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Updated: 2 hours 42 min ago

Djokovic tops Federer in historic final for 5th at Wimbledon

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 13:29

Serbia's Novak Djokovic lifts his trophy after defeating Switzerland's Roger Federer during the men's singles final match of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Sunday, July 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (Ben Curtis/)

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — For nearly five tight, tense and terrific hours, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer traded the lead, playing on and on and on until an unprecedented fifth-set tiebreaker was required to settle their memorable Wimbledon final.

In the end, it was Djokovic who emerged victorious, coming back to edge Federer 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3) and become the first man in 71 years to take home the trophy from the All England Club after needing to erase championship points.

"Unfortunately in these kinds of matches, one of the players has to lose," Djokovic said. "It's quite unreal."

After facing two match points at 8-7 in the last set, he wound up claiming his fifth Wimbledon title and second in a row.

This triumph also earned Djokovic his 16th Grand Slam trophy overall, moving him closer to the only men ahead of him in tennis history: Federer owns 20, Rafael Nadal has 18.

"I just feel like it's such an incredible opportunity missed," said Federer, who actually accumulated 14 more total points, 218-204. "I can't believe it."

He has ruled grass courts since the early 2000s; he has won Wimbledon eight times dating to 2003, and this was his record 12th appearance in the title match. But Djokovic is now 3-0 against Federer in finals at the place and 4-0 against him in five-setters anywhere.

This one was unlike any other, though.

That's because, while it was reminiscent of Federer's 16-14 fifth-set victory over Andy Roddick in the 2009 Wimbledon final, that score is no longer possible: The All England Club altered its rule this year to do away with never-ending matches and institute a tiebreaker at 12-all in a deciding set.

At one point during the final set Sunday, Djokovic asked chair umpire Damian Steiner whether the change called for the tiebreaker at 10-10. Later, when Djokovic held for an 11-10 lead, it was Steiner who got confused, beginning to call out the score as 11-9, before catching himself.

"I respect whatever the rule is," Federer said when asked what he thinks of the altered setup. "So really, it is what it is, you know?"

Federer and Djokovic pushed each other to the limit in what became as much a test of focus and stamina as it was about skill. It is the longest final in the history of a tournament that dates to the 1870s, eclipsing by nine minutes Nadal's five-set win over Federer in 2008.

Like that one, this is destined to be discussed for years.

"I'll try to forget," joked Federer, who is less than a month shy of his 38th birthday and would have been the oldest man to win a Grand Slam title in the professional era.

"It was a great match. It was long. It had everything. I had my chances. So did he. I thought we played some great tennis. In a way, I'm very happy with my performance, as well," Federer said during the trophy ceremony. "But Novak, it's great. Congratulations, man. That was crazy. Well done."

First, it was Federer who kept falling behind, then coming back. He twice trailed by a set even though he came quite close to winning the match in three: Federer was two points from grabbing the opening set on seven occasions but couldn't do it; he was one point from seizing the third, but again came up short.

Then, Federer was down a break early in the crucible of the fifth. And then, after seemingly gaining the upper hand, standing a single point from winning while serving for the victory at 8-7, 40-15, he faltered.

He sent a forehand wide on the first championship point, and Djokovic produced a cross-court forehand winner on the next. Soon enough, the 32-year-old Djokovic had broken back and on they would play for another 45 minutes.

"Definitely tough to have those chances," Federer said.

Djokovic has done this to him before.

In the semifinals of the 2010 and 2011 U.S. Opens, Djokovic erased two match points each time before coming back to win.

Looking at the bigger picture, there's also this takeaway from Sunday: Nadal's status as Federer's principal nemesis has been well-documented and much-examined over the years — which is a small part of why Friday's semifinal victory for Federer was fraught with meaning. But it's now high time to discuss Djokovic's edge over Federer.

Djokovic has won their past five meetings and holds a 26-22 advantage overall head-to-head, including 10-6 at Grand Slam tournaments and 3-1 at Wimbledon.

By the reverberating sound of things around the old arena Sunday, a vast majority of the spectators were pulling for the popular Federer. Made it seem as though he might be British, not Swiss.

While one person cried out, "We love you both!" — a fitting sentiment, given the high quality and unceasing shifts in momentum — the "Come on, Roger!" count far outnumbered the shouts for his Serbian foe.

Yes, they roared for Federer's ace on the very first point and when he sent the final to a fifth set. They even applauded when he kicked a ball to a ball boy or when he brought his racket around his back to make meaningless contact after Djokovic served a let.

And then there were the "Awwwws." So many "Awwwws" — pained sighs of despair accompanying a missed backhand here, a double-fault there, by their guy.

It wasn't until the fourth set that Federer faced so much as one break point, no small accomplishment against Djokovic, considered by many to be the greatest returner of his, or perhaps any, generation. Still, even though Federer did get broken in that set, he won it to send this match to a fifth.

What already was fun to watch became completely riveting.

That's not to say the tennis was perfect, because both men showed signs of fatigue and perhaps nerves. Federer's mediocre approach shot provided Djokovic an opening for a backhand pass that earned a break and a 4-2 lead.

Djokovic's double-fault in the next game helped Federer break back, and the ensuing changeover was filled with a fugue of fans' voices chanting the first names of both.

As the newfangled tiebreaker carried the last set alone past the two-hour mark, it was Djokovic who was better. When Federer shanked a forehand off his racket frame, it was over, allowing Djokovic to renew his personal tradition of plucking some blades of Centre Court grass and chewing on them.

“Constant pressure,” Djokovic said. “I had to fight and find my game to stay in the match.”

Carolyn Hax: I want my husband to lose weight with me

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 12:04

Dear Carolyn:

My husband and I have both gained significant weight since we've been married, but I'm trying to mitigate that with diet and exercise. He isn't, and every time I try to talk about it, he makes me feel like the bad guy for bringing it up.

Look, we're both approaching 40, and I know we'll never be the "twinks" we were when we met, but I'd like to be better than I am, and I am finding it very difficult to get healthy without his support.

He's pre-diabetic. He has sleep apnea. His sex drive is nowhere near what it was when we met. And it's frustrating because all of this is correctable and he's refusing to even try. It's like he doesn't care.

I love my husband. I will never "fat-shame" him, and I know my weight struggles aren't his issue. But I would find it a lot easier to tackle this if he were more supportive, and if he would try to be healthier, too. I don't know what to do, short of giving him an ultimatum: It's me or the sugar, dude. Take your pick.

-- Anonymous

I wouldn't do that -- not unless you're ready to lose.

Not because he likes sugar better or because you're not somehow worth it to him, but because food is a formidable opponent that fights dirty.

For one, you two can't just banish food from your lives and start over; you can't move away from it or spend time only with friends who abstain from it. You're in its presence at least two or three times a day as you fight it, and the rest of the time it's calling to you from the kitchen.

And, a lot of it is engineered to tempt or outright addict you.

And, our bodies are wired to hold onto fat harder whenever we try to get rid of it. And poor nutrition and inactivity can lead toward depression, which can lead to poor nutrition and inactivity.

And so on, as you've no doubt discovered as you go through this yourself. So consider that even you feel overmatched without his support, yet you're so much further along emotionally than he is: You've made the decision to tackle this, and started making difficult changes.

He's just not there yet and won't get there on borrowed motivation; he needs his own. A lot of it. Anything he does in response to an ultimatum won't really be his.

It's not hopeless, necessarily. It's just that, if he does change, it's going to be on his schedule, for his reasons.

This also doesn't mean you can't speak up. He deserves to know what his life partner sees in and feels about him, and what his inertia may ultimately cost him -- none of which counts as fat-shaming. It's life-alerting. If you haven't yet been honest with him, then tell him kindly: You mourn the loss of his sex drive, and struggle deeply with watching a pillar of your life self-destruct.

You can also ask him how he wants you to handle your concern hereafter. This is an underrated step. You've interpreted his preference from his defensiveness, but that's not the same as knowing what he wants you to say or not say. Plus, asking him forces him to think about what he wants -- not just from you, but from himself.

