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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 26, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By NATALEE RIPLEY

Mountain Point Octopus
Front Page Feature Photo By NATALEE RIPLEY

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PFD: Online filing for the 2017 PFD began at 9:00 am on January 1, 2017 and ends March 31,2017.

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Alaska: Alaska Vital Statistics Annual Report Released - The 2015 Alaska Vital Statistics Annual Report, the most recent year for which complete data are available, is now available to the public. The report summarizes Alaskan resident births, deaths, adoptions, as well as marriages and divorces that occurred in the state between 2006 and 2015. These figures provide key data for health planners, providers, researchers and others interested in Alaska public health.

In 2015, Alaskan mothers gave birth to 11,291 babies, resulting in a slightly increased fertility rate of 77 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age since 2006. In 2015, 5,478 marriages were performed and there were 1,590 divorces; both rates declining over the last decade. In total, 4,324 deaths occurred among Alaskan residents.

The top 10 leading causes of death accounted for 73 percent of all deaths in Alaska. Ranked in order they are:

1. Cancer
2. Heart Disease
3. Accidents and poisonings
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
5. Suicide
6. Stroke
7. Diabetes
8. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
9. Alzheimer’s disease
10. Homicide

Age-adjusted rates of cancer and stroke have decreased over the past 10 years according to the 2015 Alaska Vital Statistics Annual Report. Among factors that may be contributing to these declines are cancer screening and decreased use of tobacco products. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services wrote in a news release that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths and is associated with several types of cancer and stroke.

The 2015 Alaska Vital Statistics Annual Report also highlights some additional categories of death: drug-induced deaths, which includes drug overdoses, and firearm related deaths. Opioid overdoses accounted for 71 percent of drug-induced deaths in 2015. Also in 2015, 69 percent of all firearm deaths in Alaska were suicides.

Data and health indicators presented in the Alaska Vital Statistics Annual Report are based upon information supplied by many people throughout the state. Birth mothers, doctors, midwives, other birth attendants, medical facilities, medical examiners, magistrates, funeral directors, and a host of other individuals complete information on vital records.

However, according to a 2016 study by John Hopkins Medicine, medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The question would be why are medical errors not reported in the vital statistics? According to the Johns Hopkins team, the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s way of collecting national health statistics fails to classify medical errors separately on the death certificate.

Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S. Their figure, published May 3, 2016, in The BMJ, surpasses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) third leading cause of death — respiratory disease, which kills close to 150,000 people per year.

The BMJ is a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal. It is one of the world's oldest general medical journals. The BMJ was originally called the British Medical Journal. The title was officially shortened to BMJ in 1988, and then changed to The BMJ in 2014.

“Incidence rates for deaths directly attributable to medical care gone awry haven’t been recognized in any standardized method for collecting national statistics,” says Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H., professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an authority on health reform. “The medical coding system was designed to maximize billing for physician services, not to collect national health statistics, as it is currently being used.” - More....
Thursday AM - January 26, 2017

Study finds premature death rates diverge in the United States by race and ethnicity - Premature death rates have declined in the United States among Hispanics, blacks, and Asian/Pacific Islanders (APIs), in line with trends in Canada and the United Kingdom, but increased among whites and American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), according to a comprehensive study of premature death rates for the entire U.S. population from 1999 to 2014. This divergence was reported by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and colleagues at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), both part of the National Institutes of Health, and the University of New Mexico College of Nursing. The findings appeared January 25, 2017, in The Lancet.

Declining rates of premature death (i.e., deaths among 25- to 64-year-olds) among Hispanics, blacks, and APIs were due mainly to fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease, and HIV over the time period of the study. The decline reflects successes in public health efforts to reduce tobacco use and medical advances to improve diagnosis and treatment. Whites also experienced fewer premature deaths from cancer and, for most ages, fewer deaths from heart disease over the study period. Despite these substantial improvements, overall premature death rates still remained higher for black men and women than for whites.

