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Ketchikan: Ketchikan school superintendent on leave after husband’s tragic death Posted By Eric Stone, KRBD - Ketchikan’s superintendent of schools is on temporary leave following a personal tragedy. Her husband — a school superintendent in western Alaska — recently passed away following complications from COVID-19.- More...
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Alaska

U.S. Congress 2019-2020: Bills that have passed the House & Senate and become Law

U.S. Congress 2019-2020: Bills Introduced (Over 5,000 in the House and over 3,000 in the Senate)

Southeast Alaska: Roadless Area Conservation Act Reintroduced on the 20th Anniversary of the publishing of the 2001 Roadless Rule Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Roadless Area Conservation Rule was adopted by the U.S. Forest Service on January 12, 2001 to conserve wildlands, watersheds and wildlife habitat within national forest lands by preventing development within areas that had not been touched by road building and logging.  Now on the twentieth anniversary of the Roadless Rule, Democrats in Congress have begun efforts to permanently reinstate the Roadless Rule including Alaska's Tongass National Forest.

Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, reintroduced the Roadless Area Conservation Act on January 12, 2021. Also leading the effort is Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO). The bill would permanently protect millions of acres of America’s national forests by making the Roadless Rule the law of the land and remove the Roadless Rule exemption for the Tongass National Forest.

In October 2020, the Trump administration announced the opening up over half of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska to logging and road construction, according to a final rule the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The announcement of the final federal action exempting Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest from a national “roadless rule” represented the hard-won liberation from inflexible federal mandates and a victory for the people of the state, said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy following the October announcement.

“Alaskans in Southeast have seen their opportunity to harvest timber, advance vital renewable energy and mineral projects, build basic infrastructure and connect communities stifled for too long as a result of the 2001 Roadless Rule,” said U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) in October.

Sullivan said, “These opportunities are finally back on the table with the finalization today of a full exemption for the Tongass from this overly-burdensome and out-of-touch regulation. I will always fight to take control from bureaucratic D.C. agencies and put it into the hands of Alaskans who rely on our lands to make a living and understand intimately the important balance of conservation and local economies. I commend Secretary Perdue and the administration for working closely with Alaskans throughout this process and bringing us to this historic day.”

“This is a great day for the State of Alaska, our economy, and Alaskans' right to govern themselves,” said Congressman Young (R-AK) following the announcement. “For years, I have said that the one-size-fits-all Roadless Rule was a disaster for Alaska."

Quoting a news release this week from Congressman Ruben Gallego, for 20 years, the Roadless Rule has shielded the most pristine, treasured areas within the National Forest System from roadbuilding and logging. Under the Trump Administration, the rule has been weakened and stripped from its application to Tongass National Forest, putting millions of acres of old-growth forest at risk of logging and endangering southeast Alaska’s economy. By codifying the Roadless Rule into law, including in the Tongass, the Roadless Area Conservation Act will uphold recreational access to public lands, preserve the habitats of 1,600 at-risk species, reduce the risk of wildfires, aid in the fight against climate change by preserving vast carbon sinks, and protect safe drinking water for people across the United States.

“I am proud to continue the fight to preserve the Roadless Rule in this new Congress,” said Rep Gallego. “In addition to protecting our unique and beautiful wilderness and upholding our federal trust responsibility to Indigenous communities, the reintroduction and widespread support of the Roadless Area Conservation Act sends a united message to the incoming administration that codifying the Roadless Rule and protecting undeveloped, pristine forests are vital and achievable steps we must take.”

“The looming climate crisis has only increased the need to protect America’s last remaining wild forestlands, which reduce wildland fire risk and store huge amounts of carbon,” said Senator Cantwell. “Roadless areas provide Americans with unmatched outdoor recreation opportunities, clean drinking water for our communities, and habitat for numerous endangered species. As we mark the twentieth anniversary of this landmark proposal, we need to redouble our efforts to permanently preserve the benefits these public lands provide our nation and future generations.”

