Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I was in a long-term relationship for many years that had turned into something pretty platonic and romantically unfulfilling. The breakup was a long time coming; we finally ended things a few months ago, and now I feel ready to date.
You might think I'm moving too fast, but keep in mind this relationship was basically over months or years before we pulled the plug, so I've had a long time to get used to the idea of moving on. The problem is I just don't know how to go about it. Here I am, single and in my late 30s, and I can't remember how to even go about dating.
So far my first attempt was a fail. There's this guy I've been crushing on, we work together, and the other night, I suggested we hang out. At first he was all over it — I don't think he realized I meant as more than friends? So when we met up for drinks after our shift, I tried to flirt — I'm sure I was an awkward disaster, but I think my point got across because at the end of the night, he started talking about how special I am, and how he's always thought so, and I'm "too good" for him, and he couldn't imagine dating right now because he's so busy.
But then at the end of the night, when I asked him in, he came in, and we made out, and it was awesome! Then he left abruptly, and I felt completely confused. First he seemed to be gently letting me down, but then he was all over me, and then he was gone! Talk about mixed messages.
I think I could have something with this guy, so part of me wants to keep pushing it, but then again, should I forget him and "put myself out there," and how exactly does one do that? I feel like I'm going about this all wrong. Help?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you actually didn't do anything wrong in the above-described scenario; you simply experienced the same mixed messages, bad communication, nerves, angst, hope, and physically-driven impulses that fuel oh-so-many dates every night of the week in our beloved town. Look: Dating is hard. Not dating after so many years will be even harder. Summon every ounce of patience at your disposal as you wade back into this murky and turbulent pool.
Is this guy into you? Maybe. He kissed you! But, maybe not. His rhetoric at the restaurant sounded awfully "he's just not that into you." Only time — and patience! — will tell. In the meantime, cheers to you for putting yourself out there and so boldly issuing an invitation. This speaks to your confidence, which will be your biggest internal support as you re-enter the mysterious kingdom of the single and available.
Here's something else to keep in mind, especially if you're looking to your existing circle for romantic partners: While you've been ready to move on for some time, they might not know that, or believe that. In fact, they might assume you're still processing the past, or in rambunctious rebound mode. Frankly, both are unattractive options for a potential partner, who fears a night with you might entail you complaining about your past relationship, or alternatively, ruthlessly using them as a sexual springboard to the future. Clear communication about where you're at mentally and emotionally will help you negotiate these landmines.
Hey, if you're confident you're ready to dive back into the dating pool — and you certainly sold me — go for it. But, like Wanda said, just because you're single and ready to mingle, don't expect everyone else to be on the same page or running at the same pace.
Take, for instance, your co-worker crush. Step back and look at this from his perspective. You guys have worked together for a while, if not forever, and suddenly you want to hang out after work. Hmmm, that's a new development completely out of nowhere, but OK. Then, just as suddenly, hanging out turns to making out. And then making out turns into getting the heck out.
Eight hours earlier you were talking about the new cover sheets for the company TPS reports. Now you're going all NSFW on him. Hello, blindsided! How do you do, confused?
Maybe he is into you, maybe he isn't. You might want to try a real date or five with him to figure that out instead of weighing it all on a night out of drinking and buzz-fueled smooching.
State says it will prioritize Alaskans in Alaska LNG project hiring process
"Today's agreement ensures that Alaskans will be prioritized when jobs are filled," he said, "reflecting intent language adopted by the Legislature in 2014 directing us to prioritize Alaska hiring.” The "Alaskans-first" agreement guarantees qualified ...
Sarah Sinclair poses with Alex Trebek. Photo Courtesy: Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
A self-described "trivia nerd" and a former valedictorian at Service High School will appear on the Jeopardy! game show Monday night, but Sarah Sinclair can't yet say how she did.
Sinclair, 38 and an Anchorage romance novelist, was in a buoyant mood in an interview on Saturday.
She insisted the show, win or lose, is a blast.
She got to briefly meet longtime host Alex Trebek, and wicked smart opponents with their own passion for facts.
"I had a great time," she said. "Anyone who's interested I highly recommend they take the test online."
Passing that test at jeopardy.com early this year is how Sinclair eventually got to the show's Los Angeles studio in August.
Basic smarts helped.
Sinclair graduated from Service in 1998, with straight A's. Her pen names are Lizzie Shane and Vivi Andrews. She's currently writing a book for Hallmark Publishing.
Three of her books under the Shane pseudonym, including "Always a Bridesmaid," have been nominated for Romance Writers of America RITA awards. The awards are dubbed by the organization as "the symbol for excellence in published romance fiction."
"It's kind of a big deal," the author said.
Sinclair said her profession, and her Alaska residency, were unique attributes that likely helped her get selected for the show, after in-person auditions in Cleveland and Seattle.
What'd she study to prepare? You name it.
She watched lots of Jeopardy!, to practice phrasing her responses as questions. She brushed up on presidential minutiae, studied an online trivia archive, and reviewed bodies of water when a friend warned that's a frequent topic.
She read the 2018 World Almanac on the plane ride to California before the taping, she said.
"There was all sorts of crazy information in there," she said.
Contestants pay their way to the studio, so any winnings are welcome. Whether she landed any, she wouldn't say.
"It's definitely something you do because it's a bucket list item and you love it," she said.
Monday's show airs in Alaska at 6 p.m. on ABC, according to jeopardy.com. If Sinclair wins, she'll appear again on Tuesday.
The Justin Schneider case exposed problems in Alaska’s justice system. Judge Michael Corey shouldn’t be the scapegoat.
Superior Court Judge Michael Corey listens to arguments during a change of plea and sentencing hearing on Sept. 27, 2017 at the Nesbett Courthouse in Anchorage. (Loren Holmes / ADN)
When Justin Schneider received a plea deal that allowed him to avoid jail time in a sexually motivated assault case that shocked Alaskans, many were justifiably outraged. The punishment didn't fit the crime, and the leniency of the sentence was difficult to square with any notion of justice. Unfortunately, one of the targets of the greatest ire in the wake of the sentence is Superior Court Judge Michael Corey, in whose lap the plea deal landed. It's understandable that Alaskans are looking for a way to make sure such an outcome doesn't occur again, but singling out Judge Corey isn't the right way to make sure of that.
The timeline of Schneider's case as it moved through the Alaska court system is a tragedy of errors that led up to an improper outcome. At junctures throughout the process, decisions were made that lessened the severity of the consequences Schneider faced for the egregious incident in August 2017 in which, according to a police report, he choked and threatened to kill a woman before masturbating on her.
The first error was in Alaska's laws themselves: Schneider's act wasn't classified as sexual assault. When the law was written, legislators didn't consider the possibility of such an incident, so it wasn't included in the definition. This error is so plain that Gov. Bill Walker has already proposed legislation to revise Alaska's legal definitions to classify Schneider's act as a sex offense — one punishable by between two and 12 years of prison time.
Subsequent issues in the case speak to the municipality and state's overburdened law enforcement and criminal justice divisions. Schneider's financial ability to hire effective private defense counsel was helpful in convincing a Superior Court judge to allow him to stay out of jail on electronic monitoring. Law enforcement, dealing with a swarm of other cases, lost track of the victim in the case. Prosecutors didn't subpoena her to compel her testimony in the case of a potential trial.
As happens in more than 95 percent of criminal cases nationwide, the Schneider case was resolved via plea bargain. That statistic is likely shocking to many Alaskans, but it's a near-inevitable consequence of a system in which the number of cases charged exceeds the capacity in time, space and funding for trials by orders of magnitude. It's a cold, hard reality that if prosecutors took every case to trial — or even half of them — the system would grind to a halt almost immediately, which would have the unintended consequence of forcing the release and dismissal of many defendants' cases because of their right to a speedy trial.
Having lost contact with the victim and with more than a year elapsed since the incident, state attorneys were in a bind, and opted to cut a deal that dropped all the charges except one count of second-degree assault. It was far less than had been originally charged, but they ran the risk of not being able to secure the victim's testimony at trial, without which the case would be exceptionally difficult to win.
When the deal came before Judge Corey, his options were few and limited. He wasn't legally allowed to consider the charges that had been dropped in considering the sentence agreed upon by the prosecution and defense, only whether the sentence is appropriate for the remaining charges. The sentence of one year in custody and one year suspended was within the 0-2 year range allowed under Alaska law, so if Judge Corey had rejected it, his decision would very likely have been overturned on appeal.
