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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 14, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By STEVEN SPEIGHTS

Blazing Sunset
Is there anything more beautiful than the array of brilliant colors displayed in the sky during a Southeast Alaska sunset?
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Southeast Alaska:
Southeast Conference begins AMHS strategic planning effort - Southeast Conference issued a Request for Proposals on Friday that takes the first step toward a comprehensive operational and business plan for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Phase One will focus on the governance structure that is best suited to operate the AMHS in an economically optimal way that meets the user’s needs.

On May 19, Governor Bill Walker signed a memorandum of understanding with Southeast Conference, a regional economic development organization, to undertake a comprehensive planning process aimed at improving the long-term viability of the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS).

The purpose of this project is to develop a long-term strategic plan for the AMHS that includes a comprehensive operational and business plan for the AMHS that is financial sustainable and meets the needs of those it serves. The process will involve broad public engagement and should result in a financially sustainable Alaska Marine Highway System that meets the needs of those it serves for at least the next 25 years.

“For over 50 years, the Alaska Marine Highway System has served as a critical transportation link for Alaska’s coastal communities,” said Governor Walker during the May 19th signing of the MOU with Southeast Conference. “The ferries are a lifeline in many communities, and the economic benefits are felt throughout the state.”

Proposals are sought from qualified transportation and analysis firms to develop Phase One of a two-phase project that will culminate in a proposed strategic plan that includes a long-term, comprehensive operational and business plan for the Alaska Marine Highway System. - More...
Tuesday AM - June 14, 2016

Alaska: Change In Alaska VA Choice Program: VA Will Utilize Local Staff to Schedule Appointments - The Department of Veterans Affairs has informed Alaska’s congressional delegation that as of July 10, 2016, the scheduling for Choice Act medical appointments in Alaska will revert back to being handled by local VA integrated care personnel, instead of its current practice of outsourcing scheduling requests to contractor-operated call centers in the Lower 48.

Alaska’s congressional delegation has been demanding this change after hearing from numerous Alaska veterans who have been ill-served by the new VA system established after the Choice Act was passed in 2014.

“I am pleased that after numerous hearings in D.C. and in Alaska, the VA is finally working to tailor the ‘one-size-fits-none’ Veterans Choice Program, to fit the unique needs of Alaska’s veterans,” U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said. “Importantly, that fix begins with giving Alaskans back more local control over their healthcare."

Sullivan said, "As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I have been relentless in been pushing senior members of the VA to implement necessary changes to the Choice Act. However, there is still much work to be done and Alaska veterans should know that I will continue to hold the VA's feet to fire until for each and every Alaskan veteran gets the healthcare they were promised and deserve. Our nation owes it to them and I am committed to making sure the VA delivers on that debt.” - More...
Tuesday AM - June 14, 2016

FISH FACTOR: Pilot program encourages clean boating By LAINE WELCH - Boaters from Homer to the Mat-Su valley can help protect salmon and other aquatic creatures and get discounts from popular businesses by doing so.

A pilot program launched this spring is an offshoot of Cook Inletkeeper’s Clean Boating program that began in the Valley five years ago.

“It all started with oil and gas pollution in Big Lake,” said Heather Leba, director of the group’s Clean Boating Discount program.” The Department of Environmental Conservation was doing water quality testing in 2006 and they determined that Big Lake was an “impaired water body” due to oil and gas pollution, and it exceeded levels allowed under the Clean Water Act.”

“People were upset and shocked, so the community came together and developed an action plan, and within it was a stipulation for education and outreach. And that’s how Cook Inletkeeper got involved,” she added.

In times of high recreational boating, large amounts of oil and gas pollution, primarily from older, carbureted two stroke engines, concentrate mainly around boat launches. - More...
Tuesday AM - June 14, 2016

Alaska: Moose Likely Responsible for Injuries Received by Man in Anchorage Attack - Fish and Game biologists investigating a suspected wildlife attack in South Anchorage where a man was seriously injured Wednesday night have concluded his injuries were likely received in a confrontation with a moose.

The Anchorage Police Department received a report on June 8, at 9:11 p.m., of an injured man discovered on an extended private driveway in a wooded area near Selkirk Drive. Initially investigated as a stabbing, police and medical staff later reported the injuries more resembled those associated with a bear mauling. Police were unable to interview the survivor, who remained hospitalized with serious injuries.