“The Roadless Rule is one of our nation’s most broadly supported environmental policies,” said DeGette. “It protects tens of millions of acres of untouched forest land for people to enjoy. With a new administration and a new Congress, we’re going to continue our fight to codify this rule into law - and protect our public lands for generations to come." - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021

Alaska: Alaska’s COVID-19 Public Health Disaster Response Extended - Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy yesterday issued a Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration effective 12:00 am, January 15, 2021, until 12:00 am February 14, 2021, due to the continuation of the COVID-19 virus in the State of Alaska.

The Disaster Declaration enables the state’s ongoing response to the increased outbreak of COVID-19 and is necessary to manage the efficient and orderly administration of vaccines to Alaskans and address a new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus identified in January 2021. 

“While we are making major headway in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to Alaskans, administering vaccinations more quickly than most other states, the threat of this virus remains and it is imperative the state’s response is maintained through this disaster declaration,” said Governor Dunleavy.

To date, Alaska has had over 49,000 confirmed cases, 227 deaths from COVID-19, and more than 39,000 vaccination doses administered. - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021


Alaska: Alaska DHSS Proposed Split Criticized Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - In a meeting Wednesday, the Alaska House Health and Social Services Committee held a teleconference meeting on the governor’s plans to split Division of Health and Social Services into two departments [Listen]. Health care workers, social service organizationa and tribal governments testified. The focus of the meeting was on the impacts tochild welfare in the state and the impacts of reorganization. The teleconference began at 10:03 AM and adjourned at 11:50 AM.

Dunleavy issued an executive order to establish the Department of Health and the Department of Family and Community Services. The governor's order will be submitted in the legislative session that starts on Jan. 19,, 2021. The order must be approved by a majority vote in a joint session of the Legislature to go into effect.

In testimony Wednesday, P.J. Simon Tanana Chiefs Conference Chairman said while their organization was willing to work with the governor's administration on an alternative plan to reduce bureaucracy, Simon said the current proposal would negatively affect social services saying the proposed split would produce “worse outcomes than the status quo.”

Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson provided testimony to the Alaska State Legislature's House Health and Social Services Committee concerning the proposed bifurcation of the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021

Alaska: Election reform bill pre-filed to make it easier to vote in Alaska; House Bill 66 removes barriers to the ballot box at every stage of Alaska's  elections - Today, Representative Chris Tuck pre-filed election reform legislation to expand voting access and to modernize Alaska’s elections.

“In November, over 361,000 Alaskans voted. Never in our state’s history have so many Alaskans cast a ballot in an election. Why did so many people vote? I think the answer is crystal clear; vote by mail made it easy. Because of the pandemic, we finally made it convenient for people to vote, and not surprisingly, they voted in record numbers,” said Representative Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).


 

Tuck said, “Active voting participation is key to a strong democracy. My goal with this bill is straightforward, to remove barriers to the ballot box at every stage of our elections. HB 66 makes it more convenient to vote before election day and makes it easier to vote on election day.”

House Bill 66 makes permanent some of the changes implemented last year that allowed Alaskans to vote safely and in record numbers during a pandemic. Additionally, HB 66 would authorize same-day voter registration, allowing first-time voters to register and vote on election day.

Provisions in House Bill 66 include: - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021

Alaska: Bill to Limit Small Business’ Exposure to COVID Lawsuits Pre-Filed - Prior to the start of the 32nd Alaska Legislative Session, Rep. DeLena Johnson (R-Palmer) has filed legislation intended to limit small businesses’ liability against frivolous COVID lawsuits.  

“COVID brought a lot of new realities for Alaska and for the world in 2020. Working in real-time to find solutions, Alaskan businesses worked diligently to put in place safeguards to operate safely and protect the public from COVID,” said Rep. Johnson. “We need to protect them now.”  

HB 4, if passed, would provide businesses with immunity from liability and disciplinary action that might be brought due to exposure to COVID-19. - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021

Alaska: Police Reform Legislation Pre-filed - With the recent killings of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Tony McDade (and so many others), the nation has drawn even greater attention to the use of police force, particularly within the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.

Last week, Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) pre-filed legislation to address this issue. Senator Gray-Jackson worked with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Anchorage Police Department Employees Association, Anchorage Police Department, and the Public Safety Employees Association to craft the legislation. 

“Our nation has seen too many Americans die because of inadequate policing methods, and for far too long, people of color have been disproportionately the subject of policing injustice,” said Sen. Gray-Jackson. “By working with law enforcement, we can build better relationships and standards to prevent the over-policing of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.”

