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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 10, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By MEGHAN RICHARDSON

Star Gazing
The photographer and her dog Maddie are star gazing on the frozen Perseverance Lake. The photographer used a remote.
Front Page Feature Photo By MEGHAN RICHARDSON ©2019

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Alaska: FDA’s Decision Allows GE Salmon to Enter U.S. By MARY KAUFFMAN - FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. announced Friday the FDA is deactivating a 2016 import alert that prevented GE salmon from entering the U.S. In a prepared statement Gottlieb wrote, the FDA’s approval of the application related to AquAdvantage Salmon followed a comprehensive analysis of the scientific evidence, which determined that the GE Atlantic salmon met the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

In response to the FDA deactivating a 2016 import alert that prevented Genetically Engineered (GE) salmon from entering the U.S. market, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said in a prepared statement, “I’m extremely disappointed in the FDA’s short-sighted decision. It is wrong-headed and a bad idea, simple as that. I am not going to back down and will continue my fight to ensure that any salmon product that is genetically engineered be clearly labeled.”

Senator Murkowski wrote, “USDA’s new guidelines don’t require adequate mandatory labeling and don’t suffice as giving consumers clear information. Instead, they will only confuse people. I continue to have serious concerns about splicing DNA from two animals to produce a new marketable fish, essentially creating a new species. American consumers deserve to know what they purchasing, and ultimately eating.”

In 2016, Congress directed the FDA not to allow into commerce any food that contains GE salmon until it issued final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of the GE salmon content in the food. Gottlieb said the FDA complied with this requirement by implementing an import alert in 2016 that prevented GE salmon from entering the U.S. - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019

Fish Factor: Trade war has tamped down Alaska seafood sales to China By LAINE WELCH - So how’s that trade war with China going? 

Up until last July, when the Trump Administration slapped a 25 percent tax on nearly all U.S. seafood imports from China, that country was Alaska’s biggest trading partner for seven years running. In 2017, China bought 54 percent of Alaska’s fish and shellfish products, valued at $800 million. 

That tax volley was followed by a retaliatory 10 percent tariff from China in September that included U.S. exports. U.S. tariffs against $200 billion worth of Chinese imports were set to increase to 25 percent on March 1 but that deadline was extended by 60 days in late February as trade negotiations continue.  

All the tariff tit for tat has taken a big bite out of Alaska’s seafood market share and sales continue to sink. The new taxes have tamped down Alaska seafood sales to China by one fifth through 2018, said Jeremy Woodrow, acting director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. 

In a presentation this month to the Alaska House Fisheries Committee, Woodrow said “sales so far this year are off by more than 20 percent and we expect to take a big hit from China this year.” 

Woodrow said a survey of Alaska processors and industry stakeholders revealed that “65 percent reported they had immediately lost sales from the increase of these tariffs, 50 percent reported delays in their sales, and 36 percent reported they lost customers in China. Another 21 percent said they had unanticipated costs because of the trade conflict.”

He added that the taxes have caused inventories to pile up in freezers as Alaska seafood sellers seek markets to fill the China shortfall. Sales inroads are being made in other countries like Spain and Brazil, Woodrow said, but the loss of China would leave a lasting hurt.  

Meanwhile, state general fund dollars have been zeroed out for ASMI’s budget by the Dunleavy Administration and its travel budget slashed by more than half to $158,000. - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019


Alaska: Lieutenant Governor Meyer Signs Extradition Request for Steven Harris Downs; Downs will stand trial for the 1993 sexual assault and murder of Sophie Sergie - Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer signed an extradition request to the Governor of Maine on March 7 for Steven Harris Downs, a former student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, accused of first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault in the death of 20-year-old Sophie Sergie in April 1993.  

“After 26 long years, it is time for Sophie Sergie and her family to see justice served,” said Lt. Governor Meyer. “This case has haunted Sophie’s family and the Fairbanks community for far too long. It is my hope that Governor Mills approves this request quickly and permits the wheels of justice, unmoved since 1993, to proceed forward in our search for the truth in this tragic case.”

