Alaska Dispatch News
A federal judge issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for an Anchorage man FBI agents say is behind a bomb threat this year at a Pennsylvania college campus.
An agent said in a sworn affidavit dated Wednesday that a Twitter user called “BdanJafarSaleem” posted a series of threatening tweets in May claiming he placed several explosive devices around the campus of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, hoping to “inflict the utmost damage possible.” The threats were also emailed directly to Lafayette College officials that day, the affidavit said.
One of the tweets reportedly included a letter in which the user claimed that, after losing his grandfather and being broken up with by his girlfriend, he found “faith and healing in Allah” and pledged allegiance to ISIS. The Twitter account had been created using a fake phone number, the affidavit said.
The college determined the threats were not credible, according to the Allentown Morning Call.
Agents traced the account to Gavin Casdorph, 20, of Anchorage, the affidavit said. Casdorph told agents he made the threats after getting into an argument online with another Internet user on Discord, a voice and texting application used by gamers. Casdorph said the user, called “Neuroscientist,” challenged him to make the threats.
Agents said Casdorph boasted he believed “it would not have been easy for law enforcement to prove how he did it unless he admitted to it.”
The judge who issued the warrant approved a motion Wednesday to have the charges sealed.
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a sweeping package of Republican legislation Friday that restricts early voting and weakens the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general, brushing aside complaints that he is enabling a brazen power grab and ignoring the will of voters.
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2018, file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addresses members of the media from his office in Madison, Wis. Walker signed a sweeping package of Republican-written legislation Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, that restricts early voting and weakens the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general, brushing aside complaints that he is enabling a brazen power grab and ignoring the will of voters. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP, File) (John Hart/)
Signing the bills just 24 days before he leaves office, the Republican governor and one-time presidential candidate downplayed bipartisan criticism that they amount to a power grab that will stain his legacy.
Just two hours later, a group run by former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced it planned legal action to block the limitation on early voting.
Walker's action Friday came as Michigan's Rick Snyder, another Midwestern GOP governor soon to be replaced by a Democrat, signed legislation in a lame-duck session that significantly scales back minimum wage and paid sick leave laws that began as citizen initiatives. Michigan's Republican legislators also are weighing legislation resembling Wisconsin's that would strip or dilute the authority of incoming elected Democrats.
The push in both states mirrors tactics employed by North Carolina Republicans in 2016.
Speaking for 20 minutes and using charts to make his points, Walker detailed all of the governor's powers, including a strong veto authority, that will not change while defending the measures he signed as improving transparency, stability and accountability.
"There's a lot of hype and hysteria, particularly in the national media, implying this is a power shift. It's not," Walker said before signing the measures during an event at a state office building in Green Bay, about 130 miles (209 kilometers) from his Capitol office that has frequently been a target for protesters.
Walker was urged by Democrats and Republicans, including Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and former Republican Gov. Scott McCallum, to reject the legislation. Walker, who was defeated by Evers for a third term, had earlier said he was considering partial vetoes, but he ultimately did not strike anything.
Evers accused Walker of ignoring and overriding the will of the people by signing the bills into law. He held a five-minute news conference in Madison shortly after the signing to accuse Walker of ignoring the will of the voters.
"People will remember he took a stand that was not reflective of this last election," Evers said. "I will be reviewing our options and do everything we can to make sure the people of this state are not ignored or overlooked."
Evers didn't elaborate and left without taking questions.
Walker, speaking after he signed the bills, brushed aside what he called "high-pitched hysteria" from critics of the legislation. He said his legacy will be the record he left behind that includes all-but eliminating collective bargaining for public workers, not the lame-duck measures.
"We've put in deep roots that have helped the state grow," Walker said. "You want to talk about legacy, to me, that's the legacy."
Holder's group, the National Redistricting Foundation, along with the liberal One Wisconsin Now, promised a swift legal challenge to one provision Walker signed limiting early voting.
Holder, in a statement, called it a "shameful attack on our democracy."
Holder's group and One Wisconsin Now successfully sued in federal court in 2016 to overturn similar early voting and other restrictions enacted by Walker.
The Wisconsin bills focus on numerous Republican priorities, including restricting early in-person voting to two weeks before an election, down from as much as nearly seven weeks in the overwhelmingly Democratic cities of Milwaukee and Madison.
The legislation also shields the state's job-creation agency from Evers' control until September and limits his ability to enact administrative rules. The measures also would block Evers from withdrawing Wisconsin from a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, one of his central campaign promises.
The legislation imposes a work requirement for BadgerCare health insurance recipients, which Walker won federal approval to do earlier this year, and prevents Evers from seeking to undo it.
It eliminates the state Department of Justice's solicitor general's office, which outgoing Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel used to launch contentious partisan litigation. Doing away with it ensures Democratic-Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul can't use the office to challenge Republican-authored laws.
The bills also allow lawmakers to intervene in lawsuits, ensuring Republicans will be able to defend their policies and laws in court if Kaul refuses to do it. Kaul also would need approval from the Legislature's budget-writing committee before he can reach any settlements, further increasing the power of that GOP-controlled panel.
The Republican-controlled Legislature introduced and passed the bills less than five days after unveiling them late on a Friday afternoon two weeks ago. Outraged Democrats accused the GOP of a power grab that undermined the results of the November election. Evers and others have argued Walker will tarnish his legacy by signing the bills, and Kaul has predicted multiple lawsuits challenging the legislation.
Republican legislative leaders countered that they were merely trying to balance the power of the executive and legislative branches. They said they wanted to ensure Evers must negotiate with them rather than issue executive orders to undo their policy achievements.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said by signing the bills, Walker was "acknowledging the importance of the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government."
Walker's signing of the bills comes a day after he announced a $28 million incentive package to keep open a Kimberly-Clark Corp. plant in northeast Wisconsin. One of the lame-duck bills would prevent Evers from making such a deal, instead requiring the Legislature's budget committee to sign off.
Associated Press writer David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, contributed to this report.
JUNEAU — Eleven months ago, speaking to Republicans at a primary election debate in Juneau’s Prospector restaurant, Kevin Meyer promised that if he were elected, he would seek to restore Gail Fenumiai as director of the Alaska Division of Elections.
Alaska Division of Elections director Gail Fenumiai at the elections office in Anchorage on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (Bill Roth / ADN/)
On Friday, Lt. Gov. Meyer fulfilled that promise.
Fenumiai, who oversaw the state’s election system between 2008 and 2015, will begin her new-old job Jan. 2, according to a message from the lieutenant governor’s office. Josie Bahnke, the former Nome city manager who became elections director under Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, has already been dismissed from state service.
Lauri Wilson, the regional elections supervisor for Southeast Alaska, will be in charge of the division until Fenumiai takes office.
Republicans have criticized Bahnke’s performance as elections supervisor, particularly after the 2016 Democratic primary in House District 40. In that race, which was decided by the Alaska Supreme Court, judges ruled there had been errors and “malconduct” by elections officials. The Alaska Supreme Court ultimately awarded the election to Dean Westlake, who helped form the Democratic-led coalition House Majority, over Benjamin Nageak, who had joined Republicans in a prior House majority.
At the January debate in Juneau, Meyer referred to Bahnke as a political appointee and said he would seek to replace her with Fenumiai, who had overseen several particularly challenging elections, including U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s 2010 general-election victory as a write-in candidate.
Before becoming overall head of the Division of Elections, Fenumiai worked her way through the ranks as an elections coordinator, information officer and elections program specialist.
