Friday, January 30, 2009

PA's Friday Oxdown Gazette Post

[Sarah Palin's previous PAC experience was setting up a PAC for the sleazy criminal who helped create the Bering Sea vacuum cleaner that enriches Seattle GOP crooks, and impoverishes Alaska Natives, while it destroys the Yukon and Kuskokwim salmon stocks]

That Mavericky Sarah is headed to DC to pal around with Obama at the Alfalfa. That's Saturday. Tonight, Sarah kicks off her 2012 campaign against Washington insiders, by being the guest-of-honor with Nixon fixer Fred Malek, an insider's insider.

As Palin heads east, Mark Begich will make his first Alaska appearance since being sworn in as our junior US Senator. I'll be attending Sen. Begich's first Alaska press conference this afternoon in Anchorage.

There is a lot to catch up on at the end of this busy week in Alaska events. First, Palin, then Begich.

Part One - Gov. Sarah Palin:

With the launch of SarahPAC at the beginning of the last week in January, Sarah Palin managed to re-insinuate herself into the national news. Apparently, Palin feels better there than she does dealing with Alaska affairs.

Last weekend, Palin snubbed an important Alaska Native event, the Southcentral Foundation's 12th Annual "Gathering," at Anchorage's new Denai'na Convention Center. The event, which centers on health issues and draws a huge crowd, seems like the kind of exposure Gov. Palin might appreciate. Maybe she had been tipped off that former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, the commissioner Palin fired, creating "Troopergate," was there.

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 27 - MSNBC's "Also" Contest

Did MSNBC talking head Nora O'Donnell have a side bet with somebody on how many times she could utter the word "also" in a Sarah Palin segment? She certainly doesn't waste any time.

I'd be willing to go with the "yes, she did" crowd on this. Except that one of O'Donnell's nicknames is "Noron."

As will most likely become painfully obvious, though, to Sarahbots this upcoming weekend, now that Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office, Palin can re-ascend her throne as the 21st century's most laughed-at politician. This trio seems to be eager to welcome Sarah back:

Update: OK - it's been pointed out to me that at exactly 3:00 into the segment, after one of Nora's "also's," the MSNBC backstage crowd groans in protest.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Guy Who Won The AK GOP Caucus 359 Days Ago - Mitt Romney - Responds to SarahPAC

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 26 -- Sarah Palin and the Jews -- Strike Four!

Incident One: I was there.

It began in the summer of 1996 with a whispering campaign started at the fundamentalist and evangelical churches around Wasilla, where the young city council woman was building her base:

"Wasilla's First Christian Mayor, Sarah Palin."

Why would she have been Wasilla's first Christian mayor? Well, for one thing, her adherents whispered, "John Stein is a Jew."

Here's how's David Talbot described that campaign:

when she announced her candidacy for Stein's seat, vowing to overturn the city's "old boy" establishment, a different Sarah Palin emerged. "Things got very ugly," recalled Naomi Tigner, a friend of the Steins. "Sarah became very mean-spirited."

The Wasilla mayor's seat is nonpartisan, and Mayor Stein, a former city planner who had held the post for nine years, ran a businesslike campaign that stressed his experience and competency. But Palin ignited the traditionally low-key race with scorching social issues, injecting "God, guns and abortion into the race -- things that had nothing to do with being mayor of a small town," according to Tigner.

Palin's mayoral campaign rode the wave of conservative, evangelical fervor that was sweeping Alaska in the '90s. Suddenly candidates' social values, not their ability to manage the roads and sewer systems, were dominating the debate. "Sarah and I were both Republicans, but this was an entirely new slant to local politics -- much more aggressive than anything I'd ever seen," said Stein, looking back at the election that put Palin on the political map.

There was a knife-sharp, personal edge to Palin's campaign that many locals found disturbing, particularly because of the warm relationship between Palin and Stein before the race.

"I called Sarah's campaign for mayor the end of the age of innocence in Wasilla," said Carney.

Even though Palin knew that Stein is a Protestant Christian, from a Pennsylvania Dutch background, her campaign began circulating the word that she would be "Wasilla's first Christian mayor." Some of Stein's supporters interpreted this as an attempt to portray Stein as Jewish in the heavily evangelical community. Stein himself, an eminently reasonable and reflective man, thinks "they were redefining Christianity to mean born-agains."

Again, I was there. I certainly heard more than once from adults and kids who attended those fundamentalist and evangelical churches, that Palin would be preferable to "the Jews."

Incident Two: It is on video. In several different interpretations. Most feel it leaves Palin no leeway, and she has never discussed the specifics of the incident. Here's's Michael Fox's description:

Video has surfaced of Rev. Muthee at Palin’s church – again with Palin present and in the video — telling the congregation that the Christians need to take over control of the business world, especially banking, from the Jews ("Israelites").

Here’s what Muthee said in his sermon where he told the church congregation "the reasons why" they needed to "pray for Sarah":

“The second area whereby God wants us, wants to penetrate in our society is in the economic area. The Bible says that the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous. It’s high time that we have top Christian businessmen, businesswomen, bankers, you know, who are men and women of integrity running the economics of our nations. That’s what we are waiting for. That’s part and parcel of transformation. If you look at the — you know — if you look at the Israelites, that’s how they work. And that’s how they are, even today. When we will see that, you know, that the top transporters (?) in the lands, we see, you know, the bankers, we see the people holding the parts (?), they are believers, we will not have the kind of corruption that we are hearing in our societies.

