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Ketchikan - POW: NTSB Preliminary Report: Terrain Awareness and Warning System in Inhibit Mode at Time of Plane Crash - The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on the single-engine, turbine-powered, float-equipped de Havilland DHC3T Otter airplane, N3952B, that sustained substantial damage during an impact at about 8:35 AM with rocky, mountainous and rising terrain about 9 miles west of Hydaburg and approximately 39 miles south southwest of Ketchikan. The airplane was registered to Blue Aircraft, LLC and operated by Taquan Air as a visual flight rules (VFR) on-demand commercial flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 when the accident occurred on July 10, 2018.

Of the 11 occupants on board, the airline transport pilot was uninjured, four passengers sustained minor injuries, and six passengers sustained serious injuries. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight departed Steamboat Bay about 7:47 AM destined for Ketchikan, Alaska. 

The area between Steamboat Bay and Ketchikan consists of remote inland fjords, coastal waterways, and steep mountainous terrain.

During an initial telephone interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (David B Banning) on July 11, the accident pilot (Mike Hudgins) reported that while in level cruise flight at about 1,100 feet mean sea level (MSL), and as the flight progressed into an area known as Sulzer Portage, visibility decreased rapidly from about 3-5 miles to nil. In an attempt to turnaround and return to VFR conditions, the pilot said he initiated a climbing right turn. Prior to completing the 180° right turn, he saw what he believed to be a body of water and he became momentarily disoriented, so he leveled the wings. Shortly thereafter, the pilot realized that the airplane was approaching an area of snow-covered mountainous terrain, so he applied full power and initiated a steep, emergency climb to avoid rising terrain ahead. According to the pilot's report to NTSB, as the steep emergency climb continued, the airspeed decayed, and the airplane subsequently collided with an area of rocky, rising terrain. During the initial impact, the airplane's floats were sheared off. The airplane wreckage came to rest in an area known as Jumbo Mountain, sustaining substantial damage to wings and fuselage, according to the NTSB Preliminary Report.

The pilot stated to the investigator-in-charge (David B Banning) that the Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) was in the inhibit mode at the time of the accident. 

According to the preliminary report, the passenger seated in the right front seat, reported after departure, they proceeded to Klawock and then made what he perceived to be as a 180° turn. He said there were numerous course deviations as they maneuvered around weather, and at times all forward visibility was lost as they briefly flew in and out of the clouds. He said he became uncomfortable and was thinking it would be prudent to just land on the water. Shortly thereafter, the passenger observed a large mountain loom directly in front of the airplane, knowing they could not out climb the mountain he presumed there must be a pass through the area. As they continued to approach the mountain they entered a cloud and he observed the pilot add power and pitch up, but the airplane impacted the side of the mountain. 

According to a second passenger seated towards the back of the airplane, the weather at Steamboat Bay when they departed was rain and low clouds. During the flight he could occasionally see the land and water below, but sometimes he could not. He said that there was consistent serious fog all around. After they passed Waterfall Resort he became very concerned that they were headed in the wrong direction. He texted the right front seat passenger (a friend) and asked him to ask the pilot to land and wait for the weather to improve. He said that he did not see the mountain until they were right on it, and observed the pilot add power right before impact.  - More...
Friday PM - July 20, 2018

 

Fish Factor: Salmon Fisheries Lagging in Several Alaska Regions By LAINE WELCH - Alaska’s salmon fisheries continue to lag alarmingly in several regions, with overall catches down by a third from the same time last year. 

The single exception is at the unconquerable Bristol Bay, where a 37 million sockeye catch so far has single-handedly pushed Alaska’s total salmon harvest towards a lackluster 60 million fish. 

It’s too soon to press the panic button and there is lots of fishing left to go, but fears are growing that Alaska’s 2018 salmon season will be a bust for most fishermen. Worse, it comes on the heels of a cod crash and tanking halibut markets (and catches).

State salmon managers predicted that Alaska’s salmon harvest this year would be down by 34 percent to 149 million fish; due to an expected shortfall of pinks. But with the exception of Bristol Bay, nobody expected fishing to be this bad. 

Catches of sockeye, the big money fish, are off by millions at places like  Copper River, Chignik and Kodiak, which has had the weakest sockeye harvest in nearly 40 years. 

The weekly update by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute said that coho and Chinook catches remain slow, and while it is still way early in the season, the “bread and butter” pink harvests are off by 65 percent from the strong run of two years ago.  

Chums are proving to be some fishermen’s best friends again, following last year’s record 25 million haul. While fishing is 40 percent behind last year’s pace, catches are strong at Prince William Sound and in the Arctic regions.

Kotzebue is readying for a top 10 chum catch and some of the best salmon news comes from Norton Sound, where chums and pinks have buyers scrambling to keep up with the fish. 

“Pink salmon have overrun the Sound again this year,” wrote veteran Jim Menard for the state’s weekly salmon updates at his ADF&G office in Nome. He added that several part-timers were hired this summer to help keep counts at the weirs passing pinks.

