|Readers write: Letters to the editor, September 26, 2017AlaskaDispatch / 7 h. 50 min. ago more|
Please, Lisa, save the ACAPlease Sen. Murkowski, help your constituents!Vote no to repeal ACA. Once again we are worried about the future of the ACA. Please protect us from those who want to take away our health care. I beg you to vote against repeal. I am a Democrat and you have made me proud to be an Alaskan. I will vote for you if you protect our families, our health care, and our lives. Please make me proud to be American again.— Jessica Audrey Barnes Anchorage'Roadless rule' benefits us allAs the Dispatch News reported Friday, a federal judge has thrown out all of the state's challenges to the landmark "roadless rule" protecting undeveloped wildlands in national forests. That's very good news for Alaskans, especially in the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.Those "roadless area" watersheds, scientists say, are key to sustaining healthy salmon runs. They also harbor some of the region's best deer habitat, making them important for subsistence users and sport hunters alike. And they furnish great recreational opportunities for commercial outfitters as well as residents — making them places we all enjoy, and benefit from keeping roadless and wild.Southeast Alaskans in particular have moved on from the days of ripping up our forests and shipping out the logs: today, fishing and tourism are overwhelmingly where it's at for Southeast's economy. The roadless rule the judge upheld allows for connector roads between communities and to hydro sites, as well as utility interties. The rest of the country and the public at large have long since bought into the roadless rule and are enjoying its benefits — including lots less conflict over logging.Hopefully Gov. Walker — who didn't initiate the case — will see where the state's best interests lie and accept the judge's very well-reasoned verdict as it stands. It's time to put this controversy behind us once and for all.— Meredith Trainor JuneauChoose ANWR over oilWhat makes Alaska special is undoubtedly the rare and unspoiled wilderness that remains to support our connection to this earth's fragile and crumbling ecosystem. To read that we are still in this decades-old arm wrestle over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is distressing. It blows my mind to think that we would want to tarnish one of the last great wilderness areas of our world, when it is home to some of our most beloved wildlife and a lifeline to the indigenous people. There is no other place like this in the world and I hope to one day be able to visit. More importantly, I hope that future generations will be able to see the refuge with the same awe and wonder that people of today are able to experience.Sen. Murkowski needs to recognize that Alaskans value our nature and renewable resources. Rather than causing irreversible damage to our land for the limited and short-term gains of a phasing-out resource, we need to plan for the long term and look at the bigger picture. I believe that Alaska has the ability to be innovative and break the cycle of dependence on oil. Choosing oil is settling. Choosing oil is a cop out. We can do better.— Su Chon AnchorageThe views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to email@example.com.
|Police exchange gunfire with robbery suspects in South Anchorage pursuitAlaskaDispatch / 8 h. 19 min. ago more|
Two men suspected of armed robbery Monday morning were in police custody after at least one fired at officers from an SUV during an attempted stop near the Costco on Dimond Boulevard, a police spokesman said.Shots were exchanged between the suspects and police in a "chaotic" encounter that led to a pursuit as the suspects fled the area but soon returned, only to be nabbed in a police blockade, said police spokesman MJ Thim.The SUV the suspects were driving crashed into trees near the main Dimond entrance to the warehouse store.Shortly before noon, the area was littered with glass and a fallen street light that had been hit by a police cruiser. The only known injury in Monday's incident was suffered by the police officer who hit the street light. His injury was minor, Thim said.Thim said it was fortunate no passers-by were hurt during the shooting or the chase, which included the SUV driving the wrong way on multiple streets.Police said they got two calls about armed robberies: one at a Caffe D'Arte drive-thru at Boniface Parkway and DeBarr Road and the other at the Heavenly Cup coffee stand at 8710 Lake Otis Parkway. The first robbery, at Caffe D'Arte, occurred shortly before 8:30 a.m., police said. The second came about one hour later, Thim said.A man on a bicycle wearing a hoodie and aviator sunglasses, brandishing a gun, was reported to have robbed both shops, Thim said. The man reportedly loaded the bike into the SUV and escaped, Thim said.Lori Brewer, owner of Caffe D'arte, said a man on a bike came up to the stand around 8 or 8:30 a.m. and held a gun up to the open window. Brewer said she wasn't there, but two employees, both women, were working at the time.[In a coffee cart town, abduction makes baristas' vulnerability real]"The employees totally followed procedure," Brewer said. "The main thing is, give them the money and step completely out of sight."She wouldn't say how much money was taken, but that the amount "was very minimal" because most people pay with cards."Our city obviously has a problem with crime right now," Brewer said, "and I feel like the espresso stands are doing a lot to make sure their teams are safe."Marcie DeAvilla, owner of the Heavenly Cup, said a man attempted to rob the coffee shop but was unsuccessful. Thim was not available to answer questions Monday afternoon about the discrepancy between what police reported and what DeAvilla said.A worker at the window, seeing a "pretty sketchy" man rolling up on a bike, was cautious, DeAvilla said. The employee saw the man reaching inside his jacket and saw a gun in a holster.The worker warned another employee and they ducked out of sight behind a counter, DeAvilla said. The employees, also both women, called police for help, she said.Security video showed the man trying to remove the gun from the holster. He was not successful and left on the bike, she said."He took no money, nothing," DeAvilla said.DeAvilla said criminal activity has increased this year at her shops. Another Heavenly Cup drive-through at Minnesota Drive and Spenard Road has suffered two overnight break-ins this year, and was held up in January, she said.The two suspects in Monday's incident, both uninjured, were in police custody and being questioned. Thim would not provide their names Monday.Police believe the robberies and shooting were not associated with other recent crimes, said Thim.Police were also shot at Thursday night in another pursuit that ended in a stolen SUV being stopped at Ninth Avenue and L Street downtown. A man and woman were taken into custody in that incident, including the alleged driver, Alexander S. Lemana, 23. A third suspect escaped.[APD: Shots fired at officers during attempt to halt stolen SUV]
|Senate GOP effort to unwind the ACA collapsesAlaskaDispatch / 8 h. 22 min. ago more|
WASHINGTON — The latest Republican effort to unwind the Affordable Care Act collapsed on Monday as a third GOP senator announced her opposition and left the proposal short of the votes needed to pass.While one top Republican senator held out the possibility that the Senate might still vote on the bill, others accepted the reality that the push had sputtered out after Sen. Susan Collins R-Maine, joined two of her colleagues in formal opposition."Everybody knows that's going to fail," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch R-Utah, who led a raucous, five-hour hearing on the bill Monday afternoon. "You don't have one Democrat vote for it. So it's going to fail."Monday's developments amounted to a massive setback to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and President Donald Trump, who spent the past week trying to rally support for a last-ditch attempt to fulfill a seven-year Republican promise. The effort lost much of its steam in the last four days, as it became clear that the new proposal had not resolved the same disagreements that had plagued Republicans in the failed July push.Collins, R-Maine, announced that she could not back the measure – which would redistribute federal health-care funding across the country and sharply curb spending on Medicaid – moments after a much-anticipated Congressional Budget Office analysis forecast that "millions" of Americans would lose coverage by 2026 if it was enacted.Two GOP senators – Rand Paul, Ky., and John McCain, Ariz. – had already come out against the bill, even after a new draft emerged Monday morning. Republicans hold a 52-to-48 advantage in the Senate and can lose only two votes from their party and still pass legislation with the help of a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Pence.A fourth Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas, indicated through his aides Monday that he could not back the bill in its current form because it does not go far enough in repealing the 2010 law.Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn R-Texas, did not rule out the possibility of holding a Senate vote on the proposal despite clear signs that the bill did not have sufficient votes to pass. Many Republicans feel pressure from voters to keep pushing to repeal the ACA before moving on to other issues."There are a lot of people who want to vote yes and be recorded as voting yes," Cornyn said, adding that the Republican conference would decide the matter Tuesday, when they will meet for the first time since leaving for recess last week. "I think there is some advantage to showing you're trying and doing the best you can."Neither a series of last-minute changes over the weekend nor the CBO's preliminary analysis had managed to shift any votes in the bill's favor. If anything, the CBO report worsened the bill's chances by noting that it was impossible to forecast the number of Americans likely to lose coverage but that "the direction of the effect is clear." The report also estimated a $1 trillion loss of federal funding for Medicaid by 2026.Collins delivered a scathing assessment of the bill in a statement, saying the fourth version that the senators had produced in an effort to win new votes "is as deeply flawed as the previous iterations."Speaking to reporters Monday evening, the senator said the administration had lobbied her hard to endorse the bill – and she received a call from the president himself before the CBO score was announced."I told him that I would go back and look at the numbers one more time, but I was straightforward with him that I was not likely to be a yes vote," she said, adding the process has been too hasty. "Last night, a whole new bill came out, which to me epitomizes the problem."Speaking on the Senate floor Monday, McConnell thanked Cassidy and Graham but suggested that their work had stalled out. He thanked other lawmakers and committees of jurisdiction, as one might do at the official conclusion of a legislative push."I'd like to thank each of these committees, their chairs, their members and their staffs for their hard work to provide the American people with a better way than Obamacare and its years of failures," McConnell said.The legislation's sponsors had rewritten the bill to deliver more money to Alaska and Maine than the original version, in the hopes of winning over Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, another key GOP centrist.The contentious debate erupted into public view Monday afternoon as protesters chanted so loudly at the hearing's outset that Hatch was forced to temporarily adjourn as police officers arrested and removed several of them."No cuts to Medicaid! Save our liberty!" screamed one woman in a wheelchair as she was wheeled out.Sen. Ron Wyden, Ore., the top Democrat on the panel, questioned why Republicans were rushing to pass a measure this week that was just having its first hearing, and one which he considered "a lemon.""Nobody has to buy a lemon, just because it's the last car on the lot," Wyden said.The rush to rewrite the bill was so frenetic that Cassidy posted two separate bills on his website Monday morning. "The last version was just correcting drafting errors," Cassidy told the Finance Committee.Unlike earlier GOP proposals to repeal the ACA, Senate leaders have remained one step removed from the process. Asked whether any staffers outside his own had been involved in making changes to the bill over the weekend, Cassidy declined to answer.While the figures in the revised bill draft aimed to ease concerns of several key senators, there was no indication that the sponsors had abandoned their plan to make steep cuts to Medicaid through a per capita cap.Such a move would end up cutting federal funding by tens of billions of dollars by 2026 and would mean that even with another carve-out for Alaska elsewhere in the bill, the state may end up losing money. And other states will still be hit hard.Graham, who spoke quickly and intensely in support of the bill's approach before the Senate panel Monday, said it reflected his trust in politicians who have more direct interaction with their constituents."My goal is to get the money and power out of Washington, closer to where people live," he said.But even Trump expressed skepticism Monday about the bill's chances of passage, blaming McCain and Collins for its expected demise in an interview on the "Rick & Bubba Show," an Alabama-based syndicated radio program.McCain came out against the measure Friday, arguing that Republicans should work with Democrats to produce a bill that can attract wider support."You can call it what you want, but that's the only reason we don't have it, because of John McCain," Trump said of efforts to repeal the 2010 health-care law, adding later, "Looks like Susan Collins and some others will vote against. So we're going to lose two or three votes, and that's the end of that."Democrats, for their part, continued to rail against the measure during the Senate hearing. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., was especially animated during his remarks, raising his voice as he questioned the motivations of Republican senators."Why are we here, colleagues, making matters worse?" he asked.Cruz made it clear over the weekend that he had grave reservations. On a Monday call with reporters, his aides said that the senator had moved from yes to no after learning that the bill would not include the "consumer freedom" changes he had wanted from the start.Republican leaders could call on Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to revive negotiations with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on a bipartisan package to would stabilize the current insurance marketplaces. The pair appeared to be reaching an agreement on a plan to guarantee subsidies to help cover out-of-pocket expenses for low-income people in exchange for limited waivers to give states more flexibility in how they spend that money. Those talks stalled when Alexander stepped aside to allow leaders to focus on winning votes for Cassidy-Graham.Many Republicans, however, oppose legislation to approve the subsidies without reforming the ACA insurance market."If you mean by fixing Obamacare just dishing more money out to insurance companies, then no," Cornyn said.Upon returning to the committee room Monday evening, Hatch declared that he would allow only one more round of questions given the Cassidy-Graham bill's predicament."Let's face it, we're not getting anywhere," he remarked.—The Washington Post's Kelsey Snell, Paige Winfield Cunningham, Amy Goldstein, Elise Viebeck and Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.
