AP18144626813554-1280x853.jpg

Associated PressMay 26, 201811min241

By KEVIN SIMPSON , The Denver Post via Associated Press

DENVER — If buildings could talk, the dusty storage structure that has rested for decades in a park beneath the Granada’s water tower might tell stories about the seventh-graders who giggled and chattered as they assembled floats for the annual homecoming parade.

But the building speaks most eloquently about its function from 1942 to 1945, as a recreation hall at the Granada War Relocation Center — a square mile just outside of town better known as Amache, a World War II internment camp for Japanese-Americans. Now, more than 70 years after its 1946 removal to serve as a city utility building, it has been returned to its original foundation at the National Historic Site.

John Tonai, who teaches photography at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, followed the building as it was transported on May 17 and snapped photos throughout the process. His father, Minoru “Min” Tonai, spent three years, from age 10 to 13, at Amache and told his children stories about life in the camp. But they never struck a chord for John until he visited Amache and began chronicling its history, and that of other internment camps, through photography.

“Most Japanese-Americans didn’t talk much about the camps,” John Tonai said, “but my father did. It got to the point where as a kid I forgot about the stories. Then, I came here and I could stand in his era, and all those memories of his stories came flooding back. I could stand in the doorway of a barracks and see my dad as a kid, running down the street.”

The rec hall arrived at its original site after a two-hour trip from town that covered perhaps a mile and a half and featured expert maneuvering around overhanging cottonwoods along crusty crushed rock roads. Workers guided it into place with the painstaking care of a golfer lining up a crucial putt. Here, it adds texture to this living remembrance of a dismal chapter in American history: About 7,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans were transported and imprisoned at the camp — and nine others spread across the interior Western U.S. — during the war.

Not so long ago, the windswept range barely whispered the story of the internees herded here from the West Coast as supposed threats to the war effort. A barracks building, guard tower and the original water tower speak with ever more authority about the lives that endured — and sometimes ended — within the camp’s confines.

“Anything we bring back that’s original is a big deal,” said John Hopper, the school administrator whose student-led Amache Preservation Society helps with projects and grounds maintenance and leads tours at the camp. “We’re always looking for ways to interpret the site, and this is another way. Getting back anything original to the site is a plus for us.”

Tonai said his father and many others will arrive May 19 for the annual Amache Pilgrimage, a remembrance of life in the internment camp that also features food and discussion. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Amache Preservation Society.

“My dad is coming for what probably will be his last time,” said Tonai, whose father is 89. “I love hearing their stories. I have a better understanding of what they went through.”

Bonnie Clark, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Denver, leads the school’s archaeological project to further interpret the site. Well ahead of the move, her team flagged potentially sensitive areas so the rec hall’s movers could avoid them.

And while the DU Amache Project deals largely with digging beneath the surface to tell the camp’s story, she notes that the return of original structures — more precisely, the act of returning them after they had been dismantled — is part of the story.

“It wasn’t too long after this whole ball got rolling,” she said, referring to the human roundup and internment, “that lots of people realized this was not a good idea. People said, ‘Let’s put it behind us and forget it happened.’ Not having any physical remains left is one way you do that. It took a long time for the site to get marked.

“When we think about heritage sites, particularly with a difficult heritage, they disappear and have to be reclaimed,” Clark added. “That whole life cycle is an important part of the story.”

It will take some work to recapture the full character of the building, part of which was lopped off so it could fit on the back of a flatbed truck when the camp was scraped to its foundations. The original rolled-asphalt roofing was replaced with metal and now will have to be refitted. But the wood-beamed structure still has some of its original windows and siding bears the stenciled “11F,” denoting its block location on Amache’s grid.

“Just the discovery and seeing that stenciling still there — it’s so powerful,” said Jennifer Orrigo Charles, the executive director of Colorado Preservation Inc. “It was sitting in town this whole time, and now we’re able to bring it home.”

Her organization has been working with partners on grants to restore the site since 2001. Once it has been secured on its foundation, workers will use original construction documents to help them re-create the section that’s missing and restore the interior.

