Sunday, February 28, 2010

PA Arts Sunday - Hindu Kush Completed - Peace Song!

I finished the first draft of the final movement to my orchestral work, Hindu Kush, this evening. This is a good thing, as we begin rehearsing the work Tuesday evening.

Peace Song takes its melody from a Kashmiri folk song as collected in the 1950s by a French ethnomusicologist. I used the original melody, by solo male tenor, accompanied by tabla, as the opening theme to many of my ethnic music programs on Seattle's KRAB radio, in the early 1970s. At that time, I also used the melody in my electroacoustic radio work, Between the Lines. In 2001, I used this melody as the final movement of my Tuba Sonata.

The melody sounds almost like a cross between the Shaker hymn, Tis a Gift to be Simple, and Beethoven's Ode to Joy. The contrasts between the moods I'm portraying it in this setting, to the War Dirge that preceded it in Hindu Kush, are both stark, and - I hope - uplifting.

Here's a link to the MIDI version of Peace Song.

And here's as link to the other three movements, Bamyan Voids, Women's Ghazal and War Dirge.

image - Kashmiri musicians celebrating at a winter festival

UA Statewide Withholds Finalists’ List for UA President Even After the Names are Published in the Press!

--- By Susan B. Andrews and John Creed


KOTZEBUE—We are not making this up. The UA President’s Office and the Board of Regents for days have been refusing to release the names of the six finalists for the position of president, even though five of the six names have been confirmed and published in Alaska journals.

The six candidates are being interviewed this weekend by the UA Board of Regents in a process shrouded in secrecy, even though the cat’s out of the bag.

The Alaska Budget Report, a distinguished Juneau-based newsletter, revealed UA presidential candidates’ names Thursday despite UA Statewide’s best efforts to keep the names secret. ABR not only obtained the names of five of the six finalists for UA Statewide president but contacted them for comment. The candidates include four men from Alaska and one woman from the Lower 48:

Gary Stevens, 68, State Senate President and retired UA history professor
Sally Johnstone, 60, VP for Academic Affairs, Winona State University in Minnesota
Patrick Gamble, 65, Alaska Railroad Corp. President/CEO

Jim Johnsen, 52, a Senior VP for Doyon, Ltd. and former aide to Mark Hamilton
John Pugh, 64, UAS Chancellor since 1999

Mark Hamilton, UA’s current statewide president, is retiring later this year. He joined the University of Alaska in 1998 after 31 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a major general.

Ironically, while the candidates themselves have acknowledged that they are, in fact, in the running for UA’s top executive position, UA Statewide was still refusing to release the names on Saturday afternoon.

“I can tell you that a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reporter contacted us to ask for the (ABR) story with the names,” ABR publisher/editor Rebecca Braun wrote in a Saturday email to us.

After her publication published the names, Braun said, she figured UA Statewide would give them up since Braun’s publication had already published them Thursday.

“But the (News-Miner) reporter said no, they’re still holding the names until Sunday,” Braun said, although the News-Miner did manage to publish some of the finalists’ names in its Sunday issue, according to its website.

In a related matter, UA Statewide is stalling on a request from the Alaska Budget Report for the names and resumes of all 32 candidates who applied for the job.

Gregg Erickson, who with spouse Judy shared the 2009 Alaska Press Club Howard Rock/Tom Snapp First Amendment Award, sent a formal request last Wednesday to Kate Ripley, UA Statewide’s spokesperson, to obey the law and release the names of the candidates for UA’s top job.

“By law they have ten days to respond (and longer if they say it’s necessary),” wrote Braun in her email. “In (Ripley’s) response she did say she would forward the request to the regents, and their lawyer would look at it.”

In other words, the university has not contested the public’s right to the information. They have not asserted any exemption. They simply don’t care to comply with the law for the time being.

In an earlier post to the list-serv of UAF’s College of Rural and Community Development, we reported that both UA Statewide and the Board of Regents might be violating state law by withholding candidates’ names. But because Statewide received the request on Wednesday, they are technically not in violation of the law for few more days, according to Braun.

Statewide may be complying with the letter of the law, but one might question its observance of the spirit of the law. And we wonder if this sort of behavior is appropriate for a university. If the law says the university must comply in 10 days in any case, why not release the names as soon as properly requested by professional journalists?

What does this say about our current university leaders and their understanding of a university’s essential mission? Isn’t a university in the business of promulgating information to the public, rather than sequestering it? Isn’t a culture of secrecy--however prevalent that may be in government and industry--utterly out of place in the university?

Neither the regents nor Statewide should be afraid of the critical analysis that might follow disclosure of their decision-making; after all, that’s an activity fundamental to higher education. Of all of Alaska’s public institutions, the University of Alaska should be setting an unimpeachable example by recognizing the public’s right to public information.

Comically, the University’s present leadership continues the embargo even when there’s no secret left to keep.


In Alaska, secrecy in state government has been a bipartisan effort for decades. Whether a Democrat or a Republican occupies the governor’s mansion (or doesn’t live there much at all), Alaska governors from Wally Hickel to Tony Knowles to Frank Murkowski have actively blockaded access to public records, according to Gregg Erickson, who founded the Alaska Report and is a regular columnist for the Anchorage Daily News.

