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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 24, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By LISA THOMPSON

Sunrise Thomas Basin
Front Page Feature Photo By LISA THOMPSON ©2018

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Ketchikan: Flu Season declared for Ketchikan - A century ago, a flu pandemic infected 500 million people worldwide, 50-100 million died. That was three to five percent of the 1918 world population.

Vaccinations and better healthcare have decreased the pandemic opportunities but flu is still with us.

For most, the flu is a week or so of feeling terrible. For some, the flu is deadly and now it’s come around again as it usually does each winter.

It is officially Flu Season.

According to Ketchikan Medical Center, several people have been hospitalized, there is an increase in flu-like illnesses, and testing has been increasingly positive for influenza in the community so Infection Prevention, infectious disease physicians, and Public Health have made the determination.

The flu, unlike a cold, comes on suddenly with symptoms that can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea or vomiting. Complications like pneumonia can arise too that can be life-threatening.

Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you do get sick, stay home and rest, drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss (dehydration), and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 24, 2018

Health Feature: The 'greatest pandemic in history' was 100 years ago - but many of us still get the basic facts wrong By RICHARD GUNDERMAN - This year marks the 100th anniversary of the great influenza pandemic of 1918. Between 50 and 100 million people are thought to have died, representing as much as 5 percent of the world’s population. Half a billion people were infected.

Especially remarkable was the 1918 flu’s predilection for taking the lives of otherwise healthy young adults, as opposed to children and the elderly, who usually suffer most. Some have called it the greatest pandemic in history.

The 1918 flu pandemic has been a regular subject of speculation over the last century. Historians and scientists have advanced numerous hypotheses regarding its origin, spread and consequences. As a result, many of us harbor misconceptions about it.

By correcting these 10 myths, we can better understand what actually happened and learn how to prevent and mitigate such disasters in the future.

1. The pandemic originated in Spain

No one believes the so-called “Spanish flu” originated in Spain.

The pandemic likely acquired this nickname because of World War I, which was in full swing at the time. The major countries involved in the war were keen to avoid encouraging their enemies, so reports of the extent of the flu were suppressed in Germany, Austria, France, the United Kingdom and the U.S. By contrast, neutral Spain had no need to keep the flu under wraps. That created the false impression that Spain was bearing the brunt of the disease.

In fact, the geographic origin of the flu is debated to this day, though hypotheses have suggested East Asia, Europe and even Kansas.

2. The pandemic was the work of a ‘super-virus’

The 1918 flu spread rapidly, killing 25 million people in just the first six months. This led some to fear the end of mankind, and has long fueled the supposition that the strain of influenza was particularly lethal.

However, more recent study suggests that the virus itself, though more lethal than other strains, was not fundamentally different from those that caused epidemics in other years.

Much of the high death rate can be attributed to crowding in military camps and urban environments, as well as poor nutrition and sanitation, which suffered during wartime. It’s now thought that many of the deaths were due to the development of bacterial pneumonias in lungs weakened by influenza. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 24, 2018

Southeast Alaska: Oregon Woman Sentenced for Embezzling Approximately $300,000 from a Southeast Alaska Tribal Organization – An Oregon woman has been sentenced for embezzling approximately $300,000 from the Skagway Traditional Council, which is a federally recognized tribal organization.  

Delia Commander, 64, of Oregon, was sentenced on January 22, 2018 by U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason to serve 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Commander was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $297,731.  Commander pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from an Indian tribal organization.

According to court documents, from at least 2010 to 2014, Commander embezzled approximately $300,000 from the Skagway Traditional Council’s funds for her personal use.  During that time, Commander was employed as the Tribal Administrator for the Village of Skagway, dba Skagway Traditional Council (“STC”), where she received $45,000 annually, plus benefits and free housing, as compensation.

Commander was responsible for day-to-day operations of the tribe, including managing tribal housing, environmental and waste management, and managing finances for the STC tribal government, among other things.  During each year of Commander’s tenure as Tribal Administrator for STC, the tribe received approximately $150,000 from Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for operating funds.   

