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Life Informed.

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    Alaska is still in recession- and the state's economic engine is significantly smaller than it was three years ago. But job losses have slowed.  So is there an end in sight for the first state recession in three decades? And what will it take to stage a real recovery?

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    As Girdwood's Nicolas Petit, Norwegian Joar Leifseth Ulsom and defending champ Mitch Seavey lead a chase pack to Unalakleet and the Bering Sea coast, we talk to Alaska Public Media's Zachariah Hughes about how the 2018 Iditarod shaped up like this and how that chase pack got so bunched up. Also on today's Iditapod, we have a report from KCAW's Katherine Rose about a way for Iditarod fans around the world to get connected to the race: fantasy mushing.

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    It's Monday and the frontrunners in the 2018 Iditarod are on the Bering Sea coast, venturing out on a trail over sea ice from Shaktoolik to Koyuk. Alaska Public Media's Zachariah Hughes caught up with the top three -- Nicolas Petit, Mitch Seavey, Joar Leifseth Ulsom -- in Unalakleet on Sunday, as well as the legendary musher DeeDee Jonrowe, who scratched earlier in what she says was her last Iditarod after 36 total starts. We also hear from a Norwegian mushing reporter on four-time Iditarod champ Dallas Seavey's foray into the Finnmarksløpet, Europe's longest sled dog race.

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    The three mushers leading this year’s Iditarod pack passed through Unalakleet yesterday afternoon. The racers arrived in very differing shape, offering signs of what could be ahead in the last stretch toward Nome.

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    The search continues for two missing climbers who did not return from their ascent of the Mendenhall Towers last week. Winter weather has made it difficult for rescuers to search for Ryan Johnson of Juneau and Marc-Andre Leclerc of British Columbia on the Mendenhall Ice Field. Listen now

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    The Alaska Mental Health Trust is considering handing over control of nearly 2,000 acres of Cook Inlet land to Donlin Gold. Listen now

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    As the mumps outbreak in Alaska continues, the state is allowing more Alaskans to receive a state-supplied third dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to augment the protection of the two doses that most Americans receive as children.

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    Andrew Kurka's first place finish in the men's downhill race on Friday was the first medal ever for an Alaskan athlete at the Winter Paralympic Games. Listen now

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    There's been a shakeup along the Iditarod trail. Bad weather along the coast earlier today hampered the race's front runners. Listen now

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    House passes fast-track bill to fund Medicaid, ferries; Tariffs already boosting Alaska aluminum prices; To disrupt land in Upper Kuskokwim, Donlin Gold may preserve land by Cook Inlet; Weather hampers ongoing search for missing Mendenhall climbers; Petit lead disappears as Ulsom overtakes on coast; Alaskan skier wins gold, silver medals at Paralympic Games; Governor Walker asks feds to declare Pacific cod disaster; Ferry reform effort gets a legislative boost; Cama-i 2018 honors its roots; Ask a Climatologist: A winter of warm temps and decent snow Listen now

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    The bill now goes to the Senate. It includes $45 million for Medicaid, $24 million for the ferry system and $18 million for the Department of Corrections. Listen now

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    Currently, the top of the Iditarod leader-board is filled out with younger mushers, most of them in their 20s and 30s — the race’s up-and-comers. Many esteemed members of mushing’s old guard are content to watch a new generation inherit the mantel.

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    There was a major shakeup at the front of the 2018 Iditarod on Monday, when Joar Leifseth Ulsom slipped past previous leader Nicolas Petit while Petit lost the trail on the Bering Sea coast between Shaktoolik and Koyuk. The table is now set for Ulsom, first to White Mountain and only 77 miles from the finish in Nome, to win his first Iditarod championship and the first for a Norwegian -- or anybody else not originally from the U.S. -- since 2005. But, as we hear in this episode, a lead and a long rest at White Mountain hasn't always translated to a win. Meantime, many of mushing's old guard are happy to pass the mantle to the next generation of elite mushers (not including defending champ Mitch Seavey, still mushing near the front in third place).

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    The state-led LNG export project still needs customers and financing to build $45 billion mega-project. Listen now

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    The general manager of Bay Weld Boats in Homer says he’s seen in some cases 50 to 60 percent increases the purchasing prices of aluminum as aluminum users stocked up ahead of the tariff announcement. Listen now

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    Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott signed a letter last week asking the federal government to declare the 2018 Pacific cod fishery in the Gulf of Alaska a disaster. Listen now

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    The effort to reform the Alaska Marine Highway System took a step forward Thursday. The House Transportation Committee voted to instruct staff to draft legislation that would establish a public corporation to take over the system. But it’s a long way from a done deal. Listen now

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    Coinciding with the Iditarod sled dog race, Unalakleet issued an emergency ordinance to address loose dogs running free around the community. Many residents complained about a problem, and not everyone is happy with the solution.

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    Iditarod musher Joar Ulsom was the first to arrive at the checkpoint in White Mountain this morning, potentially setting him up to be the first into Nome sometime overnight. Listen now

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    As the mushers race to Nome, their progress is tracked in the halls of the U.S. Senate. One hallway, to be specific. Here's the scene from just outside Sen. Lisa Murkowski's door in the Hart Office Building. Listen now

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