It certainly gives a new perspective on how Palin might handle the financial crisis.

Incident Three:

David Brickner, the leader of Jews for Jesus, was invited to speak last month to the faithful at the Wasilla Bible Church, Sarah Palin's fundamentalist congregation.

In his talk at Wasilla on August 17, 2008, with Palin in the audience, Brickner described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" on Jews who have not converted to Christianity.

"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television," Brickner said. "It's very real. When [my son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it."

In his Hebrew-laced sermon, Brickner also told the congregation that "Israel is an example of what all humanity has been saying to God since the beginning of time, shaking its fists at the heavens and saying 'You'll not rule over us'."

At the conclusion of Brickner's sermon, the congregation contributed money for Jews for Jesus' mission of converting the Jews and and prayed that Jews would come to accept Jesus.

Brickner, who was not born Jewish, has lead Jews for Jesus since 1996.

Incident Four:
Here is the Governor's press release from this morning:

Governor Palin will first attend a dinner at the residence of Fred and Marlene Malek Friday evening. Fred Malek is a prominent business leader and the founder and Chairman of Thayer Capital Partners. In addition to his work in the private sector, Mr. Malek has had a distinguished career in public service. The governor is honored to have received the invitation and to have the chance to speak about Alaska and other issues impacting our state.

Here's Nation author David Corn's description of one of Malek's publicly known political activities for former President Richard Nixon:

The McCain press shop left out an interesting piece of Malek's history: when he counted Jews for President Richard Nixon. Two years ago--when Malek was leading an investment group seeking to buy the new Washington Nationals baseball team, my friend Tim Noah at Slate reviewed Malek's dark past. Here's what he wrote:

It's one of the more gothic stories about Nixon related in Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's The Final Days. As they tell it, late in 1971--the same year, coincidentally, that the Washington Senators moved to Texas and changed their name to the Rangers--

Nixon summoned the White House personnel chief, Fred Malek, to his office to discuss a "Jewish cabal" in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The "cabal," Nixon said, was tilting economic figures to make his Administration look bad. How many Jews were there in the bureau? he wanted to know. Malek reported back on the number, and told the President that the bureau's methods of weighing statistics were normal procedure that had been in use for years.

Video of Palin's Wednesday Morning Juneau Press Availability

One interesting thing about this press encounter, is that she entirely fails to mention our Alaska U.S. Congressional Delegation. She's about to head to Washington, DC.

She pointedly mentions national-level GOP legislators she intends to meet, but not our national legislators. This was not unintentional.

Alaska One of Only FIVE RED STATES - Gallup Poll

This is actually quite startling. Gallup doesn't tend toward the left in their analyses.

According to Gallup, the implications of their thorough poll:

The political landscape of the United States has clearly shifted in the Democratic direction, and in most states, a greater proportion of state residents identified as Democrats or said they leaned to the Democratic Party in 2008 than identified as Republicans or leaned Republican.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Israeli Mom's Plea To Obama Right After Our 2008 Election

hat tip to Philip Weiss

What Now, Mr. President?

This BBC documentary won't be shown on American network TV. It is too honest, far more direct and mature than Michael Moore's Sicko.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 25 -- Palin PAC Kickoff Weekend to Honor Only Person Who Killed More Americans than Hitler

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will be an honored guest or the possible speaker at this year's Alfalfa Club annual dinner. The sole purpose of the Alfalfa Club is to honor traitor and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the only person to have killed more Americans than Adolf Hitler.

Here's New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams, on Palin's upcoming D.C.-Northern Virginia trip:

Traveling with one of her ladies-in-waiting and invited by a rich GOPnik, she'll be at Saturday's invite-only/political mandarins-only Alfalfa Club dinner in DC. This club began back aways to honor Gen. Robert E. Lee whom, you may recall, did a little something in the Civil War.

Did a little something in the Civil War? Like kill over a dozen of my relatives, for instance. Adams goes on:

Why it exists, I don't know.

The Club exists only to hold an annual banquet honoring the birthday of Civil War General Robert E. Lee, on January 7.

What it does, I don't know.

It perpetuates the myth that the traitor Robert E. Lee was a great man.

I only know it's too exclusive to include someone like me and is so high-powered that sitting US presidents attend, which means Obama should show.

There is nothing out there yet to indicate that President Obama will be at the Alfalfa Club dinner.

Palin is also kicking off the formation of her new political action committee,, which will be based in Northern Virginia, as is the huge Palin worship society, Team Sarah.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 24 -- The Clown Who Pimped Palin Gets The Axe for Sloppy Work

The first national figure to fall head over heels in love for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was the obiquitously annoying pundit, William Kristol. Kristol is so inaccurate, that if you google "Bill Kristol is NEVER right," you're in for a real treat.

He met Palin when a conservative pundit-stocked luxury cruise ship pulled into Juneau harbor on June 18, 2007. A meetup, scheduled by a Palin staffer, with the help of Alaska Federation of Republican Women leader Paulette Simpson, blew Kristol away. Afterward, he called her "My heart throb."

Kristol pimped for Palin behind the scenes almost nonstop over the winter of 2007-2008. By the late spring of 2008, he was the first person to not only go public endorsing her, but was hilariously over the top. Soon after Obama got the votes to beat Sen. Clinton in the Democratic primary, Kristol told a Sunday pundit show, "She [Palin] could beat Obama one-on-one on the basketball court."

