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EpiPen shortage raises alarm for parents as kids head back to school

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 13:53

Mylan NV’s EpiPen allergy shots sit on display for a photograph in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (Bloomberg photo by Daniel Acker)

Jim Davis, a parent of an 8-year-old daughter who has a peanut allergy, was startled to learn that his Walgreens pharmacy did not have a single EpiPen available for her and wouldn't have them in stock until well after school began.

The family keeps a stock of at least six injectors between home and school. Now they will have to rely on expired medication at home. Davis sent his only unexpired doses to his daughter Maggie's fourth-grade class.

"You're playing this awful roulette with your kid's life," said Davis, a high school teacher in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

A widespread shortage of EpiPens may mean children across the country will return to school without the life-saving medication that prevents those with serious allergies from going into anaphylactic shock.

The scarce availability of the emergency medicines, caused by manufacturing issues and local supply disruptions, has been an issue for months. Sales of the auto-injectors typically spike during the back-to-school season, as parents buy two-packs of them to leave at school and refill expiring prescriptions to keep in childrens' backpacks or at home. Now many parents are heading to pharmacies for fresh medications to find that they are in short supply.

The shortage – which can vary between pharmacies and is being described as "occasional spot outages" by federal regulators – presents bad options for families: Go pharmacy to pharmacy hoping to get lucky or rely on an expired dose to save their child.

Schools often require parents to supply the medication before classes begin and typically won't accept expired versions. Many have stashes of their own, but a program that provides free Mylan-brand EpiPens to schools is facing a backlog. Schools requesting the devices must now wait at least two months before their shipments arrive, a representative for the program said – about double the normal timeframe.

It's not clear how many kids would be affected. Nearly 6 million – roughly two in every classroom – in the United States have food allergies, according to the advocacy group Food Allergy Research & Education. But not all carry the devices with them or are trying to fill new prescriptions now. Three companies currently make epinephrine auto-injectors, but Mylan dominates the market, selling EpiPen and an authorized generic.

Parents are worried and angry, again, at Mylan, whose pricing tactics – raising the price 500 percent over a decade to more than $600 for a two pack – sparked a national furor over drug prices as well as a congressional inquiry.

Rajiv Malik, president of Mylan, told investors in early August that the supplies of the drug the company received from Pfizer, which manufactures the drug for Mylan, "are inconsistent and inadequate in meeting global demand, including in the U.S. As a result, supplies will continue to vary from pharmacy to pharmacy and may not always be available."

Mylan told The Post it had no further updates on the shortages from earlier this month. Another company, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, said that its epinephrine auto-injectors are available after its manufacturer sent "intermittent supply of product" earlier this year. The Auvi-Q auto-injector, made by Kaleo, is also in stock and not experiencing outages.

"We are working closely with the manufacturers and monitoring their supply as the school year begins since this is historically accompanied by increased product demand," FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said.

In an emergency, EpiPens are injected into the thigh to stop severe reactions triggered by food allergies or bee stings. The devices, which are sensitive to light and extreme temperatures, cannot be refrigerated, and EpiPens expire 18 months from the day they're manufactured. By the time most patients obtain them, the expiration is slightly less than a year, according to a study by researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

In a statement, Pfizer said that it is "exploring several options that would help stabilize supply," but spokesman Steven Danehy would not elaborate on what those could be.

Danehy said in an email that shipments are delayed because of limited supply of certain components made by another company and because of manufacturing "process changes, which have temporarily limited capacity" that were implemented in response to a warning letter from regulators.

Last year, the FDA found that Meridian Medical Technologies, the Pfizer subsidiary that manufactures EpiPen, failed to investigate more than 100 complaints that the device malfunctioned, including cases where patients later died.

Although Pfizer said at the time there was no evidence that the patient deaths were related to the issue, it has implemented new processes to address the concerns cited in the warning letter.

On Thursday, federal regulators approved the first generic version of EpiPen, touting the approval as part of its effort to protect against drug shortages. The generic, which will be sold by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, can be substituted at the pharmacy counter for EpiPen, without a separate prescription. But it may not launch soon enough for families urgently searching for a supply now. Teva spokeswoman Doris Saltkill said the launch would be "in the coming months" in a statement.

Jennifer Madsen, who leads federal advocacy for FARE, said she is concerned about the affordability and accessibility of EpiPens during a sustained shortage. If their preferred brand is out of stock, people have the option to ask their doctors to prescribe a different one. But that can kick off the costly cycle of patients tracking down injectors that aren't covered by their insurance.

"We are concerned that insurers may have relationships with one product," Madsen said.

The advocacy group is urging the FDA to offer guidance on short-term solutions. On Tuesday, the organization sent a letter recommending the government clarify whether patients can use expired auto-injectors in an emergency. That could also apply to schools that have only expired medication.

The group also recommended that the FDA allow the auto-injectors approved by the European Union to be imported into the U.S.

Laurie Combe, president elect of the National Association of School Nurses, said she worries about how the Mylan shortage will affect schools' emergency stash of EpiPens. Schools will have to become "extra vigilant" if left without that "safety net," she said.

"We will need to reevaluate emergency lanes of care," Combe said. "What is the EMS response time in the community if we don't have this life-saving drug? We really don't have a lot of time to support these students."

Liz Koman of Chesapeake, Virginia, started looking for EpiPen refills for her 11-year-old son, Nicholas, in late June. She wanted to give herself a head start to beat the back-to-school rush. She'd need to drop off a two-pack of the lifesaving allergy injections at his school when he started sixth grade – and replace the pens they keep at home and at his grandparents' house.

More than a month later, they've gotten one box.

Koman says she is at the top of a growing wait list kept by her pharmacist and is increasingly anxious about whether she will get the drug in time. She wishes she could switch to the Auvi-Q, but that injector isn't covered by her family's health plan.

"Most people are really upset with EpiPen," Koman said. "This is the second strike against EpiPen, unfortunately."

Q&A with GOP gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell: How would you create a sustainable operating budget?

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 13:43

Mead Treadwell:

The first thing I would say is that we have made a change so that we are using part of the Permanent Fund income for avoiding taxes. I want to have a full dividend, make sure that we're not taking from the dividend, but I have championed the POMV (percent of market value) concept as a member of Commonwealth North's board, as president of Commonwealth North, since 2007.

And what that means is, you build the Permanent Fund as big as you can build it. You take just 5 percent of it every year, that's exactly what the Gates Foundation does, the Ford Foundation does. We take that 5 percent, say if it's a $70 billion Permanent Fund, that's $3.5 billion. You inflation proof and then split the difference between the dividend — and it will be a growing dividend, not a capped dividend — and avoiding taxes.

I want to build up the revenue the state gets from the corporate income tax. When we export fire logs as opposed to furniture. When we export raw salmon as opposed to salmon fillet that's ready to go into the supermarket. When we export raw minerals or natural gas — raw as opposed to plastics or some sort of finished products, we're exporting jobs. We're exporting jobs to Russia when we let them get ahead of us on LNG. All those things can build up the corporate income tax revenue.

And, when I was lieutenant governor I'd meet with my counterparts around the country. They're all actively involved in bringing factories, manufacturing, value-added plants to their states. We don't do that. We barely even talk anymore about value added. So that's where we have to grow revenue. I don't want to take it out of your pocket directly as an income tax. I think the sales tax that we have is really reserved for municipalities. So we're going to diversify revenue by growing revenues from corporate income taxes, don't have to change the rate, getting more oil in the pipeline. We had these oil tax incentives that I championed, again, as lieutenant governor. We've lost four drilling seasons and we've got to get more oil in the pipeline. So it's those two things.

The last thing I'll say just real fast is, I've been a tech entrepreneur. There's lots of things that Alaskans can do with innovation and diversifying the economy and that's going to grow the economy too.

Mike Dunleavy:

So all fiscal plans that have been talked about in the end fail, unless the operating budget, its growth is contained.

And in the numbers that I've run and others have run, if we can contain this operating budget at about 2 percent growth per year with a baseline ideally of $4.3 billion, we have a chance to grow this economy and be able to pay for the budgets going forward. So at an operating budget of about 4.3, you're looking at about $80 some million growth per year at 2 percent.

We can pay for this through the CBR's (Constitutional Budget Reserve's) fees and settlements that it receives on average every year, about $100 million. We wouldn't have to go to the corpus of the CBR to do this.

