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April 23, 2018

Transparency? You can’t HANDLE transparency.

Let’s talk about why some Republican Senators actually said right out loud that the public should be kept in the dark about ethical issues surrounding legislators who may be voting despite a declared conflict of interest. Let’s just say for a minute that you work for a candy manufacturer. Pick your favorite. Mine is Butterfinger, so we’ll use that here. So, there’s a big Butterfinger factory somewhere in Alaska, and you work there. And let’s also say you’re a member of the Alaska legislature – a senator. Butterfinger is happy to let you work 7 or 8 months of the…

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Russian Cheating Should Have Consequences Here Too.

It’s not very often that I miss having a television. I haven’t had one for many years, but there is something about the Winter Olympics that really makes me want to watch them. For 20 years, that something has been Kikkan Randall. She’s remarkable and I was sure she already had a stack of gold medals. Alaska is so proud of her. Moms are feeling encouraged by her accomplishments. Kids are talking about when they’ve met her. We’re going to need a parade. There’s a new doping scandal at the Olympics. Initially I thought it was a punchline. Doping of…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Great Blue Heron

More than any other North American bird species, the Great Blue Heron reminds you that birds evolved from dinosaurs. If anything brings the images of a flying dinosaur to mind, it is a Great Blue Heron slowly lumbering across the sky. WC is used to seeing these big herons doing strange things, but last weekend they showed him something new. A dozen or so birds were perched along the top of the cliff. the canyon rim along the middle Snake River, near Hagerman, Idaho. There’s no food up there; just old lava rock and some discouraged sagebrush. And a dozen…

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Voters Duped by Pot Initiative Says GOP Senator

Monday, the Alaska House of Representatives voted to legalize the farming of industrial hemp (the kind that doesn’t get you high). The Senate passed the vote unanimously but only after Sen. Johnny Ellis, the Democrat at the helm retired and gave the bill to a Republican to carry. Because anyone knows that good ideas can NEVER EVER come from Democrats. And by gum, we’d rather stop entrepreneurs from launching new businesses, and stonewall local farmers, let great legislation wither and die in committee, and fold our arms in the corner than give credit where credit is due. Things I learned in…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Cinnamon Flycatcher

Cinnamon Flycatcher, Menu Road, Peru

Without exaggeration, there are hundreds of New World flycatcher species. For this week’s Bird of the Week, we’ll head to the tropics, for one of the prettiest,  the Cinnamon Flycatcher. The cinnamon and brown-green coloration is lovely. It’s fairly common bird on both the east and west slopes of the Andes, from Venezuela down to Bolivia. It’s often seen in mixed flocks and seems to hang around after the rest of the birds have moved along. The species also lets WC show off the difference in image quality in low light between his Canon 1D-X and the old Olympus E-5…

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UPDATE: HE’S GONE! Meet the New Republican Senator from the Mat-Su!

  As Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla) steps down from the state senate to run for Governor, Gov. Bill Walker was tasked with choosing one of three possible replacements to fill out Dunleavy’s term. Walker opted to choose from outside the shallow pool of nominees from the Mat-Su Republican Party’s options, and appointed Mat-Su Borough Assemblyman Randall Kowalke. The fabulously-coiffed Kowalke was at least an already-elected official in some capacity. Walker took a risk by choosing from outside the list, and quickly felt the wrath. The arguments on the surface were difficult to discount. It’s the normal custom of the Party to…

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Anti-Net Neutrality? Follow the Money.

It’s time for a field trip! Before we take a special excursion to the Political Olympics today, let’s try a little experiment. Listen carefully. “Net neutrality.” Did your eyes glaze over? Are you checking your phone? Hey, you in the back of the bus – eyes forward! It’s a problem. And I’m going to resist the temptation to slip into wonkiness and lose you. Because it’s too important of an issue to lose you and there are plenty of places you can go if you want to get into the weeds of net neutrality. The bottom line is that your…

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Rev. Undra Parker Needs a Lesson in Christianity. STAT.

Well, I was hoping it would be at least a decade before Anchorage revisited the hate-mongering politics against our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Sadly, it’s come sooner. Anchorage voters are asked once again to declare if they are homophobic or not on the upcoming ballot. Should we have cops at public bathrooms to ask for people’s birth certificates, so they can determine if the declared sex lines up with a matching genital inspection? Side note, who wants that job? (And if they do want it they probably shouldn’t get it.) A few years ago I witnessed something remarkable during Assembly…

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Return of Bird of the Week: Barred Owl

Barred Owl, Bois, Idaho

Maybe WC should call this a Bard Owl: it was photographed on the grounds of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise, yesterday. Bad puns aside, this species is rare in southeastern Idaho. And controversial. Range expansion into the Pacific Northwest has brought the Barred Owl into contact with the closely related cousin, the Spotted Owl. The more aggressive Barred Owl has been known to displace and even hybridize with the Spotted Owl, a further threat to that already endangered species. This is North America’s third largest owl by size, smaller than the Great Grey Owl and Great-horned Owl. It’s a generalist…

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Why Alaskans Hate the Government

You know that old song from the 70s, “If you can’t report on the governmental body you know, report on the governmental body you’re with.” Or something like that. Anyway, I’m here, so… DATELINE: DELTA JUNCTION, ALASKA – Somewhere south of the Granite Mountains, somewhere east of Fairbanks, west of the Canadian border, and squarely in the middle of what most Americans would call “nowhere.” The current temperature is about -20F with the wind chill factor. I don’t even know what it is without the wind chill factor because frankly, here, it doesn’t matter. Wind chill factor is everything. The…

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