Marguerite Reardon/CNET US lawmakers on both sides of the aisle believe in a free and open internet, but it’s clear after today’s hearing in the House on net neutrality that they’re miles apart on how to get there.Democrats last year unsuccessfully fought to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules that were repealed by a Republican-led FCC in 2107. Meanwhile, Republicans have been pushing legislation they say will protect net neutrality, but that critics say will strip the Federal Communications Commission of authority and provide endless loopholes for broadband providers. Now, some Democrats say they may be open to legislation too, but agreeing on the details could be a challenge. Still, Republicans, who are rumored to be readying at least three bills on net neutrality, say the time is now to hash out a compromise. Thursday’s hearing was held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “We could have messaging fights or we could pass laws,” said Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois. He argued that if lawmakers really want to pass a law protecting net neutrality, they’ll have to find some sort of middle ground. The debate in Congress comes at a time when the net neutrality issue is back in the courts. Proponents for the 2015 rules sued the government, charging that the FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, overstepped its bounds when it voted in December 2017 to roll back the Obama-era net neutrality protections. Those rules banned broadband providers from slowing or blocking access to the internet or charging companies higher fees for faster access. Oral arguments in the case were heard Friday. A decision in the case is expected this summer. But even then the issue isn’t likely to be settled, as former FCC Chairman Michael Powell testified during the hearing Thursday. He said the case will probably drag on another year or more as the decision will likely be appealed. Or if there’s a mixed decision, the FCC will open another regulatory proceeding to take a crack at the repeal again. “There comes a point when it becomes clear that the problem the FCC is struggling with is a lack of clear direction from the people’s elected representatives,” he said. Not so simpleIt’s true that nearly everyone agrees on the basic concept of net neutrality. No blocking. No throttling. No jumping the line because you pay the broadband provider more for access. But the crux of the debate over net neutrality is not about the rules per se. It’s about the authority the FCC should have in policing and enforcing these rules.As part of its 2015 regulation, the Democrat-led FCC reclassified broadband networks to make them subject to the same strict regulations that govern telephone networks. They reclassified broadband as a so-called Title II telecommunications service, instead of the more lightly regulated Title I information service. They did so because the federal appeals court had twice thrown out the FCC’s previous attempts to write rules or enforce net neutrality concepts. The reason for these rejections in the courts was simple: The agency lacked authority under the provision of the law they said gave them that authority.So the agency changed the classification to give themselves that authority. And the federal appeals court agreed. When the 2015 rules were challenged, the court upheld them. But broadband companies and many Republicans said the agency went too far. They argued that reclassifying broadband as a Title II service gives the FCC too much power to regulate broadband service in other ways. “Title II sounds innocuous,” said Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon. “But it gives big government unlimited authority to micromanage every single aspect of a provider’s business, that includes setting rates. There is nothing neutral about this kind of authority.”Other Republicans, like Rep. Billy Long of Missouri, argued that Title II is nearly 100 years old and outdated.But Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from California and strong net neutrality supporter, shot back.”You know what the oldest law is? The constitution,” she said. “It has a lot of dust on that. Maybe we should throw that out, too.”Legislation is the answerRepublicans and the broadband industry say the only way to settle the issue is for Congress to write a law codifying the principles of net neutrality, such as no blocking, no throttling and no discriminatory conduct, like paid prioritization. And there’s talk of at least three different bills being drafted by Republicans to do just that. Some Democrats on the committee — such as Reps. Darren Soto of Florida, Tom O’Halleran of Arizona and George Kenneth Butterfield of North Carolina — seem interested. But net neutrality proponents say that any legislation must preserve the FCC’s authority and must go beyond the three so-called “bright line” rules to ensure any bad conduct from broadband providers isn’t allowed.Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, whose FCC drafted the 2015 order, was asked to testify at the hearing. He said the policies set forth in 2015 are “backbone concepts for the oversight of networks.” “Any further policy considerations should use the 2015 concepts as the starting point to securing the public’s critical interest in a free and open internet,” he said.But net neutrality advocates argue that Republicans’ previous attempts at drafting legislation stripped the FCC of its authority and left loopholes for broadband providers to get around the rules. “I don’t know what is in the bills that they’re planning to introduce,” Mozilla COO Denelle Dixon, who testified at the hearing, said in an interview. “But we want a requirement that includes strong enforcement from the FCC and flexibility to address other issues, like interconnection, mobile and zero-rating.” Now that Democrats are in charge of the House there are likely to be more hearings on net neutrality. But legislation that both sides can agree on and that can get a signature from President Donald Trump still seems like a long way off. Taking It to Extremes: Mix insane situations — erupting volcanoes, nuclear meltdowns, 30-foot waves — with everyday tech. Here’s what happens.Blockchain Decoded: CNET looks at the tech powering bitcoin — and soon, too, a myriad of services that will change your life. Net Fix Net neutrality FCC • Aug 26 • Activists challenge 2020 candidates to sign net neutrality pledge Net Fix See All Share your voice 1 Apr 9 • Mitch McConnell: Democrats’ net neutrality bill is ‘dead on arrival’ in Senate Comment Jun 11 • Net neutrality has been dead for a year: What you need to know Internet Apr 10 • Democrats’ net neutrality bill passes House Tags reading • Net neutrality hearing shows Congress is still divided on a solution
The Brave browser logo Stephen Shankland/CNET It’s time for browser startup Brave to see if this whole privacy-respecting ads business is really going to pay off.The startup, co-founded by former Firefox leader and Mozilla Chief Executive Brendan Eich, got its start by releasing a browser in 2016 that blocks ads by default — a design the company’s studies say dramatically improves not just performance but also cuts memory usage and saves phone battery life.But the plan was never just to remove ads — it’s also to replace the ones you usually see on websites with something that doesn’t track you around the web. Brave started testing these privacy-respecting ads this year, and now the technology is active in the main version of Brave for personal computers. And if you opt in, you’ll get a share of the resulting ad revenue.”Ads have become spyware,” Eich said, and ad tech is riddled with middlemen and fraud that are problems for both advertisers and the publishers who place ads. “We think we have a better technique.”Brave has convinced 5.9 million people to use its browser each month and should reach 10 million this summer, Eich said. That’s a far cry, though, from the billion-plus who use Google’s dominant Chrome and the 264 million who use Firefox. To fulfill its ambitions of “putting chlorine in the pool” — building an improved ad system extending far beyond its own company — Brave will need a lot more users to sign up.And privacy protections, while important, historically have been a tough sell for consumers. Recent privacy scandals and data breaches may have changed your mind, though, and Brave has a carrot to coax you aboard.Ad revenue for Brave usersWith this first phase of Brave ads, you’ll keep 70% of the revenue. A second phase, involving cooperation with website publishers, will give you 15 percent of each ad’s revenue. It won’t generate enough for you to get rich quick, but Eich hopes it’ll be enough to help sustain free sites on the internet. The system will expand to Android and iOS phones in coming months.Disclosure: I transferred some bitcoin into my Brave wallet for testing when Brave launched its payments system in 