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Alaska Editorials

June 6, 2018

Here is a sampling of Alaska editorials:

June 1, 2018

Ketchikan Daily News: Beyond fair trade

With all of the merchandise coming into the United States from China, it’s fair play that Alaska sends some of its products to China.

Trident Seafoods has done this for 20 years.

But what the Chinese consumers often don’t realize is that that product is wild Alaska seafood.

It’s hoped they will begin to be better informed following Gov. Bill Walker’s trade mission to the Asian nation. Among those who joined him are Trident Seafood officials, a company with a Ketchikan operation.

If the Chinese know more about the wild seafood they consume, then they can be directed to stores and markets to buy more of it.

They already are voracious consumers of seafood. Estimates show that each Chinese person eats about 88 pounds of seafood a year.

And Alaska sees the potential for even greater consumption once the Chinese are given the information as to how to buy and/or order the seafood more directly.

This is what trade missions are all about — improving economics, and in this case, for Alaska.

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May 30, 2018

Alaska Journal of Commerce: Net neutrality fight misses the bigger problem

The May 16 vote in the U.S. Senate to reverse the Federal Communications Commission repeal of “net neutrality” rules produced a split from Alaska’s delegation with Sen. Lisa Murkowski joining 49 Democrats and Sen. Dan Sullivan voting with his Republican colleagues.

The Democrats’ rare victory in the Senate was a small one, however, as there is not support in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives or from President Donald Trump, who appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, to restore the 2015 net neutrality rules.

Democrats want to make a campaign issue out of net neutrality with tech-savvy millennials by portraying it as a battle of David vs. Goliath with giant internet service providers in one corner and would-be innovators supposedly in danger of being throttled or blocked in the other.

In fact, net neutrality boils down to a battle of Goliath vs. Goliath with the ISPs facing off against the dominant content providers known as FANG: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.

According to Canadian bandwidth management systems vendor Sandvine, those four companies combine to take up some 56 percent of all internet traffic during peak periods, with Netflix taking the lion’s share of that number at about 36 percent. Next up is YouTube, owned by Google, at about 15 percent.

Netflix had become such a bandwidth hog by 2014 that ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon started slowing down its streaming video; that forced Netflix to sign deals with them to pay a toll so its customers could enjoy faster speeds.

Those deals were voided under the 2015 net neutrality rules that required all traffic to be treated the same regardless of whether it was a blogger or a corporate behemoth like Netflix with 125 million customers.

That was a huge win for content providers who were able to go back to free-riding on the infrastructure built by the ISPs while continuing to charge customers for the services they provide over that same infrastructure.

In practice, so far as the content providers are concerned, net neutrality is akin to “highway neutrality” if all road traffic was treated the same regardless of weight, length, value, etc. Of course we all understand that not all road traffic causes the same impact and therefore users pay different fees, tolls, taxes and the like.

Google doesn’t pay anything for using about one-sixth of the available bandwidth during peak hours, but it definitely charges for YouTube TV and for ad placements on that content flowing through the ISPs.

Netflix is using more than a third of the available broadband and likewise pays nothing for the privilege while raking in billions per month in subscriber revenue.

If anything leads to “throttling” of internet speeds it would be two companies who are using almost half of the available bandwidth.

The fears of ISPs throttling or blocking content are overblown to be sure, but speaking of net “neutrality,” does anyone believe companies like Google, Facebook or Twitter are “neutral”?

Google manipulates search results. Facebook and Twitter have gotten into the speech censorship business by blocking users and the practice of “shadowbanning.”

The corporate leadership and culture of these companies are overwhelmingly, outwardly, proudly, left-wing in nature.

They are by far the dominant platforms for search and social interactions and there is no shortage of incidences of them using their clout for ideological purposes.

In 2012, President Barack Obama’s reelection team was praised for its ability to microtarget voters by scraping data from millions of Facebook profiles, and the company did nothing about it. In 2016, that became a scandal when Cambridge Analytica did the same thing on behalf of then-candidate Trump.

YouTube has “demonetized” conservative users; Facebook curtailed the page for the popular duo of African-American Trump fans Diamond and Silk; Twitter similarly polices progressive speech far more loosely than it does that of the right.

So-called “net neutrality” does nothing to address the lack of neutrality when it comes to political speech exhibited by the Silicon Valley titans who claim to be for a free and open internet with them as champions of open public platforms. They have revealed themselves to be anything but.

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June 3, 2018

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Arctic National Lab Week a step in the right direction for Fairbanks

Last week, scientists, politicians and other government officials descended on Fairbanks for Arctic National Lab Week. A total of 17 of the Department of Energy’s national labs were represented at the conference, which featured lectures and panel discussions. Participants also took tours of Alaska research sites, such as the Army Corps of Engineers permafrost tunnel and the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Poker Flat Research Range.

National labs are government funded to find solutions to pressing scientific needs. For instance, the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico has a mission to solve national security problems and is well known for its nuclear energy research. The National Energy Technology Laboratory in Albany, Oregon, has tackled problems such as ways of optimizing coal fuel and even developing more efficient boiler technology.

But what does this mean for Fairbanks and Alaska?

It means some of the brightest minds in science were here, and we hope it means more research projects are coming our way in the not too distant future.

Alaska is an attractive place for research when you consider its abundant natural resources, its biodiversity, permafrost and energy-delivery problems. Add climate change to the mix and Alaska is ripe. Like it or not, climate change is changing the world, and it is more apparent in Alaska than in other U.S. locations as glaciers recede, coastal erosion speeds up and permafrost thaws. Scientists are going to need to figure out how climate change affects the environment, animals, people and resource extraction.

And, there is arguably no better place to do it than in Alaska.

Bringing more scientific research to Alaska would do good beyond generating knowledge and solutions. It would create more jobs, bring more money into Alaska and diversify the economy.

Like anything else, bringing scientific research projects will take time.

On the first day of the conference, Paul Dabbar, undersecretary for science at the U.S Department of Energy, said, “One of the big challenges that we run into from a science and innovation point of view is just making connections. There’s so many different opportunities here in Alaska, being a living laboratory across a number of areas of energy, of science and also our national labs that are scattered all over the country.”

Let’s hope Alaska grabbed the attention of every person at Arctic National Lab Week and that those connections were made. This conference was one positive step in bringing more scientific research to Fairbanks and Alaska.

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