From now on, too, you can ask him to join you on walks, whenever you go. Take yes or no for an answer without reacting.

Most important, once you've made these points and asked your questions, (BEG ITAL)stop talking about it(END ITAL) -- and quietly keep doing everything you can "to be better than I am." A sustained effort is tougher without his support, yes, but it's your best argument to win that support. Making changes against the pull of temptation and metabolism says these changes are possible, and that message, delivered steadily, wordlessly, lovingly, without judgment, over time, is more persuasive than ultimatums can ever be.


Dear Carolyn:

I live in a cul-de-sac. It is a great place for kids to play. When my son was young, I taught him to be respectful of cars, to move to the sidewalk and wait for them to pass.

Today the kids refuse to move. The other day a guest told me a young boy of about 12 would not move and, as my guest sat waiting, flipped him off.

Do you say something to the child or parent, or do you hope there is karma?

-- L.

If my child ever flips you off, then please tell me. I also encourage you to address my child directly, though I'll understand if you don't feel comfortable or just have better things to do than play village.

I'll give your neighbors the benefit of the doubt and assume they want the same help with civilizing their children.

If you don’t know the parents and/or don’t feel comfortable speaking up, then, yes, that’s what karma is for.

Which Democrat can push Trump off the national stage?

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 11:32

In this June 27, 2019 photo, Democratic presidential candidates, author Marianne Williamson, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., raise their hands when asked if they would provide healthcare for undocumented immigrants, during the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee/)

WASHINGTON -- With the first pair of primary debates behind us, the Democratic presidential campaign season is now officially in swing. The ostensible topics of contention are about what you’d expect from Democrats: health care, immigration, racial and sexual justice. But the subtext of all these arguments is a simpler, more visceral question: Which one of these candidates can most easily shove Donald Trump off the national stage?

Now, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is winning that silent primary. The kindest thing you can say about her policy positions is that they're a pragmatic attempt to straddle the party's moderate and progressive wings. The less charitable summation is that they're an ineptly executed muddle; Harris keeps leaping frantically from pole to pole, rather than staking out some defensible middle ground in between.

But what does it matter that Harris isn't much of a policy wonk? The important thing is that during the second night of the debates she poleaxed Biden with an unexpected, emotional question about his opposition to federal busing programs in the 1970s. Apparently many Democrats are eager to see her do the same thing, only more so, when Trump is on the stage.

It's all been so exciting that almost no one has noticed the president steadily, quietly, turning into a more formidable opponent.

Over the past few months, Trump's approval numbers have been slowly inching upward, his disapproval numbers gliding south. They're still abysmal, considering that he's presiding over the lowest unemployment rate in decades -- but then, they were abysmal before he got elected. The gap between his approval and disapproval numbers is smaller than the gap was between his favorables and unfavorables in November 2016. And as my colleague Henry Olsen has pointed out, The Washington Post's latest poll shows him doing even better in key swing states such as Wisconsin and Ohio.

Is the public really that excited about the Trump administration's new policy to improve treatment for people with end-stage kidney disease? They should be, because it's great policy. But I suspect that there's a simpler explanation: For the first time in several years, the media is starting to tune Trump out.

I'm not the first to observe that if Trump wants better approval ratings, all he needs to do is shut up. Every time he stops tweeting, his numbers improve. Besides, the economy is good, and the public grows fond of presidents who preside over strong economies. Barring a recession, if Trump would just let the economic news speak for itself, he could probably sail to reelection.

Luckily for Democrats, Trump seems constitutionally incapable of learning from experience. Unluckily for the Democrats, their primaries are mimicking the effect of Trump holstering his twitter finger. The media is now too busy analyzing the Democratic race to provide wall-to-wall coverage of Trump's every tweet.

That won't continue indefinitely; eventually, the Democrats will pick a candidate, and the spotlight will turn back to Trump. But the higher his numbers go, the less beatable he looks. And the less beatable he looks, the more the party's choice of candidate and platform matters, because we've already seen that it is possible for Trump to beat a Democrat despite having high unfavorables.

True-blue progressives will say (BEG ITAL)we know all that(END ITAL), and argue that the party needs to move left precisely because they don't expect 2020 to be a cakewalk. In these partisan days, there aren't enough swing voters to matter; what matters is turning out the base, and you can't do that on Republican Lite. If Hillary Clinton had turned out minority voters at the same rate as President Obama, she would have won.

That is at best debatable. What's important is that if Trump's approval ratings were better, the party wouldn't even be having that debate. Activists always insist that their party needs to move toward its fringes to win. In normal years, the party ignores them and tries to swing the middle. And that seems like an especially fruitful strategy this year, because much of the middle is disgusted by Trump.

Instead, most of the candidates have been jostling to get on each other's left flank. And now the #Resistance portion of the base seems to be flocking to Harris because she promises some cinematic fantasy of seeing Trump humiliated and vanquished on a debate stage.

It’s possible that this really is the way 2020 will be won. But it’s also worryingly possible that these strategies look feasible only because of an optical illusion -- one that won’t resolve until the base has already damaged its party’s chances beyond repair.

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) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

To defeat Trump, Democrats should nominate Bennet

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 11:28

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., speaks at the Poor People's Moral Action Congress presidential forum in Washington, Monday, June 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Susan Walsh/)

WASHINGTON -- With a disgust commensurate with the fact, Michael Bennet, the Colorado Democrat, says that during 40% of his 10 Senate years the government has been run on “continuing resolutions.” Congress passes these in order to spare itself the torture of performing its primary function, which is to set national priorities. Bennet is too serious a person to be content in today’s Senate, and if Democrats are as serious as they say they are about defeating Donald Trump, Bennet should be their nominee.

The painfully revealing first phase of the Democratic presidential sweepstakes culminated with two remarkably efficient debates. This phase clarified the top four candidates' propensity for self-inflicted wounds. When replayed in Trump's negative ads, what they have already said might be sufficient to reelect him.

Bennet checks a requisite number of progressive boxes: He is impeccably (as progressives see such things) alarmed about the requisite things -- the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, climate change, Mitch McConnell, etc. And he has endorsed -- perfunctorily, one hopes -- other candidates' gesture-legislation to "study" reparations for slavery (Sen. Cory Booker) and for same-sex couples who lived in states where same-sex marriages were legal but who could not file joint tax returns before the Supreme Court's 2013 decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (Sen. Elizabeth Warren).

Bennet has, however, refrained from frightening and mystifying voters with plans (Sens. Harris, Warren, Sanders) to eliminate their private health insurance. Or with nostalgia for forced busing that shuffled children among schools on the basis of race (Harris). Or with enthusiasm for the institutional vandalism of packing the Supreme Court. Or with disdain (expressed by advocating decriminalization of illegal entry) for the principle that control of borders is an essential attribute of national sovereignty. And because Bennet, 54, was 8 when Joe Biden came to the Senate, Bennet has not had to conduct a Bidenesque Grovel Tour to apologize for deviations, decades ago, from today's progressive catechism.

If, as Bennet believes, the Democratic nomination competition has become "more fluid," it is because Harris, Sanders, Warren and Biden have imprudently spoken their minds. And they probably are not done shooting themselves in their already perforated feet.

Unlike them, Bennet has won two Senate races in a swing state that is evenly divided between Democrats, Republicans and independents. He can distinguish between what he calls "the Twitter version of the Democratic Party" and the "actual" version.

Bennet's father, a descendant of a Mayflower passenger, earned a Harvard Ph.D. (medieval Russian history), and was an aide to a U.S. ambassador to India, and later worked for Democrats Hubert Humphrey, Ed Muskie and Tom Eagleton. Bennet's mother, who survived the Holocaust by hiding in a Warsaw suburb, reached New York -- via Stockholm and Mexico City -- where her parents opened an art gallery. The city was the center of the postwar art world, and they did well. Bennet says that in second grade he won both ends of the competition to see who had the oldest and newest American family branches.