|A glacier dam bursts and creates minor flooding on the KenaiAlaskaDispatch / 9 h. 24 min. ago more|
A glacier dam that gave way around Sept. 19 at Snow River on the Kenai Peninsula is causing minor flooding and challenging Kenai River sport fishermen who otherwise could be pulling in one rainbow trout after another.The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning that it extended on Monday for Kenai Lake and the Kenai River from Cooper Landing to Skilak Lake. It is in effect until 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.The phenomenon is called a jökulhlaups, an Icelandic term for a flood that suddenly bursts from a glacier.On the Kenai, water builds up behind Snow Glacier at the headwaters of the Snow River until finally it breaks through, usually every two years, according to the National Weather Service. Melt water flows in tunnels through the glacier until ice plugs give way. The lake drains like a bathtub through the conduits into Snow River and eventually the Kenai."What is impressive is the regularity of these things," weather service meteorologist Eric Holloway said in an email. The glacier functions like a dam without man-operated controls.The flooding is minor, covering boat ramps and some roads. Some driveways, outbuildings and a crawlspace have flooded, National Weather Service hydrologist Crane Johnson said. But the agency doesn't have reports of flooded main houses. Two weather service employees went to the Kenai to assess the situation.A photo taken Sept. 19 shows the icy lake waters just before release.The state Department of Transportation closed the road to Primrose Campground, a U.S. Forest Service facility on Primrose Creek at the edge of Kenai Lake, because of flooding.The Kenai River is running fast and high, making it hard for sport fishermen and their guides to reel in the rainbow trout and Dolly Varden that usually are so abundant in fall, said Andy Wallace, operations manager at Kenai River Drifter's Lodge in Cooper Landing."Fishing has been brutal," Wallace said. "It's tough to fish when it's high water. … They are pushed up into the trees."Guides drift in boats with clients down the river, then row back up. When the river is running more normally, a person can pull in 50 catch-and-release trout a day, he said. But in water that's fast, high and murky, even the guides have been unable to hook fish, he said.The lodge itself is up high and safe from flooding but boat ramps are under water, he said.Jim's Landing, off Skilak Lake Road, is a steep dirt ramp that and now the drop off for someone on foot is extreme, Wallace said."You go out and you are up to your neck immediately," he said.The lodge usually uses the boat ramp at the Sterling Highway bridge across Kenai Lake, the headwaters. The water there was above the rock barriers that protect the banks of the Kenai River from erosion. A boat trailer being backed in was completely underwater, he said.Snow River itself is no longer flooding. Kenai Lake crested Sunday, and the National Weather Service expects levels to slowly fall this week.The area from Skilak Lake to Cooper Landing as of Monday remained above minor flood stage as the slug of high water moves through.At the peak, 16,900 cubic feet of water every second was moving through Cooper Landing, according to the Weather Service.Typically about 6,000 cubic feet a second move through, said Wallace, who monitors the river levels and flow.
|Here are steps employers can take to protect employees and customers from workplace violenceAlaskaDispatch / 9 h. 29 min. ago more|
On Sunday, Sept. 10, a single minute after an intruder arrived at Anchorage's Aurora Paint, the owner was shot in the head. Three days later, police found three men dead at an Anchorage precious-metals shop."Every employer that has not experienced workplace violence," says workplace consultant Richard Birdsall, "thinks it could never happen to them." Except when it does — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace homicides are on the rise, and "after planning" comes too late.If you're an employer who wants to protect your employees, your customers and yourself, what do you need to know and do?2 minutesIf you don't plan ahead to handle an incident, you leave your workplace and employees at risk. The average active shooter incident lasts less than two minutes — an agonizingly long time if you're confronted by violence, but far too short to allow your employees to plan how to handle the shooter unless they've pre-planned. Sixty percent of all shooting incidents end before the police arrive.According to HR consultant Scott Stender, who has more than two decades of law enforcement experience, including a stint as director of public safety at the City of Sand Point and three years as a SWAT team tactical commander, "Employers need to arm themselves and their employees with an emergency action plan that incorporates external and internal threat assessment. If they then train their staff and conduct timed drills, they greatly increase their employees' and customers' chances of survival."As just one step, employers need to orient employees with a response plan for "run, hide or fight" based on their company's physical layout.See through 'bad guy eyes'Do you walk by an unlocked car full of valuables without thinking of stealing? According to Birdsall, "If you want to protect yourself or your company from violence, you have to look at your workplace as a criminal might. Criminals see an unlocked car as an invitation. They're opportunists." So, take a step back and view your actions and workplace as a bad guy might and do whatever you can to eliminate vulnerabilities. The suspect allegedly walked into Aurora Paint's open side door. If one of your employees is the only one in the building and her solo car in the parking lot signals that fact, she needs the protection of a locked door.Based on his nine years in law enforcement, Birdsall recommends eliminating these opportunities:• Darkness presents opportunities for criminals to hide. What changes can you make when it comes to the parking lot and external lighting?• Safety increases with the number of eyes on deck. Are your employees arranged in positions of over-watch, or is everyone positioned with their backs to the public?• Do the employees present themselves as prepared and aware, or unprepared and complacent?• How secure are your doors, windows and high-value items? What do your windows showcase?• The cost of security cameras is low compared to their deterrence value.Listen to your employeesDo you have a forum that invites employees to share their concerns if they notice a co-worker's strange behavior? Do your employees feel comfortable letting a senior manager or the HR officer know if they've requested a restraining order against someone they consider dangerous? Once employees voice their concerns, do you listen and act? Have you trained your supervisors to document and report all violent and potentially violent acts? Does your HR officer or a third-party consultant immediately investigate when an employee threatens violence or acts out in an abnormally aggressive manner?According to Birdsall, multiple danger signals preceded seven of the eight workplace killings that have occurred thus far in 2017. In other words, some of those deaths could have been prevented.
|Anchorage property crime rates are rising, but they’ve been worseAlaskaDispatch / 9 h. 44 min. ago more|
Reported property crimes in Anchorage, including vehicle theft and burglary, rose sharply last year, but did not hit the peaks they reached in the 1980s and early 1990s.Crime data released by the FBI Monday and by the Alaska Department of Public Safety earlier this month includes new statistics for 2016 on property crimes reported to the Anchorage Police Department.The data is part of a yearly effort to track crime in every state known as the Uniform Crime Report. Researchers caution that it is far from perfect, but it represents the most complete, available and up-to-date measure of how much crime is reported in cities around the country.At a time when business owners, lawmakers, community councils and everyday residents of Alaska's largest city are filling meetings and online forums with their frustrations over the perception of a citywide crime wave, the numbers illustrate the long view of how crimes of theft have ebbed and flowed over 30 years in Anchorage.Such data is valuable for the story it tells about fluctuations of crime over time, said Anchorage Police Department Deputy Chief Sean Case.The big takeaway: Property crime rates have been on the rise in several categories for years. In most cases, rates are rebounding from all-time lows reached in the mid-2000s and early 2010s.[Violent crime in U.S. increased in 2016, Justice Department says]And theft rates were much higher 20 or 30 years ago — when Anchorage had a smaller population — than they are today.The data comes from information reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation through the Alaska Department of Public Safety. Brad Myrstol, a University of Alaska Anchorage professor and director of the Alaska Justice Information Center compiled the data and helped interpret it.There's one very important caveat about the data, said Myrstol: It represents crimes reported to the Anchorage Police Department but does not reveal anything of which cases were ultimately prosecuted or led to convictions. Some categories of crime are under-reported, Myrstol said.Burglary rates per 100,000 people were highest in 1985 and bottomed out in 2011. They've been rising ever since. Case said police have seen a clear link between increases in burglaries and vehicle thefts: "We see stolen vehicles used in commission of a burglary," he said.Motor vehicle thefts in Anchorage hit an all-time high around 1994, just before crime rates in Alaska and nationally began to fall. The APD is looking at factors that may have driven that spike for insights into the current wave of vehicle thefts, said Case. Reported thefts also hit a low in 2011. A pronounced rise began in 2015.Shoplifting reports in Anchorage spiked in the late 1980s, tumbled down and hit a low around 2004. Reports actually fell from 2015 to 2016. Whether that's because fewer people are shoplifting or business owners aren't reporting it as often is unclear.Larceny theft rates haven't seen highs and lows as dramatic as some other property crime categories. But they too hit highs in the late 1980s and mid 1990s in Anchorage, falling until around 2004 and then modestly rebounding. Rates increased between 2015 and 2016.What the data does not begin to answer is questions about the drivers of crime, or how police should best tackle it, said Sean Case, the deputy police chief."The number itself, though interesting, does not tell me where to put police officers, or if I should change my investigative strategy," he said. "There's a narrative that goes along with that data, and it's extremely labor intensive to figure out what that narrative is."What's does Case think is the narrative behind Anchorage's current unfolding crime?"The connection for us is drugs and property crimes," said Case. "Drug and property crime usually leads to violent crime. But there's always drugs involved somehow," Case said.
|Anchorage man sent to prison for 64 years after sexual rampageAlaskaDispatch / 9 h. 48 min. ago more|
An Anchorage man with a killing in his long-ago past has been sentenced to 64 years in prison for what authorities described as a bizarre sexual and violent rampage three years ago.Travis Felder, 43, was convicted by a jury in March after a 17-day trial of nine offenses including first-degree assault and sexual assault.Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton factored in Felder's prior criminal history, including prior assaults, a drug offense and manslaughter, according to the Anchorage District Attorney's Office.The chain of events underlying the current case happened on June 18, 2014. Police said at the time they believed that Felder was high on drugs, possible methamphetamine, during his crime spree.A woman called Anchorage police to say she had been raped and beaten by her ex-boyfriend, Felder. She had been sleeping in a storage unit on Gambell Street and was attacked there, she told police. Felder fled the area wearing a black bra and women's Capri pants, police said at the time.He entered one home without permission and laid on the bed, but left when the homeowner agreed to give him a ride.Then around 10:20 a.m. the same day, police heard from another homeowner. A man had broken into his home in the Eastridge subdivision where the homeowner and his wife, both in their mid-60s, were watching their young grandson.The suspect, wearing only a black bra and later identified as Felder, began masturbating, police said. When the residents confronted him, he hit the woman in the jaw, causing her to fall, and kicked her husband in the chest, police said. They got away with the child. Police arrived to find Felder dressed in the homeowner's pajamas."It was a hard-fought trial," Anchorage District Attorney Clint Campion said. Assistant District Attorney John Darnall tried the case.In 1992, Felder was sentenced to 17 years in prison after accidentally shooting his accomplice as they tried to collect a drug debt.On Monday, Wolverton sentenced Felder to 47 years for the attack on his ex-girlfriend and another 17 years for what happened in the couple's home. The wife suffered serious injury, prosecutors said.Felder will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
|We have unleashed a torrent of wordsAlaskaDispatch / 9 h. 59 min. ago more|
About 500 years after the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg, and with the emergence of computers and the internet in the 20th and 21st centuries, human beings have become amazingly wordy, perhaps annoyingly so.I was contemplating my own output during a 40-year career as a writer and editor in the oil industry. I came up with about 6 million words. That is based on a rather prodigious output of about 3,000 words per week. Scribing articles for newsletters and other publications over four decades, I recall many weeks in which I exceeded that volume.Compare this to Shakespeare's word count of 884,421, encapsulated in his major works, including all his plays. But this is akin to comparing apples to oranges — quantity versus quality — and there is no comparison. Millions of people across the world will forever recall Hamlet's phrase, "to be or not to be, that is the question," while my semi-technical description of how an extended-reach oil well is drilled faded from readers' memories faster than paint dries.With our computers' word processing and storage functions we've become incredibly efficient in racking up the words. Best-selling author Stephen King, for example, has published about 8 million words in his 57 novels, and that doesn't include earlier, unpublished drafts.[Internet allows us to live in bubbles with blinders on]Tom Clancy's seven best-selling novels contain about 2 million words. The daily newspaper New York Times prints an average 150,000 words per day. In a year that would amount to about 54.8 million words. How many people read all of this, let alone digest it?Meanwhile, the second edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains only 171,476 words!Yet in this sundry barrage of words, there are a few American authors who achieved fame with considerably less of them, found in a single novel. For example, J.D. Salinger, "The Catcher in the Rye;" Margaret Mitchell, "Gone with the Wind;" and Harper Lee, "To Kill a Mockingbird."Reading speedometerOver time humans' reading speed has not increased appreciably, even though some people achieve positive results with practice and training. According to one website, readingsoft.com, super-speed readers can achieve 1,000 words per minute with about 85 percent comprehension. But that only represents 1 percent of the human population. The average reading speed, the site indicates, is closer to 200-250 words per minute, with about 60 percent comprehension.I once thought the Encyclopedia Britannica was quite vast, with its 44 million words within 32 volumes. It pales to what is on today's internet, which contains astounding repositories of exabytes, zettabytes and other terms I find incomprehensible.On one website, I read that the storage capacity of the internet is 10^24 bytes, or 1 million exabytes. A byte is a data unit comprising 8 bits, and is equal to a single character in one of the words you're now reading. An exabyte is 1 billion billion bytes. The website also says there are more than 1 billion websites on today's internet.One way to estimate the communication capacity of the internet, the website indicates, is to measure the traffic moving through it. According to Cisco's Visual Networking Index initiative, the internet is now in the "zettabyte era." A zettabyte equals 1 sextillion bytes, or 1,000 exabytes. By the end of 2016, global internet traffic reached 1.1 zettabytes per year, according to Cisco. By 2019, global traffic is expected to hit 2 zettabytes per year.One zettabyte is the equivalent of 36,000 years of high-definition video, which, in turn, is the equivalent of streaming Netflix's entire catalog 3,177 times.[Attack on words reflects mob mentality]I have no idea how many words reside in the Library of Congress's 16 million books, which I believe have all been digitized, or at least are in that process.So now, Stephen King's 8 million words and my 6 million and Tom Clancy's 2 million don't seem nearly as overwhelming, nor does the King James Bible with its 783,137 words.Unlimited time to readI'm reminded of a 1960 "Twilight Zone" television episode in which a bad-luck character named Mr. Bevis is evicted from his home, loses his job and even wrecks his car. But he doesn't care. Bevis loves words. He just wants to be left alone so he can read books. He survives a war apocalypse and stumbles upon a huge library filled with shelf upon shelf of undamaged books. Just as he is about to embark upon an idyllic future of uninterrupted reading, he accidentally steps on his eyeglasses and destroys them.It's a tragic ending, but a story that conveys an important message: Many things in life are unexpected and transitory. Unending change is the norm.Newspapers across the country seem to be shrinking, and the Alaska Dispatch News is no exception. With a smaller staff, the paper will purvey fewer words. Maybe that's not entirely a bad thing. Compare most written works throughout history to those of William Shakespeare: quantity versus quality.From that perspective, my 6 million words don't amount to a spit in the ocean.Frank E. Baker is a lifelong Alaskan and freelance writer who lives in Eagle River.The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to email@example.com.