Erickson has documented governors’ secrecy habits ever since founding his ABR publication in 1991, but he reserves his harshest criticism for former Gov. [NAME REDACTED ON ORDER OF UA ATTORNEY], dubbing [HER/HIM] “the most secretive governor in Alaska’s history.”

“When it comes to letting the public know what [HER/HIS] government is doing, [REDACTED] is either a cynical hypocrite or delusional,” Erickson wrote in the Anchorage Daily News some time in the past year. We cannot tell you exactly when, because UA attorney Mike Hostina in Hamilton’s office has warned us that we may face disciplinary action if we write anything critical of a candidate or even a potential candidate for office. (In a recent trip to the Lower 48, a politician from Alaska whose name we dare not speak acknowledged [HER/HIS] potential candidacy for elected office.)

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s office has stalled on granting “permission” for us to write commentary as part of our jobs for more than a month, even though it’s common practice for university professors, including Alaskans, to publish commentary as part of their official university duties.

Even though we are tenured professors with faculty appointments in journalism, we can’t write about former Gov. [REDACTED] unless we first obtain permission from Mark Hamilton’s office. But that’s not the only hurdle. Hamilton’s office has indicated we need to clear our commentary with Alaska’s attorney general.

Come to think of it, UA obviously has more serious problems with stifling free inquiry than the present fiasco over the candidates’ names.

Susan B. Andrews and John Creed are humanities/journalism professors at Chukchi College, a Kotzebue branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Their forthcoming book from Epicenter Press is called “Purely Alaska: Authentic Voices From the Far North.” For excerpts, visit when their website launches in March.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

PA Arts Saturday - The Anchorage Civic Orchestra & the Alaska Children's Choir at the PAC Today at 4:00 p.m.

The Anchorage Civic Orchestra, directed by Tai Wai Li, will be joined by several young people today, along with Jubilate and the Touring Choir of the Alaska Children's Choir, for the orchestra's annual Young Peoples' Concert.

Featured in the second half of the concert will be vocal and orchestral music of Bedrich Smetana, from his folk opera, The Bartered Bride, or Prodana Nevesta.

Children's Choir founder and director, Janet Stotts, will conduct the choir and orchestra in the opening chorus from the opera, and selections from American composer Randall Thompson's delightful Frostiana.

Also on the concert, will be the two winners of this year's Anchorage Civic Orchestra's high school concerto competition, performing from concerti by Mozart and Luigi Boccherini.

The orchestra itself will perform Les Sylphides by Chopin, and Three Dances from The Bartered Bride.

This will be an exciting young peoples' concert, and is very inexpensive Fur Rendezvous Saturday afternoon fare. I'll be performing in the trombone section this concert, instead of on my regular instrument with the ACO, the tuba.

Anchorage Civic Orchestra with the Alaska Children's Choir
Saturday, February 27, 2010
4:00 p.m.
Sydney Laurence Auditorium

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 58 - For Meg

Dear Meg,

You could have ended up like this:

But, through falling in with the Crazy Woman, it came out more like this:

Saradise Found - Chapter 28 - Andrew Breitbart Chosen as Stapleton's replacement

Just kidding. But he's one of the top contenders at some of the Palin shrines, and a contact on Lake Lucille reported seeing somebody looking like Breitbart leaving the Palin cult compound area this morning.

Here are the names that crop up most:

Andrew Breitbart :

S.E. Cupp:

Pam Geller:

Mary Matalin:

Rebecca Mansour: (no videos available, rumored to have moved to Fairbanks)

Bristol Palin: (she already has a gig)

Dana Perino:

Ann Coulter:

Michelle Malkin:

Dick Morris:

Charles Krauthammer:

Looks like Michelle Malkin might be on the inside track for class (sorry, Ann), and Dana certainly has a grasp of knowledge Palin can identify with.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Arts & Art Dump

40 of 116 orchestral parts for Hindu Kush are ready for the professional printer, with a further 57 ready for final editing and splitting (into first & second bassoon parts, from a single stave, for instance). Almost done with my longest orchestral work in 25 years:

Mariano Gonzales' exhibit at Out North Theater, which will be open through the third week of March:

Ice in the sun on Neklason Lake:

Marcy Wheeler - "If I Were a War Criminal, I'd Probably Lie About it Too!"

Award-winning author, Marcy Wheeler, whose blog, Emptywheel, is a treasure trove of accurate information on American torture practices, Toyota software problems, pro football playoffs and other matters, posted this video from Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show this morning, noting about former Vice Pres. Cheney, that, "If I were a war criminal, I'd probably lie about it too":

Monday, February 22, 2010

Saradise Lost and Found - Chapter 13 - CBJ Needs to Come Forward. Now

It is as simple as this:

Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, who helped save my son Alex's life when he had wrapped his umbilical cord into an overhand knot in his mom's womb, is the only person I know capable of unraveling another knot.

