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Juneau physician secures three licenses for cannabis operation - Alaskajournal.com

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2017-12-12 11:25

Juneau physician secures three licenses for cannabis operation
Editor's note: The story has been updated with a correction from Dr. Perez's attorney Jana Weltzin about her statements to the board on whether Perez has ever issued a prescription for medical marijuana. Weltzin stated incorrectly that Perez had never ...

Utqiagvik is warming so fast, NOAA computers removed the data because it seemed unreal

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 11:17

Last week, scientists were pulling together the latest data for NOAA's monthly report on the climate when they noticed something strange: One of their key climate monitoring stations had fallen off the map. All of the data for Utqiaġvik, formerly Barrow – the northernmost city in the United States – was missing.

No, Utqiaġvik hadn't literally been vanquished by the pounding waves of the Arctic Sea (although it does sit precipitously close). The missing station was just the result of rapid, man-made climate change with a runaway effect on the Arctic.

The temperature in Utqiaġvik had been warming so fast this year, the data was automatically flagged as unreal and removed from the climate database. It was done by algorithms that were put in place to ensure that only the best data gets included in NOAA's reports. They're handy to keep the data sets clean, but this kind of quality-control algorithm is only good in "average" situations with no outliers. The current situation in Utqiaġvik, however, is anything but average.

If climate change is a fiery coal mine disaster, then Utqiaġvik is our canary. The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth, and Utqiaġvik is in the thick of it. With less and less sea ice to reflect sunlight, the temperature around the North Pole is speeding upward.

[Warming of the Arctic 'unprecedented over the last 1,500 years,' federal scientists say]

The missing data obviously confused meteorologists and researchers, since it's a record they've been watching closely, according to Deke Arndt, the chief of NOAA's Climate Monitoring Branch. He described it as "an ironic exclamation point to swift regional climate change in and near the Arctic."

Just this week, scientists reported that the Arctic had its second-warmest year – behind 2016 – with the lowest sea ice ever recorded. The announcement came at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, and the report is topped with an alarming headline: "Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades."

Changes in the Arctic extend beyond sea ice. Vast expanses of former permafrost have been reduced to mud. Nonnative species of plants, types that only grow in warmer climates, are spreading into what used to be the tundra. Nowhere is this greening of the Arctic happening faster than the North Slope of Alaska, observable with high-resolution clarity on NOAA satellite imagery.

"The current observed rate of sea ice decline and warming temperatures are higher than at any other time in the last 1,500 years, and likely longer than that," the NOAA report says.

At no place is this more blatantly obvious than Utqiaġvik. In the short 17 years since 2000, the average October temperature in Utqiaġvik has climbed 7.8 degrees. The November temperature is up 6.9 degrees. The December average has warmed 4.7 degrees.

The Utqiaġvik temperatures are now safely back in the climate-monitoring data sets. Statisticians will have to come up with a new algorithm to prevent legitimate temperatures from being removed in the future.

New algorithms for a new normal.

Walker names members of climate change advisory panel - Juneau Empire

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2017-12-12 11:16

Juneau Empire

Walker names members of climate change advisory panel
Juneau Empire
Kimmel is on the faculty of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage. • Meera Kohler of Anchorage. Kohler is president and CEO of the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative and was a member of Gov. Sarah Palin's ...

and more »

In dark winter, the mountainside ‘JBER star’ brightens the Anchorage skyline

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 10:52

Over the holiday weekend, about 360 lightbulbs forming a five-pointed star were illuminated on the Chugach mountainside above Anchorage.

There has been a star on the mountain near Arctic Valley since 1960. The current star – known as the "JBER star" or "Arctic Valley star" – was constructed in 1989 and is 300 feet wide, according to JBER public affairs. The lights will stay on until the last musher crosses the finish line at the Iditarod.

Warming of the Arctic ‘unprecedented over the last 1,500 years,’ federal scientists say

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 10:48

The Trump administration's mixed views on climate change notwithstanding, a group of federal scientists on Tuesday released a stark report on the warming at the top of the planet, suggesting that it is unparalleled in more than a millennium.

"The Arctic is going through the most unprecedented transition in human history, and we need better observations to understand and predict how these changes will affect everyone, not just the people of the north," Jeremy Mathis, director of the Arctic Research Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a presentation at the 2017 meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans.

Mathis was unveiling the 2017 Arctic Report Card, an annual NOAA report that documents the changing conditions for floating sea ice, the glaciers of Greenland, the thawing permafrost of the high latitudes, and more.

Mathis was introduced by retired Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, the acting administrator of NOAA, who said the report was important for two reasons that "directly relate to the priorities of this administration" – namely, its implications for national and economic security.

[Trump's pick to run NOAA declares humans are main cause of climate change]

Gallaudet, a Trump appointee, brought up the example of naval submarines in the Arctic. He said operators had told him that the environment there is "the most hazardous [that] they've ever reported" because of the increased mobility of ice floes.

The new document is peer-reviewed and was produced by 85 scientists. It is released annually, but it is the first time it has been released during Donald Trump's presidency (the last release was in December 2016, post-election but pre-inauguration).

It finds that although the warming in the Arctic was not as stark in 2017 compared with a record 2016, the region continues to warm up at a pace that is roughly double that of the rest of the planet.

Consequences include the ongoing melting of Greenland, which is a leading driver of sea-level rise as it adds about 270 billion tons of ice and water to the ocean each year, and increasingly – although this remains somewhat contentious – weather effects that so many people experience in the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

A new section in the annual report puts the ongoing warming in a broader context and finds it extraordinary when compared with data from "paleo" records, which seek to determine what the Arctic's temperature was like in ancient periods long predating modern thermometer observations.

That section observes that the current decline of Arctic sea ice is "outside of the range of natural variability and unprecedented" in the past 1,450 years, based on one reconstruction of past sea ice behavior. The speed at which Arctic surface temperatures are rising, meanwhile, is unprecedented in (at least) the past 2,000 years, the report asserts, based on other research.

"This data set shows that the magnitude and the sustained rate of warming of the sea ice decline is unprecedented over the last 1,500 years and likely longer," Emily Osborne, a researcher with the NOAA Arctic Research Program, said at the New Orleans event.

The change is not just to the overall extent of floating Arctic sea ice (which has been greatly reduced). The ice is also thinner and less long-lived, and it rarely remains frozen throughout the summer and into the next winter.

