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Alaska editorials

December 18, 2018

Here is a sampling of Alaska editorials:

Dec. 16, 2018

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Rudeness online is much too common: Don’t be part of the problem on social media

Trolls, haters, bullies — they’re everywhere on the internet. What does it accomplish to send brazen insults across internet?

If you have spent much time on social media or the internet you have probably been insulted by a stranger or friend. News stories about the way people interact on social media can be appalling. For example, Zelda Williams, the daughter of comedian Robin Williams, quit social media after her father’s death. She did this because so many strangers were making rude comments about Mr. Williams’ suicide. But other bullying campaigns have ended tragically. In 2017, a 12-year-old girl in New Jersey killed herself after months of social media harassment from her classmates, despite pleas for it to stop.

Danny Wallace, an author who wrote a book on the culture of rudeness, said, ”(The anonymity factor contributes to online rudeness and trolls), but the latest research says that it’s actually a lack of eye contact that allows us to be particularly rude to people.”

It makes sense. You don’t have to see the pain in someone’s face as you unleash a string of f-word laden insults over Twitter. Nor do you have to see the consequence of your action.

If you are not sure where to draw the line in making online comments, perhaps you should picture saying your comment to that person’s face. How will they react? How would you react if the same thing were said to you? What will this person say to you in return? Could you carry on a conversation with that person? What will your insult accomplish?

There is a better way to handle things than insulting people on the internet.

If Taylor Swift produces an album you don’t like, don’t listen to it. You don’t have to tell her it made your eardrums burst.

If you’re angry with a politician’s actions, try writing your elected officials well-thought emails and explain why you’re angry. Help them understand your point of view. It would certainly accomplish more than calling them millennial-snowflake socialists or fascist-Nazi pigs on Twitter.

If someone makes a comment you don’t agree with at Newsminer.com, offer a counterpoint to the argument rather than insulting the writer’s intelligence.

If you don’t like someone’s photos on Instagram, unfollow that person. You don’t have to say the person is ugly.

There is no need to be so insulting on the internet and social media. At best, your trolling is a waste of your time. Or worse, you could be causing emotional trauma.

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Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018

Anchorage Daily News: In the earthquake aftermath, where are the silver linings — and what are the warnings?

Two weeks after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook Southcentral, we’re beginning to get a picture of the damage, the costs of recovery and the places that suffered most. As homeowners and organizations alike take stock of their situations, almost universally, the response is gratitude.

“There’s so many ways we’re lucky,” Eagle River resident Rick Walburn said after the house he and his husband were renting partially collapsed.

The other side of the coin, however, is that we shouldn’t let the relatively limited damage inflicted by the recent quake lull us into the false impression that we’re better prepared to weather such an event in the future. Here are some silver linings — and warnings — the earthquake exposed.

Casualties

The silver lining: By far, the brightest, most optimistic indication of our earthquake readiness and resilience came in the fact that no Alaskans perished in the earthquake. That’s no small thing: Other earthquakes of a similar magnitude have killed hundreds and thousands of people elsewhere in the world — a 2009 magnitude 6.3 earthquake in central Italy killed more than 300 people and injured 1,500. Credit goes to Anchorage’s engineers, inspectors, seismologists and public servants who pushed for changes to building codes and zoning after the 1964 quake, reinforcing buildings and keeping the city’s biggest buildings away from areas known to be prone to soil liquefaction.

The warning: Just because there weren’t deaths doesn’t mean there couldn’t have been. We got lucky both in that the earthquake wasn’t larger and that people weren’t in places that would have placed them in more immediate danger. We should study the additional data this earthquake has provided us on areas that are potentially at risk of ground failure and make sure we’re still abiding by best practices in determining where and how it’s safe to build homes and commercial properties.

Supply chain disruptions

The silver lining: “Alaska is essentially an island” from the point of view of transporting goods, said Port of Alaska external affairs director Jim Jager, and the state has one major ingress point: the port. At the time of the earthquake, a liner was offloading jet fuel, which could have been disastrous if things went wrong. But nothing did. The liner halted its transfer, stayed an extra day in port while workers checked to make sure there were no leaks in the pipes and lines the fuel flowed through, then went on its way. “We dodged a bullet,” he said.

The warning: The port wasn’t the only potential point of failure for Alaska’s transportation infrastructure, and not all of the state’s roads, railways and other avenues are or can be hardened enough to guard against potential quake damage and disruption. “None of these systems work independently; it’s all interconnected,” Jager said. “If one link in the chain fails, it all fails.”

Some links did fail — the quake damaged roads and railways, and although Department of Transportation and Alaska Railroad crews worked swiftly to reopen transportation arteries, it’s a reminder of how completely Alaska depends on Outside shipments of food and material goods, particularly in winter. In the event of a disaster that cripples them, we will be left with the supplies we have on hand, so we would be wise to make sure we have enough to live on until infrastructure is patched and shipments can resume.

Property damage

The silver lining: The extensive but mostly minor quake damage is a windfall for Anchorage-area contractors and trade workers such as plumbers and electricians. Suddenly, there are thousands of residential and commercial finish jobs — drywall, painting and fixture repairs — that will provide a sort of “earthquake stimulus” to the local economy. The injection of millions of dollars in infrastructure spending and relief aid to the Alaska economy could have the beneficial effect of helping lift the city and state out of the recession that started after the oil price slump in late 2014 and 2015.

The warning: The money to fix that damage has to come from somewhere, and although millions of dollars in federal aid have already been made available, a portion of that burden will fall on residents — some of whom are not able to afford it. In the months to come, that hardship for residents may have considerable secondary impacts on city and state services, not to mention the potential devaluation of property, hurting the municipality’s tax base. The Anchorage Assembly should form contingency plans for budget shortfalls that result.

On the whole, Southcentral did get lucky when it came to the Nov. 30 earthquake’s severity and the breadth of its damage. But that shouldn’t make us complacent. Now is the time for a hard look at the warnings the earthquake gave us, and to work to minimize the potential damage from a future disaster.

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Dec. 17, 2018

Ketchikan Daily News: Lead by example

She’s got that right.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has sought sexual harassment policy reform in the hallowed halls of the nation’s government — specifically the Senate and House.

Last March, she and other female Senate colleagues wrote to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asking for reform of the Congressional Accountability Act.

The act would be updated to benefit survivors of sexual harassment and discrimination in congressional offices. It made improvements to the reporting process for victims and required congressional members who violated the act to pay any settlements out of their own pockets, instead of those of taxpayers.

With Senate approval, the act moved to the House in May. It has since been sent to President Donald Trump for his endorsement.

“If we as members of Congress are going to change the culture of harassment nationwide,” says Murkowski, “we must lead by example. . . . I have been appalled at the current policies and procedures in place regarding harassment claims in Congress, not to mention reports of settlement payouts with taxpayer dollars.”

Hear! Hear! Taxpayers shouldn’t be held accountable for congressional misbehavior; Congress members should be. And members of Congress should hold their colleagues accountable.

It’s what elected leaders are supposed to do. Whether the topic is sexual harassment or something else. Leaders set the standard of acceptable behavior.

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