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Updated: 2 hours 21 min ago

Anchorage man gets 99-year prison sentence for 2016 attempted sex assault

2 hours 59 min ago

A 60-year-old Anchorage man was sentenced Thursday to 99 years in prison for the attempted sexual assault of a woman in May 2016.

Rex Weston broke into the victim’s apartment, undressed and tried to sexually assault her while she was sleeping in her bed, prosecutors said in a statement.

“When the victim woke up and screamed, Weston covered her mouth and told her to be quiet, pinning her arms above her head," according to the Alaska Department of Law. "The victim was able to kick Weston off and run for help.”

An Anchorage police canine team tracked Weston after he fled from the apartment, and he was later found at an elementary school, prosecutors said.

A jury convicted Weston of first-degree attempted sexual assault in August. Superior Court Judge Erin Marston — deeming Weston to be a “worst offender” under the law — imposed the 99-year sentence, which was required by law and recommended by the defense and the prosecution, according to the Department of Law.

Weston pleaded no contest to a sexual assault charge in a 2000 case, and to a charge of sexual abuse of a minor related to a 1982 offense, according to online court records.

Stronger winds in store for Northwest Alaska in coming decades, scientists say

3 hours 13 min ago

Ice stacked up on the Kotzebue Sound near Kotzebue during a sunny afternoon on Feb. 16, 2015. An ice fisherman said the ice was about 3 feet thick, about half of what they normally have that time of year. (Bill Roth / ADN archive)

In Kotzebue, understanding wind conditions is a central part of life. High winds can knock out electricity, cause flooding, disrupt sea ice and make travel dangerous, said Alex Whiting, environmental program director at the Native Village of Kotzebue.

When strong winds jumble and crunch up existing ice in certain areas, it can cause unsafe travel conditions “potentially for the rest of that year if it happens early enough,” Whiting said.

The future looks increasingly windy for some coastal communities in northwestern Alaska like Kotzebue: New research published in the journal Atmospheric and Climate Sciences showed that high wind events have increased since 1980 and will continue over the course of this century in areas along the state’s northwestern coast.

Researchers Sarah Pearl, an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College, and John Walsh, chief scientist at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, wanted to better understand what Alaska’s wind patterns looked like in the past and what they could look like in the future, based on two climate models.

So, they compiled hourly wind information from 67 airport wind monitors, known as anemometers, around Alaska.

They found that high wind events were happening more frequently over the decades in northern and western coastal regions in Alaska. They also found that the same high wind storms could become more frequent in areas that had lost sea ice due to changes in the climate.

The presence or lack of sea ice can change how much a storm impacts the coast, Walsh said.

“The ice tends to protect the coast when there’s a strong storm. The storms will pick up large waves when there’s no sea ice present," Walsh said. "When sea ice is present, the waves will be essentially nonexistent.”

Without that protective sea ice barrier, communities can be left vulnerable to pounding waves that cause coastal erosion during storms, Walsh said.

In places like Kotzebue, strong winds can bring floods, loss of power and variable conditions that make hunting and travel difficult, Whiting said.

The wind can push coastal water into Kotzebue and flood roads, Whiting said. And if the wind takes down the electricity in the winter, homes and businesses would lose heat, and people working to restore power would be exposed to high winds amid plummeting temperatures.

The wind can also blow snow, leaving bare ice in its wake and obscuring visibility, which makes travel more challenging, Whiting said.


Wind blown patterns on the ocean south of the sea ice at Elim on Monday, March 12, 2018. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes/)

The Anchorage area isn’t expected to see such an increase in wind speeds, and instead could see a decrease in wind speed during certain months, Walsh said.

“As temperatures rise, storm tracks are projected to be moving northward under a changing climate," Pearl said. "That’s consistent with our findings from these model projections that we would see an increasing frequency in high wind events in the north of Alaska and possibly a decreasing frequency in the south.”

The team decided to study wind after noticing there was little research on wind in the context of climate change compared to other factors like temperature and sea ice, Pearl said.

“I think these types of studies are especially important for planning by the local communities to understand what sort of extreme events might happen in the future,” said Alice DuVivier, a polar climate modeler at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, who was not involved in the study.

The hazards created by strong winds are exponential for Kotzebue and the surrounding areas, Whiting said.

“And that’s why when we think about our activities for the day,” he said, "wind in some ways is the most important factor in how we’re going to plan our day and what kind of activities we’re able to do.”

Planned Parenthood: Alaska law restricts abortion access

3 hours 51 min ago

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands has sued over an Alaska law it says limits who can provide abortions.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges a state law and Board of Nursing policy bar advanced practice clinicians from providing early abortion and miscarriage care that they are qualified to provide. This restricts access to abortion and other gynecological care "without medical justification" and violates the rights of women, the lawsuit alleges.

Department of Law spokeswoman Maria Bahr said by email that the department will review the complaint when it receives it and "respond in due course to the court system."

The complaint cites a provision of law that says an abortion may not be performed in Alaska unless it is performed by a physician licensed by the State Medical Board. The complaint alleges the Board of Nursing has rejected Planned Parenthood's request to have advanced practice clinicians provide "low-risk aspiration procedures" to treat miscarriages.