“Gail has the skills, wisdom, experience and judgment to restore Alaskans' faith and trust in our elections process, and that is exactly what we pledge to do,” Meyer said in a prepared statement accompanying the announcement.
Kikkan Randall stood on the concrete platform of Anchorage’s Town Square and looked out at the faces of her hometown. On a Wednesday afternoon in early April, this mountaintop view capped her 20-year journey as an athlete.
She saw her family sprinkled in the crowd. Her son sat on her husband’s shoulders. Her dad held up an oversized picture of her. At her feet, children looked up, just as she had gazed on her own Olympic heroes as a girl.
Kikkan Randall speaks to a crowd gathered in Town Square on April 4. Hundreds of Alaskans filled Town Square Park in Anchorage for a celebration of gold medal winner Randall and the state's other Winter Olympians. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)
She was already one of the most recognized and respected athletes in Alaska history. As a gold medalist and a mother, she was starting a new life.
That life would last 39 days from that April afternoon. And then a new journey would begin for Randall. A cancer journey that would remake how she was seen and how she saw herself.
Anchorage had followed every step of Randall’s skiing career. In the months that followed, she also shared the intimate moments of her difficult cancer year with the Anchorage Daily News.
The story begins in Town Square, with Randall’s skiing teammates at her side, Olympians in their own right. She had insisted they also be recognized.
But the crowd had come to see her. She had won a historic gold medal at the Winter Olympics six weeks earlier, the first in her sport for an American. It felt like it was their medal too.
“Kikkan, to come back wearing that hefty gold around your neck, you wear it with pride,” said U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, on the steps with Randall. “But know that as Alaskans, we wear it with you.”
Adonna Bach, 4, center, and Zahn Bach, 7, examine Kikkan Randall's gold medal in Town Square on April 4. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)
Kikkan Randall's father, Ronn Randall, holds up a large picture of his daughter in Town Square Park. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)
Kikkan Randall, left, stands with several other Alaskan Olympians who were recognized in Town Square on April 4, 2018. Hundreds of Alaskans filled Town Square Park in Anchorage, Alaska, for a celebration of gold medal winner Kikkan Randall and the state's other Winter Olympians who competed in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Photograpahed on April 4, 2018. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)
Randall first drew attention as a teen at Anchorage’s East High School. She joined an Olympic-minded ski training program as a sophomore and made her first Olympics in 2002, at age 19.
Randall’s accomplishments were bar-setting in a sport close to Alaska’s heart. She became the most accomplished American cross-country skier long before she won Olympic gold.
In Rybinsk, Russia, in 2007, she became the first American woman to win an International Ski Federation World Cup race since former Alaska Methodist University skier Alison Owen did it 29 years prior. In the years that followed, Randall did it 12 more times.
In 2012, she became the first and only American woman to win the World Cup season sprint title. She repeated the feat in 2013 and 2014. Three times she has earned medals at the biennial Nordic World Ski Championships.
Arriving in Pyeongchang, South Korea, last winter, she became a five-time Olympian.
Many Alaskans stayed awake in the middle of a February night to watch Randall in what would be the final race of her last Olympics. She was no longer the U.S. team’s fastest sprinter, but coaches chose her to join the team’s rising star, Jessie Diggins of Minnesota, in the two-person team sprint event.
Randall’s 18th Olympic start pitted her against the sport’s titans, including Norway’s Marit Bjoergen, the winningest athlete in Winter Olympics history.
Randall held them apace, even on the course’s punishing climbs.
“As the hill got steeper, I actually felt stronger and stronger,” Randall said.February 21, 2018
When she tagged Diggins for the third and final time, the American team was in position to medal. Diggins detonated from the final turn and, in an electric finish that became one of the most replayed moments of the games, lunged her boot forward to win by .19 seconds.
Randall screamed. She and Diggins joyfully danced on top of the podium. America watched as they received the nation’s first Olympic gold ever in cross country skiing.
United States' Jessica Diggins, left, and Kikkan Randall celebrate after winning the gold medal in the women's team sprint freestyle cross-country skiing final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) (AP/)
Kikkan Randall poses for photographs with her Olympic gold medal during a celebration in Town Square on April 4. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)
She finally made it home to Anchorage, after finishing her final season, six weeks later.
“It’s been a fairy-tale ending to an amazing journey,” she told the crowd in Town Square. "And now that my career is coming to a close, I can’t wait to see what this next generation is going to do, because they know it’s possible.”
Randall stayed until the crowd dissipated, the folding chairs were racked, and her ungloved fingers were cold — until everyone who wanted to inspect her medal or pose for a picture had a chance.
Anchorage farewells took weeks, with public appearances and intense moments thanking friends and sponsors. When it was over, Randall moved to Penticton, British Columbia, with her husband, Jeff Ellis, and 2-year-old son, Breck.
She found herself alone with her family, sitting on lawn chairs in their living room as they furnished their new home, starting afresh and ready to begin new rhythms of life.
“I did start to realize how different it was going to be, and how there was going to be some challenge to figure out a new purpose,” she said.
Kikkan Randall leads a crowd of kids in activities at the Ski With Alaska's Olympians event at Kincaid Park on April 6. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)
Kikkan Randall spends time in her Anchorage home with her 2-year-old son, Breck, days before the family moved to Penticton, B.C. Photographed on April 5. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)
But the joys of family time were immediate. On Mother’s Day, sunny and warm, Randall awoke to flowers and a card. She hiked with Ellis and Breck out their back door into hills that were purple with blooming wildflowers. They bought a children’s swimming pool for their son and a grill for the backyard.
“It felt like we were going to be able to settle in,” Ellis said.
That evening, after the couple put their son to bed, Randall prepared for sleep. As she changed clothes, she felt a hardness in the tissue of her right breast. At first she thought it might be part of a rib bone. Upon further inspection, it felt like two peas.
Before the day could end in the calm that it began with, her mind and mood twisted and turned. It’s probably nothing, she told herself. She remembered a friend who had once found a benign growth.
But she couldn’t shake a sinking feeling in the back of her mind before falling asleep.
She said, “Jeff, am I crazy or does this feel like something?”
Upcoming: ‘The old Kikkan’ gives way to cancer treatment and hair loss
Scientists are warning those affected by the Southcentral Alaska earthquake to retest their homes for radon, an odorless gas linked to cancer.
Radon is what state energy specialist Art Nash at the University of Alaska Fairbanks calls a “wimpy gas," meaning it doesn’t cause symptoms and can’t be seen, smelled or tasted. It is, however, radioactive — it forms when uranium underground decays, and Nash said that can pose health risks for people who breathe it in over long periods of time. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, he said.
Under normal circumstances, Nash recommends homeowners test for radon every five years, but the earthquake presents a new danger, he said. When the ground is disturbed, whether it’s through an earthquake, a sinkhole or construction, that can create fissures in the earth that allow radon to escape into the air, he said. Since there’s no way of knowing where the fissures have formed, Nash recommends every homeowner affected by the earthquake retest their homes.
The danger radon poses isn’t immediately visible, and sometimes the effects aren’t noticeable until years later, he said. Instead, it’s chronic exposure homeowners have to watch out for.
“While it’s certainly something to be concerned about and kick into action, it’s not the kind of thing to leave your home (over),” Nash said.
Short-term radon testing kits, which usually consist of containers of absorbent charcoal, can be found online and at building supply stores, he said. The homeowner should place the test in the lowest level of the house for two or three days. If levels are elevated, the EPA recommends hiring a radon mitigation contractor to address the problem.
Reign Galovin's cranberry-ginger salsa won the side dish category in our holiday recipe contest. (Kim Sunee)
Newsletter #26: The envelopes, please ...