2016. That later was converted into BAT. After that initial purchase, Brave’s grants, BAT from ads I’ve seen and BAT transferred to website publishers, I now have a BAT balance worth $26.59. I have received no bitcoin or BAT from Brave.Conventional online ads can generate more revenue for publishers if they’re targeted toward a specific audience. Nobody likes irrelevant ads. But that targeting can involve a privacy tradeoff, since advertisers want to know about what sites you’ve visited or what your social media profile says about your interests.Brave Software wants to show targeted ads, too, but it lets the browser decide on the targeting without spilling your data over the network to publishers, advertisers or Brave itself. It gauges your interest chiefly by the content of websites you visit — for example, news articles. But it also will include what can be a very strong signal that you want to buy something: searches for products or services.Small text-based search ads are how Google got its start making immense piles of money. Brave ads right now are similarly terse, but instead of being built into the website, they appear as operating system notifications.And unlike with search ads, you get 70 percent of the Brave ad revenue. Internet You won’t get rich off Brave adsSo how much could you earn in Brave’s monthly payout plan?Enlarge ImageIf you enable Brave’s ad system, you’ll see pop-up notifications and earn 70% of the resulting ad revenue. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET “I’m still a bit of a bear, so I say $5, but it could be $10 or more,” Eich said. Just seeing an ad generates a little money, but clicking generates more, and doing something very valuable to an advertiser, like booking an appointment to test-drive a car, could be worth something more like $50, he said.One catch: You get paid in Brave’s crypto-tokens, called basic attention tokens (BAT), not real money. Another catch: for now, the money goes into the browser, but the only way to get it out is to use the Brave Rewards system to contribute that BAT to websites, YouTubers and Twitch videogame streamers you visit who’ve signed up for the Brave system. Later, Brave will let you export your tokens so you can convert them to regular money.”We don’t currently have a way to get tokens out,” Eich said. “We will add that as soon as we can,” using partnerships with cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase and Uphold and requiring a fraud-thwarting process that means users must identify themselves, he said.Brave advertisers include Vice, Home Chef, ConsenSys, Ternio BlockCard, MyCrypto, and eToro, BuySellAds, TAP Network, AirSwap, Fluidity, andhttps://uphold.com/Uphold, Brave said. The browser periodically retrieves a catalog of ads from such advertisers and shows its best guess about the one it calculates will be most interesting to you. Advertisers know only that their ads were seen, not who saw them. Brave is designed to show them during moments when you won’t be as bothered by the interruption.Publisher ads, set to arrive later this year, will place Brave ads directly onto publishers’ websites. There, publishers will keep 70%, while you and Brave will evenly split the remaining 30%.Brave also could sign a larger-scale search-ad deals with search engines to boost revenue further, Eich said. “We have a model that gets us to profitability.”First published April 24, 9 a.m. PT.Update, 12:39 p.m. PT: Adds a disclosure about the $26.59 value of the author’s BAT holdings. Advertising Brave browser Privacy Google Yes, Facebook is still tracking you (The 3:59, Ep. 541) Share your voice Comments 3 4:25 Now playing: Watch this: Tags
A very expensive speaker is now well over $1000 cheaper! Save $1175! Sarah Tew/CNET Amazon Prime Day CNET may get a commission from retail offers. That’s it for now, but come back. We’ll be updating this post with the deals as they come in! $485 for an Xbox One X with game PlayStation VR with Camera and VR Worlds for $222 17 Photos Amazon Echo (2nd Gen) for $75 Save $351 This is your Amazon Echo base model, connects to Alexa, does all the smart home assistant things you might expect like check the weather, play music, news, shopping lists, etc. 50% off See at Amazon Review • Xbox One X review: Is it worthy of the hype? Share your voice 1 25% off Look, you know you’ve always wanted one of these ridiculous scooters. Now is the time. At $538, you’re saving $351 here! 50% off See also See at Amazon Nintendo The