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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 09, 2023

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Colors of the Tongass 2023
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Ketchikan Historical: Fifty years ago, a great novel took shape in Ketchikan; Silko's 'Ceremony' was created in a vacant law office on Ketchikan Creek; I was so homesick, I tried to remake the homeland that I missed so much.' By DAVE KIFFER - What is likely the most famous novel ever written in the First City was neither about Ketchikan nor even Alaska.

Fifty years ago, a great novel took shape in Ketchikan

Leslie Marmon Silko
Photo courtesy National Women's History Museum

It was written by an author considered one of the greatest Native American novelists, but she is not Tlingit, Haida or Tsimshian.

“Ceremony” was the first novel written by Laguna Pueblo Native Leslie Marmon Silko. It was published to great acclaim in 1977, but it was written when Silko lived in Ketchikan in the early 1970s. Silko, 74, has gone on to have a significant career as a novelist, short story writer, poet and memoirist and has won several major awards, including being named a MacArthur Genius Award winner in 1981.

"Ceremony" was primarily written in 1973 and 1974 on a small desk in a law office overlooking Ketchikan Creek, the result of the largesse of a Ketchikan attorney who was a significant promoter of the arts during his four decades in the community. Silko would later say that much of the early draft of the novel was written on the back of discarded legal stationary.

"Ceremony" tells the story of Tayo, a half Pueblo, half white World War II veteran who returns from the war with a case of what would now be called post-traumatic stress order, but in those days was called "battle fatigue." After several years of treatment, he is sent home to the pueblo to recuperate, where he finds that the poverty and an extreme drought only exacerbate his problems. Eventually, he comes to see that actions he can take can help save both himself and also help save the pueblo from the crippling drought. The novel combines traditional Native storytelling and mythology. Multiple stories arc into and out of the narrative, eventually tied up in Tayo's efforts to recapture a herd of cattle that was stolen from a relative, the "ceremony" from the title of the book. The "ceremony" also involves abstaining from the violence that followed him home from the war and learning from a spirit woman.. The novel ends with Tayo peacefully tending to the herd of cattle.

"Ceremony" has sold hundreds of thousands of copies in its 45 years of print, but it is most known today because it is required reading in dozens of college literature programs across the country.

Leslie Marmon Silko was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1948 and grew up on the Laguna Pueblo 50 miles west of Albuquerque. Her mother, Mary Virginia Leslie, was a teacher, and her father, Lee Marmon ( Leland Howard Marmon), was a noted Native American photographer and author. Her father is known for his black-and-white-portraits of tribal elders. Lee Marmon's photography career began as a youthful, creative pursuit in 1947, shortly after he returned home to New Mexico from his World War II tour of duty in the US Army on remote Shemya Island in the far western Aleutians. His father, Henry Marmon, put a professional quality Speed Graphic camera in 22-year-old Lee's hands, and suggested that he take photographs of the tribal elders, "so we'll have something to remember them by."

Lesile Marmon Silko learned story telling from her grandmother and great-grandmother and other elders. She graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelors in English Literature in 1969 and briefly attended the UNM Law School, intending to become a lawyer like her father, but she had already begun to publish short stories and poems and she turned away from a legal career.

Silko arrived in Ketchikan in 1973 with her husband John and two small children. John Silko was taking over the Ketchikan Alaska Legal Services office, which provides free civil legal services to low-income Alaskans. - More...
Monday - January 09, 2022

First Time the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault System Has Been Mapped Using High-resolution approaches

First Time Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault System Has Been Mapped Using High-resolution Approaches
Seabed expression of the Queen Charlotte Fault in southeastern Alaska.
Courtesy USGS


Southeast Alaska: First Time Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault System Has Been Mapped Using High-resolution Approaches - A recently completed series of data publications led by the U.S. Geological Survey represents the first time the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault system has been mapped using comprehensive, high-resolution marine geophysical approaches. The goal of this research is to gain a better understanding of the fault and its associated earthquake, tsunami, and underwater-landslide hazards.

The Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault extends more than 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from offshore of Vancouver Island, Canada, to the Fairweather Range of southeast Alaska. An active strike-slip boundary similar to California’s San Andreas fault, the Queen Charlotte Fault has produced five magnitude-7-and-higher earthquakes in the last 100 years and presents the greatest earthquake hazard to residents of southeast Alaska and western British Columbia. 

“Data from this research are being used to refine the seismic hazard for southeastern Alaska, as well as to develop geologic models that can be applied to similar plate boundaries around the globe,” said Peter Haeussler, USGS Geologist at the Alaska Science Center and a co-author of the data publications. 