In 2017, "multiyear ice," which is older and lasts through the summer melt season, made up just 21 percent of total Arctic ice, Osborne said. In 1985, it was 45 percent.

The new report, like a climate report released in November by the Trump administration, raises the question of how to parse the government's position on climate change. On the one hand, leaders such as EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy secretary Rick Perry have played down the human role in climate change. Yet key government-scientific reports and studies have aligned with the findings of mainstream climate science.

"Like the Climate Science Special Report released in November, the Arctic Report Card is completely at odds with the policies and statements of the Trump administration, which continues to question the reality of human caused climate change," Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center, said in a written statement. "The Report Card dispassionately documents an array of striking changes in the Arctic environment, which it attributes to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

Perhaps different branches of the administration are simply handling climate change differently. The EPA, for instance, is a regulatory agency moving to roll back climate regulations – but even so, it accepts the premise of a changing climate in official cost-benefit analyses (although it may shrink estimates of its cost). Agencies such as NOAA and NASA, in contrast, are much more focused on conducting planetary observations and open-ended science, rather than science to support regulatory actions.

In any case, there's no mistaking NOAA's strong warning about the Arctic's warming – and how it will affect people far beyond the northern latitudes.

"The Arctic has traditionally been the refrigerator of the planet," Mathis said, "but the door to that refrigerator has been left open."

Analysis: Netflix’s ‘creepy’ tweet reminds us how closely it’s watching us

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 08:57

Netflix sent out a tweet Sunday that roasted a subset of its most devoted users over an open fire: those who are obsessively watching its heavily promoted holiday movie "A Christmas Prince." The snarky tweet got some laughs, but it has also stirred up some backlash – and made some of the company's subscribers begin to consider just how closely Netflix is watching its users.

To the 53 people who've watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?

— Netflix US (@netflix) December 11, 2017

"To the 53 people who've watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?" the tweet said.

While the tweet was clearly intended as a joke, it didn't sit well with some customers who found the message "creepy."

"This is amazing. Except for the 'watching us like big brother' part," one Twitter user wrote in reply.

Of course, people who watch Netflix should expect that the company knows both what you're watching and how frequently you watch it. How else could the company get super-specialized recommendations for you, such as romantic period dramas based on books? But what seems to have struck a nerve is that Netflix is using information to share viewing habits publicly.

The tone of the message is also drawing criticism. Netflix, after all, produced and promoted the movie, which is in the vein of an uplifting, unapologetically cheery Hallmark film. Shaming its subscribers, even in jest, for a feel-good film meant to cheer up its viewers didn't sit well with everyone. One user even compared the tweet to "bullying."

Many other reactions were lighter, with several people taking the opportunity to say that Netflix itself was hurting them – either by pulling their favorite shows or with its disappointing selection.

Netflix has kept up the snark in its replies, though the person running the account has also reassured some users that their viewing habits aren't worth shaming them over. Netflix didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the reaction to the tweet, which has been retweeted about 66,000 times and liked 259,000 times and has drawn 4,000 replies.

The tweet was very similar to a campaign that music-streaming service Spotify ran last year, in which it shared insights from consumer data – not naming its users, but sometimes noting individual accounts. For example, among other such ads, the campaign called out a single person with a billboard that said: "Dear person who made a playlist called: 'One Night Stand With Jeb Bush Like He's a Bond Girl in a European Casino.' We have so many questions."

Marketing messages like this don't violate companies' privacy policies, said Bradley Shear, a lawyer specializing in privacy and social media. Netflix may be sharing viewing information, but not in specific ways – they're not revealing, for example, that customer John Doe or Jane Doe is watching "A Christmas Prince" on repeat.

Still, he said, the surprise over the tweet is a reminder that people aren't always fully aware of what they're agreeing to when they click "accept" on a company's terms and conditions.

"People really need to become more cognizant of what data companies are collecting," Shear said.

Voters go to polls in contentious Alabama Senate race

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 08:56

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – National political leaders, a Hollywood actress and a retired basketball star made last-ditch efforts Monday to woo Alabama voters in a Senate race, as the candidates gave their final arguments in a pivotal special election that has attracted more than $41 million in spending.

Former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe Biden recorded robo-calls for Democrat Doug Jones, while President Trump recorded an appeal for Republican Roy Moore.

"If Alabama elects liberal Democrat Doug Jones, all of our progress will be stopped cold," Trump said in his recorded message.

Voting began at 7 a.m. CST Tuesday.

The evening before, for his last event of the campaign, Moore brought in a raft of out-of-state conservative activists, including former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon, Rep. Louie Gohmert , R-Texas, and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

"They tried to destroy Donald Trump, and they're trying to destroy Roy Moore," Bannon said. "There's no bottom for how low they'll go."

The stakes were high for both parties, as the outcome is likely to set the stage for the 2018 midterm elections. A win in the Deep South for Democrats, the first in a Senate race in Alabama since 1992, would be a rebuke to Trump and Bannon, who have promoted Moore over the objections of establishment Republicans.

The victory would also lend credibility to Democratic efforts to regain control of the Senate next year. "The Democratic path to a Senate majority in 2018 involves a miracle somewhere," said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "And we may be on the cusp of a Democratic miracle in Alabama."

A win for Moore, in contrast, would weaken the hand of mainstream Republicans, who have struggled to broaden the party's appeal heading into the midterms. Moore, a former state Supreme Court judge, has campaigned on a platform of opposing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, a Republican who was born in Alabama, released a statement encouraging people to vote that seemed to rebuke Moore but stopped short of naming him.

"These critical times require us to come together to reject bigotry, sexism, and intolerance," she wrote, before adding that voters should insist on leaders who "are dignified, decent, and respectful of the values we hold dear."

Meanwhile, a Republican national committeewoman from Nebraska, Joyce Simmons, announced that she had resigned her post in protest of her party's continued support for Moore, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s.

"I strongly disagree with the recent RNC financial support directed to the Alabama Republican Party for use in the Roy Moore race," Simmons said in an email to party leaders, who were first informed Friday of her decision. "There is much I could say about this situation, but I will defer to this weekend's comments by Senator Shelby."

Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., who voted for a write-in candidate, said Sunday that he found Moore's accusers to be "believable" and that Moore would not represent the state well.