Planned Parenthood trains advanced practice clinicians at its clinics in Hawaii and Washington in medication abortion care and the clinicians have been providing medication abortions in these states for years, the lawsuit states.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed from the current-year budget about $335,000 from the court system. The administration said the amount was commensurate to state funding for abortions following an Alaska Supreme Court decision striking down a law and regulation seeking to define what constitutes medically necessary abortions for Medicaid funding. That veto is the subject of a separate court challenge.

Abortion-veto lawsuit against state may proceed, judge rules

3 hours 52 min ago

A lawsuit against the state of Alaska over Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s decision to veto $334,700 from the budget of the state court system may proceed, an Anchorage judge ruled Thursday.

In an 11-page order, Superior Court Judge Jennifer Henderson said the Alaska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has “citizen-taxpayer standing” and thus can bring a lawsuit against the governor. The ACLU sued the state in July on behalf of two plaintiffs, saying the governor illegally cut the court system’s budget in retaliation for a ruling on abortion.

The state contends the governor was within his constitutional rights.

Henderson has not ruled on the merits of the ACLU’s lawsuit; her order only says that the ACLU is allowed to bring the lawsuit.

Bethel elementary school principal tried to send sexual messages to 13-year-old, charges say

4 hours 9 min ago

An elementary school principal in Bethel arrested Tuesday had attempted to send sexual messages to a 13-year-old girl, according to federal prosecutors.


Christopher Carmichael (Photo via Gladys Jung Elementary School website)

Christopher A. Carmichael, 55, thought he was talking online with a 13-year-old girl but was actually communicating with an undercover FBI agent, said a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska. Carmichael had been with the Lower Kuskokwim School District for 19 years and was most recently the principal of Gladys Jung Elementary School.

Earlier this month, Carmichael sent messages to the girl describing sexual acts in graphic detail, federal prosecutors said. He then reminded the child to delete the messages and said “it was really important they keep referring to her like she was eighteen so that he wouldn’t get into trouble,” according to the statement.

Bethel police contacted the FBI in November because Carmichael’s internet activity was concerning, federal prosecutors said.

Carmichael was arrested Tuesday night by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force, Bethel Police Department and Alaska State Troopers, according to an FBI spokesman.

Carmichael is facing charges of attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor, and attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.

Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Daniel Walker said Wednesday that staff were shocked by Carmichael’s arrest.

Carmichael joined the district in 2000 as a teacher in Quinhagak, Walker said. He was also a principal in Goodnews Bay before becoming the Gladys Jung Elementary School principal in 2014.

The Bethel school has around 330 students in third to sixth grade, Walker said.

The district said Wednesday that they planned to investigate Carmichael, and additional social workers and school counselors would be available as needed. The district’s lead social worker is available at 907-543-4874 or 907-545-4429, according to a statement released Thursday afternoon.

District Personnel Director Joshua Gill was appointed as acting president of the elementary school for the remaining week and a half of the semester, the statement said.

“Over the next week, Acting Principal Joshual Gill will be reaching out to parents to connect with them about any concerns they may have about their child’s education at GJES and answer any questions they may have about safety and security at the school,” the statement said.

If convicted, prosecutors said, Carmichael could spend between 10 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors urged anyone with information about the case to call the FBI at 907-276-4441.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Dunleavy budget plan includes $400,000 to photocopy mail sent to Alaska prisoners to stop drugs

4 hours 18 min ago

Spring Creek Correctional Center outside Seward, 2016. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes/)

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget calls for spending more than $400,000 to photocopy personal mail sent to inmates, under the theory that giving prisoners copies instead of originals would stymie the flow of drugs into prisons.

New budget documents released Wednesday call for a $417,000 increase to the Department of Corrections that would be used for four new office assistant positions to handle the massive photocopying job, estimated at 908,645 pages per year.

“Incoming inmate mail is a regular source of contraband,” the budget appropriation note reads. “While all mail, except privileged attorney mail, is already opened by prison staff, contraband still gets into the facility through the mail. “

“The best way to combat this problem is to photocopy incoming inmate mail and only distribute the copies,” the note says.

Two of the assistants would be located at Goose Creek Correctional Center, one in Anchorage and one in Juneau, according to the budget note.

The Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to questions about the plan.

The ACLU of Alaska quickly said it would fight the photocopying plan.

“This is not only costly, but it’s intrusive,” said Megan Edge, a spokeswoman for the ACLU. “Given the known legal issues, we hope that the Legislature corrects this unconstitutional proposed use of state dollars.”

The idea of restricting prisoners to copies of personal mail has gained traction around the country as a way to stop sneaky methods of getting drugs into jails, including soaking paper in liquid drugs such as ecstasy, heroin and fentanyl, as one South Florida drug trafficking organization was caught doing.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has started photocopying mail at some institutions over fears of synthetic drug contamination, The Associated Press reported in October.

West Virginia regional jails also photocopy inmate mail — and destroy the originals.

Some states have outsourced the photocopying of prisoner mail to private corporations, such as Smart Communications, a Florida firm that scans and stores the mail of inmates in Pennsylvania.

The inmates receive printed copies of the scans, which some have said are low-quality and not as personal as original paper mail.

3 charged in illegal big game guiding operation south of Fairbanks, troopers say

4 hours 44 min ago

Three men have been charged in an illegal big game guiding operation just south of Fairbanks after a yearlong investigation, Alaska State Troopers said Thursday.

