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February 28, 2022

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Public Testimony on the Alaska Operating Budget

When: Thursday, March 3rd from 2:00-4:00 PM for Ketchikan & Wrangell
Saturday, March 5th starting at 11:00 AM for Metlakatla, Hyder,
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Ketchikan: COVID Positive Cases, Alert Levels, Hospitalizations, etc., reports are now only maintained by the State of Alaska.

COVID-19 DATA SUMMARY – Mar. 2, 2022 - Reporting data for Feb. 28 - Mar. 1, 2022:
550 new cases --  28 deaths statewide -- 77 hospitalizations -- Statewide alert level: high -- 59.2% of Alaskans 5+ vaccinated.
SE AK Positive Cases: Sitka (19), Ketchikan (18), Metlakatla (3), Prince of Wales-Hyder (3 in 2 communities) -- Of the 28 statewide deaths reported this week, Prince of Wales reported 2 deaths -- A female resident of Prince of Wales -Hyder Census Area in her 60s and a male resident of Prince of Wales -Hyder Census Area in his 60s.

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Fish Factor: US companies fear Russian seafood ban will put them out of business By LAINE WELCH - Quid pro quo…tit for tat…an eye for an eye… 

“If they don’t buy from us, we shouldn’t buy from them,” Alaska’s seafood industry has grumbled since 2014 when Russia abruptly banned all food imports from the U.S and several other countries. Then, as now, the faceoff stemmed from Russia’s invasion and subsequent takeover of chunks of Ukraine which prompted backlash and severe sanctions.

Yet over the years, U.S. purchases of Russian seafood through 2021 have totaled over $4.6 billion and counting, according to federal trade data.

Alaska’s congressional delegation has finally taken first steps to end the trade imbalance.  On February 9, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan introduced the United States-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act of 2022 that would prohibit imports of any Russian seafood products into the U.S. until that country ends its ban buying U.S. seafoods.

That was followed by a companion bill (H.R. 6821) on February 23 by Representative Don Young demanding the same. 

“It is frustrating when we go into a grocery store in the U.S. and see Russian seafood products sold at a much lower rate. We hear it from the processors and fishermen we work with,” Jeremy Woodrow, director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, said at a recent House Fisheries Committee hearing.  “Think crab, pollock, wild salmon, halibut and cod - Russia competes with Alaska’s seafood across the global market. Their products are imported and sold at a lower cost, and therefore undercut the value of Alaska seafood in our most valuable market, the United States. And since 2014, the U.S. has seen Russian seafood imports increased by 173%.”  

 Russia was the eighth-largest exporter of seafood to the U.S. in 2021, sending nearly 108 million pounds worth $1.2 billion, a 12% increase in volume and 34% increase in value over   2020, reported Undercurrent News.  

The Russian seafood included roughly 80 items, but the most valuable were frozen snow crab at nearly 41.5 million pounds worth $509.2 million, and 18.8 million pounds of frozen red king crab valued at almost $420 million.

But the proposed ban has caused pushback from an unexpected source: U.S. companies.

Undercurrent provided an analysis by market expert, Les Hodges, who said that the embargo would eliminate over 90% of Russian king crab imports and 30% of snow crab imports. That could put a number of  companies who specialize in these products in danger of going out of business.

“Alaska does not have the resources to fill in for this potential loss of product. King crab and snow crab producing areas are limited. The largest production is in the Russian Far East and the Barents Sea,” Hodges said, adding “the U.S. and other world markets are now dependent on Russian, Canadian and other resources.”

The Russian resource has been stable at over 100,000 metric tons (220.5 million pounds) for all combined crab species in recent years. Almost 70 million pounds of Russian crab were imported by more than 30 U.S. seafood companies in 2021, with an import value of  $928.9 million, Hodges said.

He pointed out that king and snow crab are an important part of the product mix for many U.S. companies and industries, saying “In 2021, 78% of the crab from the Russian Far East was shipped to the Northwest creating many jobs in everything from shipping, cold storage, re-processing, and, of course, marketing and sales throughout the U.S.  The damage following passage of this bill would not be limited to importers. Seafood marketing companies, restaurants, foodservice, cruise lines, retail and hospitality sectors across the country would suffer. Consumers would lose the ability to have king crab, and several species of snow crab would simply disappear.”