He edited the Yale Law Journal, became an associate at the Washington firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, then prospered working for a Denver investment firm before entering public service, which included four years as superintendent of Denver's public schools, in which 67% of the pupils were poor enough to be eligible for free or subsidized lunches.

Bennet believes that Trump is more a symptom than a cause of political dysfunction, and he regrets that "the capitalists have lost control of the Republican Party," which now is controlled by Trump cultists. China's perfection -- and exporting -- of the "surveillance state" makes American democracy more important, and therefore its current degradation especially alarming. American politics has become a dialectic of "preemptive retributions" of "do it to them before they do it to us." Trump's politics of "I alone can fix it" has, Bennet says, "stripped the American people of their agency."

In his new book (“The Land of Flickering Lights: Restoring America in an Age of Broken Politics”), he quotes Thucydides on the civil war in the city of Corcyra: “With public life confused to the critical point, human nature, always ready to act unjustly even in violation of laws, overthrew the laws themselves and gladly showed itself powerless over passion but stronger than justice and hostile to any kind of superiority.” Such hostility is the essence of populism. Fortunately, the Democratic field includes one person familiar with Thucydides’ warning and who is unafraid to assert its contemporary pertinence.

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) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Alaska is fully engaged in transboundary water, mining issues

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 11:20

A tailings pond and a disused water treatment plant can be seen in this 2013 photo at the Tulsequah Chief Mine site about 40 miles northeast of Juneau. (Rivers Without Borders) (Picasa/)

As leaders of Alaska’s state resource agencies, we want to assure everyone who shares our desire for healthy lands, waters, fish and economies that Alaska remains committed to maintaining both high water quality standards and responsible mineral development in the transboundary waters between Southeast Alaska and British Columbia.

Both state and federal legislators have expressed concerns about this issue recently, some by writing to encourage Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy to keep Alaska involved with British Columbia’s provincial government on transboundary issues, under a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation, or MOU, signed by former Gov. Bill Walker and former Britih Columbia Premier Christy Clark in 2015.

In his May 6 response to state legislators, the governor confirmed that this MOU remains in effect. Under the MOU, the three of us serve on the Transboundary Bilateral Working Group. Together with our Canadian counterparts from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategies, we will continue to work collaboratively on issues relating to transboundary waters.

Recently, the working group met by teleconference to forge new relationships, review the mission and plans, and reaffirm the joint commitment to transboundary water protection. We will be meeting again later this year.

We recognize the importance of healthy river systems to the environmental, social and economic sustainability of Alaska’s communities, citizens and industries. We share these interests with Alaska Natives, local, state and federal lawmakers, and representatives of both the fishing and mining industries. And we have the governor’s full support as we continue meaningful engagement with our Canadian neighbors to ensure Alaska’s interests are protected.

This cooperation is essential, as transboundary water issues can be complex. For example, claims about the number of transboundary mines vary greatly depending on the stage of development and who is counting. There is a big difference between a mineral project in early exploration, and one in its permitting, construction, operations or restoration phase. Very few exploration projects ever become operating mines.

The working group’s statement of cooperation also recognizes the importance of monitoring water quality data. So, Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation and British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategies recently completed a two-year program to collect, summarize and distribute baseline water quality data on the Taku, Stikine and Unuk watersheds. Department of Environmental Conservation staff are currently drafting reports summarizing this work.

Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game also keep careful watch on salmon returns to our transboundary rivers, working closely with Canadian fisheries executives to monitor salmon escapements and harvests as well as critical spawning and rearing areas. This information is used by Canadian and Alaskan officials alike to ensure sustainability of the runs and their fisheries through the Pacific Salmon Treaty.

There are currently two mines operating in British Columbia’s portion of the transboundary region: Red Chris Mine, which started operating in the Stikine River watershed in 2014, and the Brucejack Mine, which began operating in the Unuk River watershed in 2017. Three proposed mines are seeking provincial construction or operations permits: KSM in the Unuk watershed, Galore Creek in the Stikine watershed, and Red Mountain in the Bear Creek watershed near Hyder. The state of Alaska engaged in the provincial permitting process for each of these projects, and will continue to do so for future projects.

In the Taku River watershed, the infamous Tulsequah Chief Mine was shut down in 1957, long before either British Columbia or Alaska enacted modern environmental laws. This site is frequently referenced by Alaska tribal representatives and stakeholders who claim British Columbia cannot properly regulate mining. While there are measurable impacts to Tulsequah River water quality and fish habitats next to the mine site and a mile and a half downstream in the Canadian portion of the river, no such impacts have been detected farther downstream or in the Alaska portion of the river.

Regardless, remediation of the Tulsequah Chief Mine remains the state of Alaska’s highest transboundary water priority and British Columbia is committed to working to address this issue. Alaska’s membership on the Bilateral Working Group gives us an important seat at the table, and we are working with the British Columbia government as it hires consultants to produce a remediation plan for the former mine by the end of the year.

Years of working closely with the province have shown us that Canadian ministries are as committed to responsible development as Alaska’s departments, and we support British Columbia’s efforts to properly and adequately remediate the Tulsequah Chief Mine site.

Alaskans are blessed to live in a land with the abundant natural resources that support a high quality of life and a high standard of living. We take our obligation to protect these resources seriously, and we are proud our state continues to work hand-in-hand with our Canadian neighbors — through both formal agreements between our governments and informal conversations among friends — to find practical solutions to our common challenges of living, working and prospering in the North.

Corri A. Feige is commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

Doug Vincent-Lang is commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Jason Brune is commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

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) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Don’t let the dividend divide us

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 11:19

FILE - This Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 file photo shows Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Begich prior to a debate with his Republican opponent, Mike Dunleavy, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File) (Mark Thiessen/)

Here we go again: Another special session causing uncertainty and angst for all Alaskans, all because our leaders have yet to provide a long-term solution for the Permanent Fund dividend and our budget issues. As an Alaskan, a businessman and a neighbor who cares about our shared future, I am deeply saddened by what is happening in our state. This kind of irresponsible, knee-jerk policy-making lacks any consideration for how we will take care of those who most need help or how our children will grow to build their own success here at home.

I continue to believe Alaska is the best place to live, and I know our future could be filled with opportunities for young people if our leaders choose a responsible path forward. You will be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t support budget cuts — they are a tough, but necessary part of moving our state forward. But what the governor has proposed does not, in any way, put us on a path to success. So, why would he suggest these wide-ranging, devastating cuts that will hurt Alaska families and businesses? The Permanent Fund dividend — and his next campaign slogan.

The governor has decided that above all else, he prioritizes providing a $3,000 Permanent Fund dividend. To those who still believe this sounds enticing, please consider what we will lose: senior benefits, access to quality education, access to health care, public safety in rural Alaska and more.

These are not frivolous government expenditures, but rather essential state services that provide for Alaskans and reflect our character — who we are as people.

To those — and I believe they are a significant minority — who believe it is your God-given right to have a full PFD above all else, you are wrong. The PFD was designed as a means for all Alaskans to collectively share in the resources of our state and find success together. The governor’s plan to attack basic government services for thousands of Alaskans is counterintuitive to that sacred Alaska vision. We are standing at the edge of a steep cliff — of the governor’s making — that will devastate families and businesses and make the road to shared success for Alaskans long and unnecessarily difficult.

One simple solution, as I have offered before, is to take as much as you can from the Permanent Fund’s earnings reserve account and put it in the corpus of the fund so it is out of the hands of politicians and off the bargaining table. Then, create a formula that has a responsible, but meaningful amount that can be paid to Alaskans — ranging from $1,200-$2,000. Then, constitutionally protect the formula so it isn’t up for debate every year. It’s simple and easy, but takes some guts to do. Let’s move on before our state is forced over the edge and we cannot recover.

This is just one idea, but there are other options for compromise that will set us on a path for a stronger future. The governor’s plan is not one of those options.

We are facing a critical moment that will shape Alaska’s future and become part of our history as a people. Did we allow a distortion of a common-sense, shared Alaska vision like the PFD to supersede our responsibility to take care of one another, or did we honor that vision by moving forward together and preparing ourselves for opportunity ahead?

