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At least 4 dead, 4 wounded in gunfire at Chicago residence

Alaska News - Tue, 2021-06-15 05:47

CHICAGO – Eight people were shot Tuesday morning at a gathering in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood on the South Side, with four believed dead at the scene and two others in critical condition, according to Chicago police, citing preliminary information.

Officers were called to the 6200 block of South Morgan Street just after 5:40 a.m. for a report of multiple people shot, according to a police spokeswoman.

As many as four people were dead at the scene, with four others taken to hospitals, two in critical condition and two others in unknown condition, according to preliminary police information. Police said they did not believe any of the injured or deceased were juveniles, but ages were not immediately available for all of the victims.

One man whose age was not known had been shot in the back of the head and he was at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in unknown condition.

A man, 25, was shot in the back of the head and was also at Christ in unknown condition.

A woman whose age wasn’t known was shot and was in critical condition at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

A man, 23, arrived at St. Bernard Hospital with a gunshot wound to the back. He was transferred to the University of Chicago where he had been listed in critical condition.

Police said there had been a gathering at a home there when an argument began and shots were fired.

“Multiple people sustained gunshot wounds,” according to a preliminary police statement. It was not immediately clear how many people were injured.

Earlier, police spokeswoman Sally Bown said she could not confirm reports that more than one person had been pronounced dead.

“This is currently ongoing so this is all we have at this time,” she wrote in an email.

US and EU reach trade deal on aircraft subsidies, seeking to set aside differences in 17-year dispute

Alaska News - Tue, 2021-06-15 05:28

President Joe Biden, center, walks with European Council President Charles Michel, right, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, during the United States-European Union Summit at the European Council in Brussels, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Patrick Semansky/)

BRUSSELS — President Joe Biden on Tuesday moved to end a long-running dispute with the European Union over subsidies for aircraft manufacturers, a major breakthrough in the U.S.-EU trade relationship that comes on the eve of his highly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The announcement that the two sides reached resolution in a 17-year dispute over how much of a government subsidy each can provide for its aircraft manufacturing giant — Boeing in the United States and Airbus in the EU.—came as Biden met with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

With the move, Biden eases a major point of tension in the trans-Atlantic relationship at a moment he’s seeking to marshal widespread European support for his efforts to counter Russia prior to his Wednesday meeting in Geneva with Putin.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told reporters that the agreement calls for a five-year suspension of the aircraft tariffs, and stressed that it was time to put aside the fight and focus on China’s economic assertiveness.

“Today’s announcement resolves a longstanding trade irritant in the U.S.-Europe relationship. Instead of fighting with one of our closest allies, we are finally coming together against a common threat,”” Tai said. “We agreed to work together to challenge and counter China’s non-market practices in this sector in specific ways that reflect our standards for fair competition. "

She added that the tariffs could be reimplemented if the U.S. determines U.S. companies are not able to “compete fairly” with the EU’s. The tariffs had been temporarily suspended on March 11 for four months, and the new agreement will officially go into effect on July 11.

To be certain, the U.S.-EU relationship faces other trade-related friction. The continent’s leaders are becoming impatient that Biden has not yet addressed Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to impose import taxes on foreign steel and aluminum.

Even without resolving all trade disputes, White House officials expressed confidence that they can build more goodwill with Europe ahead of the face-to-face meeting with Putin.

The White House on Tuesday announced the creation of a joint U.S.-EU trade and technology council.

The council will work on coordinating standards for artificial intelligence, quantum computing and bio-technologies, as well as coordinating efforts on bolstering supply chain resilience. Biden is appointing Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Tai to co-chair the U.S. side of the effort.

The White House said the two sides will also discuss efforts to stem climate change and launch an expert group to determine how best to reopen travel safely as the coronavirus pandemic ebbs.

Biden started his day by meeting with Belgian King Philippe and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

The U.S.-EU summit is also expected to include a communique that will address concerns about China’s provocative behavior.

That statement would follow a NATO summit communique on Monday that declared China a constant security challenge and said the Chinese are working to undermine the global rules-based order. On Sunday, the Group of Seven nations called out what it said were China’s forced labor practices and other human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang province.