The investigation was spurred when wildlife troopers found that employees at Gold King Creek Alaska Adventures had illegally harvested a moose in September 2018, according to a statement from troopers.

The business, which is owned by 58-year-old Phillip “Kib” Cannon of Fairbanks and 55-year-old Lawrence Chuderewicz of Clear, is licensed to provide recreational and vacation camping and gold ore mining. Ken Marsh, a spokesman for the troopers, said the business was advertising for hunts of all big game in the area.

During the past year, troopers said, they interviewed clients from Canada and the Lower 48 and served search warrants on the business.

On Thursday, Cannon and Chuderewicz were charged with several misdemeanors, including guiding or advertising without a license, unlawful possession and transportation of game and using a motorized vehicle in the Wood River Controlled Use Area. Chuderewicz is also facing a felony charge of tampering with evidence.

Investigators said 55-year-old Rex Sluchinski of Canada had hunted with Chuderewicz. He is charged with using a motorized vehicle in the controlled use area, nonresident hunting without a guide and unsworn falsification. Marsh said he was charged in part because nonresidents “must have a licensed guide to hunt moose in Alaska.”

New Jersey attackers linked to anti-Semitic fringe movement

4 hours 46 min ago

Police officers stand near the scene of a gun fight at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, N.J., Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Investigators are looking to pinpoint what prompted a deadly attack on the Jewish market in Jersey City amid fears that it was motivated by anti-Semitism, as a nearby school reopened Thursday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (Seth Wenig/)

The deadly shooting rampage at a New Jersey kosher market has cast a spotlight on a fringe movement known for its anti-Semitic strain of street preaching and its role in a viral-video confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial this year.

Investigators believe that the man and woman who killed three people at the Jersey City grocery Tuesday in addition to gunning down a police officer at a cemetery hated Jews and law enforcement and had expressed interest in the Black Hebrew Israelites movement, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Thursday.

“But we have not definitively established any formal links to that organization or to any other group,” he said. “Based on the available evidence, we believe that the two shooters were acting on their own.”

Not all sects of the movement spew hateful rhetoric, but many Black Hebrew Israelites subscribe to an extreme set of anti-Semitic beliefs. Those followers view themselves as the true “chosen people” and believe that blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are the true descendants of the 12 Tribes of Israel, said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism.

“They view white people as agents of Satan,” Segal said. They believe "Jews are liars and false worshippers of God. They view blacks as the true Israelites, and not the impostor Jews.”

Most who encounter the movement’s followers have seen them proselytizing and provoking arguments with passersby in places like Times Square in New York.

Last January, videos of a confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington probably introduced many people to the movement. A group of black street preachers who referred to themselves as Black Hebrew Israelites shouted insults at Native Americans and Catholic high school students from Kentucky who had participated in an anti-abortion rally in Washington. Videos of a face-to-face encounter between a Native American activist and a student wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat quickly spread on social media.

J.J. MacNab, a fellow at George Washington University's Program on Extremism, said the Black Hebrew Israelites have used Facebook and YouTube to spread their message and attract new followers. Prisons also have been fertile recruiting grounds for the sects, some of which have thousands of members, according to MacNab.

“Once you go online, you find a bigger world. They take pride in confronting Jewish people everywhere and explaining that they are evil, that they are heathens,” MacNab said.

MacNab said the Black Hebrew Israelites also include elements of the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement, which has been linked to deadly attacks on law enforcement officers.

“There is no purity test,” she said. “When you're generally radicalizing online, you're going to pick up bits and pieces from all over the place.”

The Jersey City killers, who died during the attack, were identified as David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50.

An Instagram account that apparently belonged to Anderson shows he was an aspiring rapper whose posts included at least one reference to Black Hebrew Israelite philosophy — a list of the 12 Tribes of Israel from the Bible, with each tribe equated to a modern-day ethnic group or country. “America has NOTHING for us but DEATH,” a caption on one of his posts read. The account went dormant a few years ago.

On Wednesday, the FBI searched the Harlem offices of a major Black Hebrew Israelite group, according to a law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Israel United in Christ, a Black Hebrew Israelite group with more than 40 U.S. locations and a large social media following, condemned the attacks.

The group said it does not “condone nor teach this type of behavior.”

In October, a self-proclaimed black Israelite was charged with assaulting two people leaving a prayer service at a synagogue in Miami, according to the ADL. The defendant, Larry Greene, threatened to stab the worshippers to death, called them “fake Jews” and told them to “go back to Israel,” the ADL said, citing an arrest affidavit.

But the Black Hebrew Israelites don’t have a significant record of violence, Segal said, noting that the ADL has been tracking the movement since the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Grewal, the attorney general, said authorities are investigating the shootings as “potential acts of domestic terrorism, fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs.”

Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.

Car strikes large boulder on rockfall-prone stretch of Seward Highway

5 hours 39 min ago

A car crashed into a “very large rock” — about 6 feet by 8 feet — that smacked the Seward Highway on Wednesday night along the same 5-mile stretch where rock slides temporarily shut down the road earlier this week.

Shannon McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Transportation, said officials believe the car struck the rock after it had fallen around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday in the northbound lane near Beluga Point, at Mile 110.5.


A car crashed into a 6-foot-by-8-foot rock near Beluga Point on Dec. 11, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Transportation)

DOT workers were able to clear the rock and debris quickly because equipment was already on site to clean up debris from five rock slides Monday. The two people in the car were not injured and the car was towed from the area quickly, McCarthy said.

