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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Front Page Feature Photo By GREG BLACK

Taku Leaves Alaska
The M/V Taku was constructed in 1963 and faithfully operated as a part of the Alaska Marine Highway System for over 50 years. The Taku was taken out of service on June 23, 2015 and stored at the Ward Cove facility. In January 2018 she was sold to abal Al Lawz Trading Est. The final sale price was $171,000. Monday, the Taku left Ketchikan on the voyage to her new owners.
Front Page Feature Photo By GREG BLACK ©2018

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Alaska: Respiratory Pathogen Confirmed for First Time in Alaska Dall's Sheep and Mountain Goats - A strain of bacteria known to cause pneumonia in Lower 48 bighorn sheep has been detected for the first time in Alaska Dall's sheep and mountain goats.

Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Movi, for short), described as a respiratory bacteria that can cause disease in susceptible hosts, was recently confirmed in four Dall's sheep within a sample of 136 and in two of 39 mountain goats. The Dall's sheep testing positive for Movi were all in Game Management Unit 13A; all were taken by hunters and appeared healthy. The mountain goats were live captured and released in Southeast and on the Kenai Peninsula and showed no sign of illness; only samples from goats on the Kenai tested positive.

"Our initial research has confirmed Movi in a small number of Dall's sheep and mountain goats in relatively isolated areas of the state," said Division of Wildlife Conservation Director Bruce Dale, adding that Alaska's Dall's sheep and mountain goat populations overall are healthy.

"We are not aware of any pneumonia outbreaks or die-offs in Dall's sheep or mountain goats related to this bacterium." - More...
Wednesday PM - March 14, 2018

Alaska: Scientists unravel complex factors of sea star wasting disease By BLAINE FRIEDLANDER  - Cornell University scientists are beginning to unravel the complicated connections between viruses, the environment and wasting diseases among sea stars in the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

As ocean temperatures rise and oceanic diseases proliferate, species like sea stars struggle to survive, and scientists are looking for underlying causes. To bring clarity to the sea star disease problem, the scientists propose a new, broad nomenclature in a study published in Frontiers in Marine Science.

Previous scientific work suggested that sea star-associated densovirus (SSaDV) was the best candidate pathogen responsible for sea star wasting disease (SSWD) among about two dozen species affected by it. But the researchers noticed viruses did not correlate in some hard-hit species.

"Disease among sea stars is likely caused by multiple factors, not just one factor like SSaDV or rising temperature. The 'disease' is actually multiple diseases. Understanding this, it's a lot more complicated to explain than simply a virus - like SSaDV - coming along or water temperature increasing by way of climate change," said lead author Ian Hewson, associate professor of microbiology.

Sunflower sea stars - whose 16 to 24 arms exceed 3 feet long - were once prolific throughout the Salish Sea, which borders Washington state and Canada's British Columbia. In 2013-14 wasting disease decimated their population.

The paper suggests renaming the wasting disease to Asteroid Idiopathic Wasting Syndrome because the term correlates with an array of symptoms, "which is more correct for describing this situation, as there are likely multiple diseases present," Hewson said.

The wasting disease appears to have mostly run its course, said Hewson. "It has been waning in recent years and is currently present at low levels. The ultimate consequence of the disease is that there has been a huge reduction in sunflower stars and a few other large starfish species." - More...
Wednesday PM - March 14, 2018


Alaska House Passes Legislation to Increase Unemployment Benefits to Allow Families to Survive the Lingering Recession - Today, the Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation to help struggling workers and their families weather job losses resulting from the Alaska recession, which has been ongoing since 2015. 

House Bill 142, sponsored by Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage), increases the maximum weekly unemployment insurance benefit from $370 to $510 over two years to match 50 percent of the average weekly wage, which is the national norm for unemployment benefits.