Was there more that could have been done? Judge Corey could have asked for a pre-sentencing report before agreeing to a sentence, which would have allowed prosecutors and defense attorneys to debate Schneider's prospects for rehabilitation and argue aggravating and mitigating factors that could have affected the sentence. That would have allowed state attorneys to make a case as to the seriousness of Schneider's conduct — but it would also have allowed the defense to bring up his lack of prior offenses. It's hard to know with any certainty whether it would have helped reach a different outcome.
Judge Corey was unanimously recommended for retention by the Alaska Judicial Council. He was given a 4-out-of-5 rating by attorneys who came before him and a 5-out-of-5 rating by jurors. These recommendations should not be taken lightly; they represent a robust survey of the judge's four years on the bench.
Alaskans have a right to be outraged at the outcome of the Schneider case. But selecting Judge Corey as a scapegoat for a system with problems over which he had no control doesn't help ensure justice for future victims.
By the time the case reached Judge Corey's desk, the opportunities to provide true justice were past. He should not be held singularly responsible for the failures in the process before him. Most of the opportunities to ensure justice for future victims — closing loopholes in laws, providing funding for public safety and the Department of Law to more aggressively prosecute sex offenses — lie in the hands of the Legislature. Alaskans who want justice for victims should petition the candidates running for office to make those changes, not make Judge Corey a sacrificial lamb for a broken system.
The views expressed here are those of the Anchorage Daily News, as expressed by its editorial board, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. Current editorial board members are Ryan Binkley, Andy Pennington, Julia O'Malley, Tom Hewitt and Andrew Jensen. To submit a piece for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to email@example.com or click here to submit via any web browser.
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With open enrollment for health insurance just around the corner, now is the time for patients to take a close look at their plans and really read the fine print. Unfortunately, this isn't as easy as it should be. High premiums, high deductibles and limited coverage for patients make the calculus of this decision complicated. At the same time, one of the major problems Alaska patients still face is a lack of true transparency about costs. Even with fair estimates from doctors, without knowing insurance payment rates, it's impossible to calculate the out-of-pocket costs a patient can be responsible for after insurer reimbursement. And, as insurers work to undermine the 80th-percentile rule, which currently protects patients from out-of-network costs, there is even more uncertainty.
After serving as an orthopedic surgeon in the Air Force for more than 20 years and then transitioning into the private health care sector, I was faced with one of the grimmest realities within the medical profession: how confusing insurance coverage and costs can be for patients.
One of my patients came in last month for a consultation ahead of her scheduled total knee replacement. This is a major procedure and she's unable to walk right now, but her number one concern was figuring out how much her insurance was going to cover. Doctors and hospitals can provide a good faith estimate, but with little transparency from insurers, we have no way of knowing how much the patient will owe after surgery.
Alaska's new transparency law requires providers to post prices of their most commonly performed procedures. Without more clarity on what insurers will pay, this information won't mean much, especially if state lawmakers take away the current 80th-percentile rule that protects patients from huge bills their
insurance plans won't cover.
Patients are paying a lot each month in insurance premiums, but are often shocked that their plans have high in-network and out-of-network deductibles that can mean they have to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket before their insurance coverage even kicks in. My office employs six people to help patients navigate their insurance coverage. I often think about how unique this is to health care – my mechanic, for example, doesn't employ people to help me understand my car insurance coverage.
But patients are often facing long wait times, as well as incomplete or even inaccurate information from their plans. It can take our billing experts hours and several calls to get to the bottom of a patient issue. With insurance companies increasingly offering "narrow network" plans, on top of existing specialty and
physician shortages in Alaska, patients are surprised to find that there are often very limited numbers of in-network providers they can access, as for specialty services. Premera just announced for 2019 it will narrow its non-emergency network outside of Alaska for individual plans to only Washington; this is alarming news for Alaskans who spend time in one of the other 48 States or patients currently getting specialized care or treatment.
Currently, the 80th-percentile rule helps protect these patients who unexpectedly, either through an emergency or having no other options, have to utilize out-of-network care. This state protection says a patient's insurance company has to pay a fair portion of the out-of-network charges the patient would otherwise need to cover. When insurance covers these costs directly with providers, patients aren't caught in the middle and don't receive huge out-of-network bills. But, right now, insurers are trying to limit this rule and take away this protection.
In emergencies, patients have little control over where they will go for treatment or which doctors care for them. We also know that things don't always go as planned and good faith estimates may not match the final cost of care if there's an accident or something goes wrong. In these cases, it's important to makesure patients are still protected, by maintaining the 80th-percentile rule.
While the Legislature took a step last session toward improving transparency, it will only work if the system is fully transparent, and right now, that isn't close to being the case. Insurance service payment rates differ from provider to provider, so a doctor with a higher charge rate might actually end up costing less out-of-pocket for a patient, depending on their insurance plan. Yet insurance companies prevent providers from disclosing these payment rates, and insurance companies themselves make it difficult to get the information. Without improved information about insurance plan rates, the system will never be fully transparent, and patients still won't be able to make the best decisions.
On top of the lack of transparency, Alaskans are being steered toward care based solely on cost with no consideration for quality, which leads to a higher percentage of misdiagnoses and bad health outcomes, ultimately costing patients, doctors, insurance companies and the state more in the long run.
As we approach open enrollment season, transparency around costs and understanding what plans cover are both important. Patients should look beyond their premium payments to consider how high deductibles and narrow networks might impact their ability to access the services they need.
All of us in health care have a crucial role to play in improving transparency. We need to make sure patients are able to access accurate information from their providers and accurate information from their insurance company about what their plans cover and what their cost-sharing responsibilities are. Additionally, we need to advocate together for patient protections like the 80th-percentile rule that protect patients from unexpected bills.
Dr. Eli Powell is an orthopedic surgeon in Anchorage and the former hospital commander at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska and Balad Air Base in Iraq. He has more than 30 years of experience in health care. Dr. Powell is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Alaska State Medical Association.
Spawning salmon in Katmai National Park. (Getty Images)
This fall, Bristol Bay residents need to make some important decisions. Now that freezers are full, we are ready to turn our attention to the November general election. The ballot this year includes a citizen's initiative to update our salmon habitat laws. It is Ballot Measure 1, also known as the "Stand for Salmon" initiative.
In Bristol Bay, salmon are vital to our economy and our way of life. Protecting them is up to us. That's why our organizations have all passed resolutions in support of Ballot Measure 1.
Alaska's current fish habitat laws are older than the state itself. You read that right: The laws and process for fish habitat permitting are carryovers from the territorial days. Just think about that. When these laws were written, President Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, Alaska had a population of about 220,000 and Alaska's fisheries were being managed for maximum plunder rather than escapement. The current rules are from a different time and they need to be updated. Ballot Measure 1 is a sensible update that would provide a stronger and more transparent science-based permitting system. This is one tool to protect the salmon resource we all rely on.
There is a lot of conversation in the region about this initiative. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide the same information to you that helped our boards make a decision. That way you can make your own choice.
First, Ballot Measure 1 does not change the types of activities that require permits. Projects in anadromous fish habitat have always required a permit — nothing in Ballot Measure 1 changes that. What the initiative does is create a fair, science-based permitting system. It creates two tracks to process permits. Projects that pose little threat to fish habitat get a minor permit and are processed quickly but projects that have the potential to damage Alaska's salmon fisheries, like the Pebble mine, are put on the major permit track and receive more scrutiny. Vital infrastructure like roads, schools, airports and more will still be built in our communities; they simply will be built with commonsense precautions for the wild salmon we depend on.
The initiative would also make some other necessary updates to existing laws. Ballot Measure 1 creates habitat protection standards to define what it really means to properly protect our fish and wildlife. It also improves the bonding requirements for major projects, so that the big companies who want to build large projects are responsible for the financial cost of cleanup. And for the first time ever, Alaskans will be informed when permits are issued. For major permits, Alaskans will have the opportunity to weigh in on large development projects that could harm our salmon. These updates to the law establish a standard of care for fish habitat that holds large developers accountable if a project is proposed in our state's rich salmon areas.
Finally, here in Bristol Bay, we know that nearly every stream has fish in it. There are 29 species of fish in our region. They all depend on pristine habitat. Salmon, pike, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic char and so many more — they all depend on streams throughout our region for life. And we depend on them. But the state currently recognizes only some of the streams that support our fish as needing protection. Ballot Measure 1 would update the law to acknowledge the true extent of the anadromous streams in our region, a key step in protecting them.
The people of Bristol Bay have been stewards of our resources since time immemorial, and in turn, our resources have sustained us throughout the ages. Now, we're being asked to consider updated protections for our timeless fisheries. Everyone has the right to voice their opinion by casting a vote on Nov. 6. Please, make your voice heard.
