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November 23, 2019

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Southeast Alaska: A Famous Photographer Visits Southeast Alaska; A century and half ago, Muybridge took the first photos of Alaska. By DAVE KIFFER - Each year several million photographs are taken of Alaska. Granted many, these days, are selfies in which the photographer's face is more prominent than the Alaska scenery, but parts of the Last Frontier are remain among the most photographed places on Earth.

A Famous Photographer Visits Southeast Alaska

Eadweard Muybridge
Photo Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Which is why the story of three dozen photographs, taken 150 years ago in the recently purchased territory, is interesting. The man who took the photos would go onto become one of history's most famous photographers and set the stage for the "moving pictures" that became movies and television.
But when he came to Alaska in 1868, Eadweard Muybridge was in the beginning of his photographic career.
Muybridge was born in 1830 in Kingston, England. His birth name was Edward James Muggeridge. But that was just the start. By the time he was an adult he had changed his last name to Muggridge. In his mid-20s he was calling himself Muygridge. At one point, after a trip to Central America, he was marketing his work under the name Eduardo Santiago Muybridge. In his 50s, he began spelling his first name Eadweard. Throughout his life, he signed his photos "Helios" after the Titan of the Sun.
When he died, in 1904, his gravestone carried the name Eadweard Maybridge, although that was probably a typo.
Raised in a family of stationers and corn merchants, Muybridge emigrated to the United States in 1850 and lived for several years in New York City. He moved to San Francisco in 1855 and began working as a publisher's agent and a bookseller.
Within five years, Muybridge had become a successful bookseller and own a prominent San Francisco business. Leaving his brother in charge of the store, he planned to sail back to the England to purchase a large number of antiquarian books to sell in his shop.
But Muybridge missed the ship sailing and made a fateful decision to travel overland to the East Coast instead. He left San Francisco in July of 1860 heading for St. Louis by stagecoach. In St. Louis he would board the train for New York where he would sail a ship to England.
Unfortunately, in Texas, Muybridge was severely injured in a stagecoach accident. A runaway team caused the coach to crash, injuring all the passengers and causing one fatality. Muybridge was ejected during the crash and struck his head on a rock. He was taken to a hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas and remained there for three months. He then went to New York City where he would continue to convalesce for a year - suffering double vision, confused thinking, impaired sense of taste and smell and other problems - before doctors deemed him well enough to head on to England.
Muybridge continued to recuperate in England and as part of his treatment took up photography as well as print making. By the time he was ready to return to San Francisco in 1867, he had decided to make photography his career. He developed one of the first portable "darkrooms" – which he called his “Flying Studio” -  to allow him to travel throughout the West, where he specialized in landscape photography as well as portraiture with his view camera and glass plate negatives. His early "stereographs" were very popular at San Francisco galleries and when he took some of the earliest photos of Yosemite in 1867, his fame began to spread East.
In 1868, Muybridge was hired by the US government to travel to Alaska to photograph the Tlingit Natives, the remaining Russian inhabitants and the dramatic scenery.
Late in July 1868, Muybridge boarded the steamship Pacific, in San Francisco, heading north to Alaska.  The expedition was led by Major-General Henry Halleck, commander of the US Military Division of the Pacific. Halleck had served during the recent Civil War and at one point was appointed "General in Chief" of the Union Forces, but had proven not quite up to the task, at least according to President Lincoln. His skill set was more attuned to organization and less to battle, according to several biographers. After the war, he had been shunted West, then considered a military backwater.
When Alaska was purchased from Russia there was no civil authority to take to control, so Halleck was tasked with setting up a military government for the area. - More...
Saturday PM - November 23, 2019


Fish Factor: Alaska Salmon Permits Up in Regions Experiencing Good Fisheries By LAINE WELCH - The value of Alaska salmon permits has ticked upwards in regions that experienced a good fishery this year while others have tanked.  

Not surprisingly, the record sockeye fishery at Bristol Bay has boosted sales of driftnet permits to nearly $200,000, up from the mid-$170,000 range prior to the 2019 season. Another strong run forecast of 48.9 million sockeyes for 2020 with a projected harvest of 36.9 million could increase the value even more, said Doug Bowen of Alaska Boats and Permits in Homer.

What’s really raising eyebrows, Bowen said, is values for driftnet permits at Area M (False Pass) on the Alaska Peninsula where lots of people want in and not many want out. 

“We sold one at $235,000 which is amazing - $40,000 more than a Bay permit,” Bowen said. Listings by other brokers reflect the same trend with Area M seine permits also commanding over $180,000. 

Wanting in are fishermen at Cook Inlet where another poor season has seen the value of driftnet permits plummet. 

“They got up as high as $40,000 before the season, we've sold a couple at $28,000 and they are down around $25,000 to 26,000,” Bowen said. “You have folks in Cook Inlet that have hung on for years and they’re trying to get out and go to Area M or Bristol Bay where they can hopefully make a living.” 

At Kodiak, which had a strong 2019 fishery, the value of seine permits value increased for the first time in many years from $30,000 to $40,000. 