After the birth of Sarah Palin's younger son, questions came up about the wisdom shown by Palin in her "wild ride" scenario, as described then by her 'helpful' dad. Shortly afterward, Baldwin-Johnson made a short appearance with an attorney, regarding her consultation with Palin after the latter's water broke.

Then the doctor disappeared for months, until her name surfaced attached to a letter that Baldwin-Johnson has never acknowledged as having actually authored.

Jesse Gryphen published a story Tuesday morning at The Immoral Minority that purports anomalies discovered in pictures of Trig Palin indicate there may be more than one person who has been presented by the Palins as representing the person generally acknowledged to be her younger son.

Palin has repeatedly claimed in the national media that she has presented for public scrutiny a birth certificate for Trig. That is not the case. I've observed a few times here that this seeming lie should be taken up by the so-called media. As yet, to my knowledge, it hasn't been.

Are people too jaded by Palin's lies to take this more seriously than the hundreds of others? If so, that is bizarre, because it is an important matter.

There are few people who could settle this. I don't trust Palin. I do trust Cathy, though, and can never thank her enough for helping save Alex.

Although she is under no legal or perhaps even moral obligation to share more about what she knows of the strange circumstances of Trig Palin's appearance on the scene, Cathy could single-handedly cut the Gordian knot on this, and free us from a somewhat suffocating entanglement.

Once and for all.

Max Blumenthal @ CPAC 2010 - Vol. One

Honorary Alaska blogger, and author of Republican Gomorrah, Max Blumenthal dropped by CPAC last week, for his fourth or fifth year. They're on to him now, though, and he was pretty much surrounded by aspiring young Republican videographers, their followers, and - eventually - racist Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart kept on asking Max to detail his accusation toward Breitbart, but every time Max tried to get an intelligent discussion going, Breitbart derailed it with epithets.

Breitbart issued a video late last week that purported to clean Max's clock on the issue. It didn't. And over the weekend both Eric Boehlert and Digby came to Max's defense. Here's Boehlert:

Last September, when the ACORN scandal that his website helped launch was breaking in the press, Andrew Breitbart wrote a column for The Washington Times detailing the rollout of the undercover, right-wing gotcha. He recalled a 2009 meeting with "filmmaker and provocateur James O'Keefe" that took place in Breitbart's office in June. It was there that O'Keefe played the columnist the surreptitiously recorded videos he'd made with his sidekick, Hannah Giles, and which captured the two famously getting advice from ACORN workers on how prostitutes could skirt tax laws.

In his Times column, Breitbart was quite clear about what he saw that day in his office: He watched videos of O'Keefe "dressed as a pimp" sitting inside ACORN offices "asking for -- and getting -- help" from the misguided employees.

But today we know that's almost certainly not true. Breitbart didn't huddle in his office and watch clips of O'Keefe "dressed as a pimp" chatting with ACORN employees, because based on all the available evidence, O'Keefe wasn't dressed as a pimp while taping inside the ACORN offices.

Make no mistake: Last fall, both Breitbart and O'Keefe, with the help of Fox News, did their best to confuse people about that fact. It's true the duo seemed to purposefully push that falsehood and mislead the public and the press about the ACORN story. And more importantly, they did it to make the ACORN workers captured on video look like complete jackasses for not being able to spot O'Keefe's pimp ruse a mile away.

But the story was not true.

And here's Digby, taking Breitbart's dishonesty and its most likely purpose to the logical next level:

But the less than obvious reason this is a big deal is that the pimp and ho costumes were a send-up of over-the-top racial stereotypes that both reinforced some very ugly notions about the African American community, but more importantly, made these ACORN workers look as though they were so dumb they shouldn't be allowed to cross the street, much less handle tax dollars. And this was done for a reason. The little dirty tricksters,it turns out, had relied on some other stereotypes to perform this sting --- he had dressed like a nice, young, preppie fellow, just trying to help this unfortunate young white girl caught in a bad situation in order to gain the ACORN workers' trust and compassion. He used his stereotypical innocent, youthful, studiously upstanding looks to create a false impression with the ACORN workers and then turned around and filmed some bogus footage of him dressed in a ridiculous pimp costume to give a false impression to the mostly white audience. It was a very clever way to use racial stereotypes on both groups to get what he wanted.

Here's Max's YouTube of his encounters as he wandered the lobby at CPAC. He's trying to persuade Breitbart employee Hannah Giles (aka - "the hooker") to convince Breitbart employee James O'Keefe (aka - "the pimp") to sit for an interview with Max:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

PA Arts Sunday - Bamyan Voids

This weekend, my assistant, Eric Bleicher, and I finished editing and proofing the scores, and adding or editing percussion parts to the first three movements of Hindu Kush. I should be able to create, format, edit and print all 87 orchestral parts to those three movements over the next few days. We begin rehearsals on March 2nd, for the work's premiere on May 14th, at the Anchorage Civic Orchestra's Spring Concert.

I'm almost done with the fourth and final movement, called Peace Song.

Here is a link to the MIDI version of Bamyan Voids, the opening movement, which you may listen to, or download for free.

Bamyan Voids is about the destruction of the 6th Century Buddhist statues in the Bamyan Valley of Afghanistan by the Taliban in March, 2001.

