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State asks Legislature for $10 million to survey ANWR for oil - Juneau Empire

Legislative News - Tue, 2018-02-20 06:04

Juneau Empire

State asks Legislature for $10 million to survey ANWR for oil
Juneau Empire
This isn't the first time Alaska has tried to encourage ANWR drilling with seismic surveys. In 2013, then-Gov. Sean Parnell (with help from then-DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan) proposed spending $50 million of state money on seismic surveying in ANWR ...

Sea lions have made a magnificent comeback, and they want their beaches back

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-02-20 06:03

Sea lions have made a magnificent comeback, and they want their beaches back

Just a few decades ago, the California sea lion seemed on the verge of becoming an endangered species. It was 1964, and hunting and fishing had caused the breeding population off the West Coast to shrink to just 35,000.

How times have changed. After the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 made it illegal to kill or harass sea lions, their ranks steadily grew – and grew, and grew. Now, according to recent estimates by the National Marine Fisheries Service, California sea lions number in the hundreds of thousands, making them comfortably within the range of what experts call the "optimal sustainable population."

It's as good a success story as a species can hope for. But there's a hitch: A robust population of barking sea lions is not particularly easy for people to live with.

"The reality is that the people who wrote the Marine Mammal Protection Act could never have imagined the situation we have now," said Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist with the service and a co-author of the new sea lion status report. "Suddenly, they're now in the system, and they're competing with people for the same resources."

Those resources include fish, but also seaside recreational areas. In December, a popular San Francisco swimming cove temporarily closed after three incidents involving sea lions that took a bite out of swimmers. The cove reopened in late December, and by early January, a fourth swimmer had been sent to the emergency room with a heavily bleeding bite.

Last May, a crowd of tourists oohed and awed as a sea lion swam near Steveston Fisherman's Wharf near Vancouver, British Columbia – until the animal lurched, snagged a little girl by the hem of her flower-print dress and pulled her into the water. The incident prompted port officials to renew warnings against approaching the marine mammals, which can weigh upward of 800 pounds and measure seven feet in length. But the same dock was crowded with around 100 onlookers two days later.

Perhaps no place typifies dysfunctional human-sea lion coexistence like the San Diego community of La Jolla. Several years ago, the city erected a fence to keep people off the coastal bluffs where a growing population of sea lions and an entourage of sea birds congregated. Soon a buildup of marine mammal and avian excrement started to waft through the neighborhood. One group of residents, known as the Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement, sued the city, arguing that the fence allowed sea lions and their stink to prosper, negatively affecting tourism and property values. The lawsuit said that champion boxer Floyd Mayweather – who has been knocked down just once in his career – checked out of a nearby hotel 15 minutes after he arrived due to the smell. Score a KO for the sea lions.

A court disagreed, saying the fence could not be blamed for the growth in local sea lions and their stench. The city installed a gate in 2014, which gave people access to the bluffs and helped deter sea lions from congregating – temporarily, anyway. Then the animals started hauling up on shore in similar numbers as before. Soon people were snapping selfies with sea lions, prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to erect signs reminding visitors that getting too close to these animals is not only illegal, but that it can cause them stress.

Conflicts like these aren't easy to solve, and Melin suggested that's not likely to change soon. "Those sorts of issues . . . are going to continue to plague us, partially because sea lions are a coastal species, and they really are pretty adaptable to humans," she said.

The good news, Melin said, is that the same things that make sea lions troublesome neighbors – their shoreside loafing, for example – make them excellent research subjects.

"Most marine mammals are incredibly difficult to study. They're underwater something like 90 percent of the time," Melin said.

Sea lions, on the other hand, come ashore to rest and pup, and they do so in fairly accessible areas. Their presence has allowed scientists to take stock of the population and measure its response to environmental changes. And what they're seeing suggests the sea lion boomtime might not last.

For instance, sea current shifts and warmer surface waters during El Niño years often drive prey fish away from the California coast. When that happens, sea lions must swim farther and dive deeper to fill their bellies, a trend that can be measured in the declining number of pups born in such years, as well as in lower survival rates among those that are born. El Niños also tend to bring toxic algal blooms. Mussels eat the algae and absorb tiny bits of poison, which then works its way up the food chain and into mussel-eating sea lions, sometimes causing dementia, seizures and paralysis.

Because of all this, Melin and her co-authors project that sea lion growth could grind to a halt if global warming causes sea surface temperatures to rise just one degree Celsius, they wrote; at two degrees, the population will begin to decline by 7 percent a year. This means it wouldn't take much to push the species back to the edge.

"We saw that with the Steller sea lion," Melin said of a northern Pacific species that has experienced a rapid, and not fully understood, decline. "It only took five years for it to go from what everyone thought was a good healthy sea lion population to one that's now listed as endangered. That's why you can never take your eye off the ball."

For what it's worth, keeping sea lions around isn't just good for sea lions. It could also be good for us.

The animals can fall victim to a nasty, sexually transmitted cancer that is associated with a herpes virus. Scientists think that studying this disease, which can melt a sea lion's spinal column, may yield valuable insights into human cancers that are also associated with viruses.

"A lot of people that do research in cancer use lab animal models, and they control all the parameters as much as they can," said Alissa Deming, a virologist who is the Geoffrey C. Hughes research fellow at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif., where researchers study cancer in stranded sea lions. "It's not really reflective of how cancer develops in real life."

Sea lions, on the other hand, are out in the real world looking for food, being exposed to pollutants, getting stressed out by predators, and just doing their thing – yes, often on beaches people consider theirs.

Prosecutors consider charges against former Rep. Fansler

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2018-02-20 06:00
In January, according to the account of a Juneau woman who spoke to the Empire, Fansler struck her while the two were on a date. ... In a message sent Monday to reporters, Alaska Democratic Party executive director Jay Parmley said local Democrats considered five candidates for the open seat.

Alaska House votes to legalize hemp farming

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2018-02-20 06:00
The Alaska House of Representatives has voted unanimously to legalize hemp farming in Alaska, a move that puts the 49th state on track to become the 35th in the country to legalize cultivation of the non-intoxicating form of cannabis. Senate Bill 6, drafted by Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, now returns ...

State asks Legislature for $10 million to survey ANWR for oil

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2018-02-20 06:00
State officials said the money would be used to provide better information about the oil and gas below the surface of the little-surveyed coastal plain. ... Pitney, speaking to the Empire after Monday's hearing, said that larger survey would cost much more than the $10 million the administration is prepared ...

Russian bot army pounced on Twitter after Florida school shooting

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-02-20 05:55

SAN FRANCISCO — One hour after news broke about the school shooting in Florida last week, Twitter accounts suspected of having links to Russia released hundreds of posts taking up the gun control debate.

The accounts addressed the news with the speed of a cable news network. Some adopted the hashtag #guncontrolnow. Others used #gunreformnow and #Parklandshooting. Earlier on Wednesday, before the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many of those accounts had been focused on the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

"This is pretty typical for them, to hop on breaking news like this," said Jonathon Morgan, chief executive of New Knowledge, a company that tracks online disinformation campaigns. "The bots focus on anything that is divisive for Americans. Almost systematically."