Sophie Sergie was visiting Fairbanks in late April 1993 when she decided to spend the night with a friend at the UAF campus. Her body was discovered the next day in a dormitory bathroom. Investigators with the Alaska State Troopers launched an investigation and collected a DNA sample from the victim that was uploaded into the Combined DNA Identification System (CODIS) in 2000, but no identification was made.  - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019

Alaska: Governor to Lead Delegation to CERAWeek 2019 - Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy will lead a small delegation to CERAWeek 2019, an annual gathering of international energy industry leaders in Houston, TX. Dunleavy will also join IHS Markit Vice Chairman and conference Chair Daniel Yergin for a “special dialogue” highlighting Alaska’s energy renaissance and new investment opportunities.

“Alaska represents one of the safest, most predictable and most prolific targets for energy development in the world, and there is no more important place to deliver that message than at CERAWeek,” said Governor Dunleavy. “We’re meeting with the heavy hitters – executives, marketers, investors and financers – to strongly highlight Alaska’s energy potential and help drive home new investments. During my State of the State Address, I told Alaskans we would be going out and marketing Alaska to the world. This is part of that mission – to put Alaska back on the global radar. To share the message that Alaska is open for business and we are one of the strongest energy plays in the world.”

During the conference, Governor Dunleavy will be prominently featured in a “special dialogue session” with IHS Markit Vice Chairman and CERAWeek chairman Daniel Yergin. The discussion, which will take place before delegates on Friday, March 15th from 8:45AM to 9:10AM (Central Daylight Time), will feature a discussion on Alaska’s recent classification as a “super basin” by IHS Markit, event organizer and leading global information and analytic firm serving industry and government. - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019


Ketchikan: Pinky Brindle Cancer Center Opens With Ribbon Cutting - Several dozen people packed the new first floor hallway that connects Ketchikan Medical Center with the Medical Office Building Thursday for the opening of the Cornelia “Pinky” Brindle Cancer Resource Center.

Former Ketchikan mayor Lew Williams and his wife Vicki cut the ribbon to officially open the space.  Lew, who is being treated for cancer at KMC, talked about the importance of having a place to get reliable information, “whatever you do, don’t go google “cancer” on the internet. It won’t be helpful”.

The Center will be staffed by infusion suite nurses and volunteers who can provide reliable cancer education information and answer questions. The Center will have supplies, like wigs and scarves, and locally made quilts to provide comfort during chemotherapy.

The staff at the Center will provide other help and support to cancer patients and their families including assisting with travel coordination, infusion schedules, appointments and supplies. KMC will partner with the First City Council on Cancer to help link outside services with those offered within PeaceHealth.

CAO Ed Freysinger welcomed those attending and Chaplain Margie Adams provided a prayer. Foundation President Joe Williams also spoke and drummed and sang a Tlingit healing song. - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019

Southeast Alaska: Pondering the power of the ocean By BETH GRASSI - Yakutat once found quirky fame as a surfing destination for the adventurous. Now, residents are looking into capturing wave energy to provide the town’s power.

Jeremy Kasper and Stephanie Jump, with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska Center for Energy and Power, are investigating the best potential underwater-energy sites.

Ocean waves can generate electricity as underwater devices convert motion into power. Some prototypes sit on the bottom in about 15 to 30 feet of water, sloshing back and forth to power a generator. Others use air bladders moving up and down to power turbines.

Yakutat is currently powered by diesel generators. People there don’t have many other options for energy.

“The sites good for wind power are too far out of town. Solar may work in the summer, but not year-round,” Kasper said. “About 20 or 30 years ago, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management assessed offshore oil and gas resources and didn’t find much.”

From 2013 to 2016, the city and borough split the cost with the Alaska Energy Authority to explore Yakutat’s wave-power potential. Then the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management provided funding for a project from 2017 to 2020 in which scientists measure seasonal wave action, sediment transport, fisheries and marine mammal presence.

Kasper and Jump’s team has deployed instruments attached to moorings on the ocean floor. The equipment stays in place for a few months, then team members return to collect information.

Working out of Yakutat is a logistical challenge.

“There’s not a lot of research support in Yakutat. We charter a 26-foot halibut boat,” Jump said.

Team members buy stainless steel nuts and bolts at Yakutat’s hardware store because the maritime climate causes regular hardware to rust and break. Some equipment needs lithium batteries that have to be transported on the monthly barge into town. - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019



DAVE KIFFER: Falling into Old Age - Jerry Seinfeld once did a stand up routine about turning 40. He noted that a variety of things happen, most notably fate assigns you a random disease or infirmity that you will have to deal with for the rest of your life.

