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Prop. 1 would interfere with Anchorage students’ focus on learning; vote no

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 17:40

I was fortunate to work for 38 years in the Anchorage School District, including 12 years serving as superintendent, and it was my privilege to work for the success of all Anchorage students. Working in some of our nation's most diverse schools, Anchorage educators strive every day to make sure no student falls through the cracks. Though I am now retired, I continue to believe in that mission. Every single student matters.

That is why I feel compelled to speak out against Proposition 1, a ballot initiative that would fail some of our most vulnerable students. Across the country, educators have seen how policies like Proposition 1 harm transgender students. When transgender students cannot access the facilities that match their gender identity, they frequently become victims of verbal and physical harassment, which cascades into a host of other negative consequences. Instead of focusing on their education, these students worry about where and when they can use a restroom without incident. Some will avoid using the restroom for the whole school day, which goes hand in hand with dehydration, urinary tract infections and kidney problems, and as many parents of transgender children will tell you, policies like Proposition 1 take the largest toll on their child's mental health.

The non-discrimination law has now been on the books for two years, and it has served our students well. It has allowed our educators to work with individual students and solve problems on a case-by-case basis. Proposition 1 would take that flexibility away from our students and educators. The current law acknowledges that different students have unique needs. Proposition 1 papers over those differences with policy that is ineffective and harmful. In my opinion, it is far more worthwhile for educators to work with individual students than to stand guard outside bathrooms checking birth certificates.

I know some parents continue to feel concerned about the non-discrimination law, and that all parents want the best for their children. I understand those concerns. But legitimate concerns should not legitimize falsehoods. It is not true that the current law allows men to simply dress up as women to enter women's restrooms. It is not true that the current law makes it more permissible for someone to harass anyone in public facilities. The debate over Proposition 1 too often glosses over real individuals, I suspect because many Anchorage residents have not interacted with transgender people in a meaningful way. For transgender students and their parents, this debate is not about hypotheticals.

We as a society set aside the first 18 years of a child's life to devote to learning. Of course, our students learn outside the classroom as well, but we still mandate the classroom time to ensure that they grapple with ideas and questions that go well beyond their lived experience. We train our students to view the world with curiosity and to absorb as much as possible. How easily we lose that mindset! With more years under our belts, we trust ourselves wholeheartedly, and our own lived experience increasingly defines the parameters of our understanding. But I would argue this: No matter how old or wise we become, there will remain experiences and concepts that we cannot fully fathom, because we have not lived them ourselves. This ballot initiative singles out a group of people who, in one respect, experience something that most residents of Anchorage do not: they are transgender. They are also tall, short, funny, awkward, outgoing, athletic, introverted and trying to figure it all out like everyone else. And they are our students. It is our job to listen to them.

Carol Comeau is former superintendent of Anchorage schools. 

Senate puts final approval on denouncing Frankenfish - KTVA

Legislative News - Mon, 2018-02-19 17:18


Senate puts final approval on denouncing Frankenfish
The Alaska Senate on Monday unanimously passed a resolution denouncing the recent approval of a Massachusetts company's approval to sell genetically engineered salmon. Critics derisively call it Frankenfish. Even as resolutions are non-binding, they ...

<b>Juneau</b> man sentenced to 22 years for accessing child pornography

Juneau Hot Topics - Mon, 2018-02-19 17:03
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) sent a report of harm to the Juneau Police Department, which then referred the report to the FBI. The investigation was part of Project Safe Childhood, an initiative that the Department of Justice ...

Publishers of Anchorage Daily News will buy 3 Morris publications in Alaska

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 16:07

The company that owns the Anchorage Daily News is purchasing three Alaska publications from Morris Communications Inc., the companies announced Monday.

The Binkley Company is buying the weekly Alaska Journal of Commerce, the weekly Chugiak-Eagle River Star and the monthly Alaskan Equipment Trader, the Binkley Company and Morris said in a joint statement. The sale is scheduled to close Feb. 23.

No immediate changes in the publications are planned, said Daily News co-publisher Ryan Binkley.

"These three papers occupy important spaces in the Alaska media landscape," Binkley said in the statement. "We are excited by the opportunity to add new areas of coverage and new audiences, and to realize the efficiencies that are possible when smaller newspapers are part of a larger group."