“This is part of a larger plan to interpret the site, showing people how the internees lived,” Charles said. “Part of the grant includes bringing back the historic searchlight and the guard tower, and creating fencing around the water and guard towers. There are already interpretive signs and an audio tour. The cemetery is still out there. We’re taking this landscape that was pretty desolate and starting to bring those important features back.”

Originally, a displaced Amache bathroom/laundry unit was supposed to be returned from the town of Stonington, in far-southeast Colorado. But when plans hit a snag, it was decided to move ahead with the rec hall in order to avoid losing out on grant money, Hopper said. The rec hall building was donated by the city to the restoration effort, but Hopper’s students have promised to use their funds to replace it with either a storage building or a gazebo, as the city chooses.

The transported rec hall served many purposes while it marked time in Granada, like many other structures that found use in new locations after the camp was dismantled. Some have been rediscovered and brought back. The water tower, a guard tower and a barracks building add context to a story kept alive by the gradual reconstruction of the camp’s features.

Hopper remembers back in the 1990s — when he was a seventh-grade class sponsor upon his arrival in Granada — how students used the shelter of the former rec hall to build a cartoon-themed homecoming float. This school year, before Christmas, his students and three maintenance workers cleaned the structure out.

“You had 70 years’ worth of dirt and dust, and some really old stuff you can’t use anymore — stuff an antique dealer would’ve loved,” he says. “And the original window panes are still there. It still has ’11F’ stamped on it. It’s in bad shape, and going to need a lot of TLC for sure.”

In May, members of Colorado congressional delegation introduced the Amache Study Act, which would prompt the U.S. Department of the Interior to assess Amache’s historical significance and determine whether it should become part of the National Park System.

Such a designation would shift much of the workload now handled by Hopper’s current and former students.

“The more buildings and more historical structures we get, my students not only have to do presentations but also take care of the Amache camp itself,” Hopper said, noting that he had nine students this year and anticipates having only five or six next school year. “They’re spread far and few between, and the fewer we end up having, the more work they have to do.”

The return of the rec hall adds to a historical oasis that includes museums filled with artifacts from the internment era. And it definitely counts as one of the bigger additions.

“I was nervous watching this,” said Tonai, recalling the building’s several precarious turns and tight fits along the way. “That building’s in bad shape. But I’m just in awe of the movers, the way they were able to pinpoint its location like that.”


AP18145653786780-1280x853.jpg

Associated PressMay 26, 20188min362

By CALVIN WOODWARD and HOPE YEN , Associated Press

WASHINGTON— Illegal border crossings, as President Donald Trump measures them, have gone up since he took office, even as he speaks to audiences about a drop of more than 40 percent.

That disconnect was among several that stood out over the past week as Trump opened up on the Russia investigation via Twitter, forsaking accuracy in the process, and made the false claim that he’s delivering the first big military pay increase in a decade.

Meantime it turns out that Richard Grenell, Trump’s ambassador to Germany, got it wrong when he delivered the “shocking” news last month that Trump’s predecessors had never given German Chancellor Angela Merkel the courtesy of a tour of the private residence floor of the White House when she visited Washington.

A look at some of Trump’s statements and Grenell’s erroneous claim:

TRUMP: “We’ve done a lot of work on the wall. We’re doing a lot of work on security, generally speaking, security and border — border security. The border’s down over 40 percent, and don’t forget, we have a great economy, probably the best economy the country’s ever had. So people come across, but we’re going to get the rest.” — interview broadcast Thursday with “Fox & Friends.”

TRUMP: “We’re down on immigration crossing the border — more than 40 percent.” — forum Wednesday in Bethpage, New York.

THE FACTS: Illegal crossings actually are up 20 percent since he became president, according to the yardstick he uses to measure them — the number of Border Patrol arrests.

There is no precise measure of illegal crossings because some people don’t get caught. The Trump administration uses arrests as the best gauge of whether crossings are going up or down. The Obama administration did likewise.

Border Patrol arrests did fall last year to the lowest level since 1971. But since April of last year, arrests have climbed steadily. One factor in that increase may be that people are now taking their chances to cross into the U.S. illegally after an initial wait-and-see attitude about Trump’s tough-talking approach to people sneaking into the country.