Maya Wilson, Kim Sunée and I had lots of fun judging our holiday recipe contest, sponsored by Hempire Co. We got pretty excited about the winner of the side dish recipe category, this fun cranberry-ginger salsa by reader Reign Galovin. Sunée thinks it goes well with everything from scrambled eggs to meats.
Maya made our other winning recipe, in the dessert category, Italian Christmas cookies called cuccidati (pronouced: coo-chee-dawt-tee) from reader Judith Mack. Funny story: I called my Italian auntie for pronunciation help and she was like, “I have never heard of that in my life.” It turns out the cookies come from the Sicilian region, which is really far from where she’s from. Many of the recipes I found for them online are actually from places in America with deep Italian immigrant roots. Anyway, recipe calls for figs, orange zest, whiskey and cloves, and Maya is quite happy with them.
Cuccidati, or Italian fig cookies, were the winner of the dessert recipe category in our holiday recipe contest. (Maya Wilson)
Who has been to Mo’s, the new (and only) Jewish deli in Anchorage? Reviewer Mara Severin, who hails from North Jersey, has a giant crush on their simple pastrami sandwich — which, it turns out, is so good because of where they source their meat. The writing in her food review is particularly lovely this week, give it a read.
[Get this newsletter first, delivered to your inbox every Friday: Sign up here. ]
A Reuben sandwich at Mo's Deli. (Mara Severin/ADN)
Meanwhile, your personal local food shopper, Steve Edwards, has a bunch of local food gift ideas for you. And, are you having a little party this week? Might I suggest this pimento cheese spread that Kim Sunée got from South Carolina-born Carlyle Watt, the man who comes up with some of the many delicious things on the menu at Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop? There are also these classic Swedish meatballs from Maya Wilson.
Oh, and support local food writing and local news and, if you haven’t, buy a digital subscription to the paper. Stay tuned next week for the grand prize recipe winner, who will take home a new KitchenAid.
Here’s hoping your pimento cheese is spread thick on some good white bread. See you next week.
WASHINGTON - Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.. plans to resign from the Senate on Dec. 31, vacating the seat he has held since the death of Sen. John McCain and clearing the way for Arizona's governor to name another Republican to the post.
Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, said in a statement Friday that he had received a resignation letter from Kyl. Ducey is required under law to name another Republican to the seat.
After McCain's death in August, Ducey appointed Kyl, a well-known former Republican senator, to fill his seat. Kyl committed to serving through at least the end of this year - making no promises about returning for the 2019 Congress.
Until recently, it appeared that Ducey was likely to appoint Rep. Martha McSally, who narrowly lost a race for Arizona's other Senate seat in November. But her stock has fallen in the eyes of the governor, according to two people familiar with his thinking, as Ducey approaches one of the most significant decisions of his political career.
In his statement, Ducey said that "Senator Kyl didn't need to return to the Senate."
“His legacy as one of Arizona’s most influential and important political figures was already without question,” Ducey said. “But he did return, and I remain deeply grateful for his willingness to step up and serve again when Arizona needed him. I wish him and his family all the best.”
Facebook on Friday revealed that a major software bug may have allowed third-party apps to wrongly access the photos of up to 6.8 million users, including images that people began uploading to the site but didn't post publicly.
The mishap, which occurred over a 12-day period in September, adds to Facebook's mounting privacy headaches after a series of incidents earlier this year in which it failed to fully safeguard the personal data of its users.
In general, Facebook allows apps by third-party developers to obtain users' permission and access photos shared on their timeline. Because of the bug, though, roughly 1,500 apps could access "a broader set of photos than usual," Facebook explained in a blog post.
That includes photos that a user may have started to post, but abandoned before actually publishing, because Facebook keeps a copy of the draft in the event a user might want to finish uploading it later.
The software bug also may have allowed developers to access photos they weren't supposed to on Marketplace, a Facebook hub for users to buy and sell goods, and some posted in Stories, where users can share short photo or video updates that appear for 24 hours.
Facebook's latest revelation quick drew sharp rebukes from privacy advocates. "It's stunning that Facebook has the ability to send user photos to third parties when the user has not fully uploaded the photo," said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "It's like a provider sending draft emails."
In response, Facebook apologized to users on Friday. "Early next week we will be rolling out tools for app developers that will allow them to determine which people using their app might be impacted by this bug," the company said. "We will be working with those developers to delete the photos from impacted users."
Facebook did not detail the exact apps that may have obtained these photos, or what they may have done with them. A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
The photo mishap could embolden those who believe Facebook and its peers in Silicon Valley should be regulated for the data they collect about their users. It could also result in fines and other penalties for Facebook, which is already under federal investigation for a series of earlier privacy breaches. That probe, initiated by the Federal Trade Commission, is the result of Facebook's entanglement with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that improperly accessed data on 87 million users.
Rotenberg said the new incident offered "more evidence" that Facebook has run afoul of the 2011 agreement it brokered with the FTC that required the tech giant to improve its privacy practices - violations that could result in sky-high fines.
Several of Facebook’s recent privacy lapses have involved third-party apps. In the case of Cambridge Analytica, the firm previously harnessed profile information on Facebook users in 2015 through a quiz app developed by a researcher. In response to that scandal, Facebook initiated a broad review of the games and other third-party apps made available to its users on the site. In May, it suspended about 200 of them, declining at the time to describe exactly why.
Elizabeth Lent stands in front of one of her ink drawings. (Courtesy Elizabeth Lent)
Elizabeth Lent is a jack of all trades and a master of one.
While she’s been recognized for her writing and photography prowess, she’s starting to make a name for herself in Alaska through her ink drawings. That name, however, is not Elizabeth Lent. Instead, she uses the name van Lent as a way of reconnecting with her Dutch heritage.
A Fairbanks resident, Lent was introduced to her pseudonym after her father had come across a book about their Dutch family as they settled in America.
“There’s a little bit of silliness to it and like no particular reason for anything and this one gentleman that came over from Holland on that ship said, ‘You know what, I’m going to take any name and that name is going to be van Lent.’ And that is the person who went forth and had all this land and children,” Lent said. “And then land disappeared and our name disappeared too with the land, and we’re just the Lents. And van Lent has been lost.”
The story resonated with Lent and she’s used the name on her ink drawings since.
"Pacific Golden Nutrients" (Courtesy Elizabeth Lent)
“In reclaiming that name, I’ve come to realize how many other stories I have to reclaim as well,” Lent said. “That’s just one path of my history on my father’s side. I think mostly it’s been really valuable in realizing how much there is to learn.”
Lent’s curiosity is reflected in her ink drawings. She likes to research the environment around her to make a cross between scientific illustrations and magical realism. Most of her pieces feature staples of Alaskan wildlife and plant life, from salmon to mushrooms. One of the most popular pieces from Lent’s showcase at Snow City in July was a drawing of the salmon life cycle.
“While I am here and making art and Alaskan people are seeing my art, I am definitely drawing Alaskan flora and fauna, and I’m doing the research and doing my best to be as well informed as I can to draw it as well as I possibly can,” Lent said. “But it would change if I was traveling somewhere else for a period of time because I would get curious about the things around me.”
Lent’s passion for ink drawings started while she was in college studying fine arts and writing at the Art Institute of Chicago. She studied abroad at a small college in Ireland for a part of her university experience, and that’s where she started really connecting with ink drawings.
Before college, 22-year-old Lent had never considered herself an artist. While she enjoyed art courses in high school, she never felt like she was anything more than just a creative person. After she finished her degree at the Art Institute, Lent was looking for any creative endeavors when she came across an application for the photography competition Rarefied Light.