The Kodiak fishery produced over 36 million salmon, well above the 10-year average of 21 million fish, of which nearly 33 million were pinks. The value to fishermen was nearly $46 million compared to the recent 10 year average of $38 million. A fleet of 176 seiners accounted for most of the harvest with each averaging $227,552 per permit, an increase of $80,000 over 2018. 

Conversely, at Prince William Sound seine permit values remain lackluster in the $175,000 range with drifts upwards of $145,000.  The estimated preliminary dockside value of the total salmon harvest was nearly $114 million, an increase of about $19 million from 2018.

Contrary to expectations, Southeast Alaska had a disappointing salmon fishery which has put a downward press on permit prices. 

“With the preseason optimism there, the Southeast drift was around $90,000 to $92,000. We have one now at $87,000 so that’s a lower asking price than what the preseason sales were. But there is no action there,” Bowen said, adding that Southeast seine cards are holding at $230,000  also with little activity. 

Southeast’s 2019 salmon fishery was valued at under $102 million compared to  nearly $134 million in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Panhandle is projected to see pink salmon numbers catches plummet next summer. State fishery managers are forecasting a 2020 catch of just 12 million pinks, one-third of the 10 year average, and down from 21 million taken in 2019.

An advisory from the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game stated: “It is possible that drought conditions present in Southeast Alaska from the parent year 2018 spawn through the spring of 2019 reduced spawning success or negatively impacted overwinter survival of developing juvenile salmon, but the exact reasons for the low juvenile abundance are not known.”  

 It added: “Like many recent years, a potential source of uncertainty regarding the 2020 pink salmon return is the anomalously warm sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska in 2019. Compared to sea surface temperatures since 1997, when NOAA first started the Southeast Coastal Monitoring project, surface temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska in 2019, immediately offshore of Southeast Alaska, were the warmest of the time series in July, the 4th warmest in August, and 3rd warmest in September.”  - More...
Saturday PM - November 23, 2019

What killed the world’s giants?

What killed the world’s giants?
Pam Groves of the University of Alaska Fairbanks looks at bones of ancient creatures she has gathered over the years from northern rivers. The remains here include muskox, steppe bison and mammoth.


Alaska: What killed the world’s giants? By NED ROZELL - Most of the large animals that have walked the surface of Earth are no longer here. Why?

Dan Mann thinks it’s because our recent climate has been too stable, at least when compared to the wacky ups and downs of the last ice age.

Mann, a University of Alaska Fairbanks professor, presented his idea at a recent lecture on campus. Mann is an expert on former worlds, especially that of Alaska, where along northern waterways he and UAF’s Pam Groves have found thousands of bones of extinct horses, along with the hardened remains of lions, giant short-faced bears, mammoths and mastodons. A couple of years ago, while paddling down a sluggish Arctic river, they found a 40,000-year-old steppe bison eroding from a hillside.

Groves is a co-author with Mann on a 2019 paper about what might have caused the extinction of so many large animals at the end of the last ice age, about 11,700 years ago. Many people blame humans, who had a need to hunt and the tools to get the job done.

More likely, extinction is a combination of factors that spell the doom of a species, Mann said.

“There’s no silver bullet that killed them all.”

Looking back over what they can piece together about the past millennia, Mann, Groves and their co-authors say the Holocene — the era in which we live — is too vanilla for large animals to dominate. Great swings in climate favor animals that weigh more than 100 pounds, he said.

“The small, meek and cute inherited the Earth. Climate stability favored them.”

Over the last 100,000 years, 64 percent of large animal species have gone extinct. The loss of large animals like mammoths, mastodons and giant ground sloths has been somewhat evenly spread over all the continents — except Africa, which has lost less than 20 percent of its large animals.

“Africa never lost its (extreme climate swings, including from dry to wet seasons),” Mann said.

During the height of the last ice age, 20,000 years ago, much of Canada was beneath 9,000 feet of ice. That ice sheet extended well into mid-America, though much of Alaska was ice-free at the time.

Using records of ancient climate found in deep ice cores and from other sources, scientists have found that the last ice age was unstable compared to the most recent 12,000 years. During the ice age, every thousand years or so featured wild temperature swings.

“The ice age is a time of crazy, rapid change,” Mann said. “To keep up, you really have to be on the move, whether you’re a plant or an animal.” - More...
Saturday PM - November 23, 2019



PETER FUNT: The Debate Was A Moderated Mess - The latest Democratic presidential debate was disappointing. Not because the participants weren’t articulate – in fact, many of their answers were excellent – but because the DNC and the networks can’t seem to figure out how to conduct a meaningful competition that will actually help voters determine how the candidates differ on key issues.

Wednesday night’s debate in Atlanta was scattered. At times it seemed as if questions for each candidate were being randomly picked from a hat rather than coordinated in a way that would give each competitor a chance to speak about the most controversial topics. Ten candidates might be too many to have a meaningful debate, but four moderators, freelancing with no apparent coordination, only made it worse.

