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People on the Peninsula: The setnetting family

Alaska News - Sat, 2018-07-21 10:34

The Kenai Peninsula comes alive during summer. Tourists, fishermen, seasonal workers and year-round residents share highways and harbors from Homer to Seward. ADN's Tegan Hanlon and Marc Lester recently spent a week meeting some of the people who make the peninsula unique. Over the next few days, we'll be publishing more than 20 of their stories.

Rita Clucas and her daughters set up their family’s setnet fishing camp on the beach at Clam Gulch on June 21, 2018. Thirteen-year-old Samara is at left, and Avielle, 11, is at right. (Marc Lester / ADN)

CLAM GULCH — Eleven-year-old Avielle Clucas stretched to place a stack of dishes on a high shelf in her family's temporary kitchen on wheels that's parked on the beach here. They had arrived a day earlier from Delaware, where they live when it's not fishing season in Alaska.

It's from the Clam Gulch seaside kitchen that Avielle's mom, Rita Clucas, uses binoculars to watch her family setnet for salmon in the Cook Inlet as she prepares their meals all summer. Avielle and her 13-year-old sister, Samara, don't often get to go out in the skiff, but help by picking the nets from shore.

"They have a mama who stands here and grits her teeth and bites her nails until they're all back in safely," Rita said.

But despite the nerves, she values their time together on the Kenai Peninsula.

It's a few months each year when the family works hard as a team, then spends time together drinking tea, playing games and searching for stones on the beach without the distraction of television and other electronics.

"This has taught my children so much," Rita said.

Avielle Clucas unpacks dishes for her family’s cook cabin at a setnetting site on the beach at Clam Gulch. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Her husband's grandparents settled in the Clam Gulch area in 1948. He would setnet with his family every summer as a child and continued through adulthood. This year is Rita and her husband's 29th summer fishing together as a married couple.

"All our children have been raised doing this," she said.

But Rita senses a change coming to the annual family pilgrimage to Alaska. Her two older children have jobs in Delaware now. It's also harder than it used to be to make a living setnetting, she said.

"I know that there's transition and things happen and the world doesn't stay the same," she said. "I will be sad to see that end."

She was, however, looking forward to the next month, when her older daughter and son would visit for a short time, and they would all spend their days again in the trailer on the Clam Gulch beaches.

"We'll all be together for the first time in years," she said.

Meet more people of the Peninsula

People on the Peninsula: The experienced angler

Alaska News - Sat, 2018-07-21 10:31

The Kenai Peninsula comes alive during summer. Tourists, fishermen, seasonal workers and year-round residents share highways and harbors from Homer to Seward. ADN's Tegan Hanlon and Marc Lester recently spent a week meeting some of the people who make the peninsula unique. Over the next few days, we'll be publishing more than 20 of their stories.

Joe Albrecht has been fishing on the Kenai River since 1963. His net holds fish for himself and a friend. (Marc Lester / ADN)

COOPER LANDING — Fishermen dotted the shore of the Kenai River in both directions near its confluence with the Russian River days after sockeye fishing opened. Cars and RVs filled two big parking lots. Joe Albrecht remembers when just a dozen fishermen here would've been considered a busy day, but he wasn't nostalgic for the solitude.

"I have a beautiful raft. I can float this river," he said. "But I have more fun being here with everybody else."

Albrecht has been fishing the Kenai since 1963. Back then there was just one tiny parking lot, he said, and a tavern nearby. Crossing back and forth on the little red ferry cost just 50 cents. He may have missed a few summers of fishing here since those days, but not many.

Fishermen cast for sockeye salmon on the Kenai River near the Russian River confluence on June 22, 2018. Albrecht is at center. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Albrecht retired from a career in construction and architecture in Alaska. Nowadays, he divides his time between Anchorage and St. Louis, where he "snowbirds" in winter. When he heads south, he takes 50 pounds of salmon with him to grill with olive oil, salt and pepper.

When he returns, he looks forward to sharing the Kenai River experience with the masses.

"I love being on the river. I love to talk to all these people from all over the world," he said. "They're the greatest people in the world. Very seldom do you find people with a bad attitude."

Joe Albrecht heads back to the Russian River Ferry crossing on June 22, 2018. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Meet more people of the Peninsula

Five myths about pizza

Alaska News - Sat, 2018-07-21 10:00

An employee removes a pizza from an oven at a Domino's Pizza restaurant in Chantilly, Virginia, on Feb. 20, 2018. MUST CREDIT: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg (Andrew Harrer/)

Helstosky is an associate professor and the chair of the history department at the University of Denver. She is the author of “Pizza: A Global History” and “Garlic and Oil: Food and Politics in Italy,” and the editor of “The Routledge History of Food.”

Versions of pizza have existed for centuries. First popular among the working classes of Naples in the 18th century, pizza remained a local dish until after World War II, when it exploded in popularity worldwide. As a food of the poor, pizza had few chroniclers until very recently, which means there’s no archive of pizza history, filled with details about important firsts or crucial developments. So there’s little agreement and significant mythology surrounding this beloved food, which we seem to like talking about almost as much as we like eating.


Returning soldiers made pizza popular in the United States.

In 1945, few Americans had heard of pizza. But a decade later, newspaper articles were touting it as a new food trend sweeping the nation. Media accounts attributed pizza's growing popularity in the United States to soldiers who had tried it in Italy during World War II. This story thrives online, on Wikipedia and in published histories of pizza, including Ed Levine's "Pizza: A Slice of Heaven."

While it's possible that soldiers ate pizza in Italy during the war, and some may have sought it out upon their return, it's unlikely this accounted for its increasing popularity. Pizza was in short supply in Italy during the war; soldiers there encountered brutal poverty and food shortages thanks to fascist misrule. Americans, including soldiers, probably sampled pizza in Italy in the years after the war, but what they ate bore little resemblance to the varieties of pizza made in the United States in the 1950s, which the New York Times described in 1956 as thick-crusted "pies," the pizzaret (an English-muffin pizza), the pizza bagel, and pizzas topped with sour cream, cinnamon or sliced bananas.


Pizza is available everywhere because of Italian immigrants.

Between 1870 and 1970, more than 26 million Italians left Italy in search of work. Almost any attempt to explain the spread of pizza credits these immigrants with introducing the food to their new countries. "Pizza became as popular as it did in part because of the sheer number of Italian immigrants,"the Encyclopedia Britannica explains. And indeed, Neapolitans and southern Italians opened bakeries and pizzerias that fed other Italian immigrants in cities like New York and Buenos Aires; however, few non-Italians had even heard of pizza until the 1950s. While pizza definitely went global, the mechanisms by which this happened are poorly understood.

Between 1950 and 1980, pizza became a global favorite because of a variety of factors, not solely because of Italian migrants. Pizzerias required minimal investment and had low overhead costs, making them attractive options for immigrant entrepreneurs from many countries. For instance, the 1970s witnessed an explosion of pizzerias in the Northeast, almost half of which were operated by Greek Americans. Changes in technology enabled the dramatic transformation of pizza preparation and delivery: Steel ovens with rotating shelves, pre-shredded cheese and toppings, pre-cut delivery boxes, and a rising car culture all facilitated the delivery industry, bringing pizza to more consumers who lived outside cities or on university campuses or military bases. In addition to delivery, pizzas prepared at home fed hungry American suburbanites, with the invention of the pizza kit in 1948 and the appearance of frozen pizzas in 1957. Both of these innovations were created, manufactured and distributed by Italian and non-Italian American entrepreneurs.