One of the most divisive issues in the nation is how to handle guns, pitting Second Amendment advocates against proponents of gun control. And the messages from these automated accounts, or bots, were designed to widen the divide and make compromise even more difficult.

Any news event — no matter how tragic — has become fodder to spread inflammatory messages in what is believed to be a far-reaching Russian disinformation campaign. The disinformation comes in various forms: conspiracy videos on YouTube, fake interest groups on Facebook, and armies of bot accounts that can hijack a discussion on Twitter.

Those automated Twitter accounts have been closely tracked by researchers. Last year, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, in conjunction with the German Marshall Fund, a public policy research group in Washington, created a website that tracks hundreds of Twitter accounts of human users and suspected bots that they have linked to a Russian influence campaign.

[How unwitting Americans encountered Russian operatives online]

The researchers zeroed in on Twitter accounts posting information that was in step with material coming from well-known Russian propaganda outlets. To spot an automated bot, they looked for certain signs, like an extremely high volume of posts or content that conspicuously matched hundreds of other accounts.

The researchers said they had watched as the bots began posting about the Parkland shooting shortly after it happened.

Amplified by bot swarms, Russian-linked Twitter accounts tried to foment discord before and after the election. Hundreds of accounts promoted false stories about Hillary Clinton and spread articles based on leaked emails from Democratic operatives that had been obtained by Russian hackers.

Facebook, Google and Twitter have, to varying degrees, announced new measures to eliminate bot accounts, and have hired more moderators to help them weed out disinformation on their platforms.

But since the election, the Russian-linked bots have rallied around other divisive issues, often ones that President Donald Trump has tweeted about. They promoted Twitter hashtags like #boycottnfl, #standforouranthem and #takeaknee after some National Football League players started kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

The automated Twitter accounts helped popularize the #releasethememo hashtag, which referred to a secret House Republican memorandum that suggested the FBI and the Justice Department abused their authority to obtain a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser. The debate over the memo widened a schism between the White House and its own law enforcement agencies.

The bots are "going to find any contentious issue, and instead of making it an opportunity for compromise and negotiation, they turn it into an unsolvable issue bubbling with frustration," said Karen North, a social media professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. "It just heightens that frustration and anger."

Intelligence officials in the United States have warned that malicious actors will try to spread disinformation ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. In testimony to Congress last year and in private meetings with lawmakers, social media companies promised that they will do better in 2018 than they did in 2016.

But the Twitter campaign around the Parkland shooting is an example of how Russian operatives are still at it.

"We've had more than a year to get our act together and address the threat posed by Russia and implement a strategy to deter future attacks, but I believe, unfortunately, we still don't have a comprehensive plan," Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said during a hearing this month on global threats to the United States. "What we're seeing is a continuous assault by Russia to target and undermine our democratic institutions, and they're going to keep coming at us."

When the Russian bots jumped on the hashtag #Parklandshooting — initially created to spread news of the shooting — they quickly stoked tensions. Exploiting the issue of mental illness in the gun control debate, they propagated the notion that Nikolas Cruz, the suspected gunman, was a mentally ill "lone killer." They also claimed that he had searched for Arabic phrases on Google before the shooting. Simultaneously, the bots started other hashtags, like #ar15, for the semi-automatic rifle used in the shooting, and #NRA.

The bots' behavior follows a pattern, said Morgan, one of the researchers who worked with the German Marshall Fund to create Hamilton 68, the website that monitors Russian bot and fake Twitter activity. The bots target a contentious issue like race relations or guns. They stir the pot, often animating both sides and creating public doubt in institutions like the police or media. Any issue associated with extremist views is a ripe target.

The goal is to push fringe ideas into the "slightly more mainstream," Morgan said. If well-known people retweet the bot messages or simply link to a website the bots are promoting, the messages gain an edge of legitimacy.

An indictment made public on Friday by Mueller as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the election mentioned a Russian Twitter feed, @TEN_GOP, which posed as a Tennessee Republican account and attracted more than 100,000 followers. Messages from this account, now deleted, were retweeted by the president's sons and close advisers including Kellyanne Conway and Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser.

The indictment also described how fraudulent Russian accounts on Twitter tried to push real Americans into action. The indictment said the fake Twitter account @March_for_Trump had organized political rallies for Trump in New York before the election, including a "March for Trump" rally on June 25, 2016, and a "Down With Hillary" gathering on July 23, 2016.

By Friday morning, the bots that pushed the original tweets around the Parkland shooting had moved on to the hashtag #falseflag — a term used by conspiracy theorists to refer to a secret government operation that is carried out to look like something else — with a conspiracy theory that the shooting had never happened.

By Monday, the bots had new targets: the Daytona 500 auto race in Daytona Beach, Florida, and news about William Holleeder, a man facing trial in the Netherlands for his suspected role in six gangland killings. It is unclear why.

University of Alaska president to deliver 'state of the university' address

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2018-02-20 05:48
University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen will deliver a “State of the University” speech noon Tuesday at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The speech will double as a keynote presentation for Commonwealth North's monthly lunch. Johnsen is expected to cover the importance of university ...

Trump accuser keeps telling her story, hoping someone will finally listen

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-02-20 05:45

She believed her best chance to be heard was through sheer repetition, so Rachel Crooks took her seat at the dining table and prepared to tell the story again. She was used to difficult audiences, to skeptics and Internet trolls who flooded her Facebook page with threats, but this was a generous crowd: a dozen women, all friends of her aunt, gathered for a casual dinner party on a Friday night. The hostess turned off the music, clanked a fork against her wineglass and gestured to Crooks. "Would you mind telling us about the famous incident?" she asked. "Not the sound-bite version, but the real version."

"The real version," Crooks said, nodding back. She took a sip of water and folded a napkin onto her lap.

"It all happened at Trump Tower," she said. "I had just moved to New York, and I was working as a secretary for another company in the building. That's where he forced himself on me."

Crooks, 35, had been publicly reliving this story for much of the past two years, ever since she first described it in an email to the New York Times several months before the 2016 election.

"I don't know if people will really care about this or if this will matter at all," she had written then, and after Donald Trump's election she had repeated her story at the Women's March, on the "Today" show and at a news conference organized by women's rights attorney Gloria Allred. Crooks had spoken to people dressed in #MeToo sweatshirts and to her rural neighbors whose yards were decorated with Trump signs. Early this month, she launched a campaign to become a Democratic state representative in Ohio, in part so she could share her story more widely with voters across the state.

And yet, after dozens of retellings, she still wasn't sure: Did people really care? Did it matter at all?

Despite her story, and the similar stories of more than a dozen other women, nothing had changed. Trump, who had denied all of the accusations, was still president of the United States, and Crooks was still circling back to the same moments on Jan. 11, 2006, that had come to define so much about her life.

"He was waiting for the elevator outside our office when I got up the nerve to introduce myself," she said now, remembering that day when she was 22 years old and Trump was 59. "It's not like I was trying to upset the apple cart. I don't know. Maybe I was being naive."

