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Ketchikan: The Southeast Board of Fisheries meeting scheduled to be held in Ketchikan at the Ted Ferry Ciivic Center starting on January 04, 2022 has been postponed due to COVID. For more information about the meeting, updates and detailed information click here. PSA by SitNews.

Board of Fisheries Meeting Update: Alaska Board of Fisheries Rescheduled Southeast and Yakutat Shellfish and Finfish Meeting, March 10-22, 2022 in Anchorage; Hatchery Committee meeting to follow, March 23, 2022. (PDF)

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Alaska

U.S. Congress 2020-2021: Bills passed one chamber

U.S. Congress 2020-2021: Bills that have passed the House & Senate and become Law

U.S. Congress 2020-2021: Bills Introduced

Alaska: Alaska Legislative Session Began with Numerous Bills to Consider Including Alaska's Budget, Education, Transportation, and Much More.... By MARY KAUFFMAN - The 2022 Alaska Legislative Session begain on January 18, 2022. Prior the 18th, numerous bills were prefiled with the first prefiled on Jan. 04 thand the second prefiling on Jan. 14, 2022. With the official 2022 session beginning, various legislative members are releasing their newsletters and news releases in order to provide more information to the public and encourage participation.

Alaska Legislative Session Began with Numerous Bills to Consider Including Alaska's Budget, Education, Transportation, and Much More...

Senate Finance Committee colleagues Sens. Donny Olson, Bill Wielechowsk, and Bert Stedman after their first committee meeting of the session.
Photo courtesy Senator Bill Wielechowski

Senator Bill Wielechowsk (D-District H-Anchorage) made the top of the list by providing detailed information about the 2022 legislative session. He also provided comments on items of consideration in his Jan. 19th newsletter.

Alaska Budget

This session Sen. Wielechowski will again serve as a member of the Senate Finance Committee. This committee is responsible for the state's annual budget and every bill that affects the finances of the state. Creating a responsible budget is vital this year and many other important pieces of legislation will be heard by this committee. 

Wielechowski explained in his newsletter that under Alaska law, the governor is responsible for proposing a budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, for the operations of the state government departments. Because the Alaska Legislature is constitutionally authorized with the appropriations power, the budget must be proposed for consideration by the legislature each year ahead of the legislative session. The governor released his fiscal year 2023 proposed budget on December 15th. 

Wielechowski stated in the newletter that despite attempting significant budget cuts in the past, the governor's proposed budget would require a withdrawal of nearly $1.7 billion from the earnings account of the Permanent Fund to spend on government. 

Wielechowski wrote, "I have long argued that to pay for state services and projects, I believe we should cut back on the massive tax breaks we give the oil industry – currently about $1.3 billion per year - and not cut the people’s PFDs. Our oil and gas reserves are finite and each year that passes without fixing our broken tax system, we miss another chance to ensure the people receive their constitutionally mandated maximum benefit from the resources we all collectively own."

Wielechowski wrote, "Under the PFD statute enacted in 1982 and adhered to for decades until 2016, last year’s PFD would have been about $3,870. Instead, Alaskans received a PFD of less than 1/3 of the statutory PFD, at $1,114. This year, the statutory formula would yield a PFD of $4,200. In his FY23 budget, the governor has called for a PFD of $2,564 for each qualified Alaskan—and it remains to be seen what the people will receive when the legislature and governor have completed this session’s budget cycle." 

"At face value the governor’s proposed budget appears to balance out. However, his plan also replaces state funding with $375 million in federal Covid-19 relief aid. This federal money is a limited funding source that will not be available for use by the state in future years. This means that, in reality—despite using the Permanent Fund earnings and reductions to the statutory PFD—there will be a budget shortfall of at least $375 million in future years," wrote Sen. Wielechowski .

"This is a time when Alaskans should be receiving their maximum PFD. The pandemic over nearly the last two years has hit Alaska’s most vulnerable families in the worst possible way. From missed work due to mandatory business shutdowns, for COVID infections, or simply due to repeated close contact exposure, and taking care of impacted loved ones, or having to pivot to remote learning for their children, and with supply chain problems causing skyrocketing prices of basic needs like groceries and household goods, as well as market conditions and harsh winter weather causing significant increased costs to energy bills for heating and electricity—the pandemic period has tested Alaskans’ physical and emotional health as well as their pocketbooks. At this unprecedented time especially, I would not recommend cuts to Alaskans’ PFDs this year," wrote Wielechowski . 