McCarthy said the rockfall could be related to recent freeze-thaw weather patterns but also may have been impacted by two earthquakes that struck the region Wednesday.

On Monday, rocks and other landslide debris slid down the cliffs and covered the Seward Highway near Mile 111. Four more rock slides hit between Miles 106 to 111 shortly afterward. One of the rocks was the size of a small car.

[A rock ‘the size of a small car’ fell on the Seward Highway this week — and slides there are getting more frequent]

McCarthy said rock slides are more common during periods of high wind and rain. A wind gust of 113 mph was recorded Monday morning near McHugh Creek at Mile 113. Heavy rain pounded Turnagain Arm for much of the day.

DOT identified this portion of road as a problem area years ago, and McCarthy said officials are hoping to formulate a plan for emergency winter repairs within the next week. A major rock slide prevention project is slated to begin this summer. McCarthy said crews will bring down large rocks deemed a high-fall risk, install bolts in other portions of the cliff and place mesh along the sides to halt smaller rocks and debris.


A car crashed into a 6-foot-by-8-foot rock near Beluga Point on Dec. 11, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Transportation)

There were partial road closures Thursday from Miles 107 to 112 as crews cleared additional debris.

Each day about 6,800 people travel the Seward Highway, the only road that connects Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula, McCarthy said.

Marcie Trent, Matt Carle lead Alaska Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020

6 hours 12 min ago

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle (25) keeps the puck away from Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Desjardins (11) during Game 6 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final in Chicago. (Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times/TNS) (TNS/)

A running pioneer who was an age-group phenom and a hockey player who achieved greatness at every level of the game lead the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020.

Marcie Trent, who began running at age 50 and set 11 national age-group records and 25 Alaska age-group records before her death at age 77 in 1995, and Matt Carle, who played 12 seasons in the NHL, won two NCAA titles in college and collected two world-championship gold medals with U.S. junior teams, will be enshrined at a ceremony next year, Hall of Fame president Harlow Robinson announced Thursday.

Also gaining entry in the Hall of Fame were one event and one moment.

The Yukon 800 boat race, one of Alaska’s first extreme sporting events billed as the world’s longest and toughest speedboat races, was selected in the event category.

The UAA hockey team’s 1991 upset of Boston College in the NCAA playoffs, a feat that raised the profile of Alaska college hockey at a critical time, was selected in the moment category.

Selections were based on the point-totals from 11 ballots — one from a vote by the public, one from a vote by Hall of Fame inductees, and the rest from a nine-member selection panel that met Sunday. Results were approved by the Hall of Fame’s board of directors Thursday.

Trent was the ageless wonder who was a pioneer not just for women and masters-level runners, but for Anchorage running.

She was a co-founder of Anchorage’s old Pulsator Club, which staged races that helped turn running into a popular pursuit. She was a regular age-group winner — and sometimes the outright winner — of scores of footraces.

Not many women were running back in the late 1960s when Trent started churning out the miles and inspiring others to do the same. She claimed three victories in the rugged Equinox Marathon, where she recorded her fastest time — 4 hours, 4 minutes — at age 60. She was 56 when she set the women’s record in Colorado’s Pikes Peak Marathon, running 27.8 miles with 7,000 feet of vertical ascent in 5:30. In 1988, she set the world marathon record for women 70 and older with a time of 4:11.

In the summer of 1995 Trent was 77 years old and on a training run at McHugh Creek with her son, Larry Waldron, when they were killed by a grizzly bear. The annual Trent Waldron Half Marathon is named in their honor.

Trent is the fourth runner to be selected for the Hall of Fame, joining Olympic track runner Don Clary and mountain runners Bill Spencer and Nancy Pease.

Carle is the second hockey player to be selected, joining two-time Stanley Cup winner Scott Gomez.

Carle’s career is second only to Gomez’s among Alaska’s hockey stars. He was a second-round draft choice by the San Jose Sharks but chose to play college hockey before going pro.

As a junior defenseman at Denver he won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s best player in 2006 and became Alaska’s first two-time All-American. He gave up his senior season to sign a three-year, multi-million-dollar deal with the Sharks. In his first NHL game in March 2006, he scored a goal.

In his first full season as a pro, 2006-07, Carle was named to the NHL all-rookie team with 42 points in 77 games. He spent a dozen years in the NHL, scoring 283 points in 730 regular-season games and 44 in 127 playoff games.

Selected in the event category, the Yukon 800 is a two-day, high-speed race on the Chena, Tanana and Yukon rivers. It was first held in 1960, making it one of Alaska’s oldest extreme sports.

It bills itself as the world’s longest, toughest and roughest speed boat race, and it offers no shortage of obstacles — trees, logs, smoke from forest fires, blowing sand, high winds and rain. Mechanical skills and navigation skills are mandatory.

The first winner, Ray Kasola, finished in 26 hours, 26 minutes, 55 seconds. The current record is 11:52:43, set in 2007 by 10-time winner Harold Attla.

Selected in the moments category is the 1990-91 UAA team that shocked the college hockey world by knocking off powerhouse Boston College in the first round of the 1991 NCAA playoffs.

The playoffs were a best-of-3 series back then, and Boston College was playing on home ice. The Seawolves won the first game 3-2 and the second game 3-1, which earned them a spot in the NCAA quarterfinals — and a day off in Boston on St. Patrick’s Day.