If we don't cap the growth of the budget, and it continues to grow at 3, 5, 6, 7 percent — all fiscal plans fail. Within a few short years, we'll burn through the $2.7 billion in its entirety that SB26 provided with its POMV approach to the Permanent Fund and/or we'll have to begin to tax. So, by containing the budget, you slow the growth, you slow the growth of the budget down — the operating budget. And it also could afford you a growing capital budget to help grow ourselves out of this predicament that we're in.

The only way we're going to have a long-term sustainability in the state of Alaska is if we put our resources to work. For example, I was just up in Tok, Alaska, a week ago, looking at a logging operation up there.

But for the most part, we don't manage our resources well in the state of Alaska. Timber, for example. What we do now in the state of Alaska is we basically let the timber just burn or rot and fall down. We don't put it to use. We don't monetize it.

The 300,000 barrels of oil that we have recently discovered on the North Slope, we need to get that into the pipeline as soon as possible. That will lower the tariff costs for the pipeline, providing more money for the state, royalties and taxes. This will provide the revenue we need for our programs.

So at this stage of the game, with oil revenues, prices of oil at about $70 a barrel, we may not have to cut like we had to or we envisioned a few years ago when oil was at $26 a barrel.

If we can contain the size of the operating budget, contain its growth — again to 2 percent a year — we could grow ourselves out of this.

More questions with gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell:

Under what circumstances would you consider reducing PFD checks?

What sets you apart from the competition?

Why do you want to be governor of Alaska?

Other than budget-related issues, what would your top priorities be as governor?

Jury deliberations underway in fraud trial of Paul Manafort

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 13:42

Defense attorneys Richard Westling, left, Kevin Downing, and Thomas Zehnle, walk to federal court as jury deliberations begin in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, in Alexandria, Va., Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Jurors began their deliberations Thursday in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who prosecutors say earned $60 million advising Russia-backed politicians in Ukraine, hid much of it from the IRS and then lied to banks to get loans when the money dried up.

Manafort's defense countered that he wasn't culpable because he left the particulars of his finances to others.

The financial fraud trial calls on the dozen jurors to follow the complexities of foreign bank accounts and shell companies, loan regulations and tax rules. It exposed details about the lavish lifestyle of the onetime political insider, including a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich leather and $900,000 spent at a boutique retailer in New York paid via international wire transfer.

It's the first courtroom test of the ongoing Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller. While allegations of collusion are still being investigated, evidence of bank fraud and tax evasion unearthed during the probe has cast doubt on the integrity of Trump's closest advisers during the campaign.

Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel's office, declined to comment.

"When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort's money, it is littered with lies," prosecutor Greg Andres said in his final argument, asking the jury to convict Manafort of 18 felony counts.

In his defense, Manafort's attorneys told jurors to question the entirety of the prosecution's case as they sought to tarnish the credibility of Manafort's longtime protege — and government witness — Rick Gates.

Defense attorney Richard Westling noted that Manafort employed a team of accountants, bookkeepers and tax preparers, a fact he said showed his client wasn't trying to hide anything. Westling also painted the prosecutions' case as consisting of cherry-picked evidence that doesn't show jurors the full picture.

"None of the banks involved reported Manafort's activities as suspicious," he said, saying Manafort's dealings only drew scrutiny when Mueller's investigators started asking questions.

Westling questioned whether prosecutors had proven Manafort willfully violated the law, pointing to documents and emails that the defense lawyer said may well show numerical errors or sloppy bookkeeping or even false information on Manafort's tax returns but no overt fraud.

During the prosecution's arguments, jurors took notes as Manafort primarily directed his gaze at a computer screen where documents were shown. The screen showed emails written by Manafort that contained some of the most damning evidence that he was aware of the fraud and not simply a victim of underlings who managed his financial affairs.

Andres highlighted one email in which he said Manafort sent an inflated statement of his income to bank officers reviewing a loan application. He highlighted another in which Manafort acknowledged his control of one of more than 30 holding companies in Cyprus that prosecutors say he used to funnel the more than $60 million he earned advising politicians in Ukraine.

Manafort chose not to testify or call any witnesses in his defense. His lawyers have tried to blame their client's financial mistakes on Gates, calling him a liar and philanderer.

Gates, who struck a plea deal with prosecutors, told jurors he helped conceal millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents. He was also forced to admit embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and conducting an extramarital affair.

Andres said the government isn't asking jurors to like Gates or take everything he said at "face value." He said the testimony of other witnesses and the hundreds of documents are enough to convict Manafort on tax evasion and bank fraud charges.

"Does the fact that Mr. Gates had an affair 10 years ago make Mr. Manafort any less guilty?" Andres asked, noting that Manafort didn't choose a "Boy Scout" to aid a criminal scheme.

The government says Manafort hid at least $16 million in income from the IRS between 2010 and 2014. Referring to charts compiled by an IRS accounting specialist, Andres told jurors that Manafort declared only some of his foreign income on his federal income tax returns and repeatedly failed to disclose millions of dollars that streamed into the U.S. to pay for luxury items, services and property.

Manafort attorney Kevin Downing told jurors that the government was so desperate to make a case against Manafort that it gave a sweetheart plea deal to Gates, and he would say whatever was necessary so it would not recommend he serve jail time.

"Mr. Gates, how he was able to get the deal he got, I have no idea," Downing said.

Several times during their arguments, Downing and Westling referred to the prosecution as the "office of special counsel" and suggested that Manafort was the victim of selective prosecution, an argument the judge had specifically ruled they couldn't make.

The move drew a quick objection outside the presence of the jurors by Andres. In response, Ellis attempted to repair any improper prejudice created by the defense attorneys, instructing jurors to put aside any argument about the government's motive in bringing the case.

Leaving the courthouse, Downing said he felt "very good" about Manafort's chances of being acquitted.

"Mr. Manafort was very happy with how things went today," Downing said.

___

Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

Q&A with GOP gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell: Other than budget-related issues, what would your top priorities be as governor?

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 13:41

Mead Treadwell:

I think my top priority is growing the economy and taking care of Alaska families.

When it comes to growing the economy, we just aren't doing enough. Somebody stood up and endorsed me the other day and said, "Mead we've had a one-trick pony on a gasline as governor, you can multitask."

And my point here is that every region of our state has got something they're trying to do for economic growth. It could be a mine and a port in northwestern Alaska and being part of this new billion-dollar Arctic shipping services industry that's going to come along. If we don't do anything about it, Russia gets the whole monopoly. It could be what Southeast Alaska has been trying to do, which is to mimic what British Columbia has done, and getting into the shellfish market. We could be exporting far more scallops, oysters, that sort of thing. We've got the tidelands to do it. But the state really hasn't gotten behind it the way it should.

We have a huge amount of natural gas on the North Slope, and we've been a one-trick pony on one gas pipeline, which is the least competitive in the marketplace. We've got some, you know, very good interest from the marketplace but we've got to make that more competitive. I was in your newspaper suggesting that we look at going off the North Slope. Doesn't mean that we would abandon the pipeline concept but there may be ways, with value added up on the North Slope and so forth, to start monetizing that gas. We've been waiting 34 years to do that and there's, every single molecule of gas that's been found up there was found by accident. People — we've got to figure out how to get money from that.

So there's a number of economic projects where I'm not talking about putting state money into this. What I'm talking about is inviting investors, and helping them know that Alaska is a good place to do business.

When it comes to families, let me just say this: I grew up in a family where dad was an alcoholic. He was a wonderful guy when he was sober. He was not a wonderful guy to my mom, especially when he was not sober. I thank God today we have intervention. We didn't have that when I was a kid. I think we need to understand that our health and social services area needs to work very closely with our public safety arena, with education, to make sure that people are not — that the state is not the largest place with victims of sexual assault.

Mike Dunleavy:

Well, there's a lot of one, one, ones as opposed to No. 1, No. 2, No. 3.

But public safety, I think, has got to be job No. 1 for this next administration, my administration. Our statistics are terrible. It's affecting a lot of Alaskans. It's impacting many businesses. I don't think there's an Alaskan that's either not been impacted by crime or knows somebody that's not been impacted by crime. So we're going to have to increase our trooper numbers. Prosecuting attorneys, we have to have the right number of prosecuting attorneys. We have to have the courts opened on Fridays. We have to have a comprehensive approach to dealing with this issue, including dealing with the opioid issues, the heroin issue and making sure that we're working closely with the federal government to prosecute and interdict drugs coming into the state.

