As an Alaskan, I am flattered this year’s Capitol Christmas tree comes from our own Chugach National Forest. Selected by the U.S. Forest Service for its perfect, conical shape and evenly dispersed branches, the 74-foot Lutz spruce is a statuesque symbol, for sure. But it symbolizes much more than holiday cheer. The handsome tree on the West Lawn was cut, ironically, from a forest that bans timber harvest. That’s due to the roadless rule, which prohibits construction of new roads in harvest areas and makes most federal land inaccessible to a timber industry that, like our other responsible resource industries, helped build infrastructure and industry in our state. Yet, to reach this special tree, the Forest Service built a "path" (as a road would be illegal), and authorized cutting down...Sen. Cathy Giessel
The experts got it wrong with climate change. Ever since NASA scientist Jim Hansen told Congress in 1988 that climate change posed a serious threat to life on Earth, we’ve been told a lie. The lie is simple and straightforward. It goes like this: you and me and everyone else on the planet are bad because we use oil and gas and coal, and those fossil fuels are trapping the heat that’s warming the very Earth that supports us. As we all know, the best lies contain partial truths. Yes, we all use fossil fuels. We drive cars, we fly in airplanes, and we use fossil fuels to heat our homes and to cook our food, among other things. And yes, climate change is already producing crazy changes to our weather and our landscape – and in Alaska, that means warmer salmon streams, less snowpack and...Bob Shavelson
Remember 9/11? Of course you do. It’s not a day any of us are likely to forget. Soon after it, American flags showed up on everyone’s porch and people were spotted wearing T-shirts that said, “These colors don’t run” superimposed over the red, white and blue. Sure is embarrassing to remember that now as our esteemed Republican presidential candidates and multiple governors tuck their tails between their legs and run in fear of refugees. I guess in their world, the colors do run. A certain segment of America insists on their right to pack heat in visible sight everywhere they go, from Starbucks to Wal-Mart. They act macho and tough. But you have to wonder if that gun on their hip is just a substitute for something else they have that isn’t as big. Just saying, for a group of people who...Elise Patkotak
Starting Nov. 30, Alaskans may want to keep a watchful eye on what world leaders say and do in Paris. The heads of 190 countries, including President Obama, are meeting for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. Their goal is to reach an international agreement that will stall — or even reverse — human progress. That’s not how they see it, of course. Their stated objective is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which will require dramatically restricting fossil fuel usage. But the reality is that restricting fossil fuels, which provide 74 percent of Alaska’s electricity, means abandoning the energy source that helped make the 21st century the best time in human history to be alive — not just in America but around the world. Fossil fuels helped shape most of the technological and...Alex Epstein
In the wake of a string of terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, Kenya and Egypt, the issue over how to best help refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war, while protecting Americans at home, is being hotly debated. Alaskans are rightly concerned for their own safety as well as for the fate of refugees from the Syrian civil war. Last week, I called on Gov. Walker and President Obama to put Americans first by putting in place a failsafe system to screen out potential terrorists within the refugee population destined for transit to our shores, and to do everything in their power to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. The inadequacy of our nation’s ability to do background checks on refugees was brought to light by FBI Director James Comey, who recently expressed concern over “...Sen. Mike Dunleavy
“Christianity is a great religion,” Mahatma Gandhi is said to have remarked. “Too bad nobody practices it.” Not only standard Christianity but that core doctrine of America’s civic religion inscribed on the Statue of Liberty assert a duty to accept refugees from violence and persecution. But, religion aside, our national security interests require that accepting refugees, without differentiating Muslims, is mandatory. By rejecting these refugees, we are doing exactly what our real enemies want. The ISIS terrorists are a fanatical, pseudo-Muslim sect of the Sunni branch of Islam. By acknowledging their victory as “Muslims,” we offer a gift, since these fanatical thugs aspires to be seen as not only a part of the greater Sunni Muslim religion but as its leader. Some of us are handing that...John Havelock
Don’t blame all refugees I understand the concern that terrorists will pass themselves off as Syrian refugees and sneak into Alaska, but I don’t understand the Chicken Little paranoia regarding (building a wall around our state?) not allowing any Syrian refugees into our state. I assume some of those “ringing the phones off the hooks” of our congress-persons are gun owners since statistics indicate Alaska trails only Wyoming as the state with the highest percentage of gun owners. But as a gun owner, I have to wonder about one glaring, apparent inconsistency. As we’ve experienced far too many times around our great country, there is a great hue and cry raised by many gun owners that just because a crazy person with a gun shoots up a school it doesn’t mean all gun owners will shoot up a...Alaska Dispatch News
Snow has arrived in Southcentral Alaska, offering a blanket of light to counter the creep of diminishing daylight. Love it or hate it, there are ways to make the most of snow for either the Heat Miser or the Snow Miser in all of us. Here are four family-friendly activities for intrepid cold-weather observers and couch-loving, fireside wannabe scientists alike. If you've ever seen a sun dog -- a halo around the sun -- on a particularly cold, clear day, you've caught a glimpse of diamond dust, a thin, glittering fog-like optical phenomenon generated by ice crystals. Snowflakes, just like diamond dust, are also ice crystals. And they have a lot to tell us about the world we live in. In an interview for FrontierScientists.com , Matthew Sturm, a professor with the University of Alaska...Jill Burke
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Snow has arrived in Southcentral Alaska, offering a blanket of light to counter the creep of diminishing daylight. Love it or hate it, there are ways to make the most of snow for either the Heat Miser or the Snow Miser in all of us. Here are four family-friendly activities for intrepid cold-weather...
Jill Burke
Halloween is over, and pretty soon it will be Thanksgiving. And for many people, Thanksgiving means food. Lots of food. So let’s talk about food, the rights to food, the rights to healthy food, and the health of Alaskans. Let’s also talk about how the health of many Alaskans – today and in the future – may be influenced by access to healthy food. Access to healthy food as a right Paragraph 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states , "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being of himself and his family, including food." Unfortunately, the right to food is not always actualized in reality. For example, according to the anti-hunger nonprofit organization Food Research and Action Center, almost 12 percent of Alaska households are considered...Annie Laweryson