In contrast, overall premature death rates for whites and AI/ANs were driven up by dramatic increases in deaths from accidents (primarily drug overdoses), as well as suicide and liver disease. Among 25- to 30-year-old whites and AI/ANs, the investigators observed increases in death rates as high as 2 percent to 5 percent per year, comparable to those increases observed at the height of the U.S. AIDS epidemic.

"The results of our study suggest that, in addition to continued efforts against cancer, heart disease, and HIV, there is an urgent need for aggressive actions targeting emerging causes of death, namely drug overdoses, suicide, and liver disease," said Meredith Shiels, Ph.D., M.H.S., Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), NCI, and lead author of the study. - More...
Thursday AM - January 26, 2017


Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior - One of Alaska's most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change. This could impact the ecology of northern lakes, which already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.

Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior

Three-spine stickleback are abundant in Alaska's freshwater lakes.
Photo By Jason Ching/University of Washington

That's the main finding of a recent University of Washington study published in Global Change Biology that analyzed reproductive patterns of three-spine stickleback fish over half a century in Alaska's Bristol Bay region. The data show that stickleback breed earlier and more often each season in response to earlier spring ice breakup and longer ice-free summers.

While several papers have speculated that conditions brought on by a warming climate may allow animals to breed more often in a single year, this has only been empirically shown in insects. This study is the first to document multiple breeding cycles for fish in a single season due to climate change, said lead author Rachel Hovel, a postdoctoral researcher in the UW's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

"The exciting thing about this paper is that it shows, for the first time, the emergence of multiple breeding in a vertebrate as a response to climate change," Hovel said. "Climate change literature features many predictions and vulnerability assessments, but we don't have many opportunities to actually observe species' responses over time, as this is very data-intensive. Our ability to detect multiple breeding in fish is attributed to our comprehensive and high-quality long-term dataset."

The data were collected from 1963 to 2015 in Alaska's Lake Aleknagik, home to one of the UW's Alaska Salmon Program research stations. The research program has for decades recorded the abundance of juvenile sockeye salmon and other fish that live in the region's freshwater lakes. For 52 years, fish were captured in nets along the lakeshore at 10 different sites every seven days between June and September. All fish were identified and measured.

While the program's monitoring was designed to track the commercially important sockeye salmon population, scientists also meticulously recorded every other fish present, including three-spine stickleback. Stickleback represent almost half of the fish found in Lake Aleknagik, with juvenile sockeye salmon nearly matching that percentage. Three-spine stickleback make up a large percentage of the fish communities in many northern lakes, so these findings could be relevant throughout the region, Hovel said.

"Alaska is warming about twice as rapidly as most of the rest of the planet," she said. "These fish are adapted to survive in relatively cold environments with limited productive seasons. The responses to rapid warming that we see in lakes, like early spring ice breakup, are releasing some of these constraints." - More...
Thursday AM - January 26, 2017


Columns - Commentary

jpg Danny Tyree

DANNY TYREE: Should Silencers Be Easy To Obtain? - Although he's probably fighting a losing battle, political science professor Robert J. Spitzer stirred up a hornets' nest with a Washington Post opinion piece titled "The NRA wants to suppress one of guns' most important safety features."

Spitzer is concerned that the new Congress will rubberstamp the National Rifle Association's proposals and undo most of the roadblocks to purchasing a silencer (or a "suppressor," as the firearms industry prefers to call it). Silencers are legal in 42 states, but waiting periods, background checks, special taxes, mandatory viewing of ultrasounds of Bambi's mother, etc. mean aggravation for potential owners.

Even some ardent supporters of the Second Amendment can see the appeal of slowing down the proliferation of silencers. For many people, silencers conjure up thoughts of gangland slayings, innocent bystanders walking into a mass shooting scene without any warning or trespassers poaching on private property without the owners being any the wiser.