Here is Kristol on the June 29, 2008 session of Fox News Sunday:

The New York Times has decided to let Kristol go. Here's an insider's statement:

The source makes clear that the decision not to renew Kristol’s contract is not related to his neoconservative ideology—Kristol’s proximity to key Washington players ranging from Bush and Cheney to John McCain (whom he supported in 2000) was considered a distinct plus. His leading advocacy of the Iraq War also added to his appeal. Kristol was viewed as a mover and shaker whose ideas had ready impact on the political firmament in Washington.
The problems that emerged were more fundamental. Kristol’s writing wasn’t compelling or even very careful.

He either lacked a talent for solid opinion journalism or wasn’t putting his heart into it.

A give-away came in the form of four corrections the newspaper was forced to run over factual mistakes in the columns, creating an impression that they were rushed out without due diligence or attention to factual claims.

A senior writer at Time magazine recounted to me a similar experience with Kristol following his stint in 2006-07. “His conservative ideas were cutting edge and influential,” I was told. “But his sloppy writing and failure to fact check what he wrote made us queasy.

As part of the June 2007, Juneau visit by the right-wing pundits, there was a mine tour:

According to a former Alaska official who attended the lunch, the visitors wanted to do something “touristy,” so a “flight-seeing” trip was arranged. Their destination was a gold mine in Berners Bay, some forty-five miles north of Juneau.

For Palin and several staff members, the state leased two helicopters from a private company, Coastal, for two and a half hours, at a cost of four thousand dollars.

(The pundits paid for their own aircraft.)

Palin explained that environmentalists had invoked the Clean Water Act to oppose a plan by a mining company, Coeur Alaska, to dump waste from the extraction of gold into a pristine lake in the Tongass National Forest. Palin rejected the environmentalists’ claims. (The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Coeur Alaska, and the dispute is now before the Supreme Court.)

Why did Alaskans have to pay for Palin's grandstanding?

Well, at least William Kristol will have more time now for ocean cruises.

I hear Team Sarah may be looking for a publicist. Surely, "never being right" won't bar Kristol from employment there.

images: top: driftglass, bottom - New Yorker

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mt. Redoubt Rumbling

Information is available at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Graphic Pictures of the White Phosphorus Attacks on the U.N. School in Gaza

Your tax dollars and mine bought these white phosphorus shells for the United States Army. They were then "stored" in Israel, where they have been "loaned" to the Israeli Defense Forces. Just as the violence by crazy religious bigots like Hamas must come to an end, so must Israeli war crimes, using munitions paid for by Americans.

Please let Don Young, Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich know that no country should be allowed to use weapons provided by the United States to commit war crimes.

You can view this entire set of photographs at this link.

Salmon Habitat Quality Questions in 2009 Will Be More Serious in the Yukon River

I. One of the results of focus since January 12th on the food and fuel crisis in villages of the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta has been some attention revisited upon the long-term health and viability of Yukon and Kuskokwim salmon stocks. A significant part of this winter's crisis is a result of poor fish returns in 2008 to the Yukon River. The Kuskokwim also saw very low returns of most species. In the Yukon, returning fish who make it upriver have recently been afflicted with a disease related to global warming, called “white spot disease.” It is caused by a microscopic parasite called Ichthyophonus hoferi. It renders the fish inedible.

First noticed in Yukon King populations in 1988, the disease's identification was botched at first by Alaska state-run labs, but the Center for Fish Disease Research at Oregon State University came up with the parasite's identification in 1989. Since then, the problem, experienced upriver from the delta, has gotten more serious, year by year. Coupled with the low numbers of Chinook, Chum and Coho entering the river, the subsistence economy for some Alaska Natives living upriver has been at least as devastating as it has been for communities like Emmonak in the delta.

Much written about the problem this winter in communities like Emmonak has focused on short-term solutions. Food and fuel have been flown in. Money is being raised for village infrastructures. The State of Alaska is finally contemplating competing with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, to provide fuel vouchers for needy rural families in Westward Alaska. But little has been written about the long-term relationship the Yupik of the lower Yukon and Kuskokwim share with the rapidly declining salmon stocks in their rivers.

II. The health of Chinook Salmon stocks along the Pacific coast of the United States and Canada has long been a subject of concern. The history of these magnificent fish in their habitat is almost universally a history of decline or extinction. This past summer saw a complete closure of salmon fishing from the southern border of California, to the northern border of Washington (see photo at top left).

There are several hundred rivers along the North Pacific coast that have suffered salmon declines or extinctions. One of the best examples of a mighty salmon course devastated by human selfishness and stupidity is that of the Elwha River on Washington State's upper Olympic Peninsula. Historically, the river hosted all five major Pacific salmon species, including a famed Chinook. Each yeat almost 500,000 salmon returned to the Elwha. The Klallam tribe based one of their main population groups upon the river.

Between 1910 and 1913, Thomas Aldwell built a dam (pictured at left) about 5 miles inland from the Straits of Juan de Fuca. It destroyed over 95% of the run. Today, about 4,000 salmon return to the Elwha.

The largest Federal ecosystem restoration project outside of the Everglades is the ongoing restoration of the Elwha watershed's water course. Reading about this project, from its proposal to current status, one can only observe with wonder at how easy it is to ruin salmon habitat, how difficult and expensive to restore it.