We also have to work on our educational outcomes. We have some of the worst educational outcomes as a system in the country. We have to make a decision if we're going to have outcomes such as reading by third grade, students fluent in algebra by ninth grade and if we're going to beef up our career-tech opportunities for students. We're going to have to seriously take a look at these issues because right now we're in tough shape with regard to these issue and these outcomes.

So, public safety, education, taking care of our fiscal issues — these are going to be the issues the next governor's got to grapple with.

More questions with gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell:

Under what circumstances would you consider reducing PFD checks?

What sets you apart from the competition?

Why do you want to be governor of Alaska?

How would you create a sustainable operating budget?

Q&A with GOP gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell: Why do you want to be governor of Alaska?

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 13:38

Mead Treadwell:

I want to be governor because I want Alaskans to trust their government again. I want investors here in Alaska and outside Alaska, who we need to bring jobs to the state, to trust Alaska again.

Alaskans don't trust their government after Bill Walker's veto of the PFD. It was not debated. The Senate decided not to have a vote to overturn it. Mike (Dunleavy) voted with the Senate to not overturn it. The speaker of the house, Mike Chenault, had asked for a joint session of the Legislature to overturn it. And Alaskans, I think, are upset with that. I hear that every day.

I want to grow business in the state but there's one business we have to shut down, and it's crime. We have a growing criminal enterprise here that is not just stealing cars — it's stealing cars to do other crimes, it's stealing cars for chop shops and things like that.

The domestic violence, sexual assault issue that we championed when I was lieutenant governor has been kind of swept under the rug and we still have the worst rates in the country. I've experienced that sort of thing in our family and it's something that happens in many kinds of families and we're not giving it the attention that we need to solve it, and even if that solution takes a generation, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving did or helping us understand that fetal alcohol syndrome comes if you see a pregnant woman drinking, we have to keep up the heat on that issue. There's not enough federal cooperation on crime.

So I would say, the budget, crime and then the last thing is, I'm sick and tired of seeing Alaska export jobs.

Mike Dunleavy:

I came to this state in 1983 and I thought it was a fantastic place. I'd have to live eight lifetimes, I think, to do everything I want to do in the state of Alaska. It afforded me a great living. I got to meet my wife. My kids were born here. And this is my home. And I've always been in public service — as a teacher, principal, superintendent. I was on the school board here in the Mat-Su and then, of course, ran for the Senate, was in the Senate. And for me, this is a logical extension.

Alaska, the last several years, has fallen on hard times. We have some of the worst statistics now in the nation, with regard to educational outcomes, public safety, unemployment, and I think we could do better. For a state of only 730,000 people, with all the resources that we have, Alaska has a great opportunity to turn things around.

And, I think, that my experience and my knowledge lends itself to help to do that. So, I think I'd make a good governor. I think I'd make a very good governor, actually, because of my experiences and that's why I've thrown my hat in the ring.

More questions with gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell:

Under what circumstances would you consider reducing PFD checks?

What sets you apart from the competition?

Other than budget-related issues, what would your top priorities be as governor?

How would you create a sustainable operating budget?

Q&A with GOP gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell: What sets you apart from the competition?

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 13:36

Mike Dunleavy:

Well, he's shorter than I am. No, only kidding.

I've run school districts, which are complex, multilayered systems. I've run school districts and have been part of the policymaking body of school districts that have budgets anywhere from $60 million to $200 million. School districts, as you know, have multiple schools, multiple grades, multiple programs. Within the district office itself, there's multiple departments and divisions. As a superintendent, you negotiate contracts with several different unions. You're dealing with parents — thousands of parents, thousands of children, each with their own unique issues. You have to be able to problem solve and bring people together. It really mirrors, in many respects, state government, with its different departments and its different divisions. You have to bring all those parts and pieces of a complex system together to have an outcome.

I also was in the Senate, my opponent was not, which gives me an idea of how the legislative process works at the ground level — firsthand experience.

I lived in rural Alaska. I just don't talk about rural Alaska. It's not that I just visited rural Alaska. I actually lived in rural Alaska for approximately 19 years and I lived in the Arctic for 13 years.

And so, I understand Alaska from a whole host of different angles and I understand how to run organizations. So I think those issues set me apart.

Mead Treadwell:

What sets me apart from Mike Dunleavy, is I've got a record.

I have been in the battle for Alaska on many different issues for 44 years. My first job was helping to get the 200-mile limit to get control of our salmon. I worked with the Reagan administration to get the power to export our oil and gas, that was a huge battle. I was involved in the battle to get CDQs (Community Development Quota program) for Western Alaska that brought huge wealth and jobs to Western Alaska, and I was on the Hickel cabinet team that made that happen.

I spent 10 years … in fact, the very first article in the Anchorage Daily News about our campaign said, "Oh what a miserable campaign that this is going to be," but it was a 10-year campaign to get the United States to adopt missile defense and that's meant billions of dollars of investment here and hundreds of jobs.

If you're looking for a conservative whose put conservative principles into practice, look for somebody who's actually made that happen.

I have business experience. Mike Dunleavy said in a debate the other day that Dwight Eisenhower didn't have business experience. Mike Dunleavy didn't win WWII. I can show you battles that I've fought and won for 40 years here as an Alaskan, as a member of a team of Alaskans trying to make things happen for our state.

More questions with gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell:

Under what circumstances would you consider reducing PFD checks?

Why do you want to be governor of Alaska?

Other than budget-related issues, what would your top priorities be as governor?

How would you create a sustainable operating budget?

Q&A with GOP gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell: Under what circumstances would you consider reducing PFD checks?

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 13:35

Mike Dunleavy:

Barring some catastrophic occurrence that I can't foresee at this point, I don't see a need to reduce the PFD checks.

When we were having this discussion a couple years ago, the earnings reserve had about $8 billion and today it has almost $19 billion in it. The PFD was never the problem, it was our desire to keep spending more in the operating budget. So for the foreseeable future, I don't believe that we need to reduce the checks.

Now, if something happens, that I and others don't envision at this point, I would go to the people of Alaska with an advisory vote for some type of change to the Permanent Fund, Permanent Fund dividend. And engage the people of Alaska. And have a discussion with them saying, for example, that we need to reduce the PFD to pay for government for these reasons and have that discussion with them, engage them and provide them an opportunity to have a say in the process.

Mead Treadwell:

I could see a situation here where if we had a massive earthquake and we had to repair every school and fix every road and everything else like that, I think Alaskans would get together on that.

I believe it's very important to have a formula for the PFD that's that five-year average that we've had. I'd apply it toward the POMV (percent of market value) rather than the income. If you think of it, the income could be how much snow fell on Denali vs. how big did the mountain get. We're building that PFD into a big mountain. So that 5 percent of the whole mountain, I think, is a fair way to go about it. That's the way other sovereign wealth funds and foundations do it.

More questions with gubernatorial candidates Dunleavy and Treadwell:

What sets you apart from the competition?

Why do you want to be governor of Alaska?

Other than budget-related issues, what would your top priorities be as governor?

How would you create a sustainable operating budget?

With new fundraising reports filed, here’s how the candidates for Alaska governor stack up

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 13:22

2018 candidates for governor include, from left, Mark Begich, Mike Dunleavy, Mead Treadwell and incumbent Bill Walker.

New campaign finance reports show Mike Dunleavy has raised the most money among the candidates in the Republican primary for governor — one of the most closely watched races in the upcoming Aug. 21 election.

The race pits Dunleavy, a former educator and legislator from Wasilla, against Mead Treadwell, a former lieutenant governor who lives in Anchorage. There are five other candidates in the Republican primary for governor, though they have raised no money or little money compared to the two front-runners.

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

Money raised by campaigns buys staff salaries, advertisements, signs, fliers, buttons and more, said Ivan Moore, a longtime Alaska pollster who has done work for Democratic candidate Mark Begich and Gov. Bill Walker.

Having more money helps candidates get their message in front of voters but doesn't always translate to a win, he said. "Does it mean it's a slam dunk? No."

Checks written to the candidates are only part of the campaign finance picture.

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

This year, big money is flowing into the primary election from an independent expenditure group formed in support of Dunleavy's campaign.

