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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 30, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By CARL THOMPSON

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The Northern Lights over Ketchikan as photographed Friday night in the Deer Mountain area.
Front Page Feature Photo By CARL THOMPSON ©2017

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National: Iraq and Afghanistan: The U.S. $6 trillion bill for America’s longest war is unpaid By LINDA J. BILMES, Harvard University -  On Memorial Day, we pay respects to the fallen from past wars – including the more than one million American soldiers killed in the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam.

Memorial Day 2017
A Memorial Day ceremony was held Monday at Bayview Cemetery in Ketchikan to honor all those who gave their lives in service to our country.
Photo by CINDY MOODY ©2017

Yet the nation’s longest and most expensive war is the one that is still going on. In addition to nearly 7,000 troops killed, the 16-year conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost an estimated US$6 trillion due to its prolonged length, rapidly increasing veterans health care and disability costs and interest on war borrowing. On this Memorial Day, we should begin to confront the staggering cost and the challenge of paying for this war.

The enormous figure reflects not just the cost of fighting – like guns, trucks and fuel – but also the long-term cost of providing medical care and disability compensation for decades beyond the end of the conflict. Consider the fact that benefits for World War I veterans didn’t peak until 1969. For World War II veterans, the peak came in 1986. Payments for Vietnam-era vets are still climbing. 

The high rates of injuries and increased survival rates in Iraq and Afghanistan mean that over half the 2.5 million who served there suffered some degree of disability. Their health care and disability benefits alone will easily cost $1 trillion in coming decades.

But instead of facing up to these huge costs, we have charged them to the national credit card. This means that our children will be forced to pay the bill for the wars started by our generation. Unless we set aside money today, it is likely that young people now fighting in Afghanistan will be shortchanged in the future just when they most need medical care and benefits.

A forgotten war

While most Americans are keen to “support our troops,” we aren’t currently shouldering the financial or the physical burden of our nation’s warfare. Except for a short period between the two world wars, the percentage of the general population now serving in the U.S. armed forces is at its lowest level ever

What’s more, the war in Afghanistan barely features on our front pages. During the past two years it has not even made it into the top 10 news stories.

There is not much pain in our pocketbooks either. In past wars, taxpayers were forced to cover some of the extra spending. During Vietnam, marginal tax rates for the top 1 percent of earners were hiked to 77 percent. President Harry Truman raised tax rates as high as 92 percent during the Korean War, telling the country that “this is a contribution to our national security that every one of us should stand ready to make.” In fact, taxes were raised during every American conflict since the Revolutionary War, especially for the wealthy. 

This time around we have borrowed the money instead. Thanks to the Bush-era tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, nearly all Americans now pay lower taxes than before the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. And unlike previous wars, Congress has paid for the post 9/11 conflicts using so-called “emergency” and “overseas contingency operations” spending bills, which bypass Congress’ own budget caps. This has allowed the government to avoid any uncomfortable national discussion on how to balance war spending against other domestic priorities. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 30, 2017

Fish Factor:
President's Budget Hits NOAA Hard By LAINE WELCH -   The 2018 budget unveiled on May 23 by the Trump Administration is bad news for anything that swims in or near U.S. waters.

At a glance:  the Trump budget will cut $1.5 billion from the U.S. Commerce Department, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) taking the hardest hit.  

The NOAA budget for its National Marine Fisheries Service operations, research and facilities would be slashed by about $43 million. It would eliminate NOAA’s coastal research programs and the Sea Grant program.

The Trump dump also includes pulling the budget from NOAA’s Coastal Zone Management Program and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, which targets recovery of West Coast and Alaska salmon runs. 

Funding for management and enforcement of U.S. catch share programs, such as halibut, sablefish and Bering Sea crab, would be cut by $5 million. 

The budgets for Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants, Interjurisdictional Fisheries Grants, the Chesapeake Bay project, the Great Lakes Restoration Project and the National Estuary Program also would be eliminated. 

Another $193 billion would be cut over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that is used by over 42 million needy Americans to supplement food purchases and often includes government-purchased seafood.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, told McClatchy News that the Trump administration “looked at the budget process through the eyes of the people who were actually paying the bills.” - More....
Tuesday PM - May 30, 2017

Southeast Alaska - British Columbia: How the popularity of sea cucumbers is threatening coastal communities - Coastal communities are struggling with the complex social and ecological impacts of a growing global hunger for a seafood delicacy, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.

"Soaring demand has spurred sea cucumber booms across the globe," says lead author Mary Kaplan-Hallam, who conducted the research as a master's student with the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC. 

"For many coastal communities, sea cucumber isn't something that was harvested in the past. Fisheries emerged rapidly. Money, buyers and fishers from outside the community flooded in. This has also increased pressure on other already overfished resources."

