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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

May 07, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By CHARLES HABERBUSH

Cruise Season Underway
Tourists approaching Ketchikan aboard the Alaska ferry Malaspina take to the railing for a better look. Docked at the Ketchikan port are several cruise ships.
Front Page Feature Photo By CHARLES HABERBUSH ©2019

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Southeast Alaska: Man found Guilty of Murder by Strangulation – A Sitka jury found Albert Macasaet guilty of Murder in the First Degree on Friday, May 3, 2019, in relation to the murder of 27-year-old JudyLee Guthrie, of Hydaburg. The Jury found that Macasaet strangled Guthrie, which caused her death. What makes this case stand out is that prior to her murder, Guthrie was strangled non-fatally on multiple occasions by Macasaet. 

Guthrie was reported by Macasaet as missing on July 31, 2016. Macasaet called the Craig Police Department numerous times saying he was searching for her and then to report he found her body.

Guthrie's body was found in Klawock along a logging trail, in thick brush in a puddle. According to the Attorney General, Guthrie was strangled to death by the cord of her hooded sweatshirt.

The State Medical Examiner testified that Guthrie died from asphyxia from strangulation and also found she suffered blunt-force trauma to her face before death.

Guthrie and Macasaet lived together in Hydaburg with two children.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 9, 2019. Macasaet faces 20-99 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

“Research indicates that if a woman survives a strangulation assault, she is associated to a great risk of being murdered. That happened here,” said Katie TePas, Domestic Violence and Sex Assault Program Coordinator for DPS. “We must always remember that research represents the experiences of actual people. Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence and should never be trivialized.”

Strangulation can cause unconsciousness in a matter of ten seconds or less. It can lead to death in a matter of minutes. This tragedy is a reminder to all Alaskans the dangers of strangulation. Victims of non-fatal strangulation should always seek medical attention if they experience any of the following: difficulty breathing, speaking, swallowing, or experiencing nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, headache, involuntary urination, and/or defecation, especially pregnant victims. A medical evaluation may be crucial in detecting certain injuries and ultimately saving a life.

“To date, there is no scientific study that correlates the presence of physical signs with the seriousness of the strangulation,” said John Novak, Anchorage District Attorney. “Strangulation is a very dangerous and life-threatening event even when there are no visible injuries.”  - More...
Tuesday PM - May 07, 2019

Alaska: Seaweed farmers in Alaska gear up for large haul By PAULA DOBBYN - The largest commercial harvest of seaweed in Alaska is taking place this month.

Blue Evolution, a California-based company that cultivates, harvests and distributes Alaska-grown seaweed, is expected to haul in up to 200,000 pounds from waters near Kodiak Island within the next two weeks. Previous harvests have been a fraction of that size, but, as the mariculture industry grows in Alaska, Blue Evolution is also expanding.

Working with local resident farmers, the company produces seed from wild seaweed plants and grows them into kelp starts in an onshore hatchery at the federal government’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center Kodiak Laboratory. Blue Evolution then supplies seeded string to local farmers who plant them onto longlines in late fall, cultivate their crops during winter and harvest in spring.

The company is collaborating with the University of Alaska and Alaska Sea Grant on seaweed research aimed at developing cost-effective cultivation methods for several native species. Seaweed farming is a growing, multibillion-dollar industry worldwide and presents a new economic opportunity for coastal Alaska.

“It suits my family because we set gillnet for salmon during the summer and supplement our income with seaweed farming during winter,” said Lexa Meyer, who co-owns and operates Kodiak Kelp Co. with her husband.

Seaweed farming is taking off as a global industry that provides a nutritious, sustainable food source that is an alternative to terrestrial food products that often require lots of arable land, fresh water, antibiotics, fertilizers and pesticides, said Beau Perry, who founded and runs Blue Evolution. Perry described seaweed farming as “regenerative,” in that it creates additional nursery habitat for marine fauna, sequesters carbon dioxide and buffers the effects of ocean acidification. Although much of his company’s seaweed is grown in Mexico, Perry sees Alaska as an ideal place for aquatic farming to expand. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 07, 2019


Fish Factor: Pebble Mine Comment Period Extended to June 29 By LAINE WELCH - Bulldozers, blasters, excavators, vibrators, jaw crushers, drillers, graders, crushers, huge trucks and other heavy equipment are tools of the trade when building and operating large mines - and they all kick up a lot of dust. 

In the case of the Pebble Mine, the project is expected to generate 8,300 tons of so called fugitive dust in its annual mining operations. Another 5,700 tons will come from building the 83 mile main road to Cook Inlet, and the 35 daily round trip trucking of mineral concentrates will churn out 1,500 tons of road dust each year. 