Biden is also expected to spend time discussing Russia with Michel and von der Leyen ahead of Wednesday’s summit with Putin.

Since taking office in January, Biden has repeatedly pressed Putin to take action to stop Russian-originated cyberattacks on companies and governments in the U.S. and around the globe and decried the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Biden also has publicly aired intelligence that suggests — albeit with low to moderate confidence — that Moscow offered bounties to the Taliban to target U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan.

Both Biden and Putin have described the U.S.-Russia relationship as being at an all-time low.

The Europeans are keen to set up a “high-level dialogue” on Russia with the United States to counter what they say is Moscow’s drift into deeper authoritarianism and anti-Western sentiment.

At the same time, the 27-nation bloc is deeply divided in its approach to Moscow. Russia is the EU’s biggest natural gas supplier, and plays a key role in international conflicts and key issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and conflicts in Syria and Libya.

The hope is that Biden’s meeting with Putin might pay dividends, and no one in Brussels wants to undermine the show of international unity that has been on display at the G-7 and NATO summits, according to EU officials.

In addition to scolding China, NATO leaders in their communique on Monday took a big swipe at Russia, deploring its aggressive military activities and snap wargames near the borders of NATO countries as well as the repeated violation of the 30-nations’ airspace by Russian planes.

They said Russia has ramped up “hybrid” actions against NATO countries by attempting to interfere in elections, political and economic intimidation, disinformation campaigns and “malicious cyber activities.”

“Until Russia demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities, there can be no return to ‘business as usual,’” the NATO leaders wrote. “We will continue to respond to the deteriorating security environment by enhancing our deterrence and defense posture.”


Associated Press writer Paul Wiseman contributed to this report.

Record Copper River salmon prices boost market optimism ahead of bigger Bristol Bay fishery

Alaska News - Tue, 2021-06-15 04:59

Sockeye salmon from the Bristol Bay fishery are pumped into the Peter Pan Seafoods cannery in Dillingham for processing. (Marc Lester/ADN archive) (Anchorage Daily News/)

This article originally appeared at KDLG.org and is republished here with permission.


DILLINGHAM -- It’s been a tough spring for the Copper River sockeye fishery in Southcentral Alaska.

Copper River is among the first fisheries to offer fresh salmon — its runs signal the start of the state’s commercial season. But the low number of sockeye returning this year has led to limited opportunities to fish.

The run is picking up, but until last week the season was similar to 2020, which finished with some of the lowest sockeye catches on record. But one thing is very different from last year: A record-high price for salmon.

“Markets were hot. And we were able to pay that price and pass it on to the fishermen,” said Jon Hickman, the executive vice president for Peter Pan Seafoods.

In May, the company announced that it would pay triple last year’s prices for sockeye and kings. This year, it will pay $19.60 per pound for kings and $12.60 a pound for sockeye. In 2020, sockeye went for around $4 and kings for $6.

The Cordova Times reported retailers’ pre-orders for sockeye fillets were as high as $54 a pound. King fillets went for up to $80 a pound.

Hickman said the reason for the price hike is “pretty straightforward”: Copper River is the first fishery of the season, so competition’s low. And demand is high — Peter Pan’s customers include restaurants and other high-end retailers, and as COVID restrictions relax, restaurants are welcoming more diners.

[Copper River salmon fishery brings season’s first catches, camaraderie — and hope]

The record prices are stoking optimism within the industry just ahead of a very different fishery. Bristol Bay is the largest sockeye fishery in the world, and unlike Copper River, it runs at the same time as fisheries in other parts of the state, which starts in earnest in mid-June.

Hickman said the size of Bristol Bay’s run — and the size of the fish — will determine which products they will focus on, and what the price will be.

“Fish size is going to be a huge deal for us, and how we handle fish size and put them in the right places for the best return,” he said.” Keeping things fresh and keeping our fishermen with their nets in the water.”

Andy Wink, the executive director for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, said that while Bristol Bay is a much different fishery, the high Copper River prices are encouraging.