“The Alaska economy is in a recession that has cost thousands of our friends and neighbors their jobs. I know many of these hard-working men and women. They are ready to go to work to support their families, but good jobs are scarce,” said Rep. Tuck. “This bill makes a long-overdue change to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Program so that more unemployed Alaskans can make it through the hard times and stay in Alaska.” - More...
Wednesday PM - March 14, 2018

Alaska: Alaska Cruises Sail to the Top of Most Booked U.S. Vacations - Alaska cruises jumped to the top spot from last year's fifth place to become the most booked domestic vacation for 2018, according to findings from Travel Leaders Group's authoritative 2018 Travel Trends Survey, released today. Orlando was bumped down a notch to second place. Las VegasMaui and New York City rounded out the Top 5.  Internationally, Caribbean cruises and Cancun, Mexico, respectively, maintained the top two spots, while European river cruises edged up one place to third. Mediterranean cruises and Punta CanDominican Republic, were fourth and fifth, respectively. 

"Alaska is a truly unique bucket-list destination and more and more people from around the world are discovering its awe-inspiring beauty," noted Chacko. "Our travel advisors frequently recommend it as a not-to-be-missed travel experience, especially for those interested in vivid scenery, wildlife or expedition travel." 

Alaska cruises have been among the top 10 domestic trips booked by Travel Leaders Group travel advisors over the last several years, but this is the first year Alaska cruises have reached the number one spot in the annual Travel Trends Survey. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, the world's largest cruise industry trade association, 1,089,700 passengers cruised in Alaska in 2017 and that number is projected to grow another seven percent to 1,165,500 passengers in 2018.

Chacko added, "Also, optimism among Travel Leaders Group agents with respect to their travel business is at the highest level we've seen this decade."

Top "up and coming" destinations include IcelandNew ZealandThailandVietnam and Croatia.  Additionally, of the respondents who book travel to the Caribbean, 45.6 percent said their 2018 bookings to the Caribbean are about even with last year, while 13.3 percent said their bookings to the Caribbean are higher. When it comes to Caribbean cruises, 71.7 percent said these bookings are either higher than or equal to last year's bookings. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 14, 2018


What the National School Walkout says about schools and free speech By CLAY CALVERT - Thousands of high school students across the nation left their classes March 14 precisely at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes.

The walkout served two purposes: to honor the 17 people – including 14 students – killed exactly one month ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and to call for stronger gun control laws.

Organized by a Women’s March unit called Youth Empower and promoted on Twitter with the hashtags #Enough and #NationalSchoolWalkout, students throughout the country took to the streets and gathered at various places to call attention to the problem of gun violence in schools and in their communities.

Some schools are threatening to punish these young activists. But others are trying to work with them. As one article put it, “The response from school districts has been mixed, with some threatening to suspend students and others promising to incorporate the walkout into a civics lesson.”

Enter the First Amendment

From my standpoint as director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida, all of this raises important questions about the scope of First Amendment speech rights for high school students. Are the students who exit their classes immune from punishment?

A starting point for answering this question is to understand that the First Amendment only protects against government censorship, not censorship by private entities. Thus, only public school students have First Amendment speech rights. Private school students do not.

California is an exception to this rule. It has a statute known as the Leonard Law that extends First Amendment speech rights to students at private nonreligious high schools. No other state has such a statute. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 14, 2018



jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: Ways Democrats Could Screw Up the Midterms - Okay, Democrats, settle down. Drop the confetti and back away from the champagne. Stop punching each other in the arm, making with the whoop-whoop noises. Straighten your tie. These celebrations need to be put on hold. They are as premature as counting your chickens before they cross the road to a bridge that hasn't been burned yet.

Sure, you might have had a few encouraging outcomes in some special elections and early midterm primaries, but those are as fleeting as the New York City Ballet dreams of an overweight third-grader in her first pair of toe shoes.

Do not be deceived into thinking that reclaiming the House of Representatives in November is a fast- break, slam-dunk because if anybody could blow a lead this late in the game, it's you. And, the Atlanta Falcons, of course.

President Donald Trump's approval rating could sink lower than the pressure-release screw on the bottom of a submarine sewer hose, and Democrats still couldn't stir the electorate with a crowbar the size of Chile.