PlayStation VR headset is an absolute steal at this price. VR Worlds is also a great intro to VR. The Echo Dot is Amazon’s smallest and cutest assistant. $100 off See at Amazon See at Amazon Up to 25% off selected Nintendo Switch games Now playing: Watch this: Beoplay A9 for $2499.99 Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen) for $115 50% off Microsoft Xbox One X 36% off Xbox One X with The Division 2 TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones for $67 Carn Amazon, you can’t take the full 50% off?Still this is a decent deal for premium assistant. See at Amazon 32% off Segway Ninebot ES2 Folding Electric Kick Scooter Save $177! Tyler Lizenby/CNET Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 are on there See at Amazon Prime Day 2019: The leftovers Walmart’s final day of anti-Prime Day deals After Amazon Prime Day 2019: You can still snag deals on the Echo and Echo Dot 4 great cheap deals you can get anytime Amazon Prime Day 2019: Fire TV deals end, but Roku discounts still going strong Amazon Prime Day 2019: The best deals on Chromebooks, gaming laptops and MacBooks Post-Prime Day deals from Vizio: Save up to $1,200 on TVs, $200 on an Atmos sound bar See at Amazon The Xbox One X is the most powerful console on the market right now. If you’re looking for a console to sit under your 4K TV, this is about as good as it gets. Amazon See at Amazon Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. If you’re looking for a cheap pair of noise cancelling headphones you could go worse than this. Preview • Xbox One X coming November 7 for $499: Everything we know Echo Show (2nd Gen) for $249 Amazon Prime Day 2019: Everything to know Echo Dot (3rd Gen) for $39 Mentioned Above Microsoft Xbox One X This Amazon site handles your biggest, bulkiest purchases The Echo Plus is good if you’re after high quality sound to go alongside your regular smart home assistanting (is that a word?). $319 Breath of the Wild is $52, Mario Kart 8 is $47 and Super Mario Odyssey is $47. Nintendo games don’t typically go cheap, so worth checking in on this one. $369 Amazon See it TaoTronics See It See at Amazon Get sweet deals on the Amazon Echo. Tyler Lizenby/CNET Hello Australian friends, it’s Prime Day. The days of us being totally excluded from Prime day are over. Australia has had its own Prime Day, with its own sales, since 2018. So if you want to spend money and buy all the Echo Dots at 50% off, we have you covered. We have a massive suite of sales posts, some of which Australians may or may not be eligible for. But in this post? It’s Australian deals only folks. Strewth, bloody oath galah.Quick note for overseas folks stumbling across this post, all prices in this post are in Australian dollars.Two quick notes before we beginFirstly, many Amazon workers have gone on strike during Amazon Prime day. Depending on your where you sit, that may or may not affect your decision to shop at Amazon during this time period.Secondly, you have to be an Amazon Prime member to take part in Prime deals. Again, your call if you think it’s worth it, but there are sales all year round on products and Prime video is a pretty solid alternative to Netflix. I recommend The Terror, that show rules. It cost $6.99AU per month but you can try the 30-day free trial if you like and shop through the deals.Alright, now for the deals! James Martin/CNET Comment See at Amazon 1:43 Tags Tyler Lizenby/CNET Appliances Smart Home
Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios In between MCU Phase 4 reveals for Marvel Studios’ films like Black Widow, Thor 4 and Shang-Chi, the first Marvel TV shows destined for the Disney Plus streaming service were detailed Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.Marvel’s WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, will have a multiverse aspect that will directly tie into 2021’s Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse of Madness. Also set for spring 2021 is Loki starring Tom Hiddleston. The actor confirmed at the panel that the show will feature the version of Loki seen in 2012’s first Avengers film. The show will also include an adult Monica Rambeau, first seen as a child in Captain Marvel, played by Teyonah Parris. Then come fall 2021, Disney Plus will debut the new Hawkeye series starring Jeremy Renner. It will feature Kate Bishop, who in the comics becomes a second Hawkeye. Marvel The Avengers Just announced in Hall H at #SDCC, Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER, an