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Officials raise silver salmon limit in Ship Creek through rest of the year

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 14:59

Anglers try their luck fishing for coho salmon during an incoming tide at Ship Creek near downtown Anchorage on July 30, 2017. (Bill Roth / ADN archive)

Anchorage anglers have a silver lining to an otherwise gloomy salmon season.

On Tuesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game raised the bag limit on coho — also known as silver — salmon in Ship Creek from three to six fish per day starting Wednesday and lasting through the rest of the year.

Anchorage area management biologist Jay Baumer said fish have been moving into the downtown Anchorage stream in large numbers.

"The recent rain has brought in a good slug of coho salmon in local streams," Baumer said in a Tuesday press release.

According to the department, 1,689 coho have been counted upstream of the fishery — enough to allow for the higher limits.

"This escapement is anticipated to fulfill the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery coho salmon broodstock goals and natural spawning requirements for Ship Creek," the department wrote.

The announcement comes as welcome news on Ship Creek, where chinook salmon fishing was closed in June due to extremely poor returns.

Fishing for coho salmon in the Anchorage area has reportedly been strong, with the department reporting good catch rates in Ship and Bird creeks, as well as fish moving into Campbell Creek with the recent rains.

On Tuesday, the department also liberalized the coho salmon fishery on the Susitna River drainage by increasing the daily bag limit from two to four fish per day and eight in possession.

"ADF&G; has received positive reports from sport anglers and guides that they are experiencing above average catch rates across all clear water tributaries in the Susitna River drainage," area management biologist Sam Ivey said in a Tuesday press release.

Only three fish per day and six in possession may be pink, chum and sockeye in combination, the department said.

Ivey said the sustainable escapement goal for coho salmon has already been met on the Deshka River. The run is trending up, according to the department, meaning the river will likely exceed its escapement goal. As of Aug. 13, more than 11,000 coho had been counted above the Deshka weir. The river has a sustainable escapement goal of between 10,200 and 24,100 coho. Through Aug. 13 last year, the Deshka had seen 8,550 coho; by the end of the season nearly 37,000 had been counted.

The Deshka makes up between 7 and 17 percent of the total Susitna River run.

"Given this information, it is likely the Susitna River is experiencing a well above average run of coho salmon," Ivey wrote.

1 dies in motorcycle-vehicle collision in Wasilla

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 14:33

A passenger on a motorcycle died in a fatal collision Tuesday in Wasilla, Alaska State Troopers said.

Troopers said they first got the call at 11:18 a.m. about the collision involving a motorcycle and a vehicle near the intersection of Knik-Goose Bay Road and West Commadore Lane in Wasilla.

The passenger on the motorcycle died in the collision, and the driver was flown to an Anchorage hospital, said troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters. The deceased's next of kin has not yet been notified, Peters said.

Mat-Su emergency responders were called around 12:45 p.m., said Ken Barkley, Matanuska-Susitna Borough deputy director of emergency services. Barkley said the two vehicles had gotten into a "T-bone accident."

When medics arrived, bystanders were already performing CPR on one of the people involved in the crash, Barkley said. He said a Jeep Compass compact SUV was involved in the collision.

Alaska State Troopers had re-routed traffic in the area, Barkley said.

Senate Candidate Charged With Illegally Receiving Benefits - U.S. News & World Report

Legislative News - Tue, 2018-08-14 14:32

Senate Candidate Charged With Illegally Receiving Benefits
U.S. News & World Report
Senate Candidate Charged With Illegally Receiving Benefits. A candidate for the state Legislature and her husband have been accused of illegally receiving food stamps. Aug. 14, 2018, at 6:32 p.m.. Senate Candidate Charged With Illegally Receiving ...

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Byron Mallott--Lieutenant governor (Incumbent not on Aug. 21 ballot. See note at top of file) - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Legislative News - Tue, 2018-08-14 14:14

Byron Mallott--Lieutenant governor (Incumbent not on Aug. 21 ballot. See note at top of file)
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Bill Walker signed legislation allowing Alaska Permanent Fund investment earnings to be used to help close the state's projected $2.1 billion budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Still, the budget is expected to be short $700 million ...

Kathryn Dodge--House District 1 - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Legislative News - Tue, 2018-08-14 14:14

Kathryn Dodge--House District 1
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
The Alaska Legislature has been carefully going through department budgets looking for savings since 2015. That said, I always watch and listen for opportunities to do things smarter, better or cheaper. Contact me if you have a cost-saving idea. 4 ...

Bill Walker--Governor (Incumbent not on Aug. 21 ballot. See note at top of file) - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Legislative News - Tue, 2018-08-14 14:14

Bill Walker--Governor (Incumbent not on Aug. 21 ballot. See note at top of file)
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
5. The concerns of the growers seem reasonable and I am open to considering a tax based on percent of value sold rather than a flat tax. However, I am not proposing any changes at the executive level. I think it is most appropriate for the Alaska ...

Steve Thompson--House District 2 - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Legislative News - Tue, 2018-08-14 14:14

Steve Thompson--House District 2
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Ideally, I would like to see every Alaskan receive a full PFD. Legislation passed this session limits legislators' fund withdrawal from the earnings reserve. 2. Do you support or oppose placing into the Alaska Constitution the issuance of the annual ...

Kevin Meyer--Lieutenant governor - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Legislative News - Tue, 2018-08-14 14:14

Kevin Meyer--Lieutenant governor
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
It is my hope that the incidents over the past year regarding misconduct by legislators will be a wake-up call not only for legislators and staff but for all Alaska citizens. I am hopeful the policies recently put in place by the Legislature regarding ...