The hostess shook her head and then reached for Crooks' hand. "You did absolutely nothing wrong," she said.

"Thank you," Crooks said, even though she sometimes still wondered. She reached for her water glass and lifted it up into the air to use as a prop.

"He took hold of my hand and held me in place like this," she said, squeezing the sides of the water glass, shaking it gently from side to side. "He started kissing me on one cheek, then the other cheek. He was talking to me in between kisses, asking where I was from, or if I wanted to be a model. He wouldn't let go of my hand, and then he went right in and started kissing me on the lips."

She shook the water glass one final time and set it down. "It felt like a long kiss," she said. "The whole thing probably lasted two minutes, maybe less."

"Like you were another piece of his property," the hostess said.

"And with those orange lips!" another woman said.

Everyone at the table began to talk at the same time about Trump, and Crooks pushed her chair back and nodded along. She understood by now that for everyone else this was a story about the president – about what he had or hadn't done during those two minutes, and what that said about his morality and the character of the country that voted him into office. But the story Crooks was still trying to understand was her own, about what those two minutes had meant for her.

The hostess clinked her glass again to quiet the room. "Sorry, but can we go back to the kiss for a second?"

"Sure," Crooks said, and then she started to tell it again.

There were 19 women in all who made public accusations of sexual misconduct, or "The Nineteen," as they had come to be known on T-shirts and bumper stickers. Most had come forward with their stories after Trump launched his presidential campaign in 2015, and the experiences they described having with him spanned five decades. They claimed Trump had "acted like a creepy uncle," or "squeezed my butt," or "eyed me like meat," or "stuck his hand up under my skirt," or "groped with octopus hands," or "pushed me against a wall," or "thrust his genitals," or "forced his tongue into my mouth" or "offered $10,000 for everything."

In response, Trump had called the accusations against him "total fabrications" based on "political motives" to destroy his campaign and then his presidency.

"Nothing ever happened with any of these women," Trump tweeted once. "Totally made up nonsense to steal the election. Nobody has more respect for women than me!"

One woman accused Trump of assaulting her in the middle of a commercial flight after they met as seatmates in the 1970s. Another said it happened in a conference room during the middle of a job interview. Another, a journalist for People magazine, said Trump forced his tongue into her mouth as they finished an interview for a feature story about his marriage to Melania. The list of accusers included a reality-TV host, a runner-up on "The Apprentice," a yoga instructor, an adult-film star and several women who had competed in Trump's beauty pageants: a Miss New Hampshire, Miss Washington, Miss Arizona and Miss Finland.

And then there was Crooks, who had never been on reality TV, never drank alcohol, never met anyone famous until she moved from her childhood home in Green Springs to New York City in the summer of 2005. Nobody else in three generations of her family had ever seen the appeal in leaving Green Springs, population 1,300, but nobody else was quite like her: striking and self-assured at 6 feet tall; all-state in basketball, volleyball and track; the high school salutatorian and "Most Likely to Succeed."

[Trump accusers: 'Heartbreaking' to see him elected despite sexual misconduct]

She wanted to backpack across Europe, earn her doctorate, work in high-end fashion and live in a skyscraper that looked out over something other than an endless grid of brown-and-green soybean fields. "New York is where you can make things happen," she had written to a friend back then, and a few weeks after graduating from college she persuaded her high school boyfriend, Clint Hackenburg, to move with her.

They rented a room in a cheap group house way out in Bay Ridge, and she took the first job she could find on Craigslist to pay rent, at an investment firm in Trump Tower called Bayrock. Her secretarial tasks were to make coffee, water the two office palm trees, polish the gold-trimmed mirrors, straighten the tassels on the Oriental rug at the entryway and sit at a mahogany welcome desk to greet visitors who came through the glass front doors.

She found the work mindless and demeaning, but all around her was the promise of New York. There was Oprah Winfrey, filming a TV show next to the two-story Christmas wreath in the main lobby. There was George Clooney, strolling past the office. There was Trump, an occasional business partner with Bayrock, standing right outside the glass doors every few days with his bodyguard as he waited for the elevator to take him back to his $100 million penthouse on the 66th floor. She remembered that sometimes he looked in and smiled at her. At least once she thought she saw him wave.

"If you're working in that building, you've got to at least meet him," Hackenburg told her, and after five months Crooks finally got up from her desk and went out to say hello. It was early in the morning, and the office was mostly empty. She walked toward Trump, who she remembers was standing by himself in the small waiting area near the elevators. She held out her hand, intent on introducing herself not as a fan or as a secretary but as a business partner.

"Mr. Trump, I wanted to say hi, since our companies do a little work together," she remembered telling him that day, and then, before she understood what was happening, she remembered Trump becoming the second man ever to kiss her.

"Fiction," was what Trump's campaign called her story when Crooks first told it publicly in 2016. "It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged," the campaign said.

But Crooks' version of that day was prompting more and more questions in her mind. Why did she sometimes feel as if he was still holding her in place? Why had she spent so much of the past decade recoiling from that moment – back behind the receptionist desk, back inside of her head, back home to the certainty and simplicity of small-town Ohio?

It was just a dreadful kiss, or at least that's what she kept trying to tell herself to quiet the confusion that had grown out of that moment, turning into shame, hardening into anxiety and insecurity until nearly a decade later, when she first started to read about other women whose accusations sounded so much like her own. Kissed at a party. Kissed in a dance club. Kissed during a business meeting. Kissed while attending a Mother's Day brunch at Mar-a-Largo.

"For the first time, I started to think it wasn't my fault for being clueless and naive, or for something I did wrong in seeming that way to him," Crooks said in one of her first public statements about Trump in 2016. Maybe together with the other accusers their stories had power, Crooks thought. Maybe, if the accusations alone weren't enough to hold Trump accountable for his behavior, the women could force the country to pay attention with better messaging and greater theatrics.

Late in 2017, Crooks agreed to join several accusers for television interviews and news conferences in New York. "A call to action," the invitation read, because their goal was to demand a congressional investigation into Trump's alleged sexual misconduct. Crooks wrote herself some reminders for effective public speaking: "Use detail and repetition." "Make it personal." "Focus on solutions."

She volunteered to speak first, squared her shoulders and then turned to face the cameras with the poise of the athlete she had been.

"By now all of you are probably familiar with my story," she said before beginning it again. The 24th floor. His lips coming toward hers. His hands holding her in place until the elevator arrived to take him upstairs. "Feelings of self-doubt and insignificance," she said.

"I know there are many worse forms of sexual harassment, but doesn't this still speak to character?" she said. "I don't want money. I don't need a lawsuit. I just want people to listen. How many women have to come forward? What will it take to get a response?"

The response that came was waiting every day on Crooks' computer, so one morning back home in Ohio she woke up and walked downstairs to her laptop. The front door was locked, the shades were drawn, and she sat next to the dog she had recently bought with hopes that a pet might help reduce her anxiety. She navigated to Facebook. "Good morning, Rachel!" read a greeting at the top of her page, and then she clicked open her messages.

"Very unbelievable story," read the first. "Try and get rich some other way."

