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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

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Alaska

Ketchikan: A dream to sail the Pacific will come true this Spring By MARTY WEST - What is it like when you look in every direction and all you see is the deep blue sea and the edge of the earth as it falls away below the horizon?

A dream to sail the Pacific will come true this Spring

Tim Walker
Photo courtesy Clipper Round the World
clipperroundtheworld.com

For some, this is their dearest dream, the salt spray, the creaking ropes, the rolling waves, and the ocean sliding below your sailboat. For fewer still this will be a reality.

This spring, Tim Walker will be one of those few.

This March Tim will head to Qingdao China to join others on Leg Six of the “Clipper Round the World” Race. They will cross the Pacific in a 70-foot yacht for a month, or so, at sea as they race almost 6,000 miles to Seattle.

“My wife Janice saw an article in the Alaska Airlines magazine,” he said, “she knew this was a dream of mine and she encouraged me to apply.” After all, he had been a participant in the local sailboat regattas on Wednesday nights in summer.
But this is serious sailing.

Tim trained in Gosport England to practice sailing in the North Atlantic, “We were training in the southern entrance to the English Channel and in sometimes rough seas; it was exhilarating!

“I was the only one from the United States at that time,” he said, “the others were from all over: the Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden, and South America.” - More....
Friday PM - January 12, 2018

Alaska: Council Urges Self-Determination in Alaska Native Language Survival - The Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council (ANLPAC) focuses on self-determination and the right of Indigenous peoples to shape the future survival of their own languages in its 2018 Biennial Report to the Governor and Legislature. The report is the culmination of the council’s meetings with stakeholder groups over the past 24 months since the 2016 report was published.

“Self-determination, in this context, is the language community being in full control of the future of their language. It has to be a basic principal that language programs don’t wait for things to happen; they make them happen,” said X’unei Lance Twitchell, ANLPAC Vice Chair.

Key themes in the 2018 report are:

• Self-determination of Alaska Native peoples shaping the future survival of their own languages

• Cultural justice in reclaiming their traditional and cultural forms of practice

• Highlighting the best practices to increase the number of speakers of Alaska Native languages

Although all Alaska Native languages are recognized as official languages of the State of Alaska, every one has seen a decline in the number of speakers over the last several decades. While the declines continue, there are some noteworthy successes in which English-only Alaskans have become fluent in one of Alaska’s Native languages, either as students in a language immersion school or by working individually in a master-apprentice relationship with a fluent elder. These new, fluent, second-language speakers spark new hope for Alaska’s threatened and endangered Native languages - particularly as some are now raising their children as first- language speakers. - More...
Friday PM - January 12, 2018



Fish Factor: Seafood Speciality Products Could Be Worth $700 Million By LAINE WELCH - State seafood marketers are rebranding fish parts as ‘specialty’ products and mapping a path for millions more dollars in sales.

Alaska’s fisheries produce more than five billion pounds of seafood each year. When all the fish is headed and gutted or filleted and all the crab legs are clustered, it leaves about three billion pounds of trimmings.  Some is turned into meal and oil, but for the most part, the “gurry” is ground up and discharged into local waterways.      

“Whether that’s heads or guts, milt, or meal or oil or something else, it should be held in high regard,” said Andy Wink, a seafood economist formerly with the McDowell Group. “These are products that are out of our normal range but they are specialty items serving niche markets.”

A new Analyses of Alaska Seafood Specialty Products report compiled for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute takes a look at uses for fish heads, oil, meal, internal organs, crab products, roe, herring fillets, arrowtooth flounder, spiny dogfish and skates. 

It makes the point that Alaska’s combined seafood catches, valued at roughly $2 billion at the docks and twice that when processors sell to their buyers, could be worth an additional $700 million or more if so called “specialty” products were added to the mix.   

Take fish heads, for example. Alaska produces about one billion pounds of fish heads, which account for most of the processing waste. Just one percent is sold as frozen heads, although a single large salmon head can fetch up to $5 a pound at Beijing supermarkets. Increasing the frozen market alone could add $100 million to processors’ sales, the report says. 

Alaska processors produce more than 90,000 tons of fish oil, most of which is burned as a substitute for diesel, or is sold into lower value commodity markets.  A study by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) showed that fish oil used as fuel rarely must be processed further and is 75 percent as efficient as #2 diesel. Fish oil used as fuel in Dutch Harbor offset 13.4 million gallons of diesel fuel in 2015 and saved operators $44 million. 

But the payback for fish oils could be much higher. Producing more refined oils for human consumption could help Alaska cash in on the $1 billion supplement market, the ASMI report says, adding that the value of refined fish oil to Alaska could increase to well over $30 million each year.

