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Liz Ruskin, APRN

lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz

Sen. Murkowski delivered a floor speech today in opposition to the proposal to sell oil from the
SPR to partially pay for the Senate highway bill. Photo: Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Murkowski balks at funding source in highway bill

The deadline for renewing the nation’s highway programs is nine days away. Leaders in the Senate this week negotiated a bill that would fund highways for the next six years. But it would require selling off $9 billion of crude oil that’s stashed in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

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July 22, 2015
Gen. Mark Milley is nominated for Army Chief of Staff. (Photo: U.S. Army)

General Says Decision on JBER Cuts Not Final Without Arctic Plan

The general nominated to be the Army’s Chief of Staff suggested this morning that the plan to cut 2,600 Alaska soldiers isn’t final yet. But it’s hard to say whether the Army really plans to reconsider, or whether the general merely agreed to follow a procedure to ultimately reach a pre-determined end.

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July 21, 2015

Senate Ed Bill Bolsters Role of Alaska Tribes

An education bill the U.S. Senate passed last week includes several provisions that boost the role of Alaska Native tribes, and a new grant program for Native language immersion programs.

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July 20, 2015
Shell Rigs Leave Dutch for Chukchi, To Wait

Shell Rigs Leave Dutch for Chukchi, To Wait

Shell is still moving its drill rigs into the Arctic, even as one of its icebreakers prepares to head back south for repairs. The unexpected crack in the hull of the Fennica has added uncertainty to the start of the short Arctic drilling season.

July 17, 2015
It’s Official: Obama to Visit Anchorage Aug. 31

It’s Official: Obama to Visit Anchorage Aug. 31

The White House announced today that President Obama will visit Alaska at the end of next month. On Aug. 31 Obama will visit Anchorage to address a State Department conference focused on climate change that is expected to draw foreign ministers from Arctic and non-Arctic countries.

July 17, 2015
Ohio newspaper endorses Mt. McKinley name change

Ohio newspaper endorses Mt. McKinley name change

The longstanding Alaskan campaign to restore the name “Denali” to Mount McKinley got an unlikely endorsement today.

July 16, 2015
Short $1B, Icebreaker Advocates Consider Leasing, Sharing

Short $1B, Icebreaker Advocates Consider Leasing, Sharing

Nothing illustrates American disinterest in the Arctic as much as its tiny inventory of icebreakers. Alaska leaders, among others, say the country can’t assert its national interests, or see the economic benefits of a melting Arctic, without more icebreakers. But some now ask, why buy when you can lease?

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July 15, 2015
Coast Guard Gears Up for Shell’s Chukchi Season

Coast Guard Gears Up for Shell’s Chukchi Season

Coast Guard Commandant Paul Zukunft says if Shell is allowed to drill in the Chukchi Sea this summer, the Coast Guard will be there with five ships and two aircraft. But, the admiral says, nothing about the Arctic is easy.

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July 14, 2015
ArXotica is owned and operated by Alaska Native triplets Michelle, Amy and Cika Sparck of the Qissunamiut tribe in Western Alaska. Michelle is raising her family in New Jersey, with one foot still firmly planted on the tundra. Photo: ArXotica.

49 Voices: Michelle Sparck of New Jersey

This week for 49 Voices, we’re going far afield, to hear from an Alaskan living in …New Jersey! Michelle Sparck grew up in Bethel, one of a set of triplets born to Lucy Sparck, of Chevak, and the late Harold Sparck, who moved from Baltimore to Bethel in the ‘60s.

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July 10, 2015

Governor, Delegation Rally to Stymie JBER Cuts

The reduction of 2,600 soldiers from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson isn’t expected to begin for more than a year. Alaska officials hope that gives enough time to stop it, or at least mitigate the loss. Gov. Bill Walker Thursday pledged a campaign to retain Alaska’s military forces and attract new ones.

July 10, 2015
First Lady Wows Crowd at Native Youth Confab

First Lady Wows Crowd at Native Youth Confab

About 30 Alaskans in their teens and 20s were in Washington, D.C. today to participate in the first-ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering. The highlight for many was a passionate speech by First Lady Michelle Obama.

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July 9, 2015
Sec. Jewell Pledges More Soverignty to Tribal Youth Visiting DC

Sec. Jewell Pledges More Soverignty to Tribal Youth Visiting DC

Some 30 Alaska Native teens are in Washington D.C. today for the first-ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering.

July 9, 2015

Army to Cut 2,600 Soldiers from JBER

The Army said today it plans to cut 2,600 troops from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage and another 75 soldiers from Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks. That would slice two-thirds of the personnel from the 4-25th, the only airborne brigade in the Pacific.

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July 8, 2015

IG Finds Service to Veterans Lacking at VA clinic in Mat-Su

The Inspector General for Veterans Affairs has verified a host of problems at the VA’s Mat-Su outpatient clinic.

July 8, 2015
Shell Finds Fracture in Hull of Icebreaker

Shell Finds Fracture in Hull of Icebreaker

An icebreaker leased to Shell sprang a leak and had to return to Dutch Harbor early Friday morning. The MV Fennica carries the company’s capping stack — a critical piece of safety equipment for Shell’s plan to drill two wells this summer in the Chukchi Sea.

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July 7, 2015
Young Amendment Blocks ANWR Wilderness Plan

Young Amendment Blocks ANWR Wilderness Plan

Alaska Congressman Don Young this afternoon added an amendment to a bill that would block the feds from spending any money on a plan that calls for more wilderness in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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July 7, 2015
A Dark View of Geopolitics in the Arctic

A Dark View of Geopolitics in the Arctic

World leaders speak of the Arctic as a “zone of peace and co-operation.” But continued tranquility is just one forecast for the region. A much darker scenario came today from a Canadian policy scholar with an insider’s view of Russia.

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June 29, 2015

Sen. Murkowski Pushes For Tweaks To Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act has special provisions for American Indians and Alaska Natives. They’re exempt from the individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase health insurance, since they’re already entitled to health care through the Indian Health Service.

June 29, 2015

State Applauds Supreme Court Ruling On Subsidies

More than 16,000 Alaskans will keep their health insurance subsidies under a ruling issued Thursday by the United States Supreme Court. The Court ruled 6 to 3 in favor of the argument that the Affordable Care Act allows residents in states like Alaska to access federal subsidies on healthcare.gov.

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June 25, 2015

$1B Icebreaker Isn’t In the Coast Guard’s Stars… Yet

Congress does not appear close to finding $1 billion to fund a new Coast Guard icebreaker, but Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill authorizing $14 million to plan for one.

June 25, 2015