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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 26, 2016

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Tongass Sunset
Equinox sunset photographed from berth IV in Ketchikan
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66% of Overdose Deaths in Alaska Prescription Drug Related - A new bulletin just released by the Alaska Epidemiology Department provides an update on drug overdose deaths in Alaska during 2009–2015. During this period, 774 drug overdose deaths were entered into the Alaska mortality database. Overall, 512 or 66% of overdose deaths had a prescription drug noted as the primary or a contributing cause of death. Of the 311 illicit drug overdose deaths that were recorded in the database, 128 or 41% were noted heroin as either the primary or a contributing cause of death.

66% of Overdose Deaths in Alaska Prescription Drug Related

Chart courtesy Alaska EpidemiologyBulletin No. 6, March 24, 2016

In 2012, Alaska’s prescription opioid pain reliever (OPR) overdose death rate was more than double the rate in the United States, and Alaska’s heroin-associated overdose death rate was over 50% higher than the national rate.

The updated report highlights a number of important points. First, consistent with national trends, heroin overdose deaths have continued to increase steadily every year in Alaska since 2010. Moreover, drug overdose death rates remained highest among males and middle-aged adults, and the regional distribution of drug overdose deaths was considerably higher in regions with urban centers and growing populations, although all Alaska regions were affected.

The bulletin edited by Joe McLaughlin, MD, MPH Louisa Castrodale, DVM, MPH, listed the preventive measures that are needed statewide to reverse the drug addiction and overdose death epidemic in Alaska. Included in the list is the adoption of new guidelines for management of chronic pain and increasing the availability of naloxone to reverse potentially fatal respiratory depression cause by opioid overdose.

A new life-saving measure just signed into law will make the adoption of new guidelines possible. SB 23 preventing opioid overdose in Alaska, was signed into law on March 14, 2016 by Governor Bill Walker. This law removes civil liabilities from doctors and trained bystanders who prescribe and administer naloxone, a drug intended to counteract the negative effects of an opioid overdose. The bill follows HB 369, known as the “Make the Call” Good Samaritan bill, which was passed in 2014 and offers restriction from prosecution for those who seek medical help when someone they know is experiencing an overdose. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

Fish Factor: 2016 Salmon Harvest Decrease Predicted By LAINE WELCH - Alaska’s 2016 salmon harvest will be down by 40 percent from last year’s catch, if the fish show up as predicted.

The preliminary numbers released by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game call for a total catch of 161 million salmon this year; the 2015 harvest topped 268 million fish.

The shortfall stems from a projected big decrease for pink salmon. A humpie harvest forecast of 90 million would be a drop of 100 million fish from last summer.

Here’s the statewide catch breakdown for the other salmon species: for sockeye, the forecast calls for a catch just shy of 48 million, down by more than 7 million reds from last year.

A coho catch of 4.4 million would be a half million fish increase; likewise, for chum salmon, a catch of nearly 19 million would be a similar increase over last season.

For Chinook, a catch of 99,000 fish is projected for all areas except Southeast, where the harvest will be determined according to Pacific Treaty agreements with Canada. Last year’s statewide Chinook catch was 521,612.

It all adds up to fewer salmon being available to global buyers this year – and some hopeful market signs for Alaska salmon are starting to surface.

A failure of both farmed and wild salmon fisheries in Japan has spawned a surge of demand for Alaska sockeyes. Exports to Japan from October through December were up 320 percent over the previous year, reported Seafood.com, and sales are expected to remain ‘substantially’ higher as inventories clear prior to the new fishing season.

Alaska could also benefit from the misfortunes of the world’s top farmed salmon producers, a scenario that is steadily pushing up salmon prices.

Farmed fish sales from Chile, the largest supplier to the U.S., are expected to drop by up to 20 percent this year due to a toxic algal bloom, and production is expected to be affected well into 2017. According to Chile’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service, 38 salmon farms have been affected, with nearly 24 million fish killed — enough to fill 14 Olympic swimming pools.

Financial Times reported that Chilean salmon prices have increased 25 percent to nearly $5 a pound since December.

Norway, the world’s largest farmed fish producer, is unlikely to fill the salmon shortfall, as that country is dealing with severe fish loss from sea lice.

“We expect to see a global supply shock,” warned Kolbjørn Giskeødegård, director of seafood at Nordea Bank. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

Health: Heart attack patients getting younger, more obese - Despite increased understanding of heart disease risk factors and the need for preventive lifestyle changes, patients suffering the most severe type of heart attack have become younger, more obese and more likely to have preventable risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to a study scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 65th Annual Scientific Session.