According to the U.S. Justice Department, Commander embezzled the money by using the tribal credit card to make unauthorized cash advances at casinos and other locations, and by making unauthorized personal purchases with tribal funds. The unauthorized expenditures included paying for personal travel including a trip to Hawaii for herself and a family member, online university courses, personal credit card bills, personal vehicle maintenance, and personal shopping, among other things.  Over time, the Tribal Council became suspicious of Commander because of her frequent travel and lack of financial documents provided to Council members.  - More...
Wednesday PM - January 24, 2018

Alaska: Congress Urged to Pass Banking Legislation for State Marijuana Businesses - In a bi-partisan effort to support a reasoned approach to regulating state-licensed marijuana businesses, Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth and 18 other attorneys general from across the country sent a letter to Congress recently seeking legislative action to expressly allow banks to provide services to marijuana businesses operating in compliance with state law. 

“Allowing banks to work with these businesses is good policy, which is why the concept has bipartisan support,” Attorney General Lindemuth said. “Most importantly, bringing the cash from state-licensed marijuana businesses into the banking system will alleviate the public safety issues that come with having to rely on cash, instead of depositing money in a bank. It will also help state regulators better oversee the new industry and go after bad actors.” 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice rescinded long-standing guidance that outlined how strong state regulatory systems would protect federal interests and priorities with respect to marijuana and marijuana-related banking transactions. Withdrawing that guidance has generated uncertainty and confusion for banks and state regulators seeking to implement state law.  - More...
Wednesday PM - January 24, 2018


Alaska: More than 8,000 Alaskans urge legislators to approve Stand for Salmon Bill ahead of bill’s hearing - Letters of support from more than 8,000 Alaskans were delivered to the State Legislature yesterday as Alaska House Fisheries Committee Chair Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) reintroduced House Bill 199. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Stutes, would update state law governing development in salmon habitat. The hearing comes in the second full week of the legislative session, showing high priority for the issue among legislators and mirroring widespread support from Alaskans statewide.

House Bill 199, the “Wild Salmon Legacy Act,” would update Title 16 - Alaska’s fish habitat protection and permitting law. This law guides how the State of Alaska permits activities and development projects that may impact wild salmon; however, this law has not been updated since Statehood.

According to Stutes' sponsor's statement, the bill will create a balanced and efficient permitting system that will protect Alaska’s wild salmon runs, promote responsible development and will give Alaskans a greater voice in major permitting decisions that impact wild salmon streams. HB 199 will provide regulatory certainty for resource development companies while ensuring protection of salmon habitat.

This bill was drafted in response to a letter the Alaska Board of Fisheries sent to the Alaska Legislature in January 2017 recommending it modernize Title 16. The Board of Fisheries’ action came at the request of a group of Alaskans comprised of commercial, sport, subsistence and personal use fishermen concerned about the future of the salmon they depend on.

“I encourage all stakeholders to engage in this process so that we can achieve a true balance between responsible development and safeguarding our cherished salmon resources that we all hold dear,” said Rep. Stutes to the hearing’s standing-room-only audience, with attendees including Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten and Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon.

“Protecting our salmon habitat is important now more than ever and is an investment in Alaska’s future,” said Melanie Brown, an organizer with Stand for Salmon, who delivered the support letters today. “Considering our state’s growth, and Pebble Limited Partnership’s recent mine permit application, this is a much-needed opportunity for Alaskans to have a voice in the protection of our salmon and to hold major developments to higher standards.” - More...
Wednesday PM - January 24, 2018

Alaska: Stolen Mail Included over 300 Apple Computers En Route to School Districts in Alaska Villages - U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced Monday that six former Ravn Alaska employees have been charged by a federal grand jury for stealing mail, including Apple computers destined for village school districts, from the U.S. Postal Service.  One defendant was arrested Friday, the other five defendants were taken into custody Monday.  

Congress Lepou, 29, Breadoflife “Presley” Faiupu, 36, Hubert Barte, 37, Paulo Maae, 24, Harold Velicaria, 35, and Rogelio “Roger” Daquis, 49, all of Anchorage, were named in the indictment charging them with conspiracy, mail theft, and possession of stolen mail. 

During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants were employed by Ravn Alaska.  Ravn Alaska employees utilized a company vehicle, including the “supervisor truck” to pick up mail from the U.S. Postal Service Processing and Distribution Center in Anchorage, and transfer it to Ravn airplanes in Anchorage for delivery to Alaskan villages.  From March 2015 to April 2017, approximately 343 Apple computers went missing after being scanned in by the U.S. Postal Service Distribution Center, but before arriving at the U.S. post offices in the Alaskan villages.  The majority of those computers were en route to school districts in Alaska villages. 

