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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 02, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By LISA THOMPSON

Bugges Beach
Front Page Feature Photo By LISA THOMPSON ©2018

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Alaska: Largest Chinook salmon disappearing from West Coast - The largest and oldest Chinook salmon - fish also known as “kings” and prized for their exceptional size — have mostly disappeared along the West Coast.

That’s the main finding of a new University of Washington-led study published Feb. 27 in the Journal Fish and Fisheries. The researchers analyzed nearly 40 years of data from hatchery and wild Chinook populations from California to Alaska, looking broadly at patterns that emerged over the course of four decades and across thousands of miles of coastline. In general, Chinook salmon populations from Alaska showed the biggest reductions in age and size, with Washington salmon a close second.

“Chinook are known for being the largest Pacific salmon and they are highly valued because they are so large,” said lead author Jan Ohlberger, a research scientist in the UW’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “The largest fish are disappearing, and that affects subsistence and recreational fisheries that target these individuals.”

Chinook salmon are born in freshwater rivers and streams, then migrate to the ocean where they spend most of their lives feeding and growing to their spectacular body size. Each population’s lifestyle in the ocean varies, mainly depending on where they can find food. California Chinook salmon tend to stay in the marine waters off the coast, while Oregon and Washington fish often migrate thousands of miles northward along the west coast to the Gulf of Alaska where they feed. Western Alaska populations tend to travel to the Bering Sea.

After one to five years in the ocean, the fish return to their home streams, where they spawn and then die.

Despite these differences in life history, most populations analyzed saw a clear reduction in the average size of the returning fish over the last four decades — up to 10 percent shorter in length, in the most extreme cases.

These broad similarities point to a cause that transcends regional fishing practices, ecosystems, or animal behaviors, the authors said. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2018

Alaska: Alaska reconfirms that election was unsuccessfully targeted in a Russian Cyber Scan in 2016 - In response to a NBC TV story that Russia ‘compromised’ seven states prior to 2016 election, Alaska Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke said, “In September 2017, representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officially informed our division that Russian cyber actors made a failed attempt to access the division’s public information website prior to the 2016 General Election."

Bahnke said, “At that time, DHS officials stated that Alaska was one of 21 states that possibly were the target of an unsuccessful Russian-affiliated cyber incident in October 2016. We have not received any additional information from the federal government to dispute this statement."

“DHS reported, and we confirmed, that Russian actors scanned our public information website in 2016.  The division immediately informed the public of the issue in a press release on September 22, 2017," said Bahnke.

In the 09/17 press release, the division said internet security protocols followed by the State of Alaska successfully protected the election system and the attempted probe had no effect on Alaska’s Voter Registration and Election Management Database or outcome of the election. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2018


Alaskans try to combat death by marine toxins By PAULA DOBBYN - Mass mortality of seabirds. Marine mammal deaths. Alaskans sickened by shellfish. What’s the common theme? Seawater contaminated by toxic algae. Call it death by phytoplankton.

A group of Alaskans - including state officials, tribes, nonprofit organizations and researchers - have recently come together to try to combat these marine toxins. The goal is to keep Alaskans who collect and eat shellfish from the beach as safe as possible with up-to-date information.

Given Alaska’s sweeping coastline - nearly 34,000 miles - that’s a tall order. But members of the newly formed Alaska Harmful Algal Bloom Network hope that through information sharing and technology, they can make a dent.

The job of keeping Alaskans safe from toxic shellfish starts with phytoplankton, tiny algae found in fresh and salt water. Scientists consider phytoplankton the building blocks of the aquatic food web. But phytoplankton can become deadly if sunlight, water temperature and ocean nutrients line up in a certain way. In those cases, phytoplankton rapidly multiply, or “bloom,” and may become poisonous, creating a toxic soup that can spread for miles. Animals that ingest the soup can become sick or die, or they can hold onto a toxin for years. When humans eat an animal that contains a toxin, they can develop symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning, a notorious illness that can be fatal.