Those 4,00 salmon per year that still return to the lower Elwha to spawn are emblematic of both human carelessness and the hardiness of some species. 4,000 salmon. That's about how many salmon spawn in or pass through Neklason Lake, where Judy and I live. Here's a picture of our dog, Strider, watching about 150 of them pass by last August.

When Judy was a child and teenager, her family would journey every summer from their home in Mt. Vernon Washington, up to Campbell River, BC, on Vancouver Island. Campbell River was the home of a famous type of Chinook salmon, called the Tyee. The saltwater area around the town of Campbell River was, for decades of the 20th century, home of one of the great sports salmon fisheries of the world. From Seymour Narrows down to Cape Mudge, hundreds of sport fishing rigs would catch Tyee and Coho salmon by the thousands.

There was - and still is - a Tyee Club in Campbell River, dedicated to catching these wily Chinook in small, wooden, rowed Whitehall dories. Ernest Hemmingway was a member. So was Judy, along with her family. The club is, as is the fishery, now a mere shadow of its former self.

British Columbia has to be one of the most remarkable examples of how to ruin salmon habitat, one stream or bay at a time. I've witnessed, since I was a kid, the degradation of BC's immense salmon resource, to one staring starkly at possible extinction in several major river systems. At the same time BC and Canadian governments have folded to mining and logging interests in water quality and stream-side habitat protection, the Canadians have embraced some of the shoddiest aquaculture and salmon farming practices on the planet.

In a 25-year span of bringing boats up or down the Inside Passage from Seattle to Alaska, it seemed like every year we would see less salmon in the waters of BC. In 1999, when bringing the tug boat Ruby XIV from Kodiak to Seattle, I wrote about it.

III. The decline in Yukon River salmon stocks has little or nothing to do with overfishing by the Yupik fishers who intercept the fish once they enter the giant river. Or with over-fishing by other Natives upriver.

The Yukon is the longest of the major salmon rivers. Some of the fish that go right by Emmonek go through fish ladders near downtown Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory. The warming of that long stream has been blamed for the emergence of Ichthyophonus hoferi. Offshore salmon fishing in oceanic habitats and changes in the ocean have been blamed for the dwindling populations of both Yukon and Kuskokwim river stocks.

Tim Mowry wrote in Sunday's Fairbanks News-Miner about the 2009 salmon return prediction for the Yukon:

FAIRBANKS — Alaska fish managers are telling villagers along the Yukon River to brace for another poor king salmon run this year and are fishing for ideas on how to get more fish across the Canadian border.

“We are projecting a below average to poor chinook run in 2009,” Steve Hayes, Yukon area biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, reported in a teleconference with fishermen on the upper Yukon River on Thursday. “There is unlikely to be any directed commercial chinook harvest in the main stem Yukon, and we believe subsistence fishing will need to be reduced at the beginning of the season.”

Just how drastic conservation measures will be taken in the state’s’ largest subsistence fishery remains to be seen. Managers on both sides of the border are still in the process of formulating a management strategy for the upcoming season, Hayes said.

Thursday’s teleconference was one of three sponsored by the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association to break the bad news to fishermen and ask for ideas how to handle the expected crisis. Teleconferences with residents on the lower and middle Yukon were held earlier in the week.

Some subsistence fishermen on the upper Yukon River are suggesting the closure of all king salmon fishing this season, as well as in future years, to help rebuild what they say is a dwindling king run.

“We need to lay off kings up and down the river both commercially and for subsistence,” Andy Bassich, a subsistence fishermen in the village of Eagle, said. “Every fish counts right now.”

That may be the most unassuring harvest prediction report to emerge from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in history. Mowry's article continues:

According to genetic studies, about half the king salmon that enter the Yukon River — an average run used to be 250,000 — and are caught by subsistence fishermen in Alaska are produced in Canada. But Department of Fish and Game statistics show that fewer of those fish have been reaching the border in recent years.

Last year, of the approximately 180,000 kings that returned to the Yukon only about 38,000 made it to the border, according to sonar counts in Eagle, about 100 miles from the border.

That was about 7,000 fish shy of the 45,000 objective established by managers. In 2007, just under 40,000 of the 175,000 kings that returned to the Yukon made it to the border. That was about 3,000 fish shy of the border passage goal, which fluctuates slightly from year to year.

“There aren’t enough fish being delivered to the border,” said Frank Quinn, regional director for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Biologists aren’t sure why fewer Yukon kings are returning. King salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock industry, changing ocean conditions and a warming climate have all been mentioned as potential reasons for the drop in the chinook run.

As Dennis Zaki and others have observed, none of the Palin administration officials who traveled so hastily to Emmonek and Marshall early this past week were fisheries officials. It doesn't appear from any of the stories I've read that emerged this past week, that Emmonek officials were in on the ADF&G teleconferences held last week, referenced in the Mowry article. I'm trying to get information on that right now.

