Clear the air for all Alaskans There has been a dark cloud looming over the people of Alaska for far too long. A cloud that could easily be lifted, but if it isn’t, it will continue to affect the well-being of thousands of Alaskans across the entire state. Only 50 percent of Alaskans are currently protected by smoke-free workplace laws. For over a decade, Anchorage community members have enjoyed the freedom of breathing clean air while they work. Areas in the Kenai Peninsula, Mat-Su, Fairbanks-North Star, and Kodiak boroughs though, do not have the same local health powers that Anchorage has to make comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws a reality for their residents. Senate Bill 1, currently before the Legislature, would protect all Alaskans from secondhand smoke and aerosols in the...Alaska Dispatch News
SITKA — Sitka officials say they plan to make land development improvements following the release of a study on the August landslides. The geotechnical and environmental consulting firm Shannon & Wilson presented their findings at a Sitka Assembly meeting on Tuesday, The Sitka Sentinel reported . The report examined the causes of the Aug. 18 landslide above Kramer Avenue that left three people dead and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage. It also listed potential risk areas for future slides on a stretch of the mountainside. The Kramer Avenue slide on Harbor Mountain was one of four major slides in Sitka that day, according to the geotechnical consultants. The report also included a notice warning city officials against relying too heavily on the study for...The Associated Press
SITKA — The city of Sitka has agreed to pay $350,000 to resolve a complaint threatening a lawsuit over the 2014 arrest of a man who was repeatedly shocked with a stun gun in the city jail. The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports that the city's insurance company will pay Franklin Hoogendorn in connection to the September 2014 incident. Hoogendorn's attorneys had not filed a lawsuit, but had issued a draft complaint threatening litigation. The claim for damages was in connection to Hoogendorn's arrest and the subsequent posting of a video online that shows Sitka police officers wrestling with the then 18-year-old as they attempted to have him change into jail clothing. In the course of the struggle, one officer can be seen using a stun gun on Hoogendorn, who had been arrested on alcohol-related...The Associated Press
A 16-year-old suffered multiple stab wounds to the head after two men with guns and knives tried to evict the teenager’s family from a Willow home, according to Alaska State Troopers On Feb. 6, troopers went to Mile 53 of the Parks Highway in response to a stabbing report. An investigation found two men entered the home in Willow at the request of another person to evict a family. “The two males were armed with firearms and knives,” troopers wrote in an online dispatch Friday. The dispatch does not say how the disturbance started, but troopers report the 16-year-old was stabbed multiple times in the head. While remaining members of the family fled the home in a vehicle, one of the evictors shot and struck it, according to the dispatch. Troopers said the teenager was taken to a hospital...Alaska Dispatch News
NEW YORK — A New York City police officer was convicted of manslaughter Thursday for killing an unarmed man who was hit by a ricocheting bullet fired from the officer’s gun in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project in a case that highlighted concerns over police accountability. The officer, Peter Liang, and his partner were conducting a so-called vertical patrol on Nov. 20, 2014, inside the Louis H. Pink Houses in the East New York neighborhood. At one point, Liang opened a door into an unlighted stairwell and his gun went off. The bullet glanced off a wall and hit Akai Gurley, 28, who was walking down the stairs with his girlfriend, piercing his heart. Liang, a rookie officer who had graduated from the Police Academy the year before the shooting, was also found guilty of official...SARAH MASLIN NIR
The return of daylight and the appearance of seed racks always trigger an instinctual reaction: buy and plant. They also remind me that every now and then it is important for Alaska gardeners to have a reality check. And here it is: Obviously, it is too early to plant most things. The reality is we don’t get to garden outdoors until sometime in mid-May, being optimistic, and not until Memorial Day weekend if you are an old sourdough who has been caught by a long, cool spring more than once. It is a good thing that I keep a gardening calendar. According to it, the earliest flower seeds worthy of starting in my opinion (except for sweet peas, which you can be growing already) are portulaca and pelargonium. Both of these take 14 weeks to grow big enough indoors to use subsequently outdoors...Jeff Lowenfels
Add another classic to the storied men's basketball rivalry between Alaska's two universities. And meet the rivalry's newly minted hero — UAA's Drew Peterson. The Seawolves and Nanooks waged a fiesty defensive battle Thursday night in front of an Alaska Airlines Center crowd of 1,805, a 76-71 win for a UAA team that fought back from an eight-point deficit in the second half. Peterson, a 6-foot-4 junior who has seen limited action this season, drained two deep 3-pointers down the stretch and poured in a career-high 14 points to help spark UAA's victory. The win keeps the Seawolves (19-8 overall, 12-4 conference) in second place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and the Nanooks (16-7, 10-5) in third place. It also gave UAA a sweep of the two-game series with the Nanooks, which...Beth Bragg
MILWAUKEE -- Days removed from a humbling defeat in New Hampshire that stirred fresh concern about her candidacy, Hillary Clinton questioned the feasibility of the platform that has fueled Bernie Sanders' unlikely insurgency, challenging her rival during a nationally-televised debate to "level with the American people" about the true cost of his plans. As the playing field in the Democratic nominating contest expands to a wider and more diverse collection of states, the former secretary of State argued that she and Sanders must be "held to account" for what they propose to do as president and said the numbers behind Sanders' plan for a Medicare-for-all system "don't add up." Sanders rebutted Clinton's assertion that his plan would undermine the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama'...Evan Halper and Michael A. Memoli
A team of physicists who can now count themselves as astronomers announced Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding 1 billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prophecy of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago. And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory. More generally, it means that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the...Dennis Overbye
Anchorage attorney Treg Taylor is joining the Assembly race in South Anchorage and former TV reporter Joy Bunde is dropping out in a last-minute shuffle among conservative candidates for an open seat in the April 5 election. Taylor, who ran for school board in 2011 but lost to Gretchen Guess, filed paperwork with the Alaska Public Offices Commission last week that allows him to start accepting campaign contributions. He said Thursday his decision to run came after another candidate, Joe Riggs, dropped out last month. Taylor described himself as a fiscal conservative who supports limited government. “At this time, where the price of oil is where it’s at and the economy not turning as quick as we’d like, we need more people like that on the Assembly,” Taylor said. In a phone interview...Devin Kelly