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January 7, 2020 / This week from The Signal

What year is it?
What decade are we in?
And who are all you people?
Indigenous fans have adopted “Baby Yoda,” declaring the character is Native. The hashtag #NativeBabyYoda shows memes of him wearing a Pendleton coat, in a traditional backboard, even playing a song by the band A Tribe Called Red in a spaceship. In this photo, Gatgyedm Hana’ax Karla Booth (Ts’msyen) shows off a beading project and sketches she made in preparation to make a Baby Yoda Christmas ornament. (Photo and story by Tripp Crouse/KNBA-Anchorage)

But first… welcome to the 20s

Welcome back, Signaliens! It feels like a decade ago since I last wrote to you. I've been away visiting my family and eating cookies with utter abandon. Now I'm back, and I… have forgotten most of what happened last year. But it's my New Year's resolution to remember more things, so I was very grateful for this year-in-review compilation by KTOO's Jeremy Hsieh. Among the highlights: Cruise Town, budget squeeze, Roadless Rule, capital beef, climate change, what else do I have to say, we didn't start the fire, it was always burning since the world's been turning.

The four biggest stories of the decade…

… so far.
  1. Two weeks out: Fire up your Gavel Alaska machines: The Alaska Legislature reconvenes on Jan. 21. So what can we expect this year? Andrew Kitchenman of KTOO and Alaska Public Media reports that, aside from all the usual budget/PFD stuff, a couple of intriguing ballot initiatives could get some attention.
  2. Blame the whales: Chinook salmon are shrinking — both in numbers and in size. And it turns out that's partly because hungry-hungry orcas like to eat the biggest big salmon. In fact, one researcher estimates that orcas eat more adult king salmon than fisheries take in. Eric Stone of Alaska's Energy Desk takes a peek at a new study from the University of Washington.
  3. Rise of the Snowwalker: Alaskans like their winters how I like my ice cream: cold with moose tracks. But Alaska isn't as cold as it used to be, and Nat Herz of Alaska's Energy Desk says that's disrupting (among many, many other things) our leisure activities. It's so bad that some skiers are resorting to running instead, which is "not fun," according to an Anchorage two-planker.
  4. Search for answers: It's a little over a week after Juneau's first fatal police shooting since 2007. As police conduct an investigation, KTOO's Rashah McChesney tells us how community members are reflecting on the incident and remembering the man who died.

Video of the week

Before Tinder, how did Alaska's bachelors publicly announce that they were single and/or ready to mingle? A woman named Susie Carter came up with a solution back in the 1980s, with her upstart magazine "AlaskaMen." The local dating publication has received worldwide attention — apparently Alaska men are big in Japan. This 2016 video from Alaska Public Media's "Indie Alaska" series dives into the origins and history of Carter's decades-long matchmaking mission.

Just one more thing…

If, like me, you've spent the past few weeks doing a self-imposed newsless holiday cookie cleanse, it's marginally possible that you missed the story about an American president being impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The next step will (eventually) be a trial in the Senate, and right now, the nation's eyes and ears are fixed on Alaska's own Sen. Lisa Murkowski. She hasn't yet indicated how she'll vote — but she did say she was "disturbed" by the Senate majority leader's approach to the trial. Alaska Public Media's Liz Ruskin will be picking Murkowski's brain on the regular as this story progresses.

More news around Alaska

The Signal is written by KTOO digital media editor Ryan Cunningham
and edited by KTOO managing editor Jennifer Pemberton.

KTOO News is member supported.

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What are you waiting for? For an entertaining inside take on the biggest news in Alaska, try The Signal – just enter your email to get the latest edition delivered every week - it's free, we keep your email safe, and you can easily unsubscribe any time.