Some of these naturally occurring toxins can be more powerful than cyanide.

These poisonous stretches of water are called “harmful algal blooms.” They are becoming more common and showing up in parts of Alaska where they were never prevalent before, a trend scientists say may be associated with climate change.

“It seems to bloom more often in warmer water. The jury is still out but all indications are that with warmer waters in Alaska, we are likely to see more harmful algal bloom events,” said Ginny Eckert, a University of Alaska Fairbanks professor.

A public health threat

Shellfish harvesting is common in Alaska. Many people do it for fun and food. Others harvest for cultural reasons. With much of the state’s population living along the coast, harmful algal blooms pose a serious and growing health threat.

“People have become scared and some have quit harvesting,” said Kim Wickman.

Wickman coordinates environmental work for the Wrangell Cooperative Association, a federally recognized tribe in Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage. Wickman monitors the water and shellfish at two popular harvesting spots in Wrangell.

“We want people to have the information they need to make a proper decision,” she said.

Producers of commercially harvested shellfish in Alaska are required to have their products screened for toxins. But state officials say they lack enough resources to pay for recreational or subsistence testing. As a result, Alaskans who harvest for themselves or their families were basically on their own until recently, when the Sitka Tribe of Alaska created a testing lab to monitor shellfish and phytoplankton. Anyone in Alaska can send a sample in and have the shellfish tested for $50. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2018


Alaska Science:
Did plants cause one of Earth’s great extinctions? By NED ROZELL - Several times in the distant past, our home planet has been cleansed of its residents, with the exception of a few plucky survivors.

Perhaps the best known and most spectacular extinction was that of the dinosaurs, caused when a meteorite six miles in diameter crashed into Earth about 65 million years ago.

There was another event that killed most of the life in the world’s oceans. It happened more than 300 million years earlier than the impact that doomed the Tyrannosaurus. Back then, in the age of fish, the 30-foot, armor-plated shark-eater known as Dunkleosteus might have thought its reign would last forever.

Clues are hard to come by when you’re trying to look back to a time when the continents clumped together like a closed fist. But geologists have found evidence that plants, the most gentle of organisms, may have helped kill most of the life in the oceans 374 million years ago.

Mike Whalen is one of those geologists. He works at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and spends his summers picking at ancient sea floors now lifted in high mountain walls, hundreds of miles from salt water. On rocky ridges from China to Belgium to the Rockies in Canada, he and his colleagues have found black rocks that point to a mass extinction in a period they call the Devonian.

Those rocks, layers of shale, are the remains of living things that did not completely decompose, which hints that there was little oxygen to power the tiny creatures that gobble up just about everything.

Developing land plants could have choked out life in the oceans, say Whalen and his coauthors, who wrote a paper that appeared recently in the journal Nature Communications. A more circular orbit of Earth around the sun —leading to years with no great difference between summer and winter — might have also helped doom most of the fish.

When most of Earth’s life was underwater, carbon dioxide flooded the air in much higher concentrations than today. That led to the emergence of organisms that flourish on that gas - plants. Land plants developed deep root systems that tapped into and freed nutrients from rocks. Those compounds ran off into rivers and then to the sea. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2018




MICHAEL SHANNON: Parkland School Shooting Is Your Government at Rest  - During his nationwide 'Don't Blame Me' tour, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told the Miami Herald he was unable to arrest the Parkland school shooter prior to the attack because "his deputies were legally 'handcuffed.'"

Sheriff Fife should know, since he personally bought the handcuffs.

It's becoming obvious as the investigation continues that rather than a random killing spree, the death toll is collateral damage resulting from Democrat efforts to introduce protected categories into the criminal justice system by ending the school to prison pipeline.

Instead of the NRA with blood on its hands, we find Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie and Sheriff Israel directly responsible for the death of 17 innocents.