"I think Alabama deserves better," Shelby said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said he expects about 25 percent of eligible voters to cast a ballot in the special election, making the race difficult to predict. Three new polls released Monday showed dramatically different results, based on different projections of who would vote.

An automated poll from Emerson College showed Moore with a nine-point advantage, while a poll from Fox News showed Jones with a 10-point lead. A Monmouth University Poll showed the race about even.

"I'm hearing everything," said Brian Walsh, president of America First Action, an outside group that has spent more than $1.1 million on mail, television and digital ads to support Moore. "Nobody knows what the hell is going on right now."

Reports of the robo-calls from Obama and Biden created some awkwardness for Jones, who has tried to project distance from the national party as he closes out his campaign. Although his campaign confirmed the calls, the candidate said he was not aware of them.

"I know that there have been a lot of robo-calls that have been recorded. I don't know what's being used. That is just not something I'm doing," Jones said at a campaign stop at a local restaurant, where members of the media outnumbered customers.

Giles Perkins, chairman of the Jones campaign, said about 30 different calls have gone out to voters and "most of them are local."

A political group overseen by Biden sent out a fundraising email to supporters Monday, asking for money to help the Jones campaign.

Throughout his campaign, Jones has tried to thread a needle, portraying himself as an independent figure who is unbeholden to party leaders in an attempt to win over Republicans. At the same time, he has relied on marquee national names to help boost Democratic turnout.

Jones is waging a vigorous effort to try to turn out African American voters, who Democratic officials believe will be critical to his chances.

American Possibilities, the political group overseen by Biden, sent out a fundraising appeal Monday promising to help "support more candidates like Doug Jones."

"We don't need another extremist in Washington," Biden wrote in the appeal.

Moore, who had not held a campaign event since Dec. 5, spoke in Midland City, Ala. Explaining why he didn't campaign this weekend, Moore told the crowd: "I took approximately two and a half days to take my wife out of this mess and relax with my son at West Point."

The entrance to a flag-draped barn was decorated with plastic alligators and greenery, meant to evoke the Washington "swamp," and gates were set up to separate several hundred Moore supporters from special guests who'd flown in for the final stretch.

"What they're doing to Judge Roy Moore, they're going to try to do to every Trump supporter running for Congress next year," said Corey Stewart, a Prince William County supervisor who is running for the Republican nomination against Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., in 2018.

"We dare defend our rights," Moore declared when he took the stage, quoting the Alabama motto that was used by state leaders in the 1960s, during the fight against desegregation. He spoke after his wife, Kayla Moore, defended his commitment to diversity.

"My husband appointed the very first black marshal to the Alabama Supreme Court," she said. "Fake news will tell you that we don't care for Jews. One of our attorneys is a Jew." The media, she added, needs to be "held accountable" for how it has covered the race.

Bannon, meanwhile, making his third trip to Alabama to endorse Moore, drew boos when he mentioned Shelby and "little Bobby Corker," a reference to regular Trump critic Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. Bannon suggested that Republican leaders might try to take out Trump "as soon as they get that tax cut" – and he even took an apparent shot at Trump's daughter, Ivanka, who has criticized Moore.

"There's a special place in hell for Republicans who should know better," Bannon said, reworking a comment that Ivanka Trump had made about the misconduct allegations against Moore – one that was quickly turned into an ad by Jones.

Jones, who is focused on turning out African American voters, held a final campaign rally in Birmingham on Monday night, where he was joined on stage by basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, actress Alyssa Milano and the city's newly elected mayor, Randall Woodfin, among others.

Barkley, an Alabama native, attacked Trump, Bannon and Moore in his brief opening remarks. Moore, he said, was appealing to "the same people who've been holding us back for many, many years."

In a 10-minute speech, Jones framed the election as a momentous chapter in Alabama's history. "This election is going to be one of the most significant in our state's history in a long time," he said. "And we've got to make sure that at this crossroads in Alabama's history, we take the right road."

He also encouraged voters to put "decency" ahead of party loyalty and urged them to consider how Alabama will be viewed by business leaders as a result of the election.

Trump campaigned for Moore over the weekend from a distance. After touting him at a Friday evening rally just across the border in Florida, he recorded a phone call for him Saturday.

Senate Republican leaders withdrew their support of Moore in the wake of the women's allegations. McConnell has said he expects Moore will face an immediate investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics if he is elected.

A review of campaign finance records by Issue One, a group that monitors spending in political campaigns, found that $41.5 million had been spent on the Alabama special election, including funds spent on the primary and primary runoff.

Voters have been flooded with television ads about the campaign in the past few days. During one five-minute stretch on a local network Monday morning, three pro-Jones commercials and one pro-Moore ad aired.

Trump attacks senator in tweet critics say is sexually suggestive and demeaning

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 08:52

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump attacked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in a sexually suggestive tweet Tuesday morning that implied Gillibrand would do just about anything for money, prompting an immediate backlash.

"Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Charles E. Schumer and someone who would come to my office 'begging' for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump," the president wrote. "Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!"

Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017

The tweet came as Trump is already facing negative publicity from renewed allegations from three women who had previously accused him of sexual harassment, which are coming amid the #MeToo movement that is roiling the nation and forcing powerful men accused of sexual misbehavior from their posts.

The backlash and criticism was near instantaneous, with Gillibrand replying directly to Trump on Twitter. "You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office," she wrote.

You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office. https://t.co/UbQZqubXZv

— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) December 12, 2017

At a news conference later on an unrelated issue, Gillibrand called Trump's tweet "a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice."

"I will not be silent on this issue, neither will women who stood up to the president yesterday and neither will the millions of women who have been marching since the Women's March to stand up against policies they do not agree with," she added.

[Trump accusers: 'Heartbreaking' to see him elected despite sexual misconduct]

Gillibrand once again called on GOP congressional leaders to launch investigations into the allegations made by women against Trump, saying, "It's the right thing to do and these allegations should be investigated, they should be investigated thoroughly. That is the right thing to do and I'm urging them to do that – as should their constituents."

Asked about her interactions with the president, Gillibrand told reporters that Trump was "just a supporter – a supporter of my first campaign."

Several female senators also rallied around Gillibrand, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who pointedly asked Trump on Twitter if he were trying to "bully, intimidate and slut-shame" Gillibrand.