|Here’s how one program is trying to get every kid into a parkAlaskaDispatch / 10 h. 28 min. ago more|
PORTAGE — Esha Yang, 9, is pressing a pair of binoculars to her eyes in hopes of being the first to spot Portage Glacier, even though she's never seen a glacier before today. Yang and her classmates from Creekside Elementary School in Anchorage are clustered around the top deck rails of the M/V Ptarmigan as it navigates Portage Lake, cruising as part of a field trip to expose fourth-graders to their public lands."Is that it?" she asks no one in particular, answering herself with a loud squeal of recognition."The glacier looks blue!"It may have been a sloppy, soggy Southcentral Alaska day, but for the 48 youngsters aboard the Ptarmigan, the rain and wind were all part of their introduction to nature and outdoor opportunities. Public land, they found out, never closes due to bad weather.Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Forest Service that supports a larger, nationwide program called Every Kid In a Park, the Anchorage Park Foundation hosted five field trips designed to enlighten, inspire, and encourage future public land use. Brendan Stuart, Schools On Trails coordinator for the foundation, spearheaded the trips to Portage in the hopes kids would be able to share their experience once they return home and perhaps return with their parents or siblings."The focus is to reach students and families who do not normally access our public lands, or get out into the wilderness areas outside of Anchorage, and provide them with an educational outdoor experience," Stuart said.She added that many of these kids – and to a larger extent their families – do not have opportunities or knowledge to access the wild, beautiful places just outside Anchorage."All Anchorage residents have a right to connect to the beauty that surrounds our city," Stuart said. "By providing a structured field trip though a school, we hope to offer an introduction to these wilderness spaces so close to the city and encourage a return trip for further adventures."Public land fees vary greatly – it might be $5 to enter a visitor center, $25 for a car and driver to enter a park, and so on. The Every Kid In a Park program provides free passes to fourth-grade students and their families for one year. The printable pass is available online for kids, parents, and educators. Lots of materials focusing on the outdoors, science, camping and public lands are available too, with a state-by-state guide helping families plan outings no matter where they live, or where they may visit in the future. Stuart said about 250 passes were handed out over the course of five Alaska field trips.Grace Lee is executive director of the National Park Trust, the organization overseeing the Every Kid In a Park program. She knows well the challenges many families face when considering outdoor activities; transportation, finances and other barriers. But many times, Lee told me, it's simply a lack of knowledge. "When families are not enjoying our parks, it is often because they think they are far away or are not kid-friendly, safe places to play," she wrote in an email. "That's why the Every Kid in a Park pass is a powerful public awareness and engagement initiative."I asked a bunch of the kids if they'd ever been to Portage before. They all said no. A few volunteered that they'd never been on a boat. I asked how many of them knew what a national park was, and if they'd ever been to one. Nobody. So I turned to class chaperone Teresa Louangsisongkham, who was busy taking photos of the glacier, and her granddaughter, Esha. Louangsisongkham recently moved from Iztapalapa, Mexico, to be closer to family and marveled at the scenery she'd seen between Anchorage and Portage."Alaska is simply breathtaking," she said, snapping another photo. "I'm just crazy about getting the grandkids outside, but I just don't know where to start finding the information of places to see close to home. I'm glad I can start here."That starting point, Lee said, doesn't need to involve long drives, camping or fancy equipment. Families can begin with simple activities like walking or riding bikes to a neighborhood park, or attending an event like Public Lands Day, held this year on Sept. 30. Teachers can play a huge role, too, she said. The Every Kid In a Park pass can be accessed by educators for up to 50 passes at a time, and includes camp directors, youth group leaders, home school coordinators and others who regularly work with grade four students (or kids age nine through 11).The Anchorage Park Foundation's effort to secure a grant for bus transportation and field trip costs is in its second year and has generated increasing interest among Anchorage's lower-income schools, with Mountain View, William Tyson, Creekside and Fairview participating this year.The students spent about an hour cruising Portage Lake before heading over to Begich, Boggs Visitor Center for lunch and a scavenger hunt among the exhibits showcasing the Portage Valley and Chugach National Forest. They listened to recordings of the calls of ravens and moose, sat in a kayak, were grossed out by ice worms and stood at the viewing windows to see bergy bits of ice floating among waves on the steely-gray lake.Stuart hopes that taking these kids, their chaperones and teachers just an hour south of Anchorage inspired interest in pursuing more outdoor activities. She shared the story of a student from another field trip."I listened to one student from Tyson Elementary, looking up at the mountains around us as we were walking back from the hike, tell his teacher hesitantly that he would like to climb on a mountain," she said. "His teacher told him, 'You are smart, active and can walk well. I see no reason why you could not do this. Ask your grandma to take you to Potter Marsh.'"Author Willa Cather said, "We come and we go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it – for a little while."Kids who explore Alaska today may grow up to be the stewards of Alaska tomorrow, and it's heartening to know so many grownups are working to inspire a lifelong, tangible love of our collective home.Every Kid In a ParkEvery Kid In a Park is a nationwide program providing free public land passes to students in grade four (or the homeschool equivalent) federally managed lands and watersvia the Every Kid In a Park website at everykidinapark.gov. Educators may print off up to 50 passes, and kids who apply individually are asked to complete a short, online activity. Each pass is individually numbered and is non-transferable, and allows the child and accompanying family members access to federally managed public lands that require entrance fees.Alaska families may want to visit the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan and Tok for a one-stop resource of all public lands in the state. Open year-round, these centers are a collaborative effort among various agencies to provide residents and visitors with everything from campsite information to great trails and parks in one's neighborhood. alaskacenters.gov.Public Lands Day is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 30, and will feature volunteer-themed activities at a number of sites around Anchorage. Find out more at on.adn.com/2wSqGHB.Erin Kirkland is author of the Alaska On the Go guidebook series and publisher of AKontheGO, a website dedicated to family travel and outdoor recreation in Alaska.
|Alaska National Guard members deploying to fight ISIS - Alaska Public Radio NetworkGoogle News / 10 h. 40 min. ago more|
Alaska Public Radio NetworkAlaska National Guard members deploying to fight ISISAlaska Public Radio NetworkAn HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard, flies during training exercises in 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton). Dozens of helicopter pilots and maintenance personnel ...and more »
|Alaska National Guard members deploying to fight ISISAlaska Public Media / 10 h. 41 min. ago more|
An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard, flies during training exercises in 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton) Dozens of helicopter pilots and maintenance personnel from Alaska’s Air National Guard are heading overseas to combat the Islamic State. Listen now The Guard announced Monday afternoon that 60 members of the 210th rescue squadron under the 176th Wing are deploying to assist in Operation Inherent Resolve, the United States’ military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The deployment will last four months, and airmen will be based in Southwest Asia. Major John Callahan, a spokesman for the National Guard in Alaska, declined to specify which country. Operation Inherent Resolve began in 2014. It involves units from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines who have conducted more than 17,000 air strikes and been part of efforts to arm and assist regional allies on the ground. The guardsmen are pilots and support crews for Pavehawk helicopters used in rescuing service-members behind enemy lines. In Alaska they regularly take part in search and rescue missions in remote and dangerous terrain. Guardsmen are set to deploy early Tuesday morning from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
|Keynote speakers announced for Elders and YouthAlaska Public Media / 10 h. 44 min. ago more|
(Dancers perform during the 2016 Elders and Youth conference in Fairbanks. Photo courtesy of the First Alaskans’ Institute) The First Alaskans Institute has announced the keynote speakers for the Elders and Youth conference just ahead of the Alaska Federation of Natives this October in Anchorage. The elder keynote address will be given by Clare Swan of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, a long-time advocate for Native fishing rights in Cook Inlet and on the Kenai Peninsula. Swan also served on the board of directors for CIRI, the regional corporation for Cook Inlet. The youth keynote speaker is Chris Agragiiq Apassingok of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. The 16-year-old gained notoriety earlier this year when he landed a harpoon strike on a whale during a successful subsistence hunt. An online backlash ensued after a radical animal rights activist criticized the teenager online, sparking national attention. First Alaskans Institute is also hosting a private dance party with Canadian First Nation’s DJ group A Tribe Called Red during the conference. It’s the group’s second time performing in Alaska. The 34th Elders and Youth conference begins October 16th.
|Alaska News Nightly: Monday, Sept. 25, 2017Alaska Public Media / 10 h. 50 min. ago more|
Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn Listen now ACA repeal bill now peppered with Alaska money to draw Murkowski Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media – Washington D.C. “There is a lot of special treatment for Alaska,” says one professor who has studied the bill. Murkowski says she can’t be “bought off.” Valdez spill response continues as Alyeska investigates cause Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage Alyeska has ruled out a mechanical failure, but isn’t ready to pinpoint human error during testing as the cause of the spill. 60 Alaska Guardsmen deploying to fight ISIS Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage Dozens of helicopter pilots and maintenance personnel from Alaska’s Air National Guard are heading overseas to combat the Islamic State. How much could electric vehicles put the brakes on Alaska’s oil economy? Elizabeth Jenkins, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Juneau As more people move away from gasoline powered cars, the big players in the oil industry have started to pay attention — and that includes Alaska. Unwanted Unalaska fishing nets find second life in Denmark Zoe Sobel, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Unalaska In Unalaska, unwanted fishing nets are everywhere. Now, for the first time, a company halfway around the world is recycling the nets. 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year nominee: Ben Walker Lori Townsend, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage Anchorage teacher Ben Walker teaches 7th grade science at Romig Middle School. Walker said teachers have very different challenges today then in past decades. Changing the way you think to stay out of prison Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage How do you change who you are when you live in a world that constantly says you’re bad? Take a lot of classes.
|Alaska News Nightly: Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 - Alaska Public Radio NetworkGoogle News / 10 h. 51 min. ago more|
Alaska Public Radio NetworkAlaska News Nightly: Monday, Sept. 25, 2017Alaska Public Radio Network“There is a lot of special treatment for Alaska,” says one professor who has studied the bill. Murkowski says she can't be “bought off.” Valdez spill response continues as Alyeska investigates cause. Elizabeth Harball, Alaska's Energy Desk – Anchorage.