Real Clear Investigations reports in 2013 - the year before the shooter entered high school - the Sheriff of Noddingham voluntarily signed a "collaborative agreement on school discipline." This preemptive amnesty listed a series of misdemeanors that would no longer result in arrest.

The freebie offenses included vandalism, disorderly conduct, fighting, trespassing, criminal mischief, harassment, threats, alcohol infractions and possession of drug paraphernalia - all violations common to future valedictorians. - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018


MICHAEL REAGAN: Gun Control Starts at Home - President Donald Trump said a bunch of crazy things this week.

Nothing new there.

I'm not referring to the global trade war he may have started on Thursday with his announcement that steep protective tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum could be coming as early as next week.

I'm referring to the tougher gun control laws the president publicly floated on Wednesday during an unscripted discussion with bipartisan lawmakers in the White House.

Sounding more like Nancy Pelosi than a lifelong friend of the National Rifle Association, the president suggested three steps he thinks would help to prevent future mass school shootings like the one in Parkland, Fla.

He proposed raising the age limit to buy assault-type weapons like the AR-15 to 21, making background checks tougher on ?all ?gun buyers and taking guns away from people with mental problems.

In the real world, where there are more than 300 million guns floating around the United States, Trump's first two actions will do nothing but burden law-abiding gun owners.

The president's third idea - taking someone's guns away for mental-health reasons and making them go to court to get them back - is especially outrageous.

Forget the serious constitutional concerns about taking law-abiding citizens' guns and doing the due process ??later. - More....
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Arm Teachers

Political Cartoon: Arm Teachers
By David Fitzsimmons ©2018, The Arizona Star, Tucson, AZ
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

A Preventable Shooting Tragedy By Donald Moskowitz - The Parkland, FL shooter had a history of violent behavior. Police were called to his house many times, but they did not arrest him because the school board had an agreement with the police not to arrest any students.. The FBI received a viable tip indicating he wanted to shoot up a school, but the lead was not pursued.

The following are incredible:  A student saw the shooter in a stairway loading his rifle, but did nothing to try to stop him when told "things are going to get messy around here". The student left the building, did not call 911, but informed a teacher. The teacher drove the student to a baseball field, and then went back to the school to check it out, but the shooting had started. Why did the armed deputy sheriff assigned to protect the school stand around during the shooting? If true, why did three police officers arrive at the school and take cover behind their vehicles, and not enter the school? - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Take guns from criminal gang bangers By John Suter - On HB 75 the legislature should also add felon criminal gang bangers to the list that the government takes away their guns because they are a danger to themselves and the community at large.  We would have a lot less crime then.  - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Staff Training By A.M. Johnson - For the public that wishes to read current articles regarding the arming of school personnel.

Below are direct quotes from three of the four provided sources. Two quotes are not know as supporters of conservative thinking on most anything including firearms, however they do quote statements a bit more accurately than the author of the Taking the Law into your Own Hands is not an "Individual Freedom" would have you believing. One would ask the author of the letter to the editor to provide a bit more specifics on the basis for opinions offered as Fact. - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

This in not my father's NRA By Michael Spence - He was a combat veteran, an expert marksman, and a lifelong member of the NRA. When I was 12 he took me and my brother out to the sand dunes to practice shooting at tin cans. Before shooting, we learned from him how to carry, clean, and handle a .22 rifle, a shotgun, and a .45 automatic pistol. The rules he taught were ones right out of the NRA manual:

Always carry and store the gun with a safety on.
Never leave a loaded gun unattended.
Never point a gun at another person. - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gun control By Rex Barber - Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted amongst men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. THAT WHEN EVER GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE TO THESE ENDS IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH AND INSTITUTE NEW GOVERNMENT.

The above capitalized is the birth place of the second Amendment and its highest purpose, You can alter Government through the ballot box but there is only one way the people can abolish it and that is through a force of arms. - More...
Friday AM - February 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Taking the Law into your Own Hands is not an "Individual Freedom" By Michael Spence - Once again the CEO of the NRA, Mr LaPierre, has taken the podium to expound on the rights of individuals to take the law into their own hands. In doing so he reveals again his huge misunderstanding of the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which does not entitle anyone to do so.