Hodges concluded: “The intent of this bill is good and I personally support the re-opening of the Russian market to U.S. seafood producers, but this is not the way to success.” - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022

Alaska: Murkowski Addresses Alaska State Legislature - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently addressed the Alaska State Legislature in a joint legislative session at the State Capitol Building. Senator Murkowski spoke to her optimism for Alaska’s future, in part to the actions she and her colleagues have taken in Congress. This includes major relief bills to provide unprecedented federal support to help Alaskans during the COVID-19 pandemic; an historic infrastructure law which will bring significant benefits to our state; diversifying and boosting our economy; advancing responsible resource development; and supporting our military, industries like our fisheries, and public safety.

Murkowski also spoke to the current situation in Ukraine and how Russia is threatening not just Ukraine, but the international order and the norms that have prevailed for decades. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022

Alaska: Bill to Protect Alaska’s Cruise Season, Boosting Economy and Supporting Small Businesses Introduced; Extends the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act  - U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all (R-AK) introduced bicameral legislation to provide a one year extension of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA) , which was signed into law in May 2021. 

Under the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), foreign vessels must stop at a foreign port between U.S. ports. While Canada’s borders are currently open to international travelers, they were not in 2021 which is why Alaska’s Congressional delegation pushed for and received a one year exemption from the PVSA. This new extension ensures that if Canada closes its borders during 2022, the Alaska delegation is ready and able to again temporarily authorize foreign-flagged passenger vessels to bypass Canada. 

“Alaska’s economy and our communities should not be at the mercy of decisions made by the Canadian government and I will do whatever is needed to ensure Alaskans can prosper,” said Senator Murkowski. “The introduction of this legislation provides another tool in our tool box in the event that it is needed. It also sends a message to the world that Alaska is ready and excited to welcome visitors to our state this upcoming season.”   

“The losses from the cancelled 2020 cruise ship season left many of our small businesses across Southeast devastated and in the red, not to mention the communities and workers they support,” said Sen. Sullivan. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022

jpg Flame: Southeast Alaska’s Wildlife Superstar

Flame: Southeast Alaska’s Wildlife Superstar
Flame, SEAK #1538, taken near Juneau, Alaska in 2007.
NOAA Permit 14245)

Southeast Alaska: Flame: Southeast Alaska’s Wildlife Superstar - In the recent celebration of Whale Week, NOAA Fisheries spotlighted a well-loved, school-bus-sized, seasonal resident of Juneau and Southeast Alaska - the humpback whale named Flame!

Flame was named by the whale-watching community of Juneau and is one of the most frequently observed whales in the area. She’s also known as #1538 in the Southeast Alaska Humpback Whale Catalog. As a juvenile, she was first documented in 2004 by the University of Alaska Southeast as part of a broad collaborative study known as SPLASH. Flame is currently around 20 years old. She’s easily identified by her distinct markings: a prominent, sharply pointed dorsal fin and the white color and asymmetrical black markings on the underside of her tail. Scientists and the local whale-watching community use such markings to track the annual movements of humpback whales between summer and fall feeding grounds. In Flame’s case, this is the trip between Alaska and her winter breeding and birthing waters around the Hawaiian Islands.

Using photographs to identify whales and other species protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act is beneficial to the scientific community. It allows for population assessments and longitudinal tracking of individuals which provides information that helps us understand and protect these animals. Humpback whales are identified by the underside of their tails, which are called flukes. Each pair of flukes is unique, making it easy to track individual whales. Photos of whale flukes are collected and cataloged as photo identification data. 

Dr. Suzie Teerlink, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Specialist, and John Moran, Alaska Fisheries Science Center Research Biologist, first started seeing Flame around Juneau in 2007. They were collecting fall and winter photo identification data of humpback whales. Since then, she has been a regular summer resident of Juneau. It wasn’t until Flame was seen off Maui during the 2020 breeding season by researchers from the Whale Trust that we knew she wintered in the Hawaiian Islands. She was seen there again in 2021 by researchers from the Pacific Whale Foundation. 

“Flame is one of my favorites because she is so easy to work with,” said Moran. “She’s a great fluker with distinctive markings, so we always get a quick ID on her. That’s probably why she has a good sighting record.” - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022


Alaska: Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance opens for preregistration Feb. 28, 2022 - Alaska homeowners impacted by COVID-19 will soon have access to apply for mortgage and related assistance through Alaska Housing Finance Corporation’s Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance. The objective of the congressionally approved program is to reduce mortgage delinquencies, forbearances and foreclosures, as well as prevent loss of utilities or energy services, providing a new layer of security for Alaskans facing challenges due to the pandemic. Homeowners are encouraged to preregister at beginning Feb. 28, 2022, in advance of the application window, which opens March 14, 2022, and closes April 4, 2022, 11:59 p.m. AKST. Once registered, applicants will be automatically connected to an online eligibility checker to quickly verify if they meet program requirements.