To our leaders, if you are letting the Permanent Fund dividend divide us, you are undermining its very purpose. It is time to get back to working for Alaskans.

To Alaskans, please continue to stand up and make your voices heard. Our leaders must hear from you, because that is who they serve. There is simply too much at stake to stay silent. We must all work together to keep Alaska’s best days ahead of us.

Mark Begich was the Democratic Party candidate for governor in 2018 and previously served as a U.S. Senator for Alaska from 2009-2015.

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) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Using fungi, UAA team develops biodegradable insulation for shipping Alaska seafood

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 11:10

Dr. Philippe Amstislavski with samples of insulation made from fungi, in his lab at the University of Alaska Anchorage on June 21, 2019. Amstislavski is a co-founder of Rhizoform, a biomaterials company. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)

In a University of Alaska Anchorage laboratory, researchers have been growing lightweight and fuzzy panels from mushroom tissue that they say could be used as insulation for shipping frozen fish.

The panels are the latest example of efforts to find biodegradable alternatives to plastics like Styrofoam, which can’t be recycled in Alaska and have been building up in oceans. Researchers want to replace the Styrofoam-lined boxes found at major retailers and sporting goods stores in Alaska.

Commercial fishing companies are expecting to give the so-called “bio-boards” a real-life test run this summer.

The researchers believe the technology can go beyond insulation. They imagine that someday, day-to-day objects like chairs will be biodegradable and grown instead of manufactured.

White fungi coats a sample of insulation in Dr. Philippe Amstislavski's lab at the University of Alaska Anchorage on June 21, 2019. Amstislavski is a co-founder of Rhizoform, a biomaterials company, which is making insulation made from fungi. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)

“We’re not saying it’s going to be solving all the world’s problems,” Philippe Amstislavski, an associate professor of public health at UAA who has led the research effort. “But it’s addressing it in a way that’s thinking bigger.”

At UAA’s Engineering and Biomaterials Lab recently, Amstislavski, an associate professor of public health, showed off a sample of one of the panels. It was lightweight and looked almost like honeycomb from the side.

After the tour of the lab, Amstislavski walked into the woods outside, to a place where he had buried a sample of the insulation in 2017. The pieces he picked up were crumbling and had roots growing through them.

Amstislavski was born in the Ural region in western Russia to biologist parents and spent his early childhood harvesting mushrooms. His father studied salmon migrations in the Russian Arctic and showed him the damage industrial pollution had caused to salmon spawning grounds.

Amstislavski studied the biology of mushrooms and fungi at Yale School of Forestry. He also became interested in human health, architecture and urban sustainability. As an assistant professor of environmental health at the State University of New York, Amstislavski started to explore creating material biologically instead of synthetically. Mushrooms, he knew, grew quickly into tiny, resilient, strong networks called kitin, and he wondered if that material could be a substitute for synthetic wall insulation.

Dr. Philippe Amstislavski holds a sample of insulation made from fungi, in his lab at the University of Alaska Anchorage on June 21, 2019. Amstislavski testing different structures on which to grow the fungi, trying to find ones that are stronger and promote more insulating properties. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)

He brought his research to Alaska in 2013, where he initially took a job running a Fairbanks-based itinerant nursing team in rural villages. The team delivered vaccines and medications in Styrofoam boxes.

Nearly every village Amstislavski visited had a dump overflowing with plastic. There wasn’t an easy way to get rid of the Styrofoam. Villages have struggled with plastic litter for years, with plastic bag bans dating back to at least 2000. One man recently posted a photo on the website Reddit showing five boatloads of Sytrofoam he’d collected from a lake near the tiny northwest Arctic community of Bettles.

Amstislavski moved into a teaching job at UAA in 2014 and began testing out microorganisms in a lab. He wanted to see which fungi could match the properties of Styrofoam. The tests involved putting different fungi into a block of sawdust to see what happened, Amstislavski said.

One early model looked like a giant mushroom that charred when it was lit on fire. The surface felt like the exoskeleton of a crab.

The lab also brought in Alaska Native students with the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program to brainstorm uses for the foam-like material as insulation. The idea emerged to try to use it for shipping fish, Amstislavski said.

It wasn’t clear if such a thing was practical or cost-effective. Since insulation materials were all synthetic, there was no information or knowledge or publications about a similar product, Amstislavski said.

To find out, Amstislavski started working with Joey Yang, a civil engineering professor at UAA who has extensively researched engineering in cold-climates. A $25,000 UAA Innovate grant and Conoco-Phillips Science and Engineering Endowment helped launch the research and provided seed money for a lab.

Amstislavski and Yang also co-founded a startup, Rhizoform, that would be aimed at commercializing the technology.

Before long, the researchers started to hear from fishermen.

Ryan Peterson is the co-founder of Su Salmon Co., a small commercial set netting business that harvests salmon at the mouth of the Susitna River, 27 miles from downtown Anchorage.

Peterson approached Amstislavski after a presentation at the North by North conference in Anchorage. Like the Alaska Native students, Peterson thought the material had the potential to be used in shipping frozen fish.

The company doesn’t like to ship fish now because the main option for insulation is Styrofoam, Peterson said. He said he’s seen it littering beaches in his travels, and the material seems to contradict his company’s message of sustainability.

���We’re hyper-conscious about the environment because we rely on it so directly,” Peterson said.

By the end of August, Peterson’s company plans to ship a few test kits with frozen fish cradled by the boards, possibly with thermometers and instructions on how to tell them the condition. Peterson said his company was trying to consider a range of factors, like how long the box could sit unexpectedly on an airport tarmac, or on a hot doorstep in the lower 48.

Kodiak Wild Source, a Kodiak-based commercial fishing company, has also offered to help test, Amstislavski said.

At this point, the panels, treated with a special mixture, take about eight days to grow and dry. Then they’re sliced into box-shaped pieces. A natural fuzz covers the pieces, a kind of fleece coat that traps in heat or cold, Amstislavski said.

The panels are also edible, though the taste is very bitter, said Sam David, the lab’s production manager and mycologist.

Dr. Philippe Amstislavski holds a two-year-old sample of fungi-based insulation in the woods outside his lab at the University of Alaska Anchorage on June 21, 2019. Amstislavski is a co-founder of Rhizoform, a biomaterials company, and is developing biodegradable insulation. The sample was buried in 2017. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)

After testing that the panels work, the next step would be to scale the prototypes up to mass production, Amstislavski said. The goal is to compete with plastic Styrofoam on cost and effectiveness. Amstislavski said he hopes that businesses will help invest.

As of now, the panels may not be cheaper or more insulating than Styrofoam, David said.

“But you can throw these in the forest and two years later, you’ll have soil,” he said.

‘No time to wait’: After unprecedented cancer recovery, Wasilla man plans to make the most of the time he’s been given

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 11:09

Josh McCool, a 28-year-old cancer patient from Wasilla, is the first person with his form of cancer ever to receive a new kind of radiation treatment called peptide receptor radionuclide therapy. He said he's made huge progress over his last three treatments, pictured in order from left to right, over the course of just a few months. (Photo by Shannon Mitchell)

Six months ago, Josh McCool was dying.

You wouldn’t know that from talking to him, though. When the 28-year-old Wasilla resident spoke with a reporter in late June, he was wrangling his two sons, ages 9 and 4, trying to get them ready for baseball.

That’s something he couldn’t have done last December, when he was in the throes of stage 4 cancer. At the time, he could barely walk, couldn’t speak and was spending 18 hours a day in bed.

Now, he’s back out fishing again, half a year after celebrating what he thought might be his last Christmas.

McCool’s oncologist, Hagen Kennecke, said he’s never seen such a rapid recovery before.

“Usually it takes a long time to get that sick, and it takes a long time for the body to heal, but he just bounced back," said Kennecke, who works at the Virginia Mason Cancer Institute in Seattle.