The position taken by the present day NRA and its paid-for politicians in Washington is nothing less than and advocacy of vigilanteism. It makes the point that Americans, including schoolteachers and ordinary citizens regardless of training or mental capacity, should practice do-it-yourself law enforcement using firearms. - More...
Friday AM - February 23 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gillam crash By John Tippets - I greatly enjoyed reading and appreciated Dave's article about the Gillam crash of 75 years ago. 

Yes, the men were extremely careful in stretching out the food items they had; cutting Sardines into five parts (or four after Harold left) and breaking candy bars into the small squares for one piece for each, each a day.  - More...
Friday AM - February 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

KEA Seeks School District Funding to the Cap By Dan Bockhorst - The Ketchikan Education Association is calling for the Borough to fund our school district to the cap. Here are some points to consider:

1. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District (KGBSD) has a current-year operating budget of $44,115,565. Additionally, payments for school debt service add $3,510,233, and another $400,000 has been budgeted for school capital improvements this year. Those figures total $48,025,798. With a student population of 2,287, the total equals $20,999 for each student served by the KGBSD. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gun Violence By Rob B. Holston, Jr. - First let me say I own guns. I killed two deer this fall. I enjoy eating venison. I don’t pretend to have one silver bullet to solve the problem of gun violence in America today, but perhaps several bronze bullets.

I am conservative in my political views, yet will not support the NRA. I would support an organization that had a rational approach to controlling who owns weapons of mass destruction. We spend Billions to defeat rogue regimes around the world from attaining the A-bomb but allow 18 year-olds to walk in and lay down cash for an AR-15! - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

King Salmon Fishery By Angelo Martin - I have followed the King Salmon Fishery and see that it is in trouble, low counts of wild stock. I took special intrest with the King Salmon program that SSRA was implementing, I was on the board of directors of SSRAA. I FOUGH HARD TO KEEP THE PROGRAM GOING EVEN GOT volunteer of the year twice for the work in the King Salmon Fishery. Before I left it was in fairly good shape because of the hatchery program.l loved it.

Now I see it's in trouble, maybe bring back Sea Cops. I supported it with free printing and it seemed to help. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

A Strong Ferry System is Part of a Stronger Alaska By Gov. Bill Walker & Lt. Gov. Bryon Mallott - For more than 50 years, the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has served as a critical transportation link among Alaska’s coastal communities to Anchorage and to the Lower 48 and Canada. The marine highway system is a socio-economic lifeline for many of the 33 Alaska communities it serves, the majority of which are not connected to Alaska’s road system. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

THE FOUR Ps OF GOOD LOCAL GOVERNANCE By David G. Hanger - The four Ps of good local governance are power, plumbing, parking, and potholes. The first three are desirable in relative abundance; the fourth, potholes, none at all is optimal. Historically, with power and plumbing the City’s rep is so-so; plenty of power but plenty of power outages, too; with plumbing both in and out problems of potable water and problems with pollution that cause periodic health problems. But parking and potholes are our main concerns today. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Abortion By Robert B. Holston Jr. - Robert K. Rice claims to be a “realist” and then spouts sophomoric platitudes about a great grandpa choosing NOT to have an abortion.  How “realistic”. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Infrastructure Package Must Include Permitting Reform By U. S. Sen. Dan Sullivan and Terry O’Sullivan - While pundits debate the merits of various infrastructure proposals, the very real problem of permitting reform has been overlooked. Almost four in 10 of our country’s bridges are at least 50 years old. More than 50,000 of those bridges were structurally deficient in 2016. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States—and in some places, like in Alaska, there are entire communities that don’t even have access to tap water and a flushed toilet. Much of our energy grid is at full capacity, one out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition, our ports need to be modernized and deepened, and many of our schools are crumbling. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 14, 2018

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