Updated: Aug 8
A very dry and hot start to the Alaska summer has given way to more typical rainy weather in July, putting out many of the large fires that were burning around the state. Some of the lower 48 fire crews have returned south to fight big fires in the Western states where global warming has contributed to extreme drought and wildfires. The looming water disaster on the Colorado River basin is one of the worst situations imaginable in the short term for millions of people who depend on that river for water and power. If the weather pattern in that area continues, in a very few years the major cities that rely on the Colorado River for water and power will have neither. That situation will create a humanitarian crisis unmatched in US history, and the cost will be off the charts. Make no mistake, there are no current options for supplying water and power to cities like Las Vegas once the Colorado River is no longer viable. There are many other facets of global warming that are also of major concern, yet it took a whole lot of arm twisting in the Senate to get enough votes lined up to do something about it. Global warming deniers, like election deniers, have backed themselves into a corner but the stalwart few who are left have immense political power and wealth on their side. But the large majority of Americans that recognize global warming as a threat to human life are finally getting some action in Congress to address this issue.
A recently settled case involving a midair plane crash was reported here last month. Local radio station KYUK in Bethel aired a story about the ALO clients involved in that case, and it is worth a read – “The widow of a pilot who died in a midair crash has settled her lawsuit against Hageland Aviation.” Be sure to check the website for Zach Babat's art.
There is an interesting follow-up to that settlement. The insurance company that paid the settlement is American International Group (AIG) which has funded numerous settlements in past ALO cases. AIG is a company based in America that does business in 80 nations and employs 5,000 people. The company produced $52 billion in revenue in 2021. One of their offices is pictured above in Houston and there are many more. Compare that to ALO headquarters, on the right. Does that seem like a fair fight? The startling truth is that AIG actually hired ALO to defend a case in rural Alaska a while back, when a long time AIG defense lawyer told his company he wouldn't defend a case in Bethel unless he had some Bethel rube trying the case with him. There weren't many candidates for that position. AIG wasn't comfortable using ALO to defend a major case so they sent another big city lawyer to observe the start of the trial and report on whether their long time opponent was doing a decent job. He left Bethel after one day, reported to others that AIG was well represented, and AIG won its case.
Speaking of legal cases, the trial against Alex Jones and InfoWars has provided some interesting insights into how this right wing conspiracy kook operates. Jones has spewed ridiculous lies about a host of current events over the years, converting those lies into money making ventures on his website and making tens of millions for his effort. Some parents of murdered children fought back with lawsuits, and they are finally getting results. Jones cheated his way through early stages of litigation, refusing to engage in discovery as required by law. Eventually a judge ruled him liable because of his actions, and the jury has now started returning money verdicts against him. A Texas jury recently awarded $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $45.2 million in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim. He will attempt to avoid paying through bankruptcy, but that will also fail because he is cheating in bankruptcy court as well. He has gone through lawyers rapidly and is on his 11th lawyer at this time. He has been caught lying to the court and jury too many times to count. Unfortunately his tactics are becoming commonplace in America. No matter how bizarre the story, people are willing to gobble it up if presented in such a way that it fits their world view. Another sterling example is the election fraud issue that has been presented in over 100 courts without any success, but still is believed by a significant percentage of Americans. The scariest part of the conspiracy theories is the large number of Americans that fall for them. For example, internal correspondence revealed during the trial showed that Alex Jones sold as much as $800,000 a day of conspiracy related merchandise from his website. That is clearly cult behavior and it is getting worse every year.
Worthy Legal News
Finally in national legal news, the vote on the Kansas constitutional amendment on abortion is worthy of comment. Previously there has been discussion here about the issue of minority rule which is becoming a problem in America citing the strong support for abortion rights among the American populace that was recently thwarted by the Supreme Court. As a result, Kansas voters turned out in large numbers to defeat an attempt to remove abortion protection from the Kansas Constitution. Consistent high voter turnout is the most obvious cure for minority rule in this nation. And make no mistake, minority rule is the reason that a Supreme Court justice can write an opinion stating that the court should revisit the rule on the use of contraceptives. Such an idea would be supported by a small minority of Americans, and yet it could become reality because the Supreme Court currently reflects the results of minority rule, which allows Presidents to be elected without winning the popular vote and allows justices to be approved by Senators who are elected by a system that complete ignores the one man one vote system. Imagine a nation without birth control access. Unwanted pregnancies would multiply. and the resultant social costs would be enormous.
Mandatory Moose & Bears Oh My!
On to more fun stuff. These four bears have been wandering about Kodiak recently and so far they have been left alone. A mama with three cubs is a danger of course, but the good people of Kodiak keep their distance and luckily no crackpot has seen fit to shoot her on sight as too many folks are prone to do.
Many people who have seen pictures of the bears at the Angstman cabin wonder why they are not destroyed on sight which is a maddening response. Here, by the way, is one such sighting. The stroll down the beach is a very typical walk for a grizzly bear.
This month’s Mandatory Moose enjoys Alaska’s most photographed flower the fireweed with her baby.
This Minnesota turkey must have seen the camera and decided to strut a bit.
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
These grandkids made it to the top of a small mountain recently. One walked and the other one was carried. They seemed to enjoy the hike.
Here are two cartoons that are too good to pass up. Photographers and duck hunters, beware.
High Price of Gas
Oil prices are coming down across the country, and most of the world, but folks continue to use the gas price as a political football to blame the current administration. Several European countries have levied windfall profits taxes on the oil industry, and of course the US could too if the oil industry didn’t control so many votes in Congress. Here are the quarterly profits for three oil companies. Do you suppose those profits are somehow related to the high price of gas at the pump? Remember this is their reported profit for three months.
The Best Part
It's been a while since ALO has mentioned James Nicholas, the long time dog handler at Old Friendly Dog Farm. It has been noted that James was always fond of the various young ladies that worked at the law office. So much so that each of them was warned that James might be flirtatious at times, and if it became a problem it was to be reported. Well one such report stands out. A buxom blonde worked as an intern for a couple of years, and she found James to be endearing as did most women. He would spend a few minutes in her office every day. One day he encountered her working with scissors, cutting up a picture. He asked her what she was doing. She advised him that she was trimming a large photo of herself to make a passport photo and explained that they only allowed photos that showed the head and neck. James responded, “You’re cutting off the best part”