“I think seeing strong pricing in the early going for Copper River is definitely a good sign, as far as where the market’s at and how much demand there is,” he said. “Pretty much all that product goes into the fresh market and is sold fresh. We do marketing promotions with many retailers around the U.S. and already there’s a lot of demand for that.”

There was a lot of demand for seafood from retailers last year, and Bristol Bay saw less competition from other fisheries that experienced weaker runs. Still, prices were really low.

The base price in Bristol Bay dropped to 70 cents per pound, which is about half of what it was in 2019.

And even as the market dropped, processors spent tens of millions of dollars on COVID-19 mitigation plans.

Dan Lesh, an economist with the McKinley Research Group, said that while there will still be additional costs associated with the pandemic, he expects them to be much lower this year.

Lesh said another factor that might help get fishermen bigger paychecks is higher personal income.

“I think people have more money to spend and seafood is what they want to spend it on nowadays,” he said. “We do know that personal income rose last year, between things like the stimulus bills and also less spending on different services, helped with pushing up prices for premium seafood products, and I think Bristol Bay sockeye salmon can be in that category.”

Fishermen’s concerns about the low base price in 2020 prompted the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association to publish a report that laid out some of the reasons why the price was so low. These included business risk due to the pandemic, higher operating costs, and losses in other fisheries in the state.

This year, BBRSDA said that risk is down. Wink, the executive director, thinks the season may be better for fishermen.

“I guess the price remains to be seen, but I think when you look at the market factors that are in place now versus this time last year, things do look more bullish, and kind of appear more favorable,” he said.

Bristol Bay’s fishery kicks off in mid-June.

Enjoy live classical music or a local brew while you get your free vaccine this Tuesday

Alaska News - Mon, 2021-06-14 22:14

A musician with the Anchorage Youth Symphony rehearses at East High School in 2009 (Bill Roth / ADN archive) (Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News/)

If you haven’t yet received your free COVID-19 vaccination, there are two fun opportunities happening Tuesday, June 15.

Musicians with Alaska Youth Orchestras will perform in the Lorene Harrison Lobby of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts while Visit Healthcare administers vaccinations. The first 50 people to get their shot will get a coupon for a free coffee from Kaladi Brothers (redeemable at any Kaladi Brothers location).

You can register in advance at conquercovidak.com/vax-up-events but walk-ins are also welcome. Moderna (18+), Johnson & Johnson (18+) and Pfizer (12+) will be available. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (621 W. Sixth Ave.)

Over at King Street Brewing, you can grab a beer while you get your vaccine. Appointments are appreciated; you can make one at anchoragecovidvaccine.org. 4-8:30 p.m. (9050 King Street)

Anyone 12 and older who lives or works in Alaska can now receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Alaskans can visit covidvax.alaska.gov or call 907-646-3322 to sign up for a vaccine appointment, and new appointments are added regularly.

Steps to protect your employees — or yourself — from workplace cyberbullying

Alaska News - Mon, 2021-06-14 21:56

When the first vicious text came, “Janet” deleted it. When a second and third followed, she texted back, “You’ve got the wrong number.” Then, an avalanche of nasty text messages choked her SMS inbox.

Janet wanted to call HR but hesitated, fearing HR or her company’s management might wonder if she’d done even a handful of what the texts accused her of doing.

Rattled, she took a break and opened her Facebook account, only to find dozens of defaming messages. What if her friends believed these? She planned to email one of her friends, an IT guy, for help. When she opened her personal email account, she discovered that whoever was trolling her had found that account too.

What has led to the escalation in workplace cyberbullying?

Now that many employees work remotely, workplace cyberbullying in the form of insults, threats, attacking comments on work group emails, harassment and other verbal abuse has escalated. Pandemic-related economic and financial destabilization, our nation’s increasing polarization and widely broadcast incidences of violence, and the prevalence of bullying at high levels in government and corporations all appear to propel cyberbullies forward. The payroll services company Paychex reports that 44% of employees have received disciplinary action due to their problematic behavior while working remotely. Workplace bullying itself “has seen an uptick.”

What makes cyberbullying different?