Arrowtooth flounder numbers have exploded for several decades in the Gulf of Alaska; the fish literally blankets the bottom of the Gulf of Alaska and competes for food with dwindling halibut. But arrowtooth has little market value because its flesh turns mushy when cooked,

While it is considered a nuisance species, the fish has many unhailed pluses, said Wink. The 81 million pounds caught each year mostly as bycatch in trawl fisheries could provide more protein to the pet food, aquaculture and livestock feed markets. And the pesky flatfish has a pricy trim.

“There is this line of frill meat around the edge of the fish that is a very valuable sushi product called engawa – it can go for upwards of $10, even $20 per pound,” he said.  

Other highlights:  - More...
Friday PM - January 12, 2018


 


Alaska Science:
Dippers swim Alaska rivers throughout winter By NED ROZELL - On the upper Chena River in the heart of a cold winter, a songbird appeared on a gravel bar next to gurgling water that somehow remained unfrozen in 20-below-zero air. Then the bird jumped in, disappeared underwater, and popped up a few feet upstream.

The bird continued snorkeling against the current of the stream, so far north that in January direct sunlight never touches it.

Soon, two other dark birds with bodies the size of tennis balls landed near the other. They bobbed up and down and then all three jumped into the stream.

It seemed crazy behavior for a cold winter day, but swimming is how American dippers make their living, even here in Alaska, where they range as far north as the Brooks Range.

Mary Willson, a biologist, ecologist and consultant from Juneau, might be the only Alaska researcher who has studied the American dipper. She has pulled on her chest waders to follow dippers on waterways near Juneau’s road system, and she’s gotten to know a bit of the character of what she calls “a very cool bird.”

The dipper often feeds while flying underwater, using the liquid as it does another fluid, air. The birds also snorkel, swimming on the surface with their heads below the water surface. They sometimes pick up rocks on stream bottoms to find food underneath.

Dippers depend on clean, open water. In very cold places, the birds appear at openings in ice caused by water upwelling, and dippers can dive through one hole in the ice and emerge from another one. Near Juneau, dippers sometimes appear at deltas where streams flow into the ocean.

Dippers eat aquatic and flying insects and are skilled enough to catch small fish, Willson said. She has seen a dipper with four tiny fish in its beak at once. Another time, she witnessed a dipper catching a 4-inch sculpin.

“It had to beat that one on the rocks until it was in enough pieces to eat,” she said.

Willson thinks the dippers can survive the transition from 32-degree water to subzero air because of their feathers, which are denser than other songbirds’, and large oil glands near the base of their tails. - More....
Friday PM - January 12, 2018


 

Columns - Commentary

jpg Michael Reagan

MICHAEL REAGAN: The GOP Can't Get Burnt on DACA Deal - Everyone knows something has to be done for America's DACA kids.

Everyone with a good heart or a working brain knows it's not their fault their parents sneaked them into the country when they were kids under 16.

It's true that by law they are illegal immigrants.

But most DACA kids have grown up to become good, law-abiding Americans.

They've gone to school here. They've worked and paid taxes here. They've even served in our military.

Everyone except a few people on the far fringe knows it'd be wrong to deport these 800,000 so-called "Dreamers" -- now or in the future.

As we saw in Washington this week, DACA kids have become a bargaining chip for President Trump in his efforts to get Congress to build a border wall and reform immigration policy.

President Obama created America's DACA kids by executive order in 2012 with his Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, which delayed the deportation of "Dreamers" who signed up for it for two years. 

President Trump has already announced his administration's plans to phase out DACA, though this week a federal judge temporarily blocked that executive decision until a bunch of lawsuits challenging it are settled.

Trump and his Republican allies say they want to extend protections for the "Dreamers" as part of a larger legislative bill that also funds the wall and ends chain immigration.

Democrats in Congress say to Trump, "OK, but extend DACA's protections first, then we'll deal with the border wall and other stuff later."

The DACA bar fight is still in the first round.

But already it's a perfect example of how bad the Republicans are at educating the public about what they do in Washington and why they do it the way they do.

In this case, Republicans need to explain to the country why they are insisting on Congress doing DACA and immigration reform together. - More...
Friday PM - January 12, 2018


jpg Political Cartoon: Tax Armageddon

Political Cartoon: Tax Armageddon
By Nate Beeler ©2018, The Columbus Dispatch
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

      