original series with Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan and Daniel Brühl. Streaming exclusively on Disney+, Fall 2020. pic.twitter.com/FmFMKWUrhO— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) July 21, 2019 WandaVision is set to debut on Disney Plus in spring 2021.Coming a bit sooner than that will be The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, starring Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan and Daniel Brühl. A new logo for the show includes an aspect of Captain America’s design, possibly confirming that we’ll pick up with Falcon essentially being the new Cap. The show is set to debut in fall 2020. Share your voice Just announced in Hall H at #SDCC, Marvel Studios’ WHAT IF…?, the first animated series in the MCU, with Jeffrey Wright as the voice of The Watcher and many actors from across the MCU reprising their roles as voice talent. Streaming exclusively on Disney+, Summer 2021. pic.twitter.com/el6etc3xZH— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) July 21, 2019 TV and Movies Just announced in Hall H at #SDCC, Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE with Jeremy Renner, an original series that will also introduce Kate Bishop. Streaming exclusively on Disney+, Fall 2021. pic.twitter.com/qPH8M2TQSj— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) July 21, 2019 “It does take place after Endgame.” And Lt. Trouble will appear!! She’ll be played as an adult by Teyonah Parris #MarvelSDCC #WandaVision #SDCC2019 pic.twitter.com/Nm4IvR4OUz— cait petrakovitz 🦹🏽♀️➡️#SDCC (@misscp) July 21, 2019 These TV shows will join Marvel films released theatrically starting in 2019 as exclusive to the Disney Plus service, which is set to debut Nov. 12 in the US for $7 a month. 3:04 Post a comment Now playing: Watch this: 0 The animated Marvel What If…? series will feature actor Jeffrey Wright as the narrator of a variety of stories that will change a major aspect of what was seen in the MCU films. For instance, one story could be what would happen if Peggy Carter became Captain America instead of Steve Rogers. That show will debut in summer 2021. WandaVision coming Spring 2021! “It’s gonna get weird!” says Elizabeth Olsen. #MarvelSDCC #SDCC2019 pic.twitter.com/DZ9hubXiaP— cait petrakovitz 🦹🏽♀️➡️#SDCC (@misscp) July 21, 2019 Tags Marvel’s Phase 4 plan explained Comic-Con Tom Huddleston confirms we will see @Avengers 2012 Loki as we know him! #MarvelSDCC #SDCC2019 pic.twitter.com/cz1NSrcJ46— cait petrakovitz 🦹🏽♀️➡️#SDCC (@misscp) July 21, 2019
A Coast Guard helicopter crew spent Tuesday morning performing back-to-back medevacs between King Cove and the community of Cold Bay.A fisherman from the crabber Miss Courtney Kim got hurt on Monday night when a crab pot fell on him, inflicting multiple injuries. The vessel was near Sanak Island — not far from King Cove, which has a health clinic.The vessel headed into town, while the Coast Guard made arrangements for an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to leave its forward-deployment in Cold Bay and meet the fisherman the next morning.But Petty Officer Grant DeVuyst says the flight crew soon got wind of another emergency.“Between the report of the injured mariner who was getting taken into King Cove by his vessel, and the time that the helicopter showed up, there was a report of an infant suffering from respiratory distress,” DeVuyst says.The Coast Guard helicopter picked up the sick baby and his mother from King Cove on Tuesday morning, and flew them to Cold Bay. From there, the family boarded a commercial medevac flight bound for Anchorage.Then, the helicopter crew doubled back and picked up the injured fisherman from the F/V Miss Courtney Kim. That man was also taken to Anchorage on a commercial medevac flight, arranged by the Coast Guard.DeVuyst says it’s not uncommon for the Coast Guard to assist with medevacs out of King Cove.“There’s only certain types of aircrafts that can get on-scene,” DeVuyst says. “Our air crews are trained to fly in pretty extreme conditions up here. You’ll see in Alaska a lot that we assist with things of that type, just because of the weather and the remoteness.”Residents of King Cove have been lobbying the federal government for years to build a road through the Izembek wildlife reserve, which separates them from Cold Bay’s all-weather airport. They say that a one-lane gravel road would provide them with more reliable access to commercial medevac flights.
