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Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- The gleaming spires reaching skyward near the banks of the Chena River downtown remind some of ice crystals, while others say the shapes are reminiscent of quartz crystals or the imagined architecture of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.

At night, when the multicolored lights reflect on the steel surface, polished to a mirror-like finish, some may think of the northern lights dancing in the sky...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- Alaska Communications Systems is “endangering the health and safety” of thousands of Fairbanks residents by failing to provide updated phone numbers for the city's “Enhanced 911” system, the Fairbanks North Star Borough has charged in a lawsuit.

“As a result, borough citizens face an impending disaster -- a 911 call for help from someone in distress who is not able to verbally communicate,” the borough charged in its Aug. 25 complaint in state court.

On Tuesday, ACS filed documents to move the case to federal district court because the borough has claimed the company is violating federal law. The company said in a statement that safety of Fairbanks residents is its top priority and it is working toward a solution...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- A year ago, then-Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” in Japan with the government-controlled Japan Bank for International Cooperation, dealing with Alaska development and exports of liquefied natural gas.

Earlier this month, Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash signed a “Memorandum of Cooperation” in Japan with the government trade office, a document that is similar, right down to some awkward phrasing. The agreement a year ago said the two entities “agree to enhance closer economic relationship” between the state and Japan, while the agreement this month said they “share the intent to enhance closer economic relationship.”...

Dermot Cole

Two veterans of the Wounded Warrior Project are touring Southcentral Alaska in a modified Nissan truck airlifted to Anchorage this week on a C-130.

Nissan calls the Alaska adventure “Project Titan,” with two Army veterans putting the V-8 crewcab to the “ultimate test” on and off the road for the next two weeks. The truck is the vehicle of choice for a series on YouTube...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS—Five months have passed since 56 out of 60 legislators approved a bill to revise the law that says English is the official language of Alaska.

But the bill has yet to become law because Gov. Sean Parnell is waiting for the right political opportunity to deal with it — the annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS — The missiles in the ground at Fort Greely are designed to propel an immensely complicated 140-pound device into outer space at a moment’s notice.

The small spacecraft on the top of each rocket is an “exoatmospheric kill vehicle.” It carries no explosive charge.

Rather, once it gets into space, it uses its own propulsion system, guidance data from the ground and onboard sensors to position itself for a high-speed head-on collision with a rocket headed toward the United States. A smashup at many thousands of miles per hour turns both incoming and outgoing objects into millions of pieces of space junk.

That’s the theory...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- Most of the money financing the attack ads, the feel-good ads and all other aspects of the U.S. Senate campaigns in Alaska originates with people who will never cast a vote in Alaska.

About $16 million so far has been allocated or spent by groups working for or against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Begich and GOP nominee Dan Sullivan but not connected to the candidates, organizations with limited publicly-disclosed Alaska connections. But there are also big spenders who don't have to reveal the sources of their funds, which makes tracing some campaign dollars impossible...

Dermot Cole

ExxonMobil told state regulators again last week not to expect an increase in oil production on the North Slope, arguing it is a “reasonable approach” to conclude that a long-term decline is continuing.

In the weeks and months preceding the vote on whether to repeal the MAPA (SB 21) oil tax cut, supporters of the law claimed repeatedly that the decline in oil production had ended, arguing that oil production in fiscal year 2013 was nearly the same as in fiscal year 2014, the start of a new trend toward higher production.

Critics said that since MAPA had only been in effect for six months, its was unrealistic to draw conclusions on the future course of oil production...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS— At first, I thought the press release must have come from the re-election campaign of Gov. Sean Parnell, or the campaign of GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan.

It was headlined, “ Alaska health insurance rates to increase substantially due to Obamacare .” The text said “historic rate increases” are in store because of same.

The press release reflects the long-established Parnell policy that the Affordable Care Act is making life worse in Alaska and the statements by Sullivan that he wants to repeal the law and allow “market forces” to cut costs...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- About 20 elected officials from 14 NATO countries received a wide-ranging update on Arctic issues and challenges Thursday from University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers.

Global security concerns and transportation challenges are among a host of pressing issues, said Margaret “Meta” Ramsay, chairwoman of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Science and Technology Committee. Speaking to reporters at UAF, she said the delegation came to Alaska to learn more about the geopolitical importance of the changing Arctic...

Dermot Cole