On the other hand, there are actually many Legitimate Reasons for silencers. (Granted, legitimate reasons are almost as easy to procure as a fake i.d., as in "There's a LEGITIMATE REASON why I need the key to my parents' liquor cabinet, a sump pump and a camel named Clyde.") - More...
Thursday AM - January 26, 2017

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Your Gift Can Pay Down US Debt - Like Trump By TOM PURCELL - To avoid conflicts of interest on his investments, President Trump plans to "gift" hotel profits from foreign governments' payments to the U.S. Treasury - gifts that will go directly toward paying down U.S. debt.

You see, the Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service accepts money gifted to the federal government but, according to the bureau, the gift must be made "on the condition that it be used to reduce debt held by the public." The bureau began allowing volunteer donations in 1961.

Though the bureau keeps records of the amount gifted toward reducing U.S. debt each year, it keeps no records on the individuals who gave. But lots of interesting people have volunteered their hard-earned dough over the years, according to one of the bureau's senior advisers I spoke with a few years ago. She shared some fascinating anecdotes with me.

Gift-givers generally mail in checks - rarely do they include a note of any kind. Sometimes they return their tax-refund checks, after signing the checks over to the Department of the Treasury. - More...
Thursday AM - January 26, 2017

jpg Arthur Martin

ARTHUR MARTIN: I Refuse to Stand By and Accept the Results of the Playoffs! #NotMySuperbowl - In case you missed it, this past weekend was very eventful:

In what I now deem (knowing nothing about football) “a stunning upset”, The Atlanta Falcons beat the Green Bay Packers (44-21) to win the NFC Championship and advance to the Superbowl. Meanwhile, the “Deflate Gate” maligned Patriots with Tom Brady triumphed against the Pittsburg Steelers 36-17 wining the AFC Championship and now the two teams will face-off on Sunday, February 5th in Houston, Texas.

Just a day before the play-offs however, thousands (perhaps even hundreds of thousands) of mostly women marched in the streets protesting…. Protesting what you ask?

I (your ‘umble writer and purveyor of truth) delved into “the interwebz” searching for answers and reasons for why the protests where occurring. In my research, I ran across the trending hashtag, “#NotMyPresident” which seemed to correlate with the “Women’s March” and essentially, the proponents of both the march and the hashtag, where claiming that Trump is an illegitimate President because: - More...
Thursday AM - January 26, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: GAGGED

Editorial Cartoon: GAGGED
By Bill Day ©2017, Cagle Cartoons
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

GAGGED Related: Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies - Office of the Press Secretary, White House - Regulatory Freeze Pending Review - In order to ensure that the President's appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations, I ask on behalf of the President that you immediately take the following steps: - More...
Friday - January 20, 2017

GAGGED Related: Alaska Congressman Don Young issued the following statement in response to Temporary Regulatory Freeze/ Agency: - “Until the Senate approves new agency heads and officials, it seems logical to place a temporary pause on new regulations and public policy positions – beyond issues of national security and public safety – from these agencies. This is not meant to silence those in public service or eliminate interaction with our communities, but to ensure the values and beliefs of this administration are accurately shared with the American people. My hope is that the Senate will do its part and allow the President’s team to take office. Although, as many Alaskans know, I would not oppose a permanent pause of major federal regulations until they are approved by Congress.” - January 24, 2017


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letter Hold the line on spending By Rodney Dial - I’ve been on the Ketchikan Borough Assembly for four months now. The following is my opinion of the state of the borough for your consideration. My views do not necessarily reflect the views of the other assembly members.

If you have read the paper lately, you are aware that the borough has a 1 million dollar deficit this year, growing substantially in future years. There are several reasons for the deficit; most are not within the control of the Assembly. Issues currently impacting the budget include: reduced State and Federal Aid, depletion of some funds and increasing health care/employee costs. Further complicating the budget is the SOA “nickel and diming” the community in ways such as charging us a tax liability for the shipyard which is owned by the State (AIDEA). - More...
Thursday AM - January 26, 2017

letter The Governor’s Budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Governor Walker submitted a budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes three primary items: cuts in government spending, increased revenue, and the use of some Permanent Fund earnings, which is a separate fund from where we collect our dividend. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 24, 2017