"You ignorant, attention seeking cow."

"Nobody would touch you, especially not Trump. You look like a boy. A gun to your head would be good for our nation."

She had tried changing the privacy settings on her Facebook page and logging off Twitter, but there was no way to barricade herself from so much hostility. It came into her email inbox at the tiny college in Ohio where she worked as a recruiter of international students. It came when she walked her dog around the block or took her nephews trick-or-treating.

"So many stares and weird comments that give me social anxiety," was how she explained it once to a friend, because now each interaction required a series of calculations.

Two thirds of people in Seneca County had voted for Trump. Ninety-four percent of Trump supporters told pollsters that their views were "not impacted" by the sexual harassment allegations against him. So Crooks wondered: Did the majority of her friends, co-workers and neighbors think she was lying? Or, even worse in her mind, did they believe her but simply not care?

"An honest, timeless, values-first community" was how one tourism slogan described Seneca County, and Crooks had always believed those things to be true. Her father had worked 39 years as a mechanic at Whirlpool and then retired with a decent pension. Her sister was raising four children in the same converted house where Crooks had grown up. Everybody in town knew her family – four generations of Crookses clustered within a few square blocks – so a local newspaper had interviewed community members about Crooks's allegations against Trump.

"A fine, wholesome young girl," her high school volleyball coach told the paper, and that seemed to Crooks like the most Ohio compliment of all. But then the story ended and the comments began, and Crooks kept reading because she knew some of the commenters, too.

"I'm a friend of the family. She's lying."

"If he was going to make a move on a woman, it wouldn't be her!"

"We know Trump has class, so why would he waste his time on some average chick like this?"

In her "values-first" community, it now felt to Crooks as if politics had become a fissure that was always deepening, the facts distorted by both sides, until even her own family no longer agreed on what or whom to believe. Her parents and sister supported her, even if they disliked talking about politics. Her grandmother, a staunch conservative, hugged Crooks after reading the original article about Trump's harassment in the New York Times but then sometimes talked admiringly about Trump. Another of her relatives was often posting laudatory stories about the president on Facebook and dismissing many of the attacks against him as purely political, until one day Crooks decided to email her.

"Your candidate of choice kissed me without my consent," Crooks wrote, and then she began to wonder whether there was some way to tell her story, or some piece of evidence, that could change herrelative's mind. During one news conference, she had asked Trump to release the security videotapes from the 24th floor that day, but he never responded. She had not heard from him, or anyone representing him, since she came home from New York. "What can I ever do to prove this happened and that it impacted my life?" she said.

Maybe the proof was the email she had sent to her mother, from the Bayrock office in New York, at 1:27 that afternoon in 2006: "Hey Ma, my day started off rough. . .had a weird incident with Mr. Trump."

Or the email she sent a few hours later to her sister at 3:05 p.m.: "I must just appear to be some dumb girl that he can take advantage of. . .ugh!"

Or the email she sent a few days after that to another relative: "Ah yes, the Donald kiss . . . very creepy man, let me tell you!"

Or the recorded conversation between Trump and Billy Bush on an "Access Hollywood" bus late in 2005, months before Crooks says she met Trump by the elevators: "You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."

"By all means, have your opinions," Crooks wrote to her relative instead, because more and more she believed no version of her story could bridge the widening divide.

"It makes me ill, to be quite honest with you . . . when my own family members not only vote for but publicly defend this person," she wrote. "For my own sanity, I will not engage you further on this."

And then there was one of her other relatives, her aunt, Barbara Radebaugh, who was often encouraging her niece to engage and to fight. "Keep speaking your truth!" Radebaugh wrote to her, and she invited Crooks to Columbus in late January to participate in the second annual Women's March.

The two of them had traveled together from Ohio to the inaugural march in Washington on a bus with several dozen strangers, and now many of those women gathered again in Columbus for a small reunion a few hours before the march.

"What a transformative, empowering year," Radebaugh said to the group, because one of the women from that bus ride had become a Democratic fundraiser, another had started volunteering for reproductive rights, another had joined the board of the local Pride parade, and two more were running for seats in the Ohio House of Representatives. Crooks had yet to officially launch her campaign, but Mary Relotto had already raised $20,000, knocked on thousands of doors and filed all of her paperwork. She was scheduled to give a kickoff speech in Columbus, and now she asked Crooks whether she would be willing to share her story about Trump during the march.

"You are an inspiration to me," Relotto told her. "I want to champion you, to champion each other. Your voice and your story in this is huge."

"Thank you," Crooks said. "I don't always feel that way, but -"

"It's huge. So let me ask you: Do you want to engage with the people?"

"I don't know. This feels more like your moment."

"Thank you, but the people need to see a face. You have a powerful story. It's up to you how far you want to take it. What do you want to do?"

It was the same question Crooks' sister had asked over the phone that morning in 2006, minutes after Trump got onto his elevator and Crooks retreated back to an empty office at Bayrock to call home.

"What do you want to do?" her sister had asked, and together they had gone through the options. Report the harassment to building security guards who wore Trump's name on their uniforms? Tell her managers at Bayrock, where Trump was a key business partner? Confide in Bayrock's founder, Tevfik Arif, a personal friend of Trump and his wife, Melania?

The only thing she could think to do instead of reporting it was go quietly back to her desk for the afternoon and then back to the rental house to tell Hackenburg. Maybe she had done something to encourage Trump, she said. Maybe she wasn't coming across as smart, serious or professional. "Her self-confidence was absolutely rocked," Hackenburg said.

She didn't think of it as a tragedy. She had gone on to graduate school in Ohio, bought a home close to her family, in the nearby town of Tiffin, and begun a career that allowed her to travel around the world, but she also believed some small part of her had never come back from New York. "It was one of the first real failures or defeats of my life, where the world wasn't what I hoped it was going to be, and I started to really doubt myself," she said.

For several years she had barely told anybody about Trump, because she assumed nothing would come of her story. Now she had spent 18 months repeating it and proving herself right.

"I am not sure I've changed one person's mind," she said.

But what choice did she have, except to let it go silent as if it never happened at all? She didn't want to retreat anymore from that moment, to cycle back into self-doubt. So she would go on television. She would speak at the news conferences. She would deal with the hate mail. She would run for office. She would repeat her story over and over whenever she was asked, even now, to a few women in Columbus marching alongside her in the snow.

"It happened right by the elevators," she said, beginning the story again, even if she was telling it mostly for herself.

Gap of $6.6 billion in state pension funding draws lawmakers' concern - Alaska Dispatch News

Legislative News - Tue, 2018-02-20 05:29

Alaska Dispatch News

Gap of $6.6 billion in state pension funding draws lawmakers' concern
Alaska Dispatch News
JUNEAU — Some state senators are expressing concern about the projected shortfall in funding Alaska's public employee pensions. But those who manage the pension funds say the shortfall will likely remain manageable. Anchorage Republican Sen. Natasha ...

Gap of $6.6B in state pension funding draws lawmakers’ concern

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-02-20 05:26

JUNEAU — Some state senators are expressing concern about the projected shortfall in funding Alaska's public employee pensions.