"Do you know who you're picking a fight with?" Warren said. "Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump."

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., also weighed in on Twitter, writing that there is "nobody tougher than @SenGillibrand & she won't be intimidated. Women will continue to speak up."

Gillibrand was attending a bipartisan bible study Tuesday morning when Trump's tweet landed, and her phone was immediately filled with supportive and befuddled messages, wondering just what the president was thinking, a Gillibrand aide said.

Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News personality whose lawsuit against Roger Ailes for sexual harassment led to the resignation of the late network chairman, also weighed in with a duo of tweets defending Gillibrand.

"What do u mean @SenGillibrand would 'do anything' for campaign contributions? By the way she isn't a lightweight," she wrote. In a second tweet, Carlson continued: "Sexual harassment is apolitical. Women will not be silenced no matter what party they are in. Period."

Katty Kay, an anchor for BCC World News America, also took to social media to respond to the president's missive against Gillibrand, casting it in tweets as "clearly sexual" and "demeaning to women."

"What is so maddening about the Gillibrand tweet is that women can be smart, work hard, become Senator and STILL get sexual c**p thrown at us," she wrote. "Enough."

Trump offered no evidence to support his claim that Gillibrand had gone to him "begging" for campaign donations "and would do anything for them." According to Open Secrets, a nonprofit website that tracks campaign contributions, since 1996, Trump has donated $8,900 to Sen. Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and $5,850 to Gillibrand.

Gillibrand met with Trump once in 2010, the Gillibrand aide said, and Trump's oldest daughter, Ivanka, attended the meeting,

On Monday, Gillibrand, a leading voice in Congress for combating sexual assault in the military, became the fifth Democratic senator to call on Trump to step down because of the allegations of sexual misconduct against him – accusations the president has denied and the White House dismissed again on Monday.

"President Trump has committed assault, according to these women, and those are very credible allegations of misconduct and criminal activity, and he should be fully investigated and he should resign," Gillibrand said on CNN. "These allegations are credible; they are numerous. I've heard these women's testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking."

She joined Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in calling for Trump's resignation.

Trump has not commented on the male senators' demand that he resign.

Gillibrand, New York's junior senator and a rising political star, is widely considered a likely 2020 presidential candidate against Trump, and the president's Twitter assault Tuesday offered an early glimpse of just how vicious the next race for the White House could become.

Gillibrand, however, does have her critics. After she said in November that former president Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency following his inappropriate affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, longtime Hillary Clinton adviser and confidant Philippe Reines excoriated her on Twitter for being ungrateful and two-faced.

"Senate voted to keep POTUS WJC. But not enough for you @SenGillibrand? Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons' endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite. Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck," Reines wrote.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about why the president sent the tweet, or what exactly he was insinuating.

The Washington Post's John Wagner, Ed O'Keefe and Joshua Dawsey contributed to this report.

2 shots at a time: In praise of the classic over/under Browning shotgun

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 08:10

It would be the last gun the government would attempt to take from the citizenry. John Moses Browning, the greatest designer of firearms of our time, professed that thought when he designed the Browning Superposed shotgun. Otherwise known as the over/under (one barrel stacked on top of the other), Browning's design was not the first, but it was the first to build the design into an affordable platform.

Browning didn't live long enough to see the completion of his masterpiece.  Conceived in 1922, the Superposed did not enter the market until 1931, five years after his death. His son Val completed the work on the project and saw it into production.

Why did Mr. Browning believe this gun would be the last subject of government confiscation, or even have such a thought at the time? It's rather simple, though not commonly known. The Superposed was and remains the only firearm design conceived purely for wing shooting.

The history of firearms design, beginning with the matchlock in the late 1300s, reveals that all but the over/under were originally designed and produced for — in addition to hunting — defense, military or law enforcement purposes.  The over/under was developed purely for the enjoyment of the out of doors.  At least in the research material available on the subject, no over/under shotgun has ever been pressed into military or law enforcement service. Not to say they haven't been used to shoot the occasional person that needed shooting (or not) but purely by happenstance, not by design.

The era of firearms design, from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, the period to which we owe the conception of virtually every modern firearm, was a rather bloody time in history.  Folks were shooting each other in such prolific numbers that the need for multiple shots in rapid succession became a driving force in firearms development. John Browning was responsible for designing many of the successful automatic weapons pressed into service during that era, and yet he still found time to create the Superposed for the passion of wing shooting.

Browning's posthumous masterpiece has become the shotgun design to beat in virtually all clay target competitions and a favorite in the bird hunting fields.  Meanwhile, the beloved side-by-side has essentially gone the way of the passenger pigeon in competitive clay sports. The reason seems to be that the majority of shooters, including the author, cannot shoot a side-by-side, with its two barrels in the sight picture, as well.

The side-by-side offers the same advantage of the superposed design; balance, shortness in length compared to pump and autoloaders, two different chokes, and the two quickest shots in the wing-shooting arena. Plus, they can be built up to a pound lighter than the over/under counterpart. But if you can't hit with them, all those things become moot.

A bonus inclusive in the over/under, and all the break-open firearms designs, is spent cartridge retention. When a pump or autoloading shotgun is fired, the spent shell is ejected out the side and into the environment one is hunting in. Often they cannot be found, and then they become litter, no different from throwing a candy wrapper on the ground.

In the close quarters of a duck blind, or on some clay target ranges, an autoloader or pump shooter on your left will be pelting you with spent shells. It's rather distracting.

Most modern break-open designs eject spent shells automatically when the action is opened. But it is simple to place your hand over the breech, catch the shells and put them in your pocket. Some shotguns are available without auto ejectors, which is even better, and a gunsmith versed in the process can de-activate the auto ejectors.

My love of the over/under shotgun began in the 1960s while I was tagging along on pheasant hunts with my dad and his buddies. The group was composed mostly of farmers who hadn't much extra money for extravagance but appreciated quality shotguns, and they mostly shot Model 12 Winchesters. Then sometime around 1965 or 1966, one of them, a fella who was doing a bit better for himself, showed up with a Browning Superposed. I fell in love.

The first job I had, bagging groceries at a local market, allowed me to save the money (it took a while) to purchase my first, of many, over/unders, a Winchester 101.