According to the indictment, beginning in at least March 2015 and continuing through April 13, 2017, Lepou and Faiupu used Ravn Alaska’s supervisor truck – intended for the transportation of mail from the U.S. Postal Service facility to Ravn airplanes for delivery to villages – to take articles stolen from the mail and drive them to the Ravn employee parking lot to load into their personal vehicles.  Lepou and Faiupu worked with the other defendants to find buyers for the articles stolen from the mail.  The defendants shared the proceeds from the sales.  The total approximate value of items stolen from the mail during the timeframe of the conspiracy is $489,000.  - More...
Wednesday PM - January 24, 2018


Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: Dear Amazon: Why Not Us? - It probably comes as no surprise that Ketchikan is not on the list of finalists for the Amazing Amazon Headquarters Contest.

The Seattle-based internet leviathan announced last year that it was looking at creating a second  "headquarters" in North America. At stake are an estimated 50,000 jobs and untold tens of millions of dollars of economic boost for the lucky community (Pick me, pick me, pick me!!!!).

They just announced the finalists (pick me, pick me, pick me!!!). Most of the locations are in the center of the country or on the East Coast, because Amazon would clearly like to "spread the wealth" out of the West Coast, but Los Angeles and Denver are still on the list. Seattle didn't make the cut because - well - because it already has 50,000 Amazon employees.

That didn't stop the Emerald City from making a bid though!

Anyway, the reason that Ketchikan is not on the final list of 20 communities is because - well - we didn't send in a proposal. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 24, 2018


DANNY TYREE: Stop Misrepresenting the Statue of Liberty! - They'll do it every time.

Whenever Joe Sixpack (or Joe's congressman) gingerly raises the subject of hiring extra border guards, tweaking our broken system of monitoring work visas or fine-tuning our vetting of refugees from terrorist-infested countries, the cliche© knee-jerk responses are swift.

Copycat editorial cartoonists, sanctimonious talk-show hosts and professional agitators bombard us with caricatures of an immigrant-loathing Statue of Liberty and parodies of Emma Lazarus's 1883 sonnet "The New Colossus" ("Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...").

Joe and his ilk are savagely branded as haters and xenophobes and violators of sacred promises.

But "The New Colossus" is not a covenant Moses brought down from Mount Sinai. It is not an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a landmark Supreme Court ruling, an executive order, a treaty, a trade pact or even a local zoning ordinance.

It is a poem. It is an inspirational poem that has stood the test of time (although most people remember only about 13 words of it), but it is still just a poem. It is not a contract that leaves Joe legally and morally bound to suffer public shaming at the whim of elitists living in gated communities. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 24, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Political Cartoon: Government Shutdown
BY Rick McKee ©2018, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Inconsiderate and irresponsible dumping By Jerry Cegelske - I recently went to the dog park area off of Revilla Road to see what additional trash and solid waste had been dumped there.  This has been a dumping area for many years despite the fact that homeowners in the Borough has already paid a monthly landfill fee so there is no charge for residential trash.

Construction debris is charged a nominal fee.

I was glad to see that the largest area of the dog park had been fenced in and that the group has been working on their dream of a safe place to let their dogs run loose.  To those who have worked so hard and continue to do so “Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and continuing efforts”. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 24, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gravina Access By Dave Kiffer - Chris Herby's recent letter about Gravina Access touches on some very important points. Most notably that, after all the years and all the millions of dollars of federal money that was appropriated and spent, access to the airport, on the most basic level, will not appreciably improve.

As an elected official who was involved in many of these debates and discussions, I find the final State decision of how to proceed as disappointing as Chris does. - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Airport Access By Vera Plumb - Just a comment regarding Chris Herby's letter about airport access: It was Governor Sarah Pallin who coined the phrase "bridge to nowhere." Governor Pallin was responsible for killing the bridge. - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Exploitation of ancient tradition By Rosita Worl - It has come to our attention that the group, Dance of the Deer Foundation, is planning a shamanism retreat in Juneau, the ancient homeland of the Auk people of Aak’w K?wáan, and that you are charging a substantial fee for this experience.

