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Moon Over Gravina
As viewed at 5AM on April 29, 2018.
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Ketchikan: Back When Cruising Was Real Luxury; Morgan family yacht brought well heeled visitors to Alaska in late 40s By DAVE KIFFER - Each year more than one million cruise ship passengers visit Alaska. All arrive in a manner vastly different from the thousands of people who once sailed the Inside Passage to Alaska.

Once upon a time, most visitors came in cramped steamships that were more a relic of the 19th Century than the modern cruise ships of the 21th Century. Passage was much more utilitarian back then. Unless you were on the Corsair IV, a world famous luxury yacht that briefly presaged the modern era of more luxurious cruising back in the late 1940s.

To refer to the Corsair IV, which operated in Alaska for Pacific Cruise Lines in 1948 and 1949, as a luxury yacht is entirely appropriate, because that's what she was.

The Corsair IV started out her seagoing life as the luxury yacht of the J.P. Morgan family, one of the richest families in the world. To accurately place the Corsair IV in its proper standing, you only have to look it up on the internet to come across a 2008 story about the ship in the online version of the "New York Social Register."

The Morgan family owned four different "Corsair" yachts over the years. The building and commissioning of each one was front page news. One of the earlier Corsair's was so luxurious that it was responsible for the most famous statement ever made about money in American history. A reporter had asked the family patriarch, J.P. Morgan, how much his new yacht cost to operate.

"Sir, if you have to ask, you can't afford it," Morgan legendarily replied.

The elder J.P. Morgan  - considered preeminent American banker/industrialist at the turn of the 20th Century - was long gone by the time the Corsair IV was commissioned in 1930 by his son J.P. Morgan Jr.

The Corsair IV, a turbo-electric driven ship, was built at the famous Bath shipyard in Maine in 1930, during the first years of The Depression. The $2.5 million cost then translates to $60 million today, but one suspects it would cost 10 times that much to replicate a ship that would held be in similar esteem today. At 343 feet in length and more than 2,000 tons, it was, at the time, the largest yacht that had ever been built in the United States.

According to Michael Grace's 2008 story on the "New York Social Diary " website,  J.P. Morgan Jr. brought three railcars of friends and family to Maine just to watch the ship launching in 1930. The launch itself was covered in the pages of numerous newspapers including the New York Times.

The yacht served the family for a decade where it was primarily used in the Caribbean. The ship also set a handful of cross Atlantic speed records before being turned over to the British Government in 1940 to take part in the War effort.

During the war the ship was used in the British Isles for important meetings and other ceremonial tasks. Winston Churchill reportedly took a liking to the Corsair IV and used it on several occasions, but generally it spent most of the war at the dock.

Following World War II, the steamship industry was slow to recover from having nearly all of its major assets - it's ships - involved in the war effort. For example, liner service between countries in the Pacific was very slow to reestablish itself. Commercial avation began to take off and that was a factor as well. By the early 1950s, steamship travel to Alaska was still just a shadow of what it was prior to the war. - More...
Monday PM - May 03, 2018


Alaska: House Votes to Clear $800 Million Oil Tax Credit Backlog - In Juneau on this 108th day of the 90-day legislative session, House Bill 331 cleared a legislative hurdle, passing the House of Representatives, with bipartisan support. The measure must still be approved by the Senate.

HB 331 creates a State corporation authorized to issue up to $1 billion in bonds for the sole purpose of purchasing outstanding oil and gas tax credits. The bill would also provide incentives for companies to receive a smaller discount on their credits if companies share seismic data with the state, agree to a larger royalty share for the state from some fields, or commit to reinvest the funds back into Alaska within two years.

The measure was introduced by Governor Bill Walker and enables issuance of bonds to pay small oil and gas exploration companies the tax credits they were promised by the State of Alaska by past legislatures. Last year lawmakers worked to end the system that paid tax credits to small companies that produced oil and looked for new fields. Alaska’s three largest oil and gas companies are not eligible to receive these credits.

This legislation will issue bond debt to pay off the more than $800 million balance the state owes for oil and gas tax credits. According to the Alaska House, the bill would discount the tax credit payments to more than cover the additional cost to the state of interest on the bond debt, which the state will then pay down over the next decade. In this manner, companies owed credits receive cash they can reinvest in additional development today while keeping the measure revenue neutral or revenue positive for the State of Alaska.

In exchange for getting paid now rather than waiting years, small companies that are owed credits will accept a discounted rate, saving the state a significant amount of money.

“We're making good on the state’s promise to pay tax credits to independent explorers in exchange for their investment. Not only does this save the State of Alaska money, it also gives companies cash to spend now that prices are trending upward, something that will help put Alaskans to work,” Governor Walker stated. “I thank the members of the House Minority whose votes made this possible.”  - More...
Thursday PM - May 03, 2018


Alaska Senate Approves Work Requirements for Medicaid Recipients - The Alaska Senate today approved a measure requiring able-bodied recipients of Medicaid to pursue employment, volunteer service or subsistence activities.  