In the field, especially in waterfowl hunting, hunters often ask, "Don't you wish you had another shot?"  During 50 years of hunting I've observed countless wing shooters in the upland and waterfowling worlds. Few accomplish anything beyond adding more shot to the landscape with the third shot. Shooting decoying ducks or geese, the third shot can be useful for some but even then, the third shot is often just a prayer.

In the upland world of fast and scattered flushes, the third shot is even less useful. The exception being that occasional tight holder, in a covey that flushes late after you've fired two shots. Think of it this way: How often have you been conversing with other hunters and had one say, "I tripled on…" Occasionally one will say, "I doubled on … the other day." Human nature being what it is, if a third shot is available, more than likely it will be taken, to no avail.

Joking with friends, I like to tell them that if you stop shooting three shells every time you'll save enough money to buy an over/under in no time. Expense was a consideration for many years. The available over/under shotguns cost more than virtually any autoloader and certainly more than pump guns. Modern manufacturing has changed that. Perfectly serviceable over/under shotguns can now be had for less than the state-of-the-art autoloaders and even some pump guns.

For the beginning hunter, the over/under is simple to operate and lends itself to safe gun handling. Loading, unloading or just checking them is simple and requires minimal manipulation. The safety is operated with the thumb and is easily taken off as the gun is mounted for the shot.

If all of that isn't enough, the over/under, with its sleek receiver and fine balance, is a joy to carry in the field. And even the moderately priced examples are beautiful, eye candy by any definition. And then there is John Browning's original thought: the last gun.

Whether rescuing voles or honoring your dog’s point, it’s more fun with the perfect partner

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 07:37

We were about a mile into our chest-wader-clad walk to our duck blind on the Kenai River flats and had another third of a mile to go. The late-September sky was dark with low clouds, and a mild breeze blew out of the north.

"What happens if the water comes over our chest waders?" Christine asked.

It was one of the several times during the year that the tide comes up and floods the entire flats. The water had, by that time, covered the flats and was lapping a few inches from the tops of our waders. We were inching along, sliding our feet on the submerged grass, knowing a regular could find a dropoff into a channel and submerge us too.

"Well," I smiled, "it'll be real cold, but as long as we can keep our heads out of the water we won't drown. Just stay right behind me and if I disappear, don't take another step."

We made it another 100 yards and the tide slowed to a near standstill. Then I felt a slap on the back of my head and turned to see Christine grinning at me.

"This has nothing to do with duck hunting," she said.  "Even if we shot a duck we could never retrieve it."

"Yeah," I replied. "Something like that."

A few steps farther we came across an immature red-backed vole, clinging for his life on a stalk of grass a few inches above the water.

"What can we do to help him?" Christine asked.

"Let's build him a raft," I said, and started grabbing the tops of the grass sticking up.

In practically no time, we had built a small raft and held it beside the little guy's stalk of grass. He jumped onto it, the raft held his weight just fine and he floated off. The best we could tell, he was a happy little vole.

"Thank you," Christine said, as she gave me a hug.

We spent every night of those flood tides out there. Ducks swam by, looking at us as we stuck up out of the water like some weird creature they had never seen before. We saved a few more voles and never raised our shotguns.

It was another September day, this time in the morning. Winchester, one of our English setters, led us up the mountain trail that would take us to the alpine, where his birds made their living. The sun was just cresting the top of the steep peaks to the east when we broke out above tree line.

Winchester broke into overdrive, as he does when the country opens, and was soon a half-mile distant, coursing the mountain valley floor. That's when the chest pains started.

Not wanting to ruin the day, I didn't say anything and kept climbing for another 15 minutes until it became so bad I was doubled over, holding my chest.

Some say there is no greater social sin than poor timing and some would say what happened next was the worst of timing. I would not be among those people.

As I rocked in pain on my knees and Christine tried to determine what was going on, I looked up to see Winchester make an abrupt turn to the west and run straight up a granite mountain creek chute. Seven hundred vertical feet above us, he locked into a point.

Thinking it was my heart, Christine insisted we head back down and get to the hospital. Two things, I told her. If it is my heart, we're two hours away from help, whatever is going to happen will be over by then. And, Winchester is up there on point. I'll do the best I can to get up there, but you've got to honor his point.

"What if you die, what am I supposed to do then?" she asked.

"The truck keys are in the top of my pack. I would say head down and tell someone where to find the corpse," I said, trying to make light without letting her know I was terrified. "I'm pretty sure you aren't responsible for body disposal, now get up there, he's holding like a champ."

As she headed up, I told myself I wasn't going to die on this mountain with my setter on point.

I half crawled and stumbled my way up behind her. I was still several hundred vertical feet below them when Christine eased past Winchester. The whitetail ptarmigan flushed and dropped, and it seemed a long time before I heard the report of the shot.

Bursting with pride in the two of them, I continued to claw my way up, and as I did, the pain began to ease a bit. When I got to Christine, she was sitting there with her bird in hand.

She grinned and said, "Glad you aren't dead, your boy is up the mountain on another bird, you better go get it for him."

He was, and I did.

It was few days later and I hadn't yet gone to the doctor to see what was going on when the mountains called again. Christine couldn't go, so it would be Winchester and me.

"So," she said, "you think if you die up there Winchester is just going to find his way home?"

Dang it! You can go a lifetime and never find a hunting partner, much less a life partner, who not only gets who you are but celebrates it.

During the holiday season, there are so many things I am thankful for. By any stretch my life is rich beyond any riches most measure things by. But if there is one thing I am most thankful for, it is my partner. She gets who I am and I get who she is, and we never try to change that. I'm pretty sure it doesn't get better than that.

Steve Meyer is a lifelong Alaskan and an avid shooter. He writes every other week about guns and hunting. Contact him at oldduckhunter@outlook.com

The U.S. has fewer hunters and some want to increase the numbers. But is that the right response?

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 07:35

Remember all those times sitting around the evening fire in hunting camp when someone says, "It sure would be good if there were more hunters out here." And everyone agrees and suggests ways to bring more hunters to the field.

Yeah, me neither. That conversation never happens.

In 1955 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began administering the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. The surveys, conducted every five years, gauge hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing participation throughout the United States. USFWS also tracks hunting license sales across the nation annually.

