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Voices

The respected Southern Education Foundation recently released the results of a study showing that for the first time in more than half a century, over 50 percent of public school students nationwide are considered low income, i.e. poor. Those who have been fleeing the public schools and advocating public funding for alternative schools must consider this a significant victory: The prospects of sending their children to school with “those people” diminish as the number of charter schools grows and the voucher movement succeeds in more and more communities....

Steve Haycox

Last month, President Barack Obama removed the North Aleutian Basin from the federal offshore oil and gas leasing program. Bristol Bay and the adjacent southeast Bering Sea waters are off the table for future leasing. His decision was supported by 20 seafood companies and trade associations who operate in the region as well as 50 tribes and Native organizations from Western Alaska and the Interior. The Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC) was part of this collective voice for resolving many decades of uncertainty about whether our fishing grounds would become an oil and gas field...

Norm Van Vactor
Rejoice in the blessings of today

When I arrived in Alaska more than 30 years ago, it seemed folks looked more on the brighter side of things. We rejoiced at a January day above freezing; now we forecast gloom and doom. When folks got strapped for cash, they grabbed a snow shovel, rake or chopping ax; now they grab a cardboard sign and head to the nearest corner. Sure, kings are getting hard to catch, but there are plenty of reds, not to mention berries growing everywhere. But confusing to me is we are telling OPEC what to do for a change, paying reasonable gas prices at the pump, looking at a couple bucks left in our wallets after paying utility bills and now many of us want to agonize over potential budget shortfalls!...

Alaska Dispatch News

Psychiatric treatment was virtually nonexistent in early 20th century Alaska. Trained psychiatrists were unknown. General practitioners performed limited psychiatric tasks and usually performed them poorly.

Early doctors drew liberally from phrenology and folklore, not Sigmund Freud. At a sanity hearing, a doctor might run his hand over the head of the poor soul before the court and offer bold pronouncements about his or her mental state after fingering a cranial bump...

Michael Carey

I understand that some Alaskans are wondering how the Keystone XL pipeline is relevant to Alaska. It’s a fair question that I believe deserves an answer.

Alaska has a unique history with large-scale infrastructure projects, including energy projects of great magnitude. Prudhoe Bay is a world-class oil field and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is a true modern marvel.

But Alaskans are also a little nervous right now. Even The New York Times has described a sense of “economic anxiety” that hangs over our state. The reason why is that our oil production -- which was once above 2 million barrels a day -- has dropped precipitously over the past few decades...

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Two years ago on New Year’s Eve, Shell’s Kulluk Arctic offshore drilling rig grounded near Kodiak Island. It was an industrial calamity heard around the world, including a cover story in the Jan. 4 issue of The New York Times magazine.

Between Shell’s 2012 offshore drilling and mobilization problems and the federal government’s difficulties in overseeing Arctic Ocean leasing as discussed below -- not to mention the recent dramatic drop in the price of oil -- it is becoming increasingly clear that Arctic Ocean drilling faces insurmountable hurdles, especially in 2015...

Lois Epstein

A look at the leaderboard of the recent Copper Basin 300 sled dog race sees many names familiar to those who follow our state sport. Perusing further down the list will find mushers few have heard of. There will also be a few recognizable names in the mix, scattered between 10th and 30th.

This is the Middle of the Pack. What separates Jeff King, who wins consistently, and Allen Moore, who has six Copper Basin wins to his credit , from other racers? One thing stands out: commitment...

John Schandelmeier

During a normal snowy winter, I swap the running shoes I keep in the back of the truck for a hodgepodge of planks, boots, and poles. Although the set up for skiing is more complicated than it is for running, I gladly retrain myself to operate the system while remaining (mostly) upright. After all, there’s no greater feeling than gliding along the trails for miles on slippery snow.

This year is different. Skiing is the exception rather than the rule due to poor snow conditions, and the weather is relatively warm more often than not. I don’t run because of the health benefits. I run to stay sane. Running is a very easy shortcut to a badly needed mid-winter high. It’s cheap, no fancy gear is required, and it’s doable even on the ice and, yes, in the lovely January rain...

Alli Harvey

The job of trying to capture the attention of the public and convince them what they should care about is a very difficult one -- just ask those that work in marketing and those who have run political campaigns.

This year, those with special interests are going to be trying their best to fill your head with thoughts of doom and gloom. However, you’ll be better off taking it all in, learning the facts and deciding on your own what is really going on.

The 29th Alaska Legislature kicked off operations without much notice yesterday. I have described this session as one of the most difficult that any state leaders have ever undertaken. Others have described it in much more grim terms...

Mike Dingman

We’re all familiar with the saying “penny wise, pound foolish,” but we would do well to heed this advice this legislative session. The No. 1 responsibility of government is to create an effective and realistic budget. Past budgets have all too often reflected the whims of parochial interests without vetting whether spending was both effective and within our means. With declining oil revenues, we are due to seriously overhaul our attitude toward budgeting.

We need a more realistic, strategic, or what I call “forward-thinking” approach...

Geran Tarr

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