The work opens, depicting the statues, alone in their cloisters hollowed out of the sandstone cliffs rimming the valley.

One morning the Taliban team arrives in their trucks, given them by American oil companies, with explosives from similar sources. They rig the charges, blow up the statues, and celebrate. Then they leave.

As the dust settles, nothing has really changed. The statues weren't idols. They weren't representations of something indifferent to Allah. They were merely symbols of the devotion of the people who created them, representations of what those people had believed. The destruction changed nothing. Perhaps, even, their destruction completed the missions of those who created them.

The second movement of Hindu Kush, Women's Ghazal, may be found here.

The third movement, War Dirge, is here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 57 - Granny Palin's Death Panel Dilemma

--- by Shannyn Moore

The dangers of “death panels” were explained to Americans on Sarah Palin’s facebook page. Oh, sweet Lord, she must not sleep at night…her grandson could be the next victim of “socialized medicine”.

Recently released documents from the custody battle show clearly Tripp Palin Johnston has socialized health care through Indian Health Services and the Alaska Native Medical Center.

Palin’s family has federally funded health care afforded to them…but if you had it Barack Obama might kill you.

Put this on the list of Palin’s Greatest Hypocritical Hits…volume 97.

[Daily Kos has a diary on this same subject. Shannyn has cross-posted the article above at Huffington Post.

[Tune in to Shannyn on KYES-TV Anchorage this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. - for Moore Up North]

Friday, February 19, 2010

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 56 - Trig Palin and the Unanswered Questions

Part of the importance of Palin's facebook writer lashing out in the names of Palin and one of her daughters this past week being countered by the real actress behind a voice on a cartoon show, is that once again, Palin's treatment of Trig, before and after he was born, needs to be far more closely scrutinized than has been the case.

Down Syndrome victor, Andrea Fay Friedman has presented the most clear image in our nation's history of a person successfully realizing and fulfilling life, while dealing day to day with her tough challenge. Andrea's descriptions of her upbringing, education and professional career are compelling. Her immediate criticism of Palin's comment about the show Andrea had voiced was as straightforward and honest as Palin's posts Andrea was responding to, were patronizing and dishonest.

It's important to revisit how bizarre Palin's atitude toward Trig is.

She only disclosed the pregnancy very late. She hid Trig so intentionally, that her slimness has helped give credibility to some who question whether or not she really did give him birth. Knowing that her fifth child's delivery might be risky to the unborn person in her womb, she flew all over the place. Then she flew all over the place again and again. Then her water broke, and she flew all over the place with Trig again. And again.

Although Palin has stated numerous times that she has produced a public birth certificate for Trig, there is no such document. The MSNBC emails revealed that a medical insurance query had asked for it.

As Andrea said on Thursday, "my mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of french bread."

Images of Palin on the campaign trail in 2008 with her younger son, and on the book tour, show Palin doing just that. Again and again.

I've seen enough posts, gotten enough emails and comments about Palin's irresponsibility and disregard for Trig to fill a large book. Many of the comments here are on the mark, and share life experiences from women who, had they treated their late pregnancies as Palin did hers, the kids wouldn't have made it.

Then there's the stress the unborn kid who is going to need extra help is undergoing in a pregnancy such as we now know Palin was inflicting. To me, that's the weirdest aspect of Palin's conduct then. She had to know what she was doing was hurting him. Didn't she?

"like a loaf of french bread."

I wasn't upset with Palin's public appearances that included Trig during the 2008 presidential campaign during the campaign itself. The way she seemed to not connect very well with Trig during the well-covered book tour bothered me, though.

The way her people so indignantly jumped on Rahm Emanuel for something he had said way, way last summer was also weird. Then Palin gave Limbaugh a pass for worse. "Satire," Palin explained.

Andrea says:

I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. I thought the line “I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska” was very funny. I think the word is “sarcasm”.

Andrea Fay Friedman's challenge to Palin Friday was this:

I'd like to see [unclear] a normal environment for Trig, and have a normal life like I have, and don't treat him like he's a loaf of bread.

That's not right. He needs a normal life. Like I have.

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 55 - The Last Wild Ride?

This one might hurt. It should.

A comment at this blog, defending my choice to continue occasionally using the term "Crazy Woman" instead of "Sarah Palin" in some posts:

My water broke, doctor said go to the hospital, hooked up to monitor, baby's heartbeat went down, emergency c-section, the cord was wrapped around his neck 3 times. If I had acted like Palin, my son would be dead. I find the wild ride hard to believe and horribly negligent if there is any truth to end.

Palin attacks someone who is a Downs Syndrome victor. The victor, Ms Friedman, defends her beautiful role in the questioned TV program.

Essentially, you have a kid whose parents probably treated her with total hope 100% of her life, questioning something far larger than Palin's questionable role as parent.

Look back to the so-called "wild ride," for instance.

Palin, by her own admission flew almost 8,000 miles after her water broke. Carrying a kid just like Andrea Fey Friedman in the womb Jesus gave her.


Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 54 - Andrea Fay Friedman Defends "Sarcasm" in the Real America

My name is Andrea Fay Friedman.