Mead Treadwell--Governor - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Legislative News - Tue, 2018-08-14 14:14

Mead Treadwell--Governor
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
I support the most severe penalties available for offenders, including legislators, counseling for survivors, and capable shelters throughout Alaska. 9. Do you support or oppose efforts in Congress to modify the 50-50 state-federal revenue share ...

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It’s fretting season for Alaska hunters. At least some of them.

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 14:09

Colt helps Steve Meyer eat his camp meal. (Photo provided by Christine Cunningham)

There are five English setters in the yard that are the same age, but only one of them has mastered the order of the day as well as celebrates it.

If I could put a dog's movement to music, there is only one dog in the family that has a song in his heart all day long. It starts with a trumpet-sound of bark around breakfast time or walking time. All the other dogs join in the choir, but Colt outlasts them all for his next chance at a solo.

Long after the others have calmed and their eggs and meat are cooking on the stove, Colt keeps a steady beat of tail-wags. He runs up and down the stairs, across the deck, into the house to jump on a chair and returns just as fast to the far corner of the yard. He does it so many times he has developed a "stairclimbers" physique and stride, while the other dogs stretch out their movements like the strings of a violin.

I'm often comparing the dogs to various things. Their personalities are so unique, I think of new ways to differentiate them by comparing and contrasting.

If they were cars, Hugo would be a Ferrari and Cogswell would be a Mustang. If they were horses, Hugo would be an Arabian and Cogswell would still be a Mustang. As a litter, they were all named after gunmakers, so it follows that I ponder the character attributes of other sets of proper nouns.


Colt paying more attention to dinner preparation than all the exciting things a dog might find in the great outdoors. (Photo provided by Christine Cunningham)

"What are you thinking?" Steve asked just as I was thinking about what kind of musical instrument each of the dogs would be.

"What should I be thinking?" I said. It bought me time to answer a question with a question so I could think of a less embarrassing answer.

"Well, I would think you would be fretting about planning for the Sitka black-tail hunt this October."

It had not once occurred to me to fret about the trip. "What would be an example of something I should fret about?" I asked.

The look on his face told me it could not be true I had not done any fretting at all. In his book, checking and double-checking is part of the ritual of hunting.

On rare occasions, I have hunted by myself, but most of the time we hunt together. As hunting partners, he frets enough for both of us, with plenty of room for me to invite others to join.

"Imagine if you were hunting by yourself," he said, "What would you think about?"

I would think about who else I might get to go with me, I thought, but did not say.

I knew I wasn't ready to hunt a big game animal by myself, yet no matter how many years I had been hunting, I only felt confident in field dressing and transporting waterfowl and upland birds alone. I had never hunted Sitka deer.

"What's going to be foremost on your mind," he said, "is how you are going to take care of the meat and get it back without spoiling."

He waited for my response, but I did not realize he was not speaking hypothetically.

When I did answer, it was another stall tactic, like when a teacher asked me in elementary school what the "D" in Franklin D. Roosevelt stood for, and I said, "his middle name."

The answer to how I was going to take care of the deer meat and get it back without spoiling was, "Put it in a cooler." Steve shook his head and gave me another question so I could at least get two out of three correct.

"What kind of ammunition and gun should you choose for deer hunting on Kodiak?" Then he hinted that I might think about bears.

I had already picked out a rifle – a .300 Weatherby – and we had worked up a non-toxic load and been to the range a few times.

My knowledge of deer and how to take care of them in the field was from books and classes, but I had never shot one. The same went for my knowledge of Kodiak. I had never been there.

I relied on Steve to help me, but I had expected to learn once we were there. I did not realize that proper pre-hunt fretting was an aspect of the hunt in and of itself.

Steve told me he had known people who plan a hunt, put down a deposit for a transporter, buy all the gear and set everything out. They spend months fretting, and then something comes up and they can't go. But they are not too upset because they enjoyed the planning so much.

This was all news to me.

"Help me fret this out right," I said. What might I not have thought through all the way?

He asked if I could drag a deer off a mountain. My answer was a too-quick, yes. He looked doubtful. I had never dragged a deer, but I had witnessed it. You would grab it by the horn, I thought. Unless it didn't have horns.

The average October weight of a Sitka black-tailed buck is 120 pounds. "Let's go out in the yard," I said. "Apparently, I need to find out if I can drag you across the yard."

This was some excellent fretting, I thought.

He allowed the test to be performed with him lying on a blanket on a linoleum floor because, he granted, grass could be slick. I was relieved that I could drag him through the kitchen without difficulty.

"Now try using one hand," he said.

That's enough, I thought. I had fretted enough for one night and could hear Colt sounding the dinner call. He had been planning on it all day long.

Christine Cunningham of Kenai is a lifelong Alaskan and avid hunter. Contact her at cunningham@yogaforduckhunters.com.

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is an escapist rom-com delight, but it’s also a lot more than that

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 13:15

From left, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and Constance Wu star in "Crazy Rich Asians." (Sanja Bucko, Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Crazy Rich Asians,” the hotly anticipated film based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel, won’t disappoint fans who have been counting down the days till its arrival, like so many daisy petals. What’s more, it will more than satisfy the sweet tooth of romantic comedy fans everywhere who have lately despaired that the frothy, frolicsome genre they adore has been subsumed by raunch and various shades of gray.

On the surface, there are no permutations to speak of in a story whose formula is instantly familiar: After a brief prologue, set in 1995, when a prosperous Chinese family is snubbed at a London hotel, the action zips ahead to New York City, where the little boy of that preamble, Nick Young (Henry Golding), has grown up to become an economics professor and is dating a bright, attractive colleague named Rachel Chu (Constance Wu). He's invited her to attend his Best Friend's Wedding back in Singapore, which will entail the ritual of Meeting the Parents, meaning that Things Are Getting Serious (is that even a movie yet?).