The package, known as Turning Pain Into Progress (TPIP), has six components that were derived from the original 8 Can’t Wait national initiative: - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021


 

Fish Factor: Will removing magnetic minerals alter the magnetic landscape & disrupt salmons' ability to find their way home? By LAINE WELCH - Is it a coincidence that one of the world’s largest mineral deposits is located near the world’s largest sockeye salmon spawning grounds at Bristol Bay? And if the likes of a Pebble Mine removed the bulk of those deep deposits that also create the world’s magnetic field, could it disrupt the salmons ability to find their way home?

A study, funded by Arron Kallenberg of Homer, founder/CEO of Wild Alaskan Company and a third generation Bristol Bay fisherman, aims to find out.

“It's not even been 10 years since we've discovered that salmon, sea turtles and other marine species are using the Earth's magnetic field as a way to know where they are and to make important navigation decisions. But what is the magnetic environment that they need to thrive, and what might humans be doing that might keep them from thriving,” said Dr. Nathan Putman , a senior scientist at Texas-based LGL Ecological Research Associates and an expert on animals’ use of magnetics fields in migration who is leading the study.

The salmon at Bristol Bay are tuned into thousands of years of experience,” Putman said. “Might removing magnetic minerals alter the magnetic landscape they have experienced, and to what extent?” he asked.

The combinations of magnetic field strength and angles give the salmon a sense of where they are, he explained.

“For instance, if a fish has left its river and finds itself in a stronger magnetic field than when it departed, it's got a good chance of being further north of the river. And if it finds itself in a weaker magnetic field, it has a good chance of being further south. It can use that information to decide which way it should go, depending on whether it's heading out to its foraging grounds, or if it's matured and it's time to head back home."

Putman’s earlier studies on pinks  revealed that salmon have multi-purpose navigational tools.

“The handy thing about the magnetic field is that it’s both a compass and a map. A compass by itself only gives you a direction. The Earth's magnetic field gives you that direction, but for salmon it also gives a sense of where in the Bering Sea or the Gulf of Alaska they are. It’s sort of part compass, part GPS,” he explained.


 

 
Putman said it is easy to manipulate magnetic environments in the lab.

“We call them magnetic displacement experiments,” he said. “And they perform quite well. The salmon seem to know how to orient their movements when they grow up in a pristine magnetic rearing environment. But if you add something as simple as a nearby iron pipe, it distorts the field. Then you have the same family of fish, the same setup, the same sort of behavioral assays and they don't appear capable of using the magnetic field to make navigation decisions.”

For the Bristol Bay project Putman is using a high-resolution magnetic model for 304,000 latitude/longitude points over the past 20 years, looking at the impact of mining activity on fluctuations in local geomagnetic fields. By comparing the rate of change in the geomagnetic field near mining sites to baseline background variability, he can identify potential man-made impacts of mineral extraction on field variations.

“I think it really does put some burden back on us as humans to ask how we are altering the magnetic environment around salmon, whether it's from mineral extraction or electric cables running across or through streams. How might we be presenting salmon or other species with challenges from how we're manipulating their habitats. That's where we're going with this project.”

Dr. Putman’s results should be known by this summer when the sockeye run is returning to Bristol Bay. - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021

Alaska: U.S. Navy to hold virtual public meeting for Gulf of Alaska Maritime Activities Area - The U.S. Navy is hosting upcoming virtual public meetings for the recently prepared draft supplement to the 2011 Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Navy Training Activities Final Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS) and the 2016 GOA Navy Training Activities Final Supplemental EIS/OEIS. In the 2020 Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS, the Navy assesses the potential environmental effects associated with continuing periodic military readiness activities in the GOA Temporary Maritime Activities Area (TMAA). The Navy welcomes public review and comments on the 2020 Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS.

The purpose of this Supplemental EIS/OEIS is to update the 2011 and 2016 impact analyses with new information and analytical methods. New information includes an updated acoustic effects model, updated marine species density data and hearing criteria, and other emergent best available science. The Navy is not proposing new activities or an increase in activities from current levels. Proposed training activities are similar to those that have occurred in the GOA Temporary Maritime Activities Area (TMAA)for decades and are the same as those analyzed in the 2011 and 2016 impact analyses.