Like the San Andreas fault, the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault separates the Pacific tectonic plate from the North American plate. Both are right-lateral strike-slip faults (one side moves to the right relative to the other), and both can generate large, dangerous earthquakes. 

“We can think of this fault system as the San Andreas of the north,” said USGS Research Geophysicist Danny Brothers, a lead author of the publications. “It appears to be the fastest moving continent-ocean strike-slip fault in the world.” Speedy faults like the Queen Charlotte can trigger earthquakes and tsunamis more frequently than slower faults.  - More...
Monday - January 09, 2023

Ward Lake 2023
Sunday afternoon, January 08, 2023.
SitNews Front Page Photo By RACHELLE SPEIGHTS ©2023
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Alaska: Retired NASA Earth Radiation Budget Satellite Reenters Atmosphere Off Alaska - NASA’s retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) reentered Earth’s atmosphere at 11:04 p.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 8, after almost four decades in space. For 21 of its years in orbit, the ERBS actively investigated how the Earth absorbed and radiated energy from the Sun, and made measurements of stratospheric ozone, water vapor, nitrogen dioxide, and aerosols. 

The Department of Defense confirmed today that the 5,400-pound satellite reentered the atmosphere over the Bering Sea off the shores of Alaska. NASA expected most of the satellite to burn up as it traveled through the atmosphere, but for some components were expected to survive the reentry.

Launched from the Space Shuttle Challenger on Oct. 5, 1984, the ERBS spacecraft was part of NASA’s three-satellite Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) mission. It carried three instruments, two to measure the Earth's radiative energy budget, and one to measure stratospheric constituents, including ozone.  

The energy budget, the balance between the amount of energy from the Sun that Earth absorbs or radiates, is an important indicator of climate health, and understanding it can also help reveal weather patterns. Ozone concentrations in the stratosphere play an important role in protecting life on Earth from damaging ultraviolet radiation.  - More...
Monday - January 09, 2023

Alaska: Governor Dunleavy Announces Prohibition of TikTok on State Equipment - Friday Governor Mike Dunleavy announced that effective immediately, the use of the social media app TikTok on state equipment is prohibited. In a memo to commissioners and executive staff, the governor citied national security and privacy concerns for the immediate prohibition.

“Simply put, TikTok poses a clear risk to any network or user it touches,” wrote Governor Dunleavy. “National security experts continue to highlight TikTok as a national security concern, including the possibility that the Chinese government may use TikTok to control data collection, influence TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, and compromise personal devices. Use of TikTok on state-owned electronic devices or on private devices that are connected to state networks poses a risk that a foreign government may access confidential or private data from State agencies and employees.”

Governor Dunleavy continued, “Therefore, effective immediately, all State Executive Branch agencies, including all departments, corporations, authorities, divisions, offices, bureaus, or other entities may not use TikTok on any State-owned electronic device, download or use the TikTok application or visit any TikTok website on the State network. Additionally, if TikTok is currently downloaded on any State device, it must be immediately removed, and appropriate steps shall be taken to secure the device.”- More...
Monday - January 09, 2023

Finding a midwinter night’s roost

Finding a midwinter night’s roost

A black-capped chickadee holds a sunflower seed in its beak at 40 degrees below zero.

Alaska: Finding a midwinter night’s roost By NED ROZELL - During the darkest days of Alaska’s winter, black-capped chickadees stuff themselves with enough seeds and frozen insects to survive up to 18-hour nights in the far north.

Where chickadees spent those long nights was a mystery until a University of Alaska Fairbanks biologist tracked them.

Susan Sharbaugh spent many winter nights trying to find out how a creature as light as a handful of paperclips endures nights of 40 below. Sharbaugh, now living in Arizona, worked for many years as a biologist in Alaska. She is a fan of the black-capped chickadee, one of the most unlikely residents of the North because of the difficulty of keeping a tiny body warm in a cold place.

In her studies on the northern chickadee, Sharbaugh found that black-capped chickadees gain an additional10 percent of their body weight each day by stuffing themselves; the birds then use that fat to shiver all night, which keeps them warm. 

The human equivalent would be a 165-pound man who spent a frigid night outside and emerged 15 pounds lighter by morning. 

Sharbaugh wondered where black-capped chickadees performed their amazing acts of nighttime survival until engineers in the 1990s developed a radio transmitter tiny enough to ride on a chickadee’s back. 

Weighing .5 grams, the radio transmitter was about the size of an M&M, with a whip antenna about 5 inches long. 