So when I turned 60 a few weeks ago, I was interested to see what fate had in store (when I turned 40, I was in Ireland, so all fate had planned for me was a raging hangover).

Natch, it did not disappoint.

First of all, I got the "coughing and hacking" crud that lasted for four weeks (technically, it hasn't quite yet abated). Through that I was gifted with several days off work, which was exciting. Of course, laying at home sick in bed is not the way I preferred to spend that windfall. I love to sleep in, but not with bad head cold. Of course it was okay when I was actually asleep, but I kept waking up and I was still sick.

And why is it that when you are sick, you are never sick in your dreams? Everything is normal (as much as that is possible in dreams in which you are always lost in big cities, unable to find your high school locker, or standing naked in from of a large crowd at the Boston Garden). You are not sick. Then you wake up and you are. Go figure.

But I digress.

So I celebrated the beginning of my 60s sick.

Then I got some sort of irritation under one of my molar crowns.

The fact that I can say "one of my molar crowns" shows you that like many Ketchikanites, I have teeth issues. It is my goal to eventually have enough gold in my mouth to be able to retire to Aruba where I can sit by the beach and sip daiquiri smoothies. Because, of course, I won't have any teeth left to chew anything. - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: FoxNews and the Debate

Political Cartoon: FoxNews and the Debate
By Bruce Plante ©2019, Tulsa World
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Ketchikan has been hornswoggled By Mark O'Brien - My brothers and I used to get a kick out of watching Saturday morning Looney Tunes cartoons and always looked forward to seeing Yosemite Sam. Hearing him say, “Dagnabbit! Ah been, I say, Ah been hornswoggled” after Bugs Bunny slipped away always brought a laugh. Now, watching the Edwards’ case play out in our school district, I have new-found empathy for Yosemite Sam’s predicament; and it is not laughable.

According to Peter Watts, author of A Dictionary of the Old West, the word (hornswoggle) originated from the tendency of a cow to wildly swing its horns from side to side until it shakes itself free of a lasso; in other words, doing a "horns-waggle."  Ketchikan has been hornswoggled when it comes to holding anybody accountable for demonstrated egregious administrative malfeasance in the Edwards case. Nobody has been held accountable. Every administrator involved slipped loose the lasso of accountability.

I have taught for thirty years in three different school districts in two states. Each and every year I had to acknowledge and sign a legally binding document explaining what would happen if I failed to report any suspected abuse. It was clear that I would be subject to termination, to loss of my teaching certificate, and criminal charges. Never did any of these thirty filings of documented warnings state that failure to report might result in voluntary retirement, resignation (at the end of the school term), or the ability to receive severance pay and health care. - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019

jpg Opinion

Funding & the Future of AMHS By A.M.Johnson
- The following has been submitted to Representative Ortiz regarding the funding and future of our Alaska Marine Highway. I'd recommend that those who hold strong feelings or suggestions, be they contrary or debatable, be submitted to Representative Ortiz. He will accept all forms of input. He has asked for our assistance on this budget item, accommodate him.

Representative Ortiz (Dan):

I am not one for public forums anymore, and I don't stand in lines, so- I will comment via email.

It is noted that each and every community affected by the ferry situation is banging on the door whining about all the damage that will happen with ANY change other than status quo.

Unlike Education cuts where nobody seems to want to equate the equal loss of population with the proposed job loss as families leave communities taking their children with them allowing less need for ALL the teachers that in the discussion seem to be retained giving the assumption that each district would remain in a status quo world.

The ferry system is a different cat all together. While there is a loss of personnel and the hardships portrayed are surely actuate, both jobs, folks and the system all deteriorate with the funding situation. - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019

jpg Opinion

Alaskans deserve a fair chance to weigh in on Pebble Mine By Rep. Andrew Josephson - Twenty members of the Alaska House of Representatives signed a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting an extension of the deadline for Alaskans to weigh in on the Pebble Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 05, 2019

jpg Opinion

Conserving Electricity By Judith Green - Would it help our present Lack of Precipitation if all neon signs were turned off during daylight hours? - End...
Tuesday PM - March 05, 2019

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