Pizza chains have ruined pizza.

Pizza devotees have long fretted that delivery chains like Domino's and Pizza Hut have ruined the creative spirit of pizza-making and that their pizza is, well, terrible. Fear that global chains will put local pizzerias out of business looms large for small proprietors, who struggled to implement the chains' online ordering systems.

Yet the history of pizza consumption in the past few decades tells a different story. Pizza embodies "glocalization," the practice of conducting business according to both local and global standards. When Domino's expanded east, executives found the cracker-thin Midwestern crust did not appeal to Northeastern consumers, who preferred a chewier, thicker crust. Both chains readily adapted to local tastes, a practice they continued as they expanded globally. When Pizza Hut opened in 1990 in the Soviet Union, it relied on local suppliers and offered toppings like salmon and sardines alongside cheese and pepperoni.

The large chains can be criticized for many reasons, but it's hard to make the case that they are replacing high-quality local options with generic, lousy pies, or that they are replacing independent pizzerias. Consider the curious phenomenon when a large pizza franchise opens in a neighborhood: It doesn't necessarily put local restaurants out of business and in fact can prompt consumers to try local fare, as Donna R. Gabaccia noted in her book "We Are What We Eat."


The pizza margherita was invented for Italian royalty.

The naming of the pizza margherita, a Neopolitan staple, remains one of the most celebrated myths of pizza lore, cited in Italian histories like Roberto Minervini's "Storia della Pizza" and Giuseppe Porcaro's "Sapore di Napoli: Storia della Pizza Napoletana," along with numerous pop-history books and countless websites. Few scholars dispute the existence or popularity of pizza in 19th-century Naples; it was sold by ambulatory vendors to sailors, soldiers and workers. Considerably more controversy is attached to what has become the first pizza of "national" significance: the pizza margherita, topped with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo milk mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil and basil.

Legend holds that King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889. After they tired of French cuisine, then a staple for European royalty, Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi was summoned to prepare a variety of pizzas for the bored queen. Her favorite: the pizza alla mozzarella, known thereafter as the pizza margherita. Pizzeria Brandi proudly displayed the thank-you note, signed by Galli Camillo, head of the table of the royal household, dated June 1889.

But historians and other pizzamakers dispute the note's authenticity and cast doubt on this encounter between Italian royalty and a pizzamaker. Pizza historian Antonio Mattozzi calls Esposito's claim that he invented the margherita a "half-truth" at best and suggests that we ignore the "picturesque elements" of the story about the encounter between Margherita and Esposito, attributing the supposed event to Esposito's "keen sense of marketing."


Everyone loves pizza.

The numerous websites and books dedicated to pizza attest to our enduring respect and love for the dish and its history, perhaps best summed up by Jeff Ruby and Penny Pollack's book, "Everybody Loves Pizza." Restaurants and home cooks have elevated pizza-making to an art, and the simple versions of Neapolitan pizza now warrant protected status as an authentic Italian food.

Yet pizza emerged from humble origins as a food of the poor, topped with whatever ingredients were on hand; in Naples, this might have been herbs, lard or small fish. Indeed, not everyone who sampled pizza enjoyed it. Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, described pizza in 1831 as "a species of most nauseating looking cake . . . covered over with slices of pomodoro or tomatos, and sprinkled with little fish and black pepper and I know not what other ingredients, it altogether looks like a piece of bread that had been taken reeking out of the sewer." Italians outside Naples thought little better of it. Carlo Collodi, author of "The Adventures of Pinocchio," said the toppings' haphazard and unsanitary quality gave "the appearance of complicated filth."

Today some of us hanker for artisanal pizza, lovingly made with fresh local ingredients, but many of us are more familiar with “junk food” pizza: the squares served in school cafeterias, frozen pizza stuck in the oven on weeknights when everyone is too tired to cook, and cheap pies delivered to our dorm rooms. So-called junk food pizza has more in common with the pizza of 19th-century Naples: inexpensive and filling food for the poor. Do we really love pizza or -- like the working poor of southern Italy two centuries ago -- do we eat it because it’s available and affordable? This notion will, no doubt, spark anger among pizza devotees. But pizza’s appeal often has nothing to do with taste; it rests instead with our individual and collective memories, the myths we create about pizza, and the many arguments surrounding the lowly, fabulous food.

Distributed by The Washington Post

Trump claims ex-lawyer’s phone-taping is ‘perhaps illegal’

Alaska News - Sat, 2018-07-21 08:25

Michael Cohen, longtime lawyer for President Trump, at federal court in New York on May 30, 2018. Bloomberg photo by Peter Foley. (Peter Foley/)

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump said Saturday that his personal lawyer’s taping of their private phone conversations is “totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.”

Trump was responding to the revelation that former attorney Michael Cohen, weeks before the 2016 election, secretly recorded their discussion of a potential payment for a former Playboy model's account of having an affair with Trump. He tweeted: "The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!"

The recording was part of a large collection of documents and electronic records seized by federal authorities from the longtime Trump fixer earlier this year.

Cohen had made a practice of recording telephone conversations, unbeknownst to those he was speaking with. Most states, including New York, allow for recordings of phone conversations with only the consent of one party; other states require all parties to agree to a recording or have mixed laws on the matter. It was not immediately clear where Trump and Cohen were located at the time of the call.

Cohen's recording adds to questions about whether Trump tried to quash damaging stories before the election. Trump's campaign had said it knew nothing about any payment to ex-centerfold Karen McDougal. It could also further entangle the president in a criminal investigation that for months has targeted Cohen.

The erstwhile Trump loyalist has hired a new attorney, Clinton White House veteran Lanny Davis, and disassociated himself from the president as both remain under investigation. Cohen has not been charged with a crime.

Current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said the payment was never made and the brief recording shows Trump did nothing wrong.

"The transaction that Michael is talking about on the tape never took place, but what's important is: If it did take place, the president said it has to be done correctly and it has to be done by check" to keep a proper record of it, Giuliani said.

Davis said "any attempt at spin cannot change what is on the tape."

"When the recording is heard, it will not hurt Mr. Cohen," Davis said in a statement.

The recording was first reported Friday by The New York Times.

The FBI raided Cohen's office, home and hotel room in April, searching in part for information about payments to McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, who received a $130,000 payment from Cohen before the election to keep quiet about a sexual relationship she says she had with Trump. The FBI investigation is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of election interference in 2016 and potential obstruction of justice by those in the president's orbit.

Referring to that raid, Trump called it "inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning)." In past comments Trump has also referred to the court-ordered seizure as a "break-in," though Cohen has been more sanguine, saying the FBI agents were courteous and respectful.

A self-described fixer for Trump for more than a decade, Cohen said last year he would “take a bullet” for Trump. But he told ABC News in an interview broadcast this month that he now puts “family and country first” and won’t let anyone paint him as “a villain of this story.” On Twitter, he scrubbed mentions and photos of Trump from a profile that previously identified him as “Personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump.”