I was born with Down syndrome.

I played the role of Ellen on the “Extra Large Medium” episode of Family Guy that was broadcast on Valentine’s day. Although they gave me red hair on the show, I am really a blonde. I also wore a red wig for my role in ” Smudge” but I was a blonde in “Life Goes On”.

I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. I thought the line “I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska” was very funny. I think the word is “sarcasm”.

In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life.

My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around -

- looking for sympathy and votes.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 53 - When Will Palin Denounce Tea Party Hate Incidents?

I. There have been so many creepy incidents at Tea Party rallies. This was just the most recent one that managed to get caught on camera:

Part of the reason I documented the early Tea Bag rallies in the Mat-Su Valley, was to create an honest, fairly unbiased record of where this was coming from, where it was going. Dennis Zaki and I were covering this movement before the local or national media saw it for what is was then, and is continuing to be - a coming together of lots of unconnected forces of frustration, largely from the under-educated, backed behind the scenes by some very big money. It wouldn't have gotten to second base without Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and Dick Armey.

I'm waiting for Palin's facebook page to denounce the mentally unfit woman above who wants to hang Patty Murray by her neck until she's dead, dead, dead, as quickly as she denounced a cartoon character for trying to make a Down Syndrome young adult look human. And - alive and vibrant.

As much as Palin claims to support life, she misses chance after chance to back those claims with depth.

II. The guy who flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin this morning was just one more unconnected force, full of frustration.

Was his act one of terrorism?

Would media coverage of his act have been different had his name been of Arabic heritage?


Of course it would have been, even had he left exactly the same set of internet posts this guy left as his warped legacy.

III. Sort of an aside, to end on a positive note. It was splendid to see, on Tuesday night far more people at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium, to honor Elizabeth Peratrovich on her day, than had attended the National Tea Party Convention.

There were no local media in attendance, as far as I could tell. Other than
Shannyn Moore, who simply came to honor Peratrovich and other Alaska civil rights icons. Had there been as many media attending the showing of For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska, at the Williamson, as there had been - proportionally - covering the TeabaggerFest 2010, there would have been about 1,100 reporters there at UAA.

image - Teabaggers in Wasilla, waiting for Sarah, Memorial Day 2009 - PA

Mariano Gonzales' Art Removed from APU Last Fall Reopens at Out North Friday

University of Alaska Art Department Chairman Mariano Gonzales' powerful interactive installation, "Why Are Americans Still Dying in the Middle East?" reopens Friday at Out North Theater, in their main gallery.

The opening will be from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. I will once again perform my work for bugle, electronic sound and vocoder, Shards III, at 5:30 p.m.

Here's from Out North's email blast they sent out yesterday:

This installation consists of nine U.S. flags and a wall on which to write. The artist is asking his fellow citizens to consider the human cost of these wars, and to express an opinion, in their own hand, in the light of day, about the reason for these wars. The exhibit will remain at Out North through March 14th.

This exhibit was originally placed in APU's Conoco Phillips Gallery, before it was deemed objectionable and removed. Read about the controversy here.

Thursday Miscellany - Boycott the Sheraton & Call Sen. Begich

I. The Anchorage Sheraton illegally fired four workers Wednesday. Here's Mel Green on this otherwise unreported story:

That the Sheraton Anchorage, which has been under boycott by its workers since last November, today fired four of its workers for engaging in protected union activity.

On February 2, the four workers had been leafleting hotel guests and coworkers about the boycott, activities which are protected per at least two prior National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decisions:

  • Employees have the right to be in nonwork areas of their workplace to communicate with the employer’s customers about a labor dispute, using leaflets or picketing. Scott Hudgens, 230 NLRB 414 (1977).
  • Nonwork areas include the doors leading into the employer’s business. Santa Fe Hotel & Casino, 331 NLRB 723 (2000).

Sheraton management continuously interrupted the (off duty) workers as they leafleted prospective guests asking them to honor the worker’s call for a boycott of the hotel. Management took pictures, threatened to have security remove them, and eventually called the police — even though the worker’s activity was legal and protected. The following morning, the hotel’s general manager and human resources director suspended the four and escorted off them the property. Now, two weeks later, the workers have been fired.

I've just gotten word that the workers and their union will be holding a press conference Friday. Here's a press release from Jessica Lawson, the workers' union rep:

The four Sheraton workers who were suspended on Feb 3rd for participating in union activity, were fired yesterday. While we've taken appropriate legal action, we believe that a message from community members and the labor movement is going to be critical in getting their jobs back. So, we are planning on holding a Press Conference tomorrow (Friday, February 19th) at 12pm outside the National Labor Relations Board (4th & F st). We would appreciate anyone who is able to come to the conference and back up our terminated workers who will be speaking. More details to come . . .

II. There's a growing movement today in the U.S. Senate to change the Senate version of the health care reform bill to one that includes a viable public option. Seventeen or eighteen senators have agreed to dealing with this through the "reconciliation" process (ie - 51 votes). Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is not one of them.

