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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Front Page Feature Photo By MARY KAUFFMAN

Hercules
Hercules hatched nine years ago in Ketchikan on Thanksgiving Day. He is a Blue Slate turkey, an intelligent character and a fine pet. The maximum recorded lifespan for a pet turkey in captivity is twelve years and four months. Hercules will enjoy his special treats on Thanksgiving day and hopefully be enjoyed on a daily basis for many more years.
Front Page Feature Photo By MARY KAUFFMAN ©2017




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Alaska

Southeast Alaska: FY2018 Draft Interior, Environment Appropriations Bill Released; Conservation Groups Say Bill Would Greenlight Old-growth Logging in Tongass National Forest - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released her Fiscal Year 2018 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act recommendation, which she said will support key programs to protect the health of our economy. Known as the chairman’s mark, the draft recommends responsible funding levels and serves as the basis of the subcommittee’s appropriations bill negotiations for the new fiscal year.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski said, “This bill will empower Americans to build our economy and create healthy communities for our families. As chairman, I’ve worked hard to address key priorities, from ensuring our parks are adequately staffed, to prioritizing healthcare through IHS, and focusing on public safety.”

Murkowski said, “In this draft bill, we direct federal resources where they are needed by investing in programs aimed to protect people and our lands, enable new infrastructure projects to boost the economy, and help communities provide vital, basic services.” 

The Center for Biological Diversity is concerned that the draft proposed Monday will accelerate old-growth logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and allow development in roadless areas throughout Alaska’s national forests. The proposals are part of the committee's draft legislation to fund the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2018.

Audubon Alaska is concerned the rider introduced by Murkowski on the Senate Interior and Environment appropriations bill would erase the 2016 Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP) amendment and replace it with the old 2008 plan.

“While the 2016 TLMP amendment had flaws, it kept the momentum moving toward ending old-growth clearcut logging on the Tongass National Forest,” said Susan Culliney, Audubon Alaska’s Policy Director. “Returning to the 2008 plan will be a significant step backward in the effort to transition away from this outdated practice. Perpetuating clearcutting is bad for American taxpayers who lose millions of dollars subsidizing the industry. This bill is a loser for ecology, economy, and public process.”

One of the stated reasons for this bill, according to Audubon Alaska, is maintaining the economics of the timber industry in Southeast Alaska, but it does not call for an assessment as to whether clearcutting old-growth is economic. Fishing and tourism far outstrip the timber industry, and continuing to clearcut old-growth has the potential to undermine these burgeoning sectors of the regional economy.

Nils Warnock, Audubon Alaska’s Executive Director, said about seven percent of Southeast Alaska used to be characterized by the large-tree, old-growth forest that makes the region so magnificent. Now only three percent of Southeast Alaska contains these massive trees.

Warnock said, “If we want the Tongass to remain a healthy ecosystem for birds and wildlife and a place that the tourism and fishing industries can rely on, we must protect the incredible large-tree old-growth that still remains.”

“Senator Murkowski seems dead-set on rewarding her special interest benefactors even if it means trashing our nation’s iconic public lands in Alaska,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Spivak said, “Clearcutting our old-growth and degrading roadless areas is shameful and deeply out of touch with the American people’s values.”

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the legislation would amend the 2016 land management plan for the Tongass National Forest to allow old-growth logging indefinitely. The current land management plan, which involved years of stakeholder development and public participation, provides for a transition for timber harvesting to switch from old-growth to only younger-growth trees, thereby protecting most of the remaining old-growth forests in Alaska. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 21, 2017



Alaska:
Study: Added Arctic data show warming didn’t pause By MEGHAN MURPHY - Gaps in Arctic temperature data caused a misperception that global warming slowed from 1998 to 2012, according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

A seasonal ice beacon floats in the Arctic Ocean after a research team deploys it from the ice breaker, the USCGC Healy.
Photo by Ignatius Rigor of the Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory University of Washington.

A University of Alaska Fairbanks professor and his colleagues in China built the first data set of surface temperatures from across the world that significantly improves representation of the Arctic during the “global warming hiatus.”

Xiangdong Zhang, an atmospheric scientist with UAF’s International Arctic Research Center, said he collaborated with colleagues at Tsinghua University in Beijing and Chinese agencies studying Arctic warming to analyze temperature data collected from buoys drifting in the Arctic Ocean.

“We recalculated the average global temperatures from 1998-2012 and found that the rate of global warming had continued to rise at 0.112C per decade instead of slowing down to 0.05C per decade as previously thought,” said Zhang, who is also a professor with UAF’s College of Natural Science and Mathematics.

Zhang said their new estimates showed that the Arctic warmed more than six times the global average during that time period.

The team developed new methods of incorporating the Arctic temperature data into global temperature data to better estimate the average temperatures. 

Most current estimates use global data that tend to represent a long time span and provide good coverage of a global geographic area. But the remote Arctic lacks a robust network of instruments to collect temperature data.

