Washington Post looks into Alaska's marijuana laws: The Washington Post's Wonk Blog broke down issues with Alaska's complicated marijuana laws Wednesday, noting the implications of the Ravin decision, the Alaska Supreme Court ruling which found individual privacy protects the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the home. The blog suggests Alaska's laws are more liberal than Netherlands law, which prohibits the personal cultivation of marijuana. The author also wonders why other states aren't looking to Alaska for advice on legalization after 39 years of admittedly complicated semilegal status? The Washington Post writes part of it is "Alaska is just weird" and that it's hard to extrapolate lessons from one state to another. They also note that gray areas in the law (specifically its legal status) also make it hard to spot trends. The blog does note that marijuana use is consistently higher in Alaska and despite that, statistically Alaska does not have an increase in poor social outcomes, specifically stating that "in short, Alaskans use marijuana twice as much as Americans elsewhere, but so far the sky hasn't fallen."
Inuit throat singer wins top Canadian honors, defends seal hunting: An Inuit singer from Nunavut won the Polaris Prize Monday, a top Canadian music award, and used the platform to strike back at critics of Canada’s seal hunt. Tanya Tagaq, known for her throat-singing and for collaborating with Bjork, took the top honors for her most recent album, “Animism,” beating out popular acts such as Arcade Fire and Drake. Tagaq -- who earlier this year generated controversy by tweeting a picture of her infant daughter next to a dead seal -- told the audience that “People should wear and eat seal as much as possible,” and directed an expletive at the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Earlier this year Canada failed in a bid to get the World Trade Organization to overturn the European Union's ban on seal products.
Magnitude 4.5 quake rumbles Prince William Sound region: The same area that produced the largest recorded earthquake in North America shook lightly late Tuesday night with a magnitude 4.5 event centered 23 miles northwest of Valdez. The quake, located at a depth of 9 miles, was felt in Anchorage and Valdez, the U.S. Geological Survey reports. No damage has been reported, according to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center. The Good Friday earthquake of 1964 was a magnitude 9.2 event centered near College Fjord in Prince William Sound, 40 miles west of Valdez. Some 139 deaths are attributed to the 1964 quake and the resulting tsunamis.
Wood bison reintroduction work underway: Newsweek picks up the story of Alaska’s wood bison, which are in the process of being reintroduced in the Innoko River area after a June rule change by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cleared the last hurdle. The animals, as Newsweek notes, are the largest North American land mammal and were once widely distributed across Canada and Alaska before hunting nearly wiped them out. The animals -- currently held at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Girdwood -- will be flown to Shageluk in the spring, and then, after pregnant cows give birth in Shageluk, be released into the wild.
Alaska flora and fauna among those facing threats: A New York Times piece on plants and animals around the globe that are threatened by global climate change includes several with connections to Alaska or the Arctic. Among them are walruses -- some of whom have taken to hauling out on North Slope beaches in recent years -- lemmings, some Arctic mosses and didymo -- also known as rock snot. The piece is part of a larger Times series on climate change, which has included a piece on how cities will be affected (Anchorage comes out looking relatively good) and how shifts in polar bear diet show how little we know about the complicated systems being disrupted.