Similar to AHFC’s highly successful Alaska Housing Rent Relief efforts, homeowners will be able to apply and submit eligibility documentation for Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance through a dedicated and secure online web portal. Homeowners must occupy the property as their primary residence and be able to demonstrate that financial hardships are directly related to circumstances associated with COVID-19. This may include a reduction or loss of income that has created or increased a risk of added hardships. 

AHFC will disperse federal funds directly or through trusted business partners on behalf of the applicant to their mortgage servicer, land contract holder, manufactured/mobile home lender, condominium/homeowners association, local taxing authority, and utility providers. Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance may be used to reduce an eligible homeowner’s monthly mortgage payments. Funds may also be applied to repay past due property expenses including property taxes, hazard insurance premiums and homeowner association fees. A full list of eligible expenses and use criteria is available at

Funding for Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance comes from U.S. Treasury. The State of Alaska received $50 million from the national Homeowner Assistance Fund, established under Section 3206 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, that allocated more than $9.9 billion in federal funds toward relief for homeowners who have experienced home insecurities related to the pandemic after Jan. 21, 2020. The law prioritizes federal funds for homeowners with the greatest hardships, leveraging local and national income indicators to maximize the impact. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022

SitNews Front Page Photo By CLIFF GUTHRIE

Ward Lake Otters
SitNews Front Page Photo By CLIFF GUTHRIE ©2022
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Alaska: Alaska Department of Public Safety Begins Collection of Owed DNA; Troopers and Local Law Enforcement Actively Working to Collect Owed DNA- The Alaska Department of Public Safety and our local and state law enforcement partners have begun collecting nearly 20,000 DNA samples that are lawfully owed to the State of Alaska. In August 2021, Governor Dunleavy announced the new initiative to collect all lawfully owed DNA that had been missed for a variety of reasons over the last 25 years . Since August, the Alaska Department of Public Safety, Alaska Department of Corrections, and other law enforcement agencies in Alaska have worked together to define the process that will allow for the collection. 

In November 2021, an official memorandum of understanding was established between the Alaska Department of Public Safety and Alaska Department of Corrections to collect owed DNA during the booking process at state correctional facilities. In addition, the Department of Corrections has compared their list of individuals that are currently in custody or are on probation, pretrial, or parole supervision to ensure that those individuals' DNA has been collected in situations where required. 

Beginning in January 2022, the Alaska Department of Public Safety updated the Alaska Public Safety Information Network (APSIN) to alert law enforcement anytime they have contact with an individual that currently owes DNA. This alert will enable the law enforcement officer to collect the owed DNA during the contact. In addition, each local law enforcement agency has been provided a list of individuals who are believed to live within their area of responsibility to begin proactive efforts to collect owed DNA. This effort was initially delayed due to supply chain issues related to the swabs and collection kits that are also used for COVID-19 testing. 

Between the efforts of local and state law enforcement along with the Department of Corrections approximately 425 owed DNA samples have been collected from the owed DNA identified in August 2021. 

“Today, we’re making progress with the first 425 DNA samples newly collected from people who were arrested or convicted of crimes like assault, robbery, murder, and manslaughter,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. - More...
Monday PM - February 28, 2022

NASA rocket team to chase pulsating aurora

NASA rocket team to chase pulsating aurora
The NASA LAMP payload is rolled out of the payload assembly building at Poker Flat Research Range for testing before heading for the launch pad.
Photo credit NASA/Terry Zaperach


Alaska: NASA rocket team to chase pulsating aurora - A new NASA sounding rocket mission will soon take to the Alaskan skies. The LAMP mission, short for Loss through Auroral Microburst Pulsations, will fly above an often-overlooked kind of northern lights to test a theory on what causes them. The launch window at Poker Flat Research Range in Fairbanks, Alaska, opened on Feb. 24, 2022.

The aurora borealis, or northern lights, is a familiar treat to those who call northern latitudes home. Auroras come in different shapes and colors, waving their ribbons of vibrant green, red and purple across the sky. But one variety of aurora displays a peculiar behavior: it pulsates.