Last month, there were more than 50,000 overall border arrests, which are made up of people who are stopped at land crossings and other official points of entry, according to federal data. That was more than triple the number from April 2017, which was the lowest tally on record since the Homeland Security Department was created in 2003.

Overall, border arrests have increased 20 percent since January 2017, from 42,463 in January 2017 to 50,924 in April.

___

TRUMP, to U.S. Naval Academy graduates: “Going to have new equipment and well-deserved pay raises. We just got you a big pay raise. First time in 10 years. We got you a big pay increase. First time in over 10 years. I fought for you. That was the hardest one to get, but you never had a chance of losing.” — speech Friday.

THE FACTS: That’s not right. U.S. military members have gotten a pay raise every year for the past 10 years and several have been larger than this year’s 2.6 percent increase. Pay increases in 2008, 2009 and 2010, for example, were all 3.4 percent or more.

___

TRUMP: “We have now the lowest number of ships that we’ve had since World War I, and very soon you’re going to get to 355 beautiful ships. 355. That’s almost a couple of hundred more ships.” — speech to academy graduates Friday.

THE FACTS: No it isn’t. The Navy now has 283 ships.

___

TRUMP on former CIA Director John Brennan: “Brennan started this entire debacle about President Trump. We now know that Brennan had detailed knowledge of the (phony) Dossier…he knows about the Dossier, he denies knowledge of the Dossier, he briefs the Gang of 8 on the Hill about the Dossier, which…….they then used to start an investigation about Trump…” — tweets Monday.

THE FACTS: Trump quotes conservative commentator Dan Bongino to falsely claim the Russia probe is based on a “phony dossier.” In fact, the FBI’s investigation began months before it received a dossier of anti-Trump research financed by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The FBI probe’s origins were based on other evidence — not the existence of the dossier.

The Republican-controlled House intelligence committee found the Russia probe was initiated after the FBI received information related to Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, not the dossier. The committee’s final report released in March was praised by Trump, who pointed to it as evidence that the investigation was nothing but a “witch hunt.”

___

GRENELL: “The president took the chancellor up to the residence with the vice president and myself and gave a personal tour of the vice president — of the residence, the presidential residence at the White House. That was the first time that the chancellor had been up there. It was shocking to hear that she had never been able to see the Lincoln Bedroom. Never been able to see the Gettysburg Address. And President Trump took her there.” — to Fox News, April 30.

THE FACTS: Actually, Merkel’s office told AP this past week that she was given a tour of the private residence, including the Lincoln Bedroom, when she visited Washington in 2011 to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to her by President Barack Obama. Grenell did not respond to a request for comment.

___

TRUMP, on President Barack Obama’s national intelligence director, James Clapper: “Clapper has now admitted that there was Spying in my campaign. Large dollars were paid to the Spy, far beyond normal. Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history. SPYGATE – a terrible thing!” — tweet Thursday

THE FACTS: That’s a distortion of Clapper’s statements on ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday when he was asked about recent reports that an FBI informant spoke with several members of the Trump campaign.

“They were spying on — a term I don’t particularly like but — what the Russians were doing,” Clapper said. “Trying to understand, were the Russians infiltrating? Trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage and influence? Which is what they do.”

He did not say a spy was implanted “in” the campaign and he denied the FBI was spying “on” the campaign. The effort was focused on Russians, he said, and was meant to “protect the campaign” and the U.S. political system.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is looking into Russian interference in the election, any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, possible obstruction of justice and whatever associated criminal activity might be uncovered. The probe has produced several criminal convictions of Trump campaign officials. Those charges do not implicate the president directly.


AP18145729091071-1280x853.jpg

Associated PressMay 26, 20187min208

By ELLEN KNICKMEYER ,  Associated Press

WASHINGTON— Newly released emails show senior Environmental Protection Agency officials working closely with a conservative group that dismisses climate change to rally like-minded people for public hearings on science and global warming, counter negative news coverage and promote Administrator Scott Pruitt’s stewardship of the agency.

John Konkus, EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs, repeatedly reached out to senior staffers at the Heartland Institute, according to the emails.