A long-term solution for the viability of the scores of villages on the Kuskokwim and Yukon drainages must include healthy salmon returns to those immense rivers. Alaska has a history of effective salmon management second to no other place in the world. Reading through the coverage of this in the establishment press, in comments to those articles, and on the blogs, it appears that we've only scratched the surface of how to help the hardy people in Alaska's most impoverished census district - Wade Hampton - survive and thrive through the unnerving changes our new century seems to have so many of in abundance.

images, top to bottom: 1) Philip Munger, 2) wikipedia, 3) Philip Munger, 4) Tyee Club, 5) & 6) oysters4me

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Photo Roundup

Parks Highway Sunset on Monday:

Two Cords of Stacked Birch on Friday:
DZ back from Emmo:

Winter Songs - A Year Later

My song cycle, Winter Songs, had their premiere on January 20, 2008, at the Fine Arts Recital Hall at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The performance featured Anastasia Jamieson, soprano; Walter Oliveros, violin; Mark Wolbers, clarinet; and Timothy Smith, piano.

I had set four poems found in the now-defunct poetry quarterly, Ice Floe. It was the second of my projected set of four song cycles, each devoted to a season. The first cycle, Summer Songs, for mezzo-soprano and piano, was three settings of poems by Mary Oliver.

Last winter was so busy that I never got around to posting the performances, along with the lyrics. This year, the anniversary of the premiere - January 20th - was too busy to post the songs. Today is a lull, though, as I'm busy stacking firewood and doing research for and composition of Spring Songs; and another song cycle for Kate Egan, Marlene Bateman and Juliana Osinchuk, based on Native Alaskan lyrics.

Here are Winter Songs: (Click on the song's name. That will take you to the Garage Band page for that song. Then click on the green arrow. It opens a new window that automatically plays the song. Then, if you click on the back arrow on your browser, you go back to where you can read the lyric.)

I. Somewhere

Somewhere in a crater-like formation
Of scalloped granite the snow falls all the time,
Even when the sun is shining, and were it not
For an alarming run of bad luck human
Civilization would have started there.

- Hayden Carruth


Wherever you walk
Hunting on the tundra,
You feel so happy
When the light shines in the dark.

If you wander in a blizzard
Through a cloud of snow,
How strong is your desire
To see the light of a yarang.

Even if the night is quiet,
You go tired, nearly falling down.
But if a light suddenly twinkles,
Your body resumes nimbleness.

And your thoughts seem to be wings,
And your legs run by themselves.

- Vaalgyrgyn
(translated from the Chukchi by Charles Weinstein)

III. Gift

is the joy of cold --
reward for deprivation.
It transforms
trees dark and angular,
near death,
to blessed beings
crowned by aureoles,
creates bright presences,
redeems these days --
when sap is gelid
and leaves lie undreamed --
these days
when only snow
comes tender to the world.

- Louise Gallop

IV. The Path

On the ice of the forest lake
in untouched snow
I walk myself a path the shape of a large spiral.
In the middle of the lake, in the innermost of the
helix I stop, standing still.

All around me the spruce forest in dark expectation.
Comes spring and sunshine. Slowly I sink
through the ice.

- Carl-Erik Strom

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Spirit of Emmonak Burns Brightly in Midwinter Song and Dance

Dennis Zaki, who has been in Bethel and the lower Yukon community of Emmonak this week, was allowed to film community musicians rehearsing there on Tuesday evening.

PA's firedoglake Emmonak Diary from Wednesday

Alaska blogger and reporter Denis Zaki arrived in Emmonak yesterday evening. He stayed last night at the school, and began interviewing people around town immediately. He attempted to attend a meeting this morning, between recently arrived State of Alaska employees and village officials. Palin's people wanted him out of the picture though, so the village officials, on behalf of the state, asked him to leave the meeting.

As we enter the second week of public awareness of the Lower Yukon midwinter crisis, the Palin administration, finally reacting, is very aware that this story gained national attention through a few liberal AM radio program hosts, and progressive Alaska bloggers, centered around Alaskans for Truth.

That group, started in response to the September 2008 takeover of the Palin administration's publicity and administrative apparatus by Bush administration cleaner and hitman Ed O'Callaghan, is the most active and persistent team of critics in Alaska of Palin's policies, actions and ethical methods. I'm a proud member.

Dennis Zaki is in Bethel to report. He is there because he and members of Alaskans for Truth raised $8,200 to get him there, and to attempt to effectively distribute relief to communities in the lower Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. Zaki is arriving as relief from other sources is pouring into Emmonak from other Native communities, and from around the country and world.

Part of the reality of Alaska is that well over two thirds of the state's population lives in metropolitan Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Most of Alaska's wealth comes from outside of those three communities. From rural and virtual wilderness areas, from the sea, the rivers, and from underneath the earth's surface.

Just as the rural communities, Alaska Native majority villages and other tiny communities couldn't exist without support coming from the large communities, so the large communities couldn't exist as they do, without benefitting from Alaska's rural resources.

Whenever a new problem surfaces or an old one resurfaces from Alaska bush communities, people in the large towns and cities whine about the attention being paid toward these small towns, villages and 1,000-year-old settlements. This kind of whining has been going on since White people got to Alaska:

Why didn't Aleuts like to resettle to the unpopulated Pribilofs, to catch seals for the Russians in the 18th century? Ingratitude.

Why did Tlingits resist 19th century colonization and the Russian settlement at Sitka? Ignorance and superstition.

Why did Aleuts and other Alaska Natives resist forced relocation from the Aleutians to unhealthy abandoned canneries in Southeast Alaska during World War II? Stupidity. [A higher percentage of Alaska Natives removed to these "camps" perished than did Alaska Natives removed by the Japanese during WWII to their camps.]