When it’s blowing in the wind, the dust will land on at least 1,500 acres of wetlands and 300 acres of lakes, ponds and streams, according to analyses done for the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, a tribal consortium representing 15 Bristol Bay tribal governments that represent over 80 percent of the region’s total population.  The dust will contain particles of the metals being mined, notably, copper,which when it leaches into water bodies, has been proven to be toxic to the olfactory system of salmon. 

“Increases in copper concentrations of just 2-20 parts per billion, equivalent to two drops of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, have been shown to impact the critical sense of smell to salmon, said Dr. Thomas Quinn, a professor at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. “Salmon use smell to identify predators, prey, mates, and kin. And importantly, they use sense of smell to return to their natal streams.”

But little to no baseline data on soil or sediments is presented in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement compiled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that is currently undergoing public review.

“One of the most eye opening things was, when you’re looking at fugitive dust, you’re looking at it from the perspective of human health and there are 10 or 11 hazardous air pollutants that you must look at when you’re permitting for air quality. Copper is not a human health hazard, so that was completely omitted from any mention in the discussion on dust,” said Kendra Zamzow, an environmental geochemist with the Center for Science in Public Participation. 

Zamzow, who is from Chickaloon, has pored over thousands of supplemental documents to the DEIS called requests for information (RFIs) on behalf of the United Tribes. 

“They have a table in the soils chapter that lists how much they expect in concentrations of things like arsenic or cadmium or mercury increases over time in soils based on loading from dust. But there is no mention of copper. And this is going to be a copper mine,” Zamzow said. “We know from the element analyses they’ve done on concentrations in the ore and the waste rock that copper will be one of the top two components in the rock, and probably the highest of the trace metals. And there’s absolutely no mention of the copper, which to me is really surprising because we know how copper is toxic to aquatic life, and everyone knows impacts to aquatic life is the entire reason that people are concerned about the Pebble Mine.” 

The copper will inevitably leach into waterbodies where fish and aquatic life in general will be exposed. 

“A lot of these particles could become available to the base of the food chain, the benthic feeders and zooplankton,” Zamzow said.

The copper saturated dust would blow from the mining area, whereas road dust would likely have a different composition.

“The road dust is expected to impact a lot more waters than the mine site. But we don’t know to what extent concentrates could be making up part of the dust because it is not discussed at all. And mitigation mostly talks about watering the road,” Zamzow said. 

According to a 2014 Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems at Bristol Bay by the Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation corridor in the Kvichak River watershed would cross approximately 64 streams and rivers of which 55 are known or likely to support migrating and resident salmonids, including 20 streams designated as anadromous waters. The corridor would run near Iliamna Lake and cross multiple tributary streams.

 Lower Cook Inlet also will get impacts from the Pebble dust as Amakdedori Creek in Kamishak Bay will be the export terminal to ship out the mined materials.  Trucks from the mine site will transport the finely powdered concentrates to ice breaking barges for an 18 mile daily transit across Iliamna Lake, truck it on a 30 mile road to the coast, load it onto barges, then offload to a mothership 12 miles or more offshore. 

“They’re going to take 38 ton shipping containers off of trucks, lower them into a ship’s hold and turn them upside down to dump out the concentrates. And it will have very high concentrations of copper,” Zamzow said, adding that the DEIS says the transports will include nearly 630,000 tons of materials per year. 

 Pebble’s mine site structures will include an open pit, a tailings storage facility, low grade ore and overburden stockpiles, quarry sites, water management ponds, milling and processing facilities, a 188-mile natural gas pipeline from the Kenai Peninsula to the site, a power plant, water treatment plants, camp facilities and storage facilities.

“Building and powering a mine like Pebble or Donlin is like adding a new city to Alaska,” said Zamzow.

“Dust is another example of how the Corps of Engineers has not done their job and is not holding Pebble up to a high standard of scientific rigor that Bristol Bay demands. And our decision makers are letting them,” said Alannah Hurley, United Tribes executive director.   

The public comment period for the Pebble Mine has been extended to June 29. Find more information awww.pebbleprojecteis.com/ - More...
Tuesday PM - May 07, 2019


IPBES: Nature's dangerous decline 'unprecedented,' species extinction rates 'accelerating' - Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history -- and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary, meeting last week (29 April - 4 May) in Paris.

"The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture," said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. "The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide." 

"The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global," he said. "Through 'transformative change', nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably - this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values." 