|The dead whale floating in Cook Inlet has washed ashore at Kincaid ParkAlaskaDispatch / 11 h. 8 min. ago more|
The dead humpback whale that had been floating near the Port of Anchorage last week has washed ashore at Kincaid Park, drawing groups of onlookers Monday and prompting federal officials to warn the public to stay away."Marine mammals can transmit disease to humans and pets, so people should stay away, and keep their pets away from this stranded whale," said Mandy Migura of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service.It's still unclear what led to the humpback's death and where exactly it died, according to Barbara Mahoney, an Anchorage-based NOAA biologist.It's uncommon for humpback whales — dead or alive — to find their way to Upper Cook Inlet, Mahoney said.Biologists don't know whether this whale swam to Upper Cook Inlet and died or died elsewhere and the tide carried its carcass toward Anchorage.Mahoney said NOAA got a report Saturday that the whale carcass had washed ashore at Kincaid Park's beach. Last week, the same dead whale drifted with the tide from Knik Arm to around Point MacKenzie to the Port of Anchorage area.Mahoney said by the time the whale carcass reached Kincaid, it still had the orange buoy strapped to its flipper that a team from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson attached earlier in the week.[Yes, that's a dead humpback whale floating off Anchorage]She described the whale as a "sub-adult" and said she had gotten reports that it was between 25 feet and 30 feet long. It had no obvious external injuries, she said, including bruises or cuts."There are no signs of human interaction," she said.NOAA planned to have a veterinarian go to the Kincaid beach this week to examine the whale and try to determine a cause of death, Mahoney said. But since the whale died at least 10 days ago, its tissues may have deteriorated by now."It's not very fresh," she said.On Monday morning, people walked out to the beach for an up-close look at the foul-smelling whale carcass, about 500 feet from an access trail. Some poked its tongue with rocks. Others knelt to take selfies.One group said they drove about an hour from Palmer to look at the whale. A few others said they had heard about it on the news and wanted to see it for themselves, including Brandon Tusi, who said he has a penchant for whales.“They get to see a lot of the world that we don’t get to see,” he said. “They’re like a mystical creature to me.”Members of the University of Alaska Anchorage cross-country ski team also passed by the whale on their training run Monday morning."I think we saw maybe nine moose on our way here and now a whale, so it's been a wildlife-full morning," said Andrew Kastning, UAA Nordic coach.By Monday, a NOAA law enforcement officer had created a perimeter around the whale carcass with yellow caution tape, the kind common at crime scenes. A sign posted by the agency said it's illegal to take parts from protected marine mammals.Mahoney also warned people to not touch the whale, since biologists don't yet know whether an infection killed it."That's always our fear, people getting sick from marine mammals," she said.Mahoney said NOAA had not established a plan by Monday about what it would do with the whale carcass."The tides are dropping so we don't expect it to be floating away anytime soon," she said.Ken Marsh, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, cautioned people that the whale carcass could attract bears. The department had received reports of two black bear sows with cubs in the area, he said."It's a potential bear smorgasbord," Marsh said. "If folks want to go down there and take a look, they probably want to bring their bear spray."Last July, the carcass of a 42-foot humpback whale originally discovered along Turnagain Arm near Hope also washed ashore at Kincaid Park, but closer to the motocross area.The whale bones were eventually flown to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for research. A cause of death was never determined, Mahoney said.Mahoney said humpback whales typically don't travel into Upper Cook Inlet because of the absence of their preferred food source — small fish."They like the marine fish in marine waters," she said. "Upper Cook Inlet doesn't tend to be their range."Marc Lester contributed to this report.
|Alaska’s economy hasn’t hit bottom yet. But you can see it from here.AlaskaDispatch / 11 h. 9 min. ago more|
Almost 17 percent of Alaska's economic product disappeared when oil prices dropped, but we haven't lost 17 percent of our jobs. So how far down does this recession still have to go?I took that question to economists, business leaders and small business owners. No one thinks we've reached the bottom. But we're beginning to be able to see it.Alaska's gross state product has declined from about $60 billion to $50 billion. We are getting $10 billion less for all the work we do and all the resources we sell. The vast majority of that change is simply because Alaska's oil is worth that much less on world markets.Jim Jansen, chairman of Lyden Inc., said freight volumes are down more than 20 percent and his company has cut employment accordingly.But Alaska's economy hasn't seen a loss of employment in line with our 17 percent loss in economic activity. Job losses so far in this recession are about 3.3 percent, or 11,900 positions, said Neal Fried of the Alaska Department of Labor."When you look at that $10 billion, your first reaction is, 'I should be seeing a much bigger reduction in economic activity,' " said Mouhcine Guettabi of the University of Alaska Institute of Social and Economic Research.[How bad is Alaska's recession? Economists call it 'moderate' so far.]Why hasn't it been much worse? Partly because of the way we were using the missing $10 billion, Guettabi said.Some of the $10 billion was going to oil company profits rather than in-state spending. The companies' financial results got worse. But lower dividends didn't directly affect Alaska jobs.Some of the $10 billion was funding state government. A huge budget gap developed. The Legislature cut spending, and that did cost Alaskans' jobs directly, especially in construction and at the University of Alaska.But the state covered much of the gap from savings, to the tune of more than $3 billion a year, cushioning about a third of the total loss of economic activity. Artificially propping up the economy is unsustainable, but the Alaska Permanent Fund could sustainably spin off more than $2 billion a year.Some of the $10 billion was being spent by the oil companies on production costs within Alaska. To get back to profitability at lower prices, the industry reduced payrolls and cancelled high-cost projects.Those cuts hurt Alaskans, as high-paid oil jobs ended and services sold by Alaska firms were not purchased. Those firms cut jobs in construction and business services. The builders, engineers and consultants who lost their jobs had earned high wages like the oil company employees.When the economy loses high-paying jobs, lower-paid workers who served these wealthier workers also lose their jobs. Weaker businesses close or realign.Laile Fairbairn merged Sack's Café with another high-end restaurant, Crush, and the Sack's name will go away. The Artique gallery next door closed and part of its space will become the Crush wine shop.The change is partly generational. The well-off customers who dined on fine food at Sack's and bought oil paintings at Artique are retiring and not being replaced. But the economic downdraft sped the change for Sack's, Fairbairn said."It had been on that trend, and then last winter happened and all of Anchorage saw that dip," Fairbairn said.She said sales also went down at her other restaurants (Snow City Café, Spenard Roadhouse and South). Retailers told her of sales losses of 25 percent.The Anchorage Aces stopped playing and the Anchorage Dispatch News went through bankruptcy. Both were already troubled, but a declining economy, like a prowling wolf, first takes the weak from the herd.Now Fairbairn said her businesses have stabilized and she is holding her breath for another winter.Is the bottom near?For the most part, losses of high-wage workers are over, economists said. After cutting, the oil industry now can make money with oil in the $50 range. Production has stabilized and is even rising modestly. We may stay at this level for several years.The Legislature doesn't have any more capital spending left to cut.But lower-wage workers are still losing their jobs as the decline filters outward. The course of the recession continues to follow projections by economists last year, who said the decline would ultimately take 6 percent of jobs.[Economists say recession will last three more years, followed by a smaller, poorer Alaska]Ron Duncan, CEO of GCI, said the telecommunications company has lost subscribers in every category of business."We clearly see it in our top line. There are simply fewer people to sell to," Duncan said.The end depends more than anything on the Legislature, economists and business people agreed.The state could muddle through without a fiscal plan—probably, it will—but that will leave businesses wondering about tax policy and government spending that are the largest remaining unknowns in the economic outlook.GCI's Duncan said the decision in April to sell the company to a Colorado-based conglomerate, Liberty Interactive, partly reflected the uncertainty created by the Legislature's failure to adopt a fiscal plan. GCI cut capital investment by 25 percent.After this is over, Alaska will have a weaker university, fewer government projects, smaller Permanent Fund dividends, and probably some taxes to pay.The economy will remain $10 billion smaller. We won't have a pro hockey team, the newspaper will be thinner, there will be fewer art galleries, which probably means fewer artists, and not as many restaurants suitable for an anniversary dinner."The quality of life and all of that starts diminishing. We become a lower-end economy with the quality of life and all the aspects that has," Duncan said.That matters, because attracting highly skilled, creative people is a key to development."They may seem like they are just extra things that are out there, but if they matter to certain types of people who provide services, then that matters," Guettabi said. "That is not a negligible component of a long-term strategy."We're a long way from having a strategy. The Legislature keeps coming close to shutting down the government in the middle of fishing season.But in the dark mist of this recession, it's possible to make out the outlines of where we're going.The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to submit via any web browser.
|In Alaska’s unclaimed property office, money waits in limboAlaskaDispatch / 11 h. 22 min. ago more|
Felix O. Delgado was buried in the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery on a winter day in 2004. He had no family to inherit his possessions and there was no funeral. His landlady threw out all his belongings a month after he died, telling a court-appointed property custodian that all Delgado owned were some old clothes.Delgado worked as a cook, waiter and janitor. But he also traded stocks on the side and left behind an account at brokerage firm Morgan Stanley containing about $80,000. He listed no beneficiaries. After a fruitless search for Delgado's surviving relatives, the money was sent to the state of Alaska's trust fund for unclaimed property. After 13 years, no legitimate heirs have stepped forward to claim it.Each year, orphaned assets, in the form of paychecks, stocks, bonds, refunds, rebates, safe deposit boxes and more, arrive at the state's unclaimed property office. The oldest account contains travelers checks from 1971.Some of it, like Delgado's, will likely never be restored to a rightful owner.But much of it has. Since 1986, the state has returned $63 million in previously unclaimed property to Alaskans, former residents or their heirs, according to Rachel Lewis, the state's unclaimed property manager in the Department of Revenue.Property goes unclaimed all the time. Deposits are left with landlords, utilities or other businesses. Bank accounts may be opened and forgotten. Mailed checks might not reach their intended recipients for all kinds of reasons.The state is the last stop for assets without an owner. Companies and institutions are required by laws in every state to send unclaimed property to the state of the intended recipient's last known address."It's a fun department to work at because it's a happy place," Lewis said. "Unclaimed property offices were basically set up to protect people so companies can't say, 'We can't find this person so we get to keep their money.' "Delgado's money wound up with the state of Alaska because he had no will and no identifiable heirs. The search for his family began when he died on Jan. 9, 2004, in Anchorage after he fell on a patch of ice and broke his leg. In the hospital, he contracted pneumonia and had a heart attack, according to a coroner's report.Attending nurses found no contact information in his wallet, according to court documents. Anchorage police searched his modest residence in Spenard and found no clues to surviving relatives. The funeral home and the state District Court found no heirs, nor did the temporary property custodian and personal representative for Delgado's estate, both appointed by the court."You do a diligent search and after a certain point you have to turn it over to the unclaimed property division," said Kenneth Kirk, the attorney appointed as Delgado's former personal representative. "Sometimes you find someone and say, 'Hey, your second cousin died.' But there are some folks for whom you just can't find anybody."[At Anchorage police evidence auction, guns and mysterious miscellany go to high bidder]Kirk could not recall what steps he took to find Delgado's relatives, but his work is documented in court filings. Delgado was born in Spain, so Kirk tried the Spanish consulate. He also spoke with Marieann Vassar, the temporary property custodian, about her efforts to find family members. He called Anchorage police to discuss what they had found at Delgado's residence. He called the brokerage and a bank where Delgado kept his money. He looked at Delgado's federal tax statements.On May 5, 2006, more than two years after Delgado's death, a Superior Court judge closed the estate and ordered the money be sent to the unclaimed property office.Delgado's account was one of more than 65,500 in the state's unclaimed property database as of 2016 and is among the larger amounts on file. The total balance in the trust fund through June 2017 was $92 million, Lewis said.Between entering assets into the system and returning them to owners, Lewis and her staff of two have little time to contact people on the list, but they try to do so whenever possible."When we're not swamped, we will go into the system and see if we can find people," Lewis said. "And we tell everybody to pay it forward and let everyone they know about our database."The office recently alerted the owner of an account worth $564,046.51, the largest amount of money in the system to date. But they also try to reach those with smaller accounts."We can't show favoritism between people with thousands of dollars or a couple hundred dollars," Lewis said. "For some people, $200 is just as important as $79,000 might be to someone else."Sometimes fee-finders will contact people or their heirs and offer to reunite them with their property. The more unscrupulous may insist that their services, and the accompanying fees, are required to claim property, Lewis said, but that's simply not true."Don't pay a finder's fee," she said. "Claiming property is a very easy and straightforward process and does not require a middleman."Lewis says checking for possible unclaimed property in every state you've had an address should be an annual practice because states are constantly entering new property into their databases.Alaskans can start with their state's unclaimed property website, which links to a national database, missingmoney.com. People with common names can cull what can be massive search results by identifying a previous address.Early fall is the busiest time of year for the Alaska office. Businesses are rushing to meet the state's Nov. 1 deadline to turn over unclaimed property accrued in the previous year. The staff, which is short one person, is busy logging those entries.Lewis said anyone who submits a claim between now and December may have to wait longer than usual to get their money.The state keeps the money and other assets in trust in perpetuity. Should someone be able to prove kinship with Delgado, his assets will be there for them.Kris Anderson was Delgado's closest friend. The two met while working for a catering and hospitality company at the Prudhoe Bay oil fields in the late 1970s, a few years after the trans-Alaska oil pipeline was built.Delgado told Anderson he had been married two or three times to showgirls in Las Vegas. His parents were dead. He never mentioned siblings or children.The two men would meet for coffee, discuss world history and reminisce about Barcelona, where both had lived. Delgado designated Anderson as his only emergency contact on the hospital forms he filled out before his death. Anderson went to see his friend a couple of days before he died. Delgado was in bed, hooked up to tubes and unconscious.Anderson, who grew up in Kodiak, takes care to say Delgado's first name, "Felix," in proper Catalan. He said he was not surprised that Delgado left behind such a substantial sum."He was into trading stocks and I know he made money at it," said Anderson, who still lives in Anchorage. "If you saw him you'd think he was a bum, but he was by no means a pauper. I was sad when he died because there was no one to call to tell to come get his stuff."