By Aug. 11, that group, Dunleavy for Alaska, had raised about $744,000 and spent all but about $15,560, according to an APOC report filed Tuesday. Most of that money — more than $500,000 — was from donations by two people: Dunleavy's brother, Francis, who lives in Texas, and Bob Penney, a developer and sportfishing advocate in Alaska.

An independent expenditure group that formed in opposition to Dunleavy had raised $26,000 from three donors with out-of-state addresses. It had incurred about $65,000 in debts.

Meanwhile, an independent expenditure group formed in support of Treadwell's candidacy had raised $53,550 by Aug. 11 and spent about $41,800 of that total.

Yet another independent expenditure group surfaced Wednesday: Unite Alaska, formed in support of the re-election of Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott.

Unite Alaska is co-chaired by Barbara Donatelli, senior vice president at Cook Inlet Region Inc., and Jim Sampson, former Fairbanks borough mayor and founder of the Fairbanks Pipeline Training Center, according to a news release from the group.

Walker has opted to bypass the primary election, instead collecting signatures to appear on the general-election ballot as an independent. Former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

A three-way race for governor is expected in November's general election between Walker, Begich and the Republican who prevails in Tuesday's primary.

Here's a closer look at gubernatorial candidates' seven-day campaign finance reports filed with APOC on Tuesday.

(Note: The seven-day reports filed Tuesday track the money candidates have raised and spent in the three weeks between July 21 and Aug. 11. Fundraising totals include cash as well as non-monetary contributions, such as the use of furniture or office space.)

The four best-funded candidates for governor:

Mark Begich: Begich raised $41,246 between July 21 and Aug. 11, bringing his fundraising total to $174,619. Begich jumped into the race for governor at the last minute, on June 1.

His more recent donations include $1,000 from the Anchorage electrical workers union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547, and $500 from Anchorage Assemblyman Eric Croft.

(An individual can donate up to $500 to a candidate. An Alaska-based group can donate up to $1,000.)

Begich had spent $111,850 by Aug. 11. He still had $62,769 cash on hand.

Mike Dunleavy: Between July 21 and Aug. 11, Dunleavy raised $42,598 — the most of any gubernatorial campaign during that period — bringing his fundraising total to $311,330 over the campaigning season. Dunleavy has been in the running for governor since last year.

His more recent donations include $500 from Tom Collier, chief executive of the Pebble Limited Partnership, and $500 from Joseph Usibelli of Usibelli Coal Mine in Healy.

By Aug. 11, Dunleavy had spent $290,676. His campaign had $20,654 cash on hand during the final push to the primary.

Mead Treadwell: Treadwell raised $23,349 between July 21 and Aug. 11. Treadwell was also a last-minute entry into the governor's race on June 1. He had raised $136,312 total by Aug. 11, spending $130,595 and with $5,716 left over.

Treadwell's more recent donations include $500 from Diane Bachman, owner of Alaska Energy Services in Anchorage, and $500 from Charlie Grimm, chief executive of BAC Transport in Anchorage.

Bill Walker: In the three weeks leading up to Aug. 11, Walker, the incumbent, raised $40,983, bringing his fundraising total during this campaign cycle to $538,353. He had also brought forward tens of thousands of dollars from his 2014 campaign.

Walker's more recent donations include $500 from Keith Meyer, president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., and $1,000 from the Carpenters Union Local 1281.

Walker had spent $270,587 by Aug. 11, according to the APOC report filed Tuesday.

He had $317,706 cash on hand — the most of any candidate for governor.

The remaining gubernatorial candidates:

Michael Sheldon: Sheldon, a Republican who lives in Petersburg, raised a total of $2,538 during his campaign but spent $9,616, putting him several thousand dollars in the red. Sheldon has spent the bulk of his money on travel for campaigning and debates, according to APOC reports.

Gerald Heikes: Heikes, of Palmer, is also running in the Republican primary for governor. He has raised a total of $300 and spent $260. That money came from a single donor in December.

Other Republicans: Republican primary candidates Darin Colbry, Thomas Gordon and Merica Hlatcu have not reported raising any money.

William "Billy" Toien: Toien, of Anchorage, is a Libertarian candidate for governor. He has raised a total of $685 and spent $976, also putting him in the red.

The fundraising tallies are continuously changing. Until the primary election, candidates and groups must file a new report with APOC every time they raise more than $250 from one source.

The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 21. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find your polling place here.

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

Juneau asked, and legislative staff answered: 'Juneau doesn't feel safe' - Must Read Alaska (blog)

Legislative News - Thu, 2018-08-16 12:56

Must Read Alaska (blog)

Juneau asked, and legislative staff answered: 'Juneau doesn't feel safe'
Must Read Alaska (blog)
THE COMMENTS ARE DEVASTATINGLY CONSISTENT. The Juneau Economic Development Council surveyed legislative employees and legislators about their experiences in Juneau this year, and JEDC got an earful. The feedback comes at a time when ...

Here are the secrets to making a truly great pimento cheese spread

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 12:25

Carlyle Watt’s pimento cheese. (Photo by Kim Sunée)

Just this past week, I headed to the newest location of Fire Island Bakeshop in South Anchorage. The space is open and full of light, and the scent of rising yeast and baked goods full of promise always make me long for the foods of my childhood. So, it was perfect that South Carolina-born, James Beard-nominated head baker, Carlyle Watt, was there to reminisce with me about comfort foods. Carlyle's been in Alaska for 10 years and is also a founding member of beloved local band The Super Saturated Sugar Strings.

We got to talking about tomatoes in all their late-summer glory and how we finally have truly satisfying locally grown love apples — firm, ripe, just tart enough — available through our local farmers.

"At the bakery we buy hydroponic beefsteaks (tomatoes)," Carlyle told me. "From an auto glass guy-turned-tomato farmer in Wasilla. They taste fantastic! You want to just eat it like an apple!"

And then talk turned to tomato-cheese pie, sun-warmed tomatoes thinly sliced on white bread with lots of mayo and cracked black pepper, and we eventually found our way to pimento cheese, that great spread known as the "pâté of the South." It's similar to Alaska's Kenai dip, but pimentos replace the hit of jalapeño or green chile; some variations do call for adding jalapeños or hot sauce.

Only hand-grated cheddar will do, we both agreed. And lots of black pepper and just the right amount of mayo.

We both miss Duke's brand but agreed that Best Foods makes a great stand-in. Carlyle offered to send his recipe for pimento cheese for me to test. Later that day, he sent me a message: "Thanks for giving me a reason to make this. It's so (expletive) good!"

We can't always bring back our childhood foods, but what we can do is celebrate what we have locally with the flavors from our past.

While experimenting with the pimento cheese, it inspired me to fry up 62 pieces of pickle-brined and buttermilk-marinated chicken for a celebratory business lunch, along with kimchi bacon macaroni and cheese and several bunches of braised turnip greens and collards from Rempel Farms.

If you're not up to frying huge batches of chicken but want a taste of the South, try Carlyle's recipe.

His favorite ways to eat it are:

1. on white bread

2. with buttery club crackers

3. on a hamburger

4. with pickled green tomatoes

5. with ripe tomatoes and baked ham on white bread

6. with a spoon

Some notes from Carlyle: This has got to be the simplest recipe for pimento cheese that I've seen, but it is hands-down the best. It happens to be based directly off  my Uncle Hugh's recipe from my childhood. He instilled some basic pimento cheese tenets in me growing up that I believe separate a good one from a bad one: Only use orange extra sharp cheddar, never white, Tillamook is great. Never use a food processor to grate your cheese. Do it by hand. Use more black pepper than you think.

Carlyle Watt’s pimento cheese

Makes about 4 cups

1 pound extra sharp orange cheddar, such as Tillamook

Scant 1 cup mayonnaise, Best Foods is fine

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons jarred roasted red bell pepper (or jarred pimentos)

1/2 tablespoon white or cider vinegar

1/2 to 3/4 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

1. Hand grate the cheddar into a medium bowl; set aside. Combine mayonnaise, roasted pepper or pimentos, 1 tablespoon roasted pepper or pimento juice, vinegar, and pepper; stir to mix. This is important to do before adding the cheese so that you don't overmix and break up all of those nice long strands you created by hand-grating it. Gently fold in the cheddar. This is even better made a few hours ahead.