While the two are out on a date, a stranger snaps an iPhone pic that goes viral before the second drink is served. Nick, it turns out, is a multi-multi-millionaire, and Rachel is the mystery girl who has finally managed to snag him.

That sequence, filmed with alacrity and flair by director Jon M. Chu, asks the audience only to believe that someone as smart as Rachel would not know who Nick is, in an age of Google and Instagram. But with disbelief duly suspended, "Crazy Rich Asians" whisks its characters and the audience to Singapore for a delicious, visually vibrant dive into the sensory delights of its streets, historic homes and gaudy, nouveau riche McMansions.

Like the finest forebears of the rom-com genre - including its urtext, "Four Weddings and a Funeral" - "Crazy Rich Asians" indulges in the escapist pleasures of aspirational wealth, obscene consumerism and invidious judge-iness. Nick's family, led by his imperious mother Eleanor (the magnificent Michelle Yeoh), is one of the oldest in Singapore, and their material surroundings show it, from their sumptuous, impeccably tasteful home to their subtly elegant wardrobes. The more arriviste environs of Rachel's friend Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina) are pointedly more gauche, gilded to resemble Versailles crossed with Donald's Trump's bathroom. But it's the Goh house, overseen by Peik's manic dad (Ken Jeong) that's more comforting, which will come in handy when Rachel experiences the inevitable rejection from Nick's hyper-protective mom.


Awkwafina, left, with Constance Wu in "Crazy Rich Asians." (Sanja Bucko, Warner Bros. Pictures)

Along the way, the down-to-earth Rachel will suffer mean-girl bullying, cultural misunderstandings and hurtful put-downs regarding her own background. (“I’m so Chinese,” Rachel says at one point, “that I’m an economics professor who’s lactose intolerant.”)

"Crazy Rich Asians" possesses a sprightly, optimistic tone that pushes every pleasure-button of inveterate rom-com fans, including a fabulous soundtrack of Chinese language pop covers, homages to mouthwatering excess, the requisite fashion-show montage and hilarious comic relief by way of Awkwafina and her co-sidekick, Nico Santos. But it turns out that the movie has layers of meaning and nuance that give it added richness, including a respectful critique of the Chinese tradition of filial loyalty, a withering look at intra-community prejudices that coexist with external racism, skeptical digs at unbridled materialism and sometimes stingingly on-point acknowledgment of China's rising strength as a global economic and cultural force.

"Crazy Rich Asians" - the first Hollywood movie to feature an all-Asian cast in more than 20 years - is itself an expression of that power, as is Papa Goh's admonition to his son over dinner early in the film. "Eat your nuggets," he tells the young man. "There's a lot of starving children in America."

---

Three stars. Rated PG-13. Contains some suggestive material and coarse language. 121 minutes.

Ratings Guide: Four stars masterpiece, three stars very good, two stars OK, one star poor, no stars waste of time.

Biologists survey invasive crawfish in Kodiak Island lake

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 13:04

KODIAK — A team of biologists is surveying a lake on Kodiak Island for crawfish, an invasive species in Alaska that has been observed in higher frequency over past several years.

The biologists working for the Sun'aq Tribe of Kodiak began the three-year project this spring, analyzing the distribution, movement and diet of crawfish in Buskin Lake, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Monday.

Documentation of the crawfish began in 2002. Evidence appeared in 2015 indicating that the population was breeding, said Kelly Krueger, a biologist for the tribe. Since then, the tribe has been making efforts to study if the population is increasing and if crawfish are affecting native wildlife.

[On the menu for northern snowshoe hares: Dirt]

The previous research was conducted under a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs' invasive species program and was largely "to test what measures worked best for catching them," Krueger said.

For the new survey, which is being funded through a $200,000 grant from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the team is examining 30 sites in the lake.

"It's repeated sampling, so we're seeing how many crawfish we catch within this one area and then if it's being repopulated when we come back to the same spot," Krueger said. "We've found the crawfish in areas where we didn't think they would be."

The team dives to the lake spots, often finding the crawfish in sandy or plant-filled areas. They take note of the gender, size and other specifications.

The team will work on the project into the late summer.

The Great Recession never ended for college humanities

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 12:48

iStock

Humanities education in the U.S. is in free fall. And the decline probably shows that the nature of what American students want out of college education is changing – more young people are in it for the money.

University of Washington history professor Benjamin Schmidt recently wrote a long blog post in which he showed, very convincingly, that the number of American undergraduates majoring in the humanities has dropped in the last decade. Five years ago, Schmidt thought that it might be a temporary blip after the Great Recession. But now he has changed his mind:

"The last five years have been brutal for almost every major in the humanities … there is, in the only meaningful sense of the word, a crisis … Rather than recover with the economy, (the) decline accelerated around 2011-2012."

Schmidt documents the decline with a number of data points. From 1990 through 2008, degrees in English, history, foreign languages and philosophy represented about 8 percent of all U.S. college degrees; today, it's just under 5 percent. Classical studies, the arts, religion and comparative literature have all shared in the decline to varying degrees. Only communications, ethnic and gender studies, and linguistics appear to be holding steady, though the latter two represent only about 0.3 percent and 0.12 percent of all degrees, respectively. Humanities degrees haven't just fallen in percentage terms, but in absolute numbers as well.