Wielechowski wrote in his newsletter, "Governor Dunleavy's proposed funding of $199 million for oil tax cash credits far exceeds the statutorily recommended amount, and should receive close scrutiny. The 2006 statute enabling payment of the cash credits to the oil companies is completely discretionary—meaning they legally need NOT be paid at all."

Senator Bill Wielechowsk (D-District H-Anchorage) provided detailed information about the 2022 legislative session and his comments in his most recent newsletter on Jan. 19th. One that retirees may find of interest is SJR 12 sponsored by Senators Wielechowsk, Kiehl, Kawasaki, and Gray-Jackson.

Repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) of the Social Security Act.

SJR 12 is summary is urging the United States Congress’s Repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) of the Social Security Act. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) cuts the Social Security benefits of public employees in Alaska if they switch between work in the public sector and private sector or the military. In 2021, this loss could have been as much as $498 per month, or about $6,000 a year. This simply means that a person's earned social security benefits is reduced because of the amount of their penions earned as a public employee.

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) also cuts spousal or widows’ benefits for public employees for no reason other than their work time in the public sector. This cut could amount to as much as 2/3rds the value of the individual’s government pension. (Read the full text of SJR 12, click here.)

K-12 education funding

Rep. Andi Story  (D-Juneau) stated in a news release, that six years of loss, due to flat education funding and inflation, would be reversed under a series of bill introduced on the House Floor by him on Jan. 18th. Thise bills would increase the per-pupil amount school districts receive from the state. The Base Student Allocation (BSA) for grades K-12 has not been increased since FY2017. In that period, Story wrote that Alaska has experienced a rise in inflation of 11.6%.

"When school districts lose ground financially, it hurts kids through growing class sizes and fewer critical services, such as counselors and nurses. We have a collective responsibility to families and to Alaska's economy to ensure strong schools," said Rep. Story. "The best way to attract new residents, build a skilled workforce, and maintain a strong economy, is to assure Alaskans a quality education, pre-school through post-secondary."  

HB 272 would increase the BSA in FY23 and again in FY24. This allows for districts to address their operational costs and plan with some certainty to meet student needs. Currently, many districts’ budgets are due to their municipalities before they know their revenue. This would also eliminate the need to “pink slip” valuable staff. 

HB 273 would add inflation proofing to the BSA formula beginning in FY25 for all years going forward. This would be based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Alaska, ensuring that education’s growth is directly tied to Alaska’s growth.

Both bills were read across the floor on the first day of session, January 18th, and were referred to the House Education and Finance committees.

Public Safety Legislation

Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) had companion bills for the six-part public safety policy change package submitted last year by Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) read across the floor on Jan. 18th. House Bills 253-256 are intended to build community trust with law enforcement by increasing transparency and accountability of Alaska’s law enforcement agencies and modernize police procedures to require de-escalation when using force against an individual. House Bills 269 and 270 would limit specific uses of reckless and excessive force. The suite of bills was also co-sponsored by Representative Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage).

Tarr's news release stated these police reform bills include reforms being considered across the nation that have been enacted in the wake of the 2020 killing of George Floyd, pulling from movements such as “8 Can’t Wait.” HB 254 includes some of these policies, such as adding de-escalation and non-lethal methods of engagement before using lethal force, as well as adding an oral warning before discharging a firearm. 

HB 253255 and 256 are intended to increase transparency by requiring the reporting of police misconduct and use of force and requiring use-of-force policies to be posted publicly online.

 HB 269 would ban the use of carotid restraints and HB 270 would limit police officers from shooting at moving vehicles. Together, this suite of bills attempts to decrease unnecessary use of force by our law enforcement officials, as well as reducing the opaque nature of the police accountability process. 