Serve: with buttery crackers; on top of hamburgers; in omelets or frittatas; with celery sticks, on a BLT; layered into a savory tomato pie.

Kim Sunée is the bestselling author of "Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home" and "A Mouthful of Stars." Her new book, "Everyday Korean," is out now and available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. For more food and travel, visit kimsunee.com and instagram/kimsunee.

[Gussy up your leftover salmon with this herb layer dip]

[Green (that is, unripe) tomatoes can be delicious pickled, preserved or – you guessed it – fried]

‘Trapped in the wreckage’: NTSB report provides glimpse into moments after flightseeing plane crashed near Denali

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 10:29

The K2 Aviation airplane will not be removed from the crash site on Thunder Mountain. The plane crashed Sat. Aug. 4, 2018. (Photo provided by NPS)

PALMER — The pilot of a K2 Aviation flightseeing plane that crashed near Denali in early August lived long enough to report at least two fatalities before communications ceased, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report released Thursday.

The crash killed all five people aboard the de Havilland Beaver, making it the deadliest in recent history for an air taxi flying into Denali National Park and Preserve.

The plane left Talkeetna's airport around 5 p.m. Aug. 4 and crashed an hour later, authorities said.  Pilot Craig Layson, of Michigan, and four Polish visitors died in the crash

K2 told investigators that the one-hour tour was scheduled to fly over multiple glaciers, which included a flyover of the Denali Base Camp on the Kahiltna Glacier, at 7,200 feet, and then return to Talkeetna.

Before he died, Layson conducted two satellite phone calls with the K2 office within an hour of the crash.

The NTSB report describes the first call: "The pilot stated that they had impacted a mountain and needed rescue. The call only lasted a couple minutes before the connection was lost."

Contact was made again after several tries, the report said, and Layson at that time told K2 "he was trapped in the wreckage and there were possibly two fatalities. No further information was received before the connection was once again lost."

Bad weather kept rescuers from reaching the craft until more than 36 hours. A ranger lowered by helicopter the morning of Aug. 6 found the bodies of the pilot and three passengers inside; the body of a fourth passenger was found later, according to the report.

The fractured aircraft is perched on a hanging glacier on the north side of a 10,500-foot ridge about 14 miles from the summit of Denali.

The plane, and the people inside, remain high on the side of Thunder Mountain where the crash occurred.

The National Park Service last week ended efforts to recover the wreckage, citing a harrowing and risky combination of steep terrain, avalanche hazard and the condition of the aircraft.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

People on the Peninsula: The experienced angler

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 10:05

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 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 on the Peninsula

Alaska Marijuana Control Board fines festival organizer

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 09:41

FAIRBANKS – An organizer of a marijuana festival where people consumed pot inside a designated tent has been fined $2,500.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the Alaska Marijuana Control Board on Wednesday fined Alaska Hempfest director Niki Raapana $10,000 with $7,500 suspended if she has no future violations.

Hempfest was held in June in Wasilla.

The fine is the board's second. The board fined Anchorage's Cannabis Classic, held in May, citing public consumption and other alleged violations.

Board member Jeff Ankerfelt, Sitka's police chief, says Raapana was warned in advance that an advertised "smoking tent" violated Alaska law.

Recreational use of marijuana is legal but public consumption is prohibited.

The board says the tent was a public place because passes were available to anyone 21 and older to purchase.

US newspapers to Trump: We’re not enemies of the people

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 09:12

An editorial titled “A Free Press Needs You” is published in The New York Times, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in New York. Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump’s attacks on “fake news” Thursday with a coordinated series of editorials speaking up for a free and vigorous press. The Boston Globe, which set the campaign in motion by urging the unified voice, had estimated that some 350 newspapers would participate. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK — Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump's attacks on "fake news" Thursday with a coordinated series of editorials speaking up for a free and vigorous press — and, not surprisingly, Trump didn't take it silently.

On Thursday morning, Trump took to Twitter to denounce the effort, saying the Globe was in collusion with other newspapers.

He wrote: "THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country….BUT WE ARE WINNING!"

THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018

There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018

The Boston Globe, which set the campaign in motion by urging the unified voice, had estimated that some 350 newspapers would participate.

They did across the breadth of the country. The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald said a free and independent press is the best defense against tyranny, while the Honolulu Star-Advertiser emphasized democracy's need for a free press.

"The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger," wrote the Des Moines Register in Iowa.

In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists "the truest of patriots." The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense.

The Fayetteville Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, "but we're not holding our breath."

"Rather, we hope all the president's supporters will recognize what he's doing — manipulating reality to get what he wants," the North Carolina newspaper said.

The Morning News of Savannah, Georgia, said it was a confidant, not an enemy, to the people.

"Like any true friend, we don't always tell you what you want to hear," the Morning News said. "Our news team presents the happenings and issues in this community through the lens of objectivity. And like any true friend, we refuse to mislead you. Our reporters and editors strive for fairness."

Some newspapers used history lessons to state their case. The Elizabethtown Advocate in Pennsylvania, for instance, compared free press in the United States to such rights promised but not delivered in the former Soviet Union.

The New York Times added a pitch.

"If you haven't already, please subscribe to your local papers," said the Times, whose opinion section also summarized other editorials across the country. "Praise them when you think they've done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We're all in this together."

That last sentiment made some journalists skittish. Some newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote editorials explaining why they weren't joining the Globe's effort. The Chronicle wrote that one of its most important values is independence, and going along with the crowd went against that. Both the Chronicle and Baltimore Sun said that it plays into the hands of Trump and his supporters who think the media is out to get him.

Nolan Finley, columnist and editorial page editor of The Detroit News, spoke up for the press but added a scolding. He said too many journalists are slipping opinion into their news reports, adding commentary and calling it context.

"Donald Trump is not responsible for the eroding trust in the media," Finley wrote. "He lacks the credibility to pull that off. The damage to our standing is self-inflicted."

The Radio Television Digital News Association, which represents more than 1,200 broadcasters and web sites, is also asking its members to point out that journalists are friends and neighbors doing important work holding government accountable.

"I want to make sure that it is positive," said Dan Shelley, the group's executive director. "We're shooting ourselves in the foot if we make this about attacking the president or attacking his supporters."

It remains unclear how much sway the effort will have. Newspaper editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed Trump's election in 2016. Polls show Republicans have grown more negative toward the news media in recent years: Pew Research Center said 85 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said in June 2017 that the news media has a negative effect on the country, up from 68 percent in 2010.

___

Associated Press correspondents Hannah Fingerhut, Skip Foreman, Amanda Kell, Jack Jones, Herb McCann, David Runk and Juliet Williams contributed to this report.

Wasilla police: Officers fatally shoot man involved in domestic assault

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 09:02

PALMER – Wasilla police officers shot and killed a man involved in a domestic violence situation early Thursday morning, the police department said.

Officers responding to a report around 4:30 a.m. heard "sounds of an active disturbance inside the residence," according to a department statement.

Officers entered the residence and "were confronted with an armed suspect assaulting a family member," according to the statement. "Officers fired upon the suspect, who died from injuries on scene."

The names of those involved will not be released pending next of kin notification, police said. The names of the officers involved will be released in 72 hours per department policy.

There was no additional information immediately available.

Police were not releasing the location of the shooting or the number of officers involved, spokeswoman Amanda Graham said Thursday morning.

The last time a member of the city's department was involved in an officer-involved shooting was 2014, when a Wasilla officer and an Alaska state trooper shot and killed a suspected drunken driver who tried to elude them.

"We don't have them very often," Graham said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

What would Jesus do? Clean house in the Catholic Church.

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 08:26

iStock / Getty Images (Alex/)

“Anyone who welcomes one little child like this in my name welcomes me,” said Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. “But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone round his neck.”

This is what the men of the church that claims Jesus as its founder did in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday: They protected more than 300 accused predator priests, alleged to have collectively molested at least 1,000 children; they covered up the sexual assaults; they transferred priests to new parishes with a fresh supply of victims; they maintained a conspiracy of silence that allowed the abuse to go on, and on, and on, world without end.

The report reads like one of those lurid anti-Catholic novels that flourished in 19th-century America. Only this story was authored by the church hierarchy itself - a hierarchy that has thus far evaded full accountability. “Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected,” the grand jury wrote, adding that “many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.” With overwhelming understatement, the grand jury continued: “Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal.”