Why is this happening? Schmidt lists some theories, but the timing of the downturn seems to make it clear that economics plays a role. The job market was tough for much of the decade after Great Recession. More than that, the aftermath of the financial crisis likely dealt a permanent blow to many Americans' expectations of smoothly rising prosperity and wealth; for the generation that came of age during and after the recession, the knowledge that economic disaster could strike at any time is now seared into their worldview.

That feeling of permanent danger and scarcity means that young people probably no longer feel as if they can afford to major in whatever strikes their fancy. Instead, they feel like they have to take the safe path and go for the money. And they can't help but notice that – with some exceptions – the chances of finding a job generally tend to be higher for science, technology, engineering and math graduates than humanities graduates. Also, students with STEM and economics degrees tend to earn more money than their peers in the humanities.

The theory that college kids are going for the money is bolstered by several other trends that Schmidt reports. As would be expected, STEM and economics majors have gained market share, as have professional-oriented majors in areas like health. Soft social sciences like sociology and anthropology, which often don't yield great results in the job market, are also on the decline. A third fact that supports the theory is that humanities majors enjoyed a huge spike in popularity in the economically booming 1960s, only to fall in the 1970s when the economy slowed.

So whatever other reasons are leading students to ditch the humanities and soft social sciences for STEM and economics, money seems to be part of the story. The job market has now recovered from the Great Recession, but it will be several years before a generation goes to college whose formative years weren't shaped by bad economic times.

So will the humanities recover? If the 1970s plunge in humanities degrees is any indication, the drop in humanities majors could be long-lasting. Humanities departments are likely to shrink in response to lower undergraduate enrollment. That, combined with a dearth of older humanities graduates to serve as role models, will probably mean less student interest for a long time.

Meanwhile, money might not be the only reason students are fleeing the humanities and soft social sciences. The rise of graphics software, spreadsheets and statistical software means that we live in an increasingly data-driven age. It's noteworthy that Schmidt, a historian, makes his argument that his field is in decline using graphs and numbers rather than flowery prose.

One force might help humanities education to recover – the rise of machine learning. Many who follow the rapid progress of machine learning – sometimes labeled artificial intelligence – believe that soft skills will become increasingly important to the job market in the coming decades. With machines doing much of the technical work now done by engineers, the theory goes, companies will need humans to interact with other humans – providing customer experience, making strategic decisions and building business relationships.

Those are all tasks that the humanities, with their emphasis on empathy, persuasion and human emotion, are well-equipped to provide. Even if machines don't end up taking engineers' jobs, a greater focus on persuasive writing and constructive relationship-building interaction in college humanities courses – rather than close reading of texts or other academic-style activities – would probably make these majors seem more practical and career-oriented to prospective students. Instead of hectoring students to focus on personal well-roundedness and general education, the humanities would be well-served by touting the practical benefits of the soft skills they impart.

Noah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

More than 300 accused priests listed in Pennsylvania report on Catholic Church sex abuse

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 12:09

Cardinal Donald Wuerl at a 2015 news conference at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, announcing Pope Francis would visit Washington that fall. Photo by Brittany Greeson for The Washington Post. (Brittany Greeson/)

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday released a sweeping grand jury report on sex abuse in the Catholic Church, listing more than 300 accused clergy and detailing a “systematic” coverup effort by church leaders over 70 years.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference Tuesday that more than 1,000 child victims were identified in the report, but the grand jury believes there are more.

The investigation is the most comprehensive yet on Catholic Church sex abuse in the United States. The 18-month probe, led by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, on six of the state's eight dioceses - Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg - and follows other state grand jury reports that revealed abuse and coverups in two other dioceses.

Shapiro said that the report details a "systematic coverup by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at the Vatican."

The nearly 1,400-page report's introduction makes clear that few criminal cases may result from the massive investigation.

"As a consequence of the coverup, almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted," it reads.

"We subpoenaed, and reviewed, half a million pages of internal diocesan documents. They contained credible allegations against over three hundred predator priests. Over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church's own records. We believe that the real number - of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to come forward - is in the thousands."

Some details and names that might reveal the clergy listed have been redacted from the report. Legal challenges by clergy delayed the report's release, after some said it is a violation of their constitutional rights. Shapiro said they will work to remove every redaction.

The report has helped renew a crisis many in the church thought and hoped had ended nearly 20 years ago after the scandal erupted in Boston. But recent abuse-related scandals, from Chile to Australia, have reopened wounding questions about accountability and whether church officials are still covering up crimes at the highest levels.

The new wave of allegations has called Pope Francis's handling of abuse into question as many Catholics look to him to help the church regain its credibility. The pope's track record has been mixed, something some outsiders attribute to his learning curve or shortcomings and others chalk up to resistance from a notoriously change-averse institution.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report follows the resignation last month of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a towering figure in the U.S. church. The former archbishop of Washington, D.C., was accused of sexually abusing minors and adults for decades. Both have further polarized the church on homosexuality, celibacy and whether laypeople should have more power. It has also triggered debate about whether statutes of limitations should be expanded.

"We're dealing with a long-term struggle not only about the meaning of justice, but about the meaning of memory," said Jason Berry, a reporter and author who has covered the sexual abuse crisis for decades. "And how honest church has been about this crisis. Most bishops, besides apologies, have not been on the cutting edge of change."

Church officials have already begun bracing for the aftermath of the report. On Monday, Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl, former longtime leader of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, warned his priests in a letter that the probe will be "profoundly disturbing."

Harrisburg's bishop Ronald Gainer said earlier this month that he'd remove the names of all accused bishops from diocesan buildings and rooms. Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico last month told PennLive.com, a digital news site based in central Pennsylvania, that the report will be "sobering" and "is rather graphic."

