The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

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Advocates for Victims of Violence spearheaded this year's Choose Respect march. The annual event is held to draw attention to domestic violence issues in Alaska.

Feast fundraiser

The annual scholarship fundraiser for Prince William Sound College will be held this Saturday - and organizers say it will be a first - despite the fact it has held scholarship fundraisers for 25 years running.

"It's the first with a renaissance theme. Attendees are

encouraged to dress in costume," said Dawson Moore in an email last week. "and there will be prizes for Dirtiest Peasant, Best Couple or Group, Most Regal Royal, and Best Character."

A press release regarding the event said doors open at 5:00, and dinner will be served at 6:00. Tickets are $60, and are available via pwsc.alaska.edu and at the college.

"Net proceeds from the event will go to the PWSC Scholarship Fund to benefit students of PWSC," the college said.

LNG dropped

(AP) A Japanese energy company is dropping plans for a liquefied natural gas export facility at Port Mackenzie in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough north of Anchorage.

Anchorage television station KTUU reports Tokyo-based Energy Resources Inc. since 2011 has considered developing natural gas from Cook Inlet.

The company's plans included a billion-dollar LNG export facility.

The general manager of the company's Anchorage office says the project can no longer be supported because of market conditions.

Mary Ann Pease says there is a glut of projects marketing to Japan and LNG prices are a fraction of what they were.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker describes the news as ``disappointing.''

He says he remains confident in the viability of a larger-scale, state-owned Alaska LNG Project aimed at monetizing North Slope gas reserves.

Northern edge

(AP) Though military officials have been approved to detonate up to 360 bombs during military exercises in the Gulf of Alaska this year, officials say they will not be used.

Rear Adm. John Korka told Kodiak community members on Thursday that there will be no bombs during the 2017 Northern Edge exercises, just as there were no bombs dropped in 2015, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.

The current Environmental Impact Statement for the exercises approves the detonation of 360 bombs, 66 missiles, 26,376 Naval gun shells, 156 pyrotechnics, 94 targets and 1,587 sonobuoys.

The 2017 exercises won't include a submarine, so no pyrotechnics, targets and sonobuoys will be used, Korka said. In 2015, 16 non-explosive naval gun shells were expended. There will be less this year, Korka said.

"I'm not saying that this is going to be a benign training event. There are a lot of other proficiencies that we're going to gain, but if you want to sort of just compare what we're going to do, to what we did, to what we're authorized to do, I just wanted to make sure you have a good appreciation for that," he said.

The exercises should not impede normal boat traffic through the portion of the gulf where the exercises will occur, Korka said, because explosives won't be detonated.

The 2019 exercises could be larger in scale than this year, he said.

Northern Edge exercises are held every two years in the Gulf of Alaska. The 2017 exercises are scheduled to occur May 1-12.

Online privacy

(AP) Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer is urging President Donald Trump to veto a resolution that would kill an online privacy regulation, a move that could allow internet providers to sell information about their customers' browsing habits.

The New York senator and 46 other Senate Democrats have signed a letter calling on Trump to "tell us whose side he's really on."

The Federal Communications Commission rule issued in October was designed to give consumers greater control over how internet service providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon share information. But critics say the rule would have stifled innovation and picked winners and losers among internet companies.

Schumer says if Trump signs the resolution, consumers "will be stripped of critical privacy protections in a New York minute."

Economy up

(AP) The U.S. economy grew at a slightly faster rate in the fourth quarter than earlier estimates, as consumers ramped up spending that's expected fuel growth throughout 2017.

Valdez Star photo

The wintery mix of snow and rain Friday did not dampen spirits of those participating in the Choose Respect march, an event organized by Advocates for Victims of Violence, which is held to bring awareness of violence in Alaska.

The gross domestic product, the economy's total output of goods and services, expanded at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the October-December period, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The figure is an improvement from the previous estimate of 1.9 percent. The added strength stemmed from stronger consumer spending, which offset an increased drag from trade.

Many economists project growth of around 2 percent in the current January-March quarter, but they expect greater strength as the year progresses as bullish consumers keep spending.

"Consumer spending will lead growth thanks to higher incomes from more jobs and rising wages, as well as likely tax cuts," said PNC Economist Gus Faucher, who predicted GDP growth for all of 2017 at 2.3 percent.

That would be a significant improvement from anemic growth of 1.6 percent in 2016, the weakest showing in five years. Since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, the economy has averaged annual GDP growth of just 2.1 percent, the slowest recovery since the end of World War II.

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