There are plenty of tales to tell about how church reality came to resemble a dime novel, yet most are essentially stories of individual malfeasance, of depraved molesters seeking the camouflage of priestly celibacy. That doesn't explain the bureaucratization of evil. For what is striking about the grand jury's findings is that this was not simply a matter of a few bad individuals, or even many of them; what impresses and appalls is how routine it all was - that the church had, as the report says, "a playbook for concealing the truth."

As with other instances of organizational corruption, such as accounting scams or police scandals, the playbook may well have started with small exercises in reputation management that metastasized into monstrous proportions: each lie necessitating the next one because telling the truth about today threatens to unravel the long chain of past falsehoods.

One suspects, too, that many who should have known - must have known- went along because by the time they caught on, they were already halfway to being accomplices. Exposing the crimes risked destroying the entire organization and themselves with it.

That may help explain; it cannot possibly excuse. The rape of a child is a far graver sin than financial malfeasance, and we expect more from a church than from an investment fund or even a police force. We should never hear about this sort of conspiracy within a church, but when, God forbid, we do anyway, the news should come in the form of a full accounting of sins from the church itself, not from a grand jury - immediately followed by mass resignations and ruthless reforms.

We expect, in other words, full penitence. We are still waiting.

If Jesus were here today, would He not be running through American cathedrals, knocking over tables as He did with the money changers in the Temple? "According to scripture," He said in the Gospel of Matthew, "my house will be called a house of prayer; but you are turning it into a bandits' den." The words are a fitting indictment of the men who are accused of committing a moral theft of unimaginable wickedness - in their thoughts and in their words, in what they did and in what they failed to do.

The innocence of children was stolen, as was the church's sanctity and the faith of congregants, many of whom are today asking how they can possibly continue to believe that this is the one true church that Christ founded through Peter. They do not expect the church to be perfect; even St. Peter, after all, denied Christ three times. But they do expect to find the reflection of Christ there.

According to news reports, the church hierarchy in Pennsylvania and beyond has already denied Christ's gospel three times: once when it sheltered predators in silence; once when it failed to remove everyone who was involved in covering up any crime; and again when two of the six dioceses involved tried to shut down the grand jury investigation that produced the report. Now they face the same choice Peter did.

They can offer the full record of faithlessness in abject penitence, witnessing for repentance and redemption even at risk of martyrdom. Or they can deny Him a fourth time by minimizing the past and protecting those who helped maintain that grisly silence. Which is to say, they can choose to be a millstone around the neck of the faithful - or the rock on which the church can be rebuilt.

Overdose total hits 76 in Connecticut park

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 08:09

A police officer speaks to a man walking on New Haven Green, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, in New Haven, Conn. A city official said more than a dozen people fell ill from suspected drug overdoses on the green and were taken to local hospitals. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes) (Bill Sikes/)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The number of overdose victims linked to a suspected bad batch of synthetic marijuana has risen to 76 in New Haven, Connecticut, as officials try to determine exactly what sickened people.

People on and around the historic New Haven Green near Yale University began falling ill shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday, and the overdoses continued into Thursday morning. No deaths were reported, and most people brought to hospitals have been discharged, officials said.

Symptoms varied. Many victims lost consciousness, officials said. Others vomited. Some just became nauseous or lethargic.

Toxicology testing remained incomplete Thursday. Some victims tested positive for the powerful opioid fentanyl, but it appeared most if not all the overdoses were caused only by a potent batch of "K2" synthetic marijuana, said Dr. Kathryn Hawk, an emergency medicine physician and professor at Yale-New Haven Hospital, where many of the victims were treated.

Hawk said the people who tested positive may have taken other drugs laced with fentanyl in addition to the synthetic marijuana, which is plant material sprayed with drugs and chemicals.

Both drugs, especially fentanyl, have been linked to rising overdoses across the country. Hawk said some people got better with the help of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, while others didn't.

"The most important point is when you buy something on the street, you never know what you're going to get," she said.

Officials said three people have been arrested in connection with the overdoses, including a man who may have been giving out free samples of K2.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration tested some of the synthetic marijuana seized in New Haven and did not find fentanyl, said Rick Fontana, the city's emergency operations director.

Fontana said 72 people were brought to hospitals and four refused to be treated or transported to hospitals.

"Yesterday was extremely, extremely busy, something we haven't seen in quite some time, a lot of people dropping all at the same time," Fontana said.

He said a few people fell ill Thursday morning, but it wasn't immediately clear if they used the same bad batch of synthetic marijuana.

New Haven first responders were called to a similar overdose outbreak on the Green on July 4, when more than a dozen people became sick from synthetic marijuana. The city also saw more than a dozen synthetic marijuana overdoses in late January. No deaths were reported in either outbreak.

It’s still summer. Don’t give up gardening and yard work yet.

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 07:15

Raspberries on the vine, August 2007. (Fran Durner / Anchorage Daily News)

Ah, what to do this weekend? You have to do something, right? It is still summer, after all.

Well, for starters, rain or shine, Saturday is the annual plastic pot recycling day from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Alaska Botanical Garden. This is a very special opportunity for gardeners in the Southcentral area to get rid of a lot of stuff that's not needed. You can recycle any plastic pot, tray or cell pack. And, this year, you don't need to sort them!

So gather up the stuff. Please, do wash everything. And, no metal wire hanging apparatuses and the like. Be extra courteous to the volunteers by not leaving bags, boxes or any other trash. And, should you need pots or containers, you can pick up as many as you want. This only happens once a year. Take advantage of it to clean out your greenhouses, sheds and crawl spaces.

Next up, just as all gardeners should recycle their excess plastic, every one of us should spend at least half an hour walking the property and the street adjacent to it, picking Linaria vulgaris, aka "butter-and-eggs" this week. This is a rain-or-shine event, too. These yellow and orange snapdragon-like flowers are in bloom and starting to go to seed. These plants are fast rivaling dandelions in numbers. You may not see them because they love alleys and secured spots, but they will spread into the open. Each plant produces thousands of seeds. Get them now. Do it. Do not delay. Do not argue.

And, while we are at it, butter-and-eggs is one invasive we all have. You probably have at least one of your own on your property, a plant that acts as an invasive, at least for you. Remove the flowers. This is where the seeds come from, folks.

This is a great weekend to clean up debris. The best tool for doing this is a good blower. I know they are noisy and the gas models pollute. An electric version should moderate things a bit. And you can co-ordinate with your neighbors to minimize disturbances. The place to start is the driveway. Do your gutters, carefully, and get porches and walks. You will be amazed how much better your property will look.

In fact, if you have not cleaned up in a while, you should consider a bit of weed-eating before you pull out the blower. That way you can clean up the cut grass and weeds as well. Heck, mow the lawn, too, so you can clear those clippings off the driveway.

And, if you want to put a finishing touch on things, how about trimming the lawn that's encroaching on your driveway and walks? There are special tools that you can run along the pavement and cut the overlapping turf and make quick work of things. You can also use a shovel or hoe. If you have never done this chore, I am guessing you will be both amazed at how much the lawn has grown over your drive as well as how good the place looks after you restore it to its original area and impart a "neat line" all along it.

If you like "new" potatoes, these are nothing more than potatoes that are not fully mature. You can early harvest some of your own plants. Check by pushing your hand into the bottom level of a hill or into the bottom of any container in which you are growing yours. Pull out a few of the little guys and eat away. Don't take them all. They will continue to grow and they will get sweeter as the cooler weather moves in.

Many gardeners start to limit the number of flowers on their tomatoes so that the plants will concentrate on developing the existing fruit. You can pick them off by hand. On plants that put out new flowers from the growing tip — indeterminate plants — simply pinch off the growing tip.

If you grow cherries in Southcentral, you need to keep an eye on your crop. It may be ripe already, but if not, it surely will be in a week. Your goal is to harvest before the birds get them. You may want to try a scarecrow or put reflective tape in your trees to scare them off.

You should be able to get one more session of lettuces growing in your garden or in containers on the deck. Plant them this weekend. While you are at it, why not harvest what you have before the slugs get it. When lettuces get old, they become bitter.

Mushrooms are appearing. Some are edible. You might want to get a good Alaskan mushroom identification book or head over to the Alaska Botanical Garden site to sign up for one of their mushroom ID walks is going to take place. There are several scheduled, Aug. 23, 30 and Sept. 6.