Unlike other workplace bullying, in which the target can escape the bullying at 5 p.m., cyberbullying invades the target’s home. Cyberbullying researchers characterize this as “being ‘haunted’ — as if the bully is a ghost, drifting behind the victim at all hours in order to inflict terror.”

Due to cyberbullying’s potentially public nature, “attacking someone in a work group email…or posting about them on social media” compounds the harm, notes researcher Natalia D’Souza. “Digital content leaves a trail and is much harder to erase permanently, meaning that any abuse or allegations online could pose a more enduring threat to targets’ personal and professional lives, particularly since employers and recruiters can easily access this information through a web search.”

The internet factor

The internet empowers bullies. Pseudonyms and alternate usernames allow cyberbullies to conceal their real identities. Because internet users can’t see each other, they don’t always consider those they comment about as persons, allowing themselves to dissociate cruel remarks from the hurt their posts cause. This anonymity seems to create a situation in which individuals sink to the lowest common denominator of behavior.

An early example of this workplace cyberbullying happened in 1995 to Continental Airlines pilot Tammy Blakey. Other Continental Airline pilots and crew members used an internet-based Crew Members Forum to learn their work schedules, receive flight information and exchange viewpoints. Blakey found multiple posts describing her as a weak pilot who destroyed an engine, crashed a floatplane and caused $250,000 damage to a plane by flying it through hail.

What targets can and need to do

Here’s what I told Janet. If you impulsively delete offensive posts, you destroy potentially needed evidence. If you eliminate an offensive post, the bully may create nearly infinite dummy accounts and post increasingly worse content.

If you take a deep breath and ground yourself, you can choose a reasoned response. This might involve enlisting the Internet Service Provider in shutting down the cyberbully. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram all provide have online reporting mechanisms for abusive content.

Actions employers need to take

A target’s employer needs to help as well. When Tammy Blakey sued Continental Airlines, New Jersey’s Supreme Court ruled that employers have “a duty to take effective measures to stop co-employee harassment when the employer knows or has reason to know” the harassment is “part of a pattern of harassment” in a setting “related to the workplace.”

At a minimum, employers need to protect their companies and employees with proactive social media policies that meet National Labor Relations Board parameters. Sample language might include, “If you decide to post work-related criticism, avoid using statements that reasonably could be viewed as malicious, obscene, threatening or intimidating, that disparage customers, members, associates or suppliers, or that might constitute harassment or bullying” and policies that prohibit employees from engaging in “harassment, bullying, discrimination, or retaliation of co-workers that would not be permissible in the workplace…even if these actions are taken after hours, from home and on home computers.”

Don’t let a cyberbully chase you from your job or make you afraid to turn on your computer.

Psychic Reading Online: Best Psychics Can Find Answers To Life’s Questions

Juneau News - Mon, 2021-06-14 21:30

Juneau Empire
Juneau Empire - The Voice of Alaska's Capital Since 1912

Our existence can sometimes feel too overwhelming and our present is fogged with delusions about the fear of the future. Online psychic readings can help you overcome the obstacle of fear and step into a new beginning.

Psychic Reading Online: Best Psychics Can Find Answers To Life’s Questions
Wire Service

As US COVID-19 death toll nears 600,000, racial gaps persist

Alaska News - Mon, 2021-06-14 20:26

Laura Ramos holds a photo of her brother Jerry Ramos at her home in Watsonville, Calif., Sunday, June 6, 2021. He died Feb. 15 at age 32, becoming not just one of the roughly 600,000 Americans who have now perished in the outbreak but another example of the virus’s strikingly uneven and ever-shifting toll on the nation’s racial and ethnic groups. (AP Photo/Nic Coury) (Nic Coury/)

Jerry Ramos spent his final days in a California hospital, hooked to an oxygen machine with blood clots in his lungs from COVID-19, his 3-year-old daughter in his thoughts.

“I have to be here to watch my princess grow up,” the Mexican American restaurant worker wrote on Facebook. “My heart feels broken into pieces.”

Ramos didn’t live to see it. He died Feb. 15 at age 32, becoming not just one of the nearly 600,000 Americans who have now perished in the coronavirus outbreak but another example of the outbreak’s strikingly uneven and ever-shifting toll on the nation’s racial and ethnic groups.

