Monthly Archives: December 2014

Quote of the day: ISIL outlines rules for rape of female slaves

From a pamphlet entitled “Question and Answers on Female Slaves and their Freedom” that was handed out by ISIL to the residents of n Mosul, the Iraqi city now under control of ISIL. Thousands of “non-believers” have been taken as slaves in the Middle East by the militant Islamic group:

If she was a virgin, he (the owner) can have intercourse with her immediately after the ownership is fulfilled. If she was not a virgin, her uterus must be purified (wait for her period to be sure she is not pregnant.)…It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse. However, if she is not fit for intercourse, he (the owner ) can only enjoy her without intercourse.

Read one translation here.


U.S. Senate announces committee assignments

Senate Majority committee assignments for the upcoming 114th Congress were released today. The assignments are subject to ratification by the Republican Conference as well as the full Senate. New committee chairs will be selected by a vote of the members of each respective panel and then ratified by the Republican Conference. According to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office, Murkowski and Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan coordinated their efforts.

“The senators worked together to push for the range of committee assignments they felt would best serve Alaska, taking into consideration Senator Murkowski’s seniority on her current committees,” Murkowski’s spokesperson Matt Felling said.

Here are the committee assignments for Murkowski and Sullivan:

Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan:

  • Commerce, Science and Transportation
  • Environment and Public Works
  • Veterans’ Affairs
  • Armed Services

Sen. Lisa Murkowski:

  • Appropriations
  • Energy and Natural Resources
  • Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
  • Indian Affairs

Inside/Outside morning news update for 12.15

  • Gov. Bill Walker will be submitting a new capital budget today at 1 p.m., which will include about $100 million of capital cuts from the budget that former Gov. Sean Parnell submitted. It’s not Walker’s final budget, but a start.
  • Ready your smelling salts; The Telegraph reports that OPEC is prepared to lower oil prices to $40 a barrel to further destroy Russian and U.S. shale competition while continuing to pump oil as business as usual. Kind of makes Bloomberg’s announcement of $55 a barrel for this week feel luxurious.
  • In Alaska Space Industry News, Lockheed Martin won the bid to reconfigure the Kodiak Launch Complex to launch bigger rockets, per the AP, which reports that the facility is sitting on a $25 million state appropriation. In 2012, the Alaska Aerospace Corp. told the Legislature that it needs $100 million in addition to the $25 million to launch those larger rockets.
  • Alaska Commons has the details on Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s (AOGCC) new rules for fracking in the Last Frontier.
  • Politico Magazine wonders if cheap oil will be the final nail in Keystone’s coffin.
  • Per CNN: “Uber has crashed into its latest public relations disaster after attempting to charge passengers inflated prices to leave central Sydney as a hostage crisis unfolded in the city.” After social media caught wind, the company began to offer free and reduced fares.

Continue reading


Young faces criticism from the right on recent budget vote

Rep. Don Young has never been Alaska’s arch conservative, tea party favorite. He’s too supportive of labor, too supportive of congressional leadership, and despite what some in Alaska might think of him, he doesn’t play the fire-breathing Republican game very well. And his vote for the recent spending bill—despite all the goodies for Alaska in it–has again, and already, set him up as a target amongst some right-leaning Alaskans.

The $1 trillion-plus funding bill was passed late Thursday. It didn’t strip funding for Homeland Security, nor for ObamaCare, as some on the right had called for. However, it avoided a government shutdown, and did cut agency funding some, but not enough for fiscal hawks.

In a release defending his vote, Young said that he didn’t approve of such large spending bills, as opposed to individual appropriations. But it was the only choice Congress had given Democratic control of the Senate. Too, he said, the bill “takes a number of serious steps to stand up for fiscal responsibility, reduce the size of the federal government, defend the homeland and protect our men and women in uniform, and target much needed reforms for growing federal agencies like the EPA and IRS,” (See Young’s full press release below, along with details of funding for various programs in the bill.)