Ralph Andersen is the president and CEO of Bristol Bay Native Association. Robert Heyano is the president of United Tribes of Bristol Bay. Norm Van Vactor is the CEO of Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.
Fishing for votes
Early Alaska legislators don't get the credit they deserve for suggesting allocation standards to encourage the Board of Fisheries to evolve salmon harvests over time. Unfortunately, there has been little evolution in Cook Inlet. For two decades, the ...
Cordova Ikumat dancers will perform at AFN convention
Performers with the Cordova Ikumat Dance Group will perform on Thursday, Oct. 18, during Quyana Alaska, a special event at the annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives in Anchorage. Quyana cultural performances feature of dance groups from ...
The northern lights were recently out in force over downtown Fairbanks and the “Unknown First Family” statue at Golden Heart Plaza. (Jody Overstreet)
FAIRBANKS — Heading to a fly-in meeting or convention ? It can be a mixed bag. Maybe you're going to a new city — but you have to spend time inside. If you're lucky you get out to see the countryside and visit with friends.
There are some bonuses when travel professionals meet, though. At the Alaska Travel Industry Association meeting in Fairbanks, most of the folks are in the hospitality business, so the parties are fabulous.
I get to man a booth at the trade show for this convention each year — and it's a great way to check out the new travel offers around the state.
New ships are sailing to Alaska during the summer. But it's not just big ships (like the Norwegian Joy, which can accommodate more than 3,800 guests).
Tracy Meyer is one of the captains aboard a refurbished yacht, the Sea Star, which offers seven-day cruises between Seward and Whittier or between Seward and Homer.
Meyer is a former Navy officer and "ship driver," so she's focused when describing the detailed routes they've selected around the Kenai Peninsula and in Prince William Sound. But her eyes glass over a bit talking about the history of the vessel.
"Walking around the Sea Star is like stepping back in time," she said. "It was built in 1965 as a family yacht in Wisconsin. At 85 feet long and 19 feet wide, it's got teak decks and all the latest bells and whistles from the era," she said.
Tracy Meyer takes the helm of the 85-foot Sea Star in College Fjord. (Photo courtesy North Pacific Expeditions)
Meyer's business partner, Erik Teevin, works on the North American, one of the crab boats featured on the "Deadliest Catch" TV series. So he's familiar with Alaska waters — and this new venture is his way to show off some lesser-known areas of the state.
"We will meet our guests in either Whittier, Seward or Homer for the weeklong cruise," said Meyer. She and Teevin brought friends and family aboard the Sea Star last summer to do expeditions along the routes to set some basic itineraries.
"We have kayaks and a couple of smaller boats to access the beaches and really explore the area," said Meyer. "There are just four staterooms, with room for just 12 guests. So while we've got some favorite itineraries, we can really work with our guests to see more glaciers, do more hikes or spend more time in the kayaks," she said.
In addition to the skipper and mate, there's a naturalist on board.
"We want our guests to feel like they're on an expedition. It wasn't that long ago that scientific expeditions sailed these waters and named the fjords and glaciers," said Meyer.
With the focused gaze of a ship's master, Meyer traces one of the routes on the map past the routes of the popular day cruises from Seward. Past Resurrection Bay, past Aialik Bay and the Northwestern Fjord. Then, up McCarty Fjord to the McCarty Glacier. "We've read these charts in the books, but then we had to prove it to ourselves," she said.
Pointing back to the map and McCarty Fjord, she said, "Nobody does this."
That, of course, is the point in providing the small-scale, adventure-class cruises that she and Teevin have designed.
It's not cheap. The one-week rates start at around $6,075 per person, based on two people sharing a cabin. The rates include all your meals, beer and wine, guided activities, sea kayaking gear, hiking poles and binoculars. Depending on your itinerary, the cost may include train or air transportation from Anchorage to meet the ship.
For the summer, the Sea Star sails between three main ports: Seward, Homer and Whittier. During the off-season, the boat lives on Lake Union in Seattle. So there are some positioning cruises that are less expensive. There are three- to eight-day cruises from Seattle up to Ketchikan, Petersburg or Sitka. The Sea Star does not offer passage across the Gulf of Alaska. Meyer notes the Gulf is "not as friendly" as the protected waters of the Inside Passage or Prince William Sound.
Contact North Pacific Expeditions online or call (206)886-8107.
Summer no longer is the only season to visit Alaska. Here in Fairbanks, more and more folks are coming north to see the northern lights. That means more activities and adventures are available to explore the countryside in the winter, too. Choose from going on a dogsled trip, a snowmachine ride or a soak in a hot spring. Even a drive in the country can be exciting.
Before this week's conference, a friend invited me to dinner at Ivory Jack's, which is outside of Fairbanks on Goldstream Road. This qualifies as a "real Alaskan" destination, complete with a rustic bar, an adjacent liquor store and restaurant. The Prime Rib Dip sandwich was delicious and we all shared nice desserts.
There are no streetlights this far out of town — but you don't really need them on a cold, clear night. The northern lights were ablaze, whipping across the sky three bands at a time. I almost wrecked the car gawking at the lights while driving back to town.
Those of us who call Alaska home already love the midnight sun and the northern lights. But it's fun to spend a week with folks who are coming up with new and interesting ways to show off Alaska: winter, spring, summer and fall.
An archaeological site near Serpentine Hot Springs on the Seward Peninsula. (Photo by Ted Goebel)
Stone spear points from Serpentine Hot Springs on the Seward Peninsula in Northwest Alaska hint that ancient people may have migrated northward between ice sheets from warmer parts of America, bringing their technology with them.
Heather Smith, an anthropologist at Eastern New Mexico University, wrote a recent paper based on spear-point fragments she and others found near Serpentine Hot Springs during the summers of 2010 and 2011.
In her study, she wrote the stone points represent "either Clovis groups moving north through the ice-free corridor to northern Yukon and Alaska, or the interaction of Clovis groups with humans already present in the northwestern subarctic and Arctic."
Found only in North and South America, fluted points were part of a famous find near Clovis, New Mexico, that scientists radiocarbon dated to be about 13,000 years old. Anthropologists have found fluted points in several places in Alaska, including near Serpentine Hot Springs.
In chipping those fluted points with other stone, bone or antler tools, Pleistocene hunters etched a groove in the bases to attach spears of wood with sinew. Despite being thin and appearing brittle, these fluted points were stout enough to penetrate the hide of a bison or caribou.
The Alaska fluted points are somewhat similar to those first found near Clovis, New Mexico, but showed a modified design from the original Clovis points, which are 1,000 years older.
Part of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve north of Nome, Serpentine Hot Springs is a mystical landscape of toothy granite tors jutting from low tundra plants. In a nearby draw are a few well-kept buildings, one with sleeping quarters and a workshop and another covering a hot springs pool, often visited by people from Shishmaref, about 40 miles north.
John Shook of Fairbanks skis toward Serpentine Hot Springs on the Seward Peninsula. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Years ago, Bob Gal, a former National Park Service archaeologist, found spear tips a few miles from the hot springs. Ted Goebel, an anthropologist at Texas A&M; University, traveled to Serpentine Hot Springs in the summers of 2009 to 2011. The latter two years, Goebel's crew chief at the dig site was Heather Smith, who was then earning her doctorate.
The points they unearthed at Serpentine Hot Springs were useful in that they were buried, allowing the scientists to better tell how old they were by comparing them to charcoal found next to them.
"The fluted points from Serpentine were ultimately the inspiration for the paper," Smith said. "They were the first in the North to be associated with reliable radiocarbon dates."
Smith and Goebel, who earned his doctorate at UAF, teamed up on the recent paper. They looked at 246 fluted spear points from all over North America. They used digital analysis to compare shapes in minute detail. They wanted to document how the weapon technology evolved through time and across space, to interpret possible human migration routes.
"These fluted-point makers were not just all over mid-continent North America, but were also migrating back to the Arctic," Smith said.
Rapper Kanye West speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with President Donald Trump, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Evan Vucci/)
Kanye brought up the 13th Amendment - again. This time he was in the Oval Office, sitting across the desk from President Donald Trump on Thursday during a particularly surreal encounter.
With cameras clicking and boom microphones amplifying his every word, the controversial rapper - wearing a red "Make America Great Again" hat - unleashed another rambling rant:
"There are a lot of things affecting our mental health that makes us do crazy things that puts us back into that trapdoor called the 13th Amendment," West said, as Trump sat across from him, smiling.