The Navy is preparing a Supplemental EIS/OEIS to renew required federal regulatory permits and authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act, which expire in April 2022. The Supplemental EIS/OEIS supports naval training requirements to achieve and maintain fleet readiness as required by Title 10 of the U.S. Code.

Proposed action:

The Navy’s Proposed Action is to continue periodic military training activities within the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Temporary Maritime Activities Area (TMAA). The geographic extent of the GOA TMAA and Proposed Action, including the location, number, and frequency of major training exercises, remain unchanged from the 2016 GOA Final Supplemental EIS/OEIS. Although the types of activities and number of events in the Proposed Action are the same as in previous documents (Alternative 1 in both the 2011 and 2016 impact analyses), there have been changes in the platforms and systems used in those activities. For example, the EA-6B aircraft and frigate, and their associated systems, have been replaced by the EA-18G aircraft, Littoral Combat Ship, and Destroyer. The Supplemental EIS/OEIS includes the analysis of at-sea training activities projected to meet readiness requirements beyond 2022 and into the reasonably foreseeable future, and reflects the most up-to-date compilation of training activities deemed necessary to accomplish military readiness during that time period. - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021


 
Columns
Commentary

jpg DAVE KIFFER

DAVE KIFFER: The Man in the (not so) Iron Mask - The other day, in my hurry, I entered a convenience store without my mask.

Yes, it was a mistake. I pretty much always wear my mask in public. It makes me feel like a desperado.

Feeling like a desperado is a good thing, especially in this day and age when you can be completely wiped out by something that is 60 nanometers in size.

I have no idea how big a nanometer is, but I am guessing it is not bigger than a breadbox, which was the phrase my Mother always used to "relativize" the size of something. Things were either "bigger" than a breadbox or they were not.

When I was a kid I used to confuse "breadboxes" with "breadbaskets." When I would "box" with my Father, he would threaten to "pop me in the breadbasket."  I assumed that did not mean that he would stuff me in the "breadbox" above the refrigerator. But I could never be sure.

Does anyone still even have breadboxes? Or breadbaskets?

But I digress.

Anyway, I take COVID 19 seriously. Except that time the other day when I zipped into the convenience store. - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021

jpg TOM PURCELL

TOM PURCELL: DISGRACEFUL DISCOURSE OURS TO CORRECT - Without grace, our public discourse will continue to suffer.

“Grace,” according to Dictionary.com, has more than one meaning, but all of them are powerful.

Grace is “a pleasing or attractive quality,” as well as “favor or goodwill.”

In a religious sense, grace is “a virtue or excellence of divine origin” – a gift from God to help us be more charitable and gracious toward our fellow man. It’s also a prayer of thanks recited before meals.

In a general sense, grace is “elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.”

And when we are most lucky, our beloved friends and family members grace us with their presence.

Grace is a beautiful and necessary component of everyday life. Without it, our world cannot function.

And grace is horribly lacking in our public discourse.

Too many political leaders, beginning with our president and including too many others holding high positions in the federal government, are being the polar opposite of graceful. - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2015

jpg

MICHAEL REAGAN: TIME FOR TRUMP AND BIDEN TO SUCK IT UP - Everyone should be outraged at Democrats and Republicans for the damage they’ve done to the country during the last year.

But right now, as the country is split into two angry red and blue camps, everyone should be even madder at the way President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden have been behaving.

As the two leaders of a nation of 331 million, they are supposed to be leading. But instead they are still fighting like little kids in a schoolyard.

The inauguration isn’t until Wednesday. But Trump and Biden still have time to do something important for the good of the country.

President Trump can do what Ronald Reagan did during his greatest political crisis, Iran-Contra.

My father was spending so much time defending himself over what he did or did not do in that scandal that he couldn’t get anything else done. He was even threatened with impeachment. - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021


jpg Political Cartoon: Twitter Mad Man

Political Cartoon: Twitter Mad Man
By Gary McCoy ©2021, Shiloh, IL
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

      

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jpg Opinion

Ketchikan Community Foundation 2021 grant applications are now available By Katie Vincent - The Ketchikan Community Foundation is pleased to announce that our 2021 grant applications for local non-profit organizations are now available! The application process will close on Feb. 5, 2021. We intend to grant a minimum of $28,000.
This will be the sixth year that KCF has awarded grants to local non-profits. To date, the Foundation has distributed approximately $106,000 in non-profit funding to 32 organizations within our community.