Mike Coons, the former head of the Conservative Patriots Group, Continue reading


Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 12.12

  • The Dispatch reports that Gov. Bill Walker says he will keep his campaign promise by asking departments to cut 5 percent from their budgets.
  • Does the Kodiak Launch Complex have any intention of going away? Nope.  It wants to get bigger. The AP is reporting that the Alaska Aerospace Corp. is expected to announce expansion plans. Do those plans include asking the state for the $100 or so million it said it would need in 2012 for such an expansion?
  • Up in Fairbanks, Matt Buxton was on hand to cover the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly where two issues that seem to contradict themselves passed. First, they endorsed the state air pollution measure that will tighten air pollution regulations and then they voted for permanent registration for older vehicles and trailers.

Continue reading


Loose Lips: Will Biden join the love caucus? Will Lester Lunceford star on the silver screen? Will LeDoux and Keithley Eskimo kiss and make up?

Alaska memories are short. So for those who weren’t around, let me tell you all about the love caucus. Actually, scratch. That would take too long. This is what you need to know: it involved soon-to-be House Majority Leader Charisse Millett, and then Rep. Kyle Johansen, both of whom fell on their swivel sticks for love and got kicked out of the majority. Was the VP commiserating this week? Was Millett recruiting? Where’d she get that necklace? Was Biden a good Eskimo kisser? Maybe we can all ask her when she gets back from one of several of her recent junkets.

charrise eskimo kissing

As I mentioned in my last column, that junket is in D.C., where a group of legislators and staffers are visiting for the National Council of State Legislators forum. Registration fees are between $425 and $500 per person and that doesn’t include airfare, hotel or meals. That junket followed another junket in Alabama. Outgoing Rep. Eric Feige, who was beat in the primary, hopped on that one, because what’s another free trip among friends? Maybe someone in power, like, I don’t know, a governor, should call for an end to all non-essential travel. And maybe for morale, mandate Eskimo kissing for those in opposite parties while he’s at it.

The governor isn’t traveling far for a dinner with Hollywood. Continue reading


Comment of the day: ‘Alaska subsidizes commercial fisheries management to the tune of $60 million’

A few years ago, I did some preliminary reporting on how much the state actually makes in taxes from the commercial fishing industry, minus state-funded management of, and state-funded infrastructure for, the industry. What I began to suspect: When we’re just talking about pure state-coffer cash, it appears that we’re actually losing money on the multi-billion dollar commercial fishing industry, touted as the second-largest industry in Alaska. An important caveat: this does not include money that gets funneled through the state from industry-wages—though the value of those wages are less specific because we don’t have a broad-based income or sales tax. Nor does it include money localities get from fees and taxes on the industry, which might otherwise come out of general-fund revenue.

I was reminded again about that story when I looked at the DOR’s report on revenue released yesterday and read that the state actually brings in more money from taxes on tobacco than it does from taxes on fisheries, and mining, for that matter. In FY 2015, the state is projected to bring in only $26.7 million from fisheries, and only $24.7 million in FY 2016.

A commenter, who appears to know what he/she is talking about, says that when the numbers are crunched, the state actually subsidized the commercial fishing industry by as much as $60 million a year. Read on:

Alaska continues to subsidize commercial fisheries management to the tune of $60 million plus.

Fisheries taxes, business and landing, is about $25 – $30 million, but that revenue is roughly one third the cost of commercial fisheries management, not including state infrastructure for ports, hatcheries, remote airports that service primarily commercial fisheries…

Fish are a public resource to be used for the maximum benefit of the people of the state.

Commercial fisheries utilized 98.2 percent of all fish and game harvest in Alaska in 2012, or 3,240 million pounds. Continue reading


Inside/Outside morning news roundup for 12.11

  • Alaska Supreme Court Judge has ruled that the Anchorage anti-panhandling law proposed by Mayor Dan Sullivan and passed by the Anchorage Assembly violated free speech laws. But the court upheld another law that made sitting on municipality sidewalks illegal, according to the Alaska Commons.
  • Alaska Education Update reports that Gov. Bill Walker might keep Department of Education & Early Development’s commissioners Mike Hanley and Department of Environmental Conservation’s Larry Hartig.
  • The Dispatch believes that the next big issue on Gov. Bill Walker’s plate will be dealing with the state’s retirement fund problem.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports on how the slumping prices of natural gas could affect LNG gas-export terminals from Australia to Canada. The break-even number for Australia projects is $12-to-$14 per million British thermal units. LNG prices in Asia have sunk below $10 per million British thermal units.