"I did say 'abolish' with the hat on because why would you keep something around that is a trapdoor?" West asked. "If you are building a floor - the Constitution is the base of our industry . . . of our country . . . of our company. Would you build a trapdoor that if you mess up and you accidentally - something happens - and you fall, and you end up next to the Unabomber? You've got to remove the trapdoor out of the relationship - the 13th Amendment out of our relationship. The way the universe works is perfect. You don't have 13 floors. Do we?"
The 13th Amendment, which was ratified by the states on Dec. 6, 1865, abolished slavery, declaring: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Earlier this month, West tweeted about the 13th Amendment and called for it to be abolished:
"This represents good and America becoming whole again," he wrote. "We will no longer outsource to other countries. We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love."
Why anybody would want to abolish an amendment that freed enslaved people and was passed more than 153 years ago has left some people confused.
Ava Duvernay directed the documentary "13th," which traced the amendment's "exception clause" from the era of convict leasing after the Civil War - when black people convicted of even small crimes were forced to work on plantations - to current mass incarceration and prison labor. She tweeted: "I'm consciously choosing to tweet about plant-based burgers and not current statements about the 13th Amendment from a certain MAGA follower. Respectfully, please don't @ me. I can't do nothing for him."
Historian Arica L. Coleman watched West's performance at the White House with astonishment.
"This man does not have a clue," said Coleman, who is author of "That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia." "Kanye is an entertainer . . . What he is saying is in the guise of history - in the guise of facts. These are alternative facts, which means no facts at all."
Passage of the 13th Amendment was in fact prompted by the Emancipation Proclamation, "which was done as a military necessity," Coleman said. "Lincoln did not issue the Emancipation on moral grounds. It did not free all the slaves."
According to the National Park Service, Lincoln issued a warning on September 22, 1862, announcing that he would issue an "Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that enslaved people in states or areas of 'rebellion against the United States' would be free effective on January 1, 1863."
No Confederate states heeded Lincoln's demand, so the president made good on his threat. "After standing in line for hours to greet the customary New Year's Day visitors at the White House, Abraham Lincoln retired to his office upstairs at the Executive Mansion and signed the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation," according to the Park Service account.
"His hands were tired and trembling from shaking so many hands, and as he prepared to sign the document, he paused to let the quivering subside, and declared, as if to reinforce his resolve, 'I never in my life felt more certain that I was doing right than I do in signing this paper . . . if my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.' Lincoln affixed a steady signature to the Emancipation Proclamation, completing what he would later call the great event of the nineteenth century."
The final Emancipation Proclamation was issued Jan. 1, 1863, targeting areas in rebellion, excluding areas that were controlled by the Union army.
"The document notably excluded the so-called border states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, where slavery existed side by side with Unionist sentiment," the Park Service explains. "In areas where the U.S. government had authority, such as Maryland and much of Tennessee, slavery went untouched. In areas where slaves were declared free - most of the South - the federal government had no effective authority."
When the Civil War ended May 9, 1865, the issue of slavery was still unclear.
"The reason you needed the 13th Amendment was because after the Civil War, the question came up about whether the Emancipation Proclamation was legally binding," Coleman said. "Could this apply to children of slaves? There were a lot of questions. The 13th Amendment was created to put the question of slavery to rest once and for all."
It almost didn't pass. The Steven Spielberg 2012 film "Lincoln" recounted the president's complicated maneuvering to push the 13th Amendment through the House.
But the film skipped the debate that preceded it in the Senate. "While Lincoln waited until late 1864 to publicly support an abolition amendment (while quietly supporting it behind the scenes), Radical Republicans like Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner and Ohio representative James Ashley called for such action in 1863," a Senate history explains. "Sumner and his allies applauded Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, but they believed the wartime measure did not go far enough. Instead, they demanded what they termed a 'constitutional guarantee' of 'perpetual freedom.' Such debates - barely hinted at in the movie - shaped the language of the amendment and influenced an evolving definition of equality."
On April 8, 1864, according to the Library of Congress, the Senate passed the 13th Amendment on a 38-to-6 vote.
But on June 15, 1864, it was defeated in the House on a 93-to-65 vote. With 23 members of Congress not voting, it failed to meet the two-thirds majority needed to pass a Constitutional amendment.
In his message to Congress on Dec. 6, 1864, Lincoln bemoaned the fact that the House had failed to pass the amendment.
"At the last session of Congress a proposed amendment of the Constitution, abolishing slavery throughout the United States, passed the Senate, but failed for lack of the requisite two-thirds vote in the House of Representatives," Lincoln wrote. "Although the present is the same Congress, and nearly the same members, and without questioning the wisdom or patriotism of those who stood in opposition, I venture to recommend the reconsideration and passage of the measure at the present session."
In January 1865, the amendment was debated again in the House, and Lincoln pushed hard for passage.
One congressman later quoted Lincoln as telling him, "I am the President of the United States, clothed with immense power, and I expect you to procure those votes."
On Jan. 31, 1865, the House finally passed the 13th Amendment on a 119-to-56 vote.
The next day, Lincoln submitted the proposed 13th Amendment to the states. A change to the Constitution must be ratified by three-fourths of the states. Twenty-seven of the then-36 states voted in favor of the amendment. The holdouts included Delaware, which didn't ratify the 13th Amendment until 1901; Kentucky, which didn't embrace it until 1976; and Mississippi, which waited until 2013 to officially embrace the end of slavery.
The amendment was added to the Constitution on Dec. 18, 1865. By then, Lincoln had been assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.
Some people following West's commentary assume that his comments are not directed at the whole 13th Amendment, but rather the the amendment's "exception clause," which exempts those convicted of a crime from being free of slavery.
The clause prohibits slavery or involuntary servitude "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."
“They used the words ‘except for prison,’ which leads people to say we went from the prison of slavery to the slavery of prison,” Coleman said. “What Kanye is doing is drawing a straight line from the 13th Amendment to mass incarceration to the 1994 crime bill under the Clinton Administration. But it is not a straight line from the 13th Amendment to the crime bill, and Kanye is not an expert.”
MEXICO BEACH, Fla. - The National Guard unit raced to clear rubble and power lines as it made its way along U.S. Highway 98. The goal: Blaze a path to this isolated beach town on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the place that bore the most devastating impact of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, so rescues could begin Friday.
Members of the guard unit from nearby Bonifay, Florida, knew all about Mexico Beach - population 1,072 - where in the past they had gone swimming in the surf and waved hello to friends at the Dollar General. But once they emerged onto the spot where the town had been, the devastation was nearly unfathomable.
The public pier had washed away. Entire blocks of houses were wiped clear off their foundations. The town's landmark El Governor Motel was gutted, its heated pool and Tiki Bar a pile of detritus, colorful beach umbrellas shredded and upended. The popular RV park looked like a junk yard. Beach houses were pulled off their pilings. Toucan's, a favorite seafood restaurant, lay in ruin.
"It was just gut-wrenching," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Pliscofsky. It was his fourth hurricane rescue operation, but he had never seen anything like it. "It was like a monster came through and kicked it all down. This all just shocked us."
Michael hit the beach here Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds, slamming into the coastline and tearing through several inland communities. Though people knew the storm was coming, many thought it would not be as ferocious as it became.
As the National Guard arrived, Thomas Jett was out surveying the town after he weathered the storm there with this dog. He had waited too long to evacuate and then had to turn back when his van was nearly blown off the road.
"There's not a word in the dictionary to explain how bad it was," Jett said. "It's like the end of the world. . . . It's amazing anybody's still alive, still standing. . . . In the blink of an eye it's all gone. It's horrible."
Although Michael weakened as it moved north, downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning, it continued its assault into early Friday as it chugged through Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. It left at least 15 dead in its wake, victims of felled trees, airborne debris and flash flooding.
The death toll likely will go higher; emergency crews are still struggling to reach some of the hardest-hit areas on the Florida Panhandle, where homes were toppled and their contents strewn, officials said.