letter RE: SEVENTY-EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS By Douglas Thompson - I agree with David Hanger's recent letter concerning cost overruns. We pay in total close to three hundred thousand dollars per year to Amylon as an administrator. the question is for what? Since he has been here I can not recall one project that has come in on budget and many that have had to be redone at cost to the city. The argument certainly can not be made that we are paying for expertise! The waste of tax dollars is appalling. The lack of concern by the council is disgusting. Their continued response as the funds drain away that should have upgraded sewer, water, streets and other vital services is to threaten to increase taxes. Why do we need such a costly incompetent manager with several assistants to shovel away the tax dollars? - More...
Tuesday AM - January 24, 2017

letter Condolence By A.M.Johnson - What a well thought out and presented word of condolence the owner of Tongass Business Center offered in the Ketchikan Daily News publication of Jan 17. It is a rare moment in the world of competitive business to digest words that do not disparage, gloat, or make braggadocio taunting of a lost competitor. The loss of any small business in a economy that is hurting is a sad event for that business,its employees and community spirit. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 18, 2017

letter RE: Oppressive Tax Code By Stephen Eldridge - Yet again, Propagandist Joe O'Hara trots out the same old FAIRtax (H.R. 25)garbage, in a new trash bag. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 18, 2017

letter “Travelin’ Music” - Ketchikan Community Concert Band's Performance By Christopher Wilhelm - If you stayed inside Sunday afternoon because of the dark and windy, rainy-as-heck weather, then you missed the best of the best from Ketchikan’s musical talent pool. Roy McPherson led his forty-odd member band through a dozen pieces of rhythmic complexity and melodic variations. What this audience member did not expect was the level of performance skill that was displayed. You didn’t go? You really missed something. When they finished, I thought “What just happened??” - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

letter SEVENTY-EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS By David G Hanger - How did a $44 million Ketchikan hospital bond issue become a $78 million scam? This is the kind of project that kills a town of less than 15,000 people. Who is going to pay for this mess as the outmigration becomes more and more apparent? - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

letter Democracy Fail By Norbert Chaudhary - Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Brace Yourself. The Trump Era is about to begin. Crony Capitalism with a Soviet twist. - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

letter Women's March: Ketchikan By Mary L. Stephenson - As coordinator of the Women's March rally for Ketchikan, I would like to take this opportunity to update our program and encourage you and your circle of friends to participate; and to answer some of the questions that might be pending. - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

letter Oppressive income tax code By Joe O'Hara - Americans have long suffered under our oppressive income tax code. The 16th Amendment to the Constitution - which enacted the income tax - has proven over and over to be just a noose around our necks. .- More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

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Tongass Federal Credit Union - Ketchikan, Metlakatla, Klawock, Thorne Bay, & Wrangell, Alaska

First City Homeless Services - Ketchikan, Alaska

PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center - Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska Car Rental - Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska Airlines - Travel Now Discount

Rendezvous Senior Day Services, Inc. - Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan Area Arts & Humanities Council - The 31st Annual Wearable ARt Show - Ketchikan, Alaska

Madison Lumber & Hardward - TrueValue - Ketchikan, Alaska

Creekside Family Health Clinic - Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska Travelers Accommodations, LLC - Ketchikan, Alaska

Schmolck Mechanical Contractors - Ketchiikan, Alaska

Alaskan & Proud

AAA Moving & Storage - Ketchikan, Alaska

Sourdough Tactical - Ward Creek Industrial - Ketchikan, Alaska

Lighthouse Services - Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan H2O - Bulk Water Hauling

Ketchikan H20 Bottled Water Service - Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska Airlines - Travel Tuesday

Kay's Gift Shop - Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan Humane Society

Groomingdales Pet Resort - BARK, a no-kill animal shelter - Ketchikan, Alaska

The Home Office - The Local Paper; Ketchikan, Alaska

The Local Paper is now available online.
Click here for this week's printed edition


“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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