Thirty years ago, my wife knocked softly on the door of my classroom in Southeast Alaska. I knew something must be serious, and probably not good. She wouldn’t disturb the class unless she felt she absolutely had to. What had happened? Her mother? Something with my mom or dad? My brother? “There’s some news I just heard. It’s not good. Maybe come on out in the hall.” I did. “Mack killed himself last night. I’m so sorry. Both barrels of a double-barreled shotgun.” I crumpled against her. Tears sprang from my eyes. My body wrenched. Not Mack. Mack, who was caught smoking dope around the corner of the school. After his suspension, he was given a choice: give up the keys to his Chevy Impala, park it in the school lot for the rest of the season, and continue to play basketball on my team -- or...Bill Hutton
My ancestors have occupied the lands known as Alaska for over 10,000 years. Our traditions are steeped in history and intimately connected with the land and its natural resources. One month ago, President Barack Obama made a historic and unprecedented three-day trip to Alaska and I had the honor and privilege to accompany him. Looking back, I’m blown away by the fact this was the first time a sitting president has ever visited rural Alaska and traveled above the Arctic Circle. As an Alaska Native who was born and raised in the state, the president’s trip was uniquely moving for me. I was fortunate enough to witness a moment in history. A moment we may never see again in our lifetimes. I grew up in a pretty uniquely “Alaskan” way. My summers were spent subsistence and commercial fishing...Raina Thiele
Each time a widely publicized shooting incident occurs, media members and politicians immediately attack the "gun-show loophole" as the villain which, if eliminated, will make us all safe. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently announced to the voting world that gun shows and Internet transactions do not require a purchaser's background check -- a loophole which she intends to plug if elected. In the face of such a blatantly inaccurate statement from one who should know better, perhaps it's time to discuss what the so-called gun-show loophole really is, and is not. A firearms dealer is considered to be a business person who conducts multiple transactions for profit as a means of income. Every federally licensed dealer in firearms (FFL) is required to obtain identification and...Don Neal
The topic was Medicaid expansion, but House Speaker Mike Chenault sounded like the late Yogi Berra in an interview with Anchorage NBC affiliate KTUU: "There's more information that people are looking for and there's not enough certainty one way or the other to either go forward with the lawsuit or to dismiss the lawsuit." And if you come to a legal fork in the road, take it. Better yet, just drop it. Somehow, it was no surprise that the Legislative Council emerged from a secret meeting in late September and refused to shut down its court fight against the Walker administration over whether the governor can approve Medicaid expansion this year. After all, the council members had decided during the summer it was smart strategy to pay the lawyers in advance. That might have something to do...Dermot Cole
I read with interest that Alaska Democrats are partnering in a fundraising campaign with presidential contender Hillary Clinton. According to the Sept. 22 Alaska Dispatch News , some of the money raised by Alaska Democrats will go to Clinton's campaign. The rest will go to the Democratic National Committee and 33 state parties, Alaska's included, that have joined a joint fundraising committee called the Hillary Victory Fund. Surely Alaska Democrats know that Mrs. Clinton recently confirmed her steadfast opposition to energy development in Alaska, building on her long-standing opposition to ANWR with declarations that exploration offshore Alaska is "not worth it." Mike Wenstrup, Alaska’s Democratic Party chair, said that the ​Hillary Victory Fund is “an effort to help state parties benefit...Paulette Simpson
“The United States does not have friends, it has interests” snapped John Foster Dulles, the stern and powerful secretary of state for the Eisenhower administration, 1953-59. This retort was given in response to the remark that the United Kingdom and the United States had a “Special Relationship.” Dulles’ quip was met with indignation and rebuke from both sides of the Atlantic. Yet there is a powerful idea behind Dulles’ retort. America’s long-term interests should guide foreign policy, not warm feelings about any of the many countries with which we have had long-term alliances and open immigration. Still, the reality is that the pursuit of “interests” competes with several other conflicting notions of the goals of foreign policy, including helping friends even when not obviously in our...John Havelock
HAINES -- It bothers me that most hunting pictures only show the whole moose, or a big head with a smiling hunter and never the meat. Fine, healthy, wild meat -- it seems to me -- is what hunting really is, so I decided to take photographs while my husband and I cut a whole moose into pieces with two knives and a saw before carrying it home. But then I looked at them and knew they shouldn’t be printed in the paper. Cleaning a moose is a little like childbirth that way. The close-ups are better in memory than digitally recorded. So instead, I will tell you how we did it. Chip cut out the anus and such. Then there was the long stern-to-stem cut to gut it. Imagine fish cleaning times 1,000. Chip pulled out armloads of steaming, bloody innards, while I reached in with my knife and sliced any...Heather Lende
DOUGLAS -- To many Americans, Alaska is land of ice and snow, wind and tundra. When I tell people down south where we’re from, I begin by dispelling the image of our home as an igloo in a sparse, white landscape. Granted, we live near Alaska’s capital on the edge of a massive ice field. Our 37-square-mile river of ice known as Mendenhall Glacier is visited by thousands every summer. We also live in the largest national forest in the nation. For my Lower 48 friends and family, I turn my clenched hand outward, fold my middle, ring and pinky fingers under and jut out the thumb and forefinger. I point to the bulk of my hand. “This is Alaska,” I say. Then I point to my thumb joint. “We’re here, in Southeast Alaska, where it rains more than most places. We live surrounded by spruce and hemlock...Katie Bausler
Budget crisis exaggerated If you are going to be a thief you might as well be a good one. The present Alaskan leadership insults the Alaskan people with its fiscal rhetoric. Three billion dollars is not a budget crisis for Alaska. We created the Constitutional Budget Reserve to handle this very type of problem. While that kicks in we have plenty of time to modify a simple yearly chore like the general fund. The politicians say no. The exaggerated crisis is being played on us to help shore up the plan to take all our money on a pipe dream. The next proposed investment step is a fine example of the idiocy involved. We’re to pay $7.5 billion now for a possible return of less than half a billion a year starting 10 years from now. That’s spooky; it must be underhanded. Alaskans, please stand...Alaska Dispatch News
In 2005, Rep. Don Young included a down payment on the Knik Arm Crossing in a federal highway bill. When the bill emerged in its final form, the bridge had his name on it. Sec. 4411 of the bill said , "The Knik Arm bridge in Alaska to be planned, designed, and constructed pursuant to section 117 of title 23, United States Code, as high priority project number 2465 under section 1702 of this Act, is designated as Don Young's Way.'" Some critics lambasted the $230 million earmark as an example of Young's appetite for pork, but the name had been bestowed by Sen. Ted Stevens. “I didn’t name that bridge,” Young told reporters. But, he added, “I certainly wasn’t going to turn it down.” "Names are strange things," he said. "After you're gone, you don't remember the name. But it'll be a legacy...Dermot Cole