You are the kings and queens of tying your shoelaces together and tripping over your own feet. Have the killer instinct of mud. Possess the uncanny ability to pluck defeat from the jaws of victory through the tiniest dental window. Hold the Guinness book record for accidentally rolling over on the self-destruct button and blowing everything you stand for to smithereens. On that rare occasion you take a stand. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 14, 2018

jpg Peter Roff

PETER ROFF: Tillerson Is Out, But Was He Ever Really In? - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's exit has been on its way for so long it's arrival is anti-climatic. To understand why he's going though, one needs to look at the reasons he was picked. 

Trump needed a big name at Foggy Bottom, the phrase long-time Washingtonians use to describe the State Department. Someone who looked the part but who was not, and this is important, the kind of person who could become the rallying point for the disloyal opposition within the president's own party at least as he saw it. That's why Mitt Romney, who Trump toyed openly toyed with like a cat with a piece of yarn, was never really under consideration for the job. All he'd have to do is wait for what could be described as a principled reason to break with the president before heading out the door and on to New Hampshire and Iowa where he would be welcomed by "Never Trumpers" hoping for a 2018 alternative. 

This made Romney, or most anyone else with even a normal degree of ambition in the world of politics, an unacceptable choice. Trump instead went to corporate America to find what he hoped would be a like-minded and tough CEO with experience in the multi-national arena. 

On paper, Tillerson fit the bill. He looks the part and, as the long-time CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world's largest public companies, he knew just about everyone worth knowing, especially the folks in those unstable regions of the world upon which (at least prior to the fracking revolution) America depended on to help with price stability in the oil market.

So what went wrong? - More...
Wednesday PM - March 14, 2018

Political Cartoon: Stephen Hawking
By Sean Delonas ©2018,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Boooo HOOO Tillerson By Mary L. Stephenson  - Rex Tillerson leaves with a oil deal the US Government made with Russia in the Artic Circle and Exxon Company will reap big rewards. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 14, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Teachers and guns By A. M. Johnson - Not to belabor the issue of teachers and guns in schools, it requires intense study of options. The excerpts from the following article establishe current application of existing armed teachers and staff. It should be noted that the NRA, an organization with the true purpose of the 2nd amendment as its heart and soul, offers courses in firearm training as an option in protection of children's districts who elect to take advantage of the training. - More...
Sunday PM - March 11, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

There are no easy answers By Amanda Mitchell - I do get the concerns about guns, but I don’t believe guns are the only thing that can cause harm to others in society. If I remember my history correctly, governments have posed a significant risk to life as well. Does this mean all governments are bad or that we should get rid of all governments? Of course not!  - More...
Thursday PM - March 08, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Treating the dignity deficit By Sen. Pete Kelly - Here’s the question: should Alaskans who receive Medicaid be required to work or volunteer as a condition of their benefits? - More...
Monday PM - March 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Sorry but the NRA is wrong By Michael Spence - Quoting Mr LaPierre in his most recent red-faced, impassioned speech regarding the Parkland School shooting: .. "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun." - More...
Monday PM - March 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

A Preventable Shooting Tragedy By Donald Moskowitz - The Parkland, FL shooter had a history of violent behavior. Police were called to his house many times, but they did not arrest him because the school board had an agreement with the police not to arrest any students.. The FBI received a viable tip indicating he wanted to shoot up a school, but the lead was not pursued. - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Take guns from criminal gang bangers By John Suter - On HB 75 the legislature should also add felon criminal gang bangers to the list that the government takes away their guns because they are a danger to themselves and the community at large.  We would have a lot less crime then.  - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Staff Training By A.M. Johnson - For the public that wishes to read current articles regarding the arming of school personnel.

