Voices

A recent announcement by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services proposes changes to the way abortions are billed to Medicaid by defining a limited number of diseases and conditions which would qualify for the service under the statutory language of “medically necessary.” Commissioner Streur lauded the proposal in a recent interview discussing the reason for its implementation saying, “it will make them [doctors] think more about it before signing the box.” This proposal, a straight power grab and end-run around the legislature, invites legal challenges that will drag out for years, cost the state millions of dollars and will inevitably result in being overturned on constitutional grounds....

Berta Gardner

Alaska is about to host Gina McCarthy, our nation's new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This comes at a time when the EPA is focusing nationally on climate change -- meaning that we can anticipate that air quality will be the issue in Fairbanks. It is going to be difficult for her to envision the contrast between a clear late summer day in August and an ice fog day in January. She will just have to take our word that we are in the process of doing better, and once we get natural gas we will be able to close the "gap."

Clearly, the highest profile item on her agenda will be the proposed Pebble Mine project which is located on state lands. The role of the EPA in the Pebble project, however, raises some important and disturbing procedural questions...

Frank Murkowski

Today, Americans will mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech , which Dr. King delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was a defining moment in the civil rights movement. Five years after his famous speech, King was in Memphis to support the sanitation-worker strike. He spoke at a local church. It was the night before he was assassinated. At the time, I was a 15-year-old member of a local gang known as the Bungalow Braves. Several of us “Braves” heard that King was going to be down at Mason Temple that night for a rally speech...

Luther Ivory

ANALYSIS: Despite international publicity and United Nations endorsement for the first-ever democratic elections in Sri Lanka's northern province, regime-backed armed forces have fortified their position by seizing private property and deploying 150,000 soldiers. The army's moves come after assurances to the UN of demilitarization before September's vote.

WASHINGTON: The Sri Lanka Army has said it will vacate camps in the country’s northern Jaffna Peninsula before crucial provincial elections in September. Despite the international publicity the move has attracted, Jaffna’s residents say there is no significant downtick in overall levels of militarization...

J. S. Tissainayagam

OWLS HEAD, Maine — Next rainy day, if you feel like depressing yourself, read George Packer's "The Unwinding," a 400-page look into the "inner history of the new America."

If you prefer the old America, here's why you should read it anyway: the book shows the breakdown of the middle class, almost an American invention in the 20th century, as industries collapsed, safety nets filled with holes, and politics turned into a no-compromise, winner-take-all game in which the electorate became the permanent loser.

But if you only have a few minutes to absorb the message, read the front-page article in this past Sunday's New York Times entitled, "For Freshmen in the House, Seats of Plenty."...

Mac Deford

“The Central Park Five,” the powerful documentary by Ken Burns and his daughter, Sarah, recounts the police trickery and intimidation that led a group of innocent youths aged 14 to 16 to confess to the brutal 1989 rape of a young investment banker jogging in Central Park. The natural reaction from many viewers was: “How horrible things used to be.” Sadly, the reaction of most of us in the juvenile justice community has been: "When will it ever change?"

Before the dawn of DNA fingerprinting, confessions served as nearly ironclad evidence for the prosecution. But we now know that many people confess to crimes they did not commit. While they do it for a host of reasons, the pressure of plea bargaining is a common cause...

Lael Chester

Leave it to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a woman always ready to bootstrap her brand onto anything going up, to proclaim a show about a bunch of guys goofing off at work as an example of America's "hard working family.''

Maybe she's just never seen the top-rated "Duck Dynasty'' TV show.

True fans “Duck Dynasty” know the show is about anything but hard work. The lead character, in fact, spends much of his time lamenting what screw offs his employees happen to be. If all work in America got done the way it appears to get done on this TV show, which most people realize is fiction, the country would be bankrupt...

Craig Medred

Congress is in recess, but you’d hardly know it. This has been the most do-nothing, gridlocked Congress in decades. But the recess at least offers a pause in the ongoing partisan fighting that’s sure to resume in a few weeks.

It also offers an opportunity to step back and ask ourselves what’s really at stake.

A society — any society —- is defined as a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions: public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on...

Robert Reich

During the July 1993 Srebrenica massacre in the former Yugoslavia, UN peacekeepers failed to adequately prevent the mass killing of over 7,000 men and boys, according to a review by the UN Secretary General. The infamous crime was the worst on European soil since World War II, Kofi Annan said in 2005.

"May we all learn, and act on, the lessons of Srebrenica," the former UN head said.

Sadly, it appears that history may have repeated itself...

Nathaniel A. Raymond and Isaac L. Baker

Sen. Murkowski was right on the mark with her recent commentary in Alaska Dispatch . Diversifying Alaska’s energy portfolio is key to producing affordable energy for our state. In the commercial fishing industry we are high consumers of both electricity and water that are essential to keeping processing facilities throughout the state up and running. Affordable electricity helps fishermen throughout the state meet their bottom line...

Lindsey Bloom