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July 30, 2014

The Oily Facts on Prop 1

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By Peter Blanas Alaskans understand that oil is the economic cornerstone of our state. Alaskans are right to be concerned, that we have a healthy and productive oil and support industry. It’s also understood that the extraction of oil in the Arctic, is very difficult and expensive, and should come with a good return on investment. We want the industry to earn a healthy profit, along with Alaska, the resource owner. First, a look backward: Oil began flowing down the pipeline from the North Slope in 1977. Daily production peaked in 1988, at just over 2 million barrels a day,…

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Judge Confirms Lt. Gov’s Incompetence

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The job of Alaska’s Lieutenant Governor really has only two duties to speak of. 1) Care and maintenance of the state seal. Not the animal – that would be hard, and require lots of work. I’m talking about the little round metal disc that turns stuff official. I don’t really know what care and maintenance that seal requires, but I’m guessing there might be buffing involved, or maybe some kind of chemical paste and a soft lint-free cloth. Perhaps it’s nestled in a velvet-lined wooden box, and needs to be checked on from time to time, to make sure nobody’s…

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Palin: Waterboarding is Baptism for Terrorists

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It was reported a couple weeks ago that Sarah Palin, speculating on the whereabouts of the still-missing Malaysia Airlines plane, said it had “flown straight to heaven.” It turned out she hadn’t said that at all. The quote was part of an article written on one of the infamous news satire websites that continually dupe unsuspecting users of the internets. The good ones hit so close to the mark, it’s hard to tell. A couple days ago, Sarah Palin was quoted speaking on the United States’ CIA torture program saying, “If I was in charge, they’d know that water boarding…

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GOP Elephant Art & the Bigger Picture

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The recent public exhibition of portraits painted by George W Bush, retired President of the United States, has managed to throw a lot of people into a tizzy. Critiques of his work ranged from relatively benign (it’s “simple-minded”), to strangely overwrought (“dangerous”), but every commentator seemed to assume that his paintings were art. As if it was perfectly self-evident that Bush was making art and not, well, merely painting stuff. Which got me thinking: can elephants be artists? By this, I mean not only Republican elephants, but actual elephants. Asian elephants, to be exact. For several years now, a group…

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Show Me Your Budget

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Show me a political flyer in Alaska and I’ll show you a candidate whose only reason for living is supporting the Permanent Fund and education, and fighting “government waste.” There’s an old saying, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” This week we got to see what the Republican majority in the Alaska Senate values. Rest assured, their budget, written by Sen. Pete Kelly, does not value birth control for irresponsible women. In fact, amendments to accept millions in federal funds for family planning — to actually reduce abortions —…

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The Floodgates are Open

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This week I listened to one of the right-wing sock puppets yammer on about what a victory for freedom the most recent campaign finance court decision was. Honestly. The guy was more about “free and dumb” than freedom. The court, in yet another 5-4 decision, basically created eBay for elections. What we didn’t need was more stinking money in our election process but the five say otherwise. Freedom of speech is now equated with how much money you have and are willing to spend. Of course, the reverse doesn’t work. You can’t walk into a store and purchase items with…

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GOP Leader Threatens Sexual Assault Council

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Speaker of the House Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) is throwing rape victims under the train to get the governor’s out-of-state buddy on an Alaska gasline board. You’ve got to hand it to him; the lengths to which he will go to demonstrate his lack of common decency are not half-assed. In a state where 37 percent of women report having experienced sexual violence, and where rape statistics are three times the national average, Mike Chenault proves that for those like himself, there are more important things. Like getting the governor’s Texas buddy on the gasline board. The premise of Chenault’s latest legislative…

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Bus Fares & Propaganda

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A political brochure sent to East Anchorage voters caught the attention and ire of some veterans just days before the Anchorage Assembly race. The race in East Anchorage for Assembly has three very visible candidates: Mao Tosi, a former NFL player; Pete Petersen, a former state legislator; and Adam Trombley, the Assembly incumbent. Understandably, Petersen has the strongest name recognition. Clearly, it’s a hot race. When it comes to campaigns for office, every tactic possible will likely be used – good or bad. Introduce Political Action Committees (PACs), and the plot thickens. For the voter, it’s not easy to determine…

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Christie is the New Palin

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In Alaska, there have lately been many comparisons of Governor Chris Christie to Alaska ex-half-governor Sarah Palin. To wit: a close circle of micromanaged advisors from whom utter loyalty is demanded; an open abhorrence of the press when they pull outrageous stunts like asking questions; a certain tone deaf quality and tendency to double down when bad behavior is called out; wielding the power of the office in full force political payback; and a complete lack of hesitation to throw anyone and everyone under the bus to save one’s own very thin skin. And come on – the Bridges and…

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Exxon Valdez – Lessons Learned & Lost

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill 15 Years Later

In recognition of today’s 25-year anniversary of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska (March 24), this seems a good time to reflect on lessons learned, and lessons lost. 1. Oil spill “cleanup” is a myth: Once oil has spilled, the battle is lost — it is impossible to effectively contain, recover, and cleanup. Exxon spent more than $2 billion trying to clean up its Alaska spill, but recovered less than 7 percent. BP spent $14 billiontrying to clean up its 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, and although they collected some at the wellhead, burned and dispersed some (with toxic chemicals), it recovered only 3 percent from the sea…

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