There must be seven or eight Republican politicians in Alaska who haven't shared panic-stricken statements about the Syrian refugee crisis, pretending to know what's really going on. What's wrong with these slackers? They aren't doing their part to create hysteria or display the depth of their understanding of world events. They need to follow the lead of Fairbanks Sen. Pete Kelly, who once modestly said, "Sometimes I think I know too much." These aren't refugees, says Kelly. They are invaders, trying to install sharia law from Skagway to Shishmaref. "Europe is under invasion and Paris is the first city to fall under full attack. We in the U.S. are next and the Quisling who has opened wide our gates to the invading horde is our very own president," says the man who knows too much . Kelly...Dermot Cole
One of the questions history asks is which is more important: the times or the person? Are there inexorable forces that so determine circumstances that leaders, or persons, are so constrained that anyone would be compelled to make the same decision, no matter who? Or does the person always make the difference. Among those historians willing to take a stand, some argue that history is indeed the product of individual judgments which reflect different capabilities, that whoever is in the leadership, or circumstance, makes all the difference. Some add that serendipity plays a role, i.e., had someone else been the player, things would have developed differently than they did. Others argue the times make the person, that no matter who might have been the leader, or present at a given moment,...Steve Haycox
With a week still to go, my email inbox runneth over with announcements like this: “Shop now for pre-Black Friday deals and save, save, save!” Screaming at consumers both literally and virtually, retail outlets are capitalizing on the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving opportunity to shop and shop big. Dare I suggest that this year may be different? Specialty outdoor giant REI announced several weeks ago it planned to close all stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, choosing instead to support their ethos for outdoor recreation and community stewardship with the hashtag #OptOutside . The gist of REI’s strategy is, of course, to encourage more shopping at their storefronts or online another time while spending Black Friday with family or friends in the great outdoors. Say what you will...Erin Kirkland
The first step in recovering from addiction is to tell the truth -- admit the addiction, acknowledge its consequences. Yet this is something we still seem unwilling to do with our global addiction to oil. Addicts would rather stay high than confront their addiction and commit to recovery. The truth about oil is that while there are benefits -- jobs, energy, government revenue, etc. -- there are also enormous and unacceptable long-term risks, impacts and costs. And while government and industry extol the benefits of oil, they remain unwilling to tell the truth about its costs or aggressively pursue alternatives. Some costs are obvious. Oil spills, such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez in Alaska and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, are easily recognizable disasters that attract...Rick Steiner
Refugees yearn to breathe free Pretty sure most suicide bombers take their IDs along, in case they need to stop and buy a pack of cigarettes. How foolish can Republicans be? They (including our own congressional delegation) advocate denying desperate people fleeing from murderers a safe haven because of a fake ID left at the bombing site. Come on. — Connie Faipeas Anchorage Fear is Republicans’ go-to strategy “Be afraid, be very afraid,” is the mantra of the Republican Party. With a dearth of ideas to make our country better, the party uses fear to attract voters. It is not surprising that the large majority of politicians calling for a ban on Syrian refugees are Republicans. But how many “acts of terror” already occur in this country? How many shootings? How many stabbings? But there is...Alaska Dispatch News
In a commentary printed Nov. 11, I wrote about the broken structure our addicts face when they enter the criminal justice system . But the question still remained, "How do we fix it?" While the United States is still warehousing drug addicts in prisons and watching them come in and out of what has become known as the “revolving door,” many countries are starting to look to decriminalization to solve this problem. It’s hard to argue with the accomplishments in Portugal after that country legalized all drugs 14 years ago and began using a harm reduction strategy to treat public health risks associated with drug addiction. According to the Washington Post, “Among Portuguese adults, there are three drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens. Comparable numbers in other countries range...Mike Dingman
I showed my ID while paying for something at a bike shop in the Lower 48 recently, and the fellow behind the counter sniffed, “Ah, Anchorage. I lived in Alaska for years.” He meant Fairbanks. Likewise, many people I know in Anchorage pity their cousin city to the north. They shake their heads and wonder how anyone could live in frigid, dark and weird Fairbanks. News from the Golden Heart City in recent years has included heating oil thefts straight from homes and temperatures that were too cold for ice carving. In the winter there can be thick ice fog and terrible air quality. In the summer, wildfires often produce more terrible air. But putting all smack talk aside, and there is plenty, I have to say that even as a proud Anchorage resident, I love Fairbanks. When I first visited, I was a...Alli Harvey
PAXSON — We call them bunnies, but know they are really snowshoe, or varying, hares. These little critters are interesting animals. As an important food source for many of our furbearers, they affect those who trap for recreation or a portion of their livelihood. They also have an impact on hunters -- not just those who hunt hares, but sheep hunters as well. The snowshoe hare population cycle hits a low point every 10 years or so, for reasons scientists haven’t pinpointed. But it is well known that lynx depend on hares as their main food source. Golden eagles and coyotes rely heavily on them, too. During the low point of the hare cycle, according to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game study, golden eagles have few active nesting sites. Coyotes have less success at their dens, too, and...John Schandelmeier
More Alaskans can breathe easier when the University of Alaska Anchorage campus goes tobacco-free and smoke-free. On Nov. 19, UAA joins over 1500 colleges and universities across the country in providing a healthier environment for students, staff and visitors by not allowing tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, on campus. This initiative is about respect for each other and the shared environment. And it is especially about creating an environment that encourages making healthy choices. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in Alaska. It outnumbers deaths from suicide, motor vehicle crashes, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, homicide, HIV/AIDS and influenza combined. It is well known that secondhand tobacco smoke has tangible and severe health consequences. Studies...Alison Kulas
On a recent flight, my partner and I were seated next to a dad of tween girls who was at a loss about how to get his children to sleep through the night. The girls, he explained, were constantly on their phones chatting and texting with friends, staying up far later than allowed. Our kids were similar ages, so we spent the flight commiserating about such parenting challenges. Aghast at our “take the phone away at night” solution, he went on about how his girls were good kids, kids who were doing well in school and sports. To him, taking their phones away was taking parental imposition too far. Let's face it. Monitoring and managing children's social communications can be uncomfortable for many of us. But it is a must. S exting , sexploitation, sextortion and bullying all happen. A lot. It...Jill Burke