A proposal to streamline voter registration with permanent fund dividend applications has secured a spot on Alaska’s ballot this summer.Download AudioThe PFD Voter initiative is slated to appear on the August 16th primary election ballot. This will be the only measure in the primary, according to the Division of Elections.The Division verified nearly 37,000 voter signatures and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallot signed certification documents this week.Supporters of the measure say it would eliminate redundancies in government and make it easier for people to vote. But, some opponents of the initiative are fearful of giving too much personal information to the government.The PFD voter initiative does includes an opt-out clause. Within a month of applying for the PFD, residents will receive a postcard in the mail that gives them the option of deregistering to vote. The Division of Elections estimates that some 70,000 more people will be registered if this initiative is passed.The initiative received support from a broad spectrum of agencies, including ANCSA Regional Association and the ACLU of Alaska.This push to get more people to the polls has roots in Sitka.Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins was party to the group that came up up with the initiative, modeled after Oregon’s Motor Voter Law, which automatically registers people to vote when they renew or apply for a driver license or state ID. Canvassers in Sitka collected hundreds of signatures to get the initiative on the ballot
APD police vehicles (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)Four teens have been indicted for their roles in an Anchorage shooting death last month.The teens are accused of shooting 40-year-old Paula Zorawski on Sept. 22 when she answered the door of her East Anchorage home.Zorawski died Sept. 28 at Providence Alaska Medical Center.The teens visited the home prior to the shooting to buy marijuana.Yurel Nichols, 18, was indicted for 1st and 2nd degree murder and robbery in the 1st degree.Savon Berry, Tommy Higgs III – both 18-years-old – and Alonzo Steward, 19, are indicted on 2nd degree murder, 1st degree robbery, and tampering with evidence charges.Each of the teens faces up to 99 years in prison for the murder charges.All four defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Anchorage Superior Court.A fifth teen pled guilty last month to 1st degree robbery charged in connection to the incident.
Anita Laulainen of Palmer. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)This week we’re hearing from Anita Laulainen from Palmer. Laulainen is a UAA graphic design student and just gave the whole state a present: a new license plate design.Listen nowLAULAINEN: I think I’ve always wanted to be an artist. When I was younger I would draw a lot, just drawing everything pretty much I could get my hands on. I would look at book covers and illustrations on things and try to copy it, and then from there, I moved to copying fonts. And so for me I always loved art, and at first I didn’t think it would be necessarily a feasible job, but once I looked into graphic design, I thought, “This would work.”So the Alaska Council on the Arts — I’m pretty sure I’m saying that correctly — they put on this statewide competition so that anyone who’s a resident of Alaska could submit a design. And so I was actually doing it for a class project originally, because it was an assignment. After I finalized my design for the class, I went ahead and submitted it.They had a celebrity panel jury that looked through all of the different designs and picked their top five favorites, I believe. And then from there, the public — Alaska residents — voted on which one was their favorite.My design is a night scene of some Alaska mountains with the Northern Lights in the sky, with stars and the moon. And then down below on the horizon there’s some hills and some trees. My license plate design was inspired by my love and appreciation for the beauty of Alaska. I wanted to show with my design, putting together the quintessential picture of Alaska. You see the mountains, you see the Northern Lights, you see the beautiful winter scene, and I wanted to just encapsulate all that with my design. And I feel like a lot of people recognized that when the voting process happened and they wanted to see that on their license plate.We’re still in the process of actually getting the design onto a plate, so we haven’t really started that process yet. Next summer, they’ll be available for purchase and I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting one.I feel like it hasn’t quite sunk in all the way. Like, it’s just like, “Oh! It’s really cool,” but I haven’t seen it in person yet and I feel like it’ll finally sink in once I see it on people’s cars. I’ll be driving around like, “Whoa there’s my design. There’s my design.”Anita Laulainen, a UAA graphic design student from Palmer, submitted the winning design for the artistic license plate competition.