“While it's not quite combat fishing there are big crowds, especially kids at Nome River beach mouth, pulling in pinks nearly every cast,” Menard said. He added that sockeyes also are showing up strong enough to “create another caravan of vehicles heading out of Nome to seine and gillnet sockeyes in the river.” - More...
Friday PM - July 20, 2018


 

Alaska: Stedman Sends Criminal Referral to Dept of Law for Leak of Confidential Audit By MARY KAUFFMAN - Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka), chairman of the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee, sent the Alaska Department of Law a criminal referral this week for what he says is the unauthorized leak of a confidential audit related to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. According to Stedman, the confidential audit was given to a reporter before the auditor had briefed the full committee, and before the committee had the chance to review, adopt and approve the audit and to make it a public document.

“The legislative audit process and the work of the legislative auditor are critical to the legislature’s oversight role of the executive branch and boards and commissions,” said Sen. Stedman. “The confidentiality of audits still in progress must be maintained. I have asked the Department of Law to review the release of a confidential audit and decide whether prosecution is appropriate.” 

According to the July 17th referral memo to the Alaska Department of Law, Mike Abbott, CEO of the Alaska Mental Health Trust, was referred by Stedman for potential violation of confidentiality provisions established by Alaska law.

For the last year and a half, the Alaska Legislative Budget and Audit Committee (LBAC) and the Alaska Division of Legislative Audit have been engaged in the performance of an audit of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (Audit: “Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority Asset Management and Other Select Issues; 04- 30090-18”)

LBAC procedures require the auditor to “explain the confidential nature of the report to the auditee when delivered” as per Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, Formal Policies and Procedures (1984). On February 8, 2018, the auditor and the audit team met with several representatives of the AMHT, including Abbott, and explained that the preliminary audit report is a confidential document.

The memo to the Alaska Department of Law revealed that during the audit process, it was discovered the confidential preliminary audit of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority had been “leaked” to Anne Hillman, a reporter for Alaska Public Media, by the Mike Abbott, Executive Director of the AMHT.

The alleged violation of confidentiality was discovered on June 5, 2018, when reporter Hillman attended the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee meeting held in Anchorage. The AMHT preliminary audit was on the agenda to be considered in executive session and possibly to be released in final to the public.

It was reveled in the memo that Hillman had previously emailed the auditor on June 4, 2018, and asked for an interview regarding the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority audit. The auditor suggested she wait until the preliminary audit was released and then read it. - More...
Friday PM - July 20, 2018

 
COLUMN/COMMENTARY


jpg JOE GUZZARDI

JOE GUZZARDI: Melting Down over ICE - Calls to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement began as whispers, but today are a lion's-roar demand, at least among illegal immigration advocates and their congressional allies. Early on, the loudest end-ICE voices were the usual suspects, with California Senators Dianne Feinstein and her junior colleague, Kamala Harris, leading the pack. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who labeled ICE "ugly and wrong," soon joined the fray.

Last month, Feinstein introduced a bill that would essentially ban arresting any prospective illegal alien who is within 100 miles of the border. Then, on cue, the House dropped its own anti-ICE legislation.

How seriously Americans should take the bravado was in question until leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and sitting New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also jumped on the abolish-ICE bandwagon, and called the agency a "deportation force." Once highly visible presidential hopefuls start sabre rattling, the hour to take the abolish ICE movement seriously is at hand.

What's unclear is how much thought the anti-ICE faction has put into their position. First, if "abolish ICE" is a rally cry for mid-term and 2020 elections, it's a bad strategy. The idea is unpopular among mainstream voters.

And second, eliminating ICE would mean ending the internal enforcement process that allows for the removal of thousands of criminals who break U.S. laws once they cross the U.S. northern and southern borders, or otherwise illegally enter the country. Moreover, shutting down ICE would encourage more illegal immigration, and among other foibles, would expose working and unemployed Americans to more foreign-born job competition.

Non-enforcement proponents claim that humanitarian concerns motivate them. But, as is often the case, little concern is shown toward the many victims of non-enforcement, the average, vulnerable citizens and illegal immigrants who the emboldened aliens would target. - More...
Friday PM - July 20, 2018

jpg MICHAEL REAGAN

MICHAEL REAGAN: Putin Wins, Trump Second, Dems Still Nuts - Yes, President Trump screwed up in front of the whole world at the Helsinki Summit.

But Democrats and the anti-Trump media have a much more serious long-term problem - they're still out of their minds.

They still actually think the Great Russian Collusion Hoax is going to win them the House and chase President Trump out of the White House.

It hasn't been widely reported, but after last week's indictment of Russian intelligence officers by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office for trying to disrupt the 2016 election, half the Democrats in Congress had to sneak over to Chris Matthews' office to get an emergency Trump Derangement Syndrome booster shot.

"Russia Tried to Sway 2016 Election!!!" is now the crazy Democrats' favorite new front-page scare-headline.

