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Inspirational teacher recognized for his approach

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 4 hours 59 min ago
Whitehorse teacher Peter Harms was recognized Tuesday for providing inspiration and guidance in the field of science education.

Abuser made ‘incalculable impact’ on his victims

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 5 hours 3 min ago
In an eight-year jail sentence handed down to a Yukon man convicted of sexual assault against girls in his own family, a territorial court judge has praised four women for coming forward in the wake of trauma.

Div. 1 squash final goes down to wire

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 5 hours 30 min ago
The battle of the Yukon’s top two Division 1 squash teams fittingly went down to the wire last night at Better Bodies Whitehorse.

Yukon cyclists raring to begin season

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 5 hours 34 min ago
As another Yukon winter fades into history, bicycles are once again becoming a common sight on roadways.

Tai Chi Yukon set to celebrate 25 years

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 5 hours 35 min ago
Tai Chi Yukon is getting ready to celebrate.

Running The Table

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 5 hours 36 min ago
Abed Rajab competes in the Asian Tournament hosted by Table Tennis Yukon Saturday at Whitehorse Elementary School.

What Needs To Be Done To Respond To An Arctic Oil Spill?

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 5 hours 41 min ago

Oil and gas planning areas in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Oil and gas lease areas are shown in
orange, with seismic survey areas shown in gray. Selected oil and gas wells, some in Alaskan state waters and some in federal waters, are shown as purple dots. Some coastal communities and cities are also shown. (Image from the National Research Council)

The National Research Council released a report on what needs to be done in order to be able to respond to oil spills in Arctic waters.

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Environmental groups were quick to respond that so much needs to be done that it would be better to not drill at all.

The report has been a year and a half in the making and involved 14 experts from science and industry and hearings in Alaska and elsewhere. It gets deep into the details of what capabilities and knowledge exist and how limited they are. It deliberately avoids the question of whether to drill or not drill in Arctic waters.

The panel’s chairwoman, New York risk analyst Doctor Martha Grabowski, calls the report balanced, and says it shows many things are needed for oil spill response in the arctic that we do not yet have.

“Increased data needs, more research in terms of countermeasures, better understanding of logistics, operations and co-ordination, and then decision strategies that bring all interested parties to the table in a transparent process,” Grabowski said.

The panel recommends that authorities spill real oil into real Arctic waters to do some real testing of burning and dispersants. Studies in tanks can only go so far, says Mark Myers, research vice chancellor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“To really understand and be best prepared, we’re going to have to do some controlled releases,” Myers said. “Obviously that’s an important decision to make and we recommend a process for doing that.”

“These tests we consider very important; some of the people on the panel had been involved with the earlier tests all the way going back to the 1970s, I believe, and the tests in Europe and Canada, so there’s a lot of experience and a lot of judgment on the committee and there was consensus  that this was an important finding.”

The report says not nearly enough is known about how crude oil degrades in Arctic waters or what it does to the food chain. Myers says some of that has been studied, but not enough.

“A much broader more robust testing program we thought was important,” Myers said. “The work that’s been done up in Barrow is actually quite good, but it’s not as much as we’d like to see, nor is it necessarily enough of the species that we would like to see.”

Two North Slope Borough scientists were included on the panel. Coastal villages are included in the recommendations to have spill response equipment and a trained work-force available.

“Pre-deployment of those assets and budgets to maintain those assets so they don’t diminish over time is an important facet of the report,” Myers said.

The panel urges more cooperation with Russia and that language translators be identified. And it says the Coast Guard has nowhere near what it needs to do its job and has basically been piggybacking on military operations or diverting resources from other programs to support what activities it has conducted to try to be more prepared to oversee Arctic oil and gas and shipping activities.

“The gap between the activities and Coast Guard ability to support its mission for oil spill response and for vessel navigation, the gap is large and it needs to be closed,” Myers said.

Environmental groups were quick to respond to the report. Doctor Chris Krenz of Oceana says it shows our resources to deal with spills are “woefully inadequate.”  Lois Epstein of the Wilderness Society, a petroleum engineer, said it looks as if they won’t have adequate preparation for Arctic offshore spills in our lifetimes, and she would like to have seen some policy conclusions.