“We have hardworking and dedicated public safety professionals across our state doing some of the hardest work in public service. I commend and thank them. At the same time, we have challenges with trust, transparency, and accountability that, if addressed and improved, will improve public safety in our communities and make policing safer for our officers,” said Representative Tarr. “We don’t minimize the risks that our law enforcement officers take in order to keep the peace. However, we believe use of lethal force should be considered as the last option after a de-escalation process, especially when dealing with unarmed individuals. Beyond these measures, we have additional work to do to address community public safety with social services and I am committed to this work too.” - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2023


Fish Factor: Where do most Alaska fishermen live? Which Alaska region is home to the most fishing boats? By LAINE WELCH - The answers can be found in an easy to read, colorful economic report by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute for 2019/2020 that includes all regions from Ketchikan to Kotzebue.

Many will be surprised to learn that nearly 40% (7,841) of Alaska’s more than 31,000 fishermen live in the Southcentral towns of Anchorage, Kenai, Cordova, Seward, Homer, Valdez and Whittier. They earn more than half of their paychecks from fisheries outside of the region, with the Bristol Bay driftnet fishery being the main source of income. 

Southeast’s 5,316 resident fishermen in nine communities own nearly one-third (2,655) of Alaska’s fishing fleet, more than any other region.

Overall, the industry includes 8,900 fishing vessels with 5,417 (61%) measuring in the 23-49 foot range. Each is a small (or big) business and if all the vessels were lined up bow to stern, they would stretch nearly 63 miles! The fishing boats harvested nearly 5.7 billion pounds of seafood in 2019, worth $2 billion.  

Other snapshots: Alaska’s seafood industry is the largest private sector employer and more than 62,200 workers were on the job in 2019. 63% of the active permit owners and crew (19,808) were Alaska residents. 

Alaska’s processing sector employed 27,100 workers at 160 shore based plants, aboard 52 catcher-processor vessels and about 30 floating processors. Seafood processing is the state’s largest manufacturing sector, accounting for 70% of manufacturing employment.

Alaska produces more seafood than all other U.S. states combined and provides two-thirds of the nation’s wild-caught fish and shellfish. 

Alaska seafood is sold in 100 countries around the world and is the state’s top export by far, topping $3 billion annually.

Alaska provides 43% of the global supply of pollock, 13% of cod, 6% of crab. Alaska salmon provides 11% to the world with farmed salmon production swamping wild fish at nearly 3:1. 

Bristol Bay (428 resident-owned boats/1,764 resident fishermen) accounts for over half of   global sockeye salmon supply and is home to the largest red run in the world.

In 2019, Alaska salmon accounted for 36% of the industry’s annual value and 15% of the volume. Pollock accounted for 24% of the value and 59% of volume.

The Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands region produced 55% of total seafood value and 79% of the volume.  High volume whitefish (pollock, cod), mostly harvested at that region and Kodiak, account for roughly 80% of harvest volume and nearly half of Alaska’s dockside value. 

Commercial fishing and processing businesses paid more than $163 million in taxes, fees, and self-assessments in FY 2019.

Covid-driven impacts in 2020 caused widespread revenue declines across all species with participation by fishermen dropping 12% for permit holders and 28% for crew (down by 1,058 skippers and 6,555 crew members) and payments to fishermen dropped 27%. Peak processing employment declined 21%.

The ASMI report, compiled by McKinley Research, is a great primer for anyone who wants to know more about Alaska’s fishing industry in every region. Find the report online.

More BOF juggles:

The state Board of Fisheries (BOF) meetings are not only dealing with Covid derailments, but also by conflicts from fishery openers. Increasing Covid rates caused the board to postpone its meeting set for January 4-15 in Ketchikan, where it planned to address 157 Southeast and Yakutat fish and shellfish proposals, and move it to March 10-22 at the Egan Center in Anchorage.

Those dates occur at the same time that halibut, sablefish and herring fisheries will be underway, and the busy Southeast troll fishery for winter king salmon is wrapping up. - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022


 

Southeast Alaska: USDA Invests $500,000 to Help Increase Mariculture Processing Capacity in Southeast Alaska Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small recently announced a $500,000 investment to help a regional economic development organization, the Southeast Conference,  create a blueprint for a mariculture (seaweed and other sea products) processing facility on Prince of Wales Island. This investment supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to support economic, cultural, and natural resources sustainability in the Southeast Alaska region.