"While I expect that this report will be critical of some of my actions" in Pittsburgh, "I believe the report also confirms that I acted with diligence," Wuerl wrote to Washington's clergy. Wuerl is one of Pope Francis's closest U.S. advisers, and sits on the Vatican's bishop oversight committee. The bishop is expected to retire in the next few years.

The investigation took about two years. The report's length is expected to be from 8oo to 1,000 pages, the Post-Gazette reported. It covers all dioceses except the two already studied - Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown. Pennsylvania is believed to have done more investigations of institutional child sex abuse than any other state.

Berry said the report - coupled with the McCarrick scandal and others - shows the church needs a major overhaul in how it polices itself. He said the church needs a "separation of powers, an independent oversight."

"Canon law is not equipped for this kind of thing. It's an enormous criminal sexual underground. It's been surfacing like jagged parts of an iceberg for 30 years," Berry said.

Yet others fear the progress made by the church since the early 2000s is being overlooked. The number of new allegations is down, and the vast majority took place decades ago.

"The church has done things right since 2002 - Dallas was a game-changer," said Nick Cafardi, former dean of Duquesne University School of Law, a Catholic school in Pittsburgh, referring to the city where the church passed its crackdown rules on child sex abusers in 2002. "But what was done before Dallas is indefensible."

Yet the fact that such a small number of high-level clerics - as opposed to parish-level priests - have been held responsible is glaring to many Catholics.

The question of whether the church's sins have been confronted remains raw. Wuerl in an interview earlier this month with the Catholic station Salt & Light said he doesn't think "this is some massive, massive crisis." He then suggested the creation of an oversight board of bishops. Some critics saw his comments as tone-deaf.

That same week, Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger said the slew of recent scandals signals a new phase.

"While I am heartened by my brother bishops proposing ways for our Church to take action in light of recent revelations . . . I think we have reached a point where bishops alone investigating bishops is not the answer," he wrote.

Worldwide, the Vatican is dealing with law enforcement targeting abuse with in the church. In Chile, prosecutors and police are staging raids on church offices, confiscating documents and looking for evidence of crimes that went unreported to police. On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported a prosecutor said authorities were raiding the headquarters of Chile's Catholic Episcopal Conference.

As part of the probe, a prosecutor's office has summoned the archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, to testify amid accusations that he was involved in the coverup of abuse.

"People are basically revolting against what had been these sacred cows," said Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean abuse victim who earlier this year spent several days with the pope. "In the 1970s and 1980s, the church was a lighthouse for the country. And it's incredible to see this 180-degree turn. People who venerated the church, now they actually despise what they're doing."

The crisis in Chile is just one case in a new wave of abuse-related revelations that have raised pressure on Pope Francis to deal more forcefully with abuse. In France, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin is facing an upcoming trial on criminal charges for not reporting sexual abuse. In Australia, one archbishop was recently convicted in a criminal court for concealing sexual abuse, and a top Francis lieutenant, Cardinal George Pell, will soon stand trial on charges related to sexual offenses.

“Accountability from inside the church is not happening,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, which that tracks sexual abuse cases. “But secular society is beginning to affect the most change.”

Doyle said the Pennsylvania grand jury report could also lead the way for the state to reform statute of limitations laws related to abuse.

Todd Frey, 50, who says he was abused when he was 13 by a priest in Lancaster County, spoke to the grand jury. He said he told church and law enforcement officials over the years, but nothing was done. The report will be his first opportunity to see if the priest is accused of abusing others, and who in the church knew.

“Who else did he pick?” Frey said Monday, as his lawyer David Inscho listened in. Survivors like Frey, who is unable to work, “know their little part,” Inscho said on the phone call, “what they saw through eyes of a 12- or 13-year-old and now they can see everything. And that is really, really important - the validation of it. The having been heard by law enforcement. Actually caring makes a big difference instead of saying ‘We can’t do anything.’”

White supremacy has no place in Louisiana’s constitution

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 10:19

(Thinkstock)

It's been a year since I traveled to Baton Rouge to support a series of reforms to reduce the incarceration rate in Louisiana. Many of those reforms – such as the overhaul of the state's parole system and modifications to sentencing for less serious offenses – have already proved effective.

But the work is far from over. Still lingering in the state's constitution is a 120-year-old measure put in place to suppress the rights of African-Americans: non-unanimous juries.

Louisiana is one of only two states – the other is Oregon – in which a person can be convicted of a felony and sent to prison without a unanimous vote of the jury. As a result, Louisiana prosecutors do not truly have the burden of proving their case "beyond a reasonable doubt." They only need to persuade 10 of 12 jurors to send a defendant to prison, even for life.

The result? A state justice system in which felony trials are held without the full participation of African-Americans.

Here's why: During Louisiana's all-white constitutional convention in 1898, delegates passed a series of measures specifically designed to "perpetuate the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race in Louisiana." Non-unanimous juries were one of those measures, and the intent was clear: If the federal Constitution required that African-Americans be allowed to serve on juries, the state constitution would make sure that minority votes could be discounted.

In a review of nearly 1,000 felony trials in the state, the New Orleans Advocate determined that 40 percent of jury verdicts were not unanimous. They also found that the combination of prosecutorial strikes of African-American jurors and the 10-2 jury rule has sharply diminished the participation of African-American jurors. It's hard to have faith in a criminal-justice system that treats members of the community differently based on race.

Take Kia Stewart, an African-American man who was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. At 17, Stewart was found guilty based on an anonymous tip, the testimony of a single mistaken eyewitness anda 10-2 jury decision. Of the two jurors who refused to convict, at least one was black. Stewart was exonerated and released after spending 10 years in prison once the Innocence Project New Orleans found 18 witnesses who either saw the crime and confirmed Stewart was not the shooter, heard the real perpetrator confess or proved Stewart's alibi.