The 2016 survey confirms an ongoing trend: hunter participation is falling. The outdoor industry, conservation organizations, wildlife managers and land managers are, it seems, in a panic over this. The revenue generated by the hunting community is a main source of funding for conservation programs that benefit all wildlife. Hunters don't foot the entire bill for wildlife conservation, but they contribute a high percentage of the funding.

The result has been a significant effort to figure out why hunter numbers are dropping and how they can be reversed. A variety of reasons have surfaced to explain the drop. Among them: too much competition for accessible land (in other words, too many hunters), lack of access to hunting ground, lack of game, confusing regulations and a decline in rural lifestyles.

To put the issue in perspective, in 1967, approximately 14.6 million hunting licenses were sold in the United States. Alaska hunters comprised roughly 42,000 of those. By 1982, the number had grown to 16.7 million, including 84,000 in Alaska. Since 1982, the nationwide numbers have been in general decline while Alaska has seen steady growth. In 2015, 14.8 million hunting licenses were sold in the United States, and 107,000 of them in Alaska.

Considering the population of both the U.S. and Alaska have nearly doubled since 1967, hunter participation nationwide is down nearly 50 percent but the numbers and percentages have grown in Alaska.

The trend is similar, although not as dramatic, in other western states that enjoy ready access to hunting ground via public lands. Hunters in states with little public land must pay fees to hunt on private land or fight for a spot to hunt on public land.

It seems rather obvious that hunting is an activity that must seek its own level. There is only so much land that supports wildlife, and as the population grows the land once available for hunting is being developed and either is not suitable for hunting or demands fees many cannot afford.

A growing number of people have discovered the joys of simply being outdoors and thus, public land managers may take some restrictive stances when conflict may occur. Even in Alaska, the days when hunters had a free-for-all access to public land are over.

It's a bit like having a bag that will hold 10 pounds of potatoes, but you want 20 pounds so you just mash them up and make them fit.

One of the "cures" to this hunter demise is the creation of youth-mentored hunts and special early seasons to entice youngsters to join the fold. It's one of those feel-good things that is expanding, even though it seems to have little real success.

Hunting is not a sport, it's a lifestyle. Oh, it may be a sport for those who keep score with bag numbers or antler measurements. But it isn't like taking a kid to Little League or summer hockey camp, where the youngster returns home and has ready opportunities to continue the activity.

Christine and I became involved in these mentored hunts a while back. We thought it was the right thing to do. It left us feeling a bit sad. Taking kids, sent to us by well-meaning parents but who had no relationship to us and no real relationship with the outdoors, out to kill something in the name of a better market share left us a bit empty inside.

It seems that when you ask a question in the name of problem solving, you would pay attention to the answers. When folks say they stopped hunting because there is too much competition for available hunting land and the abundance of game is lacking, it doesn't make sense that the solution is to get more people to hunt. Perhaps I am simple-minded and can't see the forest for the trees. I don't know.

I wonder if consideration is given to the technological advancements in the last 20 years. Game cameras, electronic calls, GPS and satellite phones, Google Earth and ATVs are game-changers in terms of hunter success.

Advancements in archery and muzzleloader technology make those opportunities less daunting than ever, and the special seasons that go with them keep a broad spectrum of hunters in the field for extended periods.

With technology comes expense. Do folks who cannot afford such things believe they cannot compete in the arena? A rather sad aspect to the USFWS study shows that people on the lower end of the income scale, those who could benefit most from game meat on the table, represent a very small percent of hunters.

Being a realist, I understand the economic drive behind all of this, but it is still disheartening to think what was once a lifestyle for many has become just another bottom line.

In the old days, wildlife managers used the term "carrying capacity" to speak of a given chunk of habitat's ability to support predator and prey species. In a lifetime of hunting I've never seen the term "carrying capacity" used to reference hunters. Maybe it's time we did. Maybe we've already exceeded our carrying capacity. But it seems reasonable to think we should before we launch a recruitment campaign.

Hunter dollars are important, and hunters have never been bashful about contributing. But money alone cannot ensure the quality of the experience and the relationships with nature that seems critical to the future of hunting.

Steve Meyer is a lifelong Alaskan and an avid shooter. He writes every other week about guns and hunting. Contact him at oldduckhunter@outlook.com

Many Alaskans eat turkey on Thanksgiving. A few go duck hunting.

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 07:33

Cheyenne hit the water as hard and as fast as Steve responded to the opportunity to shoot a teal that rocketed out of the slough.

Their effort was simultaneous, while my shotgun stayed slung along with the weight of a pack on my shoulders. That was the moment, looking back on it, that I saw something more in a dog than a pet or a working animal.

The tide was going out when Cheyenne snatched the teal from the top of the water and turned back toward us with certainty. We watched as she ran up the chest-deep mud as fast as her short legs could carry her.

She didn't stop as she passed Steve's outstretched hand. She ran straight toward me. Her tail wagging, she circled me three times before letting go of the teal. We had trained her, but what she did now she did without commands. There was something inside her that made her a duck dog.

Cheyenne, a chocolate Labrador, was unruly in the house. She opened boxes of shotgun shells without remorse and spread the shot across the shop floor. Her nose led her into pockets that once held treats so that only a few jacket pockets survived without bite holes. She had an affinity for tearing open anything stuffed, including sofa cushions. Given her rodent-like behavior in the house, my hope that she would be good in the field was low.

But she was made for the marsh, not the house. That's what I didn't understand. On the duck flats, her anxiety converted to enthusiasm. She wanted to bring back ducks with a force that was its own reward.

As we flew over Cook Inlet on our way home, I wanted to go back. I could still taste the salt air of the flats and smell the warm-bodied aroma of ducks and decomposing swamp mixed with Cheyenne's wet fur. I wanted to watch Cheyenne, not just because she was physically tough when it came to running in the mud and swimming the tide or because she found birds we would have lost in the grass. I wanted her to have as many chances as possible to do what was in her nature.

I started calling her my little duck dog — my little ducker. Her constant attention, which used to annoy me, filled me with admiration. She seemed always to be saying, "Let's go duck hunting." I started shooting trap and skeet to improve my shotgun skills.

I don't know whether it was the desire to acquire a complete skeet set or because I'd had a bit too much to drink, but it was at a fundraising banquet that I made a split-second decision that would complicate our lives.