But those who manage the pension funds say the shortfall will likely remain manageable.

Anchorage Republican Sen. Natasha von Imhof said it may be necessary to reduce retiree benefits in the future. She spoke during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on pensions on Feb. 14.

"To simply say, 'Make the payments,' that crowds out public safety, education, among other things, as we're seeing in our budget challenges that we have now," von Imhof said.

It would take an amendment to the state constitution to reduce benefits. The Alaska Supreme Court has interpreted the constitution to protect both pensions and retiree health benefits from cuts.

The pension systems currently have $25 billion in assets. That leaves a gap of $6.6 billion between what the state has in pension assets and the projected future cost.

That gap could grow. Consultants have advised the state to expect lower investment returns in the future.

Eagle River Republican Sen. Anna MacKinnon said the Legislature should consider paying more into the fund in the coming years.

"That $6 billion is going to eat us alive over the next 10 years, if we don't try to knock it down while we still have cash reserves," MacKinnon said.

Soldotna Republican Sen. Peter Micciche said it's premature to raise the possibility of a constitutional amendment to cut benefits.

"I just want to make sure that we don't fire off an alarm that has the people of Alaska believing our system is about to implode, when in fact, if we maintain it properly in the future, I think we avert that situation," Micciche said.

Gov. Bill Walker proposed paying $263 million into the pension system in the budget that starts in July. That's $80 million more than the current budget. Since 2006, new public workers have a different retirement system and don't receive defined-benefit pensions. Instead, they receive a defined-contribution system.

This article was republished with permission from KTOO.

How inflation turns petty criminals into felons - Washington Post

Legislative News - Tue, 2018-02-20 03:05

Washington Post

How inflation turns petty criminals into felons
Washington Post
There is an alternative to expecting legislators to consistently comb through the work of previous office-holders for criminal laws whose intent is being undermined by inflation. In many other areas of law, most notably taxation, legislators index ...

Folds sweeps U12 races at Alyeska Cup ski series

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 20:37

Charlie Folds, skiing in the Under-12 age group, won four races in two days of racing at the annual Alyeska Cup race series in Girdwood.

He won two slaloms on Monday to go along with victories in two giant slaloms Sunday.

Overall winners in Monday's slaloms were Ben Neuberger and Sophie Neuberger in the first race, and Joseph Stala and Abigail Kragt in the second race. All four are U-14 skiers who are racing for more than victories in the race series. Also at stake are berths in regional and tri-divisional championships.

Sunday's giant slalom races produced four different winners – Stahla and Finnegan Donley for the boys and Georgia Lantz and Ava Schweiger for the girls.

The Alyeska Cup, sponsored by Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic Clinic, continues on Wednesday and Thursday with super-G races.

The series, which started last week, has drawn racers from the Alyeska Ski Club, the Hilltop Alpine Race Team, the Hillberg Youth Ski Team and the Juneau Ski Club.

Sunday giant slalom No. 1

Girls

U12 — 1) Allard, Madison, Alyeska Ski Club (ASC), 1:25.33; 2) Boshell, Lili, ASC, 1:27.21; 3) Woodward, Lola, ASC, 1:32.05; 4) Hartman, Taylor, ASC, 1:33.95; 5) Anderson, Kea, ASC, 1:34.33.

U14 — 1) Lantz, Georgia, ASC, 1:17.15; 2) Wilson, Sydney, ASC, 1:21.00; 3) Kragt, Abigail, ASC, 1:21.70; 4) Allard, Brooke-Lynne, ASC, 1:22.17; 5) Langland, Annika, ASC, 1:26.26.

Overall — 1) Lantz, Georgia, ASC, 1:17.15; 2) Wilson, Sydney, ASC, 1:21.00; 3) Kragt, Abigail, ASC, 1:21.70; 4) Allard, Brooke-Lynne, ASC, 1:22.17; 5) Allard, Madison, Alyeska Ski Club (ASC), 1:25.33.

Boys

U12 — 1) Folds, Charlie, ASC, 1:29.12; 2) Engstrom, Carson, ASC, 1:30.02; 3) Langlie, Porter, ASC, 1:30.07; 4) Sullivan, Gabriel, ASC, 1:30.96; 5) Autrey, Dylan, ASC, 1:31.63.

U14 — 1) Donley, Finnigan, ASC, 1:15.96; 2) Stahla, Joseph, ASC, 1:17.89; 3) Johnsen, Max, ASC, 1:18.37; 4) Ferucci, Daniel, ASC, 1:19.96; 5) Deschamps, Ryder, ASC, 1:20.71.

Overall — 1) Donley, Finnigan, ASC, 1:15.96; 2) Stahla, Joseph, ASC, 1:17.89; 3) Johnsen, Max, ASC, 1:18.37; 4) Ferucci, Daniel, ASC, 1:19.96; 5) Deschamps, Ryder, ASC, 1:20.71.

Sunday giant slalom No. 2

Girls

U12 — 1) Allard, Madison, ASC, 1:32.90; 2) Austerman, Ava, ASC, 1:34.62; 3) Boshell, Lili, ASC, 1:35.03; 4) Woodward, Lola, ASC, 1:40.06; 5) Anderson, Kea, ASC, 1:42.46.

U14 — 1) Schweiger, Ava, ASC, 1:21.61; 2) Lantz, Georgia, ASC, 1:22.52; 3) Neuberger, Sophie, ASC, 1:25.35; 4) Kragt, Abigail, ASC, 1:26.13; 5) Wilson, Sydney, ASC, 1:27.29.

Overall — 1) Schweiger, Ava, ASC, 1:21.61; 2) Lantz, Georgia, ASC, 1:22.52; 3) Neuberger, Sophie, ASC, 1:25.35; 4) Kragt, Abigail, ASC, 1:26.13; 5) Wilson, Sydney, ASC, 1:27.29.

Boys

U12 — 1) Folds, Charlie, ASC, 1:33.95; 2) Langlie, Porter, ASC, 1:34.70; 3) Murphy, Jaxon, ASC, 1:34.72; 4) Sullivan, Gabriel, ASC, 1:38.40; 5) Autrey, Dylan, ASC, 1:41.27.

U14 — 1) Stahla, Joseph, ASC, 1:22.12; 2) Ferucci, Daniel, ASC, 1:22.74; 3) Donley, Finnigan, ASC, 1:23.59; 4) Reinbold, James, ASC, 1:26.72; 5) Bergstedt, Gunner, ASC, 1:27.92.

Overall — 1) Stahla, Joseph, ASC, 1:22.12; 2) Ferucci, Daniel, ASC, 1:22.74; 3) Donley, Finnigan, ASC, 1:23.59; 4) Reinbold, James, ASC, 1:26.72; 5) Bergstedt, Gunner, ASC, 1:27.92.

Monday slalom No. 1

Girls

U12 — 1) Boshell, Lili, Alyeska Ski Club (ASC), 1:12.37; 2) Allard, Madison, ASC, 1:12.39; 3) Austerman, Ava, ASC, 1:13.24; 4) Murphy, Ava, ASC, 1:17.30; 5) Johnsen, Eden, ASC, 1:19.94.