We are at a crossroads, with an opportunity to right this long-standing wrong. This year, the Louisiana legislature is putting a question on the November ballot asking voters whether they support a constitutional amendment to require unanimous jury verdicts in all criminal cases starting next year. Come November, voters will have the opportunity to strike down the discriminatory rule and uphold justice for all.

The ballot question is entirely nonpartisan. The Louisiana Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties have all endorsed the passage of a constitutional amendment requiring jury votes to be unanimous. Even so, powerful forces in the state are resistant to change, with some district attorneys fighting to hold on to the jury rule because it makes it easier for prosecutors to get convictions.

Now, after 120 years of this oppressive rule, people are canvassing door to door and phone banking to explain to voters how Louisiana's jury rule undermines the presumption of innocence and runs counter to 48 other states and the federal government.

The reforms passed after my trip to Baton Rouge have already pushed Louisiana from being the nation's leader in incarceration to the No. 2 spot. I urge Louisiana voters to continue this downward trajectory. Ending the 10-2 jury rule in Louisiana will not solve the issue of mass incarceration or dismantle white supremacy, but it will deal a significant blow to both.

It's time to come together, reject prejudice in all its forms and build a future in which everyone is valued and supported. The 1898 constitutional convention was about denying voice to the expression of all of Louisiana's citizens. This ballot question in November is about giving Louisiana her voice back.

John Legend, a Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and producer, is founder of FreeAmerica, a criminal-justice reform advocacy group.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Manafort’s defense rests after calling no witnesses

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 09:48

Members of the defense team for Paul Manafort, including Thomas Zehnle, left, Richard Westling, and Kevin Downing, walk to federal court as the trial of the former Trump campaign chairman continues, in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. The focus in Paul Manafort's fraud trial shifts to the defense after prosecutors rested their case. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (Jacquelyn Martin/)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Paul Manafort’s defense rested its case Tuesday without calling any witnesses in the former Trump campaign chairman’s tax evasion and fraud trial. Manafort himself chose not to testify.

The decision by Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, not to call witnesses clears the way for the jury to hear closing arguments in the trial, now in its third week.

Manafort is accused of hiding millions of dollars in income he received advising Ukrainian politicians. The defense has tried to blame Manafort's financial mistakes on his former assistant, Richard Gates. Defense attorneys have called Gates a liar, philanderer and embezzler as they've sought to undermine his testimony.

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Asked by Judge T.S. Ellis III whether he wished to testify in his defense, Manafort responded: "No, sir." The decision came after a more than two-hour hearing that was closed from the public.

The judge has not given any explanation for the sealed proceeding, only noting that a transcript of it would become public after Manafort's case concludes.

Manafort's decision not to testify and not to call witnesses came after Ellis rejected a defense motion that the case should be dismissed on grounds the government failed to meet its burden of proof. Manafort's lawyers asked the judge to toss out all the charges against him, but they focused in particular on four bank-fraud charges.

The government says Manafort hid at least $16 million in income from the IRS between 2010 and 2014 by disguising the money he earned advising politicians in Ukraine as loans and hiding it in foreign banks. Then, after his money in Ukraine dried up, they allege he defrauded banks by lying about his income on loan applications and concealing other financial information, such as mortgages.

Manafort's lawyers argued that there is no way that one of the banks, Federal Savings Bank, could have been defrauded because its chairman, Stephen Calk, knew full well that Manafort's finances were in disarray but approved the loan to Manafort anyway. Witnesses testified at trial that Calk pushed the loans through because he wanted a post in the Trump administration.

Ellis, in making his ruling, said that the defense made a "significant" argument, but ultimately ruled the question "is an issue for the jury."

Prosecutors rested their case on Monday, closing two weeks of testimony that depicted Manafort as using the millions of dollars hidden in offshore accounts to fund a luxurious lifestyle — and later obtaining millions more in bank loans under false pretenses.

The trial is the first to emerge from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, but it does not relate to any allegations of Russian election interference or possible coordination with the Trump campaign. Neither Manafort nor Gates have been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work.

Still, the proceedings have drawn President Donald Trump's attention — and tweets — as he works to undermine the standing of the Mueller investigation in the public square.

Trump has distanced himself from Manafort, who led the campaign from May to August 2016 — with Gates at his side. Gates struck a plea deal with prosecutors and provided much of the drama of the trial so far.

Gates said he helped Manafort commit crimes in an effort to lower his tax bill and fund his lavish lifestyle. During testimony, Gates was forced to admit embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and conducting an extramarital affair.

The prosecution has introduced a trove of documentary evidence as they’ve sought to prove Manafort committed 18 separate criminal counts. Along the way, they’ve not only faced an aggressive defense team but tongue-lashings from the judge, who pushed the government to speed up its case.

APD: Fairview homicide ‘isolated incident of domestic violence’

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 09:43

A man who was shot and killed at a Fairview residence Monday night died as the result of a fight with a family member that escalated into violence, police say.

The man, whose name has not been released, was at another person's home in the 1000 block of East 20th Avenue when he got into a verbal altercation with a male family member, Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Kendra Doshier said.

The other family member produced a gun and shot the victim, Doshier said in an email Tuesday morning, describing the incident as an "isolated incident of domestic violence."

Multiple people were inside the residence when the shooting occurred, she said. A family member reported it around 7:30 p.m. Officers responding to the call found the man dead inside.

The shooting marks the thirteenth homicide in Anchorage this year.

