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Earlier this week, the U.S. Coast Guard revealed its Arctic Strategy, a document that describes how the agency intends to contribute to the National Strategy for the Arctic Region signed by President Barack Obama earlier this month.

Soon after the Coast Guard released its plan, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, announced his own contribution to the emerging needs of national defense at the top of the world in the Last Frontier: hand-me-down airplanes.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Begich asked Secretary Janet Napolitano to transfer what he termed “underutilized U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft” to the Coast Guard. Repurposed with a new life at a different agency, the C-27J aircraft could save the Coast Guard $800 million, enough to buy a new icebreaker, Begich reasoned.

As the Senate considers a major bill to authorize ports, navigation, and flood control projects nationwide today U.S. Sen. Mark Begich joined with Sen. Lisa Murkowski to offer an amendment designed to spur development of a deep water port in the Arctic by giving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authority to engage in expanded partnerships with local, tribal and borough governments.

“There is a growing need for a deep water port in the region because as the Arctic sea ice recedes, oil and gas development is increasing and maritime shipping is expanding,” Begich said.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, was given the Center for Coastal Conservation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportfishing during a luncheon ceremony Wednesday at the opening of the American Boating Congress.

The award from the coalition of advocates for marine recreational fishing and boating is given each year to a federal legislator who is dedicated to promoting the sound conservation and use of ocean resources.

“When I hear ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ I think, ‘I’m not done, am I?’ ” Begich joked in accepting the award before a full house at the luncheon.

Alaska Democrats have endorsed U.S. Sen. Mark Begich for re-election.

The endorsement is somewhat unusual in that the party typically doesn’t announce its support for any one candidate in a primary.

Party spokesman Zack Fields says the party can endorse in limited circumstances. He says Alaska Democrats felt it important to get their support for Begich on the record early, given the flood of outside money that’s expected in the race.

Several U.S. grocery chains have agreed not to sell a genetically engineered salmon that is nearing approval from the Food and Drug Administration after 17 years of development, a group of environmental and consumer groups said Wednesday.

Retailers that have agreed not to sell the fish include national chains Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, Aldi stores in the eastern half of the country, and PCC Natural Markets in Washington state. Most of the biggest supermarket chains are not participating.

Food activists who lost the battle over California’s Proposition 37, which would have required labeling of genetically engineered foods and was defeated in November after food companies spent millions of dollars to campaign against it, now are applying pressure via retailers. That is not a tough sell, because such foods poll poorly with the public.

FAIRBANKS — Democratic Sen. Mark Begich said he’s “fairly certain” a Red Flag Alaska training mission could be in store for Eielson Air Force Base this fall, despite sequester-driven cuts to military training budgets.

Begich made the comments in an interview with the News-Miner during a Saturday stop in Fairbanks, saying Alaska Command Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen Hoog told him of the plans for a fall training mission.

The news comes after the cancellation of the spring Red Flag Alaska and the summer multi-branch Northern Edge exercise. Red Flag exercises typically involve units from other countries and can bring thousands of people and aircraft to the Interior.

Senator Mark Begich plans to introduce two bills related to social security by next Monday. Begich met with leaders of Alaska organizations today (Thursday) in Anchorage to gauge their concerns and to announce his plan. The Senator says the conversation on social security will come before Congress by June, and now is the time to make changes that will strengthen social security benefits, not curtail them.

“I think there is a lot of interest that has been generated over the last couple of years. And now we are seeing people really talking more about it. And as we move to issues of the budget and a long term budget plan for the federal government, Social Security is part of the equation, and figuring this out and solving this.”

By The Cordova Times:

Well here is something useful. Alaskans are united in defending our wild salmon heritage against Frankenfish. From Don Young to Mark Begich, Cascadia Wildlands and Greenpeace, we are leading the fight on one of the most consequential environmental issues of our time. It’s not often we’re this united around such a contentious issue. I think it’s creeping the bad guys out. Some accuse us of selfishly looking to protect our own bottom line. But Alaskans are united against GE salmon for good reasons.

We Alaskans are proud of our wild salmon, and should be proud to stand up for them on the international stage! We learned from past mistakes and have (more-or-less) successfully stewarded one of nature’s greatest bounties. This is our heritage. Never apologize for defending it. If we don’t, nobody else will.

In the U.S., Alaska officials are at the vanguard of a lot of the country’s initiatives and policymaking in the far north, whether it’s regulating offshore oil drilling or looking into the best site for a deep-draft port. Thus, it comes as no surprise that U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, is one of the few Americans calling for the creation of an Arctic ambassador. In a letter (PDF) to President Obama, Begich stated, “The changes we see in the Arctic today now warrant taking the next step to heighten our diplomatic presence at the top of the globe with the appointment of a U.S. Ambassador to the Arctic.”

On Feb. 11, Begich introduced S. 270, also known as “United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act of 2013.” He lists a number of geographic reasons as to why the U.S. merits such a position, including the length of Alaska’s Arctic shoreline, the 100 million acres of American territory above the Arctic Circle, and “an even broader area defined as Arctic by temperature that includes the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.”

A national anti-immigration group has been running ads on Alaska TV stations, attacking U.S. Senator Mark Begich for his overtures in favor of immigration reform. The Democratic Party of Alaska responded by exposing the group’s controversial founder and its connections to nativist radicals who have been labeled racists by civil rights activists. The group, called NumbersUSA, has been credited for stopping immigration reform for years, including reforms proposed by the George W. Bush administration in 2007.

The ads are not the first from an independent political group against the senator, and they won’t be the last. Independent organizations that run so-called issue ads are barely accountable in American politics, particularly after the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision upended decades of campaign finance reporting law and gave corporate entities free speech rights similar to those of individual people.

“It is the tide of what’s coming,” said Susanne Fleek, the state director for Begich’s Alaska offices. “If you find one billionaire who is willing to fund your campaign then you can run ads all over the country—Senator Begich isn’t concerned about what one extreme group in Washington D.C. thinks, he want to know what Alaskans think.”