“Southeast Alaska’s vast resources and hardworking people create opportunity for economic growth and diversification,” Torres Small said. “USDA is investing in this effort by engaging with local Tribes, governments and community leaders to encourage economic growth that reflects the region’s rich diversity, cultural heritage and natural resources. Mariculture is a critical and growing income and job creator in Southeast Alaska. Farmers in the region have requested dedicated infrastructure to scale up their operations to meet market demands. This investment is the first step in standing up a shared processing space that will save on costs and create new market opportunities.”

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) last week welcomed the announcement of the $500,000 award to Southeast Conference to design a mariculture processing facility to be located on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska - home to one of the largest kelp farms in the United States.

Senator Murkowski said, “Creating sustainable economies in rural and remote communities can be challenging, but this investment, in recognition of the promise that Alaska’s unique and growing mariculture industry holds, is important progress. This new facility will create jobs and support a growing industry in our state. While finfish and shellfish are two pillars of the seafood economy in Alaska, the commercial use of kelp and other seaweeds for food and other purposes is on the rise in many of our coastal communities. I commend USDA for giving Southeast Conference the opportunity to use their local knowledge to create a blueprint for a culturally and geographically appropriate facility.”

Murkowski said, “I’ve long said that those who work in the seafood and mariculture industries are truly the farmers of the sea and have been a strong advocate for Alaska’s Blue Economy with the administration. We appreciate this investment and look forward to seeing its positive impact on this rapidly growing industry.” - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022

Alaska: USDA approves Alaska’s industrial hemp production program - The Alaska Division of Agriculture has received U.S. Department of Agriculture approval of the state’s Industrial Hemp Plan (IHP). This approval, which was effective January 1, 2022, means Alaska’s IHP will remain compliant with federal law as required by the 2018 Farm Bill.

The Division of Agriculture established regulations for the industrial hemp pilot program that went into effect in April 2019. The Division will now update the industrial hemp (IH) regulations for alignment as a permanent program. While the production of IH is under the jurisdiction of the USDA or an approved State Plan, Alaska also regulates the manufacturing and sale of industrial hemp products.    

“Almost every legislator and the governor have supported the establishment of the hemp industry in Alaska,” Division of Agriculture Director Dave Schade said, specifically citing the support of Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer for her role in sponsoring the two bills that paved the way for marketing industrial hemp in Alaska. “The goal is diversification of Alaska’s economy with the addition of a new crop for our farmers. Industrial hemp is one crop where Alaska is not years behind the Lower 48 in development.” - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022


Harday Legal Team Asks Court to Take Action Against Nome for Withholding Critical Records

Clarice “Bun” Hardy
Photo courtesy of Victoria Mckenzie

Alaska: Harday Legal Team Asks Court to Take Action Against Nome for Withholding Critical Records; City of Nome continues to treat Clarice ‘Bun’ Hardy with callous disregard. - The City of Nome continues to delay justice for Clarice “Bun” Hardy, the 911 dispatcher who was raped and then ignored by law enforcement when attempting to file a report. In the city’s latest failure, it disregarded a 2021 court order that demanded it produce records pertinent to resolving Hardy’s case and deliberately withheld information. As such, Hardy’s legal team asked the court to step in again.

Last summer, the court ordered the City of Nome to produce records that would shed light on the state of the Nome Police Department. Nome mostly defied the order, forcing Hardy’s legal team to file a motion requesting the court hold the city in contempt and enforce sanctions. The court’s intervention was also needed to force the city to produce some records that should have been produced a year earlier in the discovery process. 

The improperly withheld documents included records showing that the NPD was poorly run, with specific individuals — including defendants John Papasodora, former police chief, and Lt. Nicholas Harvey — ignoring their responsibilities to investigate cases and supervise police work. 

Hardy’s legal team also requested specific records referenced in a five-part investigative series published by KNOM early last year. In the report, the public radio station shared details obtained through its own public records request, including a 2019 email from the police chief to city manager indicating the department identified 51 sexual assault cases in which every victim was an Alaska Native woman and in those cases, there was “zero to poor follow-up at best.”