The new study analyzed heart disease risk factors among more than 3,900 patients who were treated for ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI--the most severe and deadly type of heart attack--at Cleveland Clinic between 1995 and 2014.

"On the whole, the medical community has done an outstanding job of improving treatments for heart disease, but this study shows that we have to do better on the prevention side," said Samir Kapadia, M.D., professor of medicine and section head for interventional cardiology at Cleveland Clinic and the study's primary investigator. "When people come for routine checkups, it is critical to stress the importance of reducing risk factors through weight reduction, eating a healthy diet and being physically active." - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

Study says Alaska could lose massive icefield by 2200

The Juneau Icefield forms a snow-covered expanse in the Coast Mountains north of Juneau.
Photo by Joanna Young

Southeast Alaska:
Study says Alaska could lose massive icefield by 2200 By SUE MITCHELL - The massive icefield that feeds Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier may be gone by 2200 if warming trend predictions hold true, according to University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers.

The estimate is the product of the first detailed look at the future of the Juneau Icefield, source of the Mendenhall and about 140 other glaciers, said Regine Hock, a glaciologist at UAF’s Geophysical Institute.

The terminus of Mendenhall Glacier, 10 miles northwest of downtown Juneau, is visible from a U.S. Forest Service center visited by 450,000 people in 2015. If warming continues, the terminus will retreat up the valley and withdraw from view around a corner.

“By the end of this century, people will most likely not be able to see the Mendenhall Glacier anymore from the visitor’s center,” Hock said.

Hock is one of the authors on a paper published in the Journal of Glaciology that outlines their findings. UAF postdoctoral fellow Florian Ziemen, UAF glaciologist Andy Aschwanden, Hock and five others used past and present observations and mathematical models to predict how North America’s fifth-largest icefield would react under different climate scenarios. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016


Fleagle offers wisdom to new generations of students By LEONA LONG - When Elizabeth Fleagle retired in 1997, she felt lost. So she prayed about what she was supposed to do next.

Elizabeth Fleagle practices beadwork in her Fairbanks home. The Inupiaq elder will receive an honorary doctorate next month at UAF’s 94th commencement ceremony.
UAF photo by Todd Paris

Two weeks later, she got a telephone call with the answer. The American Indian Science and Engineering Society of Fairbanks asked Fleagle to teach teens how to reconnect with their traditional Alaska Native culture at Howard Luke’s culture camp. This camp, located along the Tanana River across from Fairbanks, was created so that Howard Luke could teach younger people their culture.

Since that initial call, Fleagle’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing. She spends a majority of her time mentoring and teaching students at both the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Washington in the health and behavioral health fields.

Jessica Black, a UAF assistant professor of indigenous studies and special projects liaison for the office of the vice chancellor of rural, community and Native education, said Fleagle’s calm presence and experience are “absolutely instrumental” in guiding student success and graduation rates.

“Elizabeth is a true leader and culture bearer, versed in her Native way of life and always willing to share that knowledge with others,” Black said. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

Ghost ship artifacts emerge in museum

The S.S. Baychimo just after it became trapped in
sea ice north of Alaska in October, 1931.
Photo from Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives at the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, UAF.

Alaska Science: Ghost ship artifacts emerge in museum By NED ROZELL - Ships with no humans aboard have long ridden the seas, often floating with supernatural stories of being piloted by dead crew members or becoming visible to sailors and then vanishing.

Alaska has its own ghost ship. Workers for the Hudson Bay Company abandoned the S.S. Baychimo just offshore of Wainwright 85 years ago. Sea ice trapped the 230-foot cargo steamship during an early winter in October 1931. The captain and crew abandoned the ship, which carried furs from Canadian trappers and a variety of other cargo.

Following the ice's capture of the Baychimo, the captain and 14 men built a wooden hut on the sea ice to keep track of the ship. One month later, they weathered a great windstorm in that shelter. When they peered out after the storm, the Baychimo was gone.

The Hudson Bay men figured the ship had sunk. Most of them returned to Vancouver. But the Baychimo was not on the bottom of the Beaufort Sea.

A few weeks later, Inupiat hunters saw the Baychimo floating near Skull Cliff, south of Barrow. Six months later, in March 1932, a trapper on an epic dogsled journey from Herschel Island to Nome saw the ship in the ice of the Beaufort Sea. He boarded it before continuing on his trip.