It was a pivotal moment for Alaska college hockey. UAA and UAF were both independents trying to gain membership in one of the sport’s conferences. The performance by the Seawolves brought respect for the Alaska teams, which earned full-time members in conferences (UAA in the WCHA, UAF in the CCHA) in 1993-94.

Daily News sports editor Beth Bragg is a member of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame selection panel. This story has been updated to clarify that UAA hockey’s victory over Boston College happened in the first round of the playoffs and sent the Seawolves to the quarterfinal round.

ALASKA SPORTS HALL OF FAME

PEOPLE

George Attla

Chad Bentz

Carlos Boozer

Red Boucher

Holly Brooks

John Brown

Martin Buser

Susan Butcher

Matt Carle

Mario Chalmers

Don Clary

Corey Cogdell

Janay DeLoach

Herb Didrickson

Rosey Fletcher

Scott Gomez

Jeannie Hebert-Truax

Virgil Hooe

Nicole Johnston

Reggie Joule

Nina Kemppel

Jeff King

Trajan Langdon

Wally Leask

Hilary Lindh

Lance Mackey

Dick Mize

Tommy Moe

Buck Nystrom

Nancy Pease

Kikkan Randall

Joe Redington, Sr.

Mark Schlereth

Bill Spencer

Rick Swenson

Vern Tejas

Kristen Thorsness

Norman Vaughan

Bradford Washburn

Chuck White

EVENTS

Alaska Run For Women

Arctic Winter Games

Equinox Marathon

Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship Sled Dog Race

Gold Medal Basketball Tournament

Great Alaska Shootout

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Iron Dog

Midnight Sun Baseball Classic

Mount Marathon Race

Native Youth Olympics

Yukon Quest

World Eskimo-Indian Olympics

Yukon 800 Boat Race

MOMENTS (with year of occurence)

First Ascent of Denali (1913)

First Winter Ascent of Denali (1967)

Iditarod Photo Finish (1978)

Elliott Sampson’s Upset Victory (1981)

Libby Riddle’s Iditarod Victory (1985)

Les Anderson’s World Record King Salmon (1985)

Doug Herron’s 800 Meter Run (1985)

UAA Men’s Basketball Upset of Michigan (1988)

Vern Tejas’ Solo Winter Ascent of Denali (1988)

Tommy Moe Wins Olympic Gold (1994)

Dolly Lefever Becomes First American Woman to Complete the Seven Summit (1994)

Scott Gomez Brings Home the Stanley Cup (2000)

Chris Clark’s Olympic Marathon Trial Victory (2000)

Special Olympics World Games Comes to Anchorage (2001)

Kodiak Boys Basketball State Championship (2001)

UAF Wins Top of the World Classic (2002)

Michael Hutchison Beats the Boys (2006)

Matt Carle Wins the Hobey Baker Award (2006)

UAA Hockey Team Upsets Boston College (1991)

Roadless Rule hampers affordable power for Southeast Alaska

6 hours 45 min ago

Clouds form in the valleys of the Tongass National Forest above Holkham Bay in Southeast Alaska on Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Bob Hallinen / ADN) (Bob Hallinen/)

Most of the coverage surrounding the proposed exemption of the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 federal Roadless Rule focuses on the timber industry. What’s being left out of the debate is the thousands of Alaskans who must pay for the Roadless Rule through their electric rates.

The U.S. Forest Service’s preferred alternative for the Roadless Rule in Alaska is to exempt the Tongass, returning decision-making authority to its employees on the ground in Alaska. This will allow decisions concerning road construction and roadless area management of the Tongass to be made by local officials on a case-by-case basis.

The Roadless Rule has imposed significant roadblocks and expense to electric consumers in Southeast Alaska due to regulatory barriers on utility operations and hydro power development. Many communities in Southeast Alaska utilize hydro power to produce clean, stable priced electricity, and even more communities are integrating hydro power to lower or eliminate their dependence on diesel generation.

There are many examples from Southeast of electric consumer rates being impacted by the Roadless Rule.

For instance, construction activities for new hydro power plants in Southeast Alaska need road access from tide line to transport materials and equipment. Elimination of surface access under the Roadless Rule has adversely affected the development of future low cost renewable energy resources. If the rule doesn’t prohibit a project altogether, it can substantially increase the time and cost to develop new projects, thus making a project too costly to develop. Alaskans lose out on lower-cost power when regulatory hurdles increase costs to an unbearable level.

The Roadless Rule is also a limiting factor in developing and maintaining reliable electric transmission lines in Southeast Alaska. During one electric utility’s avalanche mitigation studies, it was required to eliminate mitigation options that were dependent on material and equipment access from tide line. Simply being able to pioneer a path for trucks or other vehicles from tide line to the transmission line -- in this case, a distance of approximately 500 feet -- was not permitted under the Roadless Rule, which prevented activities such as developing earthen berms around structures or positioning heavy wire reels for repairing a damaged conductor.

The alternative is to contract an expensive heavy-lift helicopter, which more than doubles the cost of a project and limits design parameters due to the weight limitations of helicopters. In addition, such helicopters are not readily available and potentially extend the period of repair and back up diesel generation. The costs of this are ultimately passed on to Southeast Alaskans in their electric rates.