When Hardy’s legal team requested these same documents from city officials, Nome said there were no records. But in a follow up to her previous public records request, the KNOM reporter who originally wrote the story was able to obtain the same documents within an hour of making the request. - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022


 
Alaska: AMHS Hubbard & Tustumena Improvements Awarded to Alaska Shipyards; Alaska shipyards keep money in state, supporting Alaska jobs & economy - The M/V Hubbard and M/V Tustumena will get much needed capital improvements in 2022 with the awards going to two Alaska shipyards.

The M/V Hubbard, one of the two Alaska Class Ferries, will have crew quarters constructed to enable AMHS to take the ship for longer voyages, reaching more ports and thereby increasing system wide flexibility and the needed redundancy for increased reliability. The work was awarded to Vigor at the Ketchikan shipyard on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022.

The $15 million project will modify the ferry to construct eight single person staterooms on the Bridge Deck, and eight two-person staterooms on the Upper Deck. Additional work includes the installation of a galley, scullery, and mess spaces on the Upper Deck; a new fan room on the bridge deck; and extension of the existing port stair tower to the bridge deck to serve the new accommodations.

“We need our ships to be flexible and able to provide the redundancy necessary for system-wide reliability.  Our fleet is aging and we need ships that can be Swiss Army knives with the capability to serve as many of our coastal communities as possible,” said DOT&PF Deputy Commissioner Rob Carpenter. “These projects, along with the Tustumena Replacement Vessel, are part of our fleet modernization efforts. By reinvesting in our marine highway, we’re ensuring the economic viability of our coastal communities; connecting them to each other and the rest of Alaska’s transportation network.”

The $9.4 million Tustumena Capital Improvement project was awarded to JAG at the Seward shipyard on Dec. 28. This work will contribute toward extending the ship’s service life until the Tustumena Replacement Vessel (TRV) can be put into service in approximately five to six years. Upgrades include refurbishing the main vehicle elevator, new exterior hull coatings - steel piping replacements, including black and gray water drains, bilge and ballast systems; ballast piping and valves; LED lighting upgrades and promenade deck upgrades. - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2020

Alaska: Alaska Legislature asks Canadian and United States Governments to drop vaccination requirement for truckers - In a letter  to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a bipartisan group of the Alaska State Legislature is calling on the Canadian  government to waive the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for United States truck drivers crossing the Canadian border.

Since Jan. 15, 2022, U.S. truck drivers who choose to be unvaccinated are being denied entry into Canada. Previously, Canada allowed unvaccinated essential workers to cross the border into Canada from the U.S. as not to interrupt the supply  chain. The U.S. planned to implement a similar vaccination mandate for Canadian freight drivers Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Both countries face exacerbated shortages of food and other essential supplies due to vaccine mandates and driver shortages. 

“The vaccination mandate imposed on truck drivers will have devastating consequences for Alaskans,” said Rep. Ken McCarty (R-Eagle Rive), who spearheaded the letter to Prime Minister Trudeau. “In most stores, Alaskans walk by bare shelves that used to hold food, auto parts and building materials. The strained supply chain drives up prices and adversely affects the livelihoods of Alaskans which depends on the flow of goods supplied by truckers crossing the Canadian border.” - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022

Alaska: Governor Recognizes Importance of School Choice by Proclaiming Jan. 23-Jan. 29 “Alaska School Choice Week”- Gov. Mike Dunleavy has issued a proclamation declaring Jan. 23-Jan. 29 “Alaska School Choice Week.” In doing so, he joins a growing number of state, city and county leaders nationwide who have formally recognized the importance of every child having access to effective education options. 

Gov. Dunleavy’s proclamation marks the sixth time in the last decade that “Alaska School Choice Week” has been named. His proclamation coincides with the twelfth annual National School Choice Week, a yearly celebration that invites all schools and families in the nation to participate in raising awareness about options and opportunity in K-12 education. 

Alaska parents, schools, and community organizations will mark the Week with 54 events and activities, including a school choice rally in Anchorage, making up some of the 26,000 events independently planned for the Week nationwide. All of the Week’s events aim to foster conversations about what options parents have, and how to find the best fit for each student’s learning style. 