This is another form of appropriation from Native cultures and societies that began with the taking of our lands and our ceremonial and sacred objects, and now our spiritual practices. Shamans played an important role in our societies in caring for the welfare of the tribe. Shamanism was not a commercial enterprise. This is a violation of a most sacred tradition of Native peoples. We support the people who have called your practices an exploitation of their people’s ancient traditions and we request that you not come into Aak’w K?wáan. - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Women's March By A. M. Johnson - Observing the 2nd annual women's march across the nation, one has to have a quandary of thoughts. One that seems to provide conflict.

The congressional Liberal's legislative goal claims that DACA Illegal Aliens should be granted Amnesty because they had no choice in being brought to the USA was apparent in the numerous signs .... but that Innocent babies should be murdered by way of abortion, even though they had no choice in being conceived in the USA. - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Tax Supported Racism By Robert B. Holston, Jr. - Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, believed in eugenics and promoted "good" breeding and aimed to prevent "poor" breeding. The idea was that the human race could be improved through encouraging people with traits like intelligence, hard work, cleanliness (thought to be genetic) to reproduce and those populations lacking such traits should have reproduction controlled.  Eugenics was taken to its horrifying extreme during the Holocaust, through forced sterilizations and breeding experiments.  

Margaret Sanger wrote in a 1921 article , “As an advocate of Birth Control, I wish to take advantage of the present opportunity to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the "unfit" and the "fit", admittedly is the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes.”  - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The hypocrisy of political correctness By John Grimaldi - A professor at NYU was shunned by his colleagues because of "the content and structure of his thinking."   That's right, the "thought police" were after him.  They didn't like the fact that he was using social media to expose the hypocrisy of political correctness on campus.
Because he exercised his right to free speech, Professor Michael Rectenwald claims he was the target of defamation and harassment by his colleagues.  And so, Rectenwald recently filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court.  The New York Post reported that "the politically incorrect NYU professor accused of 'incivility' by liberal colleagues and put on leave is now suing the college and four fellow profs for calling him everything from a drug addict to Satan."  - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Ketchikan Airport & Access By Chris J. Herby - As a community we all had no choice but to watch our long anticipated bridge to Gravina Island die a slow and miserable death. After our congressional delegation worked hard to get funding for our bridge, it was taken away from us due to negative coverage in the national fake news media. However, we were still left with roughly 90 million dollars to improve access to Gravina. Of course that isn’t enough to build a bridge but nevertheless it’s a large amount of money that should surly be able to improve access to our airport. Or maybe not. From what I have read, it appears that we are going to burn through that money and actually not improve our airport access at all. It is my understanding that after we spend all of that money, we are still only going to have access by a ferry every 30 minutes. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Open Letter to Alaska Delegation By Laura Plenert - Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Representative Young, please encourage your Democrat counterparts to show up the State of the Union address.  This is a time honored tradition.  It is about respect for the Office of President, not the current occupant.  

I cannot imagine how harsh the cries would have been if a group of Republicans did not attend President Obama’s State of the Union address. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Jones Act By Timothy J Droke - In response to Mr. Art Johnson I would like to put forward some thoughts regarding the Jones Act, which is simply a form of protectionism. With protectionism you see the protected group benefit and those outside the protected group see a negative impact. In this day and age when ships fly a flag of convenience (think Panama or Liberia) the Jones act is ripe for repeal or some modifications. Residents outside the contiguous states such as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam all pay out of their pocket higher costs than they should due to this act due to the higher costs associated with operating these US built ships, why should Alaskans pay more for the food on their table to protect a small class of jobs? - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

SENATOR “BOUGHT & PAID FOR” JUST ANOTHER DAMNED LIAR By David G Hanger - The first problem with being owned, Senator Dan “Bought & Paid For” Sullivan is that ‘ere long you cannot see the forest, let alone the trees, because of the self-deception born of your own filthy lies. Be aware that assuming the position of lapdog licking fundamentally distorts reality.

Explain to your audience, Owned One, how opening up ANWR is going to make us all so wealthy? Under the provisions of SB21 the state treasury is currently being raided by the oil industry to the extent of $900 million to $1.2 billion a year in payouts to the oil companies to cover their exploration costs. The state of Alaska collects no tax revenue of any consequence from the oil industry until the price of a barrel of oil exceeds $110 a barrel, so what is very obvious is no matter what is or is not discovered in the way of new oil reserves in ANWR and elsewhere will cost the state treasury and ordinary Alaskans billions of dollars more in these goddamned tax credits. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

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. - 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. - 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.” - More...
Tuesday PM - January 09, 2018

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