SB 193 , sponsored by Senate President Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks), requires eligible Medicaid recipients to work, enroll in educational or training programs, volunteer, or engage in subsistence activities, for a minimum of 20 hours each week. 

“This bill establishes a simple policy: If you can work and you’re receiving benefits, then you should work,” said Sen. Kelly. “If you can’t work, we understand, and you get a pass. For those who are finding it difficult to find a job, you can volunteer. The important thing is that you join the community of people who contribute every day to making Alaska a better place.”

On January 11, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a new policy designed to assist states in improving Medicaid enrollee health and well-being through work and community engagement incentives under section 1115 of the Social Security Act. SB 193 takes advantage of the new policy by directing the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to apply for a section 1115 waiver to establish work requirements for eligible adults. 

“219,000, or nearly one-third of all Alaskans, are receiving Medicaid services at an average cost of nearly $12,000 each,” said Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna). “77 percent of Alaskans support Medicaid work requirements and able-bodied, working age adults have begun crowding out services for the most-vulnerable seniors and the disabled. This bill is about ‘teaching a man to fish.’ It’s about helping Alaskans succeed by reaching their full potential through a reasonable transition from dependence on government to productivity and fulfillment. The two-part process will identify gaps to employment, such as opportunity and training, and help Alaskans break the cycle so that they can realize their dreams through meaningful employment and other ways of improving personal success.”

Those exempted from the work requirement include but are not limited to Medicaid recipients who are under 18 or over 65 years of age, unable to work for medical reasons, pregnant, the parent or caretaker of a child with disabilities, a victim of domestic violence, or currently receiving unemployment insurance benefits. For a full list of exemptions click here

Four Senate Democrats voting 'no' released prepared statements following the passage of SB 193, the Medicaid Work requirements.

"The intent language asks for a report identifying barriers to employment, but the clock starts ticking even before that report is available. Our priority should be stabilizing Alaska's economy so that people can find jobs and take care of themselves. This bill puts the cart before the horse, assuming people do not want to work, but it comes when we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation. This is in part at least because of the Senate's failure to pass a stable, sustainable fiscal plan." said Senate Democratic Leader Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage). - More...
Thursday PM - May 03, 2018



JOE GUZZARDI: All Eyes on Supreme Court With Trump v Hawaii - Observing the Swamp during the last few weeks, one trend is clear: federal courts are all-powerful, and even though the judges are appointed, not elected, they have the final say in legislative issues. Nevertheless, lower court judges don't have the right to steal American sovereignty or usurp presidential powers including those the Executive Branch has over immigration.

Two recent examples: in Sessions v. Dimaya, the Supreme Court struck down a congressional statute that mandates criminal alien deportation. Dimaya is a twice-convicted foreign national and, therefore, deportable. Then, Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge John D. Bates wrote that the Trump administration's decision to rescind the deferred action for childhood arrivals program, DACA, "was unlawful and must be set aside." But DACA isn't a law; President Obama created the program through an executive memo.

Now, America's attention turns to the Supreme Court hearing on Trump v. Hawaii, the third version of the president's refugee resettlement efforts to improve vetting and tighten domestic security. But in Trump v. Hawaii, the president's campaign rhetoric is on trial, and not the law, which is clear. Hawaii's U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson blocked the travel ban's second version when he wrote that it was unconstitutional and discriminatory.

The 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act gives the chief executive broad immigration powers: "Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate." - More...
Thursday PM - May 03, 2018


MICHAEL SHANNON: The Constitutional Work-Around for Term Limits  - I've always wondered why the National Education Association (NEA) and the country club conservatives in the Republican House and Senate leadership aren't allies, instead of enemies. Both organizations use the same tired talking points to defend inert members from the forces of accountability.

When education reformers urge legislative bodies to adopt merit pay for teachers and thereby reward the best teachers with the most money, the NEA counters that experience is crucial and paying teachers according to seniority rewards that excellent system.

In the same fashion, when congressional reformers urge House and Senate leadership to adopt an amendment adding term limits to the Constitution, leadership rejects the proposal out of hand, claiming seniority is crucial to keeping Congress the paragon of competence it is today.

It's no accident that education, Congress and penal institutions all grant more privileges based solely on how much time you've served.

Congressman Francis Rooney (R--Doomed) wants to remove Congress from that list. Rooney has formulated a brilliant method of implementing term limits that does not require an amendment to the Constitution. Rooney's Thomas Jefferson Public Service Act would place no limits on how long a member could warm a seat in Congress - that requires an amendment - instead Rooney would reduce a member's paycheck to $1 per year after they served six terms in the House or two terms in the Senate.

My wife is skeptical. She believes after 12 years our 'public servants' have already made themselves millionaires, so the $173,999.00 pay cut won't bother them. She is not alone. - More...
Thursday PM - May 03, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Iran Nuke Deal Lies

Political Cartoon: Iran Nuke Deal Lies
By Rick McKee ©2018, The Augusta Chronicle, GA
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

"Beyond time to get worried" By A. M. Johnson - The opinion piece from the blog site 'Anchorage Daily Planet' is timely in light of current negotiations between the property tax payers and the National Education Association. Conclusions drawn are left to the reader. With 50 percent of K-3d grade struggling or outright failing it is not hard to understand the dismal statewide results.