McCool and his doctor credit his dramatic improvement to a new form of radiation therapy that works by targeting a specific hormone found on certain kinds of cancer cells. The treatment was only approved by the FDA in 2017.

It had never been used to treat McCool’s rare form of cancer, Kennecke said, but McCool’s response to it helps the medical community better understand how the treatment can be adapted for other kinds of cancer.

“It’s information like this that helps us make it available to everyone who needs it,” Kennecke said.

[Two years after his fall, an Anchorage firefighter is scaling new heights]

Diagnosis and a spreading tumor

The rare cancer in question is called pheochromocytoma. McCool’s cancer made its first appearance in December 2016, when doctors discovered a tumor growing on one of his adrenal glands. The tiny organs, located on the upper part of the kidneys, secrete hormones the body needs to survive.

The tumor was surgically removed months later, and with it, McCool’s right kidney. For more than a year, that appeared to be the end of it.

Then the pain came back, and McCool wound up in the emergency room with what he thought was appendicitis.

Scans revealed something much more sinister. The way his mother, Wendy McCool, described it, he “lit up like a Christmas tree.”

The tumor had multiplied and spread, and now it was everywhere: his stomach, his lungs, his spine. The diagnosis was his worst nightmare — stage 4 cancer.

“Fear of death was instantly inside my head,” McCool said. “My son was 3 years old at the time, and it was just very, very, very, very frightening.”

That’s when he resolved to fight, he said, and it appeared science was on his side. The oncologist he was seeing recommended the new treatment — a sort of “liquid radiation," McCool said, that was fed into the body intravenously.

Deteriorating health

Actually getting the therapy would prove difficult, though. It took six months of medical evaluation before he was referred to Kennecke, and to complicate matters, Medicaid refused to cover what it called an “experimental” treatment, Wendy McCool said.

By the time McCool’s insurance approved the treatment — thanks largely, his doctor said, to a persistent nurse at Alaska Native Medical Center — his health had deteriorated quickly. In those six months, he lost more than 110 pounds.

“I was watching him just fade,” his mother said.

By Christmas 2018, he was using a wheelchair and struggling to breathe, and no longer had a voice. Even trying to walk from the couch to the kitchen would leave him winded for 10 minutes, he said. He was in a huge deal of pain, especially in his back.

His sister, wanting to ensure her older brother would be able to see her get married, flew up to Alaska with her fiance for an impromptu wedding, Wendy McCool said. An ailing Josh McCool officiated the ceremony.

Time was not on McCool’s side, though. By the time he was referred to Kennecke in late December and approved to start treatment, he could barely make it to the examination table. He said he wasn’t sure if he would survive the next few weeks.

A few weeks was the exact amount of time it would take to transport the medicine he needed to Seattle.

“I told the doctors honestly, I didn’t feel like I could make it,” he said.

Looking forward

That’s when another patient, who McCool said he’s never met but one day hopes to, stepped in.

That man, also diagnosed with cancer, was scheduled that month for his final round of treatment. He agreed to switch places with McCool to allow the Wasilla man to start his treatment sooner. Once he did, the results were almost immediate, Kennecke said.

Within one week of his first round of the therapy, McCool’s appetite returned, he started to regain his strength, and his pain began to abate. Each successive treatment pulled the tide of illness out a little further.

A series of photos taken by his fiancée, Shannon Mitchell, before each round of treatment shows a progressively more vivacious and happy-looking man.

Now, he said, he feels pretty close to his normal self. In June, he caught his first salmon in two years.

It was the best possible scenario. It’s also, according to Kennecke, one that’s consistent with research.

“Research studies have really shown some remarkable targeted responses for people who otherwise had no other treatment options,” he said.

[‘The luckiest man in the world’]

Within the next couple of years, the treatment is likely to become available for prostate cancer, and researchers are looking at it as a potential treatment for certain kinds of breast cancers as well, Kennecke said.

McCool said that’s part of the reason he chose to share his story.

Doctors have identified two other people in the country with his form of cancer who are potential candidates for the treatment, he said, and both have expressed hesitation about it. He tells his story with those two patients in mind.

“It eats you from the inside out so fast that there’s no time to wait,” he said of the disease.

McCool will complete his final round of treatment in late July. After that comes the first scan he’s gotten since he started the therapy.

Whatever that scan reveals, McCool and his doctor both say the radiation therapy is not a cure. There’s a chance the cancer could come back, but if it does, evidence suggests the treatment could be used again as a tool to keep the tumors under control long-term, Kennecke said.

Regardless, McCool’s plans are clear:

“I just want to spend every day with the kids, spoil my kids as much as I can for the amount of time I’m here, and take advantage of the extra time I’m given right now."

Oregon marijuana surplus a cautionary tale for other states

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 10:58

A green cross shines in a window at Farma, a marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon, on October 4, 2015. As of October 1, 2015 a limited amount of recreational marijuana became legal for all adults over the age of 21 to purchase in the state of Oregon. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images/TNS) (JOSH EDELSON/AFP/)

WASHINGTON — Five years after Oregon legalized recreational marijuana, its lawmakers now are trying to rein in production, fearing the state’s big weed surplus will tempt some licensed businesses to sell their products out of state or on the illegal market.

Such diversions could invite a crackdown from the federal government and cast a pall over the legal pot industry. Last year, the U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon put the state on notice when he announced that curbing interstate trafficking was his top cannabis law enforcement priority.

Licensed growers have spent thousands of dollars on compliance and don't want to risk their businesses by selling illegally, said Michael Getlin, founder of a 15,000-square-foot cannabis farm in Oregon City. "The flip side of that is, I get cold calls all the time from people out of state looking to go shopping," he said — often offering two or three times market price in Oregon.

Oregon's surplus, though legal, is something of a cautionary tale for other states as they try to manage marijuana supply and demand. Enough recreational cannabis sat on dispensary shelves, in warehouses and in processing plants this January to satisfy buyers for more than six years, according to a report from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the state agency that regulates recreational marijuana.

Like California, Oregon has a long history of illegal grows. And while some states, such as Colorado and Washington, limit the production licenses people can hold and the number of plants businesses can grow, Oregon has made it easy for people to harvest a lot of weed.

"They underestimated the number of people that would be willing to convert to the legal market or would want to participate in the legal market," said Beau Whitney, vice president and senior economist for New Frontier Data, a company based in Washington, D.C., that studies the cannabis industry.

To address the pot glut, Oregon this year enacted legislation that allows the regulators to stop issuing new production licenses when supply exceeds demand. The state also approved a measure that, with federal approval, would allow growers to sell their cannabis out of state.

Congressional bills that would legalize marijuana sales at the federal level have so far been unsuccessful. But two Democrats who represent Oregon in Congress, Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, last month proposed legislation that would allow for interstate commerce between states with legal cannabis programs.

Oregon marijuana growers appear to have planted less cannabis this year and prices have ticked up, a sign that the market is correcting, said Adam Smith, founder and director of the Craft Cannabis Alliance, a nonprofit trade group based in Oregon.

Still, Smith said, "the fix is open markets." His group pushed for the Oregon interstate commerce bill and plans to lobby for similar legislation in California and beyond.

The Oregon cannabis glut has raised eyebrows among experts who study marijuana markets. "The biggest policy lesson you can take from this is: understand the existing cannabis market," said Adam Orens, co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Group, a consulting outfit based in Denver.

His group helps states create an initial estimate of marijuana demand by looking at federal drug use surveys and conducting new surveys of state residents. Once legal sales are up and running, he said, plant tracking systems can help regulators follow market dynamics.

Many states limited marijuana production from the get-go. Washington state, for instance, issued production licenses only during a 30-day period in 2013 and allowed producers to license no more than three businesses each.

Marijuana prices have been dropping in recent years in Washington. But people in the industry disagree over whether that means there's an oversupply problem and how to address it, said Brian Smith, communications director for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

"We're in a different boat than Oregon is," he said. The regulatory agency hasn't completed a supply and demand study yet, but it found in a recent report that most marijuana producers in Washington are planting in less than the total amount of space allowed under their licenses.

