,’ … a video clip (showed) oxygen-deprived fish leaping out of the turbid water and flapping their last on the land. The immediate threat is to the 174 miles of Paraopeba River. Vale (the mining company) insists the problem will not spread to the São Francisco basin, but … in this region, 64% of fish species are found nowhere else on Earth. “
September 2014. Mount Polley, British Columbia. (Yes, Pebble is a Canadian company.)
“A tailings dam collapsed at an open pit copper and gold mine tailings dump, sending huge volumes of toxic waste into critical waterways 370 miles north of Vancouver. The environmental catastrophe wreaked havoc … initiating an emergency drinking water ban, severely damaging the region’s important sockeye salmon habitat.”
August 2014. 25 miles across the Arizona border, “Grupo Mexico’s Buenavista copper mine in Canenea, Sonora, had a tailings failure that poured 10 million gallons of copper sulfate acid into (the Rio Sonora) that supplies water to tens of thousands of people … The river of orange poison reportedly is killing livestock and wildlife.”
Summitville Mine, Colorado, 1991
“The height of the containing dike for cyanide leach solutions … was below the level required for snowstorms and spring runoff; broken pump lines and a French drain beneath the leach pad caused cyanide-contaminated solutions to be released into the local watershed.”
• Release of toxic metals and cyanide to the Alamosa River
• most aquatic life killed along 17-mile stretch of river to Terrance Reservoir
• Iron, aluminum, zinc, copper: trace metals that killed fish
Iron Mountain Mine, Redding, California
From the 1860s to 1963, the Iron Mountain Mine in Redding, California yielded silver, gold, copper, zinc and pyrite. Mining techniques included open slope and open pit. When the mountain fractured, mineral deposits were exposed to oxygen, water and certain bacteria, that resulted in acidic mine drainage. Numerous fish kills occurred at what is now a Superfund site.
“The flow from this chemical cauldron into the Sacramento River and its tributaries was devastating … Before the creeping acid was contained, it was as bad for the environment as 100 oil refineries pouring petroleum into a salmon spawning stream. / In 1988, a sudden surge of power at a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation plant sent 2,000 cubic feet per second of metal-laden water flowing out of the Keswick Reservoir, turning the Sacramento River red all the way to Hamilton City, 100 miles away. / The shaft leads deeper inside where … the puddled water is sulfuric acid, concentrated enough to melt an aluminum ladder.”
Bingham Canyon , Utah
“Bingham is an open-pit mine — a gigantic hole in the ground. The landslide … was the collapse of one of the pit walls … Approximately 165 million tons of rock shifted, causing a highly localized earthquake measuring 5.1 Richter. It damaged or destroyed roads, power lines, and other infrastructure.”
Berkeley Pit, Montana
November 1995 : “The old mine … had been inactive for decades, but it was full of dissolved heavy metals and highly acidic water. 342 geese died … autopsies showing perforated esophageal ulcerations from drinking the water.”
Nov. 28, 2016: “… an estimated 10,000 migrating snow geese landed on the permanently-poisoned toxic water and began dying. Witnesses said that the lake was ‘white with birds.’
Severe poisoning with heavy metals are essentially incurable … even in humans, because those toxins are so rapidly lethal to nerve, liver and kidney cells.”
Red River, New Mexico
After 36 years of molyebdenum mining, the site contains … “328 million tons of waste rock, a 1,500-foot-deep open pit, (and) collapse zones from underground tunneling. A nine-mile-long pipeline carries tailings slurry from the mill to lagoons, (i.e.) lakes of acidic waste, located on the other side of Questa. / In the early 1980s, the Red River began to turn a cloudy blue, a symptom of acid drainage and high metal content.” / Even early on, “hundreds of spills from shoddy tailings pipelines poured into the Red River…until then, the Red had been known as one of the best trout streams in the West. Suddenly, the fish were gone.”
It’s time to heed history.
Pebble claims it will be constructing a smaller mine. But expansion is already planned, through an obscure application with the state of Alaska. Also in phase two, they plan to use cyanide to separate gold. Funny, how the Draft Environmental Impact Statement states “No cyanide.”
The water, once polluted, will need to be monitored in perpetuity. That means forever.
Anne Coray lives at her birthplace on Lake Clark. She and her husband have relied for years on the subsistence fishery.
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Ice on the Tanana River broke at 12:21 a.m. on Sunday, putting a record-setting early end to this year’s Nenana Ice Classic.
People had been watching and waiting for the tripod to fall for days. A crowd had gathered on the banks of the Tanana River, near Fairbanks in Alaska’s Interior, to watch Saturday as it became clearer that the ice would soon give way.
Tripod on the Tanana River at Nenana looks to be running out of ice early Saturday afternoon. Earliest break-up of record is https://t.co/xx7eaYNplO courtesy Nenana Ice Classic. #akwx @Climatologist49 pic.twitter.com/hX33aLJy6U— Rick Thoman (@AlaskaWx) April 13, 2019
The April 14 break up date is six days earlier than the previous record of April 20, according to the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks. The latest was May 20.
The early break up comes during a much warmer than usual spring statewide.
Contest officials said winners wouldn’t be notified for a few weeks.
The Tanana River at Nenana, Alaska, broke up this morning (Apr 14) at 12:21 a.m. Alaska Standard Time. This is 6 days earlier than the prior record for earliest breakup. Average breakup date has trended earlier by about 5 days in recent decades. @AlaskaWx @Climatologist49 pic.twitter.com/tH0SSKw38c— IARC Fairbanks (@IARC_Alaska) April 14, 2019