Children learn to read from kindergarten through the third grade. From the forth grade on if successfully taught, read to learn.

If one can not read at grade level exiting the third grade and ineffective intervention has not worked or if correct interventions are not applied failure will follow. Ability to read carries over to the ability to comprehend and without comprehension failing and struggling children will loose interest in school and become class disrupters affecting the level of what learning maybe taking place. - More...
Monday PM - April 30, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

ASPHALT HEAVEN FOR JUNEAU, POTHOLE HELL FOR KETCHIKAN By David G Hanger - I had lunch a few days back with an old friend and lifetime local who recently returned from a two-year project in Juneau. I am sure you are all pleased to hear that Scott Gray, long-term and current Juneau resident and current Ketchikan area roads & highways supervisor, has those roads in Juneau in absolute pristine condition, smooth-surfaced and not a pothole anywhere. Everyone in Juneau apparently thinks he is a wonderful nice guy. How much are we here in Ketchikan paying for Juneau’s pristine roads and highways?

Obviously, the first thing we are paying for is highway maintenance crews that are supposed to be working here, but are not, while in the meantime the supervisor and the bulk of the resources are in Juneau.

Dan Ortiz, you are supposed to be our local representative. Why have you permitted this to happen? Your silence on this issue is deafening, while the conditions are worsening daily and have been unacceptable for quite some time. - More...
Monday PM - April 30, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Thank you! By Jerry Cegelske - I would like to express my appreciation to the members of IBEW Local #1547 for their efforts in the collection of trash along mile 3 of the North Tongass highway.  Anyone driving that section of the road on Sunday morning to early afternoon would have seen numerous members collecting the trash we have allowed to escape for the past months.  It wasn’t a very pleasant day with the wind and rain but they persisted in collecting about 22 bags of trash along with a tire or two and other material that escaped from the back of trucks hauling material along the road.

Their efforts will give visitors a better opinion of Ketchikan because of what they will not see thanks to Local #1547’s efforts to clean our community. - More...
Monday PM - April 30, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Congratulations KHS Academic Decathlon By Gigi Pilcher - I wanted to congratulate the Ketchikan High School Academic Decathlon team on their outstanding achievement in placing first in the United States Decathlon Division III National Finals.

They were also named as Rookie of the Year of the overall National finals!

Their achievements will encourage and inspire teams from all over Alaska to go for the “gold” as well.

Ketchikan and the State of Alaska should be extremely proud of their excellent performance. - More...
Monday PM - April 30, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Evil needs a hand By Alfred Brock - British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain famously once said, ‘Peace for our time’ on September 30, 1938 concerning the Munich Agreement and the Anglo-German Declaration.

On September 1, 1939, less than one year later, Germany invaded Poland and the world plunged into World War 2.

British Petroleum’s Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley recently admitted that BP has a ‘very strong’ relationship with Rosneft, the Russian company which is facing international sanctions because of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine – that happened in 2014 and Russian forces are still there. - More...
Monday PM - April 30, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Ketchikan vs Juneau Potholes By Marlene Steiner - Spent a week in Juneau, I noticed there are no potholes on Juneau Highway from town out past Tee Harbor. Where as here in Ketchikan almost every place you drive there are lots, lots, lots of potholes.

Seems like we have to deal with this every year. DOT is putting the blame on the weather being cold. Juneau deals with lot, lot colder weather than we do because in the downtown area they get the Taku winds and from the Valley and out they get the winds from the Glacier. - More...
Monday PM - April 30, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Suicide laws can easily be wrongly administered By Bradley Williams - Polling only addresses the concept not the reality that assisted Suicide laws can easily be wrongly administered.

Yes you may like the concept of assisted suicide/euthanasia until you learn that the administration of the non-transparent laws in HI, OR, WA, CA and CO brightly provide immunity for predators (corporations, strangers, caregivers, heirs, guardians ) to complete the killing all before the family knows. The safeguards are hollow and unenforceable. A simple reading of the laws confirms this to be true. - More...
Monday PM - April 30, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Putin Is The Enemy By Donald Moskowitz - Vladimir Putin denies Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, but U.S. intelligence agencies have conclusive evidence of the meddling. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with interfering in U.S. elections. The U.S. has sanctioned Russian individuals. The Russian firm, Internet Research Agency, which directed the Russian espionage in the elections, was funded by Yevgency Prigozhin, a close ally of Putin.

During an interview with Megyn Kelly Putin attempted to shift the blame for the election interference to Russian citizens who, according to him, are not real Russians. This dumb commentary was made by a so called world leader. Putin said " Maybe they're not even Russians. Maybe they're Ukrainian, Tartars, Jews-just with Russian citizenship. " Evidently, Communist Russia has varying classes of citizens based on ethnicity, religion, and other backgrounds. - More...
Monday PM - April 30, 2018

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