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May 26, 2017

What AKM has Been Doing Lately – from the Mudflats to Tinseltown (I’m not kidding)

I have packed my swanky Hartmann valise; Tinsel Town here I come! And by “swanky Hartman valise” I mean that vinyl duffel bag I got at Costco in South Anchorage seven years ago.

Hello Mudflatters, it’s me! Those who have been here from the beginning know me as “AKMuckraker,” or AKM. Back when I started tapping out anonymous blog posts about Alaska politics from my living room overlooking the mudflats I didn’t put my name on anything because I didn’t figure anyone would be reading it, and wasn’t convinced anyone would care what I had to say anyway. Then insanity struck, and Alaska’s governor got tapped by John McCain to be his VP nominee. The proverbial moose nuggets hit the fan and my readership kept climbing until The Mudflats reached its peak of…

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Oil First, Kids Second

I suppose the saying “dance with the one who brought you” should be changed. “Dance with the one who bought you” is more apropos when watching the Republican Senate majority in Juneau. This week 13 lawmakers voted to drain every single dime out of the statutory budget reserve — also known as our savings account — to pay oil companies more money than the suggested maximum amount. Why? Well, it’s not really a very well-kept secret that come election time their coffers are stuffed from oily folks to make sure our rainy day funds will make the “transfer of wealth”…

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Good Grief, Wasilla – Stop Sending These People to Juneau

Photo: David Eastman's Facebook page

The spanking brand new senator from Wasilla, Republican David Wilson, slapped a journalist from this paper, Nat Herz. He seems nice. Apparently Wilson isn’t familiar with the First Amendment he swore to uphold. Part of it is pretty well known to most, but since it comes right before the Second Amendment, it’s easy to see how it gets glossed over in the race to “Yeah, guns!” Along with freedom of religion, used too often to discriminate, there is prohibition on infringing the freedom of the press. Guess what? If lawmakers could hit journalists and columnists in the face for writing things they…

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If McConnell wanted Dan Sullivan to have principles, he’d give him some.

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It’s no secret that I hold Alaska’s junior senator, Dan Sullivan, in low esteem. It’s a low esteem he has earned. For one thing, he’s a carpetbagger. Alaska was just a convenient horse for his raging ambition. He’s a political mercenary. I cannot understand the “charm” some Alaskans seem to see in him. If Dan cares about anything, it’s the elevation of Dan. Suffice it to say, my opinion of the junior senator was so low he needed to dig a hole to go lower. But this week, Sullivan, Mitch McConnell’s Mini-Me, broke out his shovel. Turns out he’s a…

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The Last Bird of the Week – Townsend’s Warbler

Townsend's Warbler, University Arboretum, Fairbanks

This is the last of Wickersham’s Conscience’s Birds of the Week. We’ve run through the last species WC photographed in Alaska. The total is 187, if anyone is curious. And for this last species, WC has saved the beautiful Townsend’s Warbler, Alaska’s prettiest warbler. That colorful, strongly marked face makes it easy to identify in the field. While this is a female, and less strongly marked, you can still see what a handsome warbler this is. You can see how much vivid the male’s coloration is in this photo from Anchorage. A beautiful bird, and a good place to wrap…

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ATL Chats w/ Alaskan Photog Carl Johnson

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This week we try something different. This week we’re going to spend out time interviewing just on panelists. This will be the beginning of a new interview series we’re trying out. For the first interview episode we talk to Alaskan nature photographer Carl Johnson. He’s been working on a long term book project Where Water Is Gold about the area would be effected by the creation of the Pebble Mine. A mine that would wipe out a shocking percentage of the worlds pacific salmon. That’s the kind of salmon that you actually want to eat. You can check out Carl’s stunning aurora photos and all his…

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EPA, Pebble and The West Wing

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I’m sorry to report that watching box sets of “The West Wing” isn’t enough distraction from our real politics. I am tired. I can confirm a fresh batch of baby sea otters, riding on their mama’s bellies, blown in by the latest storm can provide some relief. Their cuteness is enough to make anyone ovulate – I don’t care who you are. Their squeaks and mewing are impossible to ignore. I learned about something called “embryonic diapause.” It’s really fascinating and a little science-y. See, lady sea otters can get pregnant and put a pause on implanting the embryos for…

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Bird of the Week – Red-throated Pipit

Red-throated Pipit, Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska

A last Asian vagrant, a cousin to the American Pipit, this is a Red-throated Pipit. As you can see, it isn’t just the throat that is red but the whole head. This is another “Uncommon” Asian vagrant. Birders get slightly more excited about this one, possibly because it isn’t just another sandpiper. By the way, the bird was incredibly hard to see as it moved among the dead early spring grasses. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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Let It Be… Resolved.

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The good news is baseball is back on the radio. Hearing the familiar voices calling plays of players I like so much I named a boat after one of them has been a healing balm after months of political coverage. The league has a new rule — it no longer requires four pitches to intentionally walk a player to first — you can just wave them there now. I don’t like it. Those pitches should count, but it’s all about making the game faster. The whole point of baseball is that it takes time. If this were the only major…

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Bird of the Week – Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper, Gambell, St. Lawrence Island

Yes, yet another sandpiper, but this one is the last and, besides, it’s another Asian vagrant. We found this bird in the swamp near the Far Boneyard on Gambell, St. Lawrence Island. It’s found a bit more often than last week’s Terek Sandpiper, so its status is “Uncommon,” as opposed to “Casual,” meaning that it is seen pretty much every year, usually out in the Aleutian Islands. The greenish-yellow legs, whitish eyebrow and short, dark bill make this fairly easy to identify in the field. Among serious birders, seeing a Wood Sandpiper is no big deal; it was a lifer…

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