Last year, other Morris newspapers in Alaska — the Juneau Empire, the Peninsula Clarion and Homer News — were sold to the national group GateHouse Media, along with nine other Morris newspapers nationwide.

The Binkley Company bought the Daily News, Alaska's largest newspaper and news website, last year after the company filed for bankruptcy protection under its previous owner, Alice Rogoff. Last fall, the Daily News reduced staff and outsourced printing of the newspaper to contain costs.

Binkley Co. buys three Morris publications

Juneau Hot Topics - Mon, 2018-02-19 15:45
The Journal has been published since 1977 and the Star since 1972. Last August, Morris Communications announced the sale of the Juneau Empire, the Peninsula Clarion and the Homer News to Gatehouse Media, along with eight other newspapers around the country in a deal that closed in October.

Photos: Best of February 2018

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 15:11

Anchorage Daily News photographers and contributors capture slices of life from the Anchorage area and across Alaska in February 2018.

Sen. Murkowski to deliver Legislative address on Thursday - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Legislative News - Mon, 2018-02-19 15:06

Sacramento Bee

Sen. Murkowski to deliver Legislative address on Thursday
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is set to make an address to Alaska Legislature on Alaska issues in Congress. The Juneau Empire reports Murkowski, Alaska's senior U.S. Senator, will speak at 11 a.m. Thursday in a joint ...
Sen. Murkowski to deliver Legislative address on Thursday ...Danbury News Times

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Former Iditarod champion John Baker has pulled out of this year’s race

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 14:25

Former Iditarod champion John Baker has pulled out of this year's race.

The Kotzebue musher said Monday he never planned to compete in the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, but signed up and paid the $4,000 entry fee because he wanted to support the event as controversy swirled around four-time champion Dallas Seavey and his dogs' failed drug tests.

"The Iditarod has been really good to me and I didn't want to appear like I was boycotting, so I signed up," Baker, 55, said in a phone interview.

Baker officially withdrew from the 2018 Iditarod on Saturday, two weeks before the start of the 1,000 mile race to Nome.

Baker said that for months he has wanted to announce his withdrawal from the race and his decision to focus on his growing business. But the timing grew complicated, he said.

First, Seavey was fighting the Iditarod Board over its handling of the drug test results. Seavey called for a majority of the Board to resign, including Baker's brother, Andy, the Board president. Later, a group of mushers also demanded Andy Baker immediately step down.

Then recently, John Baker found himself in PETA's crosshairs after one of his former employees, Rick Townsend, accused him of abusing dogs, claims which the Anchorage Daily News has been unable to corroborate and which Baker flatly denies.

Baker said he is simply not competing in the 2018 Iditarod because he's busy with the consulting business he owns with his fiance and fellow musher, Katherine Keith. It's positive news, Baker said, and he's passionate about the job: Helping rural communities get money for the projects they need, and helping manage the construction work.

"It has really taken off," Baker said of the business, Remote Solutions. "When we first started, I was working a couple hours a week, meeting with communities. Now, there's not enough time in the day."

Baker has competed in the Iditarod 22 times since 1996, winning nearly $603,000 in prize money. In 2011, he placed first, ending Lance Mackey's string of four victories and securing the first Iditarod win by an Inupiaq musher.

"I tried for 16 years to win the Iditarod, and when I won the Iditarod I was surprised what a big deal it became — not necessarily for myself, but for the State of Alaska and the smaller communities," Baker said. "There was so much pride."

Baker has a kennel of about 60 dogs in the Northwest Alaska community of Kotzebue.

Earlier this month, Townsend's claim that Baker abused his dogs surfaced online. Baker denies ever abusing any of his dogs. The accusations prompted a news release from PETA, calling for law enforcement to investigate Baker's kennel. Kotzebue police said Monday that the investigation is ongoing.

The Daily News has not been able to corroborate any of the employees' claims. Handlers who worked at the kennel at the same time said they didn't see any abuse.

Photographs Townsend sent ADN as evidence of the abuse turned out to be fraudulent and taken not at Baker's kennel, but from unrelated internet postings.

"I don't spend any time thinking about that," Baker said of the abuse allegations. "I don't care what he says about me."

Townsend, also faces felony theft charges in Kotzebue related to his time with Baker. He says he was unfairly accused; Baker said Townsend stole from him. There is currently a warrant out for Townsend's arrest, said acting Kotzebue Police Chief Greg Russell.