|Valdez terminal oil spill bigger than initially thought as cleanup continuesAlaskaDispatch / 11 h. 33 min. ago more|
An Alyeska crude oil spill in the Port of Valdez is bigger than first estimated, the company said Saturday as cleanup continued.As of Saturday evening, crews recovered an estimated 400 gallons of oil and oily water mix, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. said in a written statement.That was up from 221 gallons Friday and an initial estimate of less than 100 gallons of crude oil residue."The cause of the spill, piping that released an oily water mix, makes it very difficult to give a precise estimate of the amount spilled," Alyeska's Scott Hicks, the incident commander, said in a written statement. "But any crude oil in the water is too much, and we will bring all necessary resources and expertise to the response."The spill is relatively small and Alyeska is aggressively cleaning it up, but it is a concern whenever oil reaches water, said Donna Schantz, executive director of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council."Any spill in the water is a big deal, of course. And it's been a number of years since we've had a spill to water," Schantz said Saturday afternoon.The spill came from an isolated section of pipe that was quickly closed off."It wasn't like an uncontrolled source," said Schantz, whose staff members were at the emergency operations center where the response is being managed. The oversight council was formed after the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound. The board vice president was helping with the cleanup from his fishing boat, she said. Fishing boats are what Alyeska calls "vessels of opportunity."The spill and cleanup are affecting oil shipments. Alyeska says it worked with federal and state officials as well as shippers and oil companies to reschedule the next oil tanker. It was supposed to arrive late Saturday but now will come early next week.Inventory of oil at the Valdez terminal is at 26 percent, so production on the North Slope is not expected to be affected by the delayed tanker.The spill occurred Thursday when Alyeska was conducting a planned test of the equipment that loads oil into tankers, according to Kate Dugan, Alyeska's community relations manager in Valdez.The system is drained of oil before the test, but residue remains. A water pump, intended for fighting fire, draws in seawater at a specific pressure to test the loading arms, Alyeska said.During a pause in testing, oily water and crude oil residue flowed backward through the hose and piping and into the harbor, Dugan said.The company and state Department of Environmental Conservation are investigating. DEC said the problem might have been a failed check valve, but Dugan said Alyeska is still trying to determine what went wrong.Saturday night, Alyeska said that it had confirmed the cause was not mechanical or piping integrity. Rather, "a problem occurred during the execution of the loading arm testing."The testing began during low tide and the pressure may have been too low, Schantz said she was told. The work paused while crews waited for high tide but then the leak began.About 230 people have been working on the spill, including 165 on scene over the course of the cleanup, Dugan said. They are working around the clock, she said."Right now there are 100 in the field," she said Saturday afternoon.Boats are pulling absorbent boom across the water, and self-propelled skimmers also have been deployed, Alyeska said.More than 23,000 feet of boom has been deployed and more than 25 vessels were on the water Saturday to help with cleanup.A task force was mobilizing Saturday night to decontaminate three large tug boats and clean oiled berth pilings.The water was calm Saturday, making cleanup easier. Still, fog made assessing the area for sheens difficult. Flights occurred during the day Saturday and were planned to resume Sunday, Alyeska said.Crews put boom around the Solomon Gulch Hatchery and the Valdez Duck Flats. Such actions are part of the oil spill response plan in Valdez, and Schantz said it was good to see them carried out.The shoreline in Valdez around the terminal is being assessed for cleanup. Crews are watching wildlife but haven't seen any oiled animals or birds.
|Alyeska investigates ‘how and why’ a system test caused a 400-gallon oil spillAlaskaDispatch / 11 h. 37 min. ago more|
Cleanup of an estimated 400-gallon spill of a mix of crude oil and water into the Port of Valdez continued Sunday, three days after the spill was first reported.The Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. is now trying to determine what exactly caused the release of a mix of oily residue and seawater from pipes during a test Thursday."We know what happened. We don't know how or why it happened," said company spokeswoman Kate Dugan from Valdez.The mechanism for the spill is known, she said: For a test of the system used to load oil into tankers, oil had been drained out of piping and replaced with seawater, which was being drawn in at pressure. When the test was paused, seawater mixed with crude oil residue flowed backward through the pipes, discharging into water at the port."Something went wrong during the test," Dugan said.An internal investigation has been launched to determine why and how that happened, Dugan said. Why the test was paused will be part of that investigation.The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said in a statement that it is working with Alyeska to determine the cause of the spill. The DEC initially said a check valve in the system may have failed, causing the release.At first, the spill was estimated at less than 100 gallons. Company officials revised that number upward to 200, and then to 400.[Valdez terminal oil spill bigger than initially thought as cleanup continues]Pinpointing the exact volume of the spill has been difficult because the discharged substance is a mix of seawater and oil to begin with, Dugan said."If it was pure oil, we would be able to know the volume of the pipe and get an estimate," she said.Concentrated patches of oil have been removed from the water, Dugan said. As of Sunday, all that's left is "rainbow sheen," which is highly visible, she said. Cleanup efforts Sunday focused on getting remaining areas of sheen off the water.No harm to wildlife has been reported by observers, Dugan said.She said she didn't know of an incident where Alyeska has triggered its spill response plans in Prince William Sound to this degree since at least 1994, when a crack in a Liberian tanker chartered by British Petroleum spilled more than 8,000 gallons into Port of Valdez as it was being loaded at the Alyeska tanker terminal.
|ACA repeal bill now peppered with Alaska money to draw Murkowski - Alaska Public Radio NetworkGoogle News / 11 h. 37 min. ago more|
Alaska Public Radio NetworkACA repeal bill now peppered with Alaska money to draw MurkowskiAlaska Public Radio Network“There is a lot of special treatment for Alaska,” Timothy Jost, professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University School of Law, said. He reviewed the current bill draft for “Health Affairs Blog.” Jost said the revision is peppered with money for ...Health care excerpt of Sen. Lisa Murkowski's February 2017 address to Alaska LegislatureFairbanks Daily News-MinerHealth care repeal would hurt Alaska youthJuneau Empire (subscription)all 332 news articles »
|ACA repeal bill now peppered with Alaska money to draw MurkowskiAlaska Public Media / 11 h. 37 min. ago more|
Photo by Liz Ruskin Proponents of repealing the Affordable Care Act revealed yet another new bill Monday, with changes that appear designed to win the vote of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, one of three Republicans who killed the last repeal bill. Listen now The latest version of the Graham-Cassidy bill, like the original, would give block grants to the states in place of federal spending on subsidies for insurance premiums and expanded Medicaid. As in the original, the block grants in the revised bill would mean a cut in funding for Alaska, compared to what the state gets under current law. But the new proposal does not cut as deeply as the original Graham-Cassidy bill. “There is a lot of special treatment for Alaska,” Timothy Jost, professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University School of Law, said. He reviewed the current bill draft for “Health Affairs Blog.” Jost said the revision is peppered with money for states that have low population density, a higher poverty line and other descriptors that apply to Alaska and only a few other states. “It just basically gives Alaska more money,” Jost said. But even with the special treatment, Alaska would still lose $99 million over seven years when you compare the block grants to the federal funding in existing law. That’s according to a fact sheet that’s circulating with the proposal. That’s about a tenth of what Alaska would lose under the original Graham-Cassidy bill. The bill also makes big changes to the traditional Medicaid program. Bill sponsor Sen. Lindsey Graham said government revenues aren’t keeping pace with health care spending. “Most of you know that by 2042 the entire revenue stream will be consumed by Medicaid and Medicare spending, unless somebody does something about it,” Graham, R-S.C., said Monday, at the only hearing on the bill so far. It started late due to a protest. Capitol Police carried people out of the hearing room. Wow. pic.twitter.com/VOlQHBksPy — Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) September 25, 2017 Graham’s bill, though, would increase spending for traditional (non-expansion) Medicaid in Alaska. The new version increases the federal matching rate for Alaska and Hawaii. It’s not clear how much money that would bring to Alaska. It’s possible it could more than make up for revenue losses elsewhere in the bill. But there’s more than money at stake. The new version would also allow states to more easily drop insurance standards in the Affordable Care Act. States would be allowed to undermine protection for people with pre-existing conditions. That has people like Todd Brown of Anchorage concerned. He said he ran into Sen. Murkowski at the farmer’s market in South Anchorage on Saturday. About 30 people were waiting to talk to her. Some, like him, wanted to talk about the repeal bill. “I said, you know Lisa, I know there’s going to be a lot of pressure, and a lot of powerful people who are most likely going to offer you, you know, large packages of money and try to trade favors, but I hope you don’t allow them to buy you off,” Brown said. Brown said Murkowski reassured him. “She just looked at me real intently and squeezed my hand and said, ‘I don’t get bought off,'” Brown said. Sen. Dan Sullivan said he’s undecided, too, and it’s not clear either Alaska senator will have to take a position. At least three Republicans have now announced they will vote no. If that holds, it would be enough to kill the bill.
|Valdez spill response continues as Alyeska investigates causeAlaska Public Media / 11 h. 45 min. ago more|
Response task forces of fishing vessels and self-propelled skimmers at the Valdez Marine Terminal on Sept. 23. (Photo courtesy Alyeska Pipeline Service Company) Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is investigating how crude oil ended up in the Port of Valdez after a spill last Thursday. Since cleanup efforts began, Alyeska estimates about 400 gallons of oily water have been recovered. Listen now Alyeska reported that the spill happened during yearly testing of the loading arms at the Valdez Marine Terminal — the pipes that deliver crude oil to tankers. During an unplanned pause in testing, oily water flowed back through the system, out of the intake pipe and into the Port of Valdez. There was containment boom in place at the end of the berth during the testing — that’s standard procedure, according to Kate Dugan, a spokeswoman for Alyeska. However, the intake pipe was located outside of the boom. Dugan said Alyeska has ruled out a mechanical failure, but it isn’t ready to pinpoint human error during testing as the cause of the spill. “That’s what the investigation is going to determine,” Dugan said. Cleanup of the spill is continuing. Dugan said Monday morning overflights of the area confirmed that the only remaining sheen is contained to the vessel decontamination area. The state has not yet confirmed the total amount of crude oil that ended up in the water. Geoff Merrell at the state Department of Environmental Conservation said the nature of the spill makes it hard to figure out. “This is not a traditional spill and so oil volume estimating is very difficult and is an inexact thing,” Merrell said. Merrell said the state is also investigating the root cause of the spill, but it hasn’t come to any conclusions yet because the current focus is on cleanup. Merrell added he’s received no reports of wildlife harmed by the spill. Donna Schantz, executive director of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, said her group is generally happy with Alyeska’s response to the incident. But Schantz added the amount of work it’s taking to recover from a relatively small spill should be a wake-up call. “We’re fortunate that it wasn’t a larger amount spilled, fortunate that the weather cooperated… But I think it really makes people realize the challenges that we’d be faced with had this been a larger spill,” Schantz said. Since the spill was first reported, more than 290 people, dozens of vessels and just under 22,000 feet of boom have been deployed.