“It’s sort of hypnotic, pulsating every few seconds,” said Dr. Alexa Halford, space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and principal investigator for the mission. “The blobs and colors remind me of a lava lamp, where you can just sit and stare at it for hours.” 

Like all aurora, pulsating aurora are set alight by electrons (and occasionally protons) from near-Earth space. These electrons plunge into our atmosphere and collide with atoms and molecules, causing them to glow in their distinctive colors – red and green by oxygen, blue by nitrogen – as they release their excess energy.

But what sets those electrons into motion in the first place? For pulsating aurora, the going theory points to chorus waves, so named because they were first detected as audio signals in radio receivers during World War I.

But chorus waves are not sound waves – instead, they move through plasma, the electrified gas that makes up over 99% of the observable matter in space. They ripple through the particles trapped within Earth’s magnetic environment, shaking some loose to fall into our atmosphere.

“Chorus waves occur at exactly the right frequency to ‘resonate’ with the electrons that create pulsating aurora, similar to how you pump your feet at just the right time to get a swing to go higher and higher,” said Dr. Allison Jaynes, space physicist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and co-investigator for the mission. Eventually, some of these electrons “jump off” the swing – and shoot into our atmosphere.

Chorus waves can launch both low and high-energy electrons, which may explain some puzzling coincidences. Pulsating aurora are caused by fairly low-energy electrons, but they’re often observed alongside flashes of X-ray light known as microbursts, which come from higher energy electrons.

“Pulsating aurora and microbursts seem to happen at similar times, even though they’re different energy ranges,” Halford said. “So, the big question is, are they the same events? Are they being driven by the same processes in the magnetosphere?”

That’s what LAMP hopes to find out. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022

Transformational change is coming to how people live on Earth, UN climate adaptation report warns: Which path will humanity choose?

Transformational change is coming to how people live on Earth, UN climate adaptation report warns: Which path will humanity choose?
Levels of carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas that is released by burning fossil fuels and drives global warming, have risen quickly in the atmosphere over the past 70 years.

Chart courtesy NOAA

Analysis: Transformational change is coming to how people live on Earth, UN climate adaptation report warns: Which path will humanity choose? By EDWARD R. CARR - Governments have delayed action on climate change for too long, and incremental changes in energy and food production will no longer be enough to create a climate-resilient future, a new analysis from scientists around the world warns.

The world is already seeing harmful impacts from climate change, including extreme storms, heat waves and other changes that have pushed some natural and human systems to the limits of their ability to adapt. As temperatures continue to rise, transformational change is coming to how people live on Earth. Countries can either plan their transformations, or they can face the destructive, often chaotic transformations that will be imposed by the changing climate.

I’m one of the authors of the climate impacts and adaptation report, released Feb. 28, 2022, as part of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report. The increasing alarm in these reports, which review the latest research every six or seven years, echoes what I’ve seen over years of work in international development and climate change.

Climate change is having damaging effects today

Global temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 F) since 1890. This warming has already produced substantial environmental changes.

Heat waves and extreme downpours have become more severe in many areas. These impacts have already contributed to water scarcity and complex food price spikes, and they can exacerbate health risks for vulnerable populations, such as low-income communities that can’t afford cooling when temperatures rise.

Climate models show these effects will worsen in a warming future as people continue releasing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use, agriculture and other activities, compromising humanity’s ability to adapt.

Where people cannot adapt, lives will be transformed in reactive, expensive ways. For example, research shows that if warming increases beyond 1.5 C (2.7 F) compared to preindustrial times, some small island states will lose much of their area to rising seas. Climate change will transform where their residents live, what they do for a living and indeed the very way they live.

Rising temperatures and increasingly frequent droughts in the breadbaskets of the global food system, such as the American Midwest or Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin, will compromise harvests. In our tightly interconnected global food system, such events create radiating shortages and price spikes across different crops and places.

In the United States, these spikes are generally limited, but can resemble price increases under current inflation. For the most vulnerable Americans, such increases can strain their food security and increase pressure on social safety nets. In less wealthy parts of the world, these spikes can induce profound food crises, social unrest and political instability.

The impacts of a warming future will compromise the achievement of societal goals like ending poverty and malnutrition, in the United States and abroad. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022

Columns - Commentary



CARL GOLDEN: PELOSI VERSUS THE PROGRESSIVES - It took more than a year, but Congressional Democrats, facing the prospect of losing their majorities, have concluded the most effective way to mitigate disaster during the midterms this November would be to erase the public perception that it is controlled by far left socialism.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled she understood the political imperative to break with her party’s vocal progressive wing with a blunt declaration that defunding the police – a core progressive principle – is not a Democratic Party position.