Sharbaugh attached the transmitter to captured chickadees with two elastic loops that fit over a bird’s legs like a climbing harness. - More...
Monday - January 09, 2023

SitNews Front Page Photo Courtesy KPU Telecommunications ©2023

Dense Fog
And below the fog is the beautiful city of Ketchikan.
Webcam-photo-capture (Sunday morning, Jan 8, 2023) - taken from KPU’s webcam, located on KPU’s 150’ antenna tower near the landfill, looking over downtown and Ketchikan International Airport and, in this case, the downtown radio tower poking up through Sunday morning’s dense fog.
SitNews Front Page Photo Courtesy KPU Telecommunications ©2023


Health: Alcohol use is widely accepted in the US, but even moderate consumption is associated with many harmful effects By CHRISTINA MAIR - This month, millions of Americans are taking part in “Dry January” in an effort to forgo alcohol for a month and cleanse themselves of the excesses of the holiday season.

Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the world, including in the U.S.

In 2020, nearly 70% of people ages 18 and older in the U.S. said they had consumed an alcoholic drink in the previous year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Additionally, 24% of people reported binge drinking – defined for women as four or more drinks per occasion and five or more drinks per occasion for men – in the previous month.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it important changes in alcohol consumption. One nationally representative sample found that while the number of people who reported drinking in the past year remained consistent from 2019 to 2021, the number of people consuming alcohol every day increased from 6.3% to 9.6%.

Partially because alcohol is such a commonly used substance, heavily marketed and glamorized in pop culture, Americans’ comfort with and acceptance of its use in everyday life is remarkably high. But should it be?

I research alcohol use and the associations between drinking and a wide range of problems. While the rising opioid epidemic has received a lot of attention in recent years, the number of deaths attributable to alcohol each year is on par with the overall number of annual deaths from drug overdose, with both increasing rapidly in the past few years.

What about moderate drinking?

In the past two decades, the idea that moderate drinking may actually confer health benefits has taken hold, backed up by some preliminary and limited evidence. This led to the broad notion in the popular media that a glass of red wine a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

But there was one major flaw in many of the studies used to back up the claim that a glass of red wine is good for health. They compared those who drink at moderate levels to people who consume no alcohol whatsoever, rather than comparing those who drink heavily versus at lower levels. - More...
Monday - January 09, 2023





Columns - Commentary



DAVE KIFFER: As the Rain Gauge Overflows... - In the last few years, the official arbiter of Alaska weather, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has been revising weather records across the county. Seems they want to make sure the numbers are correct, even when going back a century when the methods of collection were probably less accurate.

Naturally, that is causing some changes in Ketchikan's most cherished records.

Like rainfall.

Nothing says Ketchikan like rainfall. We verily wallow in our precipitation. It is what differentiates us from other areas. We have gills! We swim to work and school! We live underwater!

So, the fact that NOAA is messing with our birthright sense-of-self, is important.

Of course, that NOAA (pronounced Noah) is the arbiter says a lot. What better to describe out whether than to point to "Noah," he of the 40 days and 40 nights of rain (a streak that Ketchikan has indeed exceeded more than a few times in its delugian history). - More...
Monday - January 09, 2023


TOM PURCELL: THE SHAMEFUL RETURN OF EARMARKS - Earmarks are back and they’re costing American taxpayers a bundle.

In case you’ve forgotten, earmarks, says FactCheck.org, “are government funds that are allocated by a legislator for a particular pet project, often without proper review.”

Often attached to the 12 large appropriation bills that Congress by law is supposed to pass each year to fund the federal government for the next year, earmarks tend to be concealed.

That way, members of Congress from both parties can slip in funding for pricy or dubious projects in their districts or states that benefit themselves politically and, for the most part, nobody notices. - More...
Monday - January 09, 2023


FINANCIAL FOCUS: Are you ready to ‘unretire’? Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - Have you recently retired but are now thinking of going back to work? If so, you aren’t alone, as many people are choosing to “unretire.” But if you do reenter the workforce in some capacity, what opportunities might be available to you? And how will your renewed employment affect your financial outlook?

For starters, though, what reasons might motivate you to go back to work? For many people, the primary cause has been inflation, which has presented a huge challenge to retirees living on a fixed income. In addition, the volatile financial market of 2022 caused many people’s investment portfolios to decline in value — a real problem for retirees who needed to start selling investments to supplement their income.