U14 — 1) Neuberger, Sophie, ASC, 1:01.71; 2) Lantz, Georgia, ASC, 1:03.36; 3) Allard, Brooke-Lynne, ASC, 1:04.74; 4) Gamez, Megan, Hilltop Alpine Race Team (HART), 1:05.81; 5) Kragt, Abigail, ASC, 1:07.03.

Overall — 1) Neuberger, Sophie, ASC, 1:01.71; 2) Lantz, Georgia, ASC, 1:03.36; 3) Allard, Brooke-Lynne, ASC, 1:04.74; 4) Gamez, Megan, Hilltop Alpine Race Team (HART), 1:05.81; 5) Kragt, Abigail, ASC, 1:07.03.

Boys

U12 — 1) Folds, Charlie, ASC, 1:15.09; 2) Langlie, Porter, ASC, 1:17.61; 3) Sullivan, Gabriel, ASC, 1:20.46; 4) Murphy, Jaxon, ASC, 1:21.02; 5) Autrey, Dylan, 1:24.97.

U14 — 1) Neuberger, Ben, ASC, 1:04.61; 2) Hymas, Karsten, ASC, 1:04.89; 3) Stahla, Joseph, ASC, 1:05.40; 4) Von Wichman, George, ASC, 1:06.25; 5) Lentfer, Sloan, ASC, 1:11.23; 5) Hand, Carson, ASC, 1:11.23.

Overall –1) Neuberger, Ben, ASC, 1:04.61; 2) Hymas, Karsten, ASC, 1:04.89; 3) Stahla, Joseph, ASC, 1:05.40; 4) Von Wichman, George, ASC, 1:06.25; 5) Lentfer, Sloan, ASC, 1:11.23; 5) Hand, Carson, ASC, 1:11.23.
Monday slalom No. 2

Girls

U12 — 1) Allard, Madison, ASC, 1:30.24; 2) Austerman, Ava, ASC, 1:30.79; 3) Lentfer, Brook, ASC, 1:37.89; 4) Rogers, Emma, ASC, 1:40.50; 5) Hartman, Taylor, ASC, 1:40.83.

U14 — 1) Kragt, Abigail, ASC, 1:27.01; 2) Gries, Alyssa, ASC, 1:27.37; 3) Allard, Brooke-Lynne, ASC, 1:28.55; 4) Lukes, Lucy, ASC, 1:30.11; 5) Schweiger, Ava, ASC, 1:30.26.

Overall — 1) Kragt, Abigail, ASC, 1:27.01; 2) Gries, Alyssa, ASC, 1:27.37; 3) Allard, Brooke-Lynne, ASC, 1:28.55; 4) Lukes, Lucy, ASC, 1:30.11; 5) Allard, Madison, ASC, 1:30.24.

Boys

U12 — 1) Folds, Charlie, ASC, 1:29.23; 2) Sullivan, Gabriel, ASC, 1:31.02; 3) Langlie, Porter, ASC, 1:31.26; 4) Murphy, Jaxon, ASC, 1:38.65; 5) Autrey, Dylan, ASC, 1:39.20.

U14 — 1) Stahla, Joseph, ASC, 1:18.61; 2) Neuberger, Ben, ASC, 1:18.98; 3) Ferucci, Daniel, ASC, 1:20.07; 4) Reinbold, James, ASC, 1:26.48; 5) Carl, Maxwell, Hillberg Youth Ski Team (HYST), 1:29.18.

Overall — 1) Stahla, Joseph, ASC, 1:18.61; 2) Neuberger, Ben, ASC, 1:18.98; 3) Ferucci, Daniel, ASC, 1:20.07; 4) Reinbold, James, ASC, 1:26.48; 5) Carl, Maxwell, Hillberg Youth Ski Team (HYST), 1:29.18.

Ruthy Hebard’s NCAA-record field goal streak ends at 33

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 20:27

Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks extended her NCAA record for consecutive field goals to 33 Monday before finally missing a shot.

Hebard, a 6-foot-4 sophomore for the Oregon Ducks, broke the record Friday, when her streak hit 30. She made her first three shots Monday against UCLA before missing her fourth attempt in the Pac-12 game in Eugene, Oregon.

The streak spanned four games and two weeks. It began when she hit her final six shots in a win over Washington. She went 12 for 12 in two straight games, wins over Washington State and USC.

She broke the women's record of 28 straight set by Utah State's Myndee Kay Larsen in 1998. The men's record is 30 straight, set in 2016 by Yale's Brandon Sherrod.

Hebard finished Monday's game with 14 points on 7 of 11 shooting and led Oregon with 11 rebounds to help the 8th-ranked Ducks defeat the 10th-ranked Bruins 101-94 in overtime.

American Brita Sigourney earns bronze on final run of freestyle skiing halfpipe

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 20:27

BONGPYEONG, South Korea – Up and up she went, shooting up the halfpipe's 25-foot wall, launching into the sky, spinning and twisting in a mid-air ballet that's barely a blur to the naked eye. She did this six times, and when Brita Sigourney finally fell to Earth, she had somehow – after years of persevering – landed right on the Pyeongchang Olympic podium.

Thad and Julie Sigourney knew exactly what it meant. They had spent years going to freestyle skiing halfpipe competitions, trying not to avert their eyes. They had watched their daughter land so many times not on a podium but on a hospital bed. What did it take to reach the Olympics? Only eight surgeries – broken bones and torn ligaments from her ankle to her collarbone and just about everywhere in between.

What do you say when you're a parent with a daughter who thrives off the adrenaline so much she might as well have a frequent customer punch-card to her neighborhood surgeon?

"I bit my tongue until blood came out of the corner of my mouth," Thad Sigourney said.

It was hard not to think of all this Tuesday at Phoenix Snow Park, where the 28-year-old from Carmel, California, with a body that has been patched and repaired several times over, took bronze in the women's halfpipe competition. Her impressive final run vaulted her from fourth place to third, giving the Americans their 11th medal of these Olympics.

For Sigourney, Tuesday marked the apex of a long journey in her sport. She turned in a sixth-place finish four years ago at the Sochi Games and had no guarantees of returning to the Olympic stage.

"I think I wanted it more this time. At my first Olympics, I just didn't know what to expect and I was just so happy to be there," she said. "But this time I really wanted it. To see me pull it off – I don't know, I'm still in shock. I didn't know I could do that."

Her top performance at the world championships was a sixth-place finish, and that came way back in 2011. Her best finishes at the Winter X Games included a pair of silvers. Her second one came just last month in Aspen, Colorado, a full seven years since her first second-place finish there.

"I've been working on the mental game all year, and it's definitely paid off," said Sigourney, who entered Monday's finals with the third-best score from qualifying, 90.60. "Just having a lot of confidence has helped me over the past few events."

She will happily accept this Pyeongchang medal, but she doesn't need a mantle full of awards to know how far she has come. Her medical charts tell the story: Sigourney has broken her collarbone, torn an anterior cruciate ligament, busted her pelvis, broke her knee cap and torn a ligament in her thumb.