Coastal Natives were the last to mention seeing the ship in 1969, when a group saw the Baychimo in the ice between Icy Cape and Barrow. One hundred and two years after it was built and 85 after it was abandoned, the Baychimo may still be floating somewhere north of Alaska. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

Political Science: President has constitutional power to appoint, not just nominate, successor to Scalia - After the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Republican senators, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced that they would neither consider nor vote on any nominee to the court picked by President Barack Obama. According to a new paper co-written by two University of Illinois legal experts, that position may be more problematic - both pragmatically and constitutionally - than those senators realize.

"They justify their position by saying that no president has nominated a Supreme Court Justice during an election year in the last 80 years," said U. of I. law professor Robin B. Kar. However, Kar's research with co-author Jason Mazzone shows that in all 104 cases in which an elected president has faced a vacancy on the Supreme Court and began the appointment process prior to the election of a successor, the sitting president was able to both nominate and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint a replacement justice.

"This is an important and unbroken line of historical precedent," Kar said. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Danny Tyree

DANNY TYREE: Sobering Study: Is Moderate Drinking Overrated? - Tell me, Hank, whyyyyyy do you drink...?"

In one of his signature songs, country music superstar Hank Williams, Jr. uses "family tradition" to answer that question; but for the past several years, lots of other people have answered "for my health."

Yes, several studies have trumpeted the benefits of moderate drinking. According to CBS News, those selling points may be exaggerated.

High-volume alcohol use remains harmful, but apparently moderate drinkers have no longevity advantage over non-drinkers.

Scientists at the University of Victoria's Center For Addiction Research in British Columbia, Canada analyzed 87 previous studies on alcohol and death from all causes and concluded that the results linking moderate drinking to longer life may be skewed because of "abstainer bias" (i.e. comparing moderate drinkers to non-drinkers often included people who don't consume alcohol due to other health issues, such as former drinkers who stopped because of poor health). - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

jpg Michael Reagan

MICHAEL REAGAN: Don't Dump on the Primary Process - The Republican Party establishment wants to dump Trump.

Jeb, Marco and Carly wanted to dump Trump. Ted and John still hope to dump Trump. So does Mitt.

Everyone in the GOP is on the same anti-Trump page. They all want to dump him — and they'll use every trick play in the primary book to do it.

So why is everyone in the party so angry about the way the primary process is going? This is the process.

It's really pretty simple.

If you want to be the Republican Party's presidential candidate for 2016, you have to reach 1,237 delegates to win the nomination.

It's not who gets close to 1,237 delegates. It's who gets that number or more. That's the way the system works. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Easter

Editorial Cartoon: Easter
By Rick McKee ©2016, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Our Obligation: The People of Alaska By Rep. Dan Ortiz - I have the honor of serving as your representative in the Alaska State Legislature. The major issue facing our legislature this session is Alaska’s fiscal situation. I’m committed to the practice of a government of the people, by the people and for the people. I spend a lot of time communicating with constituents across our district, from Hyder in the south, to Wrangell in the north. I seek to hear from our friends and neighbors about the issues on their minds. Our district does not always come to a consensus, but most of us agree that we need to continue making smart cuts in government spending while we look for new revenue sources. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

letter RE: International coalition calls on BC to include Mount Polley investigation recommendations in mining code By Brent Murphy - I write you with respect to your article ”International coalition calls on BC to include Mount Polley investigation recommendations in mining code”, posted on March 22 on your web site and wish to express my disappointment that this article was posted without a fact check. The NGO’ s in their discussion on the KSM Project, which is owned by Seabridge, presented several inaccurate statements regarding the project. Specifically.... More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

letter The Importance of Giving Through Pick.Click.Give By Nina Kemppel - The next several days are critical for hundreds of nonprofits across Alaska. Why? As we approach to the March 31st deadline to file for your Permanent Fund Dividend, we move closer to the time most Alaskans will Pick.Click.Give to organizations that serve critical needs here in Alaska. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

letter Part 2: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - As Alaska citizens we are all the victims of one of the most incredible crimes that has ever been committed, and indeed it is ongoing. We have been ripped off to the tune of tens of billions of dollars in the last two years alone. This crime, this scandal, already exceeds in value by a considerable margin Teapot Dome and all the financial scandals of the Grant and Harding administrations. This is conceivably the largest financial crime in the history of the United States. Our elected officials don’t even want you to believe it is a crime, they are so complicit; but if this is not a financial crime, nothing is. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