I was acting as master of ceremonies, and the bidding was about to close on a beautiful Beretta white onyx 28 gauge over/under shotgun, with a 28-inch barrel and gold inlay engraving. No one had met the reserve, and the gun was about to be placed back in its custom Giugiaro case, not to be used for another year.

[In grouse country near Chicken, a bird dog has his day]

I cleared my throat into my microphone. The auctioneer, Loveable Larry, seemed to know what I meant. I'd meet the reserve.

When I made my way offstage, I found Steve so he could congratulate me on my purchase. "You know what this means?" he said. I shook my head.

"If you're going to own a proper upland gun, you're going to have to get a proper bird dog," he said.

He had mentioned before that since childhood he had wanted to hunt behind an English setter after seeing two of them work a pheasant field in his home state of North Dakota. I laughed, but he was serious.

It was two months later that Theodore Roosevelt Winchester traveled from a 70,000-acre ranch in New England, North Dakota, to meet his new hunting family in Alaska.

Winchester lifted his 8-week-old head to look at me when I reached into the kennel. He had the blackest eyes I'd ever seen on a dog. He wasn't the panicky bundle of joy that Cheyenne was as a puppy. I remember thinking there was something special about him.

There was. If Cheyenne was the first to show me that a dog could represent the spirit half of the hunter, Winchester took the lesson a step further. To follow him into the mountains, into the toughest high country, to hunt ptarmigan and watch as he gained mastery at finding and pointing them, stirred something in me I did not know existed.

His feathery silhouette lighted by the sun, the snow blowing over the hills as he led two hunters higher and higher, is a sight belonging to a renaissance world of oil paintings and gentlemen's parlors. He represents the best in athleticism and breeding. His drive calls me, again and again, to get up early, drive a hundred miles and walk 10 or 20 more. It doesn't matter how tired I am. There is not enough time in his life to spare a recess on my part.

The best lessons in my life are those I've learned from sporting dogs – we now have nine. They are athletic, that is certain. But they are also indifferent to everything that does not matter. They teach me to strive to exhaust myself as many times as they ask. They invite me to an outdoor life of adventure and passion for birds.

I sat down to write my thoughts on family and what I'm thankful for after declining an invitation to a family Thanksgiving dinner. My plan is to spend Thanksgiving in the field with Steve and one of dogs, as we have for several years – usually duck hunting with Cheyenne due to avalanche conditions in the mountains.

I hope it's acceptable to my relatives that I did not become a wife and mother to raise children of my own but instead found a hunting partner and a sporting dog family as a means to connect with the life cycle. I hope they understand that my best contribution and act of responsibility and gratitude is to live as skillfully and reverently as possible.

I hope they don't mind that I'd rather shoot a duck than eat a turkey.

Christine Cunningham of Kenai is a lifetime Alaskan and avid hunter. She writes about hunting in Alaska on alternate weeks. Contact her at cunningham@yogaforduckhunters.com.

Police calls for Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017 - Juneau Empire

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2017-12-12 05:32

Police calls for Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017
Juneau Empire
On Saturday, Alaska Wildlife Troopers contacted Juneau residents Levie Cumlat, 55, and Bernard Yadao, 43, at the Auke Bay Harbor after they had returned from crabbing. Troopers learned that Cumlat had failed to log information on his permit from ...

Juneau's women's shelter opens doors to men, all genders - Juneau Empire

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2017-12-12 05:30

Juneau Empire

Juneau's women's shelter opens doors to men, all genders
Juneau Empire
AWARE Executive Director Saralyn Tabachnick, left, and Deputy Director Mandy O'Neal Cole talk about the shelter becoming gender inclusive during an interview on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire). Starting next month, Juneau's ...

California band, Juneau bassist playing fundraiser show Saturday - Juneau Empire

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2017-12-12 05:30

Juneau Empire

California band, Juneau bassist playing fundraiser show Saturday
Juneau Empire
Nick Banaszak during Dankrupt's first trip to Alaska in August 2016. (Photo courtesy of Mo Carpio). With unseasonably warm weather hitting Juneau this month, perhaps it's fitting that a band from a warmer climate is headlining a show this coming ...

Three years of reductions: Isn't that enough? - Juneau Empire

Legislative News - Tue, 2017-12-12 05:30

Juneau Empire

Three years of reductions: Isn't that enough?
Juneau Empire
According to Legislative Finance, $582 million out of the $1.9 billion is due to the reduction to Alaskans' PFD checks last year. $508.6 million is due to the reduction in what we're paying to small companies, the little guys, for oil tax credits owed ...

Surprising stories behind classic Christmas songs

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 02:17

SPONSORED: It's the most wonderful time of the year — for holiday music lovers, at least! Whether you sneak those Christmas playlists into rotation starting in November or you're a strict adherent to a no-carols-before-Thanksgiving policy, this time of year is made especially festive by the special songs we save for the season.

But there's more to your holiday music than meets the eye — er, ear. Take a minute to learn a bit more about these beloved melodies and you'll uncover a wealth of fun facts, fascinating stories and surprising connections.

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year": What's with those ghost stories?

Did you know that there's a line in Andy Williams' classic tune "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" that hearkens back to a time in England when Christmas had waned in popularity? Williams sings about "scary ghost stories," a tradition tied to Christmas's connections to Winter Solstice and the Germanic festival of Yule. Today we think of ghost stories as a topic for Halloween — but in Europe, tales of the spooky and supernatural were part of Christmas celebrations dating back to Medieval times. In 1843, the most famous Christmas ghost story of them all, Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," was part of a series of events that helped repopularize Christmas in England, where the holiday had declined since the Puritan rule of Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century.

The Victorians embraced the ghostly aspects of Christmas — and although ghost stories might not be the first things that come to mind when you think of Christmas, other Victorian traditions (like decorating trees, exchanging gifts, and sending cards) are deeply ingrained in the way we celebrate the holiday today.

"Winter Wonderland": A Highlight for football fans

The third most played holiday song of the last 50 years according to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (it comes in just behind "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"), "Winter Wonderland" was born in the same town as your favorite childhood waiting room diversion. Its lyrics were inspired by a snowy stroll through a park in the small Poconos town of Honesdale, Pa. — just a few blocks from the building where the children's magazine Highlights would be launched a dozen years later!

In the 83 years since its publication, "Winter Wonderland" has been recorded by more than 70 artists. Its chorus has also been co-opted by the chant-loving supporters of English soccer; here it is as "Walking in a Shearer Wonderland," sung by Newcastle United fans in celebration of striker Alan Shearer.