“We are excited to see Alaskans’ enthusiasm for school choice and we’re grateful to Gov. Dunleavy for recognizing the Week,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “We invite all Alaskans to celebrate great schools, share student success stories, and brainstorm ideas for expanding learning opportunities.”  - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022

Alaska: SAT Slip Up: Alaska adults ranked 36th in America in national test. - If you felt as if you were losing your mind during the pandemic, you’re not alone. What with being constantly bombarded by bad news, unable to go to work and having stimulating conversation with your colleagues, or, if you’re a parent, only having had toddlers or little kids to talk to all day, it might well have felt like your brain was deteriorating. And in fact, because people’s minds were so dormant over the whole period, it has given rise to a condition known as ‘pandemic brain’.

But has yours started to recover? Jigsaw puzzle website, im-a-puzzle.com, decided to test people’s current brain sharpness by quizzing 5,000 adults with typical SAT questions. The test consisted of two sections: one focused on Math and one focused on EBRW (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing). 

It revealed that adults in Alaska came in 36th place. Adults in the Last Frontier scored a 55% mark overall, below the national average of 58%. Surprisingly, most adults in Alaska struggled with math, with just 48% passing (lower than the national average of 55%), but it was in EBRW (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing) where their overall average was boosted, scoring 63% (compared to the national average of 61%). - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022


Novarupta: The Greatest Volcano Eruption of the 20th Century

Novarupta: The Greatest Volcano Eruption of the 20th Century
By BJORN DIHLE
The Valley of 10,000 Smokes buried in ash a century after the Novarupta eruption.  
Photo courtesy Chris Miller©


 

Alaska: Novarupta: The Greatest Volcano Eruption of the 20th Century By BJORN DIHLE - At the beginning of June of 1912, Mount Katmai, a 7000-foot volcano 40-some miles from Bristol Bay, was showing signs of coming to life. On June 6th, a new volcano would come into existence — and the Aleutian Arc’s largest eruption in documented history would be underway.

The Aleutian Arc is part of the Ring of Fire, which stretches 1,900 miles from the Gulf of Alaska, west along the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands, to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. The range consists of more than 80 named volcanoes; around half of those have been active during the last 250 years. The June 6th, 1912 eruption of the new volcano, dubbed “Novarupta,” was also the biggest eruption in the 20th century.

Volcanoes are an inextricable part of Bristol Bay. While there is no question a volcanic eruption changes the surrounding landscape, in Bristol Bay it may also spur biodiversity and contribute to the overall productivity of the region’s incredible fishery. Some biologists have theorized that volcanic ash could, at least in certain circumstances, help trigger plankton blooms that feed sockeye salmon.

The Yup’ik, Dena’ina and Altutiiq peoples, who have lived in Bristol Bay and the Alaska Peninsula since time immemorial, are no strangers to volcanos and earthquakes. Their oral narratives contain protocols of what to do in the event of an eruption. That ancestral wisdom saved many lives when Novarupta blew.

Mt. Katmai loomed above four Native villages: Katmai, Douglas (Kaguyak), Kukak and Savonoski. Due to the draw of commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay, Chignik and Kodiak, at the time of the eruption there were fewer residents than in decades past. Katmai and Douglas (Kaguyak), where the Russian American Company had established trading posts in the 19th century and then abandoned around a decade before the eruption, were listed in the 1910 U.S. census as having a population of 62 and 45, respectively. People in those villages lived a subsistence lifestyle and also frequently worked in fisheries and trapped for a cash income.

By June 2, 1912 villagers were experiencing more frequent and stronger earthquakes than normal. Most grabbed what they could and made their exodus. Many went to Bristol Bay. On June 6, all hell broke loose. Instead of blasting out of the top of Mt. Katmai, magma melted an underground passage six miles west before rupturing out of the slopes of Trident Volcano. That newly formed volcano, which would be named Novarupta by botanist and explorer Robert F. Griggs a few years later, erupted for 60 hours, releasing 3.5 cubic miles of ash — so much that scientists in Algeria saw it. Supposedly, Novarupta’s eruptions were so loud that people in Juneau, 750 miles away, could hear them.