Finally, raspberries are ripe. So are many varieties of strawberries. Time to harvest folks. This is why we grow them!

Jeff's Alaska Garden Calendar

Big fat yellow caterpillar with a stripe on its back: This is actually a sawfly. It goes by the common name of "elm sawfly." Quite beautiful! We don't have elms. They live off birch and cottonwood leaves.

Broccoli, cauliflower: Broccoli will continue to produce new heads if you harvest by cutting the head and leaving the base. Not so with cauliflower. It is a one-head crop. Harvest yours when ready.

[See these charming purple flowers in your yard? Destroy them immediately.]

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dead at 76

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 06:45

FILE – In this Nov. 21, 2008 file photo, Aretha Franklin performs at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. Franklin died Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 at her home in Detroit. She was 76. (AP Photo/Shea Walsh, file)

DETROIT — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think," "I Say a Little Prayer" and her signature song, "Respect," and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from advanced pancreatic cancer.

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn tells The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin died Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit. The statement said "Franklin's official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin's oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute" in Detroit.

The family added: "In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds."

The statement continued:

"We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.

Franklin, who had battled undisclosed health issues in recent years, had in 2017 announced her retirement from touring.

A professional singer and accomplished pianist by her late teens, a superstar by her mid-20s, Franklin had long ago settled any arguments over who was the greatest popular vocalist of her time. Her gifts, natural and acquired, were a multi-octave mezzo-soprano, gospel passion and training worthy of a preacher's daughter, taste sophisticated and eccentric, and the courage to channel private pain into liberating song.

She recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over the span of a half century, including 20 that reached No. 1 on the R&B; charts. But her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of top 10 smashes in the late 1960s, from the morning-after bliss of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," to the wised-up "Chain of Fools" to her unstoppable call for "Respect."

Her records sold millions of copies and the music industry couldn't honor her enough. Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Fellow singers bowed to her eminence and political and civic leaders treated her as a peer. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a longtime friend, and she sang at the dedication of King's memorial, in 2011. She performed at the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Clinton gave Franklin the National Medal of Arts. President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2005.

Franklin's best-known appearance with a president was in January 2009, when she sang "My Country 'tis of Thee" at Barack Obama's inauguration. She wore a gray felt hat with a huge, Swarovski rhinestone-bordered bow that became an Internet sensation and even had its own website. In 2015, she brought Obama and others to tears with a triumphant performance of "Natural Woman" at a Kennedy Center tribute to the song's co-writer, Carole King.

Franklin endured the exhausting grind of celebrity and personal troubles dating back to childhood. She was married from 1961 to 1969 to her manager, Ted White, and their battles are widely believed to have inspired her performances on several songs, including "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone," "Think" and her heartbreaking ballad of despair, "Ain't No Way." The mother of two sons by age 16 (she later had two more), she was often in turmoil as she struggled with her weight, family problems and financial predicaments. Her best known producer, Jerry Wexler, nicknamed her "Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows."

Franklin married actor Glynn Turman in 1978 in Los Angeles but returned to her hometown of Detroit the following year after her father was shot by burglars and left semi-comatose until his death in 1984. She and Turman divorced that year.

Despite growing up in Detroit, and having Smokey Robinson as a childhood friend, Franklin never recorded for Motown Records; stints with Columbia and Arista were sandwiched around her prime years with Atlantic Records. But it was at Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church, where her father was pastor, that Franklin learned the gospel fundamentals that would make her a soul institution.

Aretha Louise Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. The Rev. C.L. Franklin soon moved his family to Buffalo, New York, then to Detroit, where the Franklins settled after the marriage of Aretha's parents collapsed and her mother (and reputed sound-alike) Barbara returned to Buffalo.

C.L. Franklin was among the most prominent Baptist ministers of his time. He recorded dozens of albums of sermons and music and knew such gospel stars as Marion Williams and Clara Ward, who mentored Aretha and her sisters Carolyn and Erma. (Both sisters sang on Aretha's records, and Carolyn also wrote "Ain't No Way" and other songs for Aretha). Music was the family business and performers from Sam Cooke to Lou Rawls were guests at the Franklin house. In the living room, the shy young Aretha awed friends with her playing on the grand piano.

Franklin occasionally performed at New Bethel Baptist throughout her career; her 1987 gospel album "One Lord One Faith One Baptism" was recorded live at the church.


Aretha Franklin sings Jan. 28, 1972. (AP Photo)

Her most acclaimed gospel recording came in 1972 with the Grammy-winning album "Amazing Grace," which was recorded live at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles and featured gospel legend James Cleveland, along with her own father (Mick Jagger was one of the celebrities in the audience). It became one of of the best-selling gospel albums ever.

The piano she began learning at age 8 became a jazzy component of much of her work, including arranging as well as songwriting. "If I'm writing and I'm producing and singing, too, you get more of me that way, rather than having four or five different people working on one song," Franklin told The Detroit News in 2003.

Franklin was in her early teens when she began touring with her father, and she released a gospel album in 1956 through J-V-B Records. Four years later, she signed with Columbia Records producer John Hammond, who called Franklin the most exciting singer he had heard since a vocalist he promoted decades earlier, Billie Holiday. Franklin knew Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. and considered joining his label, but decided it was just a local company at the time.

Franklin recorded several albums for Columbia Records over the next six years. She had a handful of minor hits, including "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody" and "Runnin' Out of Fools," but never quite caught on as the label tried to fit into her a variety of styles, from jazz and show songs to such pop numbers as "Mockingbird." Franklin jumped to Atlantic Records when her contract ran out, in 1966.

"But the years at Columbia also taught her several important things," critic Russell Gersten later wrote. "She worked hard at controlling and modulating her phrasing, giving her a discipline that most other soul singers lacked. She also developed a versatility with mainstream music that gave her later albums a breadth that was lacking on Motown LPs from the same period.

"Most important, she learned what she didn't like: to do what she was told to do."

At Atlantic, Wexler teamed her with veteran R&B; musicians from Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, and the result was a tougher, soulful sound, with call-and-response vocals and Franklin's gospel-style piano, which anchored "I Say a Little Prayer," "Natural Woman" and others.


In this July 27, 2010 photo, Aretha Franklin performs at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Of Franklin's dozens of hits, none was linked more firmly to her than the funky, horn-led march "Respect" and its spelled out demand for "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

Writing in Rolling Stone magazine in 2004, Wexler said: "It was an appeal for dignity combined with a blatant lubricity. There are songs that are a call to action. There are love songs. There are sex songs. But it's hard to think of another song where all those elements are combined."

Franklin had decided she wanted to "embellish" the R&B; song written by Otis Redding, whose version had been a modest hit in 1965, Wexler said.

"When she walked into the studio, it was already worked out in her head," the producer wrote. "Otis came up to my office right before 'Respect' was released, and I played him the tape. He said, 'She done took my song.' He said it benignly and ruefully. He knew the identity of the song was slipping away from him to her."

In a 2004 interview with the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, Franklin was asked whether she sensed in the '60s that she was helping change popular music.

"Somewhat, certainly with 'Respect,' that was a battle cry for freedom and many people of many ethnicities took pride in that word," she answered. "It was meaningful to all of us."

In 1968, Franklin was pictured on the cover of Time magazine and had more than 10 Top 20 hits in 1967 and 1968. At a time of rebellion and division, Franklin's records were a musical union of the church and the secular, man and woman, black and white, North and South, East and West. They were produced and engineered by New Yorkers Wexler and Tom Dowd, arranged by Turkish-born Arif Mardin and backed by an interracial assembly of top session musicians based mostly in Alabama.


Aretha Franklin in Philadelphia, Monday, July 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Her popularity faded during the 1970s despite such hits as the funky "Rock Steady" and such acclaimed albums as the intimate "Spirit in the Dark." But her career was revived in 1980 with a cameo appearance in the smash movie "The Blues Brothers" and her switch to Arista Records. Franklin collaborated with such pop and soul artists as Luther Vandross, Elton John, Whitney Houston and George Michael, with whom she recorded a No. 1 single, "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)." Her 1985 album "Who's Zoomin' Who" received some of her best reviews and included such hits as the title track and "Freeway of Love."

