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Steve Haycox

2014 is a major anniversary year for Alaska. March 24 marks 25 years since the Exxon Valdez tanker oil spill in Prince William Sound; March 27 will be 50 years since the great Alaska earthquake. 2014 also marks the 40th anniversary of the start of construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

As is widely recognized, the pipeline and subsequent tax revenue generated by oil production profoundly transformed Alaska, economically, politically and even socially...

Steve Haycox

It remains to be seen what the Alaska legislature will do this session with the Watana Dam project on the Susitna River. The 700-foot high structure, if ever built, is projected to supply 50 percent of the power needed along the Railbelt from Anchorage to Fairbanks. But three issues have taken the blush off the project for which the Legislature appropriated about $95 million last year and $66 million the year before....

Steve Haycox

A news item of particular import passed mostly unnoticed early this week: A statue of James Meredith on the University of Mississippi campus was found with a noose around its neck and a Confederate flag draped around its shoulders...

Steve Haycox

Global warming has been a hot topic this winter. The polar vortex of cold air poured into the central and eastern U.S., carried by a wandering jet stream, possibly a result of more exposed water and less sea ice having caused more rapid warming of the atmosphere over Alaska. The drought in California has led to serious water rationing, and at least one source has revived Wally Hickel's idea of transporting water from Alaska to that paradise. And in his State of the Union address, President Obama noted, "The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact."...

Steve Haycox

It's over half a century since Michael Harrington published his eye-opening analysis of poverty in the U.S., "The Other America." Yet the problem he identified so vividly and effectively is still very much with us: Poverty is growing.

In his revelation, Harrington presented a gripping picture of American poverty: the workers who could not earn a living wage; the teens who had nothing constructive to do because their were no jobs for them; the homeless who through no fault of their own slept in their cars or on park benches; the mothers frazzled by their failure most months to make their meager grocery purchases get their families through to the next paycheck; the seniors living on dog food and forgoing their prescribed medicines...

Steve Haycox

A new book formally published this week has already attracted considerable critical attention nationally. Joel Greenberg's "A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction" (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014) tells the extraordinary story of the reduction of a natural species of wildlife from billions to nothing is just a few decades of the 19th century...

Steve Haycox

Income inequality has been much in the news the past several weeks, after Pope Francis' denunciation in November of "trickle down" economics, and President Obama's Dec. 4 speech at the Center for American Progress in which he called income inequality "the defining challenge of our time."

David Simon, executive producer of the creative and powerful HBO series "The Wire," speaking at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney, Australia, as reported in The Guardian, suggests that America has become a "horror show," that, far more dangerous than a racial divide, what characterizes the U.S. now is a class divide...

Steve Haycox

It appears that "federal overreach" is going to be a prominent feature of the upcoming political season. Three of the major candidates running -- Gov. Sean Parnell, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former Attorney General and Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan -- have indicated that they intend to make the most of the notion in their respective campaigns Clearly, they hope to paint their opponents as weak sisters in standing up for Alaska's rights, and too happily in league with federal programs in Alaska that inevitably carry federal oversight and constraint...

Steve Haycox

There were commemorations in Washington, D.C., last month of one of the finer moments in American history: the response to the Saturday Night Massacre. What was commemorated was the courage to take a stand on principle by major figures in the Justice Department.

During Senate hearings in 1973 investigating the break-in of Democratic Party offices in the Watergate office complex in D.C., a White House aide revealed that President Nixon had a comprehensive taping system in his office. An issue in the investigation was whether Nixon had personal knowledge of the break-in, and any attempt to cover up White House involvement. When Nixon's attorney general, Richard Kleindienst, resigned under a cloud in the summer of 1973, Nixon appointed Elliot Richardson...

Steve Haycox

The shutdown of the federal government brought about because a Republican rump of the U.S. House refused to vote for an appropriations bill to fund government operations, and capitulated only when a default on government debt loomed, has led many to despair of the honorability of our elected officials. For an organized party in a legislature to allow its internal warfare to get into the public arena so vividly is anathema to the party leadership. In this instance, it led to House Speaker John Boehner being labeled by some as the weakest speaker in memory...

Steve Haycox

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