"Carol of the Bells" and "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen": A mash made in heaven

The song we know today as "Carol of the Bells" is an early 20th century composition based on a Ukrainian folk chant celebrating the coming spring. (Bells didn't come into the picture — nor did Christmas, for that matter — until an American choir director heard the song and published it with his own lyrics in the 1930s.)

"Carol of the Bells" doesn't have much in common with "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," an English carol that dates back at least to the mid-1700s, except that both songs are written in minor keys and in a triple meter — but musicians love to mash these tunes up. Even if you've never heard of the heavy metal band Savatage, you're almost certainly familiar with their bombastic "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24," a medley popularized by another group started by Savatage members — Trans-Siberian Orchestra. More recently, pop-classical YouTube superstars The Piano Guys released a mashup of the two songs on their 2013 Christmas album. Locally, Anchorage Concert Chorus will include a mashup of the two songs in their 2017 Family Holiday Pops concert.

"Happy Christmas (War is Over)": Hope for miracles

As the 1960s came to an end, the Beatles broke up and his solo career took off, activism became just as much a part of John Lennon's life as music. After the success of his peace-seeking single "Imagine" in 1971, Lennon told one biographer he'd learned that "a little honey" helped the political message go down easily. That Christmas season, he took the same approach to spreading peace — through another catchy, hummable song.

Taking the optimistic message of the "War is Over" advertising campaign they had sponsored two years earlier, Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono wrote and recorded "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" with the Harlem Community Choir. (If you've ever noticed a similarity between the "Happy Christmas" melody and the Peter, Paul and Mary song about Stewball the racehorse, there's a good reason: Both are based on the English ballad about a horse named "Skewball.")

Perhaps Lennon and Ono had good reason to think the slogan could work miracles. In December 1969, in the middle of the Beatles' acrimonious dissolution, Lennon played a "Peace for Christmas" concert in London to launch the "War is Over" campaign. Lennon had asked Eric Clapton and Beatles bandmate George Harrison, who had been touring together, to join them. "Right up to the last minute we didn't know if (Harrison) would come," former Lennon assistant Antony Fawcett recalled in his memoir "John Lennon: One Day at a Time." Just in time, Harrison and Clapton appeared, along with a crowd of musicians that included Billy Preston and The Who's Keith Moon. It would be the last time Harrison and Lennon ever performed onstage together.

"Twelve Days of Christmas": Scotland gets an extra day

The classic song about golden rings, pipers piping and fruit-bearing trees full of various kinds of birds has its origins in England and France, but if you think the gift-giver in this song is overly generous, wait until you meet their Scottish counterpart! A version of the counting rhyme called "The Yule Days" published in Robert Chambers' "Popular Rhymes of Scotland" in 1847 is all kinds of extra, with triple the partridges, an Arabian baboon, and a 13th day.

You may not be aware that the 12 days referenced in the song refer to the days beginning on or following Christmas Day, not the 12 days leading up to it. In a number of Christian religions, Christmas is celebrated from Dec. 24, 25 or 26 until Jan. 6, Epiphany — the arrival of the Magi — or Feb. 2, Candlemas — the feast commemorating Jesus' presentation at the temple.

Also known as Twelfth Night, Epiphany is celebrated in a variety of ways depending on local or cultural custom — but almost always with food, drink, and festivities! In Elizabethan England, the holiday often involved gender-bending or role-reversing costume play — the inspiration behind the name of William Shakespeare's disguise-heavy comedy "Twelfth Night, or What You Will."

"'Twas the Night Before Christmas"

OK, this one's not technically a song — originally. But it has been set to music by groups like Peter, Paul and Mary, and recitations set against orchestral music have been recorded by everyone from Louis Armstrong and Perry Como to the Chipmunks, the Muppets, and orchestras all over the country. Officially titled "A Visit From St. Nicholas," the 1823 poem is largely responsible for the image of Santa Claus as we know him today. Although the poet, Clement C. Moore, wasn't the first to posit that Santa's sleigh was pulled by reindeer, he is credited with naming the eight original members of the team. (Donner and Blitzen's names, in case you were wondering, come from Dutch words meaning "thunder" and "lightning.") Rudolph, of course, came along later with a song and story of his own.

Now get ready to really indulge your love of Christmas music! Anchorage Concert Chorus celebrates the season at its annual Family Holiday Pops concert, presented by BP, where you'll enjoy all these songs and more, including a rare Simon & Garfunkel selection, "The Star Carol." Join us Sunday, Dec. 17 at 4 p.m. for holiday music from the Chorus and ACC Orchestra, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and some yuletide surprises — it's an Anchorage tradition! Tickets at CenterTix.com.

This article was produced by the creative services department of Anchorage Daily News in collaboration with Anchorage Concert Chorus. The ADN newsroom was not involved in its production.

AK Juneau Alaska Zone Forecast - Argus Press

Juneau Hot Topics - Mon, 2017-12-11 22:38

AK Juneau Alaska Zone Forecast
Argus Press
AK Juneau Alaska Zone Forecast. Story · Comments. ShareShare; Print: Create a hardcopy of this page; Font Size: Default font size: Larger font size. Posted: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 2:21 am. AK Juneau Alaska Zone Forecast Associated Press |. AK ...

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Alaska speaker declines to speculate on Westlake's future - San Francisco Chronicle

Juneau Hot Topics - Mon, 2017-12-11 22:04

Alaska speaker declines to speculate on Westlake's future
San Francisco Chronicle
The names would be submitted to Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, who would choose the person to take the seat. State law requires a seat to be filled within 30 days of a vacancy. House Minority Leader Charisse Millett, an Anchorage Republican ...

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Alaska speaker declines to speculate on Westlake's future - San Francisco Chronicle

Legislative News - Mon, 2017-12-11 22:04

Juneau Empire

Alaska speaker declines to speculate on Westlake's future
San Francisco Chronicle
In May, the Alaska House voted to take the highly unusual step of censuring Rep. David Eastman, a Republican from Wasilla, over comments he made suggesting there are women in Alaska who try to get pregnant to get a "free trip to the city" for abortions ...
Westlake should resign | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City ...Juneau Empire
Kiana legislator called on to resignCordova Times

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