Why did Inupiat Natives resist Edward Teller's plan to detonate three to five hydrogen bombs within site of Point Hope, where these Natives had resided for over 1,000 years? According to Teller, lack of understanding and possibly hidden affiliations to Communist relatives across the Bering Straits.

In early 2008, when sexual abuse of Alaska Native women - quite often by White men - was once again brought out in the public, why were the motives of the victims questioned? Because, according to Republican supporters, these women like playing the "victim card."

And now, as the growing impoverishment of rural Alaska becomes highlighted because one individual sent a detailed letter to the Bristol Bay Times, and progressive Alaskans asked questions and sought help -- what are the whiners saying?

Here are some comments from today's Anchorage Daily News:

My mom always said "the world doesn't owe you a living!!!". Since when did the government take us to raise? Where is ALL this entitlement attitude coming from? Natives should be the last ones to come asking for aid being the "proud independent" people they're supposed to be.....

How much property tax do people in Emo pay? It's common in Anchorage for people to pay $3,000 or $4,000 in taxes. Sure our fuel and groceries are cheaper, but we pay for that privilege. We also have congestion, pollution, noise, crime and gangbangers. I'd love to live in a village where it's peaceful and there's no car stereos and booming exhausts and kids shooting each other in traffic. That's a quality of life that we can't afford here in Anchorage. It's all a tradeoff.

i wonder if they will add up how many new tv's, ipods, and baggies of dope they find when they are there. ahhhh, silly me, i'm sure i'm wrong about such things.

A buddy of mine made a killing bootlegging liquor in Emmonak not too long ago. Did he contribute to their problem? Perhaps, but he didn't force them to buy from him. Yeah, let's bail out the poor natives of Emmonak just like our government is bailing out these people involved in the so-called home mortgage "crisis" for making poor decisions with their money...

Write to Obama.... he'll bail you out.

the only population in this state that cannot choose where they reside are inmates. Everyone else has a CHOICE on where they live. IF you choose to live in the bush, then better be prepared for high prices and high unemployment. If you cannot handle that, then MOVE. That is what the rest of our countryman do when they can no longer live in an area for whatever reason. NO one should have to subsidize someone elses standard of living...

The attention drawn to this midwinter fuel and food crisis in the Lower Yukon and Kuskokwim river deltas, is going to influence policy debate in the upcoming legislative session, as shown by this morning's first Anchorage Daily News article from the session (the comments posted above are in response to that article.)

Alaska State Representative Les Gara (who beat ex-Representative Ethan Berkowitz, but narrowly lost to Tlingit Diane Benson in an AK-AL poll last week), has chosen this time to remind Alaskans that some wanted to address rural needs in 2008. But Gov. Sarah Palin and a few legislative Republicans in close 2008 races, chose to push Palin's "spreading the wealth around" $1,200.00 energy rebate bribe to every Alaskan.

Palin and the urban GOP won last year's round.

Who wins this year's is up in the air.

The Bethel Newspaper, The Tundra Drums, has an article on and pictures of the arrival of food from other villages. Some of it was air-dropped, according to Dennis Zaki.

image - Emmonak kids - by Dennis Zaki

Russell Tice Becomes the First of Many to Explain How Awful the Bush Years WERE


Maybe now we will be able to hear a more complete, less censored story from a long line of patriots like Sibol Edmonds, Valery Plame, and many, many, many others....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Diane Benson at the Inauguration

image - Chuck Myers - Sacramento Bee (via Tony Vita)

Post-Invasion Stories from Gaza

Images, recordings, stories and reports are emerging from the Gaza Strip, after the pullout of Israeli troops has allowed relatively free access to areas that endured weeks of intense violence, either from the air, from ground forces, or from both.

The image at left is of 15 year-old Ayman al-Najar at the Al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. He has severe injuries, including chemical burns, after Israeli bombing in the village of Khoza'a, Gaza.

Israeli forces used tons of white phosphorus munitions in clear violation of international laws, and in violation of the terms under which Israeli military forces obtained the munitions from the United States. Scores of civilian dead and several hundred of the civilians injured by Israeli forces, were subjected to this particular war crime.

Your Alaska senators, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, have always voted to replenish Israeli cluster bombs, mines and other weapons, even after clearly illegal use of such weapons, as in the 2006 Lebanon invasion.

U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, after inspecting white phosphorus damage to U.N. facilities in Gaza City yesterday, stated, "I have seen only a fraction of the destruction. This is shocking and alarming. These are heartbreaking scenes I have seen and I am deeply grieved by what I have seen today."

Up until his Gaza tour, Ban Ki-moon had not been very critical of Israeli action. He's now joining other international figures in demanding full international access to the Strip, without Israeli interference in aid distribution.

I've read many heartbreaking stories from Gaza over the past three weeks. This, from a story by Donald Macintyre, in today's U.K. Independent, is the most recent:

A Palestinian father has claimed that he saw two of his young daughters shot dead and another critically injured by an Israeli soldier who emerged from a stationary tank and opened fire as the family obeyed an order from the Israeli forces to leave their home.

Khaled Abed Rabbo said Amal, aged two and Suad, seven, were killed by fire from the soldier's semi-automatic rifle. His third daughter, Samer, four, has been evacuated to intensive care in a Belgian hospital after suffering critical spinal injuries which he said were inflicted in the attack early in Israel's ground offensive.