Alaska Senate candidate charged with felony theft over food stamp benefits

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 09:30

A candidate for Alaska Senate is facing felony charges that she and her husband defrauded the state of six months' worth of federal food stamp benefits.

Rebecca "Bekah" Halat is running in the Republican primary against Chris Birch, a state House representative, for an open South Anchorage Senate seat. Halat is a former Mrs. Alaska who has been branded as an up-and-coming voice in the Republican party. In her campaign, she's pitched herself as a successful businesswoman who would be tough on crime, cut the state budget and restore the Permanent Fund Dividend.

In an Aug. 6 criminal complaint, prosecutors accused Halat and her husband, Jarek, of knowingly misleading the state about their finances when seeking food stamp benefits. Investigators reviewed bank records and concluded the couple failed to report multiple bank accounts and did not disclose Jarek Halat's employment as a Lyft driver, according to the Office of Special Prosecutions.

As a result, the couple was "well above" the income threshold limit for roughly $5,000 in food stamps they have received since January, according to the charges.

The Halats face one count each of second-degree theft, a class C felony, and falsification of documents, a class A misdemeanor. They are scheduled to make their first court appearance Aug. 24, a few days after next week's primary.

Halat's campaign activity — and an anonymous tipster — sparked the investigation, prosecutors say.

In an emailed statement Monday, Rebecca Halat said she and her family had had a difficult year. She said her her husband was laid off from AT&T; last year at the same time that she was struggling with health problems and a miscarriage.

She called the criminal charges "false allegations from those trying to steal the election."

"Boy, have I learned a lot in the last 74 days! People have learned a lot about me, but there's a lot more they have to learn if they think I'm going to just curl up in a ball and let someone else represent me and my district through attacking my family," Halat wrote.

Her opponent, Chris Birch, said he had read the charges against Halat but that neither he nor anyone he knew had anything to do with the allegations.

"It's unfortunate that she's trying to deflect her own, what I would characterize as shortcomings, and try to redirect that at somebody else," Birch said in a phone interview Monday. "I think she needs to be held accountable, and her family, for their own actions."

Halat declined to comment beyond her initial statement, saying she would address the criminal charges "in the proper venue."

The 33-year-old mother of two has attracted attention from conservatives in the primary races. A recent front cover of The Eagle, a conservative alternative magazine, called her a "Republican rock star."

The charging documents indicate it was Halat's campaign activity that triggered the state's fraud investigation.

On June 20, an anonymous citizen contacted the fraud control unit in the state Division of Public Assistance to say they were concerned the Halats were committing welfare fraud, Charles Agerter, the assistant attorney general, wrote in the charges.

"The anonymous citizen became concerned when Rebecca solicited political support at the citizen's residence," Agerter wrote.

According to the charges, the Halats began receiving food stamp benefits in March 2017. Jarek Halat did the eligibility interview with the state, Agerter wrote in the charges. He said he lived with Rebecca Halat and their two minor children in Anchorage, and that they had one bank account, Agerter wrote.

Jarek Halat said he had just been laid off by AT&T; and that he had applied for uninsurance benefits but hadn't yet received them, the charges say. Rebecca Halat had no reportable income, according to the charges.

The Halats were supposed to let the state know if their monthly income exceeded about $2,700, according to the charges. The state warns public assistance recipients that false or misleading information, or a failure to report an income change, could lead to criminal prosecution.

In late January 2018, the Halats applied again for food stamp benefits. They said they owned a house worth $280,000 and paid $2,000 a month for mortgage. They also said they owned one bank account at Wells Fargo with a $1,000 balance, according to the charging document.

At that time, Rebecca Halat said she worked at the Business Boutique and made $20 an hour, and Jarek Halat said he was receiving unemployment benefits, the charges say. Jarek Halat also said he was no longer working for Uber and Lyft, the charges say, though it wasn't clear whether he had disclosed ride-sharing employment earlier.

An investigator assigned to the case, Dean Rogers, looked at Rebecca Halat's campaign website. Halat described herself as an experienced business owner, consultant and trainer for other businesses, and Rogers reviewed her business licenses, Agerter wrote in the charges.

Rogers also obtained bank records from Wells Fargo from December 2017 to June 2018. He found four separate bank accounts, according to the charges.

One account indicated that Jarek Halat actually was working as a Lyft driver when the family reapplied for food stamps in January, the charges say. Another account, owned by Rebecca Halat, had more than $4,700 in it; Rebecca Halat told investigators she wasn't aware of the account, according to the charges.

The couple also jointly owned an AlaskaUSA account with balances that totaled between $35,000 and $40,000 as of January, when the couple re-applied for food stamps, the charges say.

In May, Jarek Halat filed a change report form with the state Division of Public Assistance, saying he had started part-time construction work and that Rebecca Halat had been laid off due to a lack of work, according to the charges. He did not report ride-sharing income, the charges say.

In a July 24 interview, Rogers and another investigator asked the couple why they didn't report all their bank accounts to the state public assistance division, the charges say.

Jarek Halat said the couple's AlaskaUSA accounts were for their children's college savings and they didn't consider the AlaskaUSA account available for them to spend. Rebecca Halat said another account was for a business she owned several years ago and not for personal use, the charges say.

The investigators asked if they were able to withdraw from the accounts at any time, and both Jarek and Rebecca Halat said yes, the charges say. The Halats also both said the funds were available when they first applied for food stamps in March 2017.

At that point, the Halats asked how they could repay the food stamp benefits, the charges say.