The approaching 600,000 mark, as tracked by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of Baltimore or Milwaukee. It is about equal to the number of Americans who died of cancer in 2019. And as bad as that is, the true toll is believed to be significantly higher.

President Joe Biden acknowledged the milestone Monday during his visit to Europe, saying that while new cases and deaths are dropping dramatically in the U.S., “there’s still too many lives being lost,” and “now is not the time to let our guard down.”

On the way to the latest round-number milestone, the virus has proved adept at exploiting inequalities in the U.S., according to an Associated Press data analysis.

In the first wave of fatalities, in April 2020, Black people were slammed, dying at rates higher than those of other ethnic or racial groups as the virus rampaged through the urban Northeast and heavily African American cities like Detroit and New Orleans.

Last summer, during a second surge, Hispanics were hit the hardest, suffering an outsize share of deaths, driven by infections in Texas and Florida. By winter, during the third and most lethal stage, the virus had gripped the entire nation, and racial gaps in weekly death rates had narrowed so much that whites were the worst off, followed closely by Hispanics.

Now, even as the outbreak ebbs and more people get vaccinated, a racial gap appears to be emerging again, with Black Americans dying at higher rates than other groups.

Overall, Black and Hispanic Americans have less access to medical care and are in poorer health, with higher rates of conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. They are also more likely to have jobs deemed essential, less able to work from home and more likely to live in crowded, multigenerational households, where working family members are apt to expose others to the virus.

FILE - In this April 22, 2020, file photo, pallbearers, who were among only 10 allowed mourners, walk the casket for internment at the funeral for Larry Hammond, who died from the coronavirus, at Mount Olivet Cemetery in New Orleans. Government health officials say Native Americans, Latinos and Black people are two to three times more likely than whites to die of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (Gerald Herbert/)

Black people account for 15% of all COVID-19 deaths where race is known, while Hispanics represent 19%, whites 61% and Asian Americans 4%. Those figures are close to the groups’ share of the U.S. population — Black people at 12%, Hispanics 18%, whites 60% and Asians 6% — but adjusting for age yields a clearer picture of the unequal burden.

Because Blacks and Hispanics are younger on average than whites, it would stand to reason that they would be less likely to die from a disease that has been brutal to the elderly. But that’s not what is happening.

Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adjusting for population age differences, estimates that Native Americans, Latinos and Blacks are two to three times more likely than white people to die of COVID-19.

Also, the AP analysis found that Latinos are dying at much younger ages than other groups.

Thirty-seven percent of Hispanic deaths were of those under 65, versus 12% for white Americans and 30% for Black people. Hispanic people between 30 and 39 — like Ramos — have died at five times the rate of white people in the same age group.

Public health experts see these disparities as a loud message that the nation needs to address deep-rooted inequities.

“If we want to respect the dear price that 600,000 people have paid, don’t return to normal. Return to something that is better than what was,” said Dr. Clyde Yancy, vice dean for diversity and inclusion at Northwestern University’s medical school in Chicago.

He added: “It will be an epic fail if we simply go back to whatever we call normal.”

Ramos had asthma and diabetes and had quit his job as a chef at Red Lobster before the pandemic because of diabetes-related trouble with his feet.

He died during the devastating winter surge that hit Latinos hard, and the rest of his household of seven in Watsonville, an agricultural city of around 54,000 people about 90 miles south of San Francisco, also got sick.

That included his toddler daughter; the family matriarch, 70-year-old Mercedes Ramos; and his girlfriend, who was the only one in the household working and the first to get infected, bringing home the virus from her job managing a marijuana dispensary, according to family members.

Mother and son were admitted to the same hospital, their rooms nearby. They would video chat or call each other every day.

“He would tell me he loved me very much and that he wanted me to get better and that he was doing fine, but he was telling me that so I wouldn’t worry,” Mercedes Ramos said in Spanish, her voice breaking. She has since returned to her job picking strawberries.