Trump’s Putin fallout: Inside the White House’s tumultuous stretch of walk backs

Alaska News - Sat, 2018-07-21 08:22

U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with members of Congress at the White House this week. Bloomberg photo by Yuri Gripas (Yuri Gripas/)

WASHINGTON - Executive time began early on Thursday, just after sunrise.

Feeling exasperated and feisty as he awoke in the White House residence, President Donald Trump firedoff his grievances on Twitter about how the media had been covering his Helsinki summit. And, refusing to be cowed, Trump gave national security adviser John Bolton an order: to schedule a second summit and officially invite Putin to visit Washington.

The two presidents had already discussed the likelihood of a follow-up meeting, but at Trump's direction Thursday morning, Bolton sprang into action to make it official, making an overture to the Kremlin. By midafternoon the White House announced that plans were underway for a fall summit in Washington.

The bulletin landed midway through a remarkably candid interview of Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats at the Aspen Security Forum that underscored the disconnect and tension on Russia policy between Trump and his administration. The intelligence chief criticized Trump's performance during the Helsinki summit and - taking a deep breath and then offering a prolonged grimace-laugh - made clear that he had no advance knowledge of the follow-up meeting with Putin.

"That's going to be special," Coats said wryly, as the crowd in Aspen, Colorado, rallied around him in sympathy for being left in the dark.

For Trump and his White House, the days that followed the Helsinki summit amounted to an unofficial Walk Back Week - a daily scramble of corrections and clarifications from the West Wing. Each announcement, intended to blunt the global fallout of the president's Russophilic performance in Helsinki, was followed by another mishap that only fueled more consternation.

Just as Trump prepared to decamp to his New Jersey golf course for the weekend and turn the page on a full week of Russia controversies, more bad news arrived Friday. Reports surfaced, first in The New York Times, that the FBI had a fall 2016 recording of Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, discussing payments to silence a former Playboy centerfold who alleged an extramarital affair with Trump.

This portrait of a tumultuous week in the White House amid growing concern over Trump's approach to Russia comes from interviews with a dozen administration officials and Trump confidants, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely recount private conversations.

The trouble started Monday in Helsinki, though the magnitude did not set in for Trump for several hours. He stepped offstage after his 46-minute, freewheeling news conference alongside Putin - in which he seemed to accept Putin's denial of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election campaign over the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies - delighted with his own performance. The president felt he had shown strength, an impression buoyed by two friendly interviews he did with Fox News Channel personalities before boarding Air Force One to return home from the Nordic capital.

But roughly an hour into the flight, Trump's mood darkened and grim reality set in as he consumed almost universally negative cable news coverage and aides began reviewing pages upon pages of printed-out statements from fellow Republicans lambasting the president. Trump called his former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to gripe, and he also huddled with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in his cabin at the front of the plane to strategize.

Much of the initial scrutiny focused on Trump taking the side of Putin over his own intelligence community, so Trump and his aides first settled on the president's sending a tweet that reiterated, "I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people."

But that did not silence the uproar, and aides knew they had a big problem.

Trump himself was flummoxed. He waxed on about his impressions of Putin up close - strong, smart and cunning, in Trump's assessment - and told associates that he viewed the Russian as a formidable adversary with whom he relishes interactions. He also was furious with the negative media coverage of a summit that he felt had been a clear success. And he complained to some about what he viewed as an undercovered angle of the election controversy: That the Democratic National Committee allowed its server to be hacked.

Trump further grumbled about the tough question he was asked by Jonathan Lemire, an Associated Press correspondent, wondering why that reporter had been called on rather than someone who might have asked an easier question.

Lemire asked whether Trump would denounce Russia's election interference to Putin's face, "with the whole world watching," and the president demurred. Aides tried to explain to Trump that nearly any journalist would have asked a similarly pointed question in that moment.

But, as one White House official said, "If you don't like the answer, you don't like the question."

The president still was not satisfied. Later in the week, he told CNBC, "I had some of these fools from the media saying, 'Why didn't you stand there, look him in the face, walk over to him, and start shouting at him?' I said, 'Are these people crazy? I want to make a deal.' "

On Tuesday morning, Trump told friends he did not understand what the big fuss was about. But his advisers understood. A coterie of them - including Vice President Mike Pence, chief of staff John Kelly, counselor Kellyanne Conway, deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, Bolton and Sanders - met with Trump to draft a statement he would deliver that afternoon seeking to clarify his Helsinki remarks.

Shine, new to his job, also wanted to change the narrative, and after a career as a Fox News executive, he focused on the imagery - eager for Trump to supplant the image of himself standing admiringly next to Putin with fresh content for cable news.

Trump personally reviewed first the transcript and then the video of his news conference and came up with the "double-negative" explanation that he ultimately provided - that when he said in Helsinki he saw no reason the election hackers "would" be Russian, he meant to say "wouldn't."

Initially, the president worried that his statement would be viewed as backing down or not toughing out the criticism - the sort of concessions he is loath to make. But senior advisers reassured him that if he had really meant to say that he didn't see why Russian wouldn't be to blame, he would be simply be offering a clarification, not caving.

Clouding Trump's judgment all week has been his apparent inability to distinguish between Russian "meddling," of which there is overwhelming evidence, and Russian "collusion" with the Trump campaign, which special counsel Robert Mueller is still investigating, and which the president insists did not happen.

"The biggest problem is that he believes meddling equals collusion," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "Nobody else believes that. I think he's very sensitive about going there because he thinks it undercuts his legitimacy."

By midweek Wednesday, some in Trump's orbit believed he would emerge relatively unscathed.

"This president has weathered countless storms, and I think his political obituary has been written countless times and has to be rewritten," former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. "He has broken the mold when it comes to . . . what would have been a showstopper for any other politician."

But there were showstoppers still to come. At Wednesday's Cabinet meeting focused on the economy, as staffers were ushering reporters out of the room, ABC News' Cecilia Vega asked Trump whether he still believed the Russians were targeting the United States.

Amid the chaos, Trump looked at Vega and uttered one word: "No."

Sanders and other aides in the Cabinet Room didn't consider the president's comment an answer to Vega's question. But news organizations, including The Washington Post, alerted the news that Trump had yet again undermined his intelligence officials, who have been warning about active Russian threats. And the White House had a fresh crisis on its hands.

Sanders scrambled to reach the president, who had already departed for Joint Base Andrews to greet the family of a Secret Service agent whose remains were being returned from Scotland. The agent died after suffering a stroke in Scotland while there as part of the president's support team. The press secretary delayed her afternoon briefing until after she had conferred with Trump, and relayed the president's response.

"I talked to the president," Sanders told reporters. "He wasn't answering that question. He was saying, no, he's not taking questions."

But there was another problem for the administration. Sanders was questioned about Putin's proposal that Mueller visit Moscow to interrogate Russian hacking suspects in exchange for Russians interrogating U.S. officials, including former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. Trump had called Putin's proposal an "interesting idea," and Sanders did not rule it out - even though the State Department had dismissed it as "absurd."

"The president will work with his team and we'll let you know if there's an announcement on that front," said Sanders, who was careful not to declare policy from the lectern before first discussing the matter with Trump.