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jpg Letter / Opinion

Why Protect the Jones Act? By Art Johnson - I believe the Jones Act is necessary for several reasons and if it is repealed, it will be detrimental, not only to the maritime industry and those who work in it, but it will harm the country's ability to build ships, both Merchant Marine and Navy and to carry cargo to our forces overseas in time of national emergency. Ship building requires many skills and it is foolish to think we can have foreign yards building our ships and then if necessary find enough skilled workers to build them in the USA. It would be beyond foolish to build out military vessels in foreign yards. The same goes for having foreign ships and foreign crews carrying our country's cargoes. Where will we find trained seamen in time of need? Senator John McCain is frequently mentioned, because he is in favor of repealing the Jones Act, but it should be noted that he flew airplanes in the Navy and that is a whole lot different than being part of operating ships and all that goes with it. It should also be noted that our politicians have little to say about maintaining a healthy U.S. Merchant Marine, because only a small number of our citizens even know what the Merchant Marine is and very likely, even some of our politicians have only a slight knowledge of this vital industry. They can't get many votes promoting something that people know little about, let alone understanding the importance of the maritime industry. - More...
Saturday AM - January 13, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Governor’s Tax Proposal: A Free Ride for the Rich By Ghert Abbott - If one has any doubts as to the power that the rich currently exercise over our state government, then one has only to consider Governor Walker’s recent tax proposal, designed with the aim of appeasing the Republican state senate. The governor’s proposal combines a 1.5% payroll tax, capped at the first $150,000 of income, with a $1,100 cap on every Alaskan PFD (which amounts to a roughly 50% tax of the PFD’s current value). It only takes a few numbers to reveal the extreme inequity of this plan. According to the Census Bureau, in 2016 the average household income in the city of Ketchikan was $53,937 a year. According to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, only roughly 7% to 10% of Alaskans have a yearly household income of over $150,000. The richest 1% of Alaskan households, those who earn $532,590 a year or higher, have an average income of $1,282,900 a year.

Under the governor’s proposal, the average Ketchikan household will be paying a state tax on practically everything they earn. In contrast, the average top 1% household will only be paying a tax on the PFD and the first $150,000 of their salary – which translates to more than a million dollars tax free, assuming all the income is from salary. The payroll tax + PFD tax would therefore cost the average Ketchikan household 3.4% of their yearly income, while only costing the millionaire household a mere 0.25% of its yearly income. If the millionaire household received all its money from stocks and bonds, it would only pay the PFD tax: a microscopic 0.08% of its income! - More...
Saturday AM - January 13, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Never Trump By Robert B. Holston, Jr. - I have a brother in Montana who is a “never Trumper”. I wrote him months ago saying I would not defend Trump on a daily basis for things this president says because I didn’t need a full time job, but his recent “DACA/Defecation” remark prompts me to defend Trump, just a bit, and warn the “never Tumpers” just a bit. - More...
Saturday AM - January 13, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Optimism for Alaska in 2018 By Senator Dan Sullivan - As Alaskans, there’s no doubt we face significant challenges, including high crime rates, domestic violence and sexual assault, thousands of Alaskans struggling with addiction, and a continuing recession that has left too many without jobs. These are issues that I’ll continue to focus on in the coming year. But when I look out at 2018, I am struck by one overriding feeling for our state: optimism. There are numerous reasons for this.

First, the cornerstone of Alaska’s economy - responsible resource development - is making a dramatic comeback. Congress’s recent action to open the 1002 area of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge is a key part of this. For decades, thousands of Alaskans - Democrats, Republicans and Alaska Natives - have advocated for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And despite millions of dollars spent by opponents of this Alaska dream, reinforced by the stale and truth-challenged talking points of their allies like Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and a national media that was consistently hostile to opening ANWR, we did it.

This is an important victory for all Alaskans. But our comeback is not just about ANWR. Several new discoveries and developments on the North Slope, including a significant expansion of the Point Thomson field, all point to the potential for billions of dollars of new investment, significant increases in trans-Alaska pipeline throughput and state revenues, and hundreds if not thousands of good-paying jobs. At long last, we now have a federal government that wants to be a partner in opportunity for Alaska, not an obstacle.

But it’s not just oil and gas that make Alaska’s natural resources the envy of the world. Alaska has the most sustainable and abundant fisheries in the world, supporting tens of thousands of jobs in our state. As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, I am working to make sure that Alaska remains the superpower of seafood by increasing market opportunities for our world-class products and streamlining federal regulations that often encumber family-owned vessels. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

On rescinding Obama-era marijuana enforcement guidelines By Wiley Brooks - Marijuana by U.S law is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. I extracted the below from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEC) official site.

“The abuse rate is a determinate factor in the scheduling of the drug; for example, Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence.”

“Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote”

If you live in a state that legalized medical or recreational marijuana use, it may come as an unpleasant surprise to learn that you are still committing a federal crime by possessing, buying, or selling marijuana. The problem is, despite the liberalization of state laws across the country, federal law still treats marijuana as a controlled substance, just like cocaine or heroin. When your local assembly approves an applicant’s permit request to open a pot shop, they are putting a stamp of approval for that vendor to violate federal law. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 09, 2018

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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