Colorado's Department of Revenue issues production licenses in five tiers, from up to 1,800 plants to up to 13,800 plants. All cultivation licenses begin at the first tier. To move up a tier, growers must prove that they sold 85% of the crop they grew in the previous six months.

If cultivators can't transfer enough product, officials may knock their license down to a lower tier, according to Shannon Gray, marijuana communications specialist for the Revenue Department.

In 2017, licensed growers in Colorado produced about 13% more marijuana than was sold that year, according to a report prepared for the Revenue Department by the Marijuana Policy Group and the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The report shows supply and demand are "effectively in equilibrium," Gray said in an email.

Statewide production limits help keep supply and demand aligned, Orens said, as do local cultivation and sale limits and Colorado's initial requirement that each company control production, processing and sales. "It's not one specific thing, it's all these things together," he said.

Whitney at New Frontier Data said the decline in the price of retail marijuana comes not from oversupply but competition among businesses.

Oregon regulators' efforts to create a legal marijuana industry have been complicated by the long history of illegal grows in the area.

The Craft Cannabis Alliance's Smith calls Southern Oregon and Northern California "the emerald region," where long, dry growing seasons and cool nights create a perfect climate for growing marijuana outdoors. Prior to legalization, some illegal pot grown in Oregon was trafficked out of state, he said.

After Oregonians voted to allow marijuana sales in 2014, policymakers focused on bringing illegal businesses into the legal system, which is constrained by state borders.

"When the system was getting set up in Oregon — it wasn't really launching a brand new market, it was transitioning an underground, unregulated market into an above-ground, regulated one," said TJ Sheehy, a data analyst for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission's marijuana program.

To encourage illegal businesses to transition, Oregon policymakers at first didn't set a cap on licenses. Fees are low — starting at $1,000 for a 2,500-square-foot outdoor grow or a 625-square-foot indoor grow — and since 2016, aspiring marijuana magnates haven't needed to live in the state to get a business license.

"If you want a license of a certain size, you can have it," Sheehy said. "So it's up to you to decide what makes market sense."

The Oregon commission has licensed 1,136 recreational growers.

Recreational growers aren't the only suppliers in the state. Only about half the marijuana Oregon adults consume is bought from licensed recreational dispensaries, with the remainder supplied by medical growers, home growers and the illegal market, Sheehy said.

He said there's no evidence that a lot of recreational legal marijuana is going out of state, though some businesses may be breaking the law to juice sales, such as by inflating their pot potency results.

A lot of the excess cannabis will be composted if producers can't find buyers, Sheehy said.

The overproduction of marijuana in Oregon and illegal export of surplus product remains an important concern for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said Kevin Sonoff, its public affairs officer, in an email. Since last May, he added, the office has focused more on this issue — especially in Southern Oregon — and marijuana-related investigations, arrests and convictions have increased.

Prices for marijuana flower crashed in late 2017, sending many growers out of business. "At pretty much the drop of a hat, prices dropped by 50%," said Michael Johnson, chief operating officer of Siskiyou Sungrown, an 80,000-square-foot outdoor grow in Southern Oregon. "We ended up extracting a lot of that inventory, rather than selling it as smokable flower."

The emergency legislation that Democratic Gov. Kate Brown signed into law his year allows Oregon regulators to stop issuing producer licenses when supply exceeds demand.

The commission had paused processing of applications in 2018 because their workload exceeded staff capacity, said Mark Pettinger, the recreational marijuana spokesman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The new legislation allowed the agency to extend its moratorium through 2021.

Legislators also laid the groundwork for interstate marijuana trade with a law allowing the governor to sign marijuana delivery agreements with other governors, once given the go-ahead from the federal government.

Oregon state Sen. Floyd Prozanski, a Democrat who sponsored the interstate commerce bill, floated similar legislation two years ago but it didn't pass the Senate. This time around, he said concern about overproduction helped propel his bill to the governor's desk.

Given Oregon's climate and history of marijuana production, pot could be the state's next signature export, Prozanski said. "I see cannabis to Oregon as Kentucky sees bourbon."

People close to the marijuana industry say that Oregon's oversupply problem may have peaked last year. "People went bankrupt," said Don Morse, former chairman of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, a trade group. "And the market settles itself out."

"My farmer clients tell me that prices are going up, and same with my dispensary clients," said Amy Margolis, a lawyer based in Portland who specializes in the cannabis industry.

Now Oregon is experiencing a different cannabis gold rush: Morse said that many former marijuana business people — himself included — have gotten out of the saturated pot market and switched to growing hemp, a type of cannabis that is legal nationwide and cannot produce a high.

Two years ago, before Congress in 2018 legalized hemp production and commercial sales, officials at the Oregon Department of Agriculture gave 246 farmers permission to plant some 3,300 acres of hemp. This year, they gave eight times as many farmers permission to plant some 53,000 acres. Many growers aim to harvest hemp for cannabidiol, or CBD, a trendy extract with alleged health benefits.

The agency doesn’t track how many former marijuana growers are now growing hemp, according to Sunny Summers, the cannabis policy coordinator at the Department of Agriculture.

Hemp CBD is so new that analysts have yet to agree on its actual market size. But like many farmers, Morse is optimistic. His company next year will seed 1,100 acres of hemp in Oregon and California, after growing less than 10 acres this year.

"People say, 'Well you're going to experience an oversupply of hemp.' And maybe, maybe not, because you can ship over state lines," he said. "And you can compete in the national market."


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Armed man attacking Tacoma’s ICE detention center killed in officer-involved shooting

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 08:11

A protest outside the federal immigration detention center in Tacoma last year drew headlines when a 68-year-old man wrapped his arms around a police officer's throat and shoulders in an apparent attempt to free another protester.

When police got the man into handcuffs, they found a collapsible baton and knife in his pocket, leading to criminal charges.

Early Saturday morning, that man, Willem Van Spronsen of Vashon Island, returned to the Northwest Detention Center, the holding facility for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, this time armed with a rifle and incendiary devices, according to Tacoma police.

Police said Van Spronsen tossed lit objects at vehicles and buildings, causing one car fire, and unsuccessfully tried to ignite a propane tank.

Officers were called by an ICE employee who saw the rifle. Soon after they arrived, officers reported "shots fired," said Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool, although it is unclear who fired first or if Van Spronsen fired at all. The Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office classified his death as a homicide.

The four responding officers all opened fire and then took cover, uninjured. After medical aid arrived, officers found Van Spronsen dead. He had multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Pierce County Medical Examiner's office.

Immigration is increasingly a flashpoint American politics, and Van Spronsen's death came on the eve of Sunday's planned national raid by ICE targeting thousands of undocumented immigrant families who the government said missed court hearings or who had received removal notices. Seattle is not among the 10 cities being targeted in the raids.

Deb Bartley, a friend of Van Spronsen's for about 20 years, described him as an anarchist and anti-fascist, and she believes his attack on the detention center was intended to provoke a fatal conflict.

"He was ready to end it," Bartley said. "I think this was a suicide. But then he was able to kind of do it in a way that spoke to his political beliefs ... I know he went down there knowing he was going to die."

She and other friends of Van Spronsen got letters in the mail "just saying goodbye." He also wrote what she referred to as a manifesto, which she declined to discuss in detail but predicted would be taken by authorities.

Maru Mora-Villalpando, an activist with the group La Resistencia, which has frequently protested the conditions at the detention center and broader immigration policy, said she did not know Van Spronsen. Nor was La Resistencia involved with the June 2018 protest at which he was arrested, she said.

However, the group believes, based on information provided to them, that Van Spronsen was targeting the detention center's parking lot, which includes a fleet of buses that transports immigrants to the Yakima airport, where they are deported.

Van Spronsen had worked as a self-employed carpenter and contractor, according to court documents. He was also a folk singer, playing shows on Vashon Island and around the Seattle area.

The 2018 protest involved about 160 people outside the detention center. About 40 people blocked a police car that had arrived, prompting the officer to call in backup; about 25 officers responded.