To improve the dataset in time and space, the team relied on temperature data collected from the International Arctic Buoy Program at the University of Washington. For global data, the team used newly corrected sea surface temperatures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Zhang said this study expands on NOAA research and other recent studies that have either supported or refuted the idea of a “global warming hiatus” by re-estimating the average global temperatures during that time period with more accurate and representative data.

The global warming hiatus is a much-debated topic among climate researchers. Some scientists theorized that an unusually warm El Niño in the years 1997-1998 and an extended period afterward without an El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean may have disrupted the rate of global warming.

The Earth’s average global temperatures have been rising over the past century and accelerating as more human produced carbon dioxide enters and lingers in the atmosphere, which is why the idea of “global warming hiatus” seemed baffling to some scientists. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 21, 2017

 

 


Ketchikan :
Alaska Seaweed Farming, Robot-style - This fall Alaska Sea Grant’s Gary Freitag has been using an underwater robot with a special arm he modified to grab spore-bearing seaweed blades.

Alaska Seaweed Farming, Robot-style

Gary Freitag

Collecting blades ready to release their spores is a key step in producing “seed” for seaweed farming.

Seaweed cultivation in Alaska is in its infancy but it’s a multibillion dollar global industry that’s growing. Experts say Alaska’s cold clean waters and many miles of shoreline are excellent for farming, and state residents are beginning to get involved, starting new businesses and expanding existing ones.

To help move the industry forward, Freitag is using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV,) which he controls from a dock or boat.

Early attempts at gathering kelp blades proved tricky.

“The ROV manipulator arm did not have enough surface area to grab kelp blades, it just tore them apart,” he said.

Freitag attached flat surfaces to the grippers, and it worked. The ROV was able to bring back big pieces of spore-bearing kelp.

The blades are brought to the OceansAlaska Marine Science Center lab near Ketchikan. The spores will germinate and continue the reproductive process. The resulting young “seed” plants are attached to strings that are wrapped around ropes and submerged, to grow into blades that are harvestable in spring for the market. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 21, 2017


 

Columns - Commentary

 

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Be Thankful if You Don't Take a Drumstick to the Noggin - "Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday of the year. Now I can't wait for it to be over."

"Your sentiments reflect the findings of a new working paper by M. Keith Chen of UCLA and Ryne Rohla of Washington State University. In these turbulent times, more 'politically divided' families are cutting their Thanksgiving celebrations short."

"You got that right. God only knows what may happen this year when my progressive liberal Democrat nieces discover they're sitting next to a cousin or uncle who is a conservative Republican."

"That's regrettable and just not necessary. Our country is far from perfect, but Thanksgiving is about coming together to give thanks for our considerable bounty."

"My uncle's girlfriend doesn't see it that way. Last year, when she found out I supported Trump's efforts to dismantle Obama's many economy-killing executive orders, she hit me in the noggin with a drumstick!"

"Ouch. That's no good."

"Yeah, well, this year I'm terrified she might find out I favor Republican efforts to simplify and lower taxes, as I think it is the best way to unshackle the economy, create more jobs and benefit all Americans!"

"Well, maybe you should try to explain your point of view to her in a calm, objective manner, at the same time you try to understand her point of view. I'll bet you and she agree on more things than either of you are aware."

"Why would you think that?"

"Ken Stern, former CEO of National Public Radio, recently published a book about the divide between red and blue America. It's called 'Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right.' He wrote about it in the New York Post."

"Go on."

"Well, Stern, who lives and works in an overwhelmingly Democrat area, spent a year with red-state voters where they live, work and pray. 'I embedded myself with the other side, standing in pit row at a NASCAR race, hanging out at Tea Party meetings and sitting in on Steve Bannon's radio show,' Stern writes." - More...
Tuesday PM - November 21, 2017


jpg Political Cartoon: Handsy Democrats

Political Cartoon: Handsy Democrats
By Nate Beeler ©2017, The Columbus Dispatch
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

      

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Opinion - Letter

The Republican Tax Plan: Tax Cuts for the Rich, Higher Medical Expenses for Everyone Else By Ghert Abbott - Just when we think we’re out, they pull us back in. The Republican Congress is launching yet another assault on the healthcare gains created by the Affordable Care Act, albeit one that is somewhat sneakier and less direct than the last five attempts. Instead of wholesale repeal of the ACA, Congressional Republicans are merely seeking to eliminate the individual mandate while also financially undermining Medicaid/Medicare and removing the medical expenses deduction from the tax code. By these methods Congressional Republicans hope to partly achieve the up till now frustrated goal of ACA repeal: gut healthcare and use the savings to give ever greater tax cuts to the super rich and large corporations. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 21, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The Reality of the Existence of God By Tim Livingston - For some, the presence of egregious acts of evil in the world convinces them it is impossible for there to be God. It is these same people who tend to classify moral lapses into two distinct categories, one reserved for those who commit the most abhorrent crimes, and the other for the rest of society who fail to honor the speed limit or merely cheat a little on their taxes. Their focus on the presence of the worst travesties allows them to assuage their own guilt when it comes to their ‘small’ wrongdoings which they believe pale in comparison to murder, rape, and other acts of violence. “It is the other guy who must be brought to justice and punished for his crime.” - More...
Tuesday PM - November 21, 2017