But non-financial factors could also be driving you to unretire. Like other retirees, you may miss the chance to use your work experience to engage with the world, and you may miss the social interactions as well. - More...
Monday - January 09, 2023


jpg Political Cartoon: GOP Takes House

Political Cartoon: GOP Takes House
By Dick Wright©2023, PoliticalCartoons.com
Distributed to subscribers for publication by CagleCartoons.com

jpg Political Cartoon: Look Squirrel!

Political Cartoon: Look Squirrel!
by Rivers©2023, CagleCartoons.com Distributed to subscribers for publication by CagleCartoons.com

jpg Political Cartoon: Biden and border crisis

Political Cartoon: Biden and border crisis
by Dave Granlund©2023, PoliticalCartoons.com
Distributed to subscribers for publication by CagleCartoons.com


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jpg Opinion

Alaska’s Income Tax Premium By Jared Walczak - Alaska’s decision to forgo an individual income tax serves an important role in offsetting above-average federal income tax burdens in Alaska.

At first blush, this sounds confusing. Alaskans face the same federal income tax rate schedule as everyone else. But there is an income tax premium for living in Alaska nonetheless, and its price tag is about the equivalent of the state income taxes often levied elsewhere.

The culprit here is the high cost of living in Alaska. Alaskans must earn 30 percent more than residents of other states just to break even on purchasing power. Fortunately, Alaska salaries partially—not wholly—reflect this cost premium. The flip side is that the federal income tax bite is larger even if the income stretches no further.

Alaska’s median household income of $77,790 is the equivalent of only $59,885 nationally and comes with an additional $4,888 in federal income and payroll tax liability for a married couple ($6,679 for single filers). A higher cost of living is not a tax, but it does carry tax implications because more federally taxable income is necessary to purchase the same lifestyle that lower wages could purchase elsewhere.

At a conservative estimate, married couples face an additional 5 to 6 percent income tax burden because of the state’s high cost of living—the equivalent of what a state income tax would cost in many states. If Alaska ever reimposed its own individual income tax, it would be the financial equivalent of paying two state income taxes elsewhere. - More...
Monday - January 09, 2023

jpg Opinion

President Zelensky By Mary Lynne Dahl - I watched the address that President Zelensky gave to Congress on December 21 with great interest. He is a brave, charismatic leader, a skilled communicator and clearly an effective and inspiring Commander in Chief of his military. I was struck by his honest, straightforward approach to requesting aid for his army in the fight against the Russian forces. He hit the nail on the head when he said that financial and military aid to Ukraine is not charity, but is insurance against a larger global war between Russia and Europe. If Ukraine does not prevail against Putin and his army, the war will spread to other former Soviet satellite countries who enjoy democracy and freedom. Putin not only wants Ukraine back; he also wants those former Soviet countries as well.

I am appalled at comments that have been made by a small group in Congress that were critical of President Zelensky, in particular that instead of wearing a suit and tie, he appeared before Congress in his military clothing, which was not only appropriate but symbolic, as well as the criticism that his English was not very good. Those kinds of ignorant comments can only come from self-important and pompous people who have no comprehension of the courage it takes to be on the front lines of a brutal war. - More...
Monday - January 09, 2023

jpg Opinion

Ranking Voting Process By A.M. (Al) Johnson - In a letter to Alaska For Better Elections, I noted that I was in receipt of their recent mailer regarding one has to suppose the Ranking Voting Process. Assumed as there is no indication by the title as to what voting system thyeare actually touting, yes, common sense will conclude it is the Ranking Voting process.

In my letter I respondied to the claims in the mailer, My responses:

(1) Easy to understand:  Unbelievable that you make that charge, as a voter in my prescient, conversation with fellow voters, party affiliation unknown,, were by far, upset and did and do not understand this format as easy to understand, that most figured it out, the urge to comment on returning to the one vote, one candidate, was paramount, one or two would like the "Purple Finger" proof of voting used in the Eastern nations voting process

(2) More competition:  This aspect proved controversial in the process of dealing with many candidates of known identities. "Who in the Hell are these people?"
actually, the sentence should read; "An overwhelming majority of Alaskans said races for state and local office were more CONFUSING this year than previous (normal) elections   Parentheses are mine.

(3) More Opportunity: You are correct, far more uncertainty and confusion frustrating with the high number of unknown candidates including more woman, which opens the door for nefarious manipulation added to that stated overall confusion and frustration, still heard today. (I suspect that there will be legislative action (Republican led) to create legislation to reverse this process as soon as allotted time runs its course or becomes legal to reverse sooner. I would be supportive that effort!! - More...
Monday - January 09, 2023

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