The January news comes to you from a very slushy Bethel where an extended warm spell has created ice and water in places where snow should be. A nice amount of snow fell earlier in the winter and hung around long enough to stage a splendid Kuskokwim 300 Race weekend, but from there it has been steadily downhill. While some folks probably wonder what is wrong with warm winter weather, rural Alaskans know it creates many issues such as poor flying , poor overland travel, slippery walking, and dangerous driving. Every time the wind switches to the south a melt down is possible, and lately that has been very common. Right now, areas of Bethel are flooding.
Mother nature cooperated enough to allow for a wonderful race weekend in mid-January. Check out Facebook for a series of posts about the race, including some great videos. If you have a few extra minutes, this local radio talk show explores some of the history of the race. The Kuskokwim 300 has grown into a huge event, paying out a weekend total purse of around $250,000. That amount, raised in a community of 6,000 people, ranks it first among payouts for any sporting event in a town that size in the country. By comparison, for Anchorage with around 300,000 people to match that level of payout, it would have to stage an event with a purse of about $12 million dollars. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul would have to offer about $25 million. And that doesn't even include the $100,000 offered by the K300 for other race events throughout the winter. And most of the effort comes from volunteers. All that makes it more than puzzling that the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame has overlooked the Kuskokwim 300. The Bethel area is routinely overlooked when Anchorage based organizations dole out awards, and this is just one more example. Check out the Hall of Fame list and see if you think the K300 should qualify. The selection process is unusual. There is a public vote, during which the K300 reportedly did extremely well. But that vote only counts as one vote in the final tally , which also includes one vote each of about 9 voting board members of the Hall of Fame. Of course there are no board members from Western Alaska.
Speaking of dog racing, a former competitor and friend from the 1987 John Beargrease Dave Oleson showed up online as a blogger worth reading. Dave wrote a book back in the day called Cold Nights, Fast Trails where he included this section on the 1987 Beargrease. The actual situation was this: Running 18 dogs in the early part of the race, it was impossible to stop the team for more than a half minute with any assurance they would remain stopped. Coming upon Dave at a fork in the trail, and hearing his predicament, that left about 5 seconds to decide which trail to take. There were only two choices, and therefore the odds weren't bad. It is also likely they split and came back together quickly, so both might have been correct. But thanks for the plug Dave. Here is a link to his bio. Dave and his family live on Canada's Great Slave Lake in the middle of nowhere where he still keeps a dog team and flies airplanes. He was always one of the best guys in the sport.
Several years ago Dave Price visited the mountain cabin and taped this bear which was posted on You Tube. Since then 77,000 people have viewed it and it has generated some wild comments. Check it out.
The recent short cold spell in the lower 48 prompted a lot of discussion about the "myth" of global warming. Several Federal Officials joined in the scoffing. Now comes the Federal report affirming that 2018 was the fourth hottest on record. Climate is not local, and its is not daily. It is worldwide over a period of time. The little nip experienced in the Midwest in January means next to nothing in wordwide climate. For example while Minnesota froze, Australia was gripped by the hottest January on record.
Here's an article about what global warming looks like in an area just east of Bethel. And here is an article about Laureli Ivanoffwho also writes about Alaska warming, and now is an award winner. Several of her articles have been linked in ALO news.
Few people would claim to be big fans of airport screening, simply because of the minor hassle involved with waiting in line and having to mess with ID, bags and shoes at the airport. But this story from fellow Alaska lawyer Vivian Munson takes it to an entirely new level. Most folks out of Alaska would not understand the need to board a jet for medical care but it is a fact of life for many Alaskans. Keeping air travelers safe is one thing, making them suffer is something else entirely.
This month's mandatory moose features a group of critters walking the streets in Anchorage. Sport fish sometimes make it on to this page, but none has measured up to this giant, which may be a world record. That's about 20 pounds heavier than any pike landed by the Angstman crew.
There has been much talk lately about taxation, and some of it has focused on a plan to heavily tax the billionaires of America. Talk about a plan that makes sense. Today we have a system that allows economic and political power to be concentrated in the hands of a very small number of people, and it is a self-sustaining system. The more money someone has, the more political power they can wield. That in turn gives them the ability to enhance their economic power. Look at the Walton family. They have billions, and with that they have been able to build a system that forces out smaller retail stores, which eliminates competition. It also eliminates many jobs at those other stores, making it easier for Walmart to pay lower wages because of the surplus of that type of worker. As the billions pile up the family develops political power through contributions, to make sure laws are not passed to undercut their position in the economy. The most recent example is the huge tax cut passed which greatly favors folks like the Waltons. There are numerous other examples, but it seems folks are catching on. A significant majority of Americans now favor high taxes on the ultra-rich. And why shouldn't they. Such taxes would enable the country to address many of it pressing issues, including the crumbling infrastructure and health care. No one can seriously argue that a billionaire needs more money. In fact the contrary argument that too much money held by one family is bad for America is widely supported. It is also clear that billionaires have the edge in making future money because many of the most lucrative opportunities in the US economy require immense capital to start, and only the billionaire class can play that game. Passing high taxes on the rich should be easy because of strong popular support. But go back to the start of this paragraph and remember the billionaires have immense political power in America. Many in our government are bought and paid for by huge political donations from billionaires. They vote contrary to the broad wishes of their constituents, to keep their donors happy. But populist candidates sometimes cut through that system and attract broad support without accepting bribes in the form of huge campaign contributions. That seems to be happening now. Hurry up.