"The member States of IPBES Plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good," Watson said.

The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive ever completed. It is the first intergovernmental Report of its kind and builds on the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, introducing innovative ways of evaluating evidence. 

Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the Report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature. It also offers a range of possible scenarios for the coming decades.

Based on the systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources, the Report also draws (for the first time ever at this scale) on indigenous and local knowledge, particularly addressing issues relevant to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

"Biodiversity and nature's contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity's most important life-supporting 'safety net'. But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point," said Prof. Sandra Díaz (Argentina), who co-chaired the Assessment with Prof. Josef Settele (Germany) and Prof. Eduardo S. Brondízio (Brazil and USA). 

"The diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems, as well as many fundamental contributions we derive from nature, are declining fast, although we still have the means to ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet." 

The Report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. 

The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

"Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed," said Prof. Settele. "This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world."  - More...
Tuesday PM - May 07, 2019



DAVE KIFFER: Looking for love in all the right places! - Alaska has always been seen as a place to find one's economic destiny.

From the gold rush to the salmon rush to the oil rush, and now the visitor bathroom rush, tens of thousands of people have streamed north to find their financial future.

But what about love?

Is Alaska the kind of place where you can find happily ever after as well as financially ever after?

A recent survey by TheSeniorList says yes.

According to TheSeniorList, a variety of factors makes Alaska the fourth most likely state for people "over 50" to find love.

Well, that's great, just great.

No, I am not saying that we should consign people over 50 to tending the woodstove by themselves. I am all for people hooking up to relieve the relentlessness of the long winter nights and long summer days. Besides two Permanent Fund Dividends is truly double your pleasure, double your fun.

Heckfire, I am married, after all. And you know that every married person always seems to want to see all the unmarried people around them get married.

They're always prattling on and on about how great it is and then spending way too much time trying to pair up the singletons they know. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 07, 2019

jpg Analysis

Analysis: Why the IRS is legally required to give Congress Trump's tax returns – but probably won't By PHILIP HACKNEY - Is the IRS required to hand over the president’s tax returns if Congress asks?

According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the answer is a resounding no – at least when it comes to the request submitted by Democratic Congressman Richard Neal on April 3. Mnuchin said it “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

Although many Americans have been interested in reviewing the tax returns of President Donald Trump since the 2016 campaign, this was the first time newly empowered House Democrats had formally sought those records. The president has claimed he can’t release them because they are being audited.

As a tax professor and former attorney at the Internal Revenue Service, I think the law is clear that the IRS must turn over Trump’s returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, which Neal chairs.

But there’s the law, and there’s political reality – and I believe it’s unlikely he will ever actually obtain the returns. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 07, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Voting rights for felons

Political Cartoon: Voting rights for felons
By Bruce Plante ©2019, Tulsa World
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Opinion

RE: Oil & Gas Tax Reform By Rep. Dan Ortiz - I want to thank Mary Lynn Dahl for her thoughtful letter that ran in the April 29 edition of Sitnews. Alaska’s oil and gas tax system is an important issue that needs to be considered as we work towards a long-term fiscal solution. Mary makes important points and raises issues that have not had much public discussion. I’d like to clarify a few things about our tax system as it stands now, how we’ve been able to fix parts of it in recent years, and the work that remains to be done.

Much of her concern has to do with funds that have been collected by the Pipeline owners for the future Dismantlement, Removal, and Restoration of the pipeline property. It is important to recognize that pipeline tariffs have been extensively litigated for decades. The state has won or settled many of these suits, and the resulting billions in back taxes and royalties are what built up the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund we’ve relied on to balance the budget in years when oil revenue was low.

Most of the pipeline tariff covers maintenance, operations, and property taxes. Only a small portion goes to dismantlement. It is true that the funds aren’t held separately- which I believe they should be- and the owners have probably collected more than is needed, but this is not the biggest problem in our system.

Alaska is the only state in the US that taxes oil based on net profits, yet we are also the state that relies the most on oil revenues for government services. We are doubly fortunate because most of our oil has been produced from state owned lands, which means we collect the landowner’s royalty in addition to the production tax. The latest analysis from the Department of Revenue, which has been confirmed in testimony from producers, is that the state currently gets a bit over 40% of profits, the federal government a bit over 10%, and the producers close to 50%. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 07, 2019

jpg Opinion

Global warming or global hoax By Rex Barber - The Pleistocene epoch (ice age to us common folk) lasted from 2,588,00 – 11,700 years ago. With in this time period large mammals roamed the earth, saber tooth tigers, mammoths, mastodons, dire wolves ,short faced bears, giant ground sloths, giant beavers and many more astounding and fabulous criters.