Nebraska executes first inmate using fentanyl

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 08:47

FILE - This file photo provided by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services shows death-row inmate Carey Dean Moore. Nebraska prison officials are preparing to execute Moore on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, for the 1979 murders of two Omaha cab drivers. The execution comes three years after Nebraska lawmakers voted to abolish capital punishment, but did an about-face driven largely by the state's Republican governor. (Nebraska Department of Correctional Services via AP, File)

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than two decades on Tuesday by lethal injection of four drugs in a never-before-tried combination, including the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Carey Dean Moore, 60, was pronounced dead at 10:47 a.m. Moore, who had been sentenced to death for killing two cab drivers in Omaha in 1979, also was the first inmate to be lethally injected in Nebraska, which last carried out an execution in 1997, using the electric chair.

Witnesses said that there appeared to be no complications in the execution process, which used a four drug combination.

At one point while on the gurney, Moore turned his head and mouthed several words his family, including "I love you."

Moore's execution comes a little more than three years after Nebraska lawmakers abolished the death penalty, only to have it reinstated the following year through a citizen ballot drive partially financed by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts. The governor, a wealthy former businessman, has said he was fulfilling the wishes of voters in the conservative state.

According to prosecutors, Moore was 21 when he fatally shot Reuel Van Ness during a robbery with his younger brother, and used the money to buy drugs and pornography. Moore fatally shot Maynard Helgeland by himself five days later, saying he wanted to prove he could take a man's life by himself. Moore was arrested a week later. He was charged and convicted of first-degree murder, while his 14-year-old brother was convicted of second-degree murder.

Moore has faced execution dates set by the Nebraska Supreme Court seven times since he was convicted, but each was delayed because of legal challenges and questions over whether previous lethal injection drugs were purchased legally. For some relatives of Moore's victims, that was far too long — and they hope his name and crimes will finally vanish from headlines.

"We're sick of hearing about Carey Dean Moore," Steve Helgeland, one of Maynard Helgeland's three children, said ahead of the execution. "All we really want is for him to go away."

Helgeland said the numerous delays in executing Moore had left him ambivalent about whether his father's killer dies by lethal injection or spends the rest of his life in prison. Helgeland said he plans to be present at the prison for the execution to honor his father's memory, but that he won't witness it.

"There was a point in my life when I probably would have pulled the switch myself, but 39 years has a way of dissipating your anger," he said.

A Germany-based drugmaker tried to halt the execution last week, filing a lawsuit that alleged the state had illegally procured at least one of the company's drugs. The company, Fresenius Kabi, argued that allowing the execution to go forward would harm its reputation and business relationships.

But a federal judge sided with state attorneys , who argued that the public's interest in carrying out a lawful execution outweighed the company's concerns. The judge also noted that Moore had stopped fighting the state's efforts to execute him.

A federal appeals court upheld that ruling Monday, and Fresenius Kabi decided not to take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sheriff called parking lot shooting legal under ‘stand your ground’ laws. Prosecutors disagreed.

Alaska News - Tue, 2018-08-14 08:24

Prosecutors have charged Michael Drejka - who shot and killed a man over a parking spot in July - in a reversal of the sheriff’s decision not to bring charges in the incident that prompted debate over “stand your ground” laws.

Drejka, 47, was arrested and charged with manslaughter Monday by the district attorney for Pinellas County in western Florida, authorities said. He is being held on $100,000 bond in the killing of Markeis McGlockton, 28, in Clearwater, Florida.

The July 19 shooting was the culmination of a heated but brief exchange between the two men. Drejka confronted McGlockton's girlfriend about her vehicle parked in a handicap spot at a convenience store while McGlockton was inside with their 5-year-old son.

McGlockton rushed to defend Britany Jacobs, his girlfriend, and shoved Drejka to the ground, surveillance video shows. Drejka pulled out a pistol and shot McGlockton in the chest. McGlockton staggered inside and collapsed. His girlfriend applied pressure to his wound. Their other children were in the car as the shooting unfolded. McGlockton died less than an hour later.

The next day, in a lengthy defense of his decision not to pursue an arrest, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a 30-minute news conference that Drejka acted within his right to defend himself with deadly force.

But prosecutors have since diverged from the sheriff's assessment. State Attorney Bernie McCabe said his office reviewed Gualtieri's investigation and conducted their own probe.

"We reached the conclusion that this is a charge we can prove," McCabe told The Washington Post on Monday. Drejka will appear in court Tuesday as he faces charges that could bring up to 30 years in prison, McCabe said. It is not clear whether he has retained an attorney.

Florida law says that people who think someone is trying to kill or seriously harm them don't have an obligation to retreat before using deadly force.

Drejka "felt after being slammed to the ground, the next thing was he was going to be further attacked by McGlockton," Gualtieri said in July. He has been sheriff since 2011 and also has a law degree.

The killing of McGlockton, and Gualtieri then declining to arrest or charge Drejka, has been among the most prominent incidents in the debate over "stand your ground" enforcement.

The state and its laws were highlighted after the 2012 slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, when jurors discussed the statute in their deliberations before deciding to find George Zimmerman not guilty.

Gualtieri's office declined to comment Monday. "I support the State Attorney's decision and will have no further comment as the case continues to work its way through the criminal justice system," he said in a statement.

In the past, defense attorneys had to explain why their clients deserved immunity in a killing. Now prosecutors have to prove that people who claim they were standing their ground are wrong.

Jacobs, 24, could not be reached for comment. But in the wake of the killing, she told "Good Morning America" that McGlockton's safety, as well as her children's safety and her own, should have also been considered.

“My man hears what’s going on, sees the guy yelling at me and I’m sitting in the car. My man is defending me and his children, so he pushes him down,” she said. “The guy is on the ground and he pulls the gun out . . . My dude steps back 'cause my dude is fearing for his life - all of us were,” she added.

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