Mr Abed Rabbo stood near the wreckage off his subsequently destroyed home on the eastern edge of the northern Gaza town of Jabalya yesterday and described how a tank had parked outside the building at 12.50pm on 7 January and ordered the family in Arabic through a megaphone to leave building. He said his 60-year-old mother had also been shot at as she left waving her white headscarf with her son, daughter in law and her three grandchildren.

"Two soldiers were on the tank eating chips, then one man came out of the tank with a rifle and started shooting the kids," Mr Abed Rabbo, who receives a salary as a policeman from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said. The family say they think the weapon used by the soldier was an M16 and that the first to be shot was Amal. Mr Abed Rabbo said that Suad was then shot with what he claimed were 12 bullets, and then Samer.

The soldier who fired the rifle had what Mr Abed Rabbo thought were ringlets visible below his helmet, he said. The small minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews who serve in the army are in a unit which did not take part in the Gaza offensive and only a very small number of settlers who also favour that hairstyle serve in other units.

The Israeli military forces used immense amounts of white phosphorus and other munitions in their siege, bombing and assault upon Gaza. As in late 2006, after the Hezbollah War, Israel will expect our congress and President to replenish this arsenal, perhaps upgrading it, as well.

In the past I have called Senators Stevens or Murkowksi, to encourage them to vote against replenishment of Israeli munitions that have been used illegally against civilians. This time, I will be calling Sen. Mark Begich about this too.

Please join me!

image - International Solidarity Movement

Monday, January 19, 2009

January 20, 2009 - The Day Abstinence Only Finally Worked!

No Bush --- No Dick.....

Alaska's Big Obama Sign To Grace the Smithsonian

Gene Horner, family and friends created this 8-foot-by-12-foot Obama sign for the Alaska State Fair. They placed it on a corner of Inner Springer Loop, where everyone had to slow down, on their way from Anchorage, to park at the fair. It was torn down once, defaced twice. Fixed three times.

Gene and his wife Priscilla brought it in to Anchorage for election night. Down in the basement of the Egan Center - Anchorage's election night central - hundreds of people started signing the sign. It quickly filled up.

Here it is on display on MLK Day 2009. It is at Mat-Su Democrats' chairman Kevin Brown's office. Tuesday morning, the office will be open for people to come in and watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Judy and I went over today to help some other Mat-Su Democrats get the place ready for the big screen viewing Tuesday. Gene and Priscilla brought the sign over, and we hauled its three sections in. Kevin and I took a lot of maps, signs and other stuff off the office walls today. But we agreed to keep Howard Dean up. He needs to be seen.

Our new U.S. Senator, Mark Begich, ran one of the best campaigns in Alaska history in 2008. But if it hadn't been for Howard Dean's 50-state strategy, and the inspiration some of the early summer Obama kids brought to our Alaska Democrats, Mark might have lost to Ted Stevens.

Judy and I are glad to embrace Dr. Dean:

Sarah Palin on Glenn Beck Today - The Entire Segment

The Anchorage Daily News politics blog posted the first half of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's appearance Monday on the new FOX News Glenn Beck Show. Here is the entire segment:

Martin Luther King's Great Anti-War Speech at Riverside Church

Apparently, this speech, one of the most important in American history, wasn't filmed. It was made at Riverside Church, in New York City, on April 4, 1967, exactly a year before Dr. King was assassinated:

ADN Covers Palin on Beck Five Days After Progressive Alaska

Back on Thursday, Progressive Alaska announced, thanks to a tip from a reader named AKPetMom, that Sarah Palin is to be today's featured guest for FOX News TV's rollout of their brand new Glenn Beck show. The PA post featured brief editorial comments, and a video of Palin on an earlier appearance on Beck's CNN program.

Late this morning, almost five days later, the Anchorage Daily News posted a stenographic blurb about this show. The show starts in about five minutes. I'm not going to watch it. We don't get FOX.

(update - warned by an email - Don't try to go full-screen on the ADN FOX download of the Beck promo. It will crash your browser)

More and more, during 2009, we are going to witness progressive Alaska blogs like PA, the Mudflats, Alaska Real, the Immoral Minority, Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis, Just a Girl From Homer, What do I Know?, Kodiak Konfidential, the Alaska Dispatach, and others, cover stories the ADN misses. And other blogs too. Like Andrew Halcro's blog, especially.

As a case in point, this morning's ADN editorial about the "clean" coal plant in Healy, doesn't give out as much information, nor use its position for editorializing, to ask anywhere near as many questions as did Halcro in his posts on the issue last week.

This isn't just sad. It is lamentable.

More and more you will notice that we beat outlets like the ADN to stories by hours, if not days or - as in this case - almost a week.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pardon Ted!

I say "Pardon Ted!" For the good things he did. He sure did a lot of shitty stuff, but he also did some great things over the years. Not just for Alaska, but for the USA and for the world.

Probably the most important thing he did was push for oversight of Soviet science programs, nuclear facilities, high tech scientists, nuclear naval vessels and nuclear materials, in the wake of the downfall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Most of those programs, created by a bipartisan set of teams and working groups between late 1989 and the early 1990s worked very well, until George W. Bush dismantled or neglected most of them soon after he was elected.

For those efforts alone, Ted Stevens deserves a pardon.

In exchange for the pardon, let's get his goddam name off of all those public facilities, and pass an Alaska law to never, ever name a public facility after a living person.

image by Dennis Zaki - Lisa and Ted whooping it up, after they thought he'd won the November election.