The episode revealed a naivete on the part of the president. White House aides fretted that Trump did not recognize the massive diplomatic and security implications of turning Americans over to an autocratic regime that jails and kills dissidents. State Department and National Security Council officials, and others, realized there would need to be another cleanup.

In a meeting Thursday morning, Trump's national security team saw that the president was mostly focused on the sending-Mueller-to-Moscow part of the proposal - and not on a quid pro quo interrogation of a former U.S. ambassador. They focused him on the full scope of Putin's suggestion, restating just why it was so problematic.

Later, after discussing the matter with Trump, Sanders issued the president's final verdict, saying he disagreed with Putin's proposal, which she said had been "made in sincerity."

Meanwhile, in a senior staff meeting, Conway pointed out to the team that Coats would be sitting down for an interview with NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell before a gathering of thought leaders and media elite in Aspen. Conway warned her colleagues that Coats could generate headlines - and she was prescient.

The White House had little visibility into what Coats might say. The intelligence director's team had turned down at least one offer from a senior White House official to help prepare him for the long-scheduled interview, pointing out that he had known Mitchell for years and was comfortable talking with her.

Coats was extraordinarily candid in the interview, at times questioning Trump's judgment - such as the president's decision to meet with Putin for two hours without any aides present beyond interpreters - and revealing the rift between the president and the intelligence community. The spectacle was all the more surprising considering that Coats is nicknamed "Marcel Marceau," after the French mime, in national security circles because the director so rarely opines as he did with Mitchell.

Coats' comments were received poorly inside the West Wing, where Trump advisers saw him as playing to his elite audience in Aspen at the expense of the president. One senior White House official said, "Coats has gone rogue," and recalled another colleague suggesting, "He may as well just have said he was DNI for Obama."

A U.S. official pushed back on the criticism, saying it is "not in Coats's DNA" to seek the spotlight and that he would never try to embarrass the president.

But the incongruous split-screen was striking. As the White House was brought low, struggling to emerge from a seemingly endless week of walk backs from controversy, the crowd in Aspen seemed to be enjoying a high-altitude party.

When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave remarks in Aspen about deterring foreign interference in U.S. politics, the sometime target of Trump's ire was given a hero's welcome.

Several hundred people who were crammed into a roasting tent jumped to their feet when Rosenstein entered, and many stayed after his speech, hoping for a coveted souvenir: A selfie with the prosecutor overseeing the Mueller probe.

- - -

The Washington Post’s Shane Harris in Aspen and John Hudson in Washington contributed to this report.

National GOP reluctant to weigh in on Trump’s Russia swirl

Alaska News - Sat, 2018-07-21 08:19

In this July 16, 2018, photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shake hands at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. Trump and Putin may have reached several historic agreements at their summit in Finland this week. Or, they may not have. Three days later no one is quite sure. With no details emerging from the leaders’ one-on-one discussion on Monday other than the vague outline they offered themselves, officials, lawmakers and the public in the United States in particular are wondering what, if anything, was actually agreed to. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/)

AUSTIN, Texas — There was no sign of shock or outrage in the hotel hallways and conference rooms where Republican officials gathered to discuss party business even as politicians on both sides and foreign policy experts fretted about President Donald Trump’s cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The men and women from all 50 states who run the Republican National Committee did their best to avoid the topic of post-Helsinki summit angst during their summer meeting, which ended late Friday. When pressed in interviews, they defended Trump's conduct or begged ignorance, citing what some claimed as a complicated policy matter.

"You know what I know about foreign policy? Once a month I eat at the International House of Pancakes. That's my foreign policy experience," said Ron Kaufman, a longtime RNC committeeman from Massachusetts and former political director for President George H.W. Bush.

"People wanted change. He's changing," Kaufman said of Trump. "The foreign policy experts may not like it. I'm not qualified to say whether it's right or wrong."

It was a different story last summer when the RNC formally condemned Nazis and the KKK after Trump's muddled response to violent protests by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump said in his initial response to that incident said there were "some very fine people on both sides."

After Monday's summit with Putin, Trump said he had "confidence in both parties" when asked whether he trusted the Russian president or U.S. intelligence agencies. Trump later attempted to walk back the statement. By week's end, Trump had invited Putin to the White House for their next meeting.

That didn't sit well with at least one prominent former RNC member.

On the eve of the meeting, Jennifer Horn, a onetime New Hampshire GOP chairwoman who previously served on the RNC's executive committee, called on the RNC to support a formal resolution, as it did after Charlottesville, to clarify the party's position on Putin and Russia's continued efforts to meddle in U.S. elections.

In an open letter to the RNC, Horn said Trump repeatedly denigrated Republican values "in spectacular fashion" in Helsinki. "Unfortunately, it has become impossible to defend both the president and Republicanism at the same time," she said, adding: "I'm afraid that if our leaders can't find that courage today, we will lose our party forever."

Horn's plea was ignored.

Even New Hampshire's new GOP chairman, Wayne McDonald, took a swipe at Horn for attacking Trump on Russia.

"The president is doing wonderful things for the Republican National Committee," MacDonald said. "And to come out against him, as I believe she has recommended, would be totally inappropriate and totally wrong and I couldn't disagree more."

Bill Palatucci, the New Jersey committeeman who authored the Charlottesville resolution, said the vast majority of his colleagues felt this current situation was different.

"People remain very supportive of the president and take him at his word. He says he misspoke when he was standing there with President Putin," Palatucci said. "I'll give that benefit of the doubt."

GOP officials from across the country said they were willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, believing that he probably was much firmer with Putin in private than he was in his public performance.

Arizona committeeman Bruce Ash echoed Trump's efforts to play down Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, suggesting that America hasn't always behaved properly, either.

"Look, we've been doing it in other peoples' elections," Ash said, contending that President Barack Obama tried to interfere in Israel's 2015 elections. "There's nothing new."

Other GOP officials struggled to reconcile their aggressive Charlottesville response and their silence on Putin, but had little appetite for condemning the Republican president.

"I am as opposed to Russians interfering in our elections as I am to racists trying to divide our country. They're both immoral. They're both wrong," said Mississippi national committeeman Henry Barbour. "I don't want to get into whether or not we should or shouldn't put out a resolution."

Trump's hand-picked RNC chairwoman, Ronna Romney McDaniel, suggested in an interview that the debates over Charlottesville and Russia have little in common.

Asked about the president's performance in Helsinki, she said: "It's important not to cherry-pick one moment." She highlighted economic sanctions put in place by the Trump administration that have hurt both the Russian economy and Putin's approval ratings.

"I don't think he's cozying up," McDaniel said of Trump's relationship to Putin. She added: "I think in the totality, the president, in terms of his policy, has been incredibly hard on Russia."

The RNC didn’t feel it necessary to adopt a formal resolution on Russia, however. Members instead approved language addressing so-called sanctuary cities, the Supreme Court, sex education and religious persecution in Burma.

Why we must fight to protect Roe v. Wade

Alaska News - Sat, 2018-07-21 08:08


In my job as an OB-GYN, the patients I see express a huge amount of gratitude for the services provided. The patients are grateful for affordable health care delivered with compassion and sensitivity. These patients, both men and women, recognize the unique services that Planned Parenthood offers our Alaska community.