Gaps in vaccination rates in the U.S. also persist, with Blacks and Hispanics lagging behind, said Samantha Artiga of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-policy research organization.

Experts say several factors could be at work, including deep distrust of the medical establishment among Black Americans because of a history of discriminatory treatment, and fears of deportation among Latinos, as well as a language barrier in many cases.

The U.S. was averaging about 870,000 injections per day in early June, down sharply from a high of about 3.3 million a day on average in mid-April, according to the CDC.

Initial vaccine eligibility policies, set by states, favored older Americans, a group more likely to be white. Now, everyone over 12 is eligible, but obstacles remain, such as concerns about missing work because of side effects from the shot.

“Eligibility certainly does not equal access,” Artiga said. “Losing a day or two of wages can have real consequences for your family. People are facing tough decisions like that.”

The AP’s analysis of the outbreak’s racial and ethnic patterns was based on National Center for Health Statistics data on COVID-19 deaths and 2019 Census Bureau population estimates.

It’s less clear who is dying now, but the still-incomplete data suggests a gap has emerged again. In Michigan, Black people are 14% of the population but accounted for 25% of the 1,064 deaths reported in the past four weeks, according to the most recent available state data. Similar gaps were seen in Florida and Pennsylvania.

“For people of color like myself, we’ve had deep personal experiences during the pandemic” of caring for loved ones and sometimes losing them, said Yolanda Ogbolu, a nurse researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Ogbolu, who is Black, made herself an advocate for two relatives during their COVID-19 hospital stays: her 50-year-old police officer brother — she persuaded his doctors to treat him with the drug remdesivir — and her 59-year-old repairman uncle. She called the hospital daily during his 100-day stay.

Both survived. But Ogbolu wonders whether they would have lived if they hadn’t had a nurse in the family.

“What happens when people don’t have that person to push for them? What happens when you don’t even speak the language?” Ogbolu said. “What happens when they don’t know how to navigate the health system or what questions to ask?”

Rep. Greene apologizes for comparing face masks to Holocaust, but stands by comparison of Democrats to Nazi party

Alaska News - Mon, 2021-06-14 20:17

FILE - In this Wednesday, May 12, 2021, file photo, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Greene apologized Monday, June 14, 2021, for affronting people with recent comments comparing the required wearing of safety masks in the House to the horrors of the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) (Jacquelyn Martin/)

WASHINGTON - Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Monday visited the Holocaust Museum and apologized for previously comparing coronavirus face-mask policies to the Nazi practice of labeling Jews with Star of David badges.

But the Georgia Republican declined to walk back other controversial statements she has made, including one in which she compared the Democratic Party to Hitler’s party, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

Greene’s latest remarks come days before a fellow House member, Rep. Bradley Schneider, D-Ill., is set to introduce a resolution to censure her over the Holocaust comparison.

At a Monday afternoon press conference outside the Capitol, Greene acknowledged she had made a mistake and told reporters, “One of the best lessons that my father always taught me was, when you make a mistake, you should own it.”

“This afternoon, I visited the Holocaust Museum,” Greene said. “The Holocaust is - there’s nothing comparable to it. It’s - it happened, and, you know, over six million Jewish people were murdered. More than that, there were not just Jewish people - Black people, Christians, all kinds of groups. Children. People that the Nazis didn’t believe were good enough or perfect enough.”

She added: “But there is no comparison to the Holocaust. And there are words that I have said, remarks that I have made, that I know are offensive, and for that, I want to apologize.”

In an interview and in tweets last month, Greene repeatedly used Holocaust comparisons to criticize face-mask mandates that have been enacted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens - so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany, and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about,” Greene said in an interview with the online right-wing news outlet Real America’s Voice.

Days later, she compared a supermarket’s face-mask policy to the Nazi practice of labeling Jews with Star of David badges.

“Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s forced Jewish people to wear a gold star,” Greene tweeted late last month, linking to a news story on a Tennessee supermarket chain’s decision to include a special logo on the name badges of vaccinated employees. (The Nazi badges were yellow.)

Greene’s remarks last month prompted a swift denunciation by the top congressional leaders in both parties and the American Jewish Congress, among others.

