When oil prices went up in the early 1980s, Alaska spent $227 million studying the Susitna-Watana Dam, then abandoned the project as uneconomic and unaffordable. When prices went up again in the last decade, we spent another $187 million studying the same project,without having the $5.7 billion to build it. Including only projects that failed or were never completed, we have the agriculture project, the petrochemical project (I wonder how many readers remember that one), the Healy Clean Coal Project, the super-duper seafood plant that is now a church, the Knik Arm bridge (once every couple of decades), the Point MacKenzie Rail Extension and ferry, the Juneau Access Road, and the Ambler Road . I’m leaving out many others. Each time I write a column I get a bunch of additional nominations...Charles Wohlforth
FAIRBANKS — A former Fairbanks chiropractor was found guilty by a federal jury Friday of three out of five counts in a murder-for-hire case. Guy Christopher Mannino will be sentenced in May, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported . Prosecutors say Mannino tried to hire his jailhouse friend Julius "J.T." Chambers to kill a witness, an FBI agent and an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The witness would have testified Mannino tried to hire him in a separate murder-for-hire plot that was not carried out and did not result in charges. Court records say the witness told authorities Mannino promised him illegal firearms in exchange for killing the attorney representing his opponent in a lawsuit. Mannino pleaded guilty to firearms offenses, but later learned...Associated Press
Stronger winds and thinner ice are forcing Alaska polar bears to work harder to stay here, according to scientists who have studied increased movements of both sea ice and bears. "There's an energetic cost to stay in Alaska," said David Douglas of the U.S. Geological Survey Science Center. He and others compared the wanderings of polar bears from two periods and found the bears now need to capture and eat as many as four additional seals each year to overcome faster-moving ice and stay in areas they prefer. "That may not seem like a lot, but keep in mind that's at a time when their habitat to hunt seals is shrinking," he said. While studying the movements of satellite-collared female polar bears (collars don't fit on males because their necks are larger than their heads), Douglas and his...Ned Rozell
Shell may have pulled out of the Arctic, but some of its leftover equipment will better prepare the state for oil spills. Three Alaska organizations are working together to place spill response equipment Shell contracted during its Arctic offshore oil exploration in spill response hubs around Western Alaska and Prince William Sound. Two nonprofits -- the Alaska Maritime Prevention and Response Network and oil spill removal organization Alaska Chadux Corp. -- along with UIC Arctic Response Services are looking at 14 Chadux-operated equipment hubs around the state to determine where the extra resources will go. That equipment includes skimmers, booms to contain oil spills, mini barges for temporary oil storage capacity and small boats, which used to be under contract for use by Shell from...Annie Zak
A member of the Skagway Assembly plans to plead guilty to federal charges of failing to file tax returns and has agreed to pay back more than $600,000 to the government as part of a plea deal. Daniel Henry signed off on the plea agreement, which includes four criminal counts of willfully failing to file tax returns, on Wednesday. According to the court document, Henry did not file individual income tax returns from 2004 to 2012. The hundreds of thousands in taxes Henry agreed to return is income from his restaurant, Skagway Fish Co. From at least 2008 to 2012, Henry and a family member made cash deposits at a bank -- always between $9,000 and $9,900 -- in an attempt to avoid required income reports, the plea deal says. It also states that Henry filed financial disclosure reports with the...Jerzy Shedlock
2015 saw increased attention paid to the Arctic from the international community and the state. Issues such as climate change, an uptick in marine traffic, and infrastructure concerns have driven many of the discussions among stakeholders so far this year. Over the next several weeks, The Arctic Sounder will bring you conversations with state and regional leaders outlining their priorities for the Arctic in 2016. This week, we hear from Gov. Bill Walker. Q: What are your priorities for the Arctic in 2016? A: Well, there’s a number of things. Obviously, health and safety is an issue we’re concerned about with the villages that are threatened that have been targeted for potential relocation in some fashion. We often refer to Kivalina as one storm away from a major problem. We have engaged...Shady Grove Oliver | The Arctic Sounder
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Visitors to the Anchorage Museum on Friday morning did double-takes as a robotic tour guide greeted them, rolled through the galleries like R2-D2, looked over the exhibits, made conversation and sometimes asked for help. “Second floor please,” it requested of an elevator rider. “I can’t push the...
Mike Dunham
Visitors to the Anchorage Museum on Friday morning did double-takes as a robotic tour guide greeted them, rolled through the galleries like R2-D2, looked over the exhibits, made conversation and sometimes asked for help. “Second floor, please,” it requested of an elevator rider. “I can’t push the buttons.” The telepresence robot made by Beam+ is 1 foot wide, about 4 1/2 feet tall, weighs 40 pounds and has enough power to roll up a standard wheelchair ramp. It looks like a riderless Segway or a push vacuum cleaner with a computer screen on top. Such machines have been around for a few years, mainly in industrial applications, but are still new to most members of the public. People seemed genuinely startled at how it wandered around on its own and chatted with people, including a busload of...Mike Dunham
Although all three concerts in the Alaska Airlines Winter Classics chamber music series sold out before it opened, additional seats have been added onstage. On Friday night some were added to the sides of the balcony. It’s a narrow, somewhat precarious location, but one was pleased to see the UAA Recital Hall full. Friday’s program opened with Debussy’s fiery Cello Sonata in D Minor. Zuill Bailey, accompanied by pianist Eduard Zilberkant, made the most of the cello part, which is one of the most emotionally charged pieces in the literature, full of angst and fury. There have been other times when a solo string instrument shared the stage with a piano that had its lid all the way open and the result was one struggled to hear the string. That was not the case here. The cello more than held...Mike Dunham
Wash, rinse, but don’t repeat Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair. Oy vey! C’mon, ADN. A full page for UAA women’s basketball player Alysha Devine’s hair? When it’s cut, how long, why no braids (it’s a weapon), it’s curly, dad says keep it, no highlights, stuck to another player. And “frizz ball”? Frizz ball? With apologies to Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own,” “There’s no frizz in basketball!” (Except for men in the NBA.) Offensive foul if The Hair swats a defensive player in the face? Out of bounds if The Hair brushes someone on the sidelines? Timeouts for Hair “adjustments”? Does The Hair get media interviews? (“What’s it like out there? Do you give 110 percent? Lots of trash talk? What about — gasp! — split ends?”) As the rock musical “Hair” said, “Gimme a head with hair/Long...Alaska Dispatch News