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Winter seems to have arrived in the Anchorage area. We received another light layer of snow yesterday, and it was 18 degrees with a hard frost this morning. It's that kind of frost that nearly refuses to come loose from the glass, making a fun start to the morning drive. Ah well, this too shall pass.
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Nostalgia Ain't What It Used to Be Dept: The Anchorage Daily Fishwrapper reports that crime is down over the last three years. The total crimes reported in 2011 is fewer than in 1981, despite a population increase of 100,000 people during that time.
One disturbing aspect is that rape and burglaries are up, but everything else is way down.
The wife & I were speaking of this the other night: when we arrived a decade ago, there was a lot of gang-related crime in the news. The Bloods and the Crips had located here (why? nobody knows) and there were shootings and murders weekly. That has simply stopped, for the most part.
During the last decade, however, there has been a HUGE influx of Pacific Islanders (again, I have no idea what would induce tropical islanders to move to Alaska in large numbers) and much of the local violent crime seems to be between them. It's a shame, really.
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Know When to Hold It Dept: The Fishwrapper also reports that the USDA has set aside money for indoor plumbing in Alaskan villages.
A federal agency this week announced nearly $29 million will be spent to plan, build and upgrade water and sewer systems in 16 Alaska villages over the next several years.The Department of Agriculture, providing plumbing? Huh. Okay, whatever; it's desperately needed, regardless of where it comes from.
A majority of the money will be spent on plumbing for 123 village homes where residents currently use honey buckets as toilets and collect rainwater to drink, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA is providing the grants.
Plumbing for those homes -- in Kwethluk, Toksook Bay, Eek and Lower Kalskag -- will be paid for with about $21.9 million funneled through the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the USDA said. The projects are expected to be completed by 2015.
Despite decades of vows by state leaders to rid village homes of honey buckets, a lack of flush toilets and running water remains a costly health concern in many Alaska communities. A 2010 Centers for Disease Control study revealed strong links between high rates of potentially life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis and a lack of indoor plumbing.
Most people on the outside simply have no idea that much of the interior of Alaska is like a third-world country. The poverty is breath-taking. Many Natives scrape by on only a few thousand dollars per year, from dividends in their local Native corporations, and literally live off the land.
95 percent of the villages here are off the road grid, meaning the only access is by air, or by barge if they're along the coast somewhere. In winter-time, it's air access only. Gasoline, when they have it, can be well over $10 per gallon, for their snowmachines.
Want to build something? You have pay someone to fly the lumber and nails to you. There are still plenty of Bush pilots up here, but that service ain't cheap.
Putting on my preacher hat for a moment, if y'all want to have missions to the poor, try helping the Alaska natives, here in your own country. You don't have to leave the U.S.A. to find those who need your help. (/hat off).
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Lest you think that all is grim, here's a recent Tundra comic from Alaska's own Chad Carpenter about the reality of Alaska "reality" shows:
|Click to enlarge|
Have a great day, friends. Thanks again for stopping by.