In court documents, Van Spronsen was accused of lunging at a police officer's neck to help free a 17-year-old protester who was being detained. Van Spronsen refused to comply with officers' orders, and as he was led through a crowd of protesters, police said he tried to pass the baton to another protester. Van Spronsen was punched in the face at least once during the altercation. Nine other people were arrested as well.

He ultimately pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to one count of obstructing an officer, a gross misdemeanor, and received a one-year deferred sentence in October, according to court documents, which labeled him indigent.

The four male officers involved in Saturday's fatal shooting -- ? whose tenure with Tacoma police ranged from 20 years to 9 months -- were placed on paid administrative leave per department policy. Their names won't be released until further along in the investigation, according to Cool.

ICE spokeswoman Tanya Roman confirmed the shooting incident and said no ICE employees were hurt nor involved. She referred questions to Tacoma police. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Seattle division said it will be supporting the investigation.

La Resistencia ? had initially planned a protest of the facility for Saturday afternoon, but postponed the event by a day after reporting road closures around the center.

Trump says four liberal congresswomen should ‘go back’ to the ‘crime infested places from which they came’

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 08:07

From left, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., far right, listen as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., center, joins them in a call for legislation to cancel all student debt, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, June 24, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite/)

President Donald Trump said Sunday that four liberal congresswomen who have been critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” prompting other Democrats - including Pelosi - to rally to their defense.

Pelosi denounced Trump's tweets as "xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation."

Trump's remark, made in morning tweets, comes as the infighting between Pelosi and the four freshman women of color - Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota - has spilled into public view. It also comes as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are preparing to round up migrant families that have received deportation orders across the country.

"So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run," Trump tweeted.

Pressley was born in Cincinnati, Tlaib was born in Detroit and Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York - about 20 miles from where Trump was born.. Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia; her family fled the country amid civil war when she was a child, and she became a U.S. citizen as a teenager.

All four women won election to Congress in 2018.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump suggested that the four Democrats should leave Washington.

"Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," he said. "Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can't leave fast enough. I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"

Trump's tweets prompted a sharp response from Pelosi, who described them as racist and divisive.

"When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to 'Make America Great Again' has always been about making America white again," she said in a tweet. "Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power."

She also called on Trump to halt the planned ICE raids on Sunday and "work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values."

Other Democrats also responded with outrage on the Sunday morning news shows.

"That's a racist tweet. Telling people to go back where they came from? These are American citizens elected by voters in the United States of America to serve in one of the most distinguished bodies in the U.S. House of Representatives. I think that's wrong," Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., said on "Fox News Sunday."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called Trump's tweets "another effort to divide people along lines of religion, ethnicity, origin, and create a country where there can't be unity."

"Unfortunately, there's an American tradition of telling people to go back where they came from," Luján said on CNN's "State of the Union." "It's a very bad tradition that we need to weed out of our nation, because we are a nation of immigrants. That's who we are by our nature for hundreds of years. But you don't expect to hear it from the president of the United States."

Host Jake Tapper later asked Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, whether he knew whom the president was talking about in his tweets.

"I don't. I don't," Cuccinelli said.

Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, also declined to weigh in, saying on CBS News' "Face the Nation" that it was up to the president to explain his tweets.

- - -

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

Early Brooklyn ICE raid precedes promised White House crackdown on NYC’s undocumented, prompting outpouring of support

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 22:30

Immigration agents will target Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco. (John Moore/Getty Images/TNS) **FOR USE WITH THIS STORY ONLY* (John Moore/)

NEW YORK — The promised White House crackdown on undocumented immigrants started early in Brooklyn.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents descended Saturday on a Sunset Park apartment building, ringing all the doorbells but eventually leaving empty-handed, eyewitnesses told the New York Daily News. President Donald Trump had promised a Sunday sweep by federal agents in New York and eight other cities across the country as part of his call to tighten the nation's borders.

"As they were leaving, we heard them say, 'We'll be back,'" said a woman who lived in the building. "I'm feeling sad because my young daughter was awake, and she heard the whole thing and was real scared."

The surprise ICE raid infuriated City Council member Carlos Menchaca, who represents the Brooklyn neighborhood.

"This is about whitening America," charged Menchaca, blasting Trump at a Manhattan news conference. "And this is coming from the top of government, by a white man. This is a white man saying our country needs to be white and it needs to be whiter and we need to remove the people of color."

Tensions were high across the city on the eve of the anticipated enforcement action. Sanctuary churches opened their doors to the undocumented, promising last-minute protection. Several immigrants told the Daily News they planned to go off the grid for a few days, staying with friends or moving from place to place to avoid arrest.

"We're not walking, sleeping, doing anything from normal life right now," said Shamin, a Bangladeshi man now living in Brooklyn. "Everybody's life is abnormal."

On the streets of Queens, the mere mention of the planned Sunday enforcement effort left locals silent and staring blankly down at the sidewalk. Fear was the overriding emotion among street vendors in Jackson Heights, even among those living here legitimately.

"People are afraid of this weekend — of course they are," said a Queens bodega owner, a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent who still declined to give his name. "Trump wants to fix the economy. But the backbone of the economy is us."

The doors were open wide Saturday at the Fourth Universalist Society Church, one of the city's sanctuary churches. The Rev. Schuyler Vogel said the number of undocumented immigrants seeking safe haven was growing as the hour drew near for the White House's promised sweep.

"I don't know how long the raids will go on, but people will stay as long as they need to stay," promised Vogel. "We were very aware that a lot of the people the government wants to deport are people who fled their own home country because they are in great risk."

Cities to be raided by ICE Sunday (Good/)

New York officials offered free legal help and a telephone hotline as paranoia seized longtime city residents fearing sudden deportation. On a sunny July weekend perfect for a bike ride or the beach, many of the city’s undocumented immigrants instead cowered indoors.

"I'm very scared," said Abul, a 52-year-old native of Bangladesh and 27-year resident of the U.S. "I'm just living now here and there, not in my own house. There is no way to feel safe."

Abul's wife, daughter and son are all American citizens, and his spouse unsuccessfully petitioned for his citizenship when he spent 17 months in an Orange County, Calif., detention facility back in 2011-12. He's terrified of going back behind bars.

"My family was homeless and living in the street," he said. "I can't leave my family."

Even those already living in a sanctuary space were shaken by the anticipated wave of enforcement.

"To explain how I feel now, with these raids, bring up too much fear to talk about it," said one woman who found shelter inside a church.

City officials announced support from free legal counsel to a toll free hotline and distribution of "Know Your Rights" information sheets. According to the Pew Research Center, there are roughly 1.1 million undocumented people in the New York metropolitan area.

For many, though, anonymity is preferred over a legal battle — win, lose or draw in the courts.

"People are afraid ... we are staying inside (on Sunday)," said a 38-year-old undocumented Queens mother of a 5-year-old U.S. citizen. "There will not be as many people on the streets. I am fighting to stay here. But if they take me, what am I going to do?"

Rafael Ortiz, 29, a Mexican immigrant, said three of his friends were taken into custody by ICE before the promised sweep.

"ICE is always here," he said. "It's hard to prepare for something you don't know will happen."

Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, faces his own possible deportation to Trinidad. The activist was detained in January 2018 after making a scheduled appearance to meet with federal officials. His group plans to monitor any ICE raids while providing assistance to any undocumented immigrants in need.

"Normally, 100 people show up every week," said Ragbir. "Next week it will explode even more because people don't know what to do. We expect 500 (this) week."

A Jackson Heights, Queens, festival focused on getting the word out to South Asian immigrants now at risk of arrest. Visitors to the Chatpati Mela event were given "Know Your Rights" fliers, while speakers addressed the issue from the main stage every 30 minutes.

“A lot of people are afraid of what will happen this weekend,” said organizer Zohran Mamdani, 27. “This is a celebration. But we are also making sure people are aware of the justice that belongs to them.”