Most of these  animals died off roughly 12,000 years ago all though as little as 3600 years ago mammoths were still living on wrangle island off the northern coast of far eastern  Siberia.  Eventually however all these large mammals eventually did die off . The wooly mammoth did his best to hang in there but in the end climate change got him. Real serious dramatic climate change. Not an asteroid , not a comet and in no way was it over hunting by man. In order to believe that you would have to believe that a very small population of people (large portions of the world had no people at the time) armed with only stone and boned tip spears and arrows wiped out the vast majority of animals on the face of the planet. Modern man with his giant modern fishing fleets and high tech shooting irons haven’t been able to do that ! at least not yet !!! You do have to manage all resources properly.


During the last 800,000 years ago ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere has averaged about 230 ppm . 600,000,000 years ago it averaged 2,600 ppm 7 times of our current amount. Today it is about 400 ppm. The ppm of CO2 from the past is known from ancient gas trapped in ice core sample from Greenland , Antarctica and sea sediment samples. CO2 levels below 150 ppm most terrestrial plant life ceases to exist. Towards the end of the last ice age CO2 levels fell to 182 ppm. Just a common sense guess, but maybe this was the grim reaper of many of the large mammals of the last ice age. The low CO2 level certainly didn’t help. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 07, 2019

jpg Opinion

Alaska needs a thoughtful approach to a sustainable budget By Ed Rasmuson - Last November, we were reminded of something that offers us great hope about the future of our state.

In the aftermath of the earthquake last November, we saw Alaskans at their best - neighbors helping neighbors; Alaskans supporting and comforting each other. We saw people rolling up their sleeves, ready to help, whatever the need might be.

For a few days, your political affiliation didn’t matter. Divisiveness was superseded by the shared experience we’d just gone through and our drive as Alaskans to overcome yet another challenge. - More...
Thursday AM - May 02, 2019

jpg Opinion

Oil & Gas Tax Reform By Mary Lynne Dahl - I do not make a habit of offering my opinions publicly. I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I try my best to judge impartially, on a non-partisan basis. I have spent the last 35 years of my professional life giving financial advice as objectively as humanly possible. With these things in mind, I have decided that I must comment on one aspect of the debate over the fiscal situation Alaska finds herself in and the prospects for solutions to the problems.

I am not going to address the debate about whether or not to solve the financial problems of the state via budget cutting or increased income. That is another subject. My comments in this letter are directed solely to one issue of concern that has not been discussed enough and which, I believe, is critically important to solving our budget crisis. The subject is complex, so I will try here to keep it fairly straightforward, in an effort to make it understandable at all levels and representative of the most important points for citizens to consider.

That issue is the oil and gas tax system in Alaska. The Alaska system is based on a hybrid methodology of collecting taxes on a combination of mostly net tax basis and some gross tax basis. Unlike Alaska, all other state oil tax systems are gross systems.. - More...
Monday PM - April 29, 2019

jpg Opinion

The Income Tax: A Way Out By Ghert Abbott - We should all be very grateful to Representative Dan Ortiz for his efforts to compel a straight answer from the Governor during the April 8th public meeting. Representative Ortiz pointed out that the Governor was being “disingenuous” in claiming his administration’s budget had no taxes, when it essentially necessitated local tax increases due to cost shifting from the state to local governments. - More...
Monday PM - April 29, 2019

jpg Opinion

KCCB Collage II Concert By Judith Green - Well, another great evening of music from our own talented community members. Last week end it was 3 in 1: Ketchikan Community Chorus (Director Steve Kinney) with Ketchikan Orchestra Project(Director Jeff Karlson and Deidra Nuss) and Ketchikan Community Band (Director Roy McPherson). - More...
Monday PM - April 29, 2019

jpg Opinion

Lisa Murkowski's Nuclear energy plan By Robert Rice - My god, do we need our own mini Fukishima? She said "the only alternate energy source available in Alaska is Hydro power." No wind or sun available here? Also ended by saying how good this would be for oil and mining operations. (Could this be the reason for this idea?) - More...
Monday PM - April 29, 2019

jpg Opinion

Ode To Joy By Judith Green - This past weekend, April 20, Ketchikan was invited to hear the beautiful musical sounds of Beethoven, Rutter, Chilcott and Marcello. Some of these composers may not be well known, but the sounds invoked were good to consider as we listened and learned. - More...
Monday PM - April 29, 2019

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