Trump of course is somehow supposed to be responsible for Russia's meddling, according to the fake media, even though all the hacking and swaying occurred when the Obama gang was in power.

Not that the Trump-hate media care, but here's an old newsflash I found under my desk:

The Russians have been screwing with other people's elections forever.

We've been screwing with other people's elections forever.

Here are some other newsflashes for the media:

The Russians have spies in America. We have spies in Russia.

China has spies in America. We have spies in China.

Basically, every country with a GDP greater than Chad's has spies in other countries. - More...
Friday PM - July 20, 2018


jpg Political Cartoon: Trump, Putin Sequel

Political Cartoon: Trump, Putin Sequel
By Rick McKee ©2018, The Augusta Chronicle, GA
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

      

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jpg Letter / Opinion

Reelect Governor Bill Walker By Gil Stokes - The 1st Alaskan Combat Intelligence Platoon was assembled to defend Alaska during WWII. The members of this platoon gave themselves the name “Cutthroats” as a nod to the special freedoms the military granted them in their operations. Fisherman, trappers, and hunters; these men were chosen because they had demonstrated an ability to survive and thrive in the harshest situations, to dig in amidst the heaviest storms. In times of peril, they could be counted on to run towards the fire.

Ed Walker was one of  Castner’s Cutthroats. And his son, Bill Walker, must have learned a thing or two from him. Bill has been Alaskan since he was born,  and since before Alaska was a state. When the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964 wiped out his family’s business, Bill, 12 years old, earned a job as school  janitor to make extra money for his family. He would go on to support his parents and siblings as a carpenter, teamster and laborer on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Bill went on to work as an advocate for his home community, Valdez. He became the city’s youngest-ever Mayor and later its lead attorney in high-stakes battles with the oil industry, taking Exxon all the way to the US Supreme Court and winning . At the pivotal moments in his family’s history and his state’s, Bill stepped up. - More...
Friday PM - July 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Three Components of the PFD Tax By Ghert Abbott - The PFD tax that the state government has imposed on Alaskans is composed of three components. The first is the $1,000 dollar head tax that is taken directly out your Dividend. This is a quintessentially regressive tax – working and middle class people pay a far greater portion of their total income to the state then the rich, who pay practically nothing. This is perhaps the worst system of revenue the state could have devised and enacted. It penalizes families, taxing them higher then single individuals. It hurts young people trying to make a start and save for their future. It burdens retirees trying to live on a fixed income. Its regressiveness also discriminates against small, rural communities, such as Ketchikan, where the cost of living is higher. This results in wealth, population, and power further being concentrated in Anchorage and the rail-belt.

The second component is the state taking and spending the money that otherwise would have been reinvested into further growing the Permanent Fund. Since the Permanent Fund’s inception, its earnings have been underdrawn in order for the Fund to expand. This is why the average PFD has steadily increased over the past 38 years. By taking the investment money, the state is freezing the Fund’s value, depriving you of the benefits of its future growth. This component is much more insidious then the direct tax on the PFD, as the money is effectively coming out of your future dividends. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Dunleavy for Governor By Jim Minnery - The 2018 race for Governor could be the most consequential state election in Alaska’s history.  The gravity of Alaska’s problems helps explain why—an economic recession, skyrocketing crime, and a state government that is in a perpetual budget crisis. 

But there’s another big reason this election is unique.  Voters have a chance to elect a candidate with extraordinary strength, skills, and character.  The Board of Directors of Alaska Family Action has voted to endorse Mike Dunleavy for Governor.  Only rarely do we endorse candidates, especially in primary elections.

Mike Dunleavy is the exception, because he’s an exceptional candidate.  We’ve observed Mike Dunleavy closely during his years in public office, especially the five years he served in the State Senate. 

Yes, Dunleavy has solid, conservative values.  But more impressive is his steely determination to move beyond “rhetoric and symbolism,” and actually achieve real policy victories that will make a positive difference in the lives of Alaska families. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Truth about Wildlife Management in Alaska By Sam Cotten - Alaska’s support for the National Park Service’s recently proposed amendments to hunting and trapping practices on national preserves in Alaska is not about trophies. It does not concern sport or recreation. It has nothing to do with predator control.

Alaska’s scale and geography are incomprehensible to most Americans. The state is enormous, largely without roads, and in many places as wild today as when its Native people first encountered Russian explorers some 275 years ago. - More...
Sunday PM - July 15, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

That Moon Colony Will Be a Reality Sooner Than You Think By Wilbur Ross - The first man on the moon held an American flag. In the not-too-distant future, astronauts on the moon may be holding fuel pumps.

The future for American commercial space activity is bright. Space entrepreneurs are already planning travel to Mars, and they are looking to the moon as the perfect location for a way station to refuel and restock Mars-bound rockets. As much as this sounds like the plot of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it is coming closer to reality sooner than you may have ever thought possible. - More...
Sunday PM - July 15, 2018

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