“If you send a list, we will make sure an invitation is sent,” Konkus wrote to then-Heartland president Joseph Bast in May 2017, seeking suggestions on scientists and economists the EPA could invite to an annual EPA public hearing on the agency’s science standards.

Follow-up emails show Konkus and the Heartland Institute mustering scores of potential invitees known for rejecting scientific warnings of man-made climate-change, including from groups like Plants Need CO2, The Right Climate Stuff, and Junk Science.

The emails underscore how Pruitt and senior agency officials have sought to surround themselves with people who share their vision of curbing environmental regulation and enforcement, leading to complaints from environmentalists that he is ignoring the conclusions of the majority of scientists in and out of his agency especially when it comes to climate-changing carbon emissions.

They were obtained by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Southern Environmental Law Center, which sued to enforce a Freedom of Information request and provided them to The Associated Press.

The EPA maintains close working relationships with a broad range of public and private groups, and Heartland is just one of many the agency engages with “to ensure the public is informed,” said EPA spokesman Lincoln Ferguson.

“It demonstrates the agency’s dedication to advancing President Trump’s agenda of environmental stewardship and regulatory certainty,” he said.

The public hearing referred to in the May 2017 email ultimately was canceled when the EPA official who runs it fell ill, the EPA said.

But Bast contended in an email sent to EPA staffers and others that the official called off the hearing after learning that climate-change “skeptics planned to attend.”

The Heartland Institute calls itself a leading free-market think-tank. It rejects decades of science saying fossil-fuel emissions are altering the climate and says on its website that curbing use of petroleum and coal to fight climate change would “squander one of America’s greatest comparative advantages among the world’s nations.”

“Of course The Heartland Institute has been working with EPA on policy and personnel decisions,” Tim Huelskamp, a former Republican congressman from Kansas who now leads the group, said in a statement to the AP.

“They recognized us as the pre-eminent organization opposing the radical climate alarmism agenda and instead promoting sound science and policy,” Huelskamp wrote.

He said Heartland would continue to help Pruitt and his staff.

Ferguson said Pruitt and his top officials have also met with groups known for their campaigns against climate-changing emissions and pollutants from fossil fuels, including the Moms Clean Air Force, the American Lung Association, and others.

But Ben Levitan of the Environmental Defense Fund said mainstream climate-change groups have received nothing like the outreach and invitations that Heartland and other hard-right groups have been getting.

Certainly, “in some ways this is normal and in the course of business that ebbs and flows with the ideology of the administration in power,” said Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One, a non-profit promoting ethical government and bipartisan political reform.

Heartland is not registered as a lobbying group. Spokesman Jim Lakely said the group has logged its contacts with EPA and that they fall below the level required for disclosing as lobbying.

An email last February shows Bast forwarded to followers an email with the line “From the White House,” rallying activists to public hearings the EPA was then holding around the country on repealing an Obama-era power plan meant to curb fossil-fuel emissions.

The email is signed by a Pruitt political appointee and gives the name of another EPA official for activists to call. It’s not clear from the email, however, who initiated the attempt to rally conservatives for the public hearing.

Konkus was a Republican political consultant when Pruitt named him to the agency. His duties include reviewing awards of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants. The Washington Post reported in September that Konkus had been scrutinizing grant applications for mentions of climate change, which he reportedly calls “the double C-word.”

Emails show he and former EPA spokeswoman, Liz Bowman, repeatedly reached out to Heartland to talk over critical coverage by the Post.

Lakely, the Heartland spokesman, responds he’s shared the article with colleagues, “asking them to jump to your aide (sic) and defend this position.”

Konkus also contacted Heartland and other conservative groups asking for what he calls “echo” amplifying word of Pruitt’s regulation-cutting efforts, according to the emails.

And an email from Bast, shared with EPA staffers and others, shows the then-Heartland president celebrating news that a reporter, Justin Gillis, was leaving The New York Times.

“Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead. Still waiting for Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin at the WaPo and Seth Borenstein at AP to flame out,” Bast writes.

Spokespeople for the AP, The Washington Post and The New York Times declined comment.