A few years after the eruption, Griggs interviewed Peter Kayagvak, a Sugpiaq man who had been living in Savonoski. Kayagvak’s family and another were some of the last people to evacuate the area. Kayagvak told Griggs, “The Katmai Mountain blew up with lots of fire, and fire came down the trail with lots of smoke. We go fast Savonoski. Everybody get in bidarka (skin boat). Helluva job. We come Naknek one day, dark, no could see. Hot ash fall. Work like hell.” - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022



Columns - Commentary

 

 
jpg DAVE KIFFER

DAVE KIFFER: 'No more ice' will suffice! - Yes, that title is a play on a Robert Frost poem.

No, it is not a sign that this column will be a literary masterpiece. Or even a meteorological one.

But it appears that we have survived the "Great Freezer Burn of Christmas 2021."

I have to say appears because, as I write this, there is still some snow on the ground, the roads are still a little slippery and more than a few parking lots remain as impassable as Antarctica.

But the relentless sub-freezing temps have gone and the rain is gradually washing away the three plus feet of snow that has been lingering for more than a month.

In short, we have survived our taste of what winter is normally like in the rest of Alaska.

I don't say that with tongue in cheek. Every time someone posted something about the local weather in the past month, someone else snarkily replied "well, you live in Alaska, right?" - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022

jpg CARL GOLDEN

CARL GOLDEN: COULD HILLARY CLINTON REALLY RUN FOR PRESIDENT AGAIN? - While President Biden’s downward spiral in public approval continues, nervous Democrats have sought to reassure one another to remain calm, insisting there remains ample time for the administration to right the ship and bring the American people on board.

Signs of desperation have crept onto the horizon, and none more politically fraught than rumors that Bill and Hillary Clinton will re-emerge to rescue the party – he as strategist and she as candidate for president in 2024.

That Democrats would turn for salvation to the most self-absorbed individuals in recent American history is compelling evidence that faith in a Biden administration rebound is fast disappearing, likely costing Congressional majorities this year and the White House in three years.

Twenty-eight House Democrats have already announced retirements, preferring to leave voluntarily rather than be swept out by an incoming red tide in November.

In the span of one year, Biden has plunged in public approval – as low as 32 percent in one survey – while struggling on every front. - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022

MONEY MATTERS: WHO ARE THE BETTER INVESTORS, MEN OR WOMEN? By MARY LYNNE DAHL , Certified Financial Planner ™ Retired - As a long-time Certified Financial Planner® (recently retired), I have worked with a lot of clients, both male and female, which has given me the opportunity to observe in great detail a very private subject that often provokes lively discussions, to put it mildly. That subject is money, spending it and investing it in particular. If you are in a relationship as a couple, it should be discussed. If you are a single person, you can consider the information to the extent that it may impact how you invest, with the potential to help you to get better outcomes with your portfolio.

Discussions about money get lively because money is a private topic to most people and talking about it can trigger a lot of emotion. This is no surprise to most people. So, if you ask the question “Who are better investors, men or women?” you will probably get a very definite opinion, regardless of the opinion given. The place to get the answer is by looking at the research done by those firms whose business it is to know. After all, investment firms and data collection firms need to know how to get investor customers in order to sell their products and services to those customers, both male and female, so they have done a lot of studies on the subject.

These studies have solid evidence from a ton of research, and the results are in. According to all of the research done over the last 25 years, women are better investors than men overall. Male or female, you may say “What?” or “Really?” Regardless of your reaction, read on to find out what evidence there is to reach this conclusion, over and over again, and what it means for you as an investor. - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022

jpg BEN EDWARDS

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Watch Out for Tax Scammers Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - Sadly, identity theft happens throughout the year – but some identity thieves are particularly active during tax-filing season. How can you protect yourself?

One of the most important moves you can make is to be suspicious of requests by people or entities claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. You may receive phone calls, texts and emails, but these types of communication are often just “phishing” scams with one goal in mind: to capture your personal information. These phishers can be quite clever, sending emails that appear to contain the IRS logo or making calls that may even seem to be coming from the IRS. Don’t open any links or attachments to the emails and don’t answer the calls – and don’t be alarmed if the caller leaves a vaguely threatening voicemail, either asking for personal information, such as your Social Security number, or informing you of some debts you supposedly owe to the IRS that must be taken care of “immediately.”