Judge denies quick consideration of lawsuit challenging Alaska Legislature’s Juneau special session

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 20:13

State Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, and Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, speak to state legislators gathered at Wasilla Middle School on Monday. A larger group of lawmakers met in Juneau. (Bill Roth/ADN)

A Fairbanks judge denied expedited consideration Friday of a lawsuit that seeks to force Alaska state legislators in Juneau to comply with the governor’s directive to convene a special session in Wasilla.

Al Vezey, the former North Pole representative who brought the lawsuit, said that without expedited consideration, he doesn’t believe the suit can work its way through the court system before the end of the special session. He had asked for a court order forcing lawmakers to go to Wasilla.

“I think that that is an astronomically low probability," Vezey said in a phone interview Saturday.

The lawsuit targets House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, and Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, both of whom led sessions of the Legislature in Juneau this week despite a proclamation from Gov. Mike Dunleavy directing lawmakers to convene in his hometown of Wasilla. A smaller group of Republican lawmakers followed the governor’s directive, and the Legislature has been split between the two cities since Monday.

[Former lawmaker sues legislative leaders over Juneau special session location]

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have scheduled a series of meetings each day beginning Monday. From 2 to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, legislators will hear testimony about House Bill 2001, a proposal to pay a $1,600 Permanent Fund dividend this year.

The Monday meeting will take place at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office, the Tuesday meeting at the Mat-Su LIO, the Wednesday meeting at the Fairbanks LIO and the Thursday meeting in the state Capitol. Written testimony can be emailed to

Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome, is the co-chairman of the House Finance Committee and said in a Friday column published by the Nome Nugget newspaper, “As the House chairman of the state’s operating budget, I was instructed by our majority to get a new appropriations bill through the Finance Committee. This new bill will restore all funding of all vetoed items.”

[More coverage of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetoes and the Alaska Legislature’s special session]

Foster was referring to the $444 million vetoed from the state’s operating budget by Dunleavy in June. The Alaska Legislature failed to override that decision last week.

Foster went on in his column to say that the bill being considered by the committee, though currently only about the dividend, is an appropriations bill.

The finance committee may rewrite HB 2001 before it reaches a vote of the full House. Twenty-one votes in the House and 11 in the Senate are necessary to pass legislation, and the governor maintains the power of veto. Forty-five votes are necessary to override a gubernatorial veto. There were 37 in favor of a budgetary veto override on Wednesday.

“The plan is to spend the week pushing the new appropriations bill through committee and on to the floor. We are hopeful that we can win over eight legislators for another override vote or reach a compromise with the governor,” he wrote.

The special session currently convened by Dunleavy has only one item on its stated agenda: this year’s Permanent Fund dividend. Lawmakers cannot consider other items unless they have a two-thirds supermajority of the Legislature’s 60 members.

Letter: Follow the rules

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 19:03

On July 4 in Seward, the race officials at Mount Marathon had to make a difficult decision to cancel the junior race. I feel they did it with careful thought, supported by medical and air quality experts. When the decision came, I know it was disappointing to a lot of kids that had trained for the race. At that time, a group of kids decided to “run anyway” and headed up the hill.

My personal opinion is that we are becoming a nation of people that think the rules don’t apply to them and that isn’t doing us any good, but I also know that you can’t control other people. So, if those kids’ parents felt that it was appropriate to go anyway, I certainly wasn’t going to make a big deal about it.

But then two things happened.

The first was that when the group of kids came down from their “rogue” race, the announcer started calling out their times, and volunteers started hosing them down at the end even though they were running around the blocked finish. As you can imagine, this “unofficial timing” certainly made it look like the race officials were on board with the kids running. And conversely, those kids — and the parents — that had heeded the warnings and followed the rules were left standing on the side both confused and disappointed.

The second piece of this was that the ADN and other media outlets covered this “unofficial race” and even went as far as to report an unofficial winner. The writer, Beth Bragg, interviewed the racers and declared it “a real race.” I know this was a difficult morning and I certainly am not pointing fingers at these kids. Instead, I feel the media and the announcer — and, by extension, race officials — created an air of legitimacy for the kids that weren’t following the rules and, quite frankly cheapened the experience for the kids that did follow the rules and guidelines.

— Kerry Reifel

Eagle River

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Letter: Budget hypocrisy

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 18:59

Perhaps I have missed it, but in my review of all the articles on Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s line-item vetoes, I didn’t see any for his office. Shouldn’t he set the example?

— Charles Bingham


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Letter: Legislators, please lead

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 18:56

I am a lifelong Alaskan and I never have felt compelled to speak out publicly before.

Alaska is uniquely positioned in so many ways to continue to grow and thrive, but we are down in the weeds squabbling over the Permanent Fund dividend rather than investing and planning for the future. The high-paying jobs that supported Nordstrom have gone away and we are living in a technological age that is constantly changing.

Now we have a governor who appears to be reckless in cutting the budget with no thought for the job impact to the current economy or the future business or workforce preparedness of this state. He seems to be more concerned about giving money away than creating a meaningful future with good-paying jobs. This is not what leaders are elected to do.

I strongly believe most people in Alaska want to work for a living, and want investment in Alaska, not an anti-job governor.

I encourage all legislators to take a step back from this governor. Please think about basic economics and what is best for our state.

— Jackie Tanghe


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Russell Marion takes four-stroke lead into final round of Alaska State Amateur

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 18:51

Russell Marion, an Army soldier from North Carolina, shot a bogey-free round of golf Saturday to grab a four-stroke lead in the Alaska State Amateur at Palmer Golf Course.

Marion, 23, carded a 4-under-par 68 for the second straight day. He’ll enter Sunday’s final round in Palmer with a 54-hole total of 207, nine strokes under par and four strokes ahead of defending champion Greg Sanders.

Marion has broken par every day, starting with his first-round score of 71. On Saturday he made three birdies on the front nine to make the turn at three-under. He added another birdie on the back nine.

Sanders fired a one-under 71 Saturday, a score made possible by an eagle on the 18th hole. Added to his first-round 72 and second-round 68, he’s at 211.

Sanders shot par on the front nine and birdied No. 10 and No. 11 before running into trouble Saturday. He bogeyed three of the next six holes before his eagle-3 on the final hole.

It was the third eagle of the tournament for Sanders, the winner of multiple state championships. Marion is bidding for his first Alaska title.

In third place at 221 are Adam Baxter and Mark McMahan, who both shot their worst rounds Saturday. Baxter had a 76 and McMahan, who was 2-under after two rounds, is 5-over going into Sunday’s competition after shooting a 79.

Letter: Alaska is no climate for business

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 18:48

Contrary to the governor’s claims, Alaska is not a good climate in which businesses will start up, thrive or even continue. What business owner wants to move to a state where there is no respect or concern for education, property taxes are through the roof due to state cuts, and there is no appreciation for the arts? How attractive to businesses and employees is a state where roads and infrastructure are falling apart and homelessness and street begging are rampant due to social services cuts?

— Lee Holen


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Letter: Independence Day flags

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 18:46

For many years in Sand Lake, a small American flag has been put beside each mailbox on July 4. Thanks to True Value, which supplies the flags, and also to the Boy Scouts for placing them.

— Nancy Rogers


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Letter: Bad budget attitude

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 18:44

When the Permanent Fund dividend came about, paired with the stoppage of any state income tax, there were unintended consequences. I firmly believe Alaska attracted a different kind of migrant. As a result, this blow-up of the dividend prioritized over and above all of the needs of the state and its citizenry has created a conflict.

The cuts of education, pre-K through high school, and to the university; the cuts in Medicaid (lots of federal funding to lose here!), the removal of the Senior Benefit Program for low-income seniors and other losses, are shocking and cruel.I want my state to provide necessary services and opportunities for our residents.A solid high school education gives one a strong foundation for further academic and/or vocational training — the ticket for a productive livelihood throughout life.

Let us not deprive Alaskans of a way to make a decent livable income. Further, low-income seniors are unlikely to be able to find other sources of income.

The current budget crisis strikes me as a case of “give me my bumper dividend and don’t expect me to ante up anything.”

— Margaret Carey


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