“I was just looking for anything to do, any opportunity I could apply for just to get back in the game of art after taking a break,” Lent said.
"Salmon Life Cycle" (Courtesy Elizabeth Lent)
The Alaska Photographic Center said they received 610 entries to the competition from 91 artists. Lent was among the 34 artists recognized at the show.
While she is passionate about photography, Lent says it’s her ink drawings that she spends most of her time working on. After her solo show in July, van Lent received commissions on everything from her life cycle drawings to requests for illustrations on marriage certificates.
Lent will be displaying her work at the Christmas Village marketplace at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. She will have original illustrations, prints, sweatshirts, T-shirts, cards and enamel pins for sale.
Lent’s next big project is an exhibition at Fat Ptarmigan in March featuring birds and botanicals. For more information about Lent’s work, visit her website at elizabethlent.com.
Matanuska Brewing Co., at 2830 C St. in Midtown Anchorage. Dec. 13, 2018. (Annie Zak / ADN)
This is an installment of an occasional series in the Anchorage Daily News taking a quick look at the comings and goings of businesses in Southcentral Alaska. If you know of a business opening or closing in the area, send a note to reporter Annie Zak at email@example.com, with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.
Matanuska Brewing Co.: What was once the Anchorage Alehouse has become a brewpub location of Matanuska Brewing Co.
Though the name changed sometime in November, the ownership has remained the same at the restaurant at 2830 C. St. in Midtown. What used to be called the Eagle River Alehouse is also now under the Matanuska Brewing Co. name. The brewery itself opened last year in Palmer, said co-owner Matthew Tomter. It’s in the former Matanuska Maid bottling plant.
“Our goal always was to re-brand the restaurants into the Brewing Co. once we were ready," he said. He recently sold off the Palmer City Alehouse, which still has that name.
Tomter’s business partner is Kevin Burton, who used to be the head brewer at Glacier Brewhouse and worked there for about 20 years.
Before Matanuska Brewing Co. and before the Anchorage Alehouse, the location was home to Crossbar Sports Restaurant.
Natural Yogurt Selections: This frozen yogurt shop opened in the Northern Lights Center mall in September, and offers vegan and organic options.
After living in South Anchorage, owner Susan Marvin wanted to open her shop in West Anchorage to fill what she felt was a fro-yo void.
“When we moved to Midtown, I just acknowledged the fact that ... somebody needs to open up a yogurt store on this side of town,” she said. “It took probably about a year of whining about that before saying, ‘I should open up the yogurt store on this side of town.’ ”
Marvin thought her storefront at 1300 W. Northern Lights Blvd., alongside spots like Middle Way Cafe, Hearth Artisan Pizza and REI, would be fitting.
“This is a good location because this is where the type of clientele (are) that will appreciate the vegan and the organic options,” she said.
Dipper Donuts: This Spenard doughnut shop recently started selling its goods out of Williwaw at 609 F St., next to the venue’s SteamDot Coffee.
Laura Cameron, one of the Dipper Donuts owners, said she wanted to partner with Williwaw because of the venue’s interest in craft food and craft beer. Plus, the location in downtown Anchorage.
“There’s so much great industry happening downtown, from state and municipal employees, to the legal side with the courthouse,” she said. “(The Anchorage Police Department’s) moving down there, oil and gas companies. It’s just a great spot for meeting those kinds of customers downtown.”
The shop’s other storefront location is at 1209 W. 36th Ave.
Waffles and Whatnot: The owner of the eclectic Anchorage food truck has opened a standalone restaurant in downtown Eagle River.
“I want to have the most culturally diverse restaurant in America,” said Derrick Green, who is putting the truck on hiatus to focus on the restaurant.
Green said his homemade waffles can be designed to suit any taste and his chefs can accommodate any type of diet, food allergy or personal preference.
The restaurant opened last month at 12801 Old Glenn Highway, in the same strip mall that houses Piccolino’s Italian Restaurant.
Denny’s: The Midtown Anchorage Denny’s at Benson Boulevard and Denali Street closed Nov. 29 after 44 years in business.
The main reason was that the business lost the land lease there, said David Fickes, owner of the Denny’s locations in Anchorage. There were other “contributing factors” too, he said.
“I think between the crime levels and the homelessness, Midtown has a lot of work to do,” he said. There’s also a Denny’s in East Anchorage, at DeBarr Road and Bragaw Street.
Yummy Bakery: This bakery at 1300 W. 36th Ave. has shut its doors, according to a sign on its front door Wednesday.
“Yummy Bakery will close the business in December,” the sign reads. "Thank you for your love and support.” It also appears to be selling off its equipment, per the sign.
The Korean bakery used to be on Fireweed Lane, and opened in the Spenard spot in 2008.
Reporter Matt Tunseth contributed to this story.
In this Dec. 12, 2018, photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, leaves federal court after his sentencing in New York. Trump has gone from denying knowledge of any payments to women who claim to have been mistresses to apparent acknowledgement of those hush money settlements – though he claims they wouldn't be illegal. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) (Craig Ruttle/)
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, headed to prison in March, said Friday that Trump directed him to buy the silence of two women during the 2016 campaign because he was concerned about how their stories of alleged affairs with him “would affect the election.” He says Trump knew the payments were wrong.
Michael Cohen — who for more than a decade was a key power player in the Trump Organization and a fixture in Trump's political life — said he "gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty." Cohen spoke in an interview with ABC that aired Friday on "Good Morning America."
Cohen said that "of course" Trump knew it was wrong to make the hush-money payments, but he did not provide any specific evidence or detail in the interview. Federal law requires that any payments made "for the purposes of influencing" an election must be reported in campaign finance disclosures.
Speaking to ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Cohen appeared shaken over the series of events that swiftly took him from Trump's "fixer" to a man facing three years in prison.
"I am done with the lying," Cohen said. "I am done being loyal to President Trump."
He added: "I will not be the villain of this story."
Cohen was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in federal prison after pleaded guilty to several charges, including campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. Prosecutors have said Trump directed Cohen to arrange the payments to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 campaign.
The decisions to pay off Daniels, who alleged she had sex with a married Trump in 2006, during the run-up to the 2016 election was made soon after an old "Access Hollywood" tape surfaced, in which Trump was heard talking about groping and trying to have sex with women, Cohen said.
"He was very concerned about how this would affect the election," Cohen said.
The hush money wasn't initially reported on campaign finance documents and, in any case, far exceeded the legally acceptable amount for in-kind contributions. The federal limit on individual contributions is $2,700.
As to whether Trump knew it was wrong to make the payments, Cohen said, "First of all, nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump. He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters."
Trump has denied directing Cohen to break the law and has asserted in a barrage of tweets over the last several weeks that Cohen is a "liar" who cut a deal in order to get a reduced prison sentence and to help himself and his family.
Loyalty has long been a core value for Trump, who has been stung by the behavior of Cohen and other former associates who have dissociated themselves from the president, intent on saving themselves. That list also includes former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman and former National Security adviser Michael Flynn.
"He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth," Cohen said. "And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying. The man doesn't tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds."
"Instead of him taking responsibility for his actions, what does he do? He attacks my family," Cohen said.
Cohen insists that Trump is a different person now than when he was running his real estate empire in New York and said he believes the pressure of being the president of the United States is "much more than he thought it was going to be."
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was paid $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement that was signed days before the 2016 election and she's currently suing to dissolve that contract.