Call Mark's office:


Peterson Tower, Suite 750
510 L St
Anchorage, AK, 99501
phone. (907) 271 - 5915
toll free. (877) 501 - 6275*
fax. (907) 258 - 9305


101 12th Ave, Room 206
Fairbanks, AK 99701
phone. (907) 456-0261
toll free. (877) 501 - 6275*
fax. (907) 451-7290


One Sealaska Plaza, Suite 308 Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 21850
Juneau, AK 99802

phone. (907) 586 - 7700
toll free. (877) 501 - 6275*
fax. (907) 586 - 7702

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 52 - Troubletown

from The Political Carnival

Can Gov. Parnell Reverse Decades of Neglect Toward Alaska's Rural Schools?

About this time last year, in what were the first signs of an uncontrollable death spiral by the Palin administration, Sarah finally went to the lower Yukon, to "investigate" aspects of the midwinter crisis there. She went in Franklin Graham's private plane, supposedly also hauling Jerry Prevo along with. No doubt they discussed mass conversions from Russian Orthodoxy, Catholicism and other fairly mainline faiths to Graham, Palin and Prevo's less loving, perverted version of Christianity, as they sat next to their boxes full of cookies and Bibles. I doubt they discussed the continuing violation by the State of Alaska of a 1999 court decision that mandates almost a half billion dollars of renovations, repairs and new construction in Alaska rural schools.

This past week, Gov. Sean Parnell, along with Sen. Lyman Hoffman (D), Rep. Bob Herron (D), Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome, and Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome, toured several lower Yukon and Kuskokwim schools. Parnell, afterward, asking the legislature for about $300 million to attack the worst of the worst projects, should have been more forceful in observing that the Alaska legislature has been no help whatsoever in resolving the worsening problems.

Federal funding of Denali Commission projects has fallen from $141 million in 2006 to $61 million for last year, and is slated to decrease further under the budget presented by the Obama administration to Congress. Alaska, with a surplus from last year of about a billion dollars, needs to step into the brink to a point. And Sen. Begich has steered tens of millions of stimulus funds toward other projects long slated for the bush.

But school construction, renovation and repair are state and district responsibilities. While lawmakers in Juneau have been chary to obey the court mandate for over a decade now, citing one excuse or another, they really do have a moral obligation to enable Parnell's proposals to be fully funded.

Almost all of Alaska's vast wealth comes from the rural areas, while the material benefits of that development, extraction and removal move directly to the state's three largest urban centers - Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Urban Alaskans tend to be among the greediest people on earth when it comes to ways to obfuscate this startling reality.

Thank God the grifting crazy woman and her sleazy televangelist cleric buddies have far less of a voice in these projects now. It is interesting that one year after Palin was planning on forcing AG Talis Colberg out and replacing him with the racist, anti-Native Wayne Anthony Ross; seeking to replace Democrats in the legislature with people who were really Republicans; and twittering and emailing her rural advisor to only report "good news" from the Bush, that Parnell has chosen to visit the area in party with locally elected Democratic senators and representatives. Palin was constitutionally incapable of even thinking of doing something like this once she had seen the unabashed adoration, smoldering hatred, sheer nuttiness and apocolyptic fervor in the eyes of her hundreds of thousands of worshippers on the 2008 presidential campaign trail.

Articles on the visit by Parnell and legislators to the lower Yukon and Kuskokwim:

Alaska Dispatch

Alaska Public Radio Network
Arctic Sounder
Delta Discovery

image - concrete blocks and rocks shoring up the corner of a school buildiong in Alakanuk

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Saradise Lost - Book 4 - Chapter 51

"Sarah Palin has become the most famous Alaskan in history. Celebrity is her one accomplishment since John McCain selected her as his running mate a year ago.

"The rest of the last year has held, for her, turmoil and failure."

That was Michael Carey a month after Palin's abdication, writing for the Alaska Dispatch. It was a term he had used before, and has since. And it is true.

That doesn't bother me. What is beginning to bother me, though, is that at the rate things are going, there may soon have been more words written about Palin than about everything else in Alaska history. I'm not sure if there's some sort of search engine or measuring device out there that can accurately assess this, but if there is, I'd be interested in seeing how close to being true that statement might actually be.

The fact that there were more media covering the Tea Party Convention than there were actual attendees bothered me.

The fact that I've been to PTA forums at Colony Middle School in Palmer that had more attendees, and better speeches, than the Tea Party convention had, bothers me.

The fact that Palin's rise to national prominence fixation coincides with desperation on the part of our media to find ways, no matter how sleazy, to keep readership up, bothers me.

The fact that I have to keep writing about this person I met 19 years ago this month, bothers me.

The fact that there's little we can do about her continuing, nuisance-like presence in the national dialogue bothers me.