Baker said he has no plans to return to the Iditarod anytime soon. He said he will continue to focus on his business and is treating the entry fee as a donation to the race organization.

"They've done a lot for me," he said. "The event is just a really, really special event. It pulls us all together as Alaskans."

Baker's fiance will still compete in this year's Iditarod with their kennel's main racing team.

"John Baker has been a big part of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on and off the trail since 1996," Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman said in a statement Monday.

"We'll definitely miss John out on the trail this year, but know that Kotzebue will be well represented by his partner, Katherine Keith, as she'll have best team from the Baker kennel."

Baker said he hopes to follow this year's Iditarod as a spectator, traveling to some checkpoints.

Reporter Zaz Hollander contributed to this story.

Carrs-Safeway set to occupy Sears space in Midtown Anchorage mall

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 14:20

A Carrs-Safeway grocery store is set to move into the space where Sears is located in Midtown Anchorage, the company that owns the property confirmed Monday.

Carrs-Safeway signed a lease in December to occupy about 65,500 square feet of space in The Mall at Sears, New York City-based Seritage Growth Properties said in an emailed statement. Sears is set to close in April.

Retail chain Guitar Center also signed a lease in September for about 16,500 square feet of the Sears space.

"We are pleased to have two highly productive retailers join our planned redevelopment of the Sears store," the statement said.

Seritage owns the property where Sears and Nordstrom Rack are located.

Both Carrs-Safeway and Guitar Center will open in mid-2019, a spokesman for Seritage said in an email.

The location — just across Seward Highway from a Fred Meyer store — will mark a return for Carrs-Safeway to The Mall at Sears, where it closed a location on the opposite side of the mall just a few years ago.

More changes are coming to the mall.

"Our plan involves bringing additional best-in-class retailers to the property, which will be enhanced through facade improvements and site upgrades," Seritage's statement said.

[Anchorage Sears store will close permanently in April]

A consulting firm told attendees at a Midtown Community Council meeting last week about the plans, the council's president said.

Al Tamagni said a representative from Dowl gave a presentation about Carrs-Safeway's plans. Dowl is working with Seritage.

"They showed some of the location where Sears is at now, where Carrs-Safeway is going to be moving into there," Tamagni said. "And they're going to be doing some work on the outside."

When asked via email about the plans for the new Carrs-Safeway, a company spokeswoman based in Washington state said she could not answer questions at this time.

"Unfortunately we cannot comment just yet," wrote Tairsa Worman.

The Guitar Center at the mall will be the California-based chain's first store in Alaska.

The Mall at Sears is also set to be renamed, marketing director Linda Boggs told the Anchorage Daily News in January.

Man breaks into middle school, causes $4500 in damage

Juneau Hot Topics - Mon, 2018-02-19 13:18
Shawn T. Beaird, 34, was apprehended Saturday night after breaking into the middle school in the Lemon Creek area, according to a news release from the Juneau Police Department. JPD received a report of a burglary in progress at 8:16 p.m. Saturday and arrived soon after. Police found Beaird inside ...

Warning signs ignored again

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 13:07

Reaction to the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead and many more wounded begins at the wrong end. It's not about passing more gun laws, which people intent on breaking existing laws will not obey; rather it is about heeding warning signs and doing something before it is too late.

In the case of 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who has been charged with premeditated murder, the signs were like a flashing red light. Former classmates offered a profile in danger to the media. They called Cruz, who had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons, a "loner" and "weird."

In a YouTube video by someone named Nikolas Cruz there is this comment: "I'm going to be a professional school shooter." Law enforcement reportedly flagged the comment last September and YouTube removed it.

With all of these previews of coming destruction, why wasn't any action taken? Could Cruz have been helped? He was reportedly receiving "mental counseling," but clearly it was not enough to prevent this tragedy. Cruz is reportedly an orphan, but was there no one close to him who might have been helpful to him?

[Laws we once had on the books could have prevented the Florida school shooting]

We are constantly told by law enforcement, "If you see something, say something." With Cruz there was plenty to see and also plenty to say. Did anyone speak up? The Florida campus reportedly had an armed officer onsite, though this officer never encountered Cruz during the shooting. Could there have been a quicker response? Could anyone have acted pre-emptively to force Cruz to get some help? Could he have been committed to a mental health facility for his own protection, and for the protection of others?