Damaged homes are seen along the water's edge in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman/)
South Florida urban search and rescue K-9 specialist Brian Smithey works with his dog Doak to check a debris pile for survivors of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman/)
This aerial photo shows debris and destruction in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, after Hurricane Michael went through the area on Wednesday. Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town, was nearly obliterated by the hurricane, an official said Friday as the scale of the storm's fury became ever clearer. (Bronte Wittpenn/Tampa Bay Times via AP) (Bronte Wittpenn/)
A home stands damaged from hurricane Michael as members of a South Florida urban search and rescue team look for survivors in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman/)
FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2018 file photo, a boat sits amidst debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla. Hurricane Michael has shown that President Donald Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to the public when a natural disaster unfolds. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (Gerald Herbert/)
Dave Mullins looks out over the damage in front of his home, seen in background left, where he rode out hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. "Right now I just need communication," said Mullins of not having cell phone service. "If I can get out here I would." (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman/)
This photo shows debris and destruction in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, after Hurricane Michael went through the area on Wednesday. Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town, was nearly obliterated by the hurricane, an official said Friday as the scale of the storm's fury became ever clearer. (Bronte Wittpenn/Tampa Bay Times via AP) (Bronte Wittpenn/)
South Florida urban search and rescue specialist Chris Boyer removes a damaged American flag from a downed pole while checking for for survivors of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman/)
A member of a South Florida urban search and rescue team checks a home for survivors of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman/)
Members from South Florida Task Force search a flattened home destroyed by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, after Hurricane Michael went through the area on Wednesday. Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town, was nearly obliterated by the hurricane, an official said Friday as the scale of the storm's fury became ever clearer. (Bronte Wittpenn/Tampa Bay Times via AP) (Bronte Wittpenn/)
Damaged homes are seen along the water's edge in the aftermath of hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman/)
Jay Faulk, 56, surveys the damage to his home, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018 in Mexico Beach, Fla. Residents of the small beach town of Mexico Beach began to make their way back to their homes some for the first time after Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday. (Chris Urso/Tampa Bay Times via AP) (Chris Urso/)
“Unfortunately, I think you’re going to see it climb,” William “Brock” Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said of the death toll at a briefing Friday. “I hope we don’t see it climb dramatically. But I have reasons to believe - we haven’t gotten into some of the hardest hit areas, particularly the Mexico Beach area.” Only one fatality had been discovered in the town as of Friday evening, but much of the community was flattened.
The storm headed out into the Atlantic on Friday, but many could feel the impact for days, as more than 1 million people from Florida to Virginia were left without power.
Along with residential coastal areas, officials said Hurricane Michael also caused significant damage at Tyndall Air Force base, which is adjacent to Mexico Beach on the Gulf. The "base took a beating," Col. Brian Laidlaw, the installation's commander and commander of the 325th Fighter Wing, wrote in a letter to the people who call it home, saying that the base requires "extensive cleanup and repairs." The base's fleet of F-22 fighter jets were unscathed.
On Friday, under a clear sky, Brenna McAllister, a former combat medic in Afghanistan, worked with other volunteer veterans to clear debris from more than 12 miles of roadway outside of Panama City. They used chain saws to buzz through fallen trees and hauled away massive debris, including waterlogged mattresses and washing-machine parts to create a path to homes that were effectively cut off from the world.
"All the emergency services - everything - the radio towers were down, the Internet, the phones," said McAllister, who works as a massage therapist and will probably be out of a job because so many of the hotels where she works were destroyed in Panama City. "We just got a convoy of veterans trained in working in war zones and went to work. It gives us a sense of purpose."
While there was significant focus on Florida's obliterated beachfront communities, there also are rescue operations underway far inland. Many people in the Panhandle live on dirt roads blocked by fallen trees, with rescue teams having to go in on foot. One resident of the town of Marianna, Chad Taylor, 66, a building contractor, said that there's not a chain saw for sale anywhere between Pensacola and Tallahassee, across the entire breadth of North Florida.
In Mexico Beach on Friday, rescue crews began their painstaking house-to-house search, offering stunned residents water and checking on their welfare. In return, a peppering of questions: When would the power be back? When would FEMA arrive?
"We're looking for anybody who is trapped," said cadet Matthew Pippins. They found no crises Friday morning. What they did find were stunned and shocked people who were glad to see the first officials in days.
Mexico Beach is a quiet vacation spot about 30 minutes east of Panama City that attracts snowbirds and tourists who pull glistening red snapper out of its waters. The town, which stretches for about five miles along U.S. Route 98, has managed to hold on to its charm by avoiding big-box stores and high-rise condominiums, said Mayor Al Cathey, whose family has owned a hardware store in the area since 1974.
"We're a proud little community," he said. "There's no corporate America here. . . . We're a unique little place, very close knit."
Marcy Elderman, 30, pulled out her gas grill and declared she was going to cook for everyone in her neighborhood, many of whom spent the previous evening sleeping in cars outside ruined homes.
"All of us feel like this is a community, and this is what's left," Elderman said. "We just stick together."
Home security alarm batteries emitted a constant chirp. The sharp smell of rot was beginning to set in. Nearly every home within sight of the water was grievously damaged, if not wiped off its foundation, flattened or roofless, windowless and doorless. Tangled messes of wood timbers, sodden pink insulation, electrical wires and household items were the only evidence of seaside homes and businesses.
Janet Kinch, who has had a home on the beach since 1989, returned for the first time Friday afternoon and was stunned into silence when she saw what Hurricane Michael had wrought. The foundation stilts remained, but almost nothing else - she found the peach and aqua tiles from her floors across the street, and she began hunting for the brand-new refrigerator.
"There's my new screen door," she said, looking behind the carcass of a nearby home. This was the second time she was sifting through the remnants of a destroyed house; she and her husband rebuilt here after Hurricane Opal swept their home away in 1995. "My husband just died two weeks ago. Oh, I can't believe this. The house is gone for the second time."
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, R, who has been visiting areas pummeled by the storm to assess needs, described Mexico Beach as being like "a war zone."
"There's one house that was on the beachside of that main road there, and it's on the other side of the road now," Scott said during a Friday briefing. "It was picked up by the storm surge and taken over."
During a tour of the wreckage, Cathey asked Scott how other places fared.
"You guys got it the worst," Scott replied.
Cathey spray-painted a board to read "City Hall" on Friday to serve as a makeshift community gathering place until a temporary building can be erected. He predicted that it would be months before the town had electricity, plumbing or water - its main water tower was blown over.
Cathey weathered the storm in his family's home, and after the winds subsided he staggered outside to see his entire neighborhood destroyed.
"I guess this is what they call devastation," he said, amid the ruins of the family store. "When you live on the coast, there's a price to be paid for that."
Sullivan reported from Mexico Beach, Wax-Thibodeaux and Gowen reported from Washington. The Washington Post’s Alice Li in Mexico Beach and Mark Berman, Joel Achenbach and Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.
This June 12, 2010, photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows Pacific walruses resting on an ice flow in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. (S.A. Sonsthagen/U.S. Geological Survey via AP) (S.A. Sonsthagen/)
Given a choice between giving birth on land or sea ice, Pacific walrus mothers most often choose ice.
Likewise, they prefer sea ice for molting, mating, nursing and resting between dives for food. Trouble is, as the century progresses, there's going to be far less ice around.
How well walruses cope with less sea ice is at the heart of a legal fight over whether walruses should be listed as a threatened species, giving them an added protection against human encroachments.
The federal government in 2008 listed polar bears as a threatened species because of diminished sea ice brought on by climate warming. That year the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to do the same for walruses.
However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in October 2017 that walruses are adapting and no one has proven that they "need" sea ice.
"It is unknown whether Pacific walruses can give birth, conduct their nursing during immediate post-natal care period, or complete courtship on land," said Justice Department lawyers in defending the decision.
A federal judge in Alaska will hear the center's lawsuit challenging the government's decision not to list the walrus as threatened.
Pacific walrus males grow to 12 feet (3.7 meters) long and up to 4,000 pounds (1,815 kilograms) — more than an average midsize sedan. Females reach half that weight. Walruses dive and use sensitive whiskers to find clams and snails in dim light on the sea floor.
Historically hunted for ivory tusks, meat and blubber, walruses since 1972 have been shielded by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Only Alaska Native subsistence hunters may legally kill them.
An Endangered Species Act listing would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for walruses and plan for their recovery. Federal agencies, before issuing permits for development such as offshore drilling, would be required to ensure walruses and their habitat would not be jeopardized.
Inaccessibility protected walruses for decades, but a rapid decline in summer sea ice has made them vulnerable.