“I find that extraordinarily unsatisfying,” Epstein said. “I’m an engineer; I’d like to see technologies used and be effective, and this report says there is no effective technology.”

Epstein put out a press release saying the report should give the industry cause to think twice about whether the payoff of any arctic offshore drilling plans would really be worth the risk.

Costly Hepatitis C Pill Shreds Drug Industry Sales Record

NPR News - 5 hours 46 min ago

Sovaldi has been found to be remarkably effective in curing most patients with common forms of hepatitis C in a matter of months. But the clinical success comes at a high price.

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In Age Of Custom-Tailored Ed Tech, Teachers Shop Off The Rack

NPR News - 5 hours 54 min ago

Even as investment in education technology grows, teachers say free tools are just as effective as paid ones.

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Why Are We Spiteful, Even Though It Bites Us Back?

NPR News - 6 hours 4 min ago

Most of us aren't as maleficent as the fairy in "Sleeping Beauty," but we're still apt to spite others, even at risk of harming ourselves. Psychologists are trying to figure out why.

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Brazil Becomes One Of The First To Adopt Internet 'Bill Of Rights'

NPR News - 6 hours 9 min ago

President Dilma Rouseff signed the bill into law to kick off an international conference about the governance of the Internet.

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CIA Is Quietly Ramping Up Aid To Syrian Rebels, Sources Say

NPR News - 6 hours 13 min ago

The White House has decided to provide more covert training and weapons, including anti-tank missiles, in a bid to counter President Bashar Assad's growing strength in the civil war.

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Sewage lagoons full because of freezing in two Arctic Canadian communites

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 6 hours 21 min ago
Sewage lagoons full because of freezing in two Arctic Canadian communites Winter conditions and community growth take tolls on sewage facilities in Nunavut.April 23, 2014

Ice Wireless makes a pitch for 911 service in northern Canada

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 6 hours 22 min ago
Ice Wireless makes a pitch for 911 service in northern Canada The Inuvik-based telephone company says it would provide better emergency communications than company selected by the Yukon government.April 23, 2014

Fish and Game weakening land-use regulations for Alaska's wildlife refuges, sanctuaries, critical habitat areas

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 6 hours 24 min ago
Fish and Game weakening land-use regulations for Alaska's wildlife refuges, sanctuaries, critical habitat areas Another brazen plan to “streamline” permitting across Alaska is cloaked in secrecy. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is repealing and rewriting every management plan that regulates development in state wildlife refuges, sanctuaries and critical habitat areas.April 23, 2014

Unbeliebable: Justin Offends Asian Fans With Shrine Visit

NPR News - 6 hours 25 min ago

While visiting Tokyo, the pop star posed for photos in front of the highly controversial Yasukini Shrine, which honors Japanese war criminals.

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Anchorage physician faces charges of $1 million in Medicaid fraud

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 6 hours 30 min ago
Anchorage physician faces charges of $1 million in Medicaid fraud In initial charging documents, Anchorage physician Dr. Shubhranjan Ghosh was charged with roughly $300,000 in alleged Medicaid fraud, but that number has since risen to more than $1 million, a state prosecutor said Wednesday.April 23, 2014

Education May Help Insulate The Brain Against Traumatic Injury

NPR News - 6 hours 52 min ago

People recover better from serious brain injuries if they've had more formal education, researchers say. They're not sure why book learning promotes cognitive reserve.

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Bat of Ketchikan star leads Edmonds to historic sweep in softball

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - 6 hours 53 min ago
Bat of Ketchikan star leads Edmonds to historic sweep in softball Like most freshman, Faith Clark of Ketchikan had to wait her turn when she got to college. Now she's taking advantage. April 23, 2014

Slowly And Sweetly, Vietnam's Chocolate Industry Grows

NPR News - 7 hours 4 min ago

French colonists planted cacao in Vietnam in the 1800s, but the crop was outpaced by coffee and cashews. Now French expats are helping the country become a respected producer of high-end chocolate.

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