Continue reading


Murkowski schools the Senate on fish guts

Yesterday, as part of the U.S. Coast Guard Act, Congress voted to extend a moratorium that was set to expire in a week that exempts small commercial fishing vessels from needing incidental discharge permits. Without that exemption, small commercial fishermen need permits, or fear being fined by the EPA for hosing fish guts off their decks. Murkowski is pushing to make the exemption permanent. Here she is on the Senate floor, talking fish guts:


The bad, the good, and the interesting in the Revenue Sources Book

Here’s some bad, some good and some interesting news gleaned from the Revenue Sources Book Fall 2014, which the Department of Revenue released today.

Here’s some of the bad:

In FY 2014, the State received $5.4 billion in revenue from unrestricted sources, $4.8 billion of which came from petroleum related activities. For FY 2015, the department is forecasting a significant decrease in unrestricted general fund revenue to $2.6 billion.

Here’s a chart which brings it home:

better unrestricted chart.png II

Brad Keithley, as he’s wont to do, has his way with the numbers:

FY 2014 deficit: $1.8 billion (budget 25% financed from savings); projected FY 2015 deficit: $3.7 billion (budget 60% financed from savings); projected FY 2016 deficit under Parnell “work in progress budget”: $3.3 billion (budget 60% financed from savings). Savings remaining at the end of FY 2016 under the Parnell “work in progress budget”: ~$6.5 billion

More bad: Continue reading


Chart of the day: Uber in trouble?

Uber, the car service with an app that is  conditionally in business in Anchorage, sort of, has had some major problems lately. Per CNBC:

A day after city officials in Portland, Oregon, sued Uber, on Tuesday prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco slapped a lawsuit on the company, accusing the ride-sharing app of gouging customers, among other claims. Portland sued the now $40 billion taxi-hailing service for allegedly failing to meet local regulations…The problems don’t stop at stateside legal trouble. Uber operations have been halted in New Delhi after a rape accusation. Spain and Thailand also ordered operations stop in their countries.

Here’s a chart composed by Bloomberg that tells the story:

chart of the day uber


Chairs of House Finance Budget Subcommittees announced

Incoming House Finance Committee Co-Chairs Reps. Mark Neuman and Steve Thompson met with Gov. Bill Walker and his Chief of Staff Jim Whittaker, and later with Office of Management & Budget Director Pat Pitney, in Juneau on Wednesday. According to a release, the meeting centered on starting a dialogue on the FY16 budgets. The two said that they look forward to a “collaborative effort with the new administration.”

Neuman and Thompson also finalized the chairs for the House Finance Budget Subcommittees. Here’s the list:

  • Rep. Mark Neuman (Mat-Su) — Fish & Game, Governor and Legislature
  • Rep. Steve Thompson (Fairbanks) — Military & Veterans Affairs, Transportation & Public Facilities and Revenue
  • Rep. Bryce Edgmon (Dillingham) — Corrections and Public Safety
  • Rep. Lynn Gattis (Wasilla) — Administration and Education
  • Rep. Cathy Munoz (Juneau) — Court System and Environmental Conservation
  • Rep. Lance Pruitt (Anchorage)–Commerce, Community & Economic Development and Natural Resources
  • Rep. Dan Saddler (Anchorage/Eagle River) — Health & Social Services and Law
  • Rep. Tammie Wilson (Fairbanks/North Pole) — Labor & Workforce Development and the University

Begich calls CIA use of torture a ‘significant failure’

Here’s U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s response to the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s  majority report on CIA detention and interrogation following 9/11. Begich is so far the only member of the delegation to respond to what is being  called the “Torture Report.

The CIA’s troubling use of torture, which this report details, was a significant failure and it deserves our attention. The release of this report is an important step in setting the record straight so we can prevent similar techniques from happening again. Congress needs to continue to bolster oversight over our intelligence gathering agencies. As we look to the future, we must remember who we are, uphold our moral values and take a smarter approach to our national security.