In reality, the IRS will not initiate contact with you by phone, email, text message or social media to request personal or financial information, or to inquire about issues pertaining to your tax returns. Instead, the agency will first send you a letter. And if you’re unsure of the legitimacy of such a letter, contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040. - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022


POLITICAL CARTOONS

jpg Political Cartoon: Minor incursion

Political Cartoon: Minor incursion
by John Darkow,©2022 Columbia Missourian
Distributed to subscribers by CagleCartoons.com

jpg Political Cartoon: Not Buying I

Political Cartoon: Not Buying It
by Rick McKee©2022, Counterpoint
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jpg  Political Cartoon: Free COVID home tests

 Political Cartoon: Free COVID home tests
by Dave Granlund©2022, PoliticalCartoons.com
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Political Cartoon: Hillary Ready to Take Joe's Place
by Dick Wright©2022, PoliticalCartoons.com
Distributed to subscribers by CagleCartoons.com

jpg Political Cartoon: One of the Last of the Tuskegee Airmen

Political Cartoon: One of the Last of the Tuskegee Airmen
by Jeff Koterba©2022, CagleCartoons.com
Distributed to subscribers by CagleCartoons.com


      

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Inflation inequality: Poorest Americans are hit hardest by soaring prices on necessities By JACOB ORCHARD - The fastest rate of inflation in 40 years is hurting families across the U.S. who are seeing ever-higher prices for everything from meat and potatoes to housing and gasoline.

But behind the headline number that’s been widely reported is something that often gets overlooked: Inflation affects different households in different ways – and sometimes hurts those with the least, the most.

Inflation, as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is designed to track the price increases in a typical U.S. household’s basket of goods. The problem is spending bundles differ across households. For example, a family in the lowest 20% of income typically spends around 15% of their budget on groceries – this is nearly 60% more than households in the top 20% of the income distribution, according to my calculations.

The widening inflation gap

On Jan. 12, 2022, the BLS released figures showing that inflation jumped by 7% in December from a year earlier – the fastest pace since 1982. To see how this varied across households, I used the bureau’s own price data and factored in the typical spending habits of different income groups.

I calculate that inflation is running at 7.2% for the lowest income households – higher than for any other group. For the highest income families, the rate of change was 6.6%.

The difference between the two income groups steadily increased throughout 2021, starting the year at just 0.16 percentage point but ending at 0.6 percentage point – near the highest it has been since 2010. - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022
jpg Opinion

The sunsetting of the child tax credit expansion could leave many families without enough food on the table By PAUL SHAFER AND KATHERINE GUTIERREZ - The discontinuation of the Biden administration’s monthly payments of the child tax credit could leave millions of American families without enough food on the table, according to our new study in JAMA Network Open. The first missed payment on Jan. 15, 2022, left families that had come to rely on them wondering how they would make ends meet, according to many news reports.

The American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed in March 2021, made significant changes to the existing child tax credit. It increased the size of the credit by 50% or more, depending on a child’s age, to either $3,000 or $3,600 per year. It also made more low-income families eligible and paid half of this money out as a monthly “advance” payment.

Biden’s Build Back Better plan calls for a second year of an expanded child tax credit disbursed monthly. But that package of measures stalled in the Senate after passing the House in November 2021. As a result, the monthly advance payments of the child tax credit that American families with children had been receiving since July 2021 were left hanging in the balance.

Nearly 60 million families with children received the first payment, which was sent out in July 2021. The payments were widely credited with bringing about huge declines in poverty and malnutrition. Our study found that the introduction of these advance payments was associated with a 26% drop in the share of American households with children without enough food.

We used nationally representative data from over 585,000 responses to the Census Household Pulse Survey from January through August 2021 to assess how the introduction of the child tax credit advance payments affected food insufficiency in the weeks following the first payment on July 15, 2021. Food insufficiency is a measure of whether a household has enough food to eat. It is a much narrower measure than food insecurity, which is a more comprehensive measure based on 18 questions used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. - More...
Sunday AM - January 23, 2022

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