It is good to see how little influence Palin is having on Alaska policy now, though. Gov. Parnell seems to be more comfortable going his own direction every day. He's certainly the best governor since Tony Knowles, though that isn't saying much. Parnell's visit to schools on the Lower Yukon earlier in the week was a case in point. Compared to Palin's foray there with Franklin Graham and Jerry Prevo, bringing Bibles and cookies, Parnell's stopover must have been a breath of very fresh air to villagers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For Diane Benson on Elizabeth Peratrovich Day

No living Alaskan has fought harder for women's and civil rights in Alaska than has Diane Benson. As recently as late 2009, she has had to endure mistreatment and false characterization in the Alaska press. Yet she keeps fighting. There are many civil rights heroes in Alaska today, but here's my present for her on a day Diane fully understands:

Thieves and Liars at the Sea of Pee

One of the two biggest Palin Shrines (the other being The Anchorage Daily Newsletter), Conservatives4Palin (also known as the Sea of Pee), is in the habit of gleaning through all the messes and untidy piles of steaming whatever the Crazy Woman leaves in her wake, gleaning the stuff for some aroma they can describe as sweet.

Like the ADN (as in "Who's Up - Who's Down"), C4P is in the habit of maximizing Palin's image through distortion, and minimizing the truth about the person's shortcomings. Through more distortion.

Like almost any day, today provides fresh examples. Although their chief source of raw facts,
FOX ran a column recently dissing their Madonna, they've parsed the column for glimmers of hope, while wringing their hands in mourning over the perfidy of it all.

No, I'm not going to link. I have to wash my hands and keyboard after every visit there, so I'll refrain from forcing you through the same experience. Why do I then keep track, if they are so yucky? Well, for one thing, they printed this about me last week:

Can we get his address and post it on the web....along with a picture of him, his house, and the car he drives?

Contrast the C4P experience with the report this morning by Jesse Griffin at The Immoral Minority, about the ludicrous extremes the Palin camp recently went through in Redding California, to rid their hotel rooms of copies of one of Al Gore's books, An Inconvenient Truth:

You know this may not be a slam against Al Gore. I just think that Sarah feels uncomfortable around any book with the word "truth" in the title.

The Gaia Shasta Hotel & Spa is where Palin stayed when she gave her speech in Redding California to the "men who kill trees" where she famously said “You guys were doing green jobs before green jobs were even cool!”

You know if she would have read Gore's book she may not have said something quite so stupid.

According to the reporter who wrote this article, Marc Beauchamp (who also stayed in this hotel), there may have been other reading material available in Palin's room.

For the record, the Gore book was prominently displayed on the table in our room this weekend. On a shelf in the closet were copies of the Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon and the "Teaching of Buddha."

What do you think gang? With THAT selection of reading material available which one do you think she would have allowed Piper to read to her?

"Who's Buddha, mommy?"

"He was an agent of Satan honey. Just like that horrible Al Gore. Now read me a passage from Genesis, I have to deliver that speech tomorrow and I need to bone up on a little science."

Our open dialogue among some of Alaska's progressive political bloggers this past week prompted the C4P to lie, cheat and steal. Once again. Here's Mel Green at Henkimaa, on the theft:

I don’t usually read Conservatives for Palin. For one thing, I don’t have much use for unmitigated laudatoriness toward my former governor about whom I have all manner of reasons to be unfavorably impressed — her incessant untruth-telling, her vindictiveness, her Christianist/Dominionist views, her habit of quitting jobs half-done (though to tell the truth, I’m glad she quit as governor — Sean Parnell ain’t no superhero, but he’s a vast improvement over both his last two predecessors), & her speeches full of the same old tired conservative talking points over & over & over & over [yawn] again. Oh yes, & let us not forget her famous 2 million dollar meme, which has the distinction of having led to the most popular post on my blog to date. [Ref #1] It also has a nice pie chart that I made, which I will take the opportunity to show off now.

It was with some bemusement, then, that I learned that on Sunday one of C4P’s bloggers took it upon himself to congratulate me for being one of those “with the courage to criticise [sic] those whose lives seem committed to a downward spiral of abusive tabloideeze about all things Palin.”

Why, sir! I do believe that you’re trying to coopt me!

The blog post, “Skinny White Sunday: Alaska Palm Pilot Rocks!” by Rich Crowther [Ref #2], was a sort of Sunday wrap-up of Palin-related news, which in this case included discussion of Phil Munger’s use of the word “slut,” for which I had criticized him. [Ref #3] Interestingly, Crowther said very little about my criticism of Phil, instead choosing to highlight comments I’d made at Phil’s post about Gryphen of Immoral Minority. Also of interest was that while Crowther made use of the term Steve Aufrecht used in his post criticizing Phil for the same thing — Blogger Tourettes [Ref #4] — Crowther not only didn’t credit him, but even linked to another C4P post (critical of Phil) instead of to Steve’s post. [Ref #5] I’m sure there are a number of C4Pers who now think Crowther is oh-so-very-clever for coining a clever phrase that in fact he just snagged uncredited from another Alaska progressive blogger.

Here’s the relevant section of Crowther’s post. All the stuff in green is him quoting me. Links are as they appear in the original.

Mr M has recently been struck down by a bad case of Blogger Tourettes and the issue of the week over at his blog has been “to swear or not to swear”. Is it nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of Sarah Palin’s outrageous good fortune, or to cuss with aggressive, sexually charged, misogynistic language in trying to oppose that?

Please go to the highly accurate and truthful Alaska blog,
Henkimaa to read Mel's full article.