Sea cucumber can sell for hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of dollars a pound. The "gold rush" style impacts of high-value fisheries exacerbate longer-term trends in already vulnerable communities, such as declines in traditional fish stocks, population increases, climate change and illegal fishing.

"These boom-and-bust cycles occur across a range of resource industries," says co-author Nathan Bennett, a postdoctoral fellow at UBC. "What makes these fisheries so tricky is that they appear rapidly and often deplete local resources just as rapidly, leaving communities with little time to recover."  - More....
Tuesday PM - May 30, 2017


Southeast Alaska: CULTURAL EDUCATION CONFERENCE KICKS OFF THIS WEEK; U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Lt. Governor Byron Mallott, to address attendees - Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will kick off its first cultural education conference this week in its effort to improve academic success of Native students by giving educators tools to effectively teach people from other cultures.

The three-day event, Our Cultural Landscape: Culturally Responsive Education Conference, will feature nationally-known keynote speakers, nearly 50 breakout sessions, and special events, such as a film screening and discussion of Reel Injun and a traditional dance performance. Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott also will address participants.

The purpose of the conference, scheduled June 1-3 at the Juneau-Douglas High School, is to provide educators with a deep understanding of culturally-responsive education and equip them to transform their classrooms, pedagogy and curriculum to fully support all students' success.

Ample research has shown the effectiveness of using culture- and place-based teaching resources and methods to improve academic achievement for Indigenous students, said SHI President Rosita Worl, noting a 2013 study on Juneau's own Tlingit Culture, Language and Literacy program also found a significant increase in the graduation rate of students initially enrolled in the program.

"Studies over the past three decades have shown that Native language and culturally-responsive programs are associated with improved academic performance, decreased dropout rates and improved school attendance," Worl said. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 30, 2017

Southeast Alaska: SEARHC Proposes to Lease Sitka Community Hospital Facility and Acquire All Operating Assets and Operations - Today, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) proposed to the Sitka Assembly (Assembly) that SEARHC lease the Sitka Community Hospital (SCH) facility and acquire all of its operating assets and operations to create a sustainable healthcare delivery system for Sitka.

“As community and healthcare leaders in Sitka, we are at a decision point regarding healthcare delivery,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Charles Clement. “With Alaska facing serious fiscal challenges and the 2018 state budget cuts to Medicaid reimbursement, two stand-alone hospitals pose unnecessary risk and uncertainty. By integrating SCH and SEARHC into a single delivery system, the community will be less vulnerable to changes in the healthcare industry and, most importantly, Sitka patients will have increased access to quality primary and specialty care services, decreased wait times and improved facilities.”

Approximately one year ago, SEARHC proposed to the Assembly that it work collaboratively with SCH in developing a shared vision for Sitka – to develop a premier healthcare provider while improving community health through the sustainable provision of a broad array of high-quality clinical services. The yearlong planning effort was guided by a steering committee and led by ECG Management Consultants, whose recommendation in March was for SEARHC and SCH to merge. 

“Years of expert community assessments have pointed to a more efficient and effective healthcare delivery system for Sitka, and we have a chance to make that happen now,” urged Clement. “We have an opportunity to realize the shared vision, created by SCH and SEARHC, and to fashion a healthcare delivery system that is not just bigger, but better, for patients, Sitka community residents and all of Southeast Alaska.” - More...
Tuesday PM - May 30, 2017



jpg Bill Tatsuda

BILL TATSUDA: KAYHI COMMENCEMENT SPEECH (Presented to Over 140 Graduates, Sunday, May 28, 2017) - Good afternoon everyone. I am honored to be speaking here today at Kayhi. To the Class of 2017 I only ask that you stay awake during my speech. There is going to be a test afterwards, which you will have to pass in order to get your diploma. It will not be a difficult test, but you will have to be awake to take it. Here is an example question: Who was the speaker at graduation? A. A short Asian looking man. B. An old guy. C. Mr. Tatsuda D. All of the above.

Now I am going to show you one of the many ways to get up in the world. (pull stool out from inside the podium and get up on it). I was worried that the class would not be able to see me.

The last time I spoke at a Kayhi graduation was in 1966, 51 years ago. It was when I graduated from Kayhi, and I was the Class Selected Speaker. I am not sure why the class of 1966 selected me. It might have been because I was Kayhi Student Body President that year, or because I had been in Jeanie Sande’s debate club. More than likely it was because no one else volunteered to get up in front of everyone and try to sound half-way coherent.

Paula Sampson Ziegler spoke as the Class Valedictorian, and Mary Jo Turek spoke as the Salutatorian. Mrs. Wengert, our Senior English teacher was our speech advisor, and all three of them were mad at me, because I would not show them my speech ahead of time. They did not know that I could not show them, because I did not have one. I had to stay up late the night before graduation writing my speech. - More....
Tuesday PM, May 30, 2017


JOE GUZZARDI: Remembering the Values Our Soldiers Died For - During my lifetime, the United States has been involved in 18 foreign wars, excursions and interventions. Beginning with World War II, and continuing in a nearly unbroken streak that leads up to today's Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom, blood has been shed. Except for the triumphant World War II, the conflicts have produced few positive consequences.

