Voices

Many pilots have written memoirs of their flying careers. Their collected works fill tall bookcases. Usually a pilot turned author, no matter how skilled in the cockpit, is a modest literary craftsmen. He or she can tell a story but cannot make it shine.

James Salter, who died in June at age 90, was an exception. Unlike most pilots, he was not a one-book man who crammed a lifetime between two covers. He quit flying in his prime to write fiction, nonfiction, and movie scripts and continued writing for half a century...

Michael Carey
Lowlife lifts free library

To the Anchorage lowlife who decided to take the bike trail “Little Free Library” the evening of July 23 — shame on you. I’m assuming sometime over your lifetime books have in some way hurt you and you are now getting even. For over a year neighbors, families, and bike trail users have enjoyed visiting the “Little Free Library” on the bike trail between the Alaska Native Hospital and Northern Lights. Now they’ll have to go a bit farther to trade out a new book. For those of you who have enjoyed stopping by, don’t despair, plans are underway to build another “Little Free Library” in the same location. After all as Ernest Hemingway said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” — Alice Knapp Anchorage...

Alaska Dispatch News

The resumption of visa-free travel for Bering Strait Natives of Alaska and the Russian Far East, recently announced by the U.S. State Department, is a rare and tiny thaw in an otherwise frosty relationship between Russia and the West.

The challenge is whether enough affected indigenous peoples will put up with the hassle to visit each other, and whether citizen diplomats on both sides will seize this opportunity to again melt the “ice curtain” between the U.S. and Russia as we did three decades ago.

For thousands of years, Eskimos traveled freely in walrus-hide boats to harvest the region’s rich marine mammals and visit relatives on both sides. Even with some restrictions after the 1917 Russian Revolution, that travel continued largely unimpeded...

David Ramseur

When 20 or so 8, 9 and 10 year-olds came into my anthropology lab at Kenai Peninsula College to learn about sustainability, I knew I had to do something to get their attention. Brought by the Kenaitze Tribe and an Epscor/NSF Outreach science program, they gathered around me, polite and eager.

“Do you want to hear a stupid boy story?” I asked.

Of course they did. It was a scene that could have happened a thousand years ago, although then it would likely have been told quietly by an elder at night around a spruce fire. “Ki ch’qinaghełnik’en kił” the elder would begin, “Another stupid boy.”

Once there was a boy who would not learn from his elders. His parents and uncles and aunts tried to teach him but he would not learn...

Alan Boraas

In January, the state Senate Finance Committee approved a contract with a former Alaska health and social services commissioner to provide expert advice on Medicaid expansion.

Among other tasks, the $45,000 contract called for Bill Streur to produce a “written report for committee use that presents strategies and options for Medicaid expansion” by the end of April. He was also to provide information on potential savings from Medicaid expansion and identify ways to change state operations to save money in one of the biggest programs in state government...

Dermot Cole
ER wait times not reliable statistic

The problem with using emergency room waiting times as a meaningful statistic on quality of health care is they include many “patients” coming to the ER lacking any real emergency reason: The drunks and druggies who end up there late at night, the lazy parents who wait until the weekend to bring in their sick child because they were too busy to take off work during the week, those who can’t afford to see a doc for a routine problem, etc. Any study needs to categorize waiting time for true emergency situations (subjective though that may be to determine) versus the “sick, lame and lazy” who show up there for various other reasons. — Thomas B. Petersen Anchorage...

Alaska Dispatch News

The debate over whether or not to accept Medicaid expansion and reform is in my rearview mirror.

Gov. Bill Walker announced he will do this under his last remaining option, the 45-day policy, used seven times since 1991 -- the last time was in 1998 (per Legislative Budget and Audit). His decision has been made; the train has left the station; it is happening...

Tara Jollie

On July 16, despite low projected oil prices , an ongoing budget crisis , and warnings across the country about cost issues associated with Medicaid expansion, Gov. Bill Walker announced his intent to unilaterally expand Medicaid in Alaska . The decision is fraught with risk....

Sen. John Coghill

Earlier this month, the five Arctic Ocean coastal states signed a much heralded moratorium on fishing in the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean , or more specifically, adopted “interim measures to prevent unregulated fishing.”

As the states themselves acknowledge, there is no commercial fishing there now and it is unlikely there will be any in the near future. However, they agreed to apply the precautionary principle, and ensured that if and when Arctic ecosystems evolve to reflect climate changes and commercial fisheries become viable, none will take place until a suitable regional fisheries management organization is in place...

Heather Exner-Pirot

This week, a reader asks a question getting to the heart of an issue that will eventually need resolution as Alaska's attempt to structure its legal cannabis industry goes forward.

Other states that have legalized pot have roads leading more or less from every pot store to every potential customer. But a great many Alaskans live off the road system. They rely on small planes for travel and on air cargo parcels for practically everything, from construction supplies to bulk grocery items, and even alcohol.

Courtney asks, “Is it reasonable to expect that if my community in the rural part of the state 'opts out' of commercial cannabis, I will be able to order it like I can alcohol? I live off the road system in Bethel and we have a no-limit local option on alcohol.”...

Scott Woodham