In the Chukchi Sea between Alaska and Russia, where Pacific walrus females and juveniles spend their summer, ice could be absent during that season by 2060 or sooner, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
This photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows a female Pacific walrus resting, Sept. 19, 2013 in Point Lay, Alaska. (Ryan Kingsbery/U.S. Geological Survey via AP) (Ryan Kingsbery/)
This July 20, 2011, photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows Pacific walruses rest on an ice flow in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)
This Sept. 17, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows walruses as they clamber up on to the grassy tundra on a barrier island in Point Lay, Alaska. (Ryan Kingsbery/U.S. Geological Survey via AP) (Ryan Kingsbery/)
This photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows a female Pacific walrus resting, Sept. 19, 2013 in Point Lay, Alaska. (Ryan Kingsbery/U.S. Geological Survey via AP) (Ryan Kingsbery/)
FILE - In this Sept. 2013 photo provided by the United States Geological Survey, Pacific walruses gather to rest on the shores of the Chukchi Sea near the coastal village of Point Lay, Alaska. (Ryan Kingsbery/United States Geological Survey via AP, file) (Ryan Kingsbery/)
This Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018 photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows hundreds of Pacific walruses gathered together on a barrier island in Alaska. (Vickie Beaver/NOAA via AP) (Vickie Beaver/)
Since 1981, an area more than double the size of Texas — 610,000 square miles (1.58 million square kilometers) — has become unavailable to Arctic marine mammals by summer’s end, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
By late August, as sea ice recedes beyond the shallow continental shelf, female walruses and their calves face a choice: Stay on ice over water too deep to reach the ocean floor for feeding — or come ashore for rest periods, where the smallest animals can be crushed in stampedes triggered by a hunter, airplane or bear.
More open water already has meant more ship traffic. Walruses also could find more humans in their habitat with a reversal of U.S. policy on Arctic offshore drilling. Former President Barack Obama permanently withdrew most Arctic waters from lease sales, but President Donald Trump in April 2017 announced he was reversing Obama, a decision being challenged in court. The administration's proposed five-year offshore leasing plan includes sales in the Chukchi Sea.
Designating walruses as threatened would mean oil exploration companies would have to consult with federal wildlife officials to make sure drill rigs don’t endanger the animals. However, Trump’s Interior and Commerce departments in July proposed administrative changes to the species law that would end automatic protections for threatened plants and animals and set limits on designating habitat as crucial to recovery.
Walruses are notoriously difficult to count — and population estimates range widely. A preliminary one in 2017 put the number at 283,213, with the caveat that it could be as low as 93,000 or as high as 478,975.
The array of stresses and uncertainty about the walruses' future are enough evidence for listing them as threatened, the Center for Biological Diversity argues.
In the last decade, walruses that gathered on shores have suffered hundreds of stampede deaths, and the loss of ice floes has pushed them away from feeding areas, said Shaye Wolf, climate science director for the nonprofit conservation group.
"They're not adapting. They're suffering," Wolf said.
Scientists advising the Fish and Wildlife Service say the answer is not so clear cut, and much is unknown about how sea ice loss will affect walruses.
Chad Jay of the U.S. Geological Survey said it's unknown, for example, why female walruses give birth on ice instead of land.
"One of the thoughts is that ... there's more protection for the young from predators," he said. "They're offshore, and it's a cleaner environment, too, for giving birth. But those are hypotheses that are difficult to prove."
A nursing walrus needs to consume more than 7,800 clams per day, according to a federal assessment. And summer is the usual time for animals to fatten up.
When ice melted in alarming quantities, forcing females and their calves to shore in herds as large as 40,000, government scientists in 2008 tagged and tracked walruses to see how the changes affected their feeding.
They learned that females, forced to rest on beaches instead of ice, were still visiting their favorite feeding areas. However, the longer swims drew down fat reserves critical for lactating.
The walruses should be fine, the study concluded, if they can replace calories with additional feeding in winter, but whether that's happening is unknown.
Undernourished females produce smaller offspring less likely to survive. The declining size of polar bear cubs in the southern Beaufort Sea was a factor in the decision to list them as threatened.
Endangered species law does not require perfect science to demonstrate adverse effects, Wolf said. When there's uncertainty, she said, the benefit of the doubt goes to the species.
There have been previous geological time periods when walruses experienced a lack of sea ice, said Jay.
“Maybe they can get through that sort of an environment. Maybe they can’t,” he said. “No one really knows.”
Oil prices have hit four-year highs, lifting activity at some Alaska companies linked to the petroleum industry and boosting hopes for a broader economic turnaround, though economists say job losses statewide could continue for months.
Outfitter chain Big Ray's says it's selling more insulated clothing, boots and other gear as oil companies pursue more projects. A trucking association says demand for North Slope supplies is rising slightly. And interest has jumped among job-seekers needing safety certification, training groups say.
North Slope oil prices, a key economic driver in Alaska, topped $80 a barrel for several days starting Sept. 26. Such levels haven't been seen since late 2014.
Major oil companies that tightened operations during the downturn say they're still looking at prices like it's 2016, when they sank to $26, the lowest in nearly a decade.
"Our messaging to employees remains the same: Our business needs to be competitive at all prices," said Damian Bilbao, a vice president with BP Alaska, operator of the large Prudhoe Bay unit.
Upcoming projects were approved when prices were lower than they are today, companies say. They include:
• ConocoPhillips expects to drill six to eight exploration and appraisal wells, possibly topping the six wells drilled last winter during the company's biggest North Slope exploration season in 15 years.
• Hilcorp plans to start drilling at its $400 million Moose Pad project by year's end, potentially adding 16,000 barrels of oil daily by 2020.
• BP plans a major seismic shoot at Prudhoe this winter, providing a clearer view of oil prospects.
Those and other efforts may be helping turn around the three-year plunge in industry jobs.
The oil industry in August employed 9,400 workers, well below the high of 15,300 in late 2014, figures provided by the state show.
But the sector added 100 jobs in the first eight months this year, versus 400 jobs shed in 2017 during that period.
"You're not hearing about layoffs anymore, but you are hearing about (oil) companies hiring again, and that's a shift," said state economist Neal Fried.
Big Ray's, with five stores in Alaska, said business-to-business sales started to improve last fall after a couple of slower years, when the retailer stopped seeing many people — oil company representatives — who had long bought gear, said Brian Hoshiko, the company's head of corporate outfitting.
"One thing that really troubled me was there were a lot of layoffs that went through the last couple of years, so there were some familiar faces I didn't get to see anymore," Hoshiko said.
"(This year) it's been a steady increase and it's certainly keeping us busy," he said.
People are hearing about more oil field opportunities, and that's boosting enrollment at the Alaska Petroleum Academy in Kenai, said owner Mike Gallagher. The company provides safety training in the industry.
Marnie Olcott, with Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, also in Kenai, said oil companies are bringing in more workers for cold-water survival training, required for workers flying over water, such as for drilling sites off Alaska's coast.
"We are definitely seeing an uptick, and that's fantastic for our nonprofit," she said. "It's been dismal the last couple years."
"I'd say training numbers have doubled this year over last year," she said.
Oil started flowing at ConocoPhillips GMT1 drill site on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Photo by Tom Pillifant / ConocoPhillips Alaska)
BP’s Parker Rig 272 at the Lisburne Reservoir at drill site L3 in Prudhoe Bay, 2015. (Loren Holmes / ADN file photo)
Trucking companies hauling supplies to the Slope are seeing a little more work, said Aves Thompson, head of the Alaska Trucking Association.
He said higher oil prices have a downside for transportation companies. Anchorage prices for regular gasoline hit $3.23 a gallon on Wednesday, about $1 higher than two years ago, according to online tracker GasBuddy.com.
That pinches driver and household budgets. But he said the positive impact to Alaska's economy outweighs the downside.
"It adds incentive for investment, helps stabilize Alaska's overall financial conditions, and provides additional jobs," he said.
The higher oil prices, if sustained, could reduce the state's draw on the $1.7 billion Constitutional Budget Reserve, used to close budget deficits in recent years, said Ken Alper, director of Alaska's Tax Division.
The state budget currently receives about $80 million more annually for every $1 increase in the average annual oil price.
The gains in oil-sector jobs help improve the economy as high-paid workers spend more, economists say.
But statewide job numbers so far keep falling. In August, they were down by 2,000 from one year earlier, to 348,800.
It will take sustained growth and at least six months before the sector can help offset statewide job losses, said Mouhcine Guettabi, an economist with the Institute of Social and Economic Research.
"That does not mean the recovery of the 13,000 jobs we have lost," he said. "It just means the bleeding stops."
A flag of Saudi Arabia flies behind barb wire, on the roof top of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Turkish officials have an audio recording of the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Apple Watch he wore when he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul over a week ago, a pro-government Turkish newspaper reported Saturday. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris) (Petros Giannakouris/)
ISTANBUL — Turkish officials have an audio recording of the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Apple Watch he wore when he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul over a week ago, a pro-government Turkish newspaper reported Saturday.