Below are direct quotes from three of the four provided sources. Two quotes are not know as supporters of conservative thinking on most anything including firearms, however they do quote statements a bit more accurately than the author of the Taking the Law into your Own Hands is not an "Individual Freedom" would have you believing. One would ask the author of the letter to the editor to provide a bit more specifics on the basis for opinions offered as Fact. - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

This in not my father's NRA By Michael Spence - He was a combat veteran, an expert marksman, and a lifelong member of the NRA. When I was 12 he took me and my brother out to the sand dunes to practice shooting at tin cans. Before shooting, we learned from him how to carry, clean, and handle a .22 rifle, a shotgun, and a .45 automatic pistol. The rules he taught were ones right out of the NRA manual:

Always carry and store the gun with a safety on.
Never leave a loaded gun unattended.
Never point a gun at another person. - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gun control By Rex Barber - Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted amongst men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. THAT WHEN EVER GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE TO THESE ENDS IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH AND INSTITUTE NEW GOVERNMENT. - More...
Friday AM - February 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Taking the Law into your Own Hands is not an "Individual Freedom" By Michael Spence - Once again the CEO of the NRA, Mr LaPierre, has taken the podium to expound on the rights of individuals to take the law into their own hands. In doing so he reveals again his huge misunderstanding of the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which does not entitle anyone to do so. - More...
Friday AM - February 23 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gillam crash By John Tippets - I greatly enjoyed reading and appreciated Dave's article about the Gillam crash of 75 years ago. 

Yes, the men were extremely careful in stretching out the food items they had; cutting Sardines into five parts (or four after Harold left) and breaking candy bars into the small squares for one piece for each, each a day.  - More...
Friday AM - February 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

KEA Seeks School District Funding to the Cap By Dan Bockhorst - The Ketchikan Education Association is calling for the Borough to fund our school district to the cap. Here are some points to consider:

1. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District (KGBSD) has a current-year operating budget of $44,115,565. Additionally, payments for school debt service add $3,510,233, and another $400,000 has been budgeted for school capital improvements this year. Those figures total $48,025,798. With a student population of 2,287, the total equals $20,999 for each student served by the KGBSD. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gun Violence By Rob B. Holston, Jr. - First let me say I own guns. I killed two deer this fall. I enjoy eating venison. I don’t pretend to have one silver bullet to solve the problem of gun violence in America today, but perhaps several bronze bullets. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

King Salmon Fishery By Angelo Martin - I have followed the King Salmon Fishery and see that it is in trouble, low counts of wild stock. I took special intrest with the King Salmon program that SSRA was implementing, I was on the board of directors of SSRAA. I FOUGH HARD TO KEEP THE PROGRAM GOING EVEN GOT volunteer of the year twice for the work in the King Salmon Fishery. Before I left it was in fairly good shape because of the hatchery program.l loved it. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

A Strong Ferry System is Part of a Stronger Alaska By Gov. Bill Walker & Lt. Gov. Bryon Mallott - For more than 50 years, the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has served as a critical transportation link among Alaska’s coastal communities to Anchorage and to the Lower 48 and Canada. The marine highway system is a socio-economic lifeline for many of the 33 Alaska communities it serves, the majority of which are not connected to Alaska’s road system. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

THE FOUR Ps OF GOOD LOCAL GOVERNANCE By David G. Hanger - The four Ps of good local governance are power, plumbing, parking, and potholes. The first three are desirable in relative abundance; the fourth, potholes, none at all is optimal. Historically, with power and plumbing the City’s rep is so-so; plenty of power but plenty of power outages, too; with plumbing both in and out problems of potable water and problems with pollution that cause periodic health problems. But parking and potholes are our main concerns today. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Abortion By Robert B. Holston Jr. - Robert K. Rice claims to be a “realist” and then spouts sophomoric platitudes about a great grandpa choosing NOT to have an abortion.  How “realistic”. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Infrastructure Package Must Include Permitting Reform By U. S. Sen. Dan Sullivan and Terry O’Sullivan - While pundits debate the merits of various infrastructure proposals, the very real problem of permitting reform has been overlooked. Almost four in 10 of our country’s bridges are at least 50 years old. More than 50,000 of those bridges were structurally deficient in 2016. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States—and in some places, like in Alaska, there are entire communities that don’t even have access to tap water and a flushed toilet. Much of our energy grid is at full capacity, one out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition, our ports need to be modernized and deepened, and many of our schools are crumbling. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 14, 2018

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