Afghanistan, America's longest war, is a prime example. In a battle that can't be won, more than 2,300 American men and women have died since the Afghanistan invasion began shortly after 9/11. Most of the casualties were age 30 or younger. While inconsequential compared to lives cut short, Afghanistan has been a bottomless money pit. The cost to date exceeds $1 trillion, and in fiscal year 2017, $500 billion will be squandered. In Afghanistan, the best thing to do would be to follow the advice then-Vermont Senator George Aiken gave President Johnson about Vietnam: "Declare victory and get out."

Foreign wars fought on insurgents' soil are hard to win. Afghanistan, which retired Central Intelligence Agency analyst Milton Bearden called "the graveyard of empires," proves the point. Afghanistan routed the British four times - 1839, 1879, 1919 and 2001 - and embarrassed the Russians when they withdrew in 1988. But, in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara foolishly carried on despite the overwhelming odds against them. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 30, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Robots' Minimum Wage

Editorial Cartoon: Robots' Minimum Wage
By Sean Delonas ©2017,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Boy Scouts Camporee By Drace Mattson - I got to go on a campout with three Boy Scout troops and it was really fun. We had a smoked pig and cooking challenges. There were lots of fun challenges for us to compete in. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 30, 2017

letter Thank the Republican Party By Norbert Chaudhary - I'd like to personally thank Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan as well as Congressman Don Young for their unwavering and unquestioning support of President Donald Trump. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 30, 2017

letter Permanent Fund By Norma Lankerd - Just FYI, I'm born in ALaska, received every permanent dividend since it was established when Governor Jay Hammond got it all set up. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 30, 2017

letter European Immigrant Problems By Donald Moskowitz - A truck assault in Berlin Germany is one of many problems Germany is experiencing with 1 million Middle East and North African immigrants, mostly young males, who are committing murders, robberies and assaults on German Christians and Jews, especially women; and Chancellor Merkel wants to take in another 1 million. The German interior minister said German citizens with dual nationalities who are terrorists and/or a threat to national security should be deported.- More...
Tuesday PM - May 30, 2017

letter Beauty is Everywhere By Judith Green - This is a BIG thank you to Jillian Pollock for a fantastic school music program! Ms Jillian, as her students call her, is an exceptional music teacher and we are indeed fortunate to have her talent and positive upbeat person in our community and school district. As well, the support she receives from all the Houghtaling staff personnel including the principal Dave Jones, is so appreciated and does not go unnoticed. - More...
Wednesday PM - May 24, 2017

letter Alaska Forest Fund By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Southeast Alaska’s beautiful scenery, abundant recreation facilities and pristine wilderness make us proud to call this land our home. We know our lands need regular beach clean-ups, invasive species must be pulled, and trails should be maintained for maximum safety and enjoyment. We also know our vast public lands are a prime resource for wilderness skills training, seasonal employment, and youth education. - More...
Wednesday PM - May 24, 2017

letter Climate Change By Victoria McDonald - Climate change is an issue that directly involves Alaska. In Southeast, ocean acidification is increasing, so not only are crustaceans such as crab and shrimp less able to form shells, but pink salmon that rely on pteropods, a shelled mollusk, will lose an important food source. The lack of food for salmon has potentially disastrous effects on our fish-reliant lifestyle. Tongass Conservation Society, TCS, will be urging our borough to adopt a policy to decrease greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). We can align ourselves with Juneau’s Climate Change Policy of 2011, that advocates for reduced GHG. - More...
Sunday PM - May 21, 2007

letter Oil Tax Credits By Rep. Dan Ortiz - What are the priorities of Alaskans? Does our budget reflect those priorities? - More...
Thursday PM - May 18, 2017

letter Oil Tax Credits By John Suter - Kudos to the Alaska State Senate for holding out on the one billion dollars owed to oil firms in subsides.  The millionaires and billionaires in the lower 48 who own these oil firms are having hard times too and their need for this money outweighs any needs the state may have for this money.  Education and public safety could not possibly be as important as the needs of the millionaires and the billionaires.  - More...
Thursday PM - May 18, 2017

letter High time to do the right thing By Vince Beltrami - As the Executive President of the Alaska AFL-CIO, the state’s largest labor organization, I have watched our number of members drop by 3,000 in the last year and a half. In that same time frame, Alaska has lost around 9,000 jobs, so about a third of those jobs came from our ranks. They are evenly split between public sector and private sector workers, in nearly every field imaginable, all around the state. - More...
Friday PM - May 12, 2017

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