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101-year-old returns to Pearl Harbor to remember those lost

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101-year-old returns to Pearl Harbor to remember those lost

HONOLULU — When Japanese bombs began falling on Pearl Harbor, U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class David Russell first sought refuge below deck on the USS Oklahoma.

But a split-second decision on that December morning 80 years ago changed his mind, and likely saved his life.

“They started closing that hatch. And I decided to get out of there,” Russell, now 101, said in a recent interview.

Within 12 minutes his battleship would capsize under a barrage of torpedoes. Altogether, 429 sailors and Marines from the Oklahoma would perish — the greatest death toll from any ship that day other than the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177.

Russell plans to return to Pearl Harbor on Tuesday for a ceremony in remembrance of the more than 2,300 American troops killed in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack that launched the U.S. into World War II.

About 30 survivors and 100 other veterans from the war are expected to observe a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the minute the attack began.

Survivors, now in their late 90s or older, stayed home last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and watched a livestream of the event instead.

Russell is traveling to Hawaii with the Best Defense Foundation, a nonprofit founded by former NFL Linebacker Donnie Edwards that helps World War II veterans revisit their old battlefields.

He recalls heading topside when the attack started because he was trained to load anti-aircraft guns and figured he could help if any other loader got hurt.

But Japanese planes dropped a series of torpedoes that pummeled the Oklahoma before he could get there. Within 12 minutes, the hulking battleship capsized.

“Those darn torpedoes, they just kept hitting us and kept hitting us. I thought they’d never stop,” Russell said. “That ship was dancing around.”

Russell clambered over and around toppled lockers while the battleship slowly rolled over.

“You had to walk sort of sideways,” he said.

Once he got to the main deck, he crawled over the ship’s side and eyed the USS Maryland moored next door. He didn’t want to swim because leaked oil was burning in the water below. Jumping, he caught a rope hanging from the Maryland and escaped to that battleship without injury.

He then helped pass ammunition to the Maryland’s anti-aircraft guns.

Russell still thinks about how lucky he was. He ponders why he decided to go topside on the Oklahoma, knowing most of the men who stayed behind likely were unable to get out after the hatch closed.

Russell remained in the Navy until retiring in 1960. He worked at Air Force bases for the next two decades and retired for good in 1980.

His wife, Violet, passed away 22 years ago, and he now lives alone in Albany, Ore.

For decades, Russell didn’t share much about his experiences in World War II because no one seemed to care. But the images from Pearl Harbor still haunt him, especially at night.

“When I was in the VA hospital there in San Francisco, they said, ‘We want you to talk about World War II.’ And I said, I told them, I said, ‘When we talk about it, people don’t believe us. They just walk away.’ So now people want to know more about it so we’re trying to talk about it. We’re trying to talk about it, and we’re just telling them what we saw,” he said. “You can’t forget it.”

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Minnesota COVID-19 patients face a lottery for monoclonal treatment that works against omicron

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Minnesota COVID-19 patients face a lottery for monoclonal treatment that works against omicron

Minnesotans who get a serious case of COVID-19 may face long odds of getting one of the life-saving treatments that can fight off the omicron variant because they are in such short supply.

State health officials had steadily increased the availability of monoclonal antibodies — a type of antibody infusion — to help high-risk patients avoid severe COVID-19 infections. Unfortunately, now only one monoclonal antibody formula, Sotrovimab, works against omicron.

“That is in very low supply nationally and in Minnesota,” Jan Malcolm, health commissioner, recently told members of the Minnesota House health committee.

The state has moved to a random selection process to decide who gets what monoclonal antibodies the state has on hand. This week it got just under 600 doses of Sotrovimab, a slight increase from the week before.

The state received larger allocations of the two new antiviral pills — Molnupiravir and Paxlovid — getting about 12,000 total doses of those newly approved pills since they became available in December.

The random selection process the state uses is a weighted system that identifies patients who would most benefit from monoclonal treatments. When treatments are scarce, patients who receive the medicines are picked through a lottery.

In some instances, the process could give consideration to front-line health workers who were sickened while caring for COVID patients. Many Minnesota health systems, but not all, follow the state’s guidance for distributing scarce treatments.

The guidelines do not take into account whether someone has been vaccinated.

The state stopped using race as a factor in that weighted system for allocating monoclonal treatments Jan. 12 after America First Legal threatened a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Health alleging racial and ethnic discrimination.

“These racist policies decide questions of life and death based on skin color and must be rescinded immediately,” Stephen Miller, the group’s president and a former adviser to President Trump, said in a statement. “No right is safe if the government can award or deny medical care based on race. End this horrid injustice.”

America First Legal filed a lawsuit Jan. 16 against the New York State Department of Health for a similar policy.