"It definitely helps to have an Olympic medal to prove everything I've overcome was worth it," she said. "All those surgeries were worth it. It was worth it to keep fighting, and all that rehab and physical therapy I've done was worth it."

But why stick with it? Hers is a sport where you don't launch into the air unless you have a purpose. Sigourney didn't want to just stick with the sport – she wanted to keep pushing it forward.

"She was so determined," Julie Sigourney said. "It made me crazy. 'To progress the sport' – if I ever heard that again, I was just going to scream."

Sigourney was back on the sport's biggest stage Tuesday, with one more chance to help raise the bar.

She came out of the gates strong in Tuesday's three-round finals, posting the opening round's third-best score, an 89.80. That stood as her top mark until the final run, which she started in fourth place. Annalisa Drew, her American teammate, had just earned a 90.80, temporarily putting her in position for a medal.

Sigourney needed a big run and left nothing to chance, going higher and bigger and impressing the judges enough to earn a 91.60 and knock her teammate off the podium. The two Americans embraced right after before the judges decided which would take home a medal.

"We love each other and want each other to do so well," Sigourney said, "so obviously it's kind of an uncomfortable spot."

Canada's Cassie Sharpe posted the day's top score of 95.80 to win gold, while France's Marie Martinod, the 33-year-old who took silver four years ago in Sochi, again finished in second with a score of 92.60.

While Drew had to settle for a fourth-place finish, fellow American Maddie Bowman finished last out of the 11 competitors who skied in the finals. Bowman, who won gold four years ago when the women's halfpipe debuted at the Olympics, took a tumble late in each of her three finals runs. On the last, she appeared to hit the back of her head on the ground and momentarily laid there still. She had to be helped up by medical personnel, eventually rising to her feet and skiing out of the pipe on her own.

When it was all over, Sigourney found her parents in the crowd. The U.S. flag was still draped over her shoulders and when they hugged, the whole family was enveloped in it.

"It's hard to be a parent. I'd rather be a connected friend or a spectator," Thad Sigourney said of attending the high-risk, high-reward competitions. "Being a parent is pretty tough on mom and dad at times."

At the same time – on magical days like Tuesday – it couldn't possibly be more worth it.

Binkleys to purchase three more Alaska media outlets

Juneau Hot Topics - Mon, 2018-02-19 20:03
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Fairbanks-based Binkley Company, which took over ownership of the Anchorage Daily News last year, is buying three more ... sold off the daily 'Juneau Empire' and 'Kenai Peninsula Clarion' newspapers, as well as the weekly 'Homer News,' to the GateHouse Media Group.

Readers write: Letters to the editor, February 20, 2018

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 20:03

Incoming tax is better than using Permanent Fund
I feel using the Permanent Fund earnings to fund government is like stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. No wonder the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
A much fairer system and better for the economy would be to pay out a larger dividend and establish a simple income tax based on a percentage of a person's federal income tax. Although none of us likes taxes this would accomplish at least three things: first, Alaskan taxpayers would complain to legislators about excessive spending; second, out-of-state workers would pay for their privilege to work in Alaska; and, finally, the poor would have more money to buy essentials.
— Don Corey
Palmer

Congress should support an open internet
In recent weeks, I've had countless conversations with friends and peers about net neutrality. What's clear to me is that our state and country need a permanent solution on this issue — and Sen. Murkowski has a big part to play in ensuring that real, bipartisan legislation. Virtually everyone on all sides of the debate supports core net neutrality principles: no throttling, blocking or unfair discrimination against lawful internet traffic.
Fellow Alaskans: Please understand that "Title II" and "net neutrality" are not the same thing. Obama's Title II utility-style regulation of net neutrality relied on a framework that was developed in the 1930s for the voice telephone system. Over 80 years later, it's high time to accept that changes to these archaic regulations make sense. Broadband providers have not wavered in their commitment to an open internet. Congress should act to protect this open internet with permanent legislation, rather than a short-term fix like overturning the recent CRA.
— Amy Oney
Anchorage

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email letters@adn.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to commentary@adn.com.

Olympic notebook: Former Seawolf already earned Olympic metal. Now he wants a medal.

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 19:00

Dave Duncan, a three-time Olympian whose career included four years on the UAA alpine ski team, likes to joke about his first Winter Olympics.

He went to the 2010 Vancouver Games as a medal contender in the new sport of skicross, but a training accident ended his Olympics prematurely and he left without gold, silver or bronze.

But he didn't leave empty-handed.

"The medal I won was titanium," Duncan joked this week from Pyeongchang, South Korea.

A titanium plate and nine screws to be precise, hardware that was needed after Duncan broke his collarbone.

Duncan, 35, will compete in men's skicross on Tuesday (Wednesday in South Korea). He placed 26th in Sochi and is coming off a sixth-place finish in a December World Cup race in Switzerland. In a career that dates back to 2007, Duncan has earned seven World Cup podium finishes and two X Games medals.

How much longer he'll remain in the sport is uncertain right now, because his sole focus is performing well in Pyeongchang.

"The goal is still the same as every other time – to be my best and hopefully walk away with a podium," Duncan said.

"What's next gets looked at after the 21st (the day after his competition). Everything has been leading up to this moment."

Duncan, who grew up in London, Ontario, and lives in Whistler, British Columbia, skied slalom and giant slalom for UAA from 2002-06. He was the team MVP twice and a Chancellor's List scholar twice and graduated with a degree in aviation.

He stayed in Alaska for about a year after he graduated to work for a heli-ski business. He considered joining Canada's armed forces and becoming a helicopter pilot, but then he discovered the burgeoning sport of skicross. By 2007, Duncan had earned a spot on Canada's national team.

He's been a full-time skicross racer ever since.

"I have an appreciation for it more at my age," he said. "I've got friends I've grown up with my entire life and they've gone the more normal way, and I feel incredibly grateful that I found a sport and made it to a level that's allowed me to do this for this long and maybe even longer."

Duncan still has friends in Alaska and makes it back every other summer to reunite with a rugby team he played with while he was in Anchorage.

"Alaska still holds a special place in my heart," he said.

Duncan often says coming to UAA to ski was one of the best decisions he's ever made. It made him a better skier, it introduced him to aviation, and it's where he met his wife.

"Skiing's treated me very well," Duncan said.

Seawolves on ice

One former UAA hockey player is headed to the quarterfinals and another faces a knockout game in the men's hockey tournament at the Winter Olympics.

Mat Robinson, who played at UAA from 2005-09, will play in the quarterfinals with Canada. The Canadians on Wednesday will face the winner of a knockout game between Finland and South Korea.

Luka Vidmar, who played at UAA from 2007-11, is a member of the Slovenia team that shocked the United States early in the tournament. Slovenia faces Norway in an elimination game that will decide who advances to a quarterfinal game against Olympic Athletes from Russia.

In three preliminary games, Robinson, a defenseman, was scoreless but has seen a lot of action, playing more than 20 minutes in each game. Besides the win over South Korea, Canada beat Switzerland 5-1 and lost to the Czech Republic 3-2 in a shootout.