Fish and Game biologists were notified of the attack by police on Thursday morning and responded to the scene, located adjacent to the Campbell Creek Estuary Natural Area, to begin their investigation. As biologists worked, a call was received from a resident nearby who had just encountered a black bear. The caller reported the bear did not immediately leave the area and had shown no fear of humans. A short time later, a black bear appeared from the woods about 100 yards from the attack scene.

Concerned for public safety based on information suggesting a bear mauling had likely occurred, and because the bear showed no natural fear of humans and had appeared within close proximity of the attack scene, biologists made the decision to kill the bear. - More...
Tuesday AM - June 14, 2016

Alaska: Old World metals traded on Alaska coast hundreds of years before contact with Europeans - Two leaded bronze artifacts found in northwestern Alaska are the first evidence that metal from Asia reached prehistoric North America prior to contact with Europeans, according to new Purdue University research.

"This is not a surprise based on oral history and other archaeological finds, and it was just a matter of time before we had a good example of Eurasian metal that had been traded," said H. Kory Cooper, an associate professor of anthropology, who led the artifacts' metallurgical analysis. "We believe these smelted alloys were made somewhere in Eurasia and traded to Siberia and then traded across the Bering Strait to ancestral Inuits people, also known as Thule culture, in Alaska. Locally available metal in parts of the Arctic, such as native metal, copper and meteoritic and telluric iron were used by ancient Inuit people for tools and to sometimes indicate status. Two of the Cape Espenberg items that were found - a bead and a buckle -- are heavily leaded bronze artifacts. Both are from a house at the site dating to the Late Prehistoric Period, around 1100-1300 AD, which is before sustained European contact in the late 18th century." - More...
Tuesday AM - June 14, 2016


Pollock fishermen may struggle to maintain catch numbers as oceans change By LAUREN FRISCH - The behavior of pollock fishermen may yield insights about the effects of climate change on fishing operations, according to preliminary findings of a University of Alaska Fairbanks student researcher.

Pollock fishermen may struggle to maintain catch numbers as oceans change

Pollock are loaded in a tote for delivery to processors.
Photo by Kurt Byers

Changes in the ocean and its resources have dramatic implications for communities and economies that rely on them. Jordan Watson, a PhD student at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, is studying how Alaska’s commercial pollock industry is responding to changes in the ocean. The results may be used to consider how fisheries policies and regulations can increase the capacity of fishing operations to respond to change.

Watson’s adviser, SFOS professor Franz Mueter, explains, “Essentially he’s trying to model the behavior of fishermen similar to the way people model the behavior of predators in an environment.”

Watson, Mueter and Alan Haynie of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center are looking at vessel locations, observer data and fish landings to consider how fishing trips vary based on environmental conditions and fish numbers.

“We can see that during years of low pollock abundance, larger vessels in the Bering Sea tend to travel farther in order to obtain their catches,” Watson said. This practice is harder work for fishermen and less efficient, but helps sustain overall catches.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports that the state’s seafood industry is estimated to bring in about $5.8 billion annually, and contributes approximately 78,500 jobs to Alaska’s economy. Maintaining sustainability in the industry depends on understanding how various fleets are likely to be affected by changes in the ocean, and what kinds of policies can be enforced to help fishermen adapt to these changes. - More...
Tuesday AM - June 14, 2016


Columns - Commentary

RICK JENSEN: Mainstream Media Downplays Liberal Violence - Violence. Burning cars. Sucker punches. Chanting obscenities and displaying signs with the sort of obscenities that get children punished when they are raised by good parents.

No, I'm not talking about Donald Trump supporters. I'm actually talking about left wingers, who lately are behaving the way they've tried so desperately to portray their Tea Party rivals.

They throw bottles and rocks at police and jump innocent Americans, beating them to the point where they are seen in videos leaving with blood pouring down their faces.

Predictably, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, a Hillary Clinton supporter, blames Trump for the violent behavior.

"At some point Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign," Liccardo said.

Think about this for a moment. Supporting Clinton means you can legitimately sucker-punch strangers who wear t-shirts you don't like. - More...
Tuesday AM - June 14, 2016

SUSAN STAMPER BROWN: Censorship Is More Dangerous Than Hate Speech - Someone needs to tell Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, YouTube and the European Union that the only way to stop a bad guy's speech is to counter it with a good guy's speech, not censor it.

Recently, the internet giants took on the role of internet speech police when they agreed to monitor and combat so called "hate speech" for the EU. No word on how they define hate speech.

