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December 22, 2014

Alaska to NY in About 10 Minutes with a GoPro

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Earlier this year, during the infamous ‘Polar Vortex,’ I decided it would be a completely reasonable idea to drive the Alaska Highway. Starting in Alaska I drove to Dawson Creek, British Columbia (the end of the Alaska Highway), and then on through Canada and the Midwest to Upstate New York. It took me about 10 days. Thanks to a GoPro attached to the windshield of my car now you can watch the trip in a little over 10 minutes. I’ll be posting some photos from the trip over the next couple of days throughout The Mudflats end of the year…

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Bird of the Week – Parakeet Auklet

Parakeet Auklets, St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands

Yes, there are a lot of Alcids. Here’s another one, the Parakeet Auklet. The white line behind the eye is a plume, a very long, narrow white feather, that appears in breeding season. Like most birds, the shape of the bill tells you a lot about the species’ preferred food. The Parakeet’s bill is adapted to gelatinous prey like small jelly fish. Mated pairs have a charming, bill-tapping routine when they greet each other. Camera geek stuff: f16, 1/250 ISO1000 For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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The Weekend Off – News You Missed

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Alaska ADN – Jail contractor calls for end to free local phone calls In the jailhouse phone business, the usual practice in the United States has been for the company that provides telephones behind bars to pay a “commission” to the government agency that allows it to serve a captive customer base. Fairbanks Daily Miner – Lockheed Martin wins Alaska spaceport contract The state-owned space agency on Friday named Lockheed Martin the winner of a bidding process to reconfigure a launch pad to accommodate larger rockets than what the Kodiak Launch Complex can currently handle. Juneau Empire – South Korean vessel heads to…

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UPDATE – Repub ‘Dr.No’ Stops Veteran Suicide Prevention Act

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Updated at 9:30pm est Dr. No has done it. Outgoing Senator Tom Coburn has single handedly managed to prevent the passage of the Clay Hunt SAV Act this Congressional session. IAVA’s Paul Rieckhoff posted this to facebook earlier this evening. Post by Paul Rieckhoff.     In a rare bi-partisan show of support, both Senators Murkowski and Begich co-signed a bill that looks to provide 22 million dollars in funding for suicide prevention among veterans. The bill is called the Clay Hunt SAV Act, and if you watched Rachael Maddow the other night [see above] you’d know that a lone Senator is…

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Bird of the Week – Horned Puffin

Horned Puffins, St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands

Last week’s bird, the Tufted Puffin, has a close cousin that’s almost as colorful, Alaska’s other puffin, the Horned Puffin. The “horns” aren’t really horns; they are fleshy knobs that appear in breeding season. For a bird that is relatively common, they are poorly studied. but are believed to be the most pelagic of Alcids, spending most of their lives far out in the ocean, coming ashore only to breed, and then only after several years. Camera geek stuff: f18, 1/500 ISO1000 For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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Jeanne Devon Interviews Zach Roberts Today

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I’ll be filling in Thursday, Friday, and Monday for conservative radio talk show host Eddie Burke (< —not a typo) on KOAN 1080am and 95.5fm in Anchorage. He’s having knee surgery and asked me to man the ship. What’s that about? Today, I’ll be talking to The Mudflats’ own award-winning photo editor and investigative reporter Zach Roberts! He recently went to Ferguson and then New York City in the wake of grand jury decisions in the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. You’ll hear his take on the trip, what he found, and what he didn’t expect. And our…

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The Oath Keepers in Ferguson

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Standing on top of a boarded up beauty shop, silhouetted men look out over the street. I can faintly see the outline of a rifle, an AR-15? M-16? I don’t know guns well enough to make a guess. I walk carefully over to the building, hands half raised. The weather in Ferguson has turned cold, and as I get closer I can see their breath in the night air. I’m trying to think of what to say. There’s lots of stories about these guys. People down the street are connecting them to the rumors that the KKK is in Ferguson. Some…

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Bird of the Week – Tufted Puffin

Tufted Puffins, St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands

From the smallest Alcid to the largest Alcid, the Tufted Puffin. WC has received complaints that Alcids aren’t very colorful. We’ll address that, too. At just under 16 inches long, the Tufted Puffin is more than three times bigger than its diminutive cousin, the Least Auklet. The flashy plumes are a breeding season characteristic, as are the electric-orange legs and feet. (Technically, this is the second time Tufted Puffin has been the Bird of the Week. But the earlier post was a captive bird, at the Alaska Sealife Center. These are wild birds, on St. Paul Island, in the Priiblofs.)…

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Bird of the Week – Least Auklet

Least Auklet, St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands

The smallest Alcid – the smallest seabird in North America – is the tiny Least Auklet Just a bit over six inches long, it makes up in abundance what it lacks in size. There are an estimated 20 million Least Auklets in Alaska waters. The oversized feet help it dive and swim under water for zooplankton. Despite its tiny size, it is recorded as diving to 75 meters or more. A Least Auklet eats about 90% of its body mass in food each day. When you consider the population, the sheer fertility of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska is…

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Gasline Secrets as Parnell Exits

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Alaskans know about airplanes and flying. No other state’s residents fly as much as we do. So we know every plane really ought to have two wings. Same with birds. There are no halibut-style birds, with two wings on one side of their bodies. I find government works best with matching wings, one on the left, one on the right. For the last few years, we’ve been trying to fly the Spirit of Alaska with two right wings. As a result, our captain, co-pilot and the rest of the crew never really got us off the ground. They didn’t kill…

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