Come Celebrate Elizabeth Peratrovich Day at UAA - and Other Tlingit Notes

I. Today is Elizabeth Peratrovich Day.

On this day 65 years ago, the Alaska Legislature signed into law legislation granting equal rights to Alaska Natives. In 1988,
this day was named for Elizabeth:

On February 6, 1988, the Alaska Legislature established February 16th (the day in 1945 when the Anti-Discrimination Act was signed) as "Elizabeth Peratrovich Day," in order to memorialize the contributions of Peratrovich "for her courageous, unceasing efforts to eliminate discrimination and bring about equal rights in Alaska"

Tonight, at 7:00 p.m, at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium at the University of Alaska Anchorage, the recent movie, For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska, will be shown.

Here's my review
of the film.

Contemporary Tlingit civil rights and women's rights activist, writer, playwright and political candidate (Democratic Party candidate for Lt. Governor in 2010), Diane Benson plays the role of Paratrovich in the film, as she has scores of times around Alaska, in Benson's monodrama about the earlier iconic woman.

After the film's showing, Benson, the film's director, Jefffrey Silverman, UAA's outgoing Chancellor, Fran Ulmer, and others will participate in a panel discussion. Here is Ulmer's proclamation, made in 1992, when she was a member of the Alaska Legislature, designating today as Elizabeth Peratrovich Day:

Forty-seven years ago, Elizabeth Peratrovich championed the cause of civil rights in Alaska and silenced the voices of prejudice and discrimination.

It was February, 1945. The Territorial Senate met as a Committee of the Whole to discuss the equal rights issue and a bill prohibiting racial discrimination in Alaska.

The bill was assailed as a "lawyer's dream" which would create hard feelings between Natives and whites. Many senators stood in turn to speak against equal rights. Their arguments are, by now, familiar ones in this country.

-- They said the bill would aggravate the already hard feelings between Natives and whites.

-- They said the bill was unnecessary -- that Natives had made great progress in the 10 centuries since contact with white civilization.

-- They said the real answer was in the separation of the races.

Those are the ideas we have come to recognize in the last 20 years as the public face of private injustice. The opponents of racial equality have always refused to recognize the problem. Refused to recognize the injury done. Refused to recognize the jobs lost, the poverty incurred, the blows to self-esteem sustained every day by those who have done nothing to merit such injury.

Those voices of prejudice were reduced to a whisper, 47 years ago, by a woman who spoke from the heart.

According to the legislative custom of the time, an opportunity was offered to anyone present who wished to speak on the bill. Elizabeth Peratrovich was the final speaker on that day in 1945. After the long speeches and logical arguments were over, Elizabeth rose to tell the truth about prejudice.

"I would not have expected," she said "that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind them of our Bill of Rights."

She talked about herself, her friends, her children, and the cruel treatment that consigned Alaska Natives to a second class existence.

She described to the Senate what it means to be unable to buy a house in a decent neighborhood because Natives aren't allowed to live there.

She described how children feel when they are refused entrance into movie theaters, or see signs in shop windows that read "No dogs or Natives allowed."

She closed her testimony with a biting condemnation of the "Super race" attitude responsible for such cruelty. Following her speech, there was a wild burst of applause from the Gallery, and the Senate proceeded to pass the Alaska Civil Rights Act by a vote of 11–5.

On that day in 1945, Elizabeth Peratrovich represented her people as the Grand President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood. She was a champion of Alaska Natives and of all people who suffered from discrimination.

In the 33 years since Alaska statehood, we have had too few women and minorities elected to office. But their presence has been felt, just as Elizabeth Peratrovich's presence was felt that day in 1945. In naming Gallery B for Elizabeth, we honor her today for her vision, her wisdom, and her courage in speaking out for what she believed to be right. She symbolizes the role the gallery plays in the legislature and the importance of public opinion in the legislative process. She reminds us that a single person, speaking from the heart, can affect the future of all Alaskans.

II. Tribal Voice Radio
was launched yesterday. Here's more information, from Anonymous Bloggers:

Tribal Voice Radio, a new online radio station operating with the approval and guidance of the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, will officially launch today at 8:00 A.M. at

From the Juneau Empire:

The main goal is to capture the language, clan stories and ways of life of the Native people,” said project coordinator Simon Roberts. “We’re looking at being able to give back to the culture a new life and gather all the communities here in Southeast as well as the Tlingits and Haidas in Canada.


CCTHITA Business Economic Development Department manager Andrei Chakine hopes the station will attract non-Natives as well.

It will be really nice to bring out the Native issues to the non-Native community, so that the non-Native community understands what kind of issues people here in the Southeast are dealing with,” he said.

The station will offer a wide range of programming geared toward preserving Native language and promoting cultural understanding. It will offer everything from traditional and contemporary Native music and archived radio archives to the sharing of family lore and recipes.

The station hopes to receive FCC approval within the next nine months to occupy a space in the FM band. Right now it’s home on the Internet offers live streaming, schedules, an online store and Tribal Voices ringtones.

images - Elizabeth Peratrovich (state archives); Diane Benson as Elizabeth Paratrovich (Bill Hess)