Without the Roadless Rule, there are still a range of requirements Alaska’s electric utilities must abide by when building hydroelectric or other utility projects. Utilities that construct hydro power projects and associated transmission must abide by significant environmental regulations under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules and/or state regulations.

Alaska’s electric utilities work hard to provide safe, reliable and affordable power. New investments in renewable energy through hydro power in Southeast are helping high cost areas lower their price of power. The Roadless Rule has not only stifled the speed at which renewable energy has progressed, but it has also negatively and expensively impacted the necessary maintenance that comes with operating an electrical system.

By returning decision-making to local forestry officials, as opposed to a virtual blanket ban on development within the Tongass, the switch to renewable energy will stabilize electric rates and lower our state’s dependence on diesel generation.

Crystal Engkvist is the Alaska Power Association’s executive director. Alaska Power Association is the statewide trade association for electric utilities in Alaska.

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

Don’t destroy the Tongass

6 hours 53 min ago

High winds snapped off and blew down a small area in this western hemlock forest on the Tongass National Forest near Sitka, Alaska. (Mary Stensvold / U.S. Forest Service)

I fell in love with fly-fishing on my first trip to Alaska. From that very first cast on the Brooks River, I was hooked. I now live half-time in Alaska and have been lucky enough to fish on some of the most remote waters in Alaska.

One of my favorite places to fish, backpack and bird watch is in America’s largest forest: the Tongass National Forest. Filled with old-growth trees and some of the most robust populations of brown bears and bald eagles, this magical place seems straight out of a fairy tale. It also plays a crucial role in mitigating the climate crisis. As one of the last intact temperate rainforests in existence, it stores carbon, which means it can slow the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

That’s why I was utterly dismayed to learn of the Trump administration’s decision to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule and allow industrial scale logging of the ancient forest. Make no mistake: This foolhardy decision will allow 165,000 acres of old-growth forest to be clear-cut. Such a move threatens wildlife, fish habitat and the fisheries they support. This decision goes against years of collaboration between the U.S. Forest Service, Southeastern Alaskan tribes, outdoor recreation and fishing interests and local community members.

The decision to allow large-scale logging is a bad idea for the environment and climate crisis: destroying trees that will take hundreds of years to grow back and harming wildlife and aquatic species. Economically, it’s a bad idea: destroying a robust outdoor recreation economy and commercial fishing industry. (Timber contributes less than 1% to the Southeast Alaska economy compared to the 25% that the tourism and fishing industries contribute.) The decision is culturally insensitive: destroying traditional lands of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people, the original inhabitants of this land since time immemorial. They rely on these lands for cultural and traditional practices, including hunting and fishing. The decision also goes completely against public opinion: A poll earlier this year found that 75% of Americans support keeping the Roadless Rule protections in place.

The Tongass National Forest is too important to let this administration destroy. Please join me in speaking out against this reckless decision and speaking in support of the Tongass ’pristine waters and lands, wildlife, fishing and recreation economies, tribal and local communities and our cherished way of life.

Chris Hill splits her time between Haines and Washington, D.C. She is an avid outdoor adventurer and a member of Artemis, a sportswomen’s conservation initiative of the National Wildlife Federation.

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

UK exit poll suggests majority for Johnson’s Conservatives, bolstering Brexit

7 hours 27 min ago

The results of an exit poll are projected onto the outside of Broadcasting House in London, just after voting closed for the 2019 General Election, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. An exit poll in Britain’s election projects that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party likely will win a majority of seats in Parliament. That outcome would allow Johnson to fulfill his plan to take the U.K. out of the European Union next month. (Jeff Overs/BBC via AP) (Jeff Overs/)

LONDON — An exit poll in Britain’s election projected Thursday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party would likely win a solid majority of seats in Parliament, a decisive outcome that should allow Johnson to fulfill his plan to take the U.K. out of the European Union next month.

The survey, released just after polls closed, predicted the Conservatives would get 368 of the 650 House of Commons seats and the Labour Party 191. That would be the biggest Tory majority for several decades, and a major setback for Labour.

Based on interviews with voters leaving 144 polling stations across the country, the poll is conducted for a consortium of U.K. broadcasters and is regarded as a reliable, though not exact, indicator of the likely result. The poll also projects 55 seats for the Scottish National Party and 13 for the Liberal Democrats.

Ballots are being counted, with official results expected early Friday.

A decisive Conservative win would vindicate Johnson’s decision to press for Thursday’s early election, which was held nearly two years ahead of schedule. He said that if the Conservatives won a majority, he would get Parliament to ratify his Brexit divorce deal and take the U.K. out of the EU by the current Jan. 31 deadline.

That would fulfill the decision of British voters in 2016 to leave the EU, three and a half years after the divisive referendum result. It would start a new phase of negotiations on future relations between Britain and the 27 remaining EU members.

Johnson did not mention the exit poll as he thanked voters in a tweet. “Thank you to everyone across our great country who voted, who volunteered, who stood as candidate,” he said. “We live in the greatest democracy in the world.”

Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said he was cautious about the poll, but that if substantiated it would give the party “a big majority” that could be used to “get Brexit done.”

The pound surged on the exit poll’s forecast, jumping over two cents against the dollar, to $1.3445, the highest in more than a year and a half. Many Investors hope a Conservative win would speed up the Brexit process and ease, at least in the short term, some of the uncertainty that has corroded business confidence since the 2016 vote.