When a dead whale was reported floating near Wrangell, the troops had to rally. U.S. Forest Service workers found the carcass on this remote beach and tied it to trees so it wouldn’t float away. Biologists in Southeast Alaska are racing to examine a wave of whale carcasses to try and find what’s killing gray whales up and down the Pacific Coast. Nearly 170 have been reported triggering NOAA Fisheries to launch an investigation. “That impacts just a slew of different species on every level, and I personally think gray whales are just one of the victims,” Savage said. “But that’s just one of my theories and I’d be open to changing that if we had evidence of something different.” The investigation could take months or years. And the mystery might never be solved. These teams rush to carcasses that are relatively fresh and accessible in the hopes of solving the mystery: why are gray whales dying? “It’s like a mixture of barf and poop,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll find anything remotely close. I’ll never complain about things that smell bad ever again.” The site is on Wrangell’s Eastern Passage. You have to travel by boat to site, about 10 miles southeast of town. “So the animals we do reach to conduct a necropsy are representative of the many more we don’t see that fall to the ocean bottom,” she said. Baleen collected from a gray whale carcass found in June of 2019 near Wrangell Island. (Photo by June Leffler/ KSTK) NOAA is in its first month of an investigation into why. Declaring this mortality event brings in more funding, experts and a push for public reporting to solve the mystery. The necropsy today is a fact-finding mission to add to the national effort. “We were trying to get fecal matter out of the intestines, and there was just a buildup of gas, and we cut into it and it kind of just exploded,” she said. “Somehow it only got on me.” Then there are the knock-on effects of climate change and with it, vanishing sea ice. Volunteers help out NOAA by collecting samples of a gray whale carcass. Samples can help NOAA scientists figure out why so many of these whales are dying. (Photo by June Leffler/ KSTK) NOAA Fisheries veterinarian Kate Savage got the call in Juneau. An amazing opportunity and a gross one. The carcass is baking in the mid-70-degree heat. Allen says the smell is the worse she’d ever encountered. The intestines of a gray whale carcass found in June of 2019 near Wrangell Island. (Photo by June Leffler/ KSTK) Translucent Tyvek poly-suits are the fashion among the dozen wildlife workers and volunteers gathered around the 35-foot-long carcass of the male juvenile. “It is sad to see but it is also an amazing opportunity to be part of this team and be part of this phenomenon,” she said. In 1999, NOAA declared an “unusual mortality event” after about 650 dead grey whales were reported up and down the West Coast over two years. But by 2001, the numbers dropped. No definitive cause was found but the high death rate subsided — until now. NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Julie Speegle in Juneau says public reports are important because it allows biologists to respond quicker. This isn’t a pleasure beach. You have to tiptoe across nearly impossible rocky incline to get to the specimen. Back on Wrangell’s rocky beach, the site of the dead whale, Savage said the theories posited 20 years ago, are the working hypothesis used today: Malnutrition, bio toxins. Of the dozen dead gray whales confirmed so far NOAA has been able to collect baleen, tissue, and feces from four. Authorities are certain there are many more that remain uncounted. That’s because, Speegle said, only about a tenth of dead whales that are recovered. Savage assembled a team of local, citizen scientists. Anna Allen is a Wrangell-based technician who works for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. That brings the tally to at least a dozen this year in Alaska alone. After packing up their samples, the team doesn’t plan to come back. The carcass will remain tied to the beach where it will take months to decompose. As the tides change, land and sea animals can feed off of it. Even though the deaths are unusual and the causes unknown nature continues. “The amount of information we can get on a fresh carcass is so much better because the samples are in much better shape,” she said. Deaths along Mexico to Alaska total nearly 170 now. Five whales were reported in Alaska in just over a week, with three in Southeast, one in Bristol bay, and one near Kodiak. The team spends the afternoon cutting through blubber and tissue to get to the stomach and intestines. Allen is already looking forward to showering. At least a dozen gray whales have been reported in Alaska. Savage has performed over 20 whale necropsies. By now she knows what she’s looking for as her crew strips the layers of tissue off the carcass.