I suspect the whole EU hate speech argument is less about preventing terrorist attacks, as they propose, and more about culling criticism of their immigration and refugee policies.

Oh, the hypocrisy of those who brag about their "open-mindedness" in one breath and cry about censorship in the next. The only acceptable speech is that which is pleasing to their ears or palatable to their particular ideology, while supporting the prosecution of people for their personal opinions or religious beliefs, especially if those opinions and beliefs do not fall in line with theirs. - More...
Tuesday AM - June 14, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Orlando

Editorial Cartoon: Orlando
By Steve Sack ©2016, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Path to a fiscally sustainable budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - In the current budget that was approved by the majority of Alaskan Legislators, 430 million dollars is allocated for direct cash payouts to oil companies in the form of credits. The state’s obligation for this year’s credits is 750 million dollars. Thus, even if the State of Alaska pays out the allocated 430 million dollars, it will continue to be responsible for 320 million dollars additionally in future obligations. That 750 million dollars is the third biggest spending item in our state’s budget. Under SB 21, the state is obligated to pay 750 million dollars in oil tax credits in one year alone, while we are spending 221 million for our Department of Transportation, which runs and maintains our ferries, roads, and airports; the infrastructure that facilitates our economy. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter GOVERNOR, CAN WE HAVE THAT CUP OF COFFEE? By Richard J. Peterson - Are campaign promises empty promises that no one expects candidates to keep? Have we become that cynical? Running as the ‘Unity Team’ in 2014, Bill Walker and Byron Mallott promised to improve the State of Alaska’s tribal relations. Mr. Walker said he would rather work on communication and steer away from litigation on tribal issues. In fact, when Mr. Walker made his campaign pitch to a Western Alaska tribal group and when he spoke to members of his new Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council more recently, he said the State and Alaska tribes should stop suing each other and offered a better solution, “Let’s sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk things over.” - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Part 11: OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - Roundabout 227 years ago this group of guys we call the “Founding Fathers” got together and argued out a Constitution to establish something completely different than anything before. In the first instance a “nation,” the first in fact in the history of the world. Well may it be said that the Dutch can be credited as the first to truly advance the concepts of capitalism and free enterprise; that the Brits improved upon them; and only then did we establish mastery, but the beginning of “nation-“hood as opposed to empires and kingdoms and such, that belongs to us. All that came before is pretense compared to what this group of guys did. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Democrats misuse racism against Trump By Rob Holston - Trump referred to an American judge of Mexican heritage as a “Mexican” and sited the judge’s rulings against Trump as being biased because he’s “Mexican.” Trump has used harsh and prudent language against illegal Mexican immigration and proposes a wall at the US - Mexican border. Now even some Republicans are jumping on the bandwagon of Democratic hate language calling his remarks racist. This is a prime example of a liberal press and stewards of political correctness over-reacting so as to nail Trump to the RACIST cross and hopefully cause an agonizing death to his bid for the White House. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Don’t Let the Need for Health Insurance Stop You from Leaving By Susan Johnson - Domestic violence is found across all socioeconomic groups - in fact, more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. However, women are often economically dependent on their abusers and are less able to leave and more likely to return to abusive partners. Many women are dependent on their spouses for insurance coverage. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Socialist Sanders Abandoning Israel By Donald Moskowitz - Socialist Sanders appointed two anti-Israel people to his platform drafting committee. Cornel West espouses anti-Israel views, and James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, has denounced Israel. Sanders also appointed Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, an anti-Israel Muslim, to his platform committee. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Little Wee One By Robert B. Holston Jr. - The second a person is born they have FULL rights of citizenship and protection under the law. What about the time before that PERSON was born. I have written a poem that describes this reality in America today. Please consider it. - More..
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Drive careful By Bill Hollywood - I have had to come to a stop twice so far this year for deer on the road and have seen four other groups of deer by the roads. Mostly two deer but up to five. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Congratulations Graduates By Dan Ortiz - Congratulations to our 2016 high school and university graduates. You truly deserve to be proud of your achievement.

Alaska is an exciting location for ambitious graduates in the beginning chapters of their lives. It is the frontier of our country’s future. Jobs never before dreamed are being created right here. There are opportunities for new industry in Alaska, from the Arctic passage to rainforest ecotourism. Our tried and true fishing industry and its elements are oft-debated, but it is lively and reliable due to our excellent public management. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

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