The new claim published by the Sabah newspaper, through which Turkish security officials have leaked much information about the case, puts more pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi.
The writer, who has written critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared after he walked into the consulate Oct. 2. The kingdom has maintained the allegations against it are "baseless," though an official early Saturday on Khashoggi's 60th birthday acknowledged for the first time some believe the writer was killed by the kingdom.
Authorities recovered the audio from Khashoggi's iPhone and his iCloud account, the newspaper said. The journalist had given his phones to his fiancée before entering the consulate.
The newspaper also alleged Saudi officials tried to delete the recordings first by incorrectly guessing Khashoggi's PIN on the watch, then later using the journalist's finger. However, Apple Watches do not have a fingerprint ID unlock function like iPhones. The newspaper did not address that in its report.
An Apple Watch can record audio and can sync that later with an iPhone over a Bluetooth connection if it is close by. The newspaper's account did not elaborate on how the Apple Watch synced that information to both the phone and Khashoggi's iCloud account.
Turkish officials have not answered queries from The Associated Press about Khashoggi's Apple Watch.
Turkish officials say they believe a 15-member Saudi "assassination squad" killed Khashoggi at the consulate. They've also alleged that they have video of the slaying, but not explained how they have it.
Turkey may be trying to protect its intelligence sources through leaking this way, analysts say.
"Under normal circumstances, intelligence services would want to protect their sources, whether human or technical," Carrie Cordero, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for a New American Security, wrote recently. She formerly worked on intelligence matters for the U.S. government.
She added: "The Turkish government may need to reveal sources it does not want to reveal if the Saudi Arabian government continues to deny involvement despite evidence Turkey has in its possession."
Saudi Arabia has said it had nothing to do with Khashoggi's disappearance, without explaining or offering evidence of how the writer left the consulate and disappeared into Istanbul with his fiancée waiting outside. A Saudi-owned satellite news channel has begun referring to the 15-man team as "tourists," without providing evidence to support the claim. It echoes how Russia has described the men who allegedly carried out the Novichok nerve agent poisonings in Salisbury, England, in March.
Early on Saturday, the state-run Saudi Press Agency published a statement from Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud again denying the kingdom's involvement. This time, however, it acknowledged for the first time that Saudi Arabia was accused of killing Khashoggi.
"What has been circulating about orders to kill (Khashoggi) are lies and baseless allegations against the government of the kingdom, which is committed to its principles, rules and traditions and is in compliance with international laws and conventions," Prince Abdulaziz said.
Omer Celik, a spokesman for Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party, said that Khashoggi's disappearance will be "investigated strongly." A delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey on Friday as part of a joint investigation into the writer's disappearance.
"Such an act is an attack on all the values of the democratic world. It's an act that will never be forgiven or covered up," he said. "This is not an act that Turkey would ever consider legitimate. If there are people who committed this, it will have heavy consequences."
Khashoggi's disappearance has put pressure on President Donald Trump, who has enjoyed close relations with the Saudis since entering office. Trump has promised to personally call Saudi Arabia's King Salman soon about "the terrible situation in Turkey."
Speaking to CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview to be aired Sunday, Trump said of the Saudis: "They deny it. They deny it every way you can imagine."
However, Trump also said: "Could it be them? Yes."
Separately, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who accompanied him to the Saudi consulate, the State Department said Friday. No details of the conversation were released.
In an interview Friday with the AP, Cengiz said Khashoggi was not nervous when he entered the consulate to obtain paperwork required for their marriage.
"He said, 'See you later my darling,' and went in," she told the AP.
In written responses to questions by the AP, Cengiz said Turkish authorities had not told her about any recordings and Khashoggi was officially "still missing."
She said investigators were examining his cellphones, which he had left with her.
Global business leaders also are reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia, stoking pressure on the Gulf kingdom to explain what happened to Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, who was considered close to the Saudi royal family, had become a critic of the current government and Prince Mohammed, the 33-year-old heir apparent who has shown little tolerance for criticism.
As a contributor to the Post, Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticism of its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.
Those policies are all seen as initiatives of the crown prince, who has also presided over a roundup of activists and businessmen.
President Donald Trump waves as he leaves a campaign rally, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, in Lebanon, Ohio. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Evan Vucci/)
LEBANON, Ohio - President Donald Trump praised the Confederate general Robert E. Lee whilst asking African-American voters to “honor us” by voting for him at an Ohio rally which included an unexpected and provocative monologue on America’s Civil War history.
Addressing an open-air rally of around 4,000 supporters, Trump appeared buoyant as he declared that Lee was a "true great fighter" and "great general." He also said Abraham Lincoln once had a "phobia" of the Southern leader, whose support of slavery has made his legacy a heavily contested and divisive issue.
The comments came during an anecdote about Ohio-born president Ulysses S. Grant's alleged drinking problems. "Robert E. Lee was winning battle after battle after battle. And Abraham Lincoln came home, he said, 'I can't beat Robert E. Lee'," Trump said. "They said to Lincoln, 'You can't use him anymore, he's an alcoholic.' And Lincoln said, 'I don't care if he's an alcoholic, frankly, give me six or seven more just like him.' He started to win."
Minutes earlier, Trump had hailed African-American unemployment numbers and asked black voters to "honor us" by voting Republican in November. "Get away from the Democrats," he told them. "Think of it: we have the best numbers in history . . . I think we're going to get the African-American vote. And it's true." He also celebrated hip-hop artist Kanye West's visit to the Oval Office on Thursday, adding: "What he did was pretty amazing."
Trump's speech threatened to reignite a highly divisive debate over America's racial history with just weeks to go until the midterms. Trump has previously defended statues commemorating Confederate leaders, tweeting last year: "Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments." Critics say such statues glorify historic advocates of slavery.
Ulysses Grant was not the only Ohio-native whom Trump deployed as a foil in his wider cultural war. He also referenced astronaut Neil Armstrong, telling crowds: "He's the man that planted the flag on the face of the moon. . . there was no kneeling, there was no nothing, there was no games, boom" in a reference to NFL athletes kneeling in protest during the national anthem.
Trump was in Lebanon to boost the campaign of Rep. Steve Chabot, the incumbent whose 1st Congressional District encompasses the county and who had distanced himself from the president ahead of the event. "We didn't ask him to come . . . he wasn't my first choice or my second or my third," he told one newspaper, apparently fearful Trump's divisive rhetoric could prove costly in the competitive race. On the night, however, Chabot appeared content to revel in the president's support. "God bless the president. And I never thought I'd say this, but God Bless Kanye West," he said.
Standing before a super-sized American flag suspended between two diggers, the president listed his achievements whilst redoubling his attacks on his traditional opponents in a rally which exceeded an hour in length. He described Democrats as "the party of the mob" and said of the media: "We've learned how to live with them. We don't like it, but we've learned."
Supporters gleefully chanted Trump "Trump! Trump! Trump" and "Ka-va-naugh! Ka-va-naugh" during the event, whilst booing in reference to the media and Democratic politicians whom he accused of trying to stymie the Supreme Court nomination of Justice Brett Kavaugh.
At the outset of his speech, Trump celebrated the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest in Turkey, telling supporters at the rally: "He went through a lot, but he's on his way back" - but sidestepping the suspected killing of a Saudi journalist amid growing pressure on the White House to address the diplomatic crisis.
"I'm really proud to report that earlier today we secured the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey," he declared to a rapturous applause in Ohio, as a plane transporting the evangelical leader from Istanbul landed in Germany. "I think he's going to be in great shape. . .We bring a lot of people back and that's good. "
He earlier told reporters in Cincinnati that there had been "no deal" to secure the pastor's release. The president had been less vocal on the suspected murder of U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, although he said he would raise it with his Saudi counterpart King Salman. "I will be calling at some point," he added, before pivoting to the threat posed by Iran.
Trump also praised GOP gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is seeking to replace the term-bound Trump-critic Gov. John Kasich. He faces Democrat Richard Cordray, an Obama administration official who served as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "He was hurting people and I think he enjoyed it," said Trump of Cowdray's time in office. "No really, I think he enjoyed it."
The rally took place in Warren Country, a GOP fortress where Trump more than doubled Hillary Clinton's tally in the 2016 election and which has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in over half a century.
It marked Trump’s fifth visit as candidate or president to greater Cincinnati, a city which has a spot in Trump lore as the place where he spent high school summers working for his father’s business. The “Art of The Deal” includes a chapter, “The Cincinnati Kid,” in which Trump claims credit for spotting investment opportunities in the city. “I love it,” he later said. “I worked here, I was was here, I lived here.”