In addition to preventive care, infection screening, birth control and gender-affirming hormone care, we are one of the few facilities in Alaska where women can access safe and legal abortion services.

The Roe v. Wade decision allowing legal access to abortion is on the line with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Overturning Roe v. Wade would be a seismic shift for the country. If Roe v. Wade isn't overturned outright, we will see states actively chip away at abortion access. Unnecessary barriers such as waiting periods, admitting privileges, etc., will become all too common.

The balance of the Supreme Court will greatly impact efforts at the state level to roll back reproductive rights. This will have impacts for generations of women, especially women of color.

In Alaska, women seek abortions for so many different reasons. I have cared for young women who want to finish their education, start their career before becoming a mom. I have cared for 45-year-olds who completed their childbearing years ago and had a contraception failure. I have cared for women whose lives were threatened in past pregnancies and now cannot risk putting their life at risk to carry another child. I care for women who strongly desire motherhood but have learned their fetus is abnormal and will not survive outside of the womb. I support each of these women in the decisions to end a pregnancy.

Alaska's women would lose opportunities in the workforce, their livelihood and their health if they could not access abortion services safely.

Throughout 2017, I was proud to see people across this state stand up and speak out to protect health care access. Abortion is basic health care. Period. Overall, one in four women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the time they're 45 years old.

In Alaska, some 90 percent of Alaska counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 37 percent of Alaska women lived in those counties.

Planned Parenthood served more than 7,700 people in 2017 and that number is only growing. I know there is a need and we should be doing everything we can to provide better access to care, not worse.

Recent data show that the people of Alaska don't want to see Roe v. Wade overturned – 63 percent of Alaska voters want to see Roe upheld, while only 25 percent want it overturned.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski stood up for the people of Alaska when it came to health care access, and we believe she will do it again because there is too much at stake.

I am committed to do my part in ensuring people have access to a full range of reproductive health care. We need Sen. Murkowski to do her part and reject this nominee.

Dr. Tanya Pasternack is a doctor practicing obstetrics and gynecology with Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. She lives in Anchorage.

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@adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser.

Swimmer's itch reported at Jewel Lake - KTVA

Legislative News - Sat, 2018-07-21 02:35


Swimmer's itch reported at Jewel Lake
A spokesperson called Lish a "person of interest" in this latest case. Stronger state load law not signed before rock killed boy. A bill that would increase penalties for people who drive with unsecured loads that injure people has passed the Alaska ...

and more »

SitNews: Stedman Sends Criminal Referral to Dept of Law for Leak ... - SitNews

Legislative News - Fri, 2018-07-20 20:42

SitNews: Stedman Sends Criminal Referral to Dept of Law for Leak ...
(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka), chairman of the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee, sent the Alaska Department of Law a ...

and more »

At WEIO, a Fairbanks man carries 4 people the length of a football field

Alaska News - Fri, 2018-07-20 20:18

Sido Evans of Fairbanks shattered his world record in the four-man carry this week at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics.

Evans carried four people, each weighing an approximate 150 pounds, for more than 100 yards during competition at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.

He walked 308 feet and 10 inches with four people hanging onto him. One was on his back, one was in the front, two clinged to either side, and together they totaled about 600 pounds.

Evans is a multiple winner of the event that mimics a hunter packing out meat after a successful hunt. In 2014, he set the world record with an effort of 241-8, a mark that was surpassed twice Wednesday. Stanley Riley of Anaktuvuk Pass placed second with a 265-10 carry.

WEIO, which showcases Alaska Native games, dances and crafts, began Wednesday and runs through Saturday night.

Going into Friday night's competition, a three-time winner had already emerged — Veronica McDonald of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. She won the Alaskan high kick, the scissor broad jump and the kneel jump.

Here are results through Friday's afternoon session at the Carlson Center:

Indian stick pull (women) — 1) Marjorie Tahbone, Nome; 2) Nicole Johnston, Eagle River; 3) Tatiana Ticknor, Anchorage.

Indian stick pull (men) — 1) Isaiah Waghiyi, Savoonga; 2) Skyler Ervin, North Pole; 3) Jeremiah Vanderpool, McGrath.

Alaskan high kick (women) — 1) Veronica McDonald, Fort Smith, NWT, 72 inches;  2) Kinniq Johnson Sampson, Anchorage, 68; 3) Jazmine Jones, Fairbanks, 66.

Alaskan high kick (men) — 1) Casey Ferguson, Eagle River, 90; 2) Kyle Worl, Juneau, 89 (2 misses); 3) Andreas Demientieff, Anchorage, 89 (4 misses).

Greased pole walk (women) — 1) Amber Applebee, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, 44.75 inches; 2) Christina Glenzel, Anchorage, 33.75; 3) Aizah Sullivan, Fairbanks, 29.5.

Greased pole walk (men) — 1) Ryan Glenzel, Soldotna, 88.5; 2) Sam Strange, Chugiak, 87.25; 3) Kyle Worl, Juneau, 67.

Muktuk eating (all genders) — 1) Donna Rexford, Fairbanks, 53.71 seconds; 2) Stanley Riley, Anaktuvuk Pass, 61.46; 3) Diane DuFour, Fairbanks; 74.39.

Eskimo stick pull (women) — 1) Deenalee Hodsdon, Fairbanks; 2) Christina Glenzel, Anchorage; 3) Brittany Woods-Orrison, Rampart.

Eskimo stick pull (men) — 1) Sido Evans, Fairbanks; 2) Stan Swetzof, Naknek; 3) Walter Hawkins, Anchorage.

Fish cutting (all genders) — 1) Kelly Lincoln, Bethel, 35.53 seconds; 2) Marjorie Tahbone, Fairbanks, 36.22 seconds; 3) Nick Hanson, Unalakleet, 49.93 seconds.

Four-man carry (men only) — 1) Sido Evans, Fairbanks, 308 feet, 10 inches; 2) Stanley Riley, Anaktuvuk Pass, 265-10; 3) Walter Hawkins, Anchorage, 201-9.

Kneel jump (women) — 1) Veronica McDonald, Fort Smith, 54.25 inches; 2) Amber Vaska, Fairbanks, 51.25; 3) Erica Meckel, Fairbanks, 41.

Kneel jump (men) — 1) Kyle Worl, Juneau; at 63.75; 2) Austin Sumdum, Anchorage, 58.75; 3) Casey Ferguson, Eagle River, 49.5.

Race of the Torch 5K (women) — 1) Sidney Isom, Lake Minchumina; 21 minutes, 58 seconds; 2) Maxine Dibert, Fairbanks, 24:44; 3) Laura Ekada, Fairbanks, 24:59.

Race of the Torch 5K (men) — 1) Dion Susook, Galena, 17:18; 2) Keel Simon, Fairbanks, 19:37; 3) Nick Hanson, Unalakleet, 19:59.

One-hand reach (women) — 1) Raven Morgan, Fairbanks, 54 inches (1 miss); 2) Deenaalee Hodsdon, Fairbanks, 54 (2 misses); 3) Teyah Clark, Wasilla, 54 (4 misses).

