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Killed at Pearl Harbor, Navy sailor's remains identified decades later

More than 76 years after he died on the USS Oklahoma, Navy Fireman 1st Class Frank E. Nicoles of Eau Claire was accounted for.

But none of his siblings who also served in World War II — brothers John and William and sister Jean — were still alive to see Eau Claire’s first casualty of the war identified.

“It’s been a long time,” said Brad Venaas, adjutant of American Legion Post 53, also known as the Johnson-Nicoles-Kuhlman-Olson Post 53 in recognition of Eau Claire war casualties William C. Johnson, killed in World War I; Nicoles; Roger R. Kuhlman, killed in the Korean War; and Rodney J. Olson, killed in the Vietnam War.

The post recognized its four namesakes Saturday with ceremonies at Johnson’s, Kuhlman’s and Olson’s graves. (Johnson and Kuhlman are buried in Eau Claire, and Olson’s final resting place is in Rest Haven Cemetery in the town of Washington.)

Not wanting to leave Nicoles out, the post ordered a wreath and requested the National Park Service lay it last week in Hawaii.

“If we were going to do three, we decided we were going to do all four,” said Venaas, whose late father, Burton, served during World War II.

Until May 5, 2018, Nicoles was unaccounted for. But even after his remains were identified, Venaas didn’t know about it until he began researching the late sailor.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the day that will forever live in infamy, Nicoles was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island at Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base near Honolulu.

Just before 8 a.m. that Sunday morning, Japanese planes descended in a surprise attack. The 27,500-ton USS Oklahoma, commissioned in 1916, sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to capsize quickly, trapping hundreds of men below the battleship’s decks.

However, more than 2,400 people, including U.S. servicemembers and civilians, died that day. Of those, 1,177 were from the USS Arizona, and 429, including Nicoles, were from the USS Oklahoma.

Nicoles’ brother John, also serving on the USS Oklahoma, survived.

According to information released by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency:

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the USS Oklahoma’s deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uana cemeteries.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. At its end, approximately 79,000 were unaccounted for. (Currently, there are more than 72,000 still unaccounted for, and approximately 26,000 of those have been assessed as possibly-recoverable.)

In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.

Lab staff were only able to confirm the identities of 35 men from the Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl.

In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified, including Nicoles, as non-recoverable.

More than six decades later, the deputy secretary of the defense issued a policy memorandum in April 2015 directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15 of that year, DPPA personnel began exhuming the remains for analysis.

To identify Nicoles’ remains, scientists from DPPA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA and dental analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.

He is one of the more than 200 dead from the USS Oklahoma who have been identified so far, according to Gene Hughes, a public affairs specialist with Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs. His surviving family members didn’t want to talk to the media.

Nicoles’ name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WW II. A rosette has been placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Having spent 28 years working for the Eau Claire Police Department, Venaas isn’t surprised Nicoles’ remains have finally been identified in part because of DNA.

“I think a lot of (identifying the unaccounted for) depends on if their families were willing to give samples,” he said.

Nicoles enlisted on Jan. 24, 1940, according to information shared by Hughes. From there, he went to the Naval Training Station Great Lakes in Illinois, and he reported to the USS Oklahoma on March 23, 1940.

He was awarded the Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal and American Defense Service Medal.


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AP
Judge: Anheuser-Busch must pull some ads about MillerCoors

MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin judge has ordered Anheuser-Busch to stop suggesting in advertising that MillerCoors’ light beers contain corn syrup, wading into a fight between two beer giants that are losing market share to small independent brewers.

U.S. District Judge William Conley for the Western District of Wisconsin on Friday granted a preliminary injunction sought by MillerCoors that temporarily stops Anheuser-Busch from using the words “corn syrup” in ads without giving more context.

MillerCoors sued its rival in March, saying St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch has spent as much as $30 million on a “false and misleading” campaign, including $13 million in its first commercials during this year’s Super Bowl.

However, the ruling did not affect all of Anheuser-Busch’s advertising targeting MillerCoors, allowing the commercials that premiered at the Super Bowl to keep airing.

Anheuser-Busch’s ad drew a rebuke from the National Corn Growers Association, which thanked MillerCoors for its support. In its lawsuit, MillerCoors said it’s “not ashamed of its use of corn syrup as a fermentation aid.”

Corn syrup is used by several brewers during fermentation. During that process, corn syrup is broken down and consumed by yeast so that none of it remains in the final product. Bud Light is brewed with rice instead of corn syrup, but Anheuser-Busch uses corn syrup in some of its other beverages, including Stella Artois Cidre and Busch Light beer.

MillerCoors applauded the ruling and said Anheuser-Busch should be trying to grow the beer market, not “destroy it through deceptive advertising.”

“We are pleased with today’s ruling that will force Anheuser-Busch to change or remove advertisements that were clearly designed to mislead the American public,” said MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley.

Anheuser Busch, however, called the ruling a “victory for consumers” because it allows the brand’s “Special Delivery” Super Bowl ad to continue airing.

That ad showed a medieval caravan pushing a huge barrel of corn syrup to castles for MillerCoors to make Miller Lite and Coors Light. The commercial states that Bud Light isn’t brewed with corn syrup. Anheuser Busch said the ad would air as early as this weekend.