At an “America First” rally around the same time, Greene also compared the Democratic Party to the Nazi party, which went by the full name Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

Despite the name, the Nazi party was not a socialist party; it was a right-wing, ultranationalist party. Even so, Greene told attendees at the rally in May: “You know, Nazis were the National Socialist Party. Just like the Democrats are now a national socialist party.”

Asked Monday about that statement, Greene declined to disavow it and instead renewed her criticism of Democrats.

“You know, socialism is extremely dangerous, and so is communism,” she told reporters. “And anytime a government moves into policies where there’s more control and there’s freedoms taken away, yes, that’s a danger for everyone. And I think that’s something that we should all be wary of. ... I’ll never stop saying we have to save America and stop socialism.”

Earlier this year, the House voted to remove Greene from her committee assignments over her promotion of violence against prominent Democratic politicians. But her own party’s leadership has taken no action against her beyond condemning her Holocaust comparison.

Schneider, the Democrat who is spearheading the resolution to censure Greene, sharply criticized her remarks last month. He did so again Monday morning.

“When @RepMTG repeatedly compared the US Covid-response to Hitler and the Holocaust, she dishonored the millions of lives lost in WWII and the Shoah,” Schneider tweeted, hours before the Georgia Republican apologized at her press conference. “She has forgotten America’s fight against the Nazi menace. On Wednesday, we’re introducing our resolution to censure her.”

- - -

The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

TSA prepares for a busy summer air travel season in Alaska

Alaska News - Mon, 2021-06-14 20:00

People wait in line at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening checkpoint at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Monday, June 14, 2021. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)

The Transportation Security Administration is expecting a busy summer air travel season in Alaska.

“Anchorage has recovered to about 90% of its passenger volume in the past seven days, compared to the record year in 2019,” said TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers during a press conference in a busy Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Monday. “That’s pretty significant as you’re going into peak summer travel season.”

Lorie Dankers, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesperson for Alaska, speaks during a press conference at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Monday. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)

New technologies are in use at the TSA screening checkpoint at the airport to help improve efficiency. A new Credential Authentication Technology is used to verify the authenticity of credentials and confirm flight status, eliminating the need to show a boarding pass to the Transportation Security Officer.

TSA also installed a computed tomography scanner to screen travelers’ carry-on luggage. The new technology generates a 3-D image of the contents of the bag, giving officers a better view and ultimately reducing the number of bag checks required.

Due to the recovery in air travel, the TSA is looking to fill 80 positions at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The TSA is hosting a two-day recruitment event at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa on Tuesday-Wednesday, June 15-16.

On Sunday, TSA screened more than 2 million travelers at airports nationwide, a pandemic record.

Transportation Security Officers Daylon Brown, left, and Jacob Cachola operate a computed tomography (CT) scanner while screening travelers' carry-on luggage at the TSA security screening in the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Monday. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)
Prohibited items recently found in carry-on luggage at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening checkpoint in Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on display on Monday. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)
People wait in line at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening checkpoint at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Monday, June 14, 2021. The TSA is expecting a busy summer air travel season in Alaska. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)

Transportation Security Officer Fred Kring, scans a travelers photo identification with a new Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) to verify the authenticity of the credential and confirm flight status at the TSA security screening in the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)

New compromise plan for Alaska’s state budget puts pressure on supporters of a large Permanent Fund dividend

Alaska News - Mon, 2021-06-14 19:44

The Alaska State Capitol is seen Monday, June 7, 2021 in Juneau. (James Brooks / ADN)

JUNEAU — The Alaska Legislature is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a compromise state budget that will avert a government shutdown, pay $1,100 to eligible residents and fund construction projects across the state.

Supporters of a larger dividend are outraged by the compromise and say they’re being threatened with major consequences unless they support an amount they oppose.

Unless the House and Senate approve the compromise with a supermajority (30 of 40 members in the House and 15 of 20 in the Senate), the dividend drops from about $1,100 to about $525 and a variety of projects will shut down for lack of funding.

If the compromise fails to get a simple majority of votes in both the House and Senate, Alaska will be on track for a government shutdown July 1, and state workers will receive warning notices later this week.