In an effort to make sure funds are distributed throughout a wide range of organizations in Ketchikan, the Foundation has identified three funding categories that rotate each year. The 2021 funding category is “Community Enrichment.”

We would like to recognize all the donors who are making these annual grants possible this year – and for years to come. It is truly a community effort that is building this endowment fund. - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021

jpg Opinion

Ketchikan's Crosswalk Dangers By Roger McDonald - As a 40.5 year resident, I have some comments and opinions about, as Dave Kiffer calls them, residents of our “fair salmon city.” I would like to comment on the death of Charan Bird, known publicly as Birdie, a long time employee of SAIL and a personal friend of my wife, also an ex-SAIL employee, and I. My first wife was hit crossing Tongass Ave. at the crosswalk by the TFCU building. A driver in the center lane saw her crossing and stopped while a jerk in the right lane continued to traverse the intersection. Fortunately she was not severely injured. I,also,have been hit by a vehicle many years ago, while crossing the Schoenbar Road access off Tongass Ave. It was probably my fault as I was wearing dark colored clothing and assumed the driver turning left off Tongass saw me in the crosswalk. While I do not know the facts of Birdie’s death, I can surmise what happened, as I frequently use that intersection. The driver, rather than turn right and use the KPU or airport lot to reverse direction, chose to wait for a break in traffic and when a one and three quarter or greater vehicle space appeared, the driver accelerated into the gap, concerned only with getting into the flow of traffic. There was probably no turn signal evident That someone was in the legal crosswalk was of no concern or idea. People cross Tongass constantly, especially in the Plaza vicinity, with no respect or concern of drivers, expecting them to stop while there are delineated crosswalks and stoplights on the street. I understand that the weather is crappy and uncomfortable but the drivers are confounded also by the whipping rain and dark colored coat wearing folks dashing out across the street. - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021

jpg Opinion

Acknowledging the good By Al Johnson - The following note was forwarded to Senator Murkowski. It was sent with the notice that from her recent public outburst demonstrating what many have long suspected, her dislike for our President Trump, had she been better off acknowledging the good he has achieved in less than four years over the many years she has been preening from her comfortable perch among her RINO associates. Not so-leaving a sour taste in many Alaskan's mouths.

My days on earth are numbered;  But before I fade away, there is something important I need to say. It may not be important to anyone else; but it's important to me.

Win, lose or fraud...President Trump. I just want to say thank you for the last four years.

Thank you for making it cool to be an American again. - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021

jpg Opinion

Trump Is Assaulting Our Democracy By Donald Moskowitz - Trump exhorted his followers in the crowd at his rally on January 6, 2021 to march to the U.S. Capitol and express their anger with the election. His Anarchists rioted and broke into the Capitol injuring police officers and damaging property. An element of Trump's followers are similar in ideology to Hitler's Nazi hordes who took control in Germany in the1930s. This fifth column movement inspired by Trump is an ongoing danger to our democracy.

Corrupt Trump tried but failed to get the Secretary of State in Georgia to justify changing approximately 12,000 votes from the presidential election in favor of Trump so he could declare victory in Georgia, and then Trump would be in a position to say his fraudulent election claims in a number of other states are valid. Unfortunately, a number of U.S. senators and representatives have gone along with Trump's claims so they can align themselves with Trump's following of radical sympathizers. These politicians even tried to overturn the election on January 6, 2021 when the approved electoral votes of the states were brought forward for approval in Congress. - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021

jpg Opinion

Flag burning By John Suter - I saw in the news that the Proud Boys leader was arrested for burning a Black Lives Matter flag in Washington D.C.

It’s OK to burn the American Flag because you have the right of free expression under the First Amendment, but burning a Black Lives Matter flag, well that’s another matter because it’s raciest.  Should you be arrested and put behind bars for burning a Black Lives Matter flag but not for burning the American flag? - More...
Friday PM - January 15, 2021

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