|2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year nominee: Ben WalkerAlaska Public Media / 12 h. 48 min. ago more|
Ben Walker is a 7th grade science teacher at Romig Middle School in Anchorage. He’s one of the finalists for the 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year Award. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage) Being a teacher can be a tough job and often thankless job. But the state education department celebrates the profession each year by naming a Teacher of the Year. The winner will be selected in October from a group of four finalists. This week we’re bringing their voices to the air. Today, it’s Anchorage teacher Ben Walker who teaches 7th grade science at Romig Middle School. Walker said teachers have very different challenges today then in past decades. Listen now WALKER: We have a number of students who are speaking English as a second language. We have a number of students who have some struggles that maybe didn’t necessarily exist or weren’t identified 20 to 30 years ago, so that’s a really big challenge to kind of address those. The main thing, though is to — you know — when you focus on the student instead of the teaching, then you can really start to address those rather than worrying about yourself. And, “Well, I learned it this way. So everybody should be able to learn it this way,” and a lot of that takes giving up control and allowing your students to kind of teach you how they learn best. And then, using your expertise to further that. TOWNSEND: It seems like it would inspire a lot more creativity. WALKER: It inspires creativity on both ends when you give students the ability to kind of, you know, help shape their own learning. It’s not like in the 70s, there’s these free school ideas where kids just kind of came and could do whatever they want. That’s not really what it is, you know? It’s more of a, “Here’s kind of our goal, whether it’s content or skills. What are some ways we can get there that work for you?” So you’re still ending up in the same place. TOWNSEND: Technology has transformed education. It’s transformed everything, but it can also be an enormous distraction. How much of a challenge is the distraction of online media versus the benefit of it for you in the classroom? WALKER: You know, it really depends. I think there’s certainly a portion of our students who are overdoing that. But, at the same time, if a student or anybody is really interested in what they’re doing, they have the — they will not keep going to that as a distraction. I teach science, so coming from a scientific perspective, technology is awesome because, you know, if we were just going to rely on textbooks, we’d be so far behind with what science is actually doing. So we really try to embrace that. TOWNSEND: One of the things that you said was students today must be able to learn, unlearn and relearn to remain competitive in the workplace. What do you mean by that? WALKER: You know, it’s no longer that students are going to have one or two careers in their life, you know? I mean, when we talk about the shift to kind of the gig economy it’s called, where people are doing more shorter terms at different places. You need to be able to undo what you did, you know, keep what’s good about it and relearn something entirely different outside of your wheelhouse. And I think part of that is giving the students the ability to, you know, be in charge of their own learning. TOWNSEND: How do you go about helping your students understand the relevance of what they’re looking at that maybe they can’t immediately connect to, but is crucial for them to move forward and really have that full picture? WALKER: I spend a lot of time tying careers into what we do. So, just showing them that what you do here in seventh grade, when you start on this path, you’re picking up these skills, these ways of thinking. And, the other thing is that, you know, if we want a community that’s actually going to be a real, viable community, it needs to be STEM literate. It needs to understand science technology and engineering, especially in Alaska. You know, when you pick up the paper or go to the grocery store, or, you know, you go to vote, it’s nice to have a baseline of STEM literacy. So, you know, you look at some of the things that come up in our state, with our resources or our fisheries. If people want to have a valid input in that conversation, it helps if they at least have a basic understanding of what kind of things people are talking about. Otherwise, it’s going to be only people that have those understandings that are going to make these decisions. TOWNSEND: What do you think in the future decades education will be, and what do you think it should be? Do you think it’ll be automated? Will we still have teachers in classrooms? WALKER: You know, I don’t know to be honest, because there’s a lot of different things in play. You know, the fiscal reality of Alaska especially and just our world in general will probably lead to more personalized, digital type learning. However, education has always been like a social kind of learning context. But, I still think there’s a huge, huge part that needs to be personal relationships between either teacher and student or students and other students. So, I would be very sad if that completely went away and we were all just looking at a screen. (From left to right) Kent Fielding, Eric Rush, Ben Walker and Karen Martin are the finalists for the 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year award. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)
|How much could electric vehicles put the brakes on Alaska’s oil economy?Alaska Public Media / 13 h. 29 min. ago more|
The Juneau electric vehicle fair was part of the National Drive Electric Week. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/Alaska’s Energy Desk) Alaska’s economy is powered by oil. So are the vast majority of cars and trucks worldwide. But globally, the market for electric vehicles is growing. So as more people move away from gasoline powered cars, the big players in the oil industry have started to pay attention — and that includes Alaska. Listen now On a recent weekend, nearly 70 electric vehicles are lined up in a bare parking lot near downtown Juneau. It’s the city’s annual electric vehicle fair. The 1980’s song “Electric Avenue” is playing in the background. John Cooper is here showing off his two EVs. And he’s proud to say he was one of Juneau’s early adopters. Cooper said there are plenty of charging stations in Juneau. Range anxiety isn’t an issue. He said the convenience of owning an electric car was a big selling point. “When you’re on the way to work, your car is [at] full [charge],” Cooper said. “And it’s an incredible feeling to get in the car — like, the whole time we’ve been talking — this car has been on and idling.” It’s quiet because there’s no rumble of a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. Not too long ago, electric vehicles weren’t commercially available. But over the span of about five years, the number of EVs has reached into the millions worldwide. That’s still only a tiny fraction of cars on the road. Even so, oil companies and Alaska state economist Neal Fried are paying attention. “Does it keep me up at night? Not too often,” Fried said. “But it’s not just a thought experiment by any means.” For the past 40 years, Alaska has paid its bills largely using oil revenue. Recently, that’s presented the economy with some extreme challenges, and Fried said electric cars are potentially yet another threat. How big of a threat? That depends a lot on how quickly the shift happens. “Look at iphones and how fast they were adopted. Could the same thing happen to us?” Fried said. “I don’t know.” There’s a range of opinions on that. Some energy analysts forecast that electric vehicles could outsell gasoline cars by 2040. Then, there are companies like BP, which project much smaller numbers. Sam Ori, the executive director at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, agrees with Fried that electric vehicles are nothing to scoff at. The global demand for oil is still increasing, but Ori said as consumers snap up more electric cars, the demand could start to flatten out. “It’s not as if people are going to stop showing up to buy oil from Alaska,” Ori said. “But the price that they buy that oil is going to be less than it otherwise would have been, because of this change in the oil market. And electric vehicles are a piece of that — a small piece, but they’re going to become a bigger piece of it.” Already, Ori said electric vehicles and more fuel-efficient cars are affecting the global oil market. That trend is likely to continue as countries consider measures to reduce carbon emissions. The Chinese government is thinking about banning gasoline-powered cars altogether. But Ori said the transition isn’t going to happen overnight. Juneau’s ten public charging stations around town give EVs owners a variety of places to plug-in. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/Alaska’s Energy Desk) “I think if people are thinking of it as like, ‘Well, are electric vehicles going to become so widespread in the next few years that they eliminate the demand for oil?’” Ori said. “That’s not happening soon.” Still, Ori said globally it’s becoming cheaper to produce oil. Far-flung places where it’s expensive to drill, like Alaska, could start to look less and less appealing. Back at Juneau’s electric vehicle fair, Monique Reeder is taking a break from the rain under a tailgate tent. She’s here promoting her dealership, which carries electric vehicles. But Reeder herself… “You know, I actually don’t own a car,” Reeder said with a laugh. “But I do take home demos.” In any case, Reeder doesn’t think the capital city’s enthusiasm to move away from gasoline cars has to be a reflection on the state’s economy. She said Alaska will have to adapt. “Because we don’t want what’s happening with the barrel prices, we don’t want that to affect our economy so much, where it’s really hurting our budget because we’re dependent,” Reeder said. “If we can diversify, it’s going to be a positive all around.” As for her business, Reeder’s been selling electric cars for about a year, and she said they’ve been flying off the lot. This story contained contributions from both Elizabeth Jenkins and Elizabeth Harball with Alaska’s Energy Desk.
|How much could electric vehicles put the brakes on Alaska's oil economy? - Alaska Public Radio NetworkGoogle News / 13 h. 29 min. ago more|
Alaska Public Radio NetworkHow much could electric vehicles put the brakes on Alaska's oil economy?Alaska Public Radio NetworkThe Juneau electric vehicle fair was part of the National Drive Electric Week. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/Alaska's Energy Desk). Alaska's economy is powered by oil. So are the vast majority of cars and trucks worldwide. But globally, the market for ...and more »
|Senate GOP effort to unwind the ACA collapses Monday - Washington PostGoogle News / 13 h. 35 min. ago more|
Slate MagazineSenate GOP effort to unwind the ACA collapses MondayWashington PostThe legislation's sponsors had rewritten the bill to deliver more money to Alaska and Maine, in the hopes of winning over Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), another key GOP centrist. [Latest GOP effort to dismantle Obamacare on the brink of ...The New Graham-Cassidy Draft Is a Desperate, Inept Attempt to Buy VotesSlate MagazineRevised ObamaCare repeal bill aims benefits at Alaska | TheHillThe HillQ&A: Vice president argues that latest Obamacare repeal is good for AlaskaKTUU.comFairbanks Daily News-Miner -The Week Magazine -Pittsburgh Post-Gazetteall 1,189 news articles »
|Unwanted Unalaska fishing nets find second life in DenmarkAlaska Public Media / 13 h. 36 min. ago more|
About 80 retired nets have been baled up and are on their way to a recycling program halfway around the world. (Photo by Berett Wilber/KUCB) There’s no easy way to get rid of old fishing nets in Unalaska. America’s top fishing port is remote and nets can weigh thousands of pounds. Now, for the first time, about 80 retired nets are on their way to a recycling program halfway around the world. Listen now It all starts outside Unalaska’s Grand Aleutian hotel. The view is almost always the same — men moving piles of fishing nets. This day is no exception. With the help of a crane, Andy Pirrello is part of a team hoisting huge nets into the back of a flatbed truck. His job? Compressing the nets, so they can fit tightly into shipping containers to be sent to Denmark. It’s not easy. “You know you’re getting showered by rust, dirt, jellyfish, anything can fall off the back of the crane,” Pirrello said. Pirrello has been coming up to fish in Unalaska for three years. Today, he’s happy to be helping clean up the island for the people who live here year round. Pirrello has one person to thank for coordinating this project — Nicole Baker. In 2010, Baker started coming up to Unalaska as a fisheries observer and the piles of nets caught her eye. When Nicole Baker first came to Unalaska, she was shocked to see piles of junky nets everywhere. (Photo by Berett Wilber/KUCB) “I just noticed that there was a lot of old, junky nets lying around,” Baker said. The nets are monstrous, from 5,000 to 20,000 pounds each. The industrial gear was used for catching pollock and cod. Finding a way to remove and repurpose the nets became Baker’s passion project. For the past two years, she’s been looking for organizations capable of recycling the worn out gear. She sent samples to companies like Parley for the Oceans — which was working to make sneakers with Adidas out of nets confiscated from illegal fishing. “And so I wrote those guys and emailed and said, if you’re interested in unused fishing nets, I know where you could possibly get some,” Baker said. The problem was, they only wanted nylon nets and most of the nets in Unalaska are made of polyethylene or polypropylene. So, Baker kept looking. Eventually she found the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, an organization focused on dealing with abandoned fishing gear, and they suggested a company capable of recycling the nets. Plastix is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. CEO Axel Kristensen is focused on recycling unwanted fishing gear into high quality plastic pellets. “It seems so unreasonable and not logic[al] to just throw it away when we know that if handling plastics right — if sorting and homogenizing it — you can actually reuse it over and over and over again,” Kristensen said. According to Kristensen, Plastix is the only company in the world recycling fishing nets in this way. Once the nets arrive at the plant, they’re cut into smaller pieces, sorted by material type – be it polyethylene, nylon or polypropylene – and processed. “You cannot produce a quality recyclate, if you don’t ensure that you get the right input,” Kristensen said. “If you get a lot of, excuse me for the word ‘crap,’ then you get crap recyclates.” For now, Plastix is selective about who they work with. The company is small and they want to be sure they are only sent products they can recycle. If a container is loaded with unusable waste, it will end up in a landfill in Denmark. Kristensen was happy to work with Baker to recycle the nets from Unalaska. “We cannot do this alone,” Kristensen said. “We need someone like Trident [Seafood], Nicole Baker, all kinds of stakeholders to take part in this project.” Plastix is a Danish cleantech company that turns unwanted fishing gear into high quality plastic pellets. (Photo courtesy of Plastix) This is the first time the company has recycled nets from the United States and it involves buy-in from multiple parties. The boat captains or fishing companies are responsible for packing the nets small enough to fit into shipping containers. With the help of Trident Seafoods, Plastix is paying for the containers to be shipped directly to Denmark. This is the first year of the collaboration, but Baker said there was high demand from fishermen looking to find a new use for their nets. “I hope to keep this going somehow,” Baker said. “So we we’ll see.” Continuing the recycling project will take more than just Baker. It will require investments from multiple people and organizations — from the fishermen to Plastix.
|How much could electric vehicles put the brakes on Alaska's oil economy?Alaska News / 14 h. 17 min. ago more|
The Juneau electric vehicle fair was part of the National Drive Electric Week . Alaska's economy is powered by oil.