In August 2016, the parent company of the tabloid National Enquirer reached a $150,000 deal to pay McDougal for her story of a 2006 affair, which it never published, a tabloid practice known as catch and kill.
Cohen insisted he just reviewed the McDougal deal and said the payment was negotiated directly between Trump and David Pecker, the chief executive officer of the tabloid's parent company.
Both Cohen and American Media Inc. now say they made hush-money payments were to help Trump's 2016 White House bid. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan reached a non-prosecution agreement with the company.
In a separate case, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his work on a possible Trump real estate project in Moscow and said he did so to be consistent with Trump's "political messaging."
The charges in that case were brought by special counsel Robert Mueller's office and Mueller's prosecutors have said Cohen has provided key information in their investigation. Cohen has said he is continuing to cooperate with investigators in the Russia probe, which the president has repeatedly called a "witch hunt."
Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.
Leslie McCrae Dowless sits in his kitchen in Bladenboro, North Carolina. (hoto by Justin Kase Conder for The Washington Post) (Justin Kase Conder/)
A North Carolina congressional candidate, Republican Mark Harris, directed the hiring of a campaign aide now at the center of an election-fraud investigation, according to three individuals familiar with the campaign, despite warnings that the operative may have used questionable tactics to deliver votes.
FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2018, file photo, Mark Harris speaks to the media during a news conference in Matthews, N.C. The nation's last unresolved fall congressional race with Harris against Democrat Dan McCready is awash in doubt as North Carolina election investigators concentrate on a rural county where absentee-ballot fraud allegations are so flagrant they've put the Election Day result into question. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File) (Chuck Burton/)
Harris sought out the operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, after losing a 2016 election in which Dowless had helped one of Harris' opponents win an overwhelming share of the mail-in vote in a key county.
State and local investigators say that whether Harris knew that his campaign may have engaged in improper tactics has become a focus of the expanding probes into whether election irregularities affected the 9th District election, in which Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes.
That question is also roiling the state Republican Party, whose leaders had rallied around Harris, a 52-year-old evangelical pastor from the suburbs of Charlotte. Party leaders are now backing away from Harris and trying to limit the fallout of a scandal that has delayed certification of the last undecided federal contest of the 2018 election cycle.
The North Carolina elections board has issued subpoenas to the Harris campaign and its general consultant, Red Dome Group. In addition, the Wake County district attorney's office in Raleigh, the State Bureau of Investigation, the FBI and federal prosecutors are examining voting irregularities in the 9th District.
Dowless, 62, has declined multiple requests for interviews. Neither Todd Johnson, the primary candidate who had previously used Dowless' services, nor his political consultant, Zach Almond, could be reached for comment.
Harris and Andy Yates of Red Dome, Harris' campaign consultant, confirmed in statements last week that Dowless was paid for a field effort but said they were not aware of any illegal activity.
"I was absolutely unaware of any wrongdoing," Harris said in a video released Dec. 7. Harris attorney John Branch declined to comment for this article.
Harris was warned about possible fraud on primary day in June 2016, during his first bid for the 9th District congressional seat, according to people familiar with the conversation.
The incumbent congressman and winner of the primary had received just one mail-in vote in rural Bladen County. Harris, who came in second place, had won four. Johnson, the last-place contender, meanwhile, had received nearly all of them - 221.
The only explanation, advisers told Harris that night in Charlotte, was that something shady had occurred on that third-place campaign, according to the people.
A year later, they said, when Harris resolved to run for Congress again, the candidate personally directed the hiring of Dowless, an adept field operative and Bladen County native who had helped deliver that unusual result in 2016.
Harris' wife, Beth Harris, said in a text message Thursday: "We actually don't recall any 'aide' saying anything on election night" of 2016. She added: "It was a crazy night where we were up and then went down."
One person said Harris' decision to hire Dowless stemmed partly from his realization that he would have defeated Rep. Robert Pittenger if he'd won the mail-in vote by as large a margin as third-place contender Johnson had.
Witnesses in interviews and affidavits say Dowless' allegedly fraudulent operation on Harris' behalf this year involved collecting incomplete and unsealed ballots, an illegal practice. Investigators are also examining whether Dowless or those working for him illegally discarded ballots.
Because Dowless was paid by Red Dome, which in turn billed the Harris campaign, the consulting firm is also under scrutiny.
Harris decided to hire Dowless before he brought on Red Dome in June 2017, according three people familiar with early campaign deliberations. And he decided to hire him despite warnings about Dowless' criminal record and Dowless' own public testimony describing questionable election tactics.
Around the same time in the spring of 2017, he also introduced Dowless to Pete Givens, a parishioner of Harris' and a candidate for Charlotte City Council that year.
Givens was running a long shot bid as a Republican in a heavily Democratic district with historically low turnout. "How do we get 75,000 people who never show up off their rears?" Givens wondered at the time, he said in an interview. Harris drove Givens to meet Dowless, and Givens ended up hiring him, paying him $800 in May 2017.
Givens said that he didn't know of any wrongdoing and that he believes "there's no way that Mark Harris would have known that either."
Walter McDuffie, the chairman of the Bladen County Republican Party, told The Washington Post that he warned the Harris campaign about Dowless' criminal record, which includes felony convictions for fraud and perjury and a misdemeanor charge for passing a worthless check in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Harris also interacted regularly with Dowless during the 2018 primary campaign, according to Jeff Smith, a former associate of Dowless' who gave him office space during the spring primary and saw him nearly daily. Smith told The Post that Dowless spoke often of talking to Harris by telephone about the mail-in absentee-ballot program. Much like Johnson in 2016, Harris defeated Pittenger in the primary with an overwhelming performance among mail-in voters in Bladen, which he won 437-17.
Details of Dowless' absentee ballot operation came to light publicly in December 2016, when he told the state elections board that his get-out-the-vote operation included collecting absentee ballots.
Dowless had been asked to testify about allegations he had leveled against an African-American group that mostly supports Democratic candidates.
But over a five-hour hearing, the board interrogated him about his own operation. He described paid staffers collecting mail-in ballots, though he said he told the staffers to return the ballots to the voters. Under North Carolina law, it is illegal to tamper with or collect someone else's ballot.
Two members of the board at the time said in interviews this week that the hearing raised red flags about absentee ballot activities in Bladen County. "It all stunk to high heaven," said one member at the time, James Baker, a Republican and former Superior Court judge.
Another elections board member at the 2016 hearing, Democrat Maja Kricker, said she concluded from Dowless' testimony that he was operating outside the law, adding that she thinks the Harris campaign should have known about his practices.
"Apparently either the Harris campaign or Mark Harris never vetted him," she said.
The GOP-controlled board unanimously referred the testimony to state and federal investigators, but no indictments or public reports were issued. Lorrin Freeman, the Wake County district attorney, said an investigation sparked then now includes the 2018 election.
Freeman said her office is also examining whether anyone inside the Bladen County Board of Elections committed fraud.
Dowless' testimony two years ago raised questions about his relationship with former Bladen County Elections Director Cynthia Shaw, who left her job in November ahead of her Jan. 1 scheduled retirement date.
Dowless told the elections board that Shaw knew that his get-out-the-vote crew put their initials on the corner of the absentee ballot request forms when they turned them in "so if there is a problem you know who to contact," Dowless said.
Election officials are supposed to reach out directly to voters who need to correct any omissions or discrepancies regarding their absentee ballot request forms. Multiple attempts to reach Shaw were unsuccessful.
Investigators are also examining evidence published by the state elections board last week that the county board improperly printed the results of early in-person voting three days before Election Day. They are looking into whether the information was improperly shared with a campaign.