Pelosi deliberately chose rejecting the most visible and most destructive policy position of the left to attract maximum attention to her remarks and highlight the seriousness with which the leadership views as the greatest threat to Democratic candidates.

Pelosi’s “it’s not the party position” assertion was quickly met with a rebuttal from Missouri Rep. Cori Bush who said, in effect, “oh, yes it is” teeing up what may be a continuing running intra-party battle over its direction. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022


That poor, corrupt and undemocratic Eastern European country is in the process of being beaten into submission and conquered by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

It should surprise no one.

Putin has been telling us for months, and showing us for weeks by encircling Ukraine with 150,000 Russian soldiers, what he was going to do.

Now Putin’s doing it – and there’s nothing we can do about it.

This is the kind of stuff that happens when there is a weak leader in the White House.

The invasion of eastern Ukraine proves that of the two countries, the United States and Russia, only one has a strong leader – and it’s not the U.S. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022


FINANCIAL FOCUS: How can gig workers fill the benefits gap? Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - Are you a “gig” worker? If so, you’ve got a lot of company – by some estimates, more than a third of U.S. workers participate in the gig economy as freelancers, independent contractors or moonlighters. And while gig work offers some attractive features, such as flexibility in setting your hours and no real limits on your income potential, it also comes with challenges. Specifically, you may miss out on the array of benefits available to full-time employees of many organizations. How can you fill this benefits gap?

Let’s look at some of the standard employer-offered benefits and ways you can acquire them on your own:

• Retirement plan – When you work as an employee, you may have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. These types of plans allow you to save for retirement in a tax-advantaged way. As a gig worker, you may be able to get these same benefits through your own retirement plan. You can always contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA, but you can invest much more in other types of plans, such as a SEP IRA, a SIMPLE IRA and possibly even a “solo” 401(k). A financial professional can recommend the plan that’s suitable for your situation. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022


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jpg Opinion

AMHS TO PRINCE RUPERT - SENATE BILL 170 By Mary Lynne Dahl - Heads up, Southeast Alaska! The House and Senate of the State of Alaska are considering a bill to reform and fund our Alaska Marine Highway System. The details are currently being considered, argued and lobbied for and against, as usual. The legislation is labeled Senate Bill (SB) 170.

Unfortunately, reform of the AMHS has been a topic of discussion in the Alaska legislature for about 40 years, without ever resulting in a satisfactory plan of action to fix the many problems in our ferry system. AMHS is so mismanaged and underfunded now that it is on the verge of a permanent collapse. This current discussion on SB 170 may be the last chance we have to save the ferry system that Southeast Alaska so desperately needs to survive and grow.

The specific issues are many and varied. The bottom line is that AMHS should be sustainable, provide a reasonable schedule of service to the communities and should not be politicized. As it now stands, the legislature funds the ferry system in a way that makes it a political football on which to make campaign promises and budgetary spending or cuts.

This is not a manageable way to run a highway. Land highways are not treated in as cavalier manner as the Alaska Marine Highway System has been treated, presumably because legislators all around the country know that their constituents would not tolerate their roads and highways being politicized and unfunded to the point of collapse. - More...
Wednesday AM - March 02, 2022

jpg Opinion

2022 Southeast Conference Mid-Session By Austin Otos - The Ketchikan Gateway Borough recently traveled to Juneau for the Southeast Conference Mid-Session. This is an economic summit designed to highlight the growth of Southeast Alaska. Several local organizations strongly represented Ketchikan at the event, including: Alaska Marine Lines, Tessa Axelson (Alaska Forest Association), Tongass Federal Credit Union, Deborah Hayden (economic developer), Ketchikan Indian Community, Ward Cove Group, Julie Sande (Commissioner, Alaska Department of Commerce), and Jack Finnegan (Spruce Root Grant recipient). Many entities from our community attend the conference in order to advocate for economic development.  

Among the subjects covered at the conference were mariculture, tourism industry updates, federal infrastructure grant opportunities, energy investments, and fishing forecasts.

Governor Dunleavy's Chief of Staff Randy Ruaro provided an update regarding the State's commitment to distributing federal infrastructure funding to local communities. This project will provide the State of Alaska with five billion dollars over the next five years. The State intends to use some of the infrastructure money to increase funding for improvements to marine transportation in coastal Alaska, new electric ferry technology, and public utility investments. The process to apply for funding will be competitive across the State, with local communities applying through a grant process to support their key infrastructure projects.