|NOAA asks Public to Stay Clear of Deceased Humpback at Kincaid ParkAlaska Native News / 14 h. 47 min. ago more|
NOAA Fisheries is asking the public to stay away from the carcass of a humpback whale that washed ashore at Kincaid Park. The whale is located on the beach, about a mile from the sand dunes. “Marine mammals can transmit disease to humans and pets, so people should stay away, and keep their pets away […]
|DHSS and Municipality of Anchorage Warn of New Mumps Cases in AnchorageAlaska Native News / 14 h. 58 min. ago more|
(Anchorage, AK) — The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Municipality of Anchorage are warning Anchorage residents of a recent spread of mumps, and encouraging residents to update their vaccinations if necessary. Several new mumps cases have been diagnosed in the past few months, and there are now 13 confirmed cases of […]
|Previously Convicted Sex Offender Convicted in Child Porn CaseAlaska Native News / 15 h. 28 min. ago more|
In a Monday morning announcement, Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder revealed that following a three-day trial in Juneau, previously convicted sex offender, 40-year-old Jim Wayne Thornhill, was convicted of Receipt of Child Pornography. Schroder stated in a press release today that “Thornhill faces a maximum penalty of no less than 15 years and up to 40 […]
|Governor Walker Issues Fourth Special Session ProclamationAlaska Native News / 16 h. 13 min. ago more|
ANCHORAGE-Governor Bill Walker Friday issued a proclamation convening the 30th Alaska State Legislature on October 23 in Juneau for its fourth special session to address public safety and revenue. On the call are Senate Bill 54, which addresses Class-C felonies, and a bill to enact a flat wage tax. The administration is proposing a payroll […]
|No more flying with reindeer: Unique Alaska planes to retireABCNews.com / 16 h. 55 min. ago more|
Planes made for Alaska's unique needs of delivering groceries, people and even worn-out sled dogs to far-flung parts of the nation's largest state are being retired
|Picture-Alutiiq Word of the Week-September 24thAlaska Native News / 16 h. 56 min. ago more|
PatRiitaq – Picture Caqiq una patRiitami? – What is this in the picture? Art is often a means of storing information, particularly among people without a written language. In addition to expressing cultural values, songs, dances, carvings, paintings, and even clothing can record family stories, historical events, and legends. Pictures are particularly important in preserving […]
|APD Takes One into Custody after North Anchorage Car Chase/Shots-FiredAlaska Native News / 17 h. 4 min. ago more|
Officers with the Anchorage Police Department arrested the driver of a stolen vehicle following a chase and shots-fired on Thursday, APD revealed. Officers on patrol spotted a stolen vehicle in the McCarrey Street and Mountain View Drive area at 10:24 pm on Thursday night and attempted a traffic stop, but the vehicle sped away and […]
|Loud Exhaust Results in Felony Weapons/Drug ArrestAlaska Native News / 17 h. 32 min. ago more|
Troopers report that on September 19th, an Alaska State Trooper on patrol pulled over a vehicle at mile 95 of the Sterling Highway for an equipment violation for a loud exhaust. When the trooper pulled over 33-year-old Christopher Overhuls that afternoon, AST would find that Overhuls was a felon in possession of a concealed firearm. […]
|No more flying with reindeer: Unique Alaska planes to retire - Seattle TimesGoogle News / 17 h. 33 min. ago more|
Seattle TimesNo more flying with reindeer: Unique Alaska planes to retireSeattle TimesAlaska Airlines is retiring its last four combi planes, special Boeing 737-400s designed to carry cargo in the middle of the plane and 72 passengers in the rear, company vice president Marilyn Romano told The Associated Press ahead of this week's ...and more »
|How aerial thermal imagery is revolutionizing archaeologyAlaska Native News / 17 h. 43 min. ago more|
A Dartmouth-led study has demonstrated how the latest aerial thermal imagery is transforming archaeology due to advancements in technology. Today’s thermal cameras, commercial drones and photogrammetric software has introduced a new realm of possibilities for collecting site data. The findings, published in Advances in Archaeological Practice, serve as a manual on how to use aerial thermography, […]
|Alaska provides public voter data to panel after fee paid - KTUU.comGoogle News / 17 h. 56 min. ago more|
KTUU.comAlaska provides public voter data to panel after fee paidKTUU.comJUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - An official says the state of Alaska has provided publicly available data to a presidential commission investigating alleged voter fraud. State Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke says the commission paid the requested ...and more »
|North Korea Claims US Has Declared WarAlaska Native News / 18 h. 17 min. ago more|
UNITED NATIONS — North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Monday the United States has declared war on his country and Pyongyang would take counter-actions if threatened, including shooting down American war planes in the region. Ri directly linked U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments Saturday night on social media platform Twitter to the threat. In […]
|NFL Football Players Defy Trump, Protest During National AnthemAlaska Native News / 18 h. 39 min. ago more|
Well over 100 players, coaches and owners throughout the National Football League defied U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday by kneeling and linking arms in solidarity instead of standing when the national anthem was played at the beginning of their games. The athletes said their protest is intended to draw attention to disparities in the […]
|Letter from the editor: A season of awarenessThe Northern Light / 18 h. 45 min. ago more|
Managing Editor Kathryn DuFresne suggests readers check in with loved ones and be aware of available resources as the cold and dark of winter sets in
|Seawolf volleyball gains two more wins for the seasonThe Northern Light / 18 h. 52 min. ago more|
Head Coach Chris Green and the rest of the team are aware of what lies ahead, staying focused and aggressive as the season continues
|Record-breaking first Great Alaska Mile SeriesThe Northern Light / 18 h. 53 min. ago more|
In four days, eight professional runners set the outdoor and overall mile records for Alaska
|Radical Recreation: Documenting the rideThe Northern Light / 18 h. 57 min. ago more|
By furthering her education in film and photography, Shannon Evans wants to inspire others through board sports
|Many forms of cartoons and animation at the Hugh McPeck galleryThe Northern Light / 18 h. 59 min. ago more|
"Hickory Cartoon Show" features 35 students and professional artists with over 50 works of art ranging from animation to sculpture.
|RED ZONE: University of Alaska Title IX compliance scorecards releasedThe Northern Light / 18 h. 59 min. ago more|
UAA was rated compliant on 16 of 18 items related to addressing sexual harassment, lined out by the Office of Civil Rights' Voluntary Resolution Agreement.
|A dozen new faces for 2017-18 UAA hockeyThe Northern Light / 19 h. 2 min. ago more|
The Seawolves will boast a new lineup with 12 new freshmen
|‘Night of the Wild Boar?’ More like ‘Night of the Wild Bore’The Northern Light / 19 h. 5 min. ago more|
Sitting through “Night of the Wild Boar” is like walking on cold coals: by the end, you’ve overcome no obstacle and just end up with dirty feet.
|UAA’s athletic teams volunteer to rebuild The DomeThe Northern Light / 19 h. 13 min. ago more|
UAA's track and field, skiing and men's basketball teams came together to support the rebuilding efforts of The Dome after its collapse in January
|From Anchorage to Portland: A conversation with Old HoundsThe Northern Light / 19 h. 20 min. ago more|
Photographer Jay Guzman sits down with Portland metal-core band Old Hounds
|New Alaska highway stripes are crooked, paint staining cars - Washington PostGoogle News / 19 h. 21 min. ago more|
KTUU.comNew Alaska highway stripes are crooked, paint staining carsWashington PostKETCHIKAN, Alaska — New yellow painted highway lines in the Alaska's Panhandle city of Ketchikan are crooked and the paint that's been used by state transportation officials has stained cars, officials said. Among those affected was Ketchikan Gateway ...Mayor: Crooked, thick stripes on Alaska highway look like a jokeKTUU.comall 3 news articles »
|Countdown to Senshi ConThe Northern Light / 19 h. 28 min. ago more|
Alaska's largest anime convention is more than just cosplay and comics.
|College Cookbook: Doughnuts your wayThe Northern Light / 19 h. 32 min. ago more|
Craving a doughnut in light of a delayed shop opening, Victoria Petersen offers a family recipe for the mini version.
|Cleanup indicates Valdez spill bigger than initially thoughtAlaska Public Media / 19 h. 43 min. ago more|
Responders use boom to collect oil near the Valdez Marine Terminal on September 23, 2017. (Photo provided by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company) Cleanup efforts indicate that a crude spill at the Valdez Marine Terminal was bigger than first reported. According to Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, approximately 400 gallons of an oily water mix had been recovered from the Port of Valdez as of Saturday night. When the spill was first reported Thursday, Alyeska estimated the volume of crude spilled to be less than 100 gallons. “The cause of the spill, piping that released an oily water mix, makes it very difficult to give a precise estimate of the amount spilled,” Scott Hicks, who is leading the response for Alyeska, said in a statement. “But any crude oil in the water is too much, and we will bring all necessary resources and expertise to the response.” The spill happened during testing of the Marine Terminal’s loading arms — the pipes that deliver oil to tankers. During an unplanned pause in testing, water that was sent through the loading arms flowed out of the water intake piping and into Port Valdez. Response to the spill is ongoing. According to Alyeska, more than 23,000 feet of boom and more than 25 vessels have been deployed during the cleanup efforts. Overflights conducted over the weekend indicate the sheens have been contained. Responders have placed booms at the Valdez Duck Flats and the Salmon Gulch Hatchery. There have been no reported impacts to wildlife.
|Banned Book Week raises awareness on challenged books, ideas and expressionThe Northern Light / 19 h. 43 min. ago more|
Banned Book Week is back and will be celebrated Sept. 24 through Sept. 30.
|New Alaska highway stripes are crooked, paint staining carsABCNews.com / 20 h. 30 min. ago more|
New yellow painted highway lines in Alaska's city of Ketchikan are crooked and city officials say the paint used by state transportation officials has stained cars
|Wolfcard replacement fee increased from $10 to $20The Northern Light / 20 h. 48 min. ago more|
Starting this fall semester it will cost $20 to replace a WOLFcard
|Californian admits killing Alaska bears, leaving carcasses - The Mercury NewsGoogle News / 22 h. 27 min. ago more|
The Mercury NewsCalifornian admits killing Alaska bears, leaving carcassesThe Mercury NewsGriffen Fales, 20, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of taking a brown bear out of season, two counts of failing to salvage brown bears and one count of hunting deer without a tag, according to a news release issued by the Alaska Department of Law.
|LGI Homes, Inc. (LGIH) Position Lifted by BNP Paribas Arbitrage SAAlaska News / 23 h. 47 min. ago more|
BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA lifted its stake in LGI Homes, Inc. by 56.5% during the second quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the SEC. The institutional investor owned 5,069 shares of the financial services provider's stock after acquiring an additional 1,831 shares during the period.
|Documentary tells story of suicide's impact on Native communitiesAlaska News / 1 d. 4 h. 11 min. ago more|
Hope, strength, and resiliency is the focus of a new documentary that tells the story of four Alaska Natives who have been deeply impacted by suicide.
|Alaska-New Cargo PlaneABCNews.com / 1 d. 4 h. 18 min. ago more|
Alaska-New Cargo Plane
|APNewsBreak: Planes designed for Alaska to take final flightABCNews.com / 1 d. 4 h. 22 min. ago more|
An airplane uniquely configured for Alaska which could leave passengers sharing the main deck with a kitchen sink or a herd of reindeer with a fear of flying is about to be taken out of service
|New Version of Graham-Cassidy Health Bill Adds Sweeteners for Alaska - NBCNews.comGoogle News / 1 d. 4 h. 35 min. ago more|
NBCNews.comNew Version of Graham-Cassidy Health Bill Adds Sweeteners for AlaskaNBCNews.comWASHINGTON — An updated version of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill introduced Monday provides more benefits to Alaska, a move to appeal to Lisa Murkowski, the state's Republican senator who has been highly skeptical of efforts to repeal the ...New version of health-care bill will help Alaska and Maine — home of two holdout senatorsWashington PostNew Graham-Cassidy bill draft to repeal Obamacare aims to win over Republican holdoutsCNBCGraham, Cassidy revise Obamacare repeal bill, appealing to holdoutsPoliticoall 1,078 news articles »
|Alaska's farming future is warmer, and probably weirder, tooAlaska News / 1 d. 8 h. 35 min. ago more|
The number of farms in Alaska is rising as the state warms up. But climate change isn't necessarily behind the boom.
|DOT earns innovation award for training videosAlaska News / 1 d. 13 h. 5 min. ago more|
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities won the Most Innovative State Award from the National Association of State Aviation Officials for a series of videos focusing on aircraft familiarization for aviation rescue and firefighting personnel.
|State of Alaska Department of Revenue Boosts Stake in Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.Alaska News / 1 d. 17 h. 26 min. ago more|
State of Alaska Department of Revenue lifted its position in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. by 52.5% in the 2nd quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the SEC. The firm owned 4,790 shares of the pharmacy operator's stock after acquiring an additional 1,650 shares during the quarter.
|Tips to keep in mind about the PFD ticket sale - " and some airfare deals in the meantimeAlaska News / 1 d. 22 h. 5 min. ago more|
This week is a difficult one if you're planning a getaway to the Lower 48. Why? Because we're right between two big airfare sales. One sale just ended and fares went up, as promised.
|Flu season arrives early in Alaska, especially in the northAlaska News / 2 d. 2 h. 32 min. ago more|
The flu season is making an early appearance in Alaska this year, according to state Division of Epidemiology statistics, especially in the northern part of the state.
|A Pilgrim Family vision wrapped in an alien invasion of AlaskaAlaska News / 2 d. 4 h. 42 min. ago more|
For Alaskans here during the first decade of the millennium, the opening premise of David Marusek's new novel "Upon This Rock: Book 1 - First Contact" will be painfully familiar.
|Bishops visit Alaska, bless land, peopleAlaska News / 2 d. 4 h. 42 min. ago more|
More than 25 Episcopal bishops from all over the U.S. blessed Alaska, its people and the wildlife at the site of a ramshackle gold dredge near the Chatanika Lodge, on Saturday afternoon.