State law prohibits early-vote results from being drawn from tabulation machines until after 5 p.m. on Election Day to protect the security of the results and prevent campaigns from gaining an unfair advantage and redeploying resources in the final days.
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, told reporters this week that if the early-vote results were prematurely shared, "that is a fundamental violation of the sanctity of fair elections," and a new election would have to be called.
The investigations into the 2018 vote in the 9th Congressional District are putting the GOP on the defensive at a time when Republican lawmakers in North Carolina and around the country have passed voter ID laws and other restrictions they said would crack down on voting fraud.
On Wednesday, the state legislature passed a bill requiring a new primary if the state elections board orders a new election in the 9th District - allowing Republicans to replace Harris on the ballot. It was the latest sign of state Republicans backing away from their earlier demands that the state board immediately certify Harris as the winner.
The state board declined to do that last month, launching an investigation instead and planning to hold a hearing by Dec. 21. The board issued a statement this week saying investigators may need more time before a hearing can be called.
- - -
The Washington Post’s Alice Crites contributed to this report.
A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.
The child's death is likely to intensify scrutiny of detention conditions at Border Patrol stations and CBP facilities that are increasingly overwhelmed by large numbers of families seeking asylum in the United States.
According to CBP records, the girl and her father were taken into custody about 10 p.m. Dec. 6 south of Lordsburg, New Mexico, as part of a group of 163 people who approached U.S. agents to turn themselves in.
More than eight hours later, the child began having seizures at 6:25 a.m., CBP records show. Emergency responders, who arrived soon after, measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees, and according to a statement from CBP, she "reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days."
After a helicopter flight to Providence Children's Hospital in El Paso, the child went into cardiac arrest and "was revived," according to the agency. "However, the child did not recover and died at the hospital less than 24 hours after being transported," CBP said.
Migrants traveling with children walk up a hill to a waiting U.S. Border Patrol agent just inside San Ysidro, Calif., after climbing over the border wall from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. Thousands of Central American migrants who traveled with recent caravans want to seek asylum in the United States but face a decision between crossing illegally or waiting months, because the U.S. government only processes a limited number of those cases a day at the San Ysidro border crossing. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (Rebecca Blackwell/)
The agency did not release the name of the girl or her father, but the father remains in El Paso awaiting a meeting with Guatemalan consular officials, according to CBP. The agency is investigating the incident to ensure appropriate policies were followed, it said.
Food and water are typically provided to migrants in Border Patrol custody, and it wasn't immediately clear Thursday if the girl received provisions and a medical exam before the onset of seizures.
"Our sincerest condolences go out to the family of the child," CBP spokesman Andrew Meehan said in a statement to The Washington Post.
"Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child's life under the most trying of circumstances," Meehan said. "As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathize with the loss of any child."
The ACLU blamed "lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP" for the girl's death. "The fact that it took a week for this to come to light shows the need for transparency for CBP. We call for a rigorous investigation into how this tragedy happened and serious reforms to prevent future deaths," Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said in a statement.
Though much of the political and media attention has focused in recent weeks on migrant caravans arriving at the Tijuana-San Diego border, large numbers of Central Americans continue to cross the border into Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. The groups sometimes spend days in smugglers' stash houses or walking through remote areas with little food or water before reaching the border.
Arrests of migrants traveling as family groups have skyrocketed this year, and Homeland Security officials say court rulings that limit their ability to keep families in detention have produced a "catch and release" system that encourages migrants to bring children as a shield against detention and deportation.
In November, Border Patrol agents apprehended a record 25,172 "family unit members" on the Southwest border - including 11,489 in the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector in southern Texas and 6,434 in the El Paso sector, which covers far western Texas and New Mexico.
Migrants traveling as part of a family group accounted for 58 percent of those taken into custody last month by the Border Patrol.
On Tuesday, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said during testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the agency's holding cells are "incompatible" with the new reality of parents with children coming across the border to surrender to agents en masse, requesting asylum.
"Our border patrol stations were built decades ago to handle mostly male single adults in custody, not families and children," McAleenan told lawmakers.
The small Border Patrol station in Lordsburg received a group of 227 migrants on Thursday, according to CBP, after taking in a group of 123 on Wednesday. Both groups - extremely large by CBP standards - mostly consisted of families and children, according to the agency.
The agency said it was expecting an autopsy on the child, but results would not likely be available for several weeks. An initial diagnosis by physicians at Providence hospital listed the cause of death as septic shock, fever and dehydration, CBP said.
"Due to patient confidentiality, the hospital is unable to provide any patient information and is referring any inquiries regarding this patient to CBP," Providence spokeswoman Marina Monsisvais said.
- - -
Moore reported from El Paso.
Inexplicably, this column is used as filler for internet newsfeed garden sections when there isn’t enough Lower 48 gardening news. I am not sure what good it does for those in southern states to get advice based on our growing conditions.
This is one column they won’t use. They won’t understand Outside that this is a garden column because they don’t live in the Land of Big Shakes and Aftershocks, where Alaskans are all suffering a bit of post-traumatic earthquake syndrome. Every aftershock over 4.0 and 10 seconds is cause for a pause: aftershock or another big one?
The quake has replaced the weather as the main source of conversation. Restaurant, supermarket, office, postal line or waiting room, it is all we talk about. And we are all hearing from people in the Lower 48 asking if we are OK and wanting a description of what it was like.
Many of my inquiries are from garden-writing friends. I just send them the picture of all the garden books they have written and sent me lying scattered on the floor. You know what I mean.
I report that not one plant we own so much as fell off a shelf. None even tipped over. I tell them I have not received any reports of such, either. They are amazed. Me too.
They wonder how the roads can be fixed so fast in the middle of an Alaska winter. It gives me a chance to finally prove our soils are not frozen solid from here to hell. They are amazed, as many already have a foot or more of frosted soils. I tell them this should rid them of their Disney-induced, preconceived nonsense about our weather.
And then I tell them that this quake actually created a feeling among Alaskans not unlike the feeling gardeners experience when they are around other gardeners. It isn’t easy to explain, even to myself, but it has to do with the unity of thought you get when you are part of the gardening community.
You go to a garden event, for example, or a botanical garden, and everyone there is thinking about gardening. Most are even dressed for it. Everyone talks to each other. Even people who didn’t vote the same way you did and might be wearing a hat you don’t like. People are happy when they are with other gardeners, even total strangers. If you are a gardener, you know what I am talking about.
I explain to all these folks who are asking about the quake that plate tectonics creates exactly the same sort of thing. As with going to a garden event, a big earthquake somehow causes a shift in thinking, and everyone who was there starts to speak the same language.
We listen to total strangers tell the story of where they were, what they were doing or some related story. And we have real empathy for what they are saying.
Quakes, like gardening, bring Alaskans together. They make us feel unique and different and eager to stand when “Alaska’s Flag” song is played. They don’t do that in New York after a blizzard or in Jacksonville after a hurricane.
Amazingly, my gardening friends get it. And they would. They are, after all, gardeners and know the unifying feeling.
Alaska Garden Calendar
Join the Alaska Botanical Garden: It is easy. It is necessary to support that garden, and it will pay for itself. Do not delay. Go to www.alaskabg.org.
Garden Lights: New this year at the Alaska Botanical Garden are lights and light walks! Go to www.alaskabg.org for details. (And to join. Do it now. Great gift that starts paying for itself right away.)
Christmas trees: Do you need me to remind you to check the water? Set a daily alarm on your phone.
Quake aftermath warning: If you don’t go into your toolshed until spring, just remember to open the door slowly.