One-hand reach (men) — 1) Bernard Clark, Wasilla, 69; 2) Casey Ferguson, Eagle River, 66; 3), tie, Virgil Kapotak, Anchorage, and Kyle Worl, Juneau, 64.

Scissor broad jump (women) — 1) Veronica McDonald, Fort Smith, 26 feet, 8.5 inches; 2) Amber Vaska, Fairbanks, 25-1.5; 3) Erica Meckel, Fairbanks, 24-6.5.

Scissor broad jump (men) — 1) Nick Hanson, Unalakleet, 36-2; 2) Isaiah Waghiyi, Savoonga; at 32-10; 3) Kyle Worl, Juneau; at 31-9.5.

16-year-old male, woman killed in 2 separate shootings just blocks apart in Anchorage

Alaska News - Fri, 2018-07-20 20:11

Anchorage police respond to a homicide call on North Bliss Street between Parsons and Thompson avenues on Friday, July 20, 2018. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Update, 8 p.m. Friday:

Police spokesman MJ Thim said a second shooting in Mountain View, on North Bliss Street, was reported at around 6:30 p.m., even as APD was in the process of responding to the first shooting on North Hoyt Street. Sirens could be heard as Thim briefed the media on the first incident. As an officer walked away, he turned to the public information officer and alerted him to the grim news.

"We've got another one," the officer said to Thim.

When officers arrived, Thim said they found a 16-year-old male lying in the middle of Bliss Street with apparent gunshot wounds to the upper body.

Officers contacted several witnesses, but as of 7:45 p.m. Thim said police were still looking for the suspect or suspects in the case. Officers surrounded an apartment building on Bliss Street shortly after the shooting, but were't able to locate a suspect.

"We did a high-risk search, but we didn't find anybody inside," he said.

Thim said anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 911 or Crimestoppers.

"Detectives are now working with the patrol division to determine who the suspects are," he said.

Although the two shootings were reported within two hours and three blocks of each other, Thim said police have no reason to believe they are related.

Original story:

Anchorage police responding to a homicide call are searching for a suspect in Mountain View just blocks away from a separate investigation into a "suspicious" shooting that left one woman dead Friday afternoon.

Officers have shut down North Bliss Street from Thompson Avenue to Parsons Avenue in what police described in an alert as a homicide investigation, asking people to avoid the scene as they search for a suspect.

In a separate earlier case, APD spokesman MJ Thim said a report came in at around 4:45 p.m. Friday of an adult female who died of an accidental gunshot wound on the 600 block of North Hoyt Street. When officers arrived, they found a woman dead of an apparent gunshot wound lying on the floor inside an apartment. The woman, whom police have not publicly identified, was shot in the upper body.

Thim said officers determined the shooting was not accidental.

"Officers believe there are suspicious circumstances with this shooting," he said.

Thim said APD detained several people for questioning and police don't believe there's an ongoing public safety threat.

"We believe we have everybody involved," he said.

An Anchorage Police Department cruiser sits outside a crime scene on North Hoyt Street on Friday. (Matt Tunseth / ADN)

Thim said homicide detectives were en route to the scene Friday evening. He said the department's crime van would be arriving at the scene and asked that people avoid the area.

Thim said the victim's next of kin had not yet been notified as of 6:30 p.m. However, he did say relatives of the victim live at the apartment complex.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 911 or, to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 907-561-STOP.

Response to flooding goes smoothly

Juneau Hot Topics - Fri, 2018-07-20 18:48
The flooding from Suicide Basin into the Mendenhall Lake and River wasn't the record-breaking surge of water that scientists thought was possible, ...

Saturday triathlon, Kenai fishing will make Seward Highway busier than usual

Alaska News - Fri, 2018-07-20 18:45

An Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon competitor bikes along the Seward Highway as a motorhome passes by south of Girdwood on July 15, 2017. (Bob Hallinen / ADN archive)

Travelers hitting the Seward Highway on Saturday should expect plenty of bicycle traffic between Girdwood and Seward and some lane closures near Girdwood.

Heavier than usual traffic is expected because of the second annual Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon, a 143-mile race that starts in Seward at 4 a.m. and goes all the way to Girdwood.

More than 300 people are competing and most will have support crews driving from Seward to Girdwood.

Additionally, the Alaska Department of Safety reminded the public that this is the second weekend of Kenai dipnetting — historically "the busiest weekend for the fishery," according to a news release.

The increased traffic prompted the Anchorage Fire Department and Girdwood Fire Department to issue an advisory Friday afternoon.

"There will be lane closures in the area and a whole lot of people and traffic. Give yourself extra time whether you plan on participating, spectating, or driving through to get further south," the advisory said.

Anchorage police will help direct and control traffic around Girdwood, the advisory said. Alaska State Troopers will also increase patrols on roadways and waterways to ensure safety, the Department of Public Safety said.

People planning to hike or bike in the Girdwood area in the afternoon or evening should expect race traffic on the Bird to Gird bike path, the Alyeska Highway bike path and Mount Alyeska's North Face.

The race begins in Seward with a 2.6-mile swim in Resurrection Bay. After that comes a 113-mile bike from Seward to the Bird Creek campground, which will put a lot of cyclists on the highway.

The race ends with a 27.5-mile run from Bird to Mount Alyeska, where racers will make two ascents of the steep North Face slope before their day is done.

A full field of 320 racers are signed up for the race, including 50 from Alaska.

It's a grueling event that features a total elevation gain of 4,635 feet on the bike and 7,000 feet on the run.

"It was the hardest thing I've ever done, hands down," Anchorage racer Daniel Folmar said after finishing third in the inaugural race.

Neither Folmar nor last year's winner, Andrew Fast of Salt Lake City, is among this year's entrants. The top woman from last year, Morgan Chaffin of Nebraska, is entered.

Fast won in 11 hours, 18 minutes, 29 seconds. Chaffin placed sixth overall in 12:47:50.

New questions as investigation continues into accident that killed 8-year-old boy on Sterling Highway

Alaska News - Fri, 2018-07-20 18:09

The Alaska Department of Transportation has joined the investigation into a construction-area accident that killed an 8-year-old boy Thursday on the Sterling Highway.

Troopers say the boy was struck by a "volleyball-sized" rock that fell from a rock truck traveling in the opposite direction on the highway between Sterling and Cooper Landing. That portion of the highway is under construction as part of a three-year, $54 million widening and rehabilitation effort.

California-based Granite Construction, the contractor on the project, said it is cooperating with the investigation.

But it was not clear Friday who owned and operated the truck. Troopers say they have tentatively identified the vehicle but have released no details about the owner, operator or driver.

"While the incident occurred within our project site, we are presently unaware that any of our equipment or personnel were involved," Granite wrote in a statement to media.

Neither the company nor a transportation department spokeswoman responded to follow-up questions, including whether the vehicle was operated by a subcontractor or was unrelated to the state highway project.

The boy, Noah Schwebach of Eagle River, was one of five people traveling in a northbound Volkswagen GTI hatchback at the time of the accident. The rock pierced the windshield, striking Schwebach in the middle rear seat, according to a trooper dispatch posted online.

Granite halted operations in the construction zone following the accident.

"The investigation is ongoing to determine the totality of the circumstances, to include what, if anything, the suspected vehicle was hauling at the time," troopers wrote Friday.