“As the number one selling beer in the U.S., Bud Light remains committed to leading the alcohol industry by providing more transparency for consumers including letting them know about the ingredients that are used to brew their beer,” said Cesar Vargas, Anheuser-Busch vice president of legal and corporate affairs.

Judge Conley ordered Anheuser Busch to temporarily stop using advertisements that mention corn syrup without references to “brewed with,” ‘’made with” or “uses,” or that describe corn syrup as an ingredient in the finished products.

The ruling affects two Bud Light commercials and billboards that describe Bud Light as containing “100 percent less corn syrup” than Miller Lite and Coors Light.

Anheuser Busch said those ads are no longer up and the company had no plans to continue using them.

Judge Conley also denied an Anheuser Busch motion to dismiss the case, saying it was likely to succeed in proving misleading statements and some harm to the reputation of MillerCoors.

Chicago-based MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch have the biggest U.S. market share at 24.8 percent and 41.6 percent, respectively, but they’ve been losing business in recent years to smaller independent brewers, imports, and wine and spirits, according to the Brewers Association.

MillerCoors maintains Anheuser-Busch is preying on health conscious consumers who have negative connotations of corn syrup, sometimes confusing it with the high-fructose corn syrup in sodas.

The feud threatens to disrupt an alliance between the two companies to work on a campaign to promote the beer industry amid declining sales.


News
AP
State abortion bans may influence 2020 elections

WASHINGTON — A flood of laws banning abortions in Republican-run states has handed Democrats a political weapon heading into next year’s elections, helping them paint the GOP as extreme and court centrist voters who could decide congressional races in swing states, members of both parties say.

The Alabama law outlawing virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, is the strictest so far. Besides animating Democrats, the law has prompted President Donald Trump, other Republican leaders and lawmakers seeking reelection next year to distance themselves from the measure.

Their reaction underscores that Republicans have risked overplaying their hand with severe state laws that they hope will prod the Supreme Court, with its ascendant conservative majority, to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. It also illustrates the way that those statutes are forcing the GOP to struggle over how to satisfy its core anti-abortion supporters without alienating the vast majority of voters averse to strictly curbing abortion.

The Alabama law is “a loser for Republican candidates in Colorado, without question, and in many other swing parts of the country, because it’s extreme,” David Flaherty, a Colorado-based Republican consultant who’s worked on congressional races around the country. “It’s only going to widen the gender gap.”

Brian Fitzpatrick, a Vanderbilt Law School professor and former aide to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said there are many “women, moderate women who are going to be scared that this right that they thought they had for the last 40-some years is going to be shelved” and they will be motivated to vote.

GOP Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine, both seeking reelection next year, said the Alabama ban goes too far by eliminating exceptions for pregnancies involving rape or incest. A 2005 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, which backs abortion rights, found about 1% of women said they had abortions because of rape or incest.

Democrats see the statutes as a way to weave a broader message about Republicans.

“You use it as an example of what they do when they’re unchecked,” said Rep. A. Donald McEachin, D-Va., a leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ campaign organization. “I think it drives moderate Republicans away from their party.”

Democratic presidential contenders are competing to lambast the Alabama law, which allows exceptions when the mother’s health is endangered. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called it an “existential threat to the human rights of women,” while former Vice President Joe Biden said GOP hopes of striking down Roe v. Wade are “pernicious and we have to stop it.”

Campaign Facebook and Twitter accounts of Democrats seeking reelection next year, such as Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, are littered with posts attacking the harsh restrictions. “The people of Alabama deserve to be on the #rightsideofhistory — not the side of extremists,” Jones tweeted.

Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted or neared approval of measures barring abortion once there’s a detectable fetal heartbeat, which can occur in the sixth week of pregnancy, before a woman may know she is pregnant. Missouri lawmakers approved an eight-week ban.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that of the 638,000 abortions it tallied in 2015, almost two-thirds were performed within the first eight weeks of pregnancy. About 1% were performed during or after the 21st week.

Spotlighting the perilous political territory Republicans are navigating, an April poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that Americans support Roe v. Wade by 2-1. A Gallup poll last year found that 57% of adults who described themselves “pro-life” nonetheless said abortion should be legal if the pregnancy results from rape or incest.

The focus on the state measures has also stolen GOP momentum on abortion. Until now, congressional Republicans had spent much of this year forcing Democrats onto the defensive, goading them into blocking bills aimed at curbing the rare abortions performed late in pregnancies and misleadingly accusing them of supporting infanticide.

“Obviously, the attention has shifted,” said Sarah Chamberlain, president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, which represents dozens of moderate GOP lawmakers. She said while her group doesn’t think Democrats’ focus on the harsh laws has gained traction, “We are talking about that and how it’s going to play in our districts.”

Some Republicans say the Democratic drive will have minimal impact because the abortion issue drives relatively few voters from each party. Others say GOP candidates should accuse Democrats of extremism by opposing bills restricting abortions late in pregnancy and, if they wish, cite their support for exempting rape and incest victims.

Democrats have “never seen an abortion they don’t like,” said David O’Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee.

Added Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm: “We’re not Alabama state representatives, we’re United States senators. And each of us has to make our positions known.”

Yet the laws have generated energy among abortion-rights groups, which held more than 500 demonstrations and other events this past week. “We will power this movement into 2020. There will be political consequences,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., distanced themselves early last week from the Alabama statute. They were joined Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who told The Associated Press, “My position remains unchanged for 25 years. I’m opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother” being in jeopardy.