A Labour drubbing would raise questions over the future of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who will have led his left-of-center party to two electoral defeats since 2017.

“Certainty this exit poll is a devastating blow,” said Labour trade spokesman Barry Gardiner. “It’s a deeply depressing result.”


A man dressed as Father Christmas enters his grotto at the Dunster Tithe Barn near Minehead, Somerset, England which is being used as a polling station in the 2019 general election, Thursday Dec. 12, 2019. U.K. voters were deciding Thursday who they want to resolve the stalemate over Brexit in a parliamentary election seen as one of the most important since the end of World War II. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP) (Ben Birchall/)
Ballots are counted at the Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt in Northern Ireland for the 2019 General Election. Thursday Dec. 12, 2019. (Niall Carson/PA via AP) (Niall Carson/)
British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, centre right and his wife Laura Alvarez leave after voting in the general election in Islington in Islington, London, England, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis) (Thanassis Stavrakis/)

Many voters casting ballots on Thursday hoped the election might finally find a way out of the Brexit stalemate in this deeply divided nation.

On a dank, gray day with outbreaks of blustery rain, voters went to polling stations in schools, community centers, pubs and town halls after a bad-tempered five-week campaign rife with mudslinging and misinformation.

Opinion polls had given the Conservatives a steady lead, but the result was considered hard to predict, because the issue of Brexit cuts across traditional party loyalties.

Three and a half years after the U.K. voted by 52%-48% to leave the EU, Britons remain split over whether to leave the 28-nation bloc, and lawmakers have proved incapable of agreeing on departure terms.

Johnson pushed for the early election — Britain’s first December vote since 1923 — to try to break the political logjam. He campaigned relentlessly on a promise to “Get Brexit done” by getting Parliament to ratify his “oven-ready” divorce deal with the EU and take Britain out of the bloc as scheduled on Jan. 31.

The Conservatives focused much of their energy on trying to win in a “red wall” of working-class towns in central and northern England that have elected Labour lawmakers for decades but also voted strongly in 2016 to leave the EU. That effort got a boost when the Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage decided at the last minute not to contest 317 Conservative-held seats to avoid splitting the pro-Brexit vote.

Labour, which is largely but ambiguously pro-EU, faced competition for anti-Brexit voters from the centrist Liberal Democrats, Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties, and the Greens.

On Brexit, the opposition party said it would negotiate a new divorce deal with the EU and then offer voters the choice of leaving the 28-nation bloc on those terms or remaining.

But on the whole Labour tried to focus the campaign away from Brexit and onto its radical domestic agenda, vowing to tax the rich, nationalize industries such as railroads and water companies and give everyone in the country free internet access. It campaigned heavily on the future of the National Health Service, a deeply respected institution that has struggled to meet rising demand after nine years of austerity under Conservative-led governments.

One of the campaign's defining images was a photo of a sick 4-year-old boy sleeping on a hospital floor because no beds were available. Johnson's initial failure to even look at the photo in an on-camera interview put him on the defensive, portraying him as being insensitive to the child's plight. The photo swept across social media like a firestorm, injecting an explosive jolt into the political war of information in the final days of the campaign.

For many voters, the election offered an unpalatable choice. Both Johnson and Corbyn have personal approval ratings in negative territory, and both have been dogged by questions about their character.

Johnson has been confronted with past broken promises, untruths and offensive statements, from calling the children of single mothers “ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate” to comparing Muslim women who wear face-covering veils to "letter boxes."

In Uxbridge, the suburban London seat that Johnson represents in Parliament, Stefan Hay said he was voting for the prime minister despite his flaws.

“At the end of the day, whether you like him or not, with all of his eccentricities, I think he has leadership ability and I think he is the best man for the job, simple as that," Hay said. "The alternative would be excruciating."

Corbyn has been accused of allowing anti-Semitism to spread within the party. The 70-year-old left-winger was portrayed by opponents as an aging Marxist with unsavory past associations with Hamas and the IRA.

But many voters said they were backing Labour because of its stance on social issues.

“If the Tories win, this country will just fall apart,” said Eleanor Sawbridge Burton, a freelance writer in London. “It will really hit climate change and the NHS. It feels a bit hopeless.”

Associated Press writers Gregory Katz, Sheila Norman-Culp and Jo Kearney in London contributed.

Letter: 12 drinks checklist

7 hours 30 min ago

Although a week has nearly passed, I’m still happily referring to Mara Severin’s Nov. 29 “12 Drinks of Christmas” entertaining article.

At her suggestion, I made a special trip to Costco to bring home their eggnog. While in Midtown, I enjoyed my first visit to Black Cup for the recommended pumpkin latte. A visit to Humpy’s and the others are being added to my holiday calendar.

I suspect I’m not the only reader that responds with our wallets in this way to Mara’s amusing suggestions. Thank you for continuing to publish the work of similarly talented writers.

— Becky Faunce

Anchorage

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Letter: Apologies are nice, but action is better

7 hours 35 min ago

I was glad to see that the woman who made the cringeworthy pun about Barron Trump’s name was embarrassed enough to apologize. But as I read the angry tweet of Melania Trump, I couldn’t help but wonder when the “Be Best” first lady would rebuke her own husband for the terror he inflicted upon Kurdish children when he stunningly unleashed the Turkish army upon them.