Vidmar scored one assist in Slovenia's three preliminary games, getting the helper in the upset of the United States. In its other games, Slovenia lost 8-2 to OAR and beat Slovakia 3-2 in a shootout.

Mirai Nagasu’s Alaska link

When Mirai Nagasu made history by becoming the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics, a coach with deep Alaska roots was among those cheering and guiding her.

Juneau-born Drew Meekins, a coach and choreographer for the Broadmoor Skating Club in Colorado, is part of Nagasu's crew in Pyeongchang.

Meekins, 32, is the grandson of Russ Meekins Sr., a member of the first Alaska Legislature who homesteaded with his wife Adele in what is now Mountain View. They arrived in Alaska in 1946 and spent the rest of their lives here.

He's the son of Russ Meekins Jr., who served in the legislature from 1973-82, and Nancy Harvey, who moved from Alaska to Massachusetts when Drew was still a youngster.

Meekins won a World Junior Championship in pairs with Julia Vlassov in 2006 and later became a competitive and professional dancer. He's coaching two Olympic athletes in Pyeongchang — Nagasu and Vincent Zhou, who finished sixth in men's singles.

Cultural inspiration or cultural appropriation? Wearable Arts piece sparks debate

Juneau Hot Topics - Mon, 2018-02-19 18:45
(Michael Penn | Juneau Empire) ... Christy Namee Eriksen, an artist and community activist in Juneau, immediately took issue with the piece. ... She and others approached staff from the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council (JAHC) — the organization that runs the Wearable Arts Show — and outlined ...

Cultural inspiration or cultural appropriation? Wearable Art piece sparks debate

Juneau Hot Topics - Mon, 2018-02-19 18:45
(Michael Penn | Juneau Empire) ... The work of artist Beth Bolander has been featured in Juneau's annual Wearable Art Show for five years, and her contribution to this year's show sparked a ... Christy Namee Eriksen, an artist and community activist in Juneau, immediately took issue with the piece.

In the aisles of Anchorage groceries, Kim Sunée collects flavors of Korea

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 17:55

On a recent morning at New Central Market, an Asian grocery on Anchorage's Northern Lights Boulevard, Kim Sunée pinched a piece of a palm-sized, green perilla leaf and slipped it between her teeth.

Its herbaceous flavor — part mint, part tarragon, part anise—might be as common in Korea as the flavor of basil is in the United States. Though Sunée was born in Korea, perilla's taste has only recently become familiar.

Sunée, a recipe columnist for the Anchorage Daily News, was adopted at age 3 by an American family who raised her in New Orleans. She came to Anchorage in 2011 to join the man she'd later marry, a few years after she'd written her best-selling memoir, "Trail of Crumbs," a coming-of-age story that deals with identity and food, and explores her connection to Korea.

Her most recent cookbook, "Everyday Korean," covers some of the same ground, this time through an exploration of flavors and cooking with co-author Seung Hee Lee, who was raised in Korea. It came out in November.

"I'm an enthusiastic cook," Sunée said. "But I'm learning just as the reader is learning."

Part of that learning has been exploring Anchorage's many ethnic groceries. Koreans are one of the larger Asian groups in Anchorage, numbering as many as 7,000, according to community estimates. Building a pantry of ingredients for Korean cooking is surprisingly easy here, she said.

At New Central Market, she picked up a tub of gochujang, a fermented red pepper paste. Its flavor is savory, deep and spicy, she said. Gochujang is the backbone of many Korean dishes in the cookbook, including salmon and a number of sauces.

"It's as familiar to Koreans as ketchup is to Americans," she said.

She wandered by the freezer section, pointing out the Korean rice cakes, or tteok, small, starchy dumplings used in soup and tossed with sauces in the book. And the beef pre-cut for kalbi, or short ribs.

"If you buy like five or six basic ingredients, you can cook almost every recipe in the book," she said.

The shopping list: soy sauce (if you can find Korean-style, all the better), quality sesame oil, rice vinegar, short grain rice, sesame seeds, gochujang, and gochugaru, Korean-style red pepper flakes.

Sunée, who also writes a food blog, met her co-author, Lee, when she was on a book tour in 2008 for the Korean language version of "Trail of Crumbs," she said. Lee was assigned to be her interpreter just before Lee headed to a nutrition Ph.D program at Johns Hopkins University. They connected right away by traveling around, eating together.

"Being with her, it was a lot easier to talk to the people," Sunée said. "I tried things I would never try on my own like boiled silk worms, which actually tasted like hay or straw, it wasn't that bad."

Lee, who now works as an adjunct professor of nutrition at Georgia State University and an epidemiologist with Centers for Disease Control, grew up cooking with grandmother in Cheongju, South Korea, two hours south of Seoul, Lee said. Sunée enlisted her to be a guide as she learned about traditional Korean cooking.

"Learning about the food of my birth country is always something that I wanted to do," Sunée said. "I felt disingenuous, in a way, just me doing it."

Sunée — whose first cookbook, "A Mouthful of Stars," a collection of international recipes, came out in 2014 — helped adapt and riff on Lee's traditional recipes, with the idea of making them accessible to wide American audience.

Among "Everyday Korean's" re-envisioned dishes are Korean chilaquiles, gochujang-cured pork belly, chicken wings with gochujang ketchup and perilla-leaf pesto.

The book's recipe for kimchi stays true to tradition as a matter of principle, said Lee, reached by phone in Atlanta.  With the fermented food trend, kimchi is having a break-out moment in mainstream food culture, but for Koreans, improper preparation — like using sriracha and not actually fermenting — is deeply upsetting, she said.

"You can put kimchi on a hamburger or a hot dog, you can do whatever you want with it, but you have to make it right," she said.

As she worked on the book, Sunée noticed the ways that Korean cuisine fits with how Alaskans eat. Korean cooking relies on a number of vegetables that grow well in Alaska, like carrots, radishes, cabbage, snow apples and potatoes, she said.

"All of our root vegetables are amazing," she said.

Koreans also view food in a way that echoes Alaska's subsistence-influenced culture of food sharing, she said.

"Korean food is about sharing, it's very bountiful," she said. "No matter your income level, there is always the bowl of rice and all these side dishes."

Lee and Sunée talked a lot about food memories and how that shapes a sense of connection to culture. During their book-writing process, Lee was in Anchorage, making some traditional New Year's meatballs or jeon. They smelled like New Year's, she told Sunée, just like turkey in America smells Thanksgiving.

"I was communicating with her in the language we both knew, which is food. And I think she really craved learning about her heritage in that way," Lee said.

Taking in that aroma in the kitchen made Sunée think of her birth family, somewhere in Korea, whom she may never find, she said.

"That's why I wanted to write the book with all these tastes and flavors," she said. "That may be the only thing concrete I have from there."

Try some of Kim Sunée’s Korean-influenced recipes:

[Bacon mac and cheese gets a Korean twist]

[Think you're salmon averse? Wait till you try these spicy salmon lettuce wraps]

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