MEXICO BEACH, Fla. — Search-and-rescue teams found at least one body in Mexico Beach, the ground-zero town nearly obliterated by Hurricane Michael, an official said Friday as the scale of the storm’s fury became ever clearer.
The death toll across the South stood at 14 including the victim discovered in Mexico Beach.
Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban, leader of a search-and-rescue unit that went into the flattened town, said: "We have one confirmed deceased and are working to determine if there are others." Zahralban said searchers were trying to determine if that person had been alone or was part of a family.
Zahralban spoke as his team — which included a dog — was winding down its two-day search of Mexico Beach, the town of about 1,000 people that was nearly wiped off the map when Michael blew ashore there Wednesday with devastating 155 mph winds.
Blocks and blocks of homes were demolished, reduced to splintered lumber or mere concrete slabs by the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years.
As the catastrophic damage across the Florida Panhandle came into view 48 hours after the hurricane struck, there was little doubt the death toll would rise.
How high it might go was unclear. But authorities scrapped plans to set up a temporary morgue, suggesting they had yet to see mass casualties.
State officials said that by one count, 285 people in Mexico Beach defied mandatory evacuation orders and stayed behind. Some of them successfully rode out the storm. It was unclear how many of the others might have gotten out at the last minute.
Emergency officials said they have received thousands of calls asking about missing people. But with cellphone service out across vast swaths of the Florida Panhandle, officials said it is possible that some of those unaccounted for are safe and just haven’t been able to contact friends or family.
Across the ravaged region, meanwhile, authorities set up distribution centers to hand out food and water to victims. Some supplies were brought in by trucks, while others had to be delivered by helicopter because of debris still blocking roads.
Residents began to come to grips with the destruction and face up to the uncertainty that lies ahead.
"I didn't recognize nothing. Everything's gone. I didn't even know our road was our road," said 25-year-old Tiffany Marie Plushnik, an evacuee who returned to find her home in Sandy Creek too damaged to live in.
When she went back to the hotel where she took shelter from the storm, she found out she could no longer stay there either because of mold. "We've got to figure something out. We're starting from scratch, all of us," Plushnik said.
President Donald Trump announced plans to visit Florida and hard-hit Georgia early next week but didn't say what day he would arrive.
"We are with you!" he tweeted.
Shell-shocked survivors who barely escaped with their lives told of terrifying winds, surging floodwaters and homes cracking apart.
Emergency officials said they had completed an initial "hasty search" of the stricken area, looking for the living or the dead, and had begun more careful inspections of thousands of ruined buildings. They said nearly 200 people had been rescued.
Gov. Rick Scott said state officials still "do not know enough" about the fate of those who stayed behind in the region.
"We are not completely done. We are still getting down there," the governor added.
Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said he expects to see the death toll rise.
"We still haven't gotten into the hardest-hit areas," he said, adding with frustration: "Very few people live to tell what it's like to experience storm surge, and unfortunately in this country we seem to not learn the lesson."
Long expressed worry that people have suffered "hurricane amnesia."
"When state and local officials tell you to get out, dang it, do it. Get out," he said.
On the Panhandle, Tyndall Air Force Base "took a beating," so much so that Col. Brian Laidlaw told the 3,600 men and women stationed on the base not to come back. Many of the 600 families who live there had followed orders to pack what they could in a single suitcase as they were evacuated ahead of the storm.
The hurricane's eyewall passed directly overhead, severely damaging nearly every building and leaving many a complete loss. The elementary school, the flight line, the marina and the runways were devastated.
"I will not recall you and your families until we can guarantee your safety. At this time I can't tell you how long that will take, but I'm on it," Laidlaw wrote. "We need to restore basic utilities, clear our roads of trees and power lines, and assess the structural integrity of our buildings."
Contributors in Florida include Associated Press writers Jay Reeves in Panama City, Brendan Farrington in St. Marks, Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, and Jennifer Kay and Freida Frisaro in Miami. Others include Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina, Darlene Superville in Washington, and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland.
Hector Morales sits on a debris pile near his home which was destroyed by hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. "I have nothing else to do. I'm just waiting," said Morales as he wonders what he will do next. "I lost everything." (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman/)
MEXICO BEACH, Fla. — Tom Garcia watched in terror as fingers of water pushed inland across the beach and began filling up his home.
His wife handed him a drill and Garcia used screws to pin his front and back door shut. But soon the storm surge from Hurricane Michael was up to his chest. His dogs sat on his bed as it floated. He said it took all of his strength to hold his sliding door shut as the waters outside the glass rose higher than those flooding the house.
"It was life or death," Garcia said through tears Friday as he walked amid the destruction in Mexico Beach.
Michael was one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the U.S., and this Gulf Coast community of about 1,000 people was in its bullseye Wednesday. While most residents fled ahead of the storm's arrival, others stayed to face the hurricane.
They barely escaped as homes were smashed from their foundations, neighborhoods got submerged, and broken boards, sheet metal and other debris flew through the air.
Hector Morales, a 57-year-old restaurant cook, never even thought about evacuating. He grew up in Puerto Rico, where he said "you learn how to survive a storm."
His mobile home isn't on the beach. But the canal lined with boat docks behind his home quickly overflowed as the hurricane came inland. Soon, Morales said, his mobile home started floating.
"The water kept coming so fast, it started coming in from everywhere," he said as he sat outside on a broken set of stairs lying atop a mattress and other storm debris. "I had about 3 feet of water in my house. That's when I decided to jump."
He got through a window of his home on to the top of his car outside when Morales saw two neighbors wading through the rushing surge. He swam out and grabbed a utility pole, then reached out and helped steady the wading couple. They fought their way onto a fishing boat that had been tied to a palm tree and climbed inside.
Morales left his neighbors in a bathroom below the boat's deck, while he sat in the captain's chair. He said they stayed in the boat for six hours before the winds calmed and the surge receded.
"I lost everything — my clothes, wallet, credit cards," he said. "But I made it."
Hector Morales, left, is hugged by friend Matthew Goss, a fisherman, as they reunite after Hurricane Michael which destroyed Morales' home and Goss' boat in Mexico Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman/)
Bill Shockey, 86, refused when his daughter pleaded with him to leave Mexico Beach. He said he didn't want to leave behind his collection of "Gone with the Wind" dishes and antique dolls. So he stashed those valuables up high in a closet before heading to his daughter's newly built two-story home next door.
With a pocket full of cigars and his cat named Andy, Shockey watched the hurricane roll in from an upstairs bedroom. The wind shredded the roof of his single-story home. Water rose nearly to the top of his garage door. A neighbor's home across the street got shoved off its foundation.
Was he scared? "Worried, I think, is more like it," Shockey said.
His daughter's home took in some floodwaters downstairs, but was otherwise unscathed. Shockey's own home of 24 years didn't fare so well, though his collectibles survived.
"It's a wipe out," he said, adding that he plans to sell his property rather than rebuild. "Whenever they want, I'm going to move in with my son in Georgia."
For years, Hal Summers has managed Killer Seafood, a Mexico Beach restaurant known for its tuna tacos. Michael destroyed the eatery as well as Summers' townhome on the beach. Summers rode out the storm at his parent's house nearby. They had evacuated, but an elderly friend was staying there and Summers promised to watch him.
Summers knew they had to get out when, about 30 minutes after the storm made landfall, water surging into the home's kitchen rose up to his neck. He opened the front door and fell in deeper when he tried to step onto front stairs that had washed away.
Summers said his parents recently added a large, outdoor bathroom onto their home and he saw the door was open. The large sink was still above the water. He grabbed a bench that was floating by, and shoved it into the open bathroom to give them something to stand on. Then he helped the elderly man inside.
"I knew we could sit on the sink or we could stand on the sink if we had to," Summers said. "I had to hold the door shut or it would just keep flooding. There was a little crack and I could just see everything flying. I thought, 'Oh my God.'"
They never had to stand on the bathroom sink. Finally, the flooding receded.
While Garcia and his wife survived the hurricane's wrath, he was out Friday searching for his daughter and mother. Kristen Garcia, 32, and her 90-year-old grandmother, Jadwiga Garcia, were staying in a second-floor beachfront apartment Wednesday as the storm came ashore.
Garcia said his daughter called him to say the apartment was flooding and they had taken shelter in the bathroom. He hadn't seen them in the two days since the storm passed, and hadn't been able to gain access to their apartment.
He had tears in his eyes recalling their last conversation.
“She said, ‘Dad, get down here,’” Garcia said. “I said, ‘It’s too late.’”
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