I wonder when Mrs. Trump will seek an apology for the damaged Guatemalan toddlers who were kidnapped from their parents. Those babies lay despondent in kennel-like conditions, in filthy diapers with tinfoil blankets and heads full of lice. These vulnerable children have unnecessarily had post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses wired into their developing brains, and will likely suffer lifelong emotional trauma from their treatment at the hands of President Donald Trump.

Yes indeed, it would be mighty nice if a powerful woman like Melania Trump could get just a little anti-bullying outrage up over her husband’s kiddie internment camps. And it sure would be sweet if Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, two of the most powerful people on the planet, would care enough to put a stop to it.

Due to his serial penchant for involving foreigners in U.S. elections, Donald Trump will be impeached in the U.S. House of Representatives. But it is his atrocities against children that have permanently stained his soul, and it will be the Senate that goes down in history for enabling it.

— Anne Terry

Anchorage

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Letter: History is watching

7 hours 41 min ago

A reminder for all, but especially our congressional delegation: Martin Luther King, Jr., issued this warning 60 years ago: “If you fail to act now, history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

— Judith Meidinger

Wasilla

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Letter: Land allotments

7 hours 42 min ago

I want to be able to embarrass the employees of the Bureau of Land Management who think it is OK to delay the transfer of land to living Native veterans of the Vietnam era. When I first heard about this program some 20-odd years ago, man, I was really excited and made my application right away. At that time, I thought that the folks at the BLM working in the program were there to help the vets get their allotments; how naive can a person be? It would be interesting to know how many vets got their allotments compared to those who have applied.

It is clear to me that the mindset of the people working in the “swamp” at the BLM are only interested in delaying transfer of lands to vets in the form of allotments until they retire and train replacements, or all the vets that this is meant to benefit have died.

Back when I was denied, about 20 years ago, Alaska Legal Services helped me out and sued on my behalf. When I lost that suit, I went to the BLM office to see if they could assist me in getting an application submitted that could be approved. The folks working there at the time told me that not only could they not assist me but that they — BLM — would be here long after I was dead. Over the years, their words have proven to be true as more and more of us pass away. I am in my 70s now and hold little hope of ever seeing an allotment. That being said, how can I shame the people working in the swamp?

The recent fanfare about allotments being made available by our Congress members seem to be made in earnest in that it is their intention that actual land be available to living vets in a timely manner. As I believe that is really what they want and that shaming of the BLM by me has no effect in producing that result, perhaps our lone Congressman and two senators could shame them into making it happen. I know if I were working in the swamp and a member of the board of the company I was employed by shamed me, I would more than likely change my ways.

As I am retired and have resolved not to stress over things I cannot change, I can say that I am not stressed, mad, embarrassed or otherwise negative in my mind. I am, however, looking forward to President Donald Trump getting around to draining the swamp at the BLM. Do not despair, my fellow vets; it is not over until it’s over.

— Paul Bergeron, Sr.

Chugiak

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Letter: Dim your brights, please

7 hours 43 min ago

We have a crisis on our roads at night caused by drivers refusing to dim their high-beam headlights for approaching vehicles, thereby blinding drivers and eventually leading to potential head-on collisions with injury and death.

I have observed overly bright headlights in about 10% of approaching vehicles in the past two weeks, and it’s time for aggressive enforcement by the Alaska State Troopers and police. This should be accompanied by a public information campaign.

— Douglas Stark

Homer

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Letter: Defending the indefensible

7 hours 49 min ago

Sen. Dan Sullivan just responded to an email I sent regarding the impeachment process. While I appreciate his response, I am disturbed by his views and statements.

1. The whistleblower, the essential start of this investigation, was stymied by the White House after being found credible and worthy of investigation by the Inspector General.

2. Attorney General William Barr refused to investigate, so the House decided to take it up.

3. The process was supposed to be secret because they were investigating whether to proceed, and since the Justice Department did not do its job, they did it.

4. The investigation found the whistleblower not only credible but accurate and the impeachment process started, in public and with due process for the president.

5. The allegation is not merely that President Donald Trump requested Ukraine to investigate Vice President Joe Biden. The issue is the withholding of much-needed funds Congress appropriated to a country actively fighting for its survival against the Russians for personal advantage. Ukrainians died while President Trump toyed with a new, young president of Ukraine to get something of no value to the U.S.

We have watched, read and listened to all testimony and evidence. Sen. Sullivan is defending the indefensible.

— Jack Hayden

Anchorage

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Letter: American values

7 hours 52 min ago

My late father, Walter Danison, was stationed at Pearl Harbor 78 years ago, on Dec. 7, 1941. Born in 1918, he was willing to die to protect the freedom we have today. He thought of himself as an ordinary man, who alongside other ordinary men, engaged in battle for an extraordinary value upheld in an extraordinary country.

He considered it a privilege to be a U.S. citizen, and his behavior reflected this. He made the effort to vote. He may not have always agreed with how things were run, but he didn’t complain about the country in which he called home. He valued his right to possess arms, his right to worship God at church and his right to express his political opinions without condemning others.

He never trashed the land — rather, I saw him invest in planting, tending and growing the land around him in ways that increased value. I am grateful for my father’s service, this country and for those who fight, in many ways, for the rights I enjoy.

— Mary Jeanne Danison

Anchorage

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