Consider the issue of climate change, viewed by many as one of the most serious problems facing the planet. It only came up when Mayor Pete Buttigieg mentioned it in answer to a question about farming, opening the door to a brief series of climate-related questions. Even then, only half the candidates were allowed to speak on this vitally important issue. Not a word about climate was solicited from Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris or businessman Andrew Yang.

The questioning was conducted by Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell and Kristen Welker of NBC News, along with Ashley Parker of the Washington Post. Although they did an effective job of clock management and refereeing, they failed miserably in giving each candidate a chance to be heard. The issue of abortion and reproductive rights was debated by four senators – Warren, Booker, Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders – while the six other candidates were excluded. The topic of paid family leave was presented to only Klobuchar, Harris and Yang.

Real-time tweets from some viewers praised the four female moderators for bringing up, at long last, these two important matters. What a shame that the two questions were answered by so few participants. - More...
Saturday PM - November 23, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Dems Impeach Democracy

Political Cartoon: Dems Impeach Democracy
By Gary McCoy ©2019, Shiloh, IL
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Open Letter To DEC Commissioner Jason Brune By Terri Robbins - I was appalled to learn of your recent statement at the AFN conference. To say that climate change is not an emergency in Alaska is incorrect, at best, and malfeasance of the most egregious kind, at worst.

We just experienced the hottest summer on record. Sea levels have risen, forcing coastal villages to relocate. Habitat for polar bears and other arctic mammals is disappearing at an alarming rate. The interior experienced devastating wildfires, as did south central and the Kenai Peninsula. The water levels in key salmon streams was dangerously low. Southern southeast communities were forced to rely on diesel power to supply electricity due to low levels of water in lakes supplying hydropower. An extreme drought was declared. In our oceans, whales were dying in large numbers due to starvation, arguably caused by warmer ocean temperatures which killed off plankton and krill. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 20, 2019

jpg Opinion

State Legislature Year in Review By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As the House Representative for District 36, I’m writing to update you on some of the issues currently before the Alaska State Legislature. The 2019 legislative sessions were challenging – we continued to grapple with creating the budget, implementing a long term sustainable fiscal plan, and address declining revenue.

While we were able to hold fast on funding for departments like Fish & Game and Education, the Marine Highway System faced unprecedented cuts. During the interim, I have been focused on re-establishing the AMHS link to Prince Rupert. I will continue to push this issue until we see a long-term commitment by the Alaska Department of Transportation to keep Southeast connected.

New sources of revenue were not addressed, and funding for the budget continues to come predominately from our oil resources and a portion of the Permanent Fund Earnings. I am an advocate for policies that will promote as large of a dividend as possible while maintaining funding for essential government services and allowing for growth in the overall value of the Permanent Fund itself. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

Save Our Seas 2.0 tackles global marine debris crisis By Sen. Dan Sullivan, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Bob Menendez - We may have plenty of political differences, but we come from coastal states. That means we have a front-row seat to the peril of plastic waste and marine debris flowing into our oceans at the rate of around 8 million metric tons per year. We understand what it will mean for our fishing and tourism industries when the weight of plastic in our oceans equals the weight of fish in the sea — something projected to happen by mid-century. We don’t have a moment to lose in confronting this problem.

That’s why we built a coalition in Congress and gathered input from environmental and industry stakeholders alike. Despite a divided Washington, that work resulted in a bill that won broad, bipartisan support. When the Save Our Seas Act became law last October, it was a moment of bipartisan progress on a vital issue — one to be celebrated.

Before the president’s ink on Save Our Seas was dry, our bipartisan trio of senators began developing the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. We sought to harness the momentum behind the first bill to up the ante on combatting the global marine debris crisis. Marine debris requires multifaceted, multisector solutions with a global reach, and the United States ought to be driving these solutions.

In developing the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, we collected hundreds of comments and ideas from researchers, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations and industry. We reviewed the latest science on marine debris and plastics pollution. We identified areas ripe for legislative action and others where investments in research are needed. We looked inward at the United States’ own waste management systems and how we could better position the country as an international leader — not hindrance. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

Impeachable Offenses By Donald Moskowitz - Article Two of the U.S. Constitution states "The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

The current impeachment inquiry by the U.S. House of Representatives against President Trump is focusing on the allegation he tried to bribe and/or extort President Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in the runup to the 2020 election in exchange for $400 million in foreign aid to Ukraine. The investigation of the Bidens did not occur and the $400 million in aid was subsequently given to Ukraine.Therefore no bribery or extortion occurred.

But did President Trump's actions meet the test of "high Crimes and Misdemeanors"?

A recent president to be impeached was Bill Clinton.. He was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice relative to the Monice Lewinsky affair. Richard Nixon was charged, but not impeached as an outgrowth of the Watergate coverup. He was charged with obstruction of justice, abuse of power and defying subpoenas during the impeachment investigation. The House Judiciary Committee stated that "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" goes beyond crimes to include "behaving in a manner grossly incompatible with the proper function of the office and employing the power of the office for an improper purpose or personal gain." 

Going back to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 the founding fathers decided the phrase "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" provided "flexibility and guidance" in deciding on impeachable offenses, which references 400 years of practice in Great Britain. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 19, 2019

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