Metal detectors, armed guards and security passes for students, staff and teachers have all been proposed and in some cases tried as ways to discourage shooters from entering schools where unarmed students are trapped like fish in a barrel. School shooters and terrorists (and this was an act of terror no matter the motive) look for soft targets and there are few targets softer than a school full of kids.

Lawmakers in Florida and in Congress need to consider legislation that would give mental health professionals a way to intervene in cases of disturbed individuals who need psychological help, but aren't getting it. For those who seem most dangerous — like Cruz — perhaps laws could be enacted that would forcibly commit them to treatment, thereby cutting down on the number of mass shootings.

Social workers can intervene on behalf of young children they believe are being abused or neglected. In extreme cases, they can even remove the child from its home if the child is in need of protection. Could something like this be done with the mentally disturbed, without violating their constitutional rights? Don't we have the constitutional right to live free of the threat of mass shootings? Shouldn't the rights of the innocent be paramount?

To paraphrase a certain commercial about identity theft, no law can prevent all mass murder, or someone acquiring a gun, legally or illegally (Cruz's AR-15 was apparently legally acquired), but the mayor of Broward County, Florida, Beam Furr, told the Miami Herald the shooting could have been prevented. "We missed the signs," said Furr, a former teacher, adding, "We should have seen some of the signs."

The signs were there for everyone to see. The problem with this shooting, as well as all the others, was the refusal to act. Action just might have prevented this tragedy.

Sen. Murkowski to Deliver Legislative Address on Thursday - U.S. News & World Report

Legislative News - Mon, 2018-02-19 13:06

Sen. Murkowski to Deliver Legislative Address on Thursday
U.S. News & World Report
Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is set to make an address to Alaska Legislature on Alaska issues in Congress. Feb. 19, 2018, at 5:00 p.m.. Sen. Murkowski to Deliver Legislative Address on Thursday. Share. ×. Share on Facebook · Post on Twitter ...

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Sen. Murkowski to deliver Legislative address on Thursday | The ... - The Seattle Times

Legislative News - Mon, 2018-02-19 13:03

Sen. Murkowski to deliver Legislative address on Thursday | The ...
The Seattle Times
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is set to make an address to Alaska Legislature on Alaska issues in Congress. The Juneau Empire reports Murkowski, Alaska's senior...

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Sen. Murkowski to deliver Legislative address on Thursday

Juneau Hot Topics - Mon, 2018-02-19 12:56
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is ... The Juneau Empire reports Murkowski, Alaska's senior U.S. Senator, will speak at 11 a.m. Thursday in a joint session of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau. ... ___. Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com.

Sen. Murkowski to deliver Legislative address on Thursday

Juneau Hot Topics - Mon, 2018-02-19 12:56
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is ... The Juneau Empire reports Murkowski, Alaska's senior U.S. Senator, will speak at 11 a.m. Thursday in a joint session of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau. ... ___. Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com ...

Names of potential replacement for Rep. Fansler sent to Walker - KTVA

Legislative News - Mon, 2018-02-19 12:32

Alaska Dispatch News

Names of potential replacement for Rep. Fansler sent to Walker
A nominating committee of House Democrats from District 38 has sent the names of three individuals to Gov. Bill Walker to be considered as the replacement for Rep. Zach Fansler of Bethel. Fansler resigned earlier this month after allegations of sexual ...
Alaska Democrats recommend 3 for vacant House seat representing Bethel areaAlaska Dispatch News

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Jim Bridwell, free-spirited climber who pioneered routes in Yosemite and the Alaska Range, dies at 73

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 12:07

We lost a legend today. Obituary: Jim “The Bird” Bridwell (1944-2018) https://t.co/Nyu7DPj0cY #climbing

— Climbing Mag (@ClimbingMag) February 16, 2018

Jim Bridwell, a paisley-clad climber who pioneered new routes up some of the world's most formidable rock faces, including the prow of El Capitan – a granite monolith in California's Yosemite Valley that rises twice the height of the Empire State Building – died Feb. 16 at a hospital in Palm Desert, California. He was 73.

He had liver and kidney failure from hepatitis C, his wife, Peggy Bridwell, told the Associated Press.

Bridwell made historic climbs in the Alaska Range near Denali and in the Andes of Patagonia, and in 1982 was part of an expedition that became the first to circumvent Mount Everest, trekking 300 miles around the mountain and over some of its 20,000-foot sister peaks.