Reign Galovin's cranberry-ginger salsa won the side dish category in our holiday recipe contest. (Photo by: Kim Sunee)
When this recipe from reader Reign Galovin, featuring fresh cranberries kicked up with ginger and chiles, came through our contest entries, I was excited to test it. The result is a refreshing hybrid of relish and salsa. I encourage you to use fresh, firm cranberries. The recipe calls for cilantro leaves, which is pretty if not a bit fussy; I actually like to chop up the stems as well, which is quicker and intensifies the cilantro flavor. I also reduced the amount of sugar to 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons. If I were to add anything, perhaps a handful of crisp pomegranate arils and some salt. What’s brilliant about this salsa is that it goes well with almost everything. Serve a bowl of it as an alternative to cranberry sauce for roasted birds and meats; it brightens up the richer holiday gravies and creamy casseroles. A spoonful is delicious on soft scrambled eggs in a warm tortilla; tossed into a vinaigrette for salad; served with buttery biscuits or as a topping for savory pancakes and waffles. And I scraped the last bits onto a toasted bagel with a smear of cream cheese.
Fresh cranberry-ginger salsa
Recipe adapted from Reign Galovin
Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh firm cranberries
4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced
2 jalapeños, stems removed (and seeds, if desired)
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (from 1 small bunch)
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
Garnish: finishing salt, like Maldon sea salt flakes or fleur de sel (optional)
Method: Rinse cranberries and discard any that are mushy or bruised. Drain and place in the bowl of a food processor; pulse a few times until cranberries are coarsely chopped (and not puréed). Tip chopped cranberries into a medium bowl and stir in green onions, jalapeños, cilantro, lemon juice, ginger, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine. Let sit 10 minutes. Taste and add more lemon juice, sugar, or salt, as needed. Garnish, if desired, with some finishing salt. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to three days.
Reader Judith Mack's cuccidati, or Italian fig cookies, were the winner of the dessert recipe category in our holiday recipe contest. (Maya Wilson/ADN)
Upon first reading this recipe for cuccidati (pronouced: coo-chee-dawt-tee), or Italian fig cookies, by Judith Mack, I was immediately drawn to the bold flavors - figs, orange zest, whiskey, cloves. Having never made or tasted the Sicilian (and Italian-American) treat before, I did a quick Google search to see what the end result should look like. What I found was what appeared to be a glorified Fig Newton, topped with glaze and festive sprinkles. I was further intrigued.
A few testing notes: The recipe for the filling makes quite a bit more than you need for one batch of pastry, as is noted by the recipe writer. I went ahead and cut it in half. The instructions for the rolling and filling of the dough were a bit vague for a newcomer to Italian fig cookies like me, but finding an online photo certainly did help in that department. I don’t recommend skipping the chilling of the dough, as the dough can be tacky and might stick when attempting to roll and fill, a lesson I learned the hard way. In fact, I chilled mine for several hours on my second attempt rather than the 30 minutes suggested. I also floured my work surface quite liberally to ensure it didn’t stick the second time. I rolled the dough rather thin, about the same thickness as pie crust. The pastry does have some baking powder and eggs in it, so it will puff up a bit when baked. I went ahead and baked them for the entire 15 minutes and they were nice and golden on the bottom and set on top. I used red, green, and white Christmas sprinkles, which happen to be the same colors as the Italian flag. And I went for the booze in the glaze rather than water, another suggestion made by the recipe writer. The result was a buttery pastry and a complex, chewy filling. All in all, a delightful holiday cookie.
Cuccidati, or Italian Fig Cookies
(Recipe by Judith Mack)
Filling: (this makes enough for 2-3 batches of dough)
1 pound dried figs
1 pound raisins
1 pound walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Juice of two oranges
Rind of one orange
1/4 pound brown sugar
1 3/4 cup whiskey or brandy
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix powdered sugar with a bit of vanilla and water (or Grand Marnier)
Multi-Colored Sprinkles for decoration
Method: For the filling, grind the orange peel in a food processor. Add a small amount of water, dried figs, raisins, walnuts, spices and orange juice and process. Walnuts should be small chunks, not powdery. Put mixture in a saucepan and cook on the stove until it gets sticky. Add brown sugar, Grand Marnier and whiskey. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 20 minutes. Cool before using.
For the pastry, sift all dry ingredients. Cut in butter. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and knead to form a ball. Chill at least 30 minutes.
To assemble, roll out dough into a rectangle. Put a layer of fruit filling near the edge and roll once or twice. Flatten out slightly and cut cookies at an angle (about 3/4 -1 inch wide). Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes on an un-greased cookie sheet. Watch carefully as they burn quickly. Remove and cool on rack.
When cookies are completely cooled, frost with the icing and sprinkle.
East's 6-foot-11 senior Andrew Graves is fouled by Seward junior Connor Spanos during the Thunderbirds' 77-25 victory Thursday at he 39th annual Cougar Tip-Off Tournament. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)
The high school basketball season tipped off Thursday, and Anchorage teams used the occasion to dominate the first round of the 39th annual Cougar Tip Off Tournament at Service High.
Service, Bartlett, East and Chugiak cruised past opponents from smaller schools. The four Cook Inlet Conference teams outscored their opponents 285-117.
Things should get more competitive on Friday, when the CIC teams square off in the semifinals and Seward, Homer, Point Hope and Redington drop into consolation-bracket play.
The host Service Cougars set the tone by defeating Redington 74-16 in the first of four boys games. Bartlett tripped Homer 64--39, East stifled Seward 77-25 and Chugiak routed Point Hope 70-37.
All of the CIC teams deployed balanced attacks, with no player scoring more than 18 points.
Elijah Cano of Service and Rashad King of Bartlett were the day’s leading scorers with 18 points apiece. Jackson Wall’s 15 points led Chugiak, and East got 12 points apiece from Brayden Maladonado and Hasani Zimmerman.
The four-team girls tournament begins Friday at Service, where there will be two girls games and four boys games. In an endowment game Thursday night, the Service girls topped Seward 34-26.
Service Cougar Tip Off Tournament
Service 74, Redington 16
Bartlett 64, Homer 39
East 77, Seward 25
Chugiak 70, Point Hope 37
Service 34, Seward 26 (endowment game)
1:15 p.m. – Redington vs. Homer
3 p.m. – Seward vs. Point Hope
6:15 p.m. – East vs. Chugiak
7:45 p.m. – Service vs. Bartlett
11:45 a.m. -- Service vs. Homer
4:45 p.m. – Seward vs. Redington
After meeting, Dunleavy says Trump ‘understands that Alaska is America’s natural resource warehouse’
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, participates in a discussion with Governors-Elect Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian) (Joyce Boghosian/)
WASHINGTON — Gov. Mike Dunleavy called President Donald Trump a “strong partner” to Alaska after the pair met Thursday at the White House and Dunleavy discussed the possibility of opening portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with the Trump administration.
“The President understands that Alaska is America’s natural resource warehouse,” Dunleavy said, according to a statement distributed by the office of the governor. Dunleavy was one of several newly elected governors from both parties who attended the sit-down, according to the governor’s office.
“Our state’s vast reserves of energy and minerals can power the nation’s economy, creating new jobs, prosperity for Alaskan families and, new revenue at the state and federal level,” Dunleavy said in a statement.
Among those attending Thursday were Florida Republican Ron DeSantis, Georgia Republican Brian Kemp, Illinois Democrat J.B. Pritzker and Wisconsin Democrat Tony Evers.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with newly elected governors in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Washington. From left, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, D-Ill., Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Trump. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Evan Vucci/)
White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Doug Hoelscher had said they'd be discussing "shared priorities," including workforce investment, prison reform and combating the opioid epidemic.