Granite spokeswoman Jacqueline Fourchy did not respond to phone calls but emailed a statement.

"We are deeply saddened by yesterday's tragic incident on the Sterling Highway. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schwebach family," the statement said, in part. "We are fully cooperating and assisting with the investigation. Out of respect for the family, we have voluntarily suspended night shift work on the roadway until Saturday night."

Ed Martin Jr., a retired heavy equipment operator and part owner of a Cooper Landing business, said he has been monitoring the nearby Sterling Highway project.

Martin said he texted transportation department engineer Shaun Combs on May 19 to report the presence of a piece of guard rail that Martin believes fell off a truck working on the state project.

"At Monday's safety meeting the loss of that guardrail from a load should be a topic of conversation don't you think?" Martin wrote, according to a photo of the text that he shared with the Daily News.

Combs referred questions about that earlier complaint to DOT spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy, who did not immediately respond Friday to related questions.

State law requires that truckloads of gravel or rocks must be secured to prevent "dropping, shifting, leaking or escaping."

Martin said he has subcontracted for Granite Construction, describing the company as safety-oriented. He said a rock doesn't have to fall out of a loaded truck to strike another vehicle — rocks on the road can be thrown when a truck drives over them, or can become dislodged from between the tires of a truck, he said.

McCarthy wrote that DOT staff are saddened and shocked by the tragedy and are working to provide information to state troopers. State Commercial Vehicle Enforcement officials are working with troopers in the investigation.

The family of Schwebach could not be reached for comment.

Troopers urged drivers on the Peninsula to be cautious on the Seward and Sterling highways this weekend.

"Traffic is expected to be exceedingly heavy due to the Kenai River Dipnet Fishery, the Alaskaman Triathlon and the various construction zones," troopers wrote. "Motorists should mind their speed, pay attention to their following distance, drive with headlights on, and obey traffic signs."

Dog wakes residents, alerts them to house fire

Juneau Hot Topics - Fri, 2018-07-20 17:41
Fire department employees have made it clear in recent months that they're in need of more staffing. The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, with ...

The search for the bear in the fatal Eagle River attack continues. Here’s what officials know so far.

Alaska News - Fri, 2018-07-20 17:33

An Alaska Department of Fish and Game pickup truck prepares to haul a bear trap up Hiland Road on June 20, 2018. (Matt Tunseth / Alaska Star)

State wildlife biologists are continuing to search for the brown bear sow that killed one man in Eagle River last month and injured another.

The two maulings occurred within 10 or 20 yards of each other near the end of Hiland Road. They likely happened a day or two apart, according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Friday that recounted what the agency knows about the attacks and what has happened so far in its search for the sow.

The sow killed 44-year-old Michael Soltis, who went missing June 18. It's believed he went for a quick hike alone before dinner. He lived off the winding Hiland Road.

No one witnessed the fatal mauling, said the Fish and Game statement. It's unknown whether it was a predatory attack or whether it was a defensive or surprise attack that changed into predatory behavior, the statement said.

On June 20, the bear then attacked 51-year-old Paul Vasquez, one of the volunteers searching for Soltis. Fish and Game said the bear was guarding Soltis' body in a brushy area a short distance from Hiland Road, near an informal trail. The bear had cached Soltis' body, using sticks and grass to conceal it, Ken Marsh, Fish and Game spokesman, said in an interview.

"A lot of experts say that is a form of predatory behavior, basically they're claiming that body as theirs," Marsh said. That's concerning and rare behavior, he said.

The department has consulted with out-of-state experts about the bear maulings, Marsh said. The basic message: "This isn't a bear you want on your landscape."

Fish and Game will keep bear traps in the area indefinitely. The popular South Fork Eagle River trailhead, which leads to Eagle and Symphony lakes, will remain closed until further notice.

On Thursday, Fish and Game staff in a small airplane flew over the area. A helicopter also made a few passes. Neither spotted any brown bears, Marsh said.

A sign warns hikers of a trail closure due to bear activity at the South Fork Eagle River trailhead on Thursday. (Matt Tunseth / Alaska Star)

Brown bear sows typically have smaller, more defined home ranges, he said. So it's possible the bear is still in the area. It's unknown whether the sow is with cubs or not.

Wildlife biologists on July 13 shot and killed a brown bear sow and two cubs within a half-mile of the June mauling sties, not long after receiving reports of aggressive behavior by brown bears with cubs in the area. DNA analysis later determined the bears killed were not involved in the June maulings.

"Unfortunately, that was not the bear we've been looking for," Dave Battle, Anchorage area wildlife biologist for Fish and Game, said in Friday's statement. "However, protecting the public is our priority, and removal of those bears will not adversely affect the overall health of the population. Although we don't have a population estimate, we believe brown bear are plentiful in the area."

Wildlife biologists considered using tranquilizer darts to capture the bears, and then collecting DNA samples from the animals and releasing them with tracking collars, the statement said. But the biologists ultimately determined that was too risky. DNA analysis can take up to a week.

"Imagine if we handled and released a bear that's already killed one person only to have it injure or kill someone else while we process DNA," Battle said. "That's an unacceptable public safety risk."

Fish and Game will continue to monitor bear activity in the area, Marsh said.

Soltis' death is the second fatal bear attack in the Municipality of Anchorage in two summers.

Last June, a 16-year-old runner was killed by a black bear during a popular mountain race at Bird Ridge. It was described as a predatory black bear attack, and the first fatal mauling in the Anchorage area in more than 20 years. State biologists later shot and killed four black bears in the area, including one they believed fatally mauled the teenager.

[The killing of an Eagle River hiker marks the 6th fatal bear attack in Alaska in the past 10 years. Here are the others.]

People on the Peninsula: The single dad

Alaska News - Fri, 2018-07-20 17:05

The Kenai Peninsula comes alive during summer. Tourists, fishermen, seasonal workers and year-round residents share highways and harbors from Homer to Seward. ADN's Tegan Hanlon and Marc Lester recently spent a week meeting some of the people who make the peninsula so unique. Over the next few days, we'll be publishing more than 20 of their stories.

Michael Snow fishes on the Kenai River on June 22. Snow, from the Philippines, moved to the U.S. for educational opportunities for his three kids. (Marc Lester / ADN)

COOPER LANDING — Michael Snow offered to share one of his homemade burritos with a stranger as he watched his friend fish for salmon off the banks of the Kenai River on a rainy afternoon.

The trip was part of Snow's two-week vacation from his job. He hasn't had too much time off in the past few years. He had three children to raise alone in a new country.

"When you're just starting out, you need to work hard," said Snow, 47.

Snow and his children moved to Alaska about four years ago. They're from the Philippines. Snow said he left most everything behind when he came to the United States, including his construction company. It was hard, he said, but he was determined to send his children to better schools.

"I'm an engineer in my country," he said. "But when I thought about the education system in the Philippines — it's much better in the U.S."

Fishermen cast for sockeye salmon on the Kenai River near the Russian River confluence on June 22. (Marc Lester / ADN)

When Snow and his family first got to Anchorage, he worked three jobs: one at the U.S. Postal Service, one at Fred Meyer and one at Walmart. He slept only about two hours each day. Then, his name was Tolentino Villamor. Thinking back, he's not sure how he balanced it all.