"Combining his brand of forward-thinking rock climbing with his zest for alpinism, Bridwell quickly made first ascents of the Northwest Face of Kichatna Spire (1979) and the East Face of the Moose's Tooth (1981), both in Alaska," Rock and Ice magazine said.

But in a five-decade climbing career, he was most closely associated with Yosemite National Park, where in the 1970s he led a group of renegade climbers that dropped acid while bouldering, filched food from the park cafeteria and idolized the strength of Bruce Lee and the psychedelic rock of Jimi Hendrix. They called themselves the Stonemasters. A more fitting name, climber Lynn Hill once joked, might have been the "stoned masters."

While Bridwell and his circle blazed through prodigious amounts of low-grade marijuana, they also established themselves as some of the world's most intrepid climbers, devising new routes – and setting new speed records – on the rock domes and spires that have made Yosemite the Mecca of American climbing.

Bridwell notched 100 first ascents in the national park and was 30 when he performed his signature climb, scaling the so-called Nose of El Capitan with his friends John Long and Billy Westbay. The 2,900-foot ascent was once considered impossible, and even when it was first scaled, in a siege-style expedition led by Warren Harding in 1958, the climb took 47 days.

Bridwell and his partners, complementing their store of ropes, nuts, pitons and water with about five packs of cigarettes, completed the ascent in 15 hours, smoke breaks included.

"Friends greeted us outside the Mountain Room Bar with a heroes welcome," Bridwell later wrote. "Soon, I had more drinks in hand than I could juggle. My fondest memory occurred the following day when [Harding] . . . gave me his warm congratulations. I thanked him and hobbled toward the cafeteria for some stolen coffee."

The climb marked the first time El Capitan's Nose had been ascended in less than a day. The achievement has long since been surpassed – last year, climber Alex Honnold scaled the rock in about four hours without the use of ropes – but became an indelible moment in the history of American climbing, immortalized in a photo of Bridwell and his partners standing at the base of the mountain.

"They seem to exude cockiness – gods sneering down on mere mortals," Honnold wrote in his book "Alone on the Wall."

"Cigarettes dangle from Bridwell's and Long's mouths. They're dressed like hippies, in loosefitting vests and shirts, but they could just as well pass for Hell's Angels."

Bridwell sometimes wrangled with park rangers, who sought to stymie the all-things-go culture of his climber commune at Yosemite's Camp Four. (The camp sometimes seemed blessed from above; in 1977, some of the climbers salvaged several thousand pounds of marijuana from a plane that crashed in a nearby lake.)

Still, the Park Service commissioned Bridwell in 1967 to establish Yosemite's search-and-rescue team, according to journalist and climber Daniel Duane's book "El Capitan: Historic Feats and Radical Routes." (Given Bridwell's disdain for bureaucracy and authority, it was "not the wisest policy decision we ever made," one Yosemite superintendent later said.)

Jim Bridwell. Obituary of a legend. https://t.co/coqfN21CN4 pic.twitter.com/F7azdWuJBZ

— Rock and Run (@RockandRun) February 19, 2018

Bridwell sometimes rappelled hundreds of feet to aid mountaineers who found themselves injured or trapped at high altitudes, and was himself no stranger to alpine disasters. Near the end of one of his most celebrated climbs, a 1979 ascent of the Argentine-Chilean peak Cerro Torre, a sling broke while he was coming down the mountain. Bridwell suffered several broken ribs, a chipped elbow, a bruised hip and a "rearranged" mind, he later wrote, from a fall that dropped him 130 feet before he was caught by his rope.

Bridwell's risk-taking style led some fellow climbers to label him reckless, and reportedly contributed to his being left out of major American expeditions to the Himalayas in the 1980s. In his mind, however, the hazards of injury and even death were part of what made scaling a mountain worthwhile in the first place.

"Adventure and excitement are the two things missing from civilization," he told the magazine Palm Springs Life in 2015, from retirement in southern California. "Danger keeps you on your toes. You'll never feel as alive as when death is over your shoulder."

He was born in San Antonio on July 29, 1944, the son of a pilot who was shot down while serving in World War II. His parents divorced and remarried three separate times, according to Rolling Stone, and Bridwell said he found in climbing a refuge from the larger world.