Dunleavy also met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the two discussed “the process underway to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to environmentally responsible oil exploration." The two also discussed the state’s pursuit of potential land transfers from the federal to state government, the statement said.
“Next month will mark the 60th anniversary of statehood and Alaska is still waiting to receive all the land it is entitled to under the Statehood Act. It is time to complete the transfer of land, so Alaskans can have access to the land and decide the best uses for it, not the federal government,” Dunleavy said.
Asked if Zinke made any commitments regarding a future land transfer, Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner said he did not know how the Interior Secretary responded as of Thursday afternoon.December 13, 2018
The White House says since the midterms, it has reached out to a long list of newly elected state and local officials of both parties “to open lines of communication and begin a dialogue.”
The 1964 earthquake heavily damaged much of Anchorage, Alaska. (Harvey Chafitz) (Unknown/)
Lucy Whitehead ran out of the Empress movie theater during Anchorage’s first big earthquake, in September 1932.
Fourth Avenue moved like ocean waves. Chimneys cracked. A display case collapsed in the Loussac drug store. In one of the many aftershocks, a jar fell off a shelf and hit Whitehead’s mother.
A scary quake hit in 1940 as well. A huge quake in October 1954 damaged many buildings, including the airport. The March 1964 earthquake was among the largest ever measured. Whitehead keeps some broken dishes and newspapers from that one in her room at the Anchorage Pioneer Home.
Lucy Whitehead holds a vase she saved that was broken in the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, with newspapers from the quake, in her room at the Anchorage Pioneer Home, December 12, 2018. (Charles Wohlforth / ADN)
On the morning of Nov. 30, Whitehead had just gotten in the elevator, alone, when it began violently shaking. She grabbed a railing.
Two days later, her muscles still hurt from the strain of holding on. Two weeks later, she cried while telling the story.
“I was in darkness,” she said. “To tell you the truth, I thought I had had it. I started praying.”
But the earthquake stopped. The elevator went down and the doors opened. Staff cleaned up her room before she went back upstairs. Heat was back on that evening.
Anchorage still has residents, like the charming Lucy Whitehead, who have lived here all but a few years of the city’s existence. In her case, she remembers that history and saved wonderful records. I looked up that 1932 earthquake — her memory was off by one hour.
We live in a good spot for a city in most ways. We’re here because we have flat ground for runways, access to the ocean, and mountain passes leading to the north and south. Anchorage is a transportation and service hub.
But the city was built on shaky ground with an ornery population resistant to government. We’re still learning the value of working together and listening to experts to live safely on this uncertain soil.
Anchorage dates its birth to 1915, when a railroad construction camp sprung up on Ship Creek. But city government didn’t start until 1920.
The federal government built and ran Anchorage during Alaska Railroad construction. Residents liked it that way: no taxes. Only when federal officials threatened to shut down the fire department did voters relent and form a city.
Whitehead was born here in 1923. When the quake hit, in 1932, the town was just a few unpaved streets of wood buildings.
Anchorage became a real city with federal spending in World War II and the Cold War. Seeing that growth, the U.S. Geological Survey dispatched scientists to study the soils in the 1950s.
What they found worried them. Much of Anchorage rested on a layer the geologists called Bootlegger Cove clay. Lab tests showed the clay was weak and in field observations it sloughed on slopes.
In the 1954 quake, the clay let go under a stretch of Alaska Railroad track 9 miles south of Anchorage, leaving rails 20 feet in the air. Officials speculated repairs could run as high as “a few thousand dollars.”
A 1959 USGS report mapped the city’s most dangerous areas (the online version excludes the maps). But local government ignored the report and building continued without regard to the warning. In March 1964, slopes collapsed where the geologists had predicted, taking down homes and killing residents.
After that quake, geologists called for evacuating and abandoning Turnagain and the L Street area. Residents wondered if Congress would relocate Anchorage, as it did Valdez.
But business leaders defended their investments. The city formed a business-oriented Reconstruction Commission that ignored most of the experts’ advice. Anchorage ultimately refused some federal assistance that would have come with safety requirements costly to wealthy land owners.
The Anchorage Times did its part. Its owner, Bob Atwood, was married to the daughter of Elmer Rasmuson, owner of the state’s largest bank. The Times changed its reporting three days after the quake, switching from disaster coverage to cheerleading for investment and rebuilding.
The city’s most dynamic developer, Walter Hickel, had consolidated land downtown for a big new hotel, including Lucy Whitehead’s house. She hadn’t wanted to sell, but finally relented. Then the earthquake sliced Hickel’s property with a huge crevice.
He decided to build anyway. He often said his decision to build the Hotel Captain Cook in 1964 was intended to restore confidence in the city’s future. But he also had been planning the hotel for years and had sunk a lot of money in the project.
Outside the city limits — on the south, Northern Lights Boulevard — local government arrived only three months before the 1964 quake hit.
Residents hadn’t wanted to tax themselves for a borough or obey new rules. When someone had a problem with a neighbor or wanted their child to switch schools, they called Gov. Bill Egan.
He got tired of those calls and in 1963 signed a law to force creation of boroughs. Later that year, Anchorage voters turned down a borough by a 3-1 margin. In January, 1964, the new law created the Greater Anchorage Area Borough anyway.
Still, the fight went on. The Eagle River-Chugiak Area seceded from the borough in the 1970s. During a fight to unify the borough and the city, a judge forced the area back in. At a meeting to discuss unification plans in 1975, Eagle River residents showed up with guns and lawsuits.
Unification finally passed, after a decade of conflict, only with a promise that less-developed areas could opt out of some services, such as police patrols or parks. Eagle River still remains outside the Building Safety Service Area, exempting the area from enforcement of codes.
The Gold Rush Motor Lodge on Northern Lights Boulevard was destroyed by fire in January 1970. (ADN archive)
These old fights seem weird today. As weird as the incident, in 1970, at a hotel on the south side of Northern Lights, a fire trap built in an area without codes. When the hotel burned, Anchorage city fire trucks stopped on the north side of the road. It was outside the fire service area. Five people died.
It is time to finish with that history. Earthquakes don’t care where these lines are. We are one city and we should have one set of codes and services.
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.
Henry Cheseto, center left, runs to victory for UAA at a 2014 cross country meet in Chugiak. (Erik Hill / ADN archive) (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News/)
Henry Cheseto, a two-time All-American and two-time West Region cross-country champion at UAA, was killed Wednesday morning in a car crash outside Wichita, Kansas.
Cheseto, 25, was killed when the car he was driving crossed the center line and hit a Waste Management truck, according to news reports. A report from police in Andover, Kansas, said Cheseto was partially ejected from his car and died at the scene. The driver of the truck was not injured, according to reports.
“What a tragic loss for the many friends and family who knew Henry,” said UAA coach Michael Friess, who coached Cheseto in cross country and track. “He will certainly be remembered by our UAA cross country and track & field family.”
Cheseto grew up in Kenya and followed his brother, Marko Cheseto, to UAA to run for the Seawolves. He spent three years at UAA before transferring to Butler Community College in Kansas.
According to KAKE TV in Wichita, friends held a vigil Thursday near the crash site, where they shared memories of Cheseto.
“Energetic about trying to put that energy into athletics. He was humble. He would hug you for nothing. He loved friends. He got a lot of friends,” Simion Melly told KAKE.
The television station said fundraisers are being planned to help send Cheseto’s body home to Kenya.