Critics consistently praised Franklin's singing but sometimes questioned her material; she covered songs by Stephen Sondheim, Bread, the Doobie Brothers. For Aretha, anything she performed was "soul."

From her earliest recording sessions at Columbia, when she asked to sing "Over the Rainbow," she defied category. The 1998 Grammys gave her a chance to demonstrate her range. Franklin performed "Respect," then, with only a few minutes' notice, filled in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and drew rave reviews for her rendition of "Nessun Dorma," a stirring aria for tenors from Puccini's "Turandot."

"I'm sure many people were surprised, but I'm not there to prove anything," Franklin told The Associated Press. "Not necessary."

Fame never eclipsed Franklin's charitable works, or her loyalty to Detroit.

Franklin sang the national anthem at Super Bowl in her hometown in 2006, after grousing that Detroit's rich musical legacy was being snubbed when the Rolling Stones were chosen as halftime performers.

"I didn't think there was enough (Detroit representation) by any means," she said. "And it was my feeling, 'How dare you come to Detroit, a city of legends — musical legends, plural — and not ask one or two of them to participate?' That's not the way it should be."

Franklin did most of her extensive touring by bus after Redding's death in a 1967 plane crash, and a rough flight to Detroit in 1982 left her with a fear of flying that anti-anxiety tapes and classes couldn't help. She told Time in 1998 that the custom bus was a comfortable alternative: "You can pull over, go to Red Lobster. You can't pull over at 35,000 feet."

She only released a few albums over the past two decades, including "A Rose is Still a Rose," which featured songs by Sean "Diddy" Combs, Lauryn Hill and other contemporary artists, and "So Damn Happy," for which Franklin wrote the gratified title ballad. Franklin's autobiography, "Aretha: From These Roots," came out in 1999, when she was in her 50s. But she always made it clear that her story would continue.

"Music is my thing, it's who I am. I'm in it for the long run," she told The Associated Press in 2008. "I'll be around, singing, 'What you want, baby I got it.' Having fun all the way."

ConocoPhillips: Efficiencies and discoveries lead ‘renaissance’ on North Slope

Alaska News - Thu, 2018-08-16 06:16

ConocoPhillips Alaska vice president Scott Jepsen speaks to the ADN editorial board Aug. 9, 2018. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

ConocoPhillips Alaska employees have a big, round target to hit that company leaders believe is the key to staying competitive.

And it's not a buried treasure map that points right to where the next exploration well should be drilled — although with the company's recent success indicates they might have one of those, too.

"It's just math," ConocoPhillips Alaska President Joe Marushack said during an Aug. 9 meeting with Alaska Journal of Commerce and ADN staff.

The target is $40 per barrel, and making the math work so all of the company's operations in the state are profitable at or below that key price point.

Particularly on the North Slope, where costs are unavoidably higher than in most other oil basins worldwide, the company has focused on making sure it can withstand the inevitable ups and downs of oil markets, Marushack emphasized.

That $40 breakeven has been hit at ConocoPhillips' large existing Alpine and Kuparuk River oil fields, but also applies to all of the greenfield projects it's working on as well.

Alaska Vice President Scott Jepsen said the $40 focus revolves around remaining competitive with Lower 48 unconventional oil plays for investment dollars within the company. Jepsen described the massive and ever-growing shale oil basins in Texas and North Dakota as "the center of gravity" for the oil business, noting those plays are "attracting tens of billions of dollars of investment this year."

Making $40 oil profitable keeps Alaska operations competitive, but he added that some of the oil being pulled from Texas is now done so for less than $30 per barrel.

The continued emphasis on cost is also a way to prepare the company for what its leaders believe will be ever more wild market swings.

While oil has momentarily steadied in the $70 per barrel range, few seem to believe it will stay there for long.

"Our chairman (Ryan Lance) said the higher the price of oil the greater the crash is going to be so we've got to be able to survive that volatility," Jepsen said.

The new mindset is also a far cry from just a few years ago, when companies Slope-wide were discussing the need for $70 oil just to break even on new discoveries.

"2015 was a very, very scary time for us so we did an awful lot to reduce our cost — as did everyplace else we that we produce — and we were very successful at reducing our costs and we've got to be able to maintain that," Marushack said.

Part of those savings are coming from doing more tests on pipelines and equipment that previously would have been routinely replaced regardless of its condition.

Jepsen said the company is also able to recoat the inside of existing oil lines to extend their working life without wholesale replacement, a technological improvement that has been adopted on a large scale in the last five years.

Further advancements in compressed seismic exploration allow the company to gather far more, and better, data than ever before for the same cost to inform geologists on where to drill.

Marushack added that some equipment redundancies have been engineered out of the company's equipment as well without sacrificing reliability.

However, getting to $40 still meant cutting its Alaska workforce from about 1,200 employees in 2015 down to 970 today. Its contracted labor force has also shrunk by about 35 percent over that time, he said.

"At $110 oil you're focused on getting every barrel you possibly can," Marushack observed about the lack of cost emphasis when prices were high.

The refocus on efficiency, combined with the emergence of Nanushuk formation plays on the western Slope, leads ConocoPhillips Alaska leaders to believe up to 400,000 barrels per day of new oil could be produced from the Slope by 2025.

Much of that would come from their fields, particularly the Willow prospect with potential for up to 100,000 barrels per day with a $4 billion to $6 billion development cost. The Bureau of Land Management announced the start of a scoping period Aug. 7 as the first step toward developing an environmental impact statement, or EIS, for the Willow development.

Two projects now in permitting — Hilcorp's offshore Liberty and Oil Search's Pikka — should be big drivers, too, along with other, smaller projects.

They see it as a "renaissance" on the North Slope, Marushack said.

"We think it's really incredible what's happening," Jepsen added. "It's not just us. If you look at what's happening, there's a lot of stuff that — it's not just a concept or it's not just an exploration prospect — people are actually doing stuff; they're in the permitting stages and this stuff is going to happen."

For ConocoPhillips, bringing much of that newly-found oil online will mean developing projects near the Native Village of Nuiqsut, which is located just east of the company's work in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and very close to its Putu and Stony Hill Nanushuk discoveries made this past winter. Early estimates on each of those have been pegged at about 20,000 barrels per day.

The company employed a series of significant steps to mitigate the impacts of drilling its Putu exploration well, just about three miles from the village last winter. The biggest measures were centered on eliminating diesel exhaust from the drilling rig and pad operations, which was upwind from the village of about 400 residents.

ConocoPhillips powered the rig and pad with low-emission generators placed farther from Nuiqsut and monitored air and water quality near the village before, during and after the work was done.

By all accounts the work went well, and such mitigation is also likely to be needed as the prospects are developed.

Marushack said the company listened to the concerns of Nuiqsut residents and did its best to address them. Residents' concerns led ConocoPhillips to postpone exploration drilling the previous winter.

"We believe we're going to have to continue to engage with the village, not only with Kuukpik, but with the village and listen to what they say and then try to figure out where there's some things that they could participate in," he said.

Kuukpik Corp. is the village corporation for Nuiqsut. The Putu well was drilled with one of its rigs.

Marushack noted that a portion of the royalties from oil produced in the NPR-A by law must go to mitigating the impacts of development in area communities.

ConocoPhillips is also one of the largest donors to Stand for Alaska, the campaign organized to oppose Ballot Measure 1, which aims to strengthen requirements for development projects in salmon habitat.

Jepsen said the company isn't exactly sure what direct impacts the proposed fish habitat permitting law changes would have on its operations, but the primary concern is with a new, public permitting process that could open avenues for lawsuits that don't exist now.

"If the initiative goes forward I could see a very lucrative path for those organizations that are opposed to oil and gas exploration on the North Slope to pursue something that can slow us down," Jepsen said.

The initiative's advocates, led by the nonprofit Stand for Salmon, stress that their primary goal is not to stop projects, but rather to codify in law best practices — and prevent them from being eroded by political forces — that are employed by Fish and Game in its habitat permit adjudications today.

The ballot initiative would also add public notices and comment periods to one of the few state public resource-use permits that currently does not have such requirements.

Jepsen added that while much of the company's work has little if any impact on anadromous fish habitat, its most common work that could be slowed is the annual building of ice roads that use water from area lakes.

Jepsen emphasized that those water draws are done in close concert with the Department of Fish and Game and are based on decades worth of data.

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at elwood.brehmer@alaskajournal.com.

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