"In Yosemite I felt comfortable and accepted for the first time in my life," he told the magazine. "I immediately grew up there. I think it's one of the reasons I've stayed with climbing so long."

He said an affection for birds of prey also fueled his interest in mountaineering, resulting in a nickname, the Bird, that he became known by after he arrived at Yosemite in about 1964. By then, he had dropped out of what is now San Jose State University and become a self-described "draft dodger."

Bridwell supported his wife and their son, Layton Bridwell (named for the late climber Layton Kor), through occasional work as a ski instructor and stunt cameraman on climbing films. He also lectured and led mountaineering demonstrations, including for Navy SEALs, that covered part of the cost of his international expeditions.

It was on one such trip, a 1980 traverse of Borneo, that Bridwell may have contracted the disease that eventually killed him, his wife told the AP. He received a tattoo from a tribe of reputed headhunters, as well as a severe stomach ailment that Bridwell initially believed was cancer.

Rather, it was "a tapeworm the size of a black mamba," his climbing partner Long later wrote. Amid a "titanic bender," a resigned Bridwell eventually purged the parasite from his body.

"Legend has it that the Bird was instantly restored to his former hale self," Long continued. "Fetching the adder by the neck, he dispatched it, diced it into a frying pan, and offered it to Camp Four passersby. When challenged to sample a morsel himself, the Bird replied, 'No thanks. I'm a vegetarian.' "

Alaska Democrats recommend 3 for vacant House seat representing Bethel area

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 11:44

Southwest Alaska Democrats have recommended three candidates — including two former Bethel mayors — to replace Zach Fansler, the former Democratic state House member who resigned after a woman accused him of slapping her in his hotel room.

Two of the candidates, announced Monday, are Alaska Native women. One is Tiffany Zulkosky, an executive at the Bethel-based Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. and a former Bethel mayor.

The other is Yvonne Jackson, who runs job training programs at the Bethel-based Association of Village Council Presidents, a nonprofit tribal consortium.

Raymond "Thor" Williams is the third candidate. He's also a former Bethel mayor and has worked as a case manager fighting opioid abuse for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp.

The person ultimately appointed by Alaska Gov. Bill Walker will, for the rest of the year, represent House District 38 — a big swath of Southwest Alaska centered on the Kuskokwim River. The district includes the regional hub of Bethel and more than two dozen villages.

Its House seat has been vacant since Feb. 12, when Fansler resigned after a Juneau woman said he slapped her twice in his hotel room.

If Walker sticks to longstanding political tradition, he'll pick Fansler's replacement from the three candidates recommended by Democrats. But state law allows him to pick any registered Democrat from Fansler's district.

Walker earlier this year replaced another former House member, Dean Westlake of Kotzebue, with a man who wasn't among local Democrats' original recommendations.

Walker also tried to ignore Republicans' recommendations when he named a replacement for former Wasilla GOP Sen. Mike Dunleavy. But Senate Republicans, who must confirm Walker's appointment by a majority vote, rejected the governor's choice, and Dunleavy's old seat remains vacant.

Alaska Democrats recommend 3 for vacant House seat representing Bethel area - Alaska Dispatch News

Legislative News - Mon, 2018-02-19 11:41

Alaska Dispatch News

Alaska Democrats recommend 3 for vacant House seat representing Bethel area
Alaska Dispatch News
Southwest Alaska Democrats have recommended three candidates — including two former Bethel mayors — to replace Zach Fansler, the former Democratic state House member who resigned after a woman accused him of slapping her in his hotel room. Two of the ...

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German Olympians drink a lot of beer (nonalcoholic) and win a lot of gold medals

Alaska News - Mon, 2018-02-19 09:50

When Simon Schempp, a biathlete on the German Olympic team, was training for the Pyeongchang Games, he often capped a hard day on the trail with a bottle of nonalcoholic beer. He enjoys the taste of beer like most Germans, who drink more of it per capita than the people of almost any other nation. But he drank the nonalcoholic variety for more than just the flavor.

"It's a really good drink directly after training or after competition," said Schempp, who won a silver medal in the 15-kilometer mass start event Sunday.

Schempp's sober assessment is popular in Germany. While most people see nonalcoholic beer as a responsible replacement for regular beer, Germans often drink it in place of sports drinks after exercise. Beer or Gatorade? No contest.