There was a significant portion of the conference dedicated to forecasts for general industry segments, including tourism, forestry, fisheries/mariculture, and mining. - More...
Wednesday AM - March 02, 2022

jpg Opinion

Forces Into Western Ukraine By Donald Moskowitz - Since the Russians are essentially occupying eastern Ukraine, and are attacking Kyiv from the north, east and south, maybe NATO military forces with U.S. support should move into western Ukraine to prevent Russia from completely overrunning Ukraine. Air cover would have to be provided for the ground forces.

This would allow Ukrainian civilians to remain in Ukraine, and it could provide an alternate Ukrainian government seat of power if Kyiv is taken by the Russians. The presence of NATO and U.S. military forces in western Ukraine would also provide leverage to get the Russians out of eastern Ukraine since NATO and the U.S. could agree to pull its forces out of western Ukraine as part of a negotiated settlement. - More...
Wednesday AM - March 02, 2022
jpg Opinion

KETCHIKAN ROADS? By David G Hanger - There’s an old saying from down south that you can tell how corrupt a county is by the condition of its roads.

Road maintenance and replacement is a routine problem that requires scheduling, planning, and budgeting to pay for it. Here only when it reaches the point of crisis is it even considered, if then. Fire this bunch of worthless morons who cannot maintain the infrastructure they are paid to manage rather than letting it go to hell, and kick the worthless elected officials playing ‘pretend’ right out the door after them. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022

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Alaska’s Students Must Learn to “Read by Nine” Now – Not in Nine Years By Quinn Townsend, Bethany Marcum, Kymyona Burk, and Madeleine Ashour - An entire decade. That’s how long Alaska’s public schools have ranked in the bottom five states for fourth-grade reading, regardless of income level. The pandemic has only exacerbated the struggles of Alaska’s students. All of our children deserve the best lives possible, and they need to be strong readers to succeed in today’s world. Regrettably, Alaska’s public schools are failing to teach our children to read.

Learning to read before the age of nine (typically fourth grade) is imperative for our children. If we fail to prioritize learning to read, so that our children can read to learn, long-term implications on our economy and the fabric of Alaska are unavoidable. Students who cannot read by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school; high school dropouts make up 75 percent of citizens receiving food stamps and 90 percent of the Americans on welfare. Nearly 85 percent of teenagers in the juvenile justice system cannot read to learn and seven out of ten adult prisoners cannot read above a fourth-grade level.

Some in Alaska simply call for more education funding. But Alaska already spends more per capita on education than the majority of states. Look what that money has paid for – the bottom of the educational barrel, so to speak. Clearly, throwing more money at public schools is not the answer.

A strong reading initiative, such as Read by Nine, could make the difference. Read by Nine starts by ensuring kindergartners know the ABCs and the sounds they make. Throughout early elementary school, teachers continue this focus and rely on research-based methods, until by third grade each student can read with ease, understand the material and think critically. Easy-to-use diagnostic tests are used to help teachers identify which students are having difficulties and what solutions will help them. For those students, a series of interventions is provided, such as one-on-one tutoring, and at-home support from kindergarten through third grade. We want each Alaskan child entering fourth grade to do so with the confidence and skills they need to learn and succeed. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022
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Russia Threatens World Peace By Donald Moskowitz - Alan Dowd chronicles the Russian threat to world peace in the February 2022 edition of The American Legion Magazine. I quote and paraphrase from the article.

From its beginning in 1918 the Russian Communists led by Lenin and then Stalin sought to achieve power and control populations by intimidation, brutality and death. "Lenin murdered 6 million people and Stalin three times as many. During Stalin's reign from 1925 to 1953 Communism spread to Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba. President Reagan referred to the USSR as the "evil empire" and President Eisenhower stated the Soviet government believed in the "force of huge armies, subversion, and rule of neighboring nations.""

Today, Putin is trying to bring back the USSR to its former size with confrontation in the Ukraine. He annexed the Ukrainian Crimea eight years ago and is now poised to take all of Ukraine. NATO, the United States and other countries must stand up against Putin and deter him with economic sanctions and force if necessary. Otherwise, the free world could be faced with threats to other former Soviet bloc European countries as Putin tries to reestablish the Russian empire. - More...
Monday AM - February 28, 2022

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