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Warmer waters cut Alaska’s prized salmon harvest

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Warming waters have reduced the harvest of Alaska’s prized Copper River salmon to just a fraction of last year’s harvest, Alaska biologists say.

The runs of Copper River salmon were so low that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game shut down the commercial harvest last month, halting what is usually a three-month season after less than two weeks. Earlier this month, the department also shut down most of the harvest that residents along the river conduct to feed their families.

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The total commercial harvest for Alaska’s marquee Copper River salmon this year after it was halted at the end of May was about 32,000 fish, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reported. That compares to the department’s pre-season forecast of over 1.2 million and an average annual harvest of over 1.4 million fish in the prior decade.

State biologists blame warming in the Gulf of Alaska for the diminished run of Copper River salmon, prized for its rich flavor, high oil content and deep-red color.

The fish spend most of their lives in the ocean, and those waters were 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal, thanks to a warm and persistent North Pacific water mass that climate scientists have dubbed “the Blob,” along with other factors, said Mark Somerville, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Warmer temperatures caused the metabolism of the fish to speed up, Somerville said. “They need more food for maintenance,” he said. “At the same time, their food source was diminished.”

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Other important salmon runs are also struggling, including those in the Kenai River – a world-famous sport fishing site – and along Kodiak Island. Others have had good numbers, though the returning fish are noticeably reduced in size, Somerville said.

In Alaska, where wild salmon is iconic, Copper River fish hold a special status.

Their high oil content is linked to their ultra-long migration route from the ocean to their glacier-fed spawning grounds. They are the first fresh Alaska salmon to hit the market each year. Copper River salmon have sold for $75 a pound.

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“It’s the foie gras or Kobe of the sea, really,” said Chris Bryant, executive chef for WildFin American Grill, a group of Seattle-area seafood restaurants. But he worries about trends for Alaska salmon beyond the Copper River.

“The fish are smaller, which makes it harder for chefs to get a good yield on it and put it on the plate,” he said.

Reporting by Yereth Rosen in Anchorage, Alaska; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Chris Reese

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Ohio voter purge targets state’s League of Women Voters head

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Ohio’s government admitted that nearly 20 percent of voters targeted in the state’s looming purge of “inactive” were actually active voters.

Earlier this year, the Ohio secretary of state’s office issued a list of 235,000 names targeted for removal from the voter rolls because, the state purported, they had not participated in the last three election cycles. The purge is part of an effort to remove names of people who have passed away or moved. The state is required to send notices to people it plans to remove to give them a chance to verify that they should still be on the rolls.

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Trump appoints author of ‘Illuminati Secret Laws of Money’ to federal education board

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A Colorado lawyer who's known for authoring a series of "Illuminati self-help books" has been appointed to a federal education board by President Trump, The Denver Post reports.

George Mentz, who was nominated to the Commission on Presidential Scholars last week, teaches online courses on wealth management and is also a writer for the right-wing news site Newsmax. He's authored books titled, “The Illuminati Secret Laws of Money,” “The Illuminati Handbook,” “50 Laws of Power of the Illuminati,” and “100 Secrets and Habits of the Illuminati for Life Success.”

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Whoopi Goldberg fact-checks Abby Huntsman on moderate Trump voters: ‘That’s not the middle’

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"The View" host Whoopi Goldberg schooled Abby Huntsman, who argued that moderate voters would turn to President Donald Trump if Democrats moved too far left.

The panelists were discussing Tuesday night's debate with guest co-host Chelsea Clinton, who was sitting in for absent Joy Behar, and Huntsman praised the party's moderates.

"I give Mayor Pete (Buttigieg) and Amy Klobuchar kudos," Huntsman said. "Mayor Pete, who I have liked from the beginning, but last night was his best performance yet. (Joe) Biden also, but he delivers what Biden is saying, I think, so much better."

Huntsman and Goldberg clashed over the strength and thoroughness of Buttigieg's policy platforms, and the conservative co-host argued that his plans were more palatable to moderate voters.

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