"I guess it's called grit," he said. "We survive because I work hard."

He said he was always thinking about his kids, Antonio, Kernell and Quency who are now ages 20, 19 and 17. He's quick to tick off their achievements. Earlier this year, Kernell's grades earned him a spot on the chancellor's list at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

"They're all doing good in school," Snow said. He's very proud.

Snow became a U.S. citizen in September 2017. That's also when he became Michael Snow. Too often people had mistakenly punctuated his last name with an "e," he said. Once, the misspelling appeared on his plane ticket. When the last name on his ticket didn't match the one on his driver's license, someone called immigration authorities, he said.

He didn't want that to ever happen again. In Alaska, he said, people know how to spell snow.

Michael Snow takes a break from fishing on the Kenai River. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Snow now works one job as a mechanic at the post office. It's a good job, he said. He gets to pick two weeks each year to take a vacation. He likes to choose a time in the summer. This summer, he's fishing.

He said he doesn't know too much about Alaska yet, but he does know people here like to fish.

Meet more people of the Peninsula

People on the Peninsula: The student waiter

Alaska News - Fri, 2018-07-20 17:03

The Kenai Peninsula comes alive during summer. Tourists, fishermen, seasonal workers and year-round residents share highways and harbors from Homer to Seward. ADN's Tegan Hanlon and Marc Lester recently spent a week meeting some of the people who make the peninsula unique. Over the next few days, we'll be publishing more than 20 of their stories.

Odane Robinson, 23, from Jamaica, is a seasonal waiter at the Land’s End Resort. (Marc Lester / ADN)

HOMER — Odane Robinson came to Alaska from his home in Mandeville, Jamaica, more mentally prepared this year. Last summer, his first working at the Land's End Resort at the far end of the Homer Spit, he didn't know what to expect.

"I thought it was snow everywhere, and people wearing thick coats and dogsledding," he said. "After doing some research and stuff, I was like 'I guess it's bearable.'"

It turned out to be better than that. He was impressed by the stunning views of the Kenai Mountains and Kachemak Bay right outside the windows of his workplace. He saw eagles, moose and sea otters, animals he'd never seen before.

Robinson smiles and laughs with his co-workers into the night, and lingers to chat when his shift ends as a waiter in the resort's restaurant. That's a job he landed through the U.S. State Department's J1 Visa program. He's one of about eight from Jamaica at the Land's End this year, he said. The adventure was the draw, not the money.

"I think I could make more money being a waiter back home," he said.

And he's sharing the moments with his mother, too, by texting photos and showing her the landscape as they FaceTime.

"I actually tell her everything and I call her almost every day."

Back home, Robinson is studying computer science. But he's dreaming of a job as a commercial airline pilot and saving money for the training. He has one more year of J1 eligibility after he returns home at the end of the summer. Though he could choose a new adventure, for 2019, he's leading toward a return to the Homer Spit.

"It's like a family here," he said. "I feel comfortable coming here."

Odane Robinson, right, talks with his co-workers after his shift as a waiter at the Land’s End Resort. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Meet more people of the Peninsula

People on the Peninsula: The boat dwellers

Alaska News - Fri, 2018-07-20 17:01

The Kenai Peninsula comes alive during summer. Tourists, fishermen, seasonal workers and year-round residents share highways and harbors from Homer to Seward. ADN's Tegan Hanlon and Marc Lester recently spent a week meeting some of the people who make the peninsula unique. Over the next few days, we'll be publishing more than 20 of their stories.

Drew O’Neill lives with his family in an old boat on the Homer Spit. The boat, known to many as the “pirate ship,” is a Homer landmark that regularly attracts attention from tourists. Photographed on June 19, 2018. (Marc Lester / ADN)

HOMER — Living in an 86-foot World War II supply boat beached on the outer reaches of the Homer Spit can sometimes feel like living in a fishbowl, said one of its inhabitants, Drew O'Neill.

Strangers often weave through the small fleet of grounded vessels that are positioned like lawn ornaments on the surrounding 3-acre property. Some snap photographs. Some attempt to climb the structures. Some try to take a float as a souvenir. At least once, squatters moved into one of the vessels. Another time, O'Neill looked out his bathroom window while brushing his teeth to see a drone hovering.

But, O'Neill said, he wouldn't trade life on the historic boat turned private, year-round residence.

"It's worth it for sure," he said. "There's something that's romantic about being out here."

Drew O’Neill’s father-in-law, Bob Cousins, built a home on an old boat on the Homer Spit. (Marc Lester / ADN)
Drew O’Neill lives with his family in an old boat on the Homer Spit. (Marc Lester / ADN)

O'Neill lives on the wooden-hulled boat with his wife, Cassiar, their 1-year-old child, their niece and their nephew. He assumes many tourists who find themselves on the property think the boat is abandoned despite the curtains and decorations in the window and the grill outside.

"It's home sweet home," he said.

On this evening in late June, the rest of O'Neill's family was at a baseball game as he told the story about how the houseboat came to be.

It started in the 1990s.

His wife's parents, Bob and Judy Cousins, drove to Alaska in a big silver bus with their six children, the eldest who is now married to O'Neill. They purchased the 3 acres on the Spit and later the WWII boat, the Cape Lynch. Or, at least, the charred remains of the Cape Lynch. The boat had endured a war, a life at sea, numerous fires and an attempt to sink it, according to an article from the Anchorage Daily News archives.

During a high tide, the Cousinses floated the boat toward their land, O'Neill said.

Little by little, they built a bohemian, eccentric, three-story wooden home atop the boat remains. Bob Cousins collected the other vessels that surround it — some purchased, some donated. He had hoped to create a boat museum, O'Neill said.

"I wouldn't say my father-in-law is a hoarder, but he's definitely, you know, he's very resourceful when it comes to materials," he said. "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

Eventually, Bob and Judy Cousins moved to Maine to care for ailing parents. They and their adult children continued to return to the boathouse, to stay for shorter trips. About two years ago, O'Neill and his wife decided to move in for good.

"We try to make it more and more livable as time goes on," O'Neill said.

The ship is crammed with furniture, books and artwork. Paintings are bolted to the ceiling. Flags hang in the windows. Various knickknacks cover the shelves. People in town call it "the pirate ship."

A family pet peeks into a window on the old boat where Drew O’Neill lives with his family. (Marc Lester / ADN)
An old bus sits on the property where Drew O’Neill lives. (Marc Lester / ADN)

O'Neill said he's proud to live here. He's also proud to have a part in carrying on the legacy of his wife's family.

Sure, he and his wife have to keep up with their home's aging body. The floors squeak. The bottom floor floods. Salty waves splatter the windows in storms. They must chop a lot of wood to keep it warm. They also must have water delivered and waste hauled out.

It keeps life interesting though, O'Neill said.

"The harder you work for things in life," he said, "the more you appreciate them."

Meet more people of the Peninsula

Five passengers safe after canoe flips at glacier

Juneau Hot Topics - Fri, 2018-07-20 16:00
Kersch, visiting from Davis, California, said he was the last one brought back into the boat and the frigid water was starting to make it difficult for him to ...