|Night Music: September 23, 2017Alaska Public Media / 2 d. 6 h. 54 min. ago more|
Here is the Night Music Playlist with Kirk Waldhaus. All tracks played are listed below in the following format: Title Artist / Composer (if known or if blank artist or unknown) Album Label Song Duration 8:00 – 9:00 Baluba Charles Neville Charles Neville & Diversity LaserLight 15 330 5:05 Nyomba Charles Neville Charles Neville & Diversity LaserLight 15 330 6:35 It don’t mean a thing If it ain’t got that swing Tommy Newsom Tommy Newsom & his TV Jazz Stars LaserLight 15 331 4:20 Three Shades of Blue Tommy Newsom Tommy Newsom & his TV Jazz Stars LaserLight 15 331 6:51 I’ve Got You Under My Skin Margie Notte Just you, just me & friends GNOTE GRCD-1001 5:17 The Very Thought of You Margie Notte Just you, just me & friends GNOTE GRCD-1001 5:01 Paragon Rag John Novachek / Joplin Novarags ARC-1008 4:11 Eubie Blake Medley John Novachek Novarags ARC-1008 6:56 Summertime Nuclear Whales Gone Fission WM-103-CD 4:14 Goin’ Fishin’ Nuclear Whales Gone Fission WM-103-CD 3:38 9:00 – 10:00 Go Down Moses Luct Smith Oasis Jazz Vol. VI #5 Oasis Manufacturing 4:27 Cool Down A.D.D. Oasis Jazz Vol. VI #5 Oasis Manufacturing 4:27 Relaxin’ Anthony Thompson Oasis Jazz Vol. VI #5 Oasis Manufacturing 2:43 My Fantasy Project One / Aniko Somogyi Oasis Jazz Vol. VI #5 Oasis Manufacturing 5:43 Spy Boy Gumbohead / Ron Sikes Oasis Jazz Vol. VI #5 Oasis Manufacturing 3:46 The Bionic Man James Westfall Oasis Jazz Vol. VI #5 Oasis Manufacturing 3:08 J-Roc Reggae Jim Meyer Oasis Jazz Vol. VI #5 Oasis Manufacturing 3:54 A Soldiers Song Maria Jovan Oasis Jazz Vol. VI #5 Oasis Manufacturing 4:05 Skyblues Skyblue / Alan Bradbury Oasis Jazz Vol. VII, #4 Oasis Manufacturing 6:03 Blues for JR East Coast Standards Time / Ron Walker Oasis Jazz Vol. VII, #4 Oasis Manufacturing 7:08 Jam Gene Burkert Oasis Jazz Vol. VII #4 Oasis Manufacturing 4:13 Monday Night Jam The N. Glenn Davis Quartet Oasis Jazz Vol. VII #4 Oasis Manufacturing 5:10
|Unnatural changes in nature in Nancy Lord's new novelAlaska News / 2 d. 8 h. 51 min. ago more|
A humpback whale surface feeds in the company of opportunistic kittiwakes at the mouth of Resurrection Bay near Seward. A humpback whale surface feeds in the company of opportunistic kittiwakes at the mouth of Resurrection Bay near Seward.
|'Objective' Fox Anchor Swipes At McCain After He Opposed Graham-Cassidy BillAlaska News / 2 d. 13 h. 13 min. ago more|
Harris Faulkner was supposedly wearing her "objective anchor" hat this afternoon but she was clearly peeved after news broke that Senator John McCain would not support the Graham-Cassidy bill version of Trumpcare. McCain's "no" vote means the bill will not likely pass by the September 30, 2017 deadline .
|Alaska News Nightly: Friday. Sep. 22, 2017Alaska Public Media / 3 d. 10 h. 59 min. ago more|
Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn Listen now The Alaska impact of ACA repeal bill? Depends where you look Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media – Washington D.C. Sen. Murkowski says her position on Graham-Cassidy will hinge on data showing how Alaska would fare. Consultants’ reports vary wildly, but they all show a loss. And now it’s not clear senators will vote on Gov. Walker cites uncertainty over funding in opposing ACA repeal Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau Walker said he has spoken several times with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whose vote could help determine the bill’s fate. Gov. Walker pitches 1.5 percent income tax with a limit Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau Administration officials have a mouthful of a name for it: the “capped hybrid head tax.” It’s a flat 1.5 percent of wages and self-employment income, with a maximum of twice the value of that year’s Alaska Permanent Fund dividend. Should independents be able to run in a Democratic primary? Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau A Superior Court judge is weighing how to define who is allowed to run the Alaska Democratic Party primary. The party wants to allow independent candidates to run in the primary without registering as Democrats. The Mayor of Anchorage addresses concern over crime and safety Lori Townsend, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage Anchorage had a record number of homicides last year and is on pace to possibly surpass that number this year. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz took some heat for comments he made last week when he said residents who were not involved in drugs or out after midnight were safe. He apologized a day later, saying he wishes he could undo those comments. He said when crime happens to someone in the city, he feels the weight. Lawsuit seeks to allow non-Alaska residents to gather signatures for state ballot initiatives Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage A lawsuit filed in federal court this week seeks to remove the residency requirement for people gathering signatures for state ballot initiatives. AK: $15,000 and 2,000 miles later, Kotzebue High volleyball players show Sitka their skills Sarah Gibson, KCAW – Sitka Alaska’s high school sports teams spend a lot of time and money on travel. But $15,000 and 2,000 miles for a single trip? That’s unusual. Earlier this month the Kotzebue Girls Volleyball team travelled to Sitka to play Mount Edgecumbe and Sitka High School. 49 Voices: Jay Stange of Anchorage Samantha Davenport, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage This week we’re hearing from Jay Stange of Anchorage. Stange is a math teacher at Dimond High School.
|The Alaska impact of ACA repeal bill? Depends where you lookAlaska Public Media / 3 d. 11 h. 7 min. ago more|
Protestors at the U.S. Capitol in May. Photo by Liz Ruskin. Sen. John McCain has announced he will vote “no” on the Republicans’ latest health care repeal attempt That appears to sink the bill. But anti-repeal activists aren’t taking any chances. They organized a protest in front of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s Anchorage office again Friday, urging her to vote no. Murkowski said her position on the bill will hinge on data showing how Alaska would fare under the bill, and that could depend on where she looks. Listen now Alaska is a tough state to treat, medically and politically, in a health care bill. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he understands that. “Alaska is a third the size of the United States, with 750,000 people,” Graham told reporters at the U.S. Capitol this week. “It is a bedeviling problem.” It’s unclear whether Senate leadership will put his repeal bill, Graham-Cassidy, to a vote now, but a hearing is scheduled for Monday. If Murkowski is still trying to make up her mind, she might read the reports of think tanks and consulting firms. Their calculations of the Alaska impacts of Graham-Cassidy vary wildly. On the high end, the consulting firm Avalere said Alaska would lose about $1 billion over seven years, 2020-2026, compared to what it gets under current law. But the Kaiser Family Foundation finds Alaska’s loss would be just $275 million over those same seven years. And the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities says Alaska would lose $255 million in a single year. The authors of three different reports see the divergent numbers are unimportant. The bottomline: Photo via Avalere “Under this bill, we found that Alaska is at risk of losing money,” Chris Sloan of Avalere said. But $1 billion vs. $275 million? “Well part of it is, you know, our number is rounded .. to the billionth,” Sloan said. That’s right: they’re rounding their dollar figures to the nearest billion. (It’s a national report, not solely focused on Alaska.) Another difference among the reports: how they treat special allowances in the bill that would help Alaska. For instance: One of the things the Graham-Cassidy bill would do is change funding for the 50-year-old Medicaid program. The bill would have the feds pay states a set amount per person, starting in 2020. But the bill has an exception for certain low-density states. That boils down to Alaska and Montana. The bill allows them to delay the change until 2027. Sloan said Avalere assumes Alaska will not get that allowance, or others in the bill that would help Alaska but depend on the health secretary certifying eligibility. “We didn’t want to predict what the secretary is going to decide, so our analysis … includes the per capita cap for Alaska,” Sloan said. Avalere’s report was sponsored by the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group. Kaiser Family Foundation VP Larry Levitt. Photo via KFF. The non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation, on the other hand, assumes Alaska will delay the Medicaid payment cap. That’s part of the reason Kaiser’s report shows Alaska’s loss as much lower. But KFF Vice President Larry Levitt says Alaska would still have significant losses, because the block grants the bill provides aren’t as generous as Alaska’s benefits under the Affordable Care Act. “The (Graham-Cassidy) block grant tries to equalize funding across states,” Levitt said, “not based on whether they’ve expanded Medicaid or not, or how high premiums are, but how many low-income people live in the state. And by that formula Alaska ends up losing a substantial amount of money, almost $300 million.” That’s over seven years. Another left left-leaning group, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities says Alaska would lose almost that much just in 2026. “The difference is the baseline,” CBPP Senior Fellow Aviva Aron-Dine said. She worked on implementing the Affordable Care Act in the Obama administration. Aviva Aron-Dine of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Photo: CBPP. Aron-Dine said all of these reports compare what the bill would do relative to current law. So you have to make assumptions about the path we’re on now, like: how many Alaskans will be on the Medicaid rolls in 2026? What will insurance cost five years from now? “The truth is, reputable well-intentioned analysts can just disagree about what it’s reasonable to assume,” Aron-Dine said. Aron-Dine said a firm called Manatt may be best on take on these Alaska factors, because it does research for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Manatt’s latest report was made public on Thursday. Its prediction of the seven-year impact: $1.1 billion.
|Data breaches and online securityAlaska Public Media / 3 d. 11 h. 53 min. ago more|
(Photo by Sarah Yu/KTOO) It’s become too common. Reports of a data breach that leaves thousands or millions of consumers vulnerable to identity theft, fraud or other types of scams. But what can you do to keep your personal information safe when online commerce is every day business? HOST: Anne Hillman GUESTS: Davyn Williams – consumer protection attorney-Alaska Dept. of law Chuck Harwood – regional director-Federal Trade Commission Statewide callers Participate: Call 550-8422 (Anchorage) or 1-800-478-8255 (statewide) during the live broadcast Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air). Send email to email@example.com (comments may be read on air) LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide. SUBSCRIBE: Get Talk of Alaska updates automatically by email, RSS or podcast.
|The Mayor of Anchorage addresses concern over crime and safetyAlaska Public Media / 3 d. 12 h. 30 min. ago more|
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz at a press conference last July announcing a new DUI unit. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage) Anchorage had a record number of homicides last year and is on pace to possibly surpass that number this year. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz took some heat for comments he made last week when he said residents who were not involved in drugs or out after midnight were safe. He apologized a day later, saying he wishes he could undo those comments. He said when crime happens to someone in the city, he feels the weight. Listen now BERKOWITZ: And it’s important to make sure that people who are victims by crime or concerned about crime know that I have that sympathy, and that I have that understanding. And I need to make sure that I convey that at all times. TOWNSEND: What are you hearing, Mayor, from residents about their level of concern over safety? People should be able to expect the city to be safe, no matter what time of day it is. BERKOWITZ: You know, there’s different ways of answering that question. I’ve always looked at the ability to generate a safe community is dependent on what we’re doing to prevent crime, what we’re doing to police it, how are we prosecuting it, what sort of punishments are in place, and the city only has the ability to exert levels on the policing. We have very little prosecutorial power. Most of the crime, the serious crime in the state, is charged at the state or at the federal level so… We’re also contending with the fact that we have an opioid epidemic and we are way short of the prevention piece here in terms of the detox facilities as well as the outreach. TOWNSEND: As you’re well aware, we have Nixle alerts that go out. There’s a lot of social media sites, Facebook, Next Door, there’s other sites… Do you find those helpful or do they fuel the perception that crime is rampant? BERKOWITZ: Well, police have been very appreciative of the help they receive from the public. They’ve been able to generate leads and successfully apprehend and arrest people who have committed crimes through Nixle. There’s also the reality that when people are intensely aware of everything that’s going on in a community, those concerns tend to become exacerbated. There’s a lot of really great things that are happening in Anchorage right now. We’ve grown the police department. We’re gonna have some more detox facilities come online. The state hopefully will resolve its fiscal gap and we’ll be able to start to put more prosecutors back online and sort of restore the troopers to the levels that they had historically been. So, there are a lot of things that are good that are happening. We sometimes when we’re caught in the social media world, we just see a small piece of the bigger picture. TOWSEND: There’s been a lot of debate about SB91. A lot of people seem to be blaming an uptick in petty theft and property crimes on SB 91 and a perceived inability by law enforcement to make arrests. What’s your take on that perspective? BERKOWITZ: There’s a lot of contributing factors to what’s going on. Senate Bill 91 isn’t even what they intended it to be. Senate Bill 91 was intended to replace incarceration with rehabilitation. They restricted the discretion that police officers and prosecutors have, which I think is an unfortunate step. But they didn’t back-fill at the same time with putting the rehabilitation resources in place. So in a little bit, we’ve not even seen SB91 the way it was created. We’re seeing half of SB91 and that’s part of the problem. But this is an instance where the state would allow the municipality to do more things for ourselves, and not dictate to us at the local levels how things should be policed and prosecuted, then I think we’d have a better ability to take care of the situation here.
|The Latest: Analysts say Alaska gets help in health billABCNews.com / 4 d. 14 h. 24 min. ago more|
Analysts say that the health care bill that Republicans hope to push through the Senate next week contains language helping Alaska
|New owners lay off employees at Alaska's largest newspaperABCNews.com / 4 d. 17 h. 30 min. ago more|
The new owners of Alaska's largest newspaper have laid off reporters, editors and other employees just days after a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the Alaska Dispatch News for $1 million
|In Alaska town packed with cabs, bootleggers give you a rideABCNews.com / 4 d. 23 h. 22 min. ago more|
Several cabdrivers are accused of illegally selling alcohol out of their taxis in an Alaska town known for its disproportionately high number of cabs for its small population