It wasn’t clear on Monday what the final tally will be.

Sen. Roger Holland, R-Anchorage, is one of the lawmakers who supported a larger dividend and said he will vote no and may quit the Senate’s Republican-led majority.

“I struggle with staying in the majority, and I feel like ‘no’ is not a strong enough statement,” he said.

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka and one of the compromise’s authors, was unfazed: “It’s a non-binding caucus. There’s no agreements. You’re there of your own free will and accord. You can come and go as you want,” he said.

In addition to the effects on the dividend, a variety of programs will be unfunded, including the state’s subsidy for home electricity in rural Alaska. High school students, promised scholarships by the state, will not receive them.

Tens of millions of dollars in construction projects — principally in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough — will be paused for lack of money, including $10 million for road repairs in the Mat-Su, tree cutting for firebreaks to stop wildfires, and repairs to Houston Middle School, which has been closed since the 2018 Southcentral earthquake.

Until the last days of work on the compromise budget, many of those programs were paid for with money from a variety of sources. Now, they’re funded from two budget reserve accounts and need agreement from three-quarters of the House and Senate.

Most members of the House minority favor a Permanent Fund dividend larger than the one included in the compromise budget. But if they vote in opposition, they shrink the dividend and remove money from projects they want.

“We saw they were already funded; it was a fund source change aimed at twisting an arm,” said House Minority Leader Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla.

Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage and a member of the majority, also favors a larger dividend. In a post on social media, she said the move is “so disappointing. Instead of actually trying to work together in a bipartisan way, budget negotiators have tried to strong-arm the House Republicans into a three-quarter vote.”

“One group will be happy with this: the very wealthy people in the Privileged People’s Club, oops, I mean the Legislature,” she wrote.

Two years ago, members of the House minority attempted to use the budget reserve vote as leverage to increase the dividend. It didn’t work, but the dispute between majority and minority left several programs temporarily without funding.

Speaker of the House Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, said the impacts of the 2019 dispute fell heaviest on rural Alaska, which relies on the Power Cost Equalization program to subsidize the cost of electricity at home. Even in a normal year, that program requires a three-quarters supermajority vote to stay funded, and so the redesign of the budget this year spreads around the potential pain.

“From my view, what the conference committee did was level the playing field,” she said.

The state has enough money to increase this year’s dividend if legislators break a limit on annual spending from the Alaska Permanent Fund.

Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said he’s OK with breaking that limit one time, this year. The fund has performed extraordinarily well — it’s now above $81 billion — and the state is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the Senate is split almost exactly down the middle on the issue, with Republicans and Democrats on each side of the divide, and on Monday, it wasn’t clear how the votes would turn out.

“There’s no monolithic structure here,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage.

In the House, members of the Republican minority have a variety of opinions, but most have supported breaking the limit to pay for a larger dividend.

The House’s coalition majority is adamantly opposed to the idea. Preserving the limit is the group’s founding principle, penned in ink on the wall of Stutes’ office since the start of this year’s session.

“I can definitely say that our group does not want to overdraw,” said Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome, though he acknowledged that he is personally walking a fine line because his constituents want a large dividend.

Stutes said that if the House majority were to vote in favor of breaking the limit, “It won’t end up being a one-time overdraw.”

Over the past few years, the Legislature has spent almost $16 billion in savings. Stedman said that figure makes him ill. He, like Stutes, is unwilling to spend more than the limit.

But Stutes said the House majority could change its position if lawmakers can agree on a long-term fiscal plan including changes to the dividend formula.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed a constitutionally guaranteed dividend with a new formula and a firmer limit on spending from the Permanent Fund.

He has also called a special session for August, and lawmakers say that Dunleavy’s proposal — coupled with as-yet-unpublished tax increases or spending cuts — could create a long-term plan that would break the impasse over this year’s budget.

“We still have opportunity. We have days left in this session, and we have another session in August. We still have an opportunity to make the adjustments that need to be made,” Tilton said.

Correction: The compromise budget includes funding from two reserve accounts, not just the Constitutional Budget Reserve.