letter The Trump Wrecking Ball By Donald Moskowitz - Trump could win the Republican nomination, but lose to Clinton in the general election. He might severely damage the Republican Party, and adversely impact Republicans in Congressional and state races. His un-American campaign of political violence and hooliganism is reminiscent of 20th century Nazi and Communist dictators. - More...
Saturday AM - March 26, 2016

letter RE: Donald Trump By Marvin Seibert - After reading some of the facts that Mary Lynne Dahl stated in her anti-Trump letter of March 19th I must point out some overlooked facts. - More..
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

letterOIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM PART 1 By David G Hanger - By 1981 when the revenue agent stopped by he was pushing 80 strong, but still every year summer came around and off he and the wife were once again to the Yukon or the Klondike, where the nights are short and the legends long. And every year he would spend $50,000 to $80,000 on his mining operation, and every year he reported to the IRS -0- income, generating a massive loss that offset his wife’s and his other income sources, and got him a $10,000 to $15,000 a year refund. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

letter The Ortiz Citizen budget poll By A. M. Johnson - An open letter to Representative Dan Ortiz regarding his survey inquiry in today's mail on how to address the budget shortfall. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

letter The Ketchikan School District Needs to Stop Spending By Megan Heaton - There have been some comments made at the Ketchikan Borough Assembly meetings recently about how great the schools in Ketchikan use to be. Mainly there was the hot lunch program and a school nurse. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

letter ROADSIDE DAFFODILS By Jerry Cegelske - North end residents were treated to some roadside daffodils on Sunday and Monday morning as the Dixon Entrance Chapter of the Society of American Foresters did their regular cleanup of mile 6 of the North Tongass Highway Sunday morning. The Chapter regularly cleans their section of road every three months or so, collecting the accumulated trash and keeping their mile clean. Thank them for their dedication when you have the chance. They do a fantastic job keeping this area clean. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

letter Donald Trump By Mary Lynne Dahl - I have recently become concerned about some statements being made by Donald Trump in his bid for the US Presidential ticket. He has built a campaign on repeatedly claiming that “the US doesn’t win anymore”, “China and Japan are killing us on trade” and “Illegal immigrants are pouring over the border”. He has also said that he “cannot release his federal income tax return because it is being audited by the IRS”. Although I do not generally offer political comments during an election, I challenge the accuracy of these statements and feel compelled to comment on them as untrue. - More...
Saturday AM - March 19, 2016

letter Happy 6th Anniversary to the Affordable Care Act! By Susan Johnson - In terms of significance, the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 is often compared to the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The ACA grew out of advances in coverage provided by Medicare and Medicaid—in fact, President Teddy Roosevelt first proposed a national health insurance program in 1912! We celebrate over 100 years of healthcare progress in 2016. - More...
Saturday AM - March 19, 2016

letter Alaska PFD By Norma Lankerd - First of all, I do not like the idea of Governor Walker wanting to dig into the Permanent Fund to help bail out Alaska. He is acting like Mr. Obama, thinking money grows on trees, so spend, spend, spend. I myself say NO DO NOT TOUCH THE PERMANENT FUND, already pay out of it to run different parts of Alaska and the administration. - More...
Saturday AM - March 19, 2016

letter Ketchikan's Safe Home Service in Jeopardy By Gigi Pilcher - Never, in the 40 year history of WISH, has it been placed on probation. This is an extremely serious action taken by the State of Alaska and the membership is questioning how this happened and what is being done about it. Ketchikan's safe shelter and services that WISH has accepted public funds to provide are essential to helping victims of domestic violence become survivors. The continuation of these services are now in jeopardy. -More...
Tuesday AM - March 15, 2016

letter YOUR ALASKA DRIVER’S LICENSE AND THE REAL ID By Pamela Goode - My research began trying to determine if the DMV was actually using facial recognition software for the new Driver License (DL) photograph and if so, why? To me, this would be a violation of privacy rights if confirmed. Apparently, DMV chooses to call it “image verification” but it’s the same thing. Most people are not aware of this because DMV is deliberately not telling you, unless you ask. So what happens to the people who refuse to give them their facial biometric data? As of now, right or wrong, you don’t get a license. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 15, 2016

letter KGBSD Slush Fund? By Chris Elliott - Hate to be a nitpicker, but if Ms. O'Brien's letter is strictly her opinion and doesn't represent the opinion of the School Board, why does she identify herself as the President of the School Board? - More...
Tuesday AM - March 15, 2016

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