Johannes Scherr, doctor for the German Olympic ski team, said nearly all of his athletes drink nonalcoholic beer during training. And the Bavarian brewery Krombacher has supplied 3,500 liters (about 1,000 gallons) of nonalcoholic beer to the athletes' village so German athletes can enjoy it during competitions at the Pyeongchang Games, where Germany is tied for the most gold medals.

German beer companies originally marketed nonalcoholic beer as the "car driver's beer" after it was invented in East Germany in 1973. Seven years ago, Scherr, who also teaches sports medicine at the Technical University of Munich, noticed that beer companies were beginning to pitch their nonalcoholic products to health-conscious consumers.

"A lot of companies tried to associate beer, especially nonalcoholic beer, and sports," he said. "But there wasn't any scientific background behind it."

Scherr conducted a double-blind study in which he gave runners in the 2009 Munich Marathon nonalcoholic beer every day for three weeks before and two weeks after the race. These runners suffered significantly less inflammation and fewer upper respiratory infections after the race than runners who had been given a placebo.

"This was pretty surprising to us," said Scherr, who published the results in the peer-reviewed journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

If nonalcoholic beer helped athletes recover more quickly from grueling workouts, then it could allow them to train harder. Scherr credits the nonalcoholic beer's salubrious effects to its high concentration of polyphenols, immune-boosting chemicals from the plants with which its brewed.

"After that, we really had the proof: It's really healthy and not only a marketing gag," said Holger Eichele, chief executive of the German Brewers Association. From 2011 to 2016, German consumption of nonalcoholic beer grew 43 percent even as overall beer consumption declined, according to Euromonitor International. New brewing techniques helped to diversify and improve the flavor, and now there are more than 400 nonalcoholic beers on the market in Germany. Germans drink more nonalcoholic beer than any nation, except Iran.

"It tastes good, and it's good for the body," Linus Strasser, an Alpine skier from Munich, said Sunday after finishing his second run in the men's giant slalom. "Alcohol-free wheat beer, for example, is extremely healthy. It's isotonic. That's why it's good for us sports guys."

Many breweries market their nonalcoholic beers explicitly as sports drinks. The Bavarian brewery Erdinger, for instance, calls its nonalcoholic wheat beer "the isotonic thirst quencher for athletes" and advertises it with the motto, "100% Performance. 100% Regeneration." Heineken promotes its nonalcoholic beer Heineken 0.0 with lines like, "There is no limit to what the human body can achieve," and recently struck a deal to sell Heineken 0.0 in the vending machines at McFit Fitness, Germany's largest chain of gyms. At most major German marathons, nonalcoholic beer is available to runners at the finish line. Erdinger handed out 30,000 bottles at the Berlin Marathon last year.

Sales have been helped by the fact that traditional sports beverages, like Gatorade, are not particularly popular in Germany. Nonalcoholic beer has a lower sugar content compared with many sports drinks, and Germans drank three times as much nonalcoholic beer as they did sports drinks in 2016.

Moritz Geisreiter, a German speedskater, said he drank nonalcoholic beer from the grocery store before switching to a specialized sports beverage designed by a nutritionist. "It's a nice solution for someone who doesn't want to pay dozens of euros a week for a nutrition drink," he said last week at the Olympic skating oval in Gangneung, South Korea.

Scherr doesn't prescribe nonalcoholic beer to the German Olympic skiers. Most of them are Bavarian and drink it on their own. He usually recommends that athletes drink a nonalcoholic beer after exercise, but a 2016 study by Chilean researchers in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients also found that nonalcoholic beer before a workout helped soccer players stay hydrated compared to regular beer and water. Scherr also believes it benefits most endurance athletes and may be less helpful in sprint or strength-based competitions, where inflammation is less of a problem.

Despite its demonstrated benefits, nonalcoholic beer has been slower to catch on with athletes from other countries. When Ethiopian runner Guye Adola finished second at last year's Berlin Marathon, setting the record for the fastest-ever marathon debut, he did not take a sip from the enormous mug of Erdinger nonalcoholic beer that was handed to him when he finished.

"I was scared that it might contain alcohol and I didn't want to add to my fatigue," he said in an email. "In our country, we don't have such stuff at the finish line."

Of course, at the finish line, after months of training, many German athletes crave something with a kick — which is why Krombacher also shipped 11,000 liters of regular beer to South Korea.

"Sometimes an alcoholic beer can also be good," Strasser said with a smile.