Throughout the pandemic, Minnesota Department of Health data has shown Black, Native American, Hispanic, Asian and multiracial residents have had higher rates of COVID-19 hospitalization and death than white residents.

When asked about the rationale for removing race as a factor, despite it being part of federal guidance, a state Department of Health spokesman said in an emailed statement:

“The State of Minnesota is committed to serving all Minnesotans equitably in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring that communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 have the support and resources they need is critical and we are constantly reviewing our policies in order to meet that goal.”

Minnesota continues to experience record high caseloads of COVID-19 driven by the highly contagious omicron variant. The state is reporting, on average, more than 11,000 new infections each day and test-positivity is at 27 percent.

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Nikola Jokic, Nuggets avoid fourth-quarter disaster, end homestand 4-2

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Nikola Jokic, Nuggets avoid fourth-quarter disaster, end homestand 4-2

The Nuggets don’t know easy. It’s just not in their nature.

Denver avoided what would’ve been an ugly double-digit, fourth-quarter collapse Sunday and hung on to beat the Pistons, 117-111. Up 16 points to start the fourth quarter, Detroit chiseled away at the lead, tying it twice in the final two minutes.

Former Nugget Trey Lyles added to the drama with eight of his 18 in the fourth quarter, but the Pistons were rebuffed by Nikola Jokic, who scored six consecutive points late to ice the game.

Jokic finished with 34 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, snapping his four-game triple-double streak. Not that it mattered to Jokic.

The Nuggets, now 24-21, will get the Pistons again Tuesday in Detroit to start their daunting six-game road trip. They ended their six-game homestand with a 4-2 record.

DeMarcus Cousins was relatively underwhelming in his Nuggets debut, finishing with just two points and six rebounds in 12 minutes. But he was part of a strong bench showing, which saw the Nuggets outscore Detroit’s reserves 41-37.

In addition, the Nuggets hung 60 points in the paint to help combat 18 points each from Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart and Cade Cunningham.

Each time the Nuggets looked like they’d create separation, they’d turn it over or fail to capitalize on an open 3-pointer. Finally, with 4:50 left in the third quarter, Jokic found Bryn Forbes lingering outside the 3-point line, and he drained the look. Two minutes later, reserve Davon Reed knocked in a 3, and shortly thereafter, so did Facu Campazzo.

As Campazzo trotted back on defense, he looked to the sky with relief. Zeke Nnaji canned a triple before the quarter was over, and the Nuggets’ second unit had engineered a 92-76 lead heading into the final quarter.

Playing some with Jokic and some with the reserves, Forbes looked more comfortable than he did in his debut.

“When you make a trade, in and of itself, that takes some time because you’re bringing in a new person, a new personality to a locker room, to a culture,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

His prior experience with well-respected organizations like Milwaukee and San Antonio helped ease the transition.

Entering Sunday, Malone had a healthy fear of the rebuilding Pistons for one specific reason.

“As I told our players, when you’re a team like Detroit, they have nothing to lose,” Malone said pre-game.

He said human nature becomes a factor, and teams inevitably let their guard down against lottery-bound teams.

“… These games scare the hell out of me,” he said.

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Timberwolves’ offensive outburst continues in shootout win over Brooklyn

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Timberwolves’ offensive outburst continues in shootout win over Brooklyn

The Timberwolves’ formula for success has shifted over the past couple weeks.

A team that used its defense to stay afloat amid offensive struggles for the first half of the season is slowly reverting back to the form it showed at the end of last season — all offense, few stops.

And when you have as much offensive talent as Minnesota possesses, that can be enough on a lot of nights, as it was Sunday.

The Timberwolves outscored Brooklyn 136-125 to win at Target Center.

Minnesota has the best offensive rating in the NBA since Jan. 3. It’s won games with offense and a high-degree of shot making. Sunday was no different.

Anthony Edwards finished with 25 points on four triples. D’Angelo Russell added 23 points and 10 assists.

Minnesota shot 52 percent from the floor, 44 percent from 3-point range and went 26 for 31 from the free-throw line.

That was more than enough firepower to stave off Brooklyn — another of the League’s top offenses. The Nets themselves shot 51 percent from the floor and 40 percent from deep, led by 30 points from Kyrie Irving. The Wolves have had defensive slippage of late, but it’s been masked by their offensive aptitude.

Minnesota has scored 108-plus points in each of its last eight games. It’s gone over 119 points in six of those contests, and Sunday marked the third time it cleared 130 points in that stretch.

The offense that was so far behind the defense at the season’s outset — which Timberwolves coach Chris Finch has attributed to the shear amount of attention paid to the defense in training camp — has now caught up and passed the other end of the floor. The Wolves now more closely resemble the team everyone expected at the start of the season.

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