Opinion - Letter

American Flag By A. M. Johnson - What was the more most exciting and memorable vision for this American citizen on Veterans Day? Without a doubt it was the number of young members of our society running, walking with large American flags on the edge of North Tongass highway. What a thrill to meet these young folks proudly holding the flag, waving it in response to the horn honking, the smiles and cheerful waves they offered to passing motorist, I among them. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 14, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Veterans Day 2017 By Dan Weber - The world was a dangerous place during World War I.  It was even more dangerous during World War II.  And, it was frightening enough during the Cold War that ensued.  Then came the Korean War and Viet Nam.  And, now our valiant soldiers are maimed and die in far away deserts and barren lands as we seek to stem the threat posed by Jihad. - More...
Saturday PM - November 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

In observance of Veterans Day By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Ninety-nine years ago today, the guns fell silent on the Western Front in Europe, marking the end of World War I. The armistice with Germany had come into effect. Over nine million soldiers were killed in World War I, and another twenty-one million were wounded. After more than four years of warfare marked by death in casualty counts never before seen in modern warfare, the fighting stopped. Armistice Day later became known as Veteran’s Day, when Americans take time to reflect on the myriad of sacrifices made by our soldiers. - More...
Sataurday PM - Nvember 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Emergency Room Medical Costs in Ketchikan By Mike Carney - Ketchikan Gateway Borough Residents: From time to time you hear of important issues in the town we live in, this is an issue you should all be aware of. If you have had the unfortunate occasion to visit our emergency room facility at PeaceHealth, it will add insult to injury when you get all the bills. I will tell you my story. I was out hunting and scraped my eye on an alder branch. I tried to wait it out until I could get to the eye doctor. That didn’t happen and I ended up in the emergency room early the next morning. I was dealt with in an orderly fashion and I saw a doctor that I had seen many times before. He is local and works for PeaceHealth. I was there about 40 minutes and I was thankful it was such a quick turnaround. - More...
Thursday PM - November 09, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Criminal Reform By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Earlier this week, the Alaska State House passed Senate Bill 54, “Crime and Sentencing,” with 32 yes votes and 8 nays. Broadly speaking, SB 54 is a partial repeal of SB 91, which was passed last year. Although I did not vote for SB91 at the time, there are some aspects of that criminal reform bill that are worth keeping, for example: programs like pre-trial services and tougher sentences on murder and rape. However, SB 54 makes some necessary changes to SB 91, which I’ve briefly outlined below: - More...
Tuesday PM - November 07, 2017

Opinion - Letter

THE PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY OF GOD By David G Hanger - Down the road here three dozen miles or so some moron walked into a Baptist church and killed 26 people including 14 children. About 18 hours after the event, i.e. in time for the Monday morning talk shows and news shows it had been labeled “the worst mass killing in a place of worship in the history of the United States.” Within four hours of the event the governor of the state of Texas arrived on the scene and politicized it, then introduced his entourage who each had their little speech to give, followed by first responders, who once again grandiosely performed janitorial services. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 07, 2017

Opinion - Letter

150 years of the Army in Alaska By Capt. Richard Packer - I recently attended the 150-year commemoration of the transfer of Alaska, previously known as Russian America, from tsarist Russia to the United States. The original ceremony occurred in Sitka (New Archangel while under Russian rule) on October 18, 1867, and just like the modern ceremony, the U.S. Army was present for the first ceremony. - More....
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Governor Walker’s Tax Proposal Would Create a Regressive Nightmare By Ghert Abbott - Governor Walker is right to champion a broad-based tax, as the only alternative to new revenue is the continued depletion of our state’s savings and further cuts to education, public health, law enforcement, and infrastructure. However, it is essential that any broad-based tax be fairly distributed and take into consideration the sacrifices that ordinary Alaskans have already made with the halving of the PFD. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

TAX POLICY IN THE LAND OF OZ By David G Hanger - I realize that only you, the Christian ayatollahs and mullahs of Ketchikan, and your inordinate knowledge and profundity gleaned only in some instances from divinity or seminary school, are the true arbiters of speech, thought, association, and fact, on any subject under the sun, and that you and your spies will continue working in the dark to ensure no one regresses from your expected norm. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Hunting Regulations By Chas Edwardson - Recently I asked on this forum if anyone has heard about stricter hunting regulations for non federally qualified hunters on Prince of Wales Island. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE: It’s Past Time to Achieve Parity Regarding State Education Funding By Chris Elliott - Mr. Bockhorst hits the nail on the head. - Finis...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Lost fortunes and other dividend crimes By A. M. Johnson - Shocked,I am shocked to think our legislature realizing the results of action this article brings out, had no idea the projected action to extract funds from the Permanent Fund would result in this fiscal loss. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Hunting on POW! By Frances C. Natkong - To you who come to our island to hunt to kill senselessly we have to live here no matter how much you spend coming here. You kill our deer and bear that we live off all year. I've seen deer and bear carcasses with the bear hides gone and the antlers gone all trophy hunters. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

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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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