Three Young White Phosphorus Victims in Gaza

To use white phosphorus artillery shells for anything but illumination or for a smokescreen is a war crime. Here are three very young war crime victims:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Neklason Lake Transformed

A week ago, I thought Neklason Lake would be unskatable for the remainder of the winter. But three inches of rain in 24 hours, and 85 mph 45-degree F winds, have an amazing transformative power upon 34 inches of ice.

As soon as it dries and cures, I'm going to be out there with my skates, stick, puck and dog.

Lower Yukon Community Crisis Awareness Timeline - Please Help

Listening to a report friday evening, from Alaska Public Radio Network, by APRN's Janelle Everett (one of my favorites!), on Barrow's KBRW, I was brought to tears. Again.

Everett was reporting on the community responses from North Slope villages to the midwinter crisis in Emmonak and other lower Yukon villages. Please listen to her report, as she describes people in small villages, who themselves have probably been through the same experience as Emmonak's people, bringing together donations of food (even Beluga!), blankets, clothing, fuel and cash.

Some have been watching this crisis emerge longer than have others. The blog Real Alaska's Writing Raven, in describing the plight of the people of Adak late last summer, warned:

This is not the first Alaskan village to have to leave the land, and it won't be the last. How many residents will be forced into the city this winter? How many villages will be facing extinction?

Friday, in her third article about the Emmonak crisis, Writing Raven wrote the most poignant essay yet penned about reactions to the crisis:

To see people all around the nation band together to help out a village in Alaska is a wonderful sight. Donations of food are being flown in, cash donations have come from around the world. The media, and blogger, attention has had the effect of poking a stick in the side of the State, and several prominent Alaskan politicians and leaders have spoken out.

(My previous posts about Emmonak, #1, #2... Mudflats on Emmonak... ADN on Emmonak.)

Of course, with the good, must come the less savory. As I watch the story unfold, and try to do what I can, I must also address some that which goes on that doesn't help at all - and in fact can make it more difficult. That is, people spreading around ignorance.

The blatant racism toward Alaska Native people is not new to me, yet I cringe (and I imagine many other Native people as well) when Native issues are brought up in public. Why? Because you get to hear so consistently comments about just how unproductive, deceitful, lazy, greedy, and probably drunk Native people are. Comments like this on ADN, regarding how Native people (in general!) squander all their money:

"In the future the State of Alaska should hold the PFD's for all native households and only issue them out in monthly amounts."

I wish people who made these remarks knew how each one feels like a punch in the stomach.

Writing Raven goes on to describe several of the typical comments that stereotype Alaska's First People whenever attention is drawn to an issue involving one or another problem in one or another Alaska Native community or population.

Friday brought the first signs that the Palin administration is grasping the enormity of the lower Yukon winter crisis. Instead of Thursday's "I think we did a review of it, uh.......last year," now it is being reported that "Gov. Sarah Palin says she plans to travel to Emmonak to see the situation for herself [ - although -] according to the governor's press office there are no firm plans yet for that trip."

And this morning, the Anchorage Daily News, reports Palin saying yesterday:

"We want to make sure, of course, that no individual is hungry out there. And that nobody is cold out there. And we want to know if the community itself -- if anything fell between the cracks, between.... energy rebate checks that were sent to each individual."

Usually, when Palin uses the royal "we," it means that help is on the way, once she has figured out how to maximize her personal gain. I'm sure that either Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell or Todd Palin will be headed to the lower Yukon soon. If it is Todd, I'd go along with an Andy Halcroesque hunch, and predict that if one looks closely enough, one will find a hidden kickback or subcontract in the way the assistance is being processed.

Gryphen, at the Immoral Minority, has begun putting together a timeline that attempts to explain how the word has gotten out, and help organized on Emmonak and Lower Yukon midwinter relief:

Nick Tucker's letter was printed in the Bristol Bay times on Monday, CC spoke out about it on her radio program "Cutting Edge" on Tuesday, I wrote my first post on this crisis at 6:42 a.m. on Wednesday, by the time we reached noon of the same day almost EVERY progressive blogger in Alaska had weighed in on the topic, and contributions started rolling in almost immediately following my post and increased throughout the day.

And earlier today Dennis Zaki left to go to Emmonak to film the situation facing the villagers for broadcast on various news outlets. By the way his trip was paid for with money raised by Alaska bloggers in less then THREE hours!

So all of this happened in a two day span of time. And our Governor? Well she is "looking into a trip to Emmonak". That is the difference between WANTING to do something and HAVING to do something.

Are you impressed with her response? Neither are the native regional leaders.

Though the underlying problems go back for generations, the picture of suffering villagers poses a tough political problem for Gov. Palin. Some regional leaders are already saying her administration has been slow to respond to a problem that has been brewing since the end of fishing season.

"Gov. Palin was out on the campaign trail, so why would she have given a damn? She was trying to get elected," said Naneng, the AVCP president.

Governor Palin can try to change the facts and spin her web of deception, but we know the truth this time don't we?

Our Alaska bloggers will be trying to put together and then maintain the most accurate timeline on community action regarding this particular issue.

If you have input on how or when awareness of this issue first was published or acted upon, in Alaska or elsewhere, you can comment here, or find my email, under my profile on this page.

meanwhile --- Good Luck, Dennis!

image - Reaching the Campsite by Fred Machetanz