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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 27, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By JAMES (JIM) LEWIS

Barred Owl
This young Barred Owl was recently photographed along the Connell Lake road.
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Southeast Alaska:
Lab tests: Small, deep-water Alaska sponge has molecules that selectively target and kill pancreatic tumor cells; Accessible and large population found in Southeast Alaska By KATIE DOPTIS - Compared to its dazzling deep-sea coral neighbors, the green Latrunculia austini sponge is pretty drab. Dotted with craters and pitted by deep holes the golf-ball sized sponge is curious-looking rather than beautiful. But green Latrunculia’s unique chemical composition holds a promise much greater than mere beauty.

Lab tests: Small, deep-water Alaska sponge has molecules that selectively target and kill pancreatic tumor cells; Accessible and large population found in Southeast Alaska

Small, deep-water Alaska green sponge accessible and large population about 60 miles southwest of Sitka, living about 230 feet underwater
Image: NOAA Fisheries

It was first discovered at the bottom of Alaska’s frigid North Pacific Ocean during a NOAA Fisheries research mission in 2005. The mission was straightforward: study bottom-dwelling sea life and habitats supporting Alaska’s $1.8 billion fishing industry. However, in the years since, the small sponge has attracted the attention of multidisciplinary scientists from around the globe. In lab tests, several of Latrunculia austini’s molecules selectively target and kill pancreatic tumor cells, according to biomedical researchers at the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina and at the Henry Ford Cancer Institute in Detroit.  

“You’d never look at this sponge and think this is a miracle sponge, but it could be,” said Bob Stone, a researcher at NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Fisheries Science Center. He was the first to discover the sponge in Alaska while operating from a submersible on the North Pacific’s seafloor. His work soon had further reach because of a special collaboration.

Discovery sparks global collaboration

By the time Stone found the sponge, his groundbreaking research in Alaska had already intrigued leading biomedical researcher Mark Hamann, the  Charles and Carol Cooper SmartState Endowed Chair at the Medical University of South Carolina. Hamann has studied marine life to develop drug leads for more than 20 years. While Hamann explores the ocean in search of rare natural compounds, he also constantly monitors publications for other scientists’ discoveries, which led him to Stone.

After the green sponge was discovered, it quickly became a focal point of this global collaboration. Stone and Hamann worked with Michelle Kelly, to name and identify Latrunculia austini. Kelly is a world expert on sponges and works at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Hamann and his team determined that the sponge “covers unique and unprecedented chemical space. The structures of the molecules are not related to anything you would find on land or even in tropical shallow-water marine environments.”

Hamann sent samples of the molecules to researcher Fred Valeriote, senior researcher with the Henry Ford Cancer Institute. Scientists there are doing cutting-edge cancer research and grow tumor cells, allowing them to study the cells and test new drug leads in a controlled environment. 

Valeriote exposed the pancreatic cancer cell line to a sample from the green sponge extract. The lab test revealed that the green sponge extract had anti-cancer activity, or the ability to kill pancreatic cancer cells.

“On average, less than one in 100 sponge extracts will present the anti-cancer activity that we observed with the green sponge in our lab. It’s a promising initial step forward in developing new treatments for pancreatic cancer,” said Valeriote. “Given the lack of current effective drug treatments available for pancreatic cancer, this study finding offers hope for the future of cancer care.” - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017

Alaska: Compromise Capital Budget Passes - Yesterday, the Alaska Legislature released a proposed bipartisan capital budget agreement and today the Alaska Legislature passed that budget. The measure reflects a compromise between the House and Senate, recognizing the importance the capital budget has on Alaska’s economy.

The Alaska Legislature overwhelmingly passed a capital budget for Fiscal Year 2018 that will result in approximately $1.2 billion in federal funds coming to Alaska. The approved capital budget was a negotiated compromise that ensures continued funding for Alaska’s roads, bridges, and other vital infrastructure. 

In a prepared statement Alaska Governor Bill Walker said, “I am pleased the capital budget was passed this afternoon. Alaskans can rest assured that construction and maintenance projects can continue, and jobs will be provided for them, their friends, and neighbors. I look forward to signing the capital budget prior to August 1.”

“For every state dollar invested as part of this capital budget, Alaska gets $9 in federal support for vital infrastructure like good roads and safe bridges. I want to thank Senator MacKinnon for her hard work and willingness to compromise, which resulted in today’s vote to pass a responsible capital budget,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome),

The compromise version of Senate Bill 23 passed the Alaska House of Representatives today by a vote of 27-13. The Alaska State Senate passed the bill by a vote of 15-4. SB 23 will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

“Today’s Senate action is welcome news for Alaskans who depend on safe roads and infrastructure,” said Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle Rive)r. “By leveraging federal highway funds, we realize a 10 to 1 return for general fund dollars that we invest around the state.”

“Our construction sector is already suffering job losses and uncertainty across Alaska,” said Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotn_a. “Providing clarity and certainty in our capital projects spending will allow the Department of Transportation to move forward with confidence in authorizing final work for this summer’s construction season and beginning planning for next year.”

The capital budget allocates $121 million from the general fund and authorizes the state expenditure of $1.2 billion in federal funds for capital improvements statewide including road repairs, bridge upgrades and school facilities. Additional appropriations for community assistance and other items brings the total general fund allocation to $157 million. This includes: - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017


Southeast Alaska: Klawock Couple Charged With Willful Failure to Pay Over $400,000 in Income Taxes on Income Earned For 13 Years - Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced that a Southeast Alaskan couple was charged in federal court in Juneau yesterday with four counts of willful failure to pay their individual income taxes.

According to information provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Archie W. Demmert III and Roseann L. Demmert, of Klawock, Alaska, earned income from commercial fishing. The Information alleges that Archie Demmert owned Vetta Bay LLC, which owned the Demmerts’ fishing vessel, the Emerald Beauty.

The information further charges that the Demmerts have a long history of not paying their taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It alleges that the Demmerts did not pay their taxes for 13 separate tax years, for which they owed over $400,000, excluding penalties and interest.

The Demmerts face a statutory maximum sentence of one year in prison on each separate count, as well as a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017

Alaska: 36 U.S. Senators Send Letter to Secretary Zinke  in Support of New OCS Five-Year Leasing Program - A robust group of 36 Republican Senators sent a letter yesterday to Secretary Ryan Zinke in support of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s new Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Five-Year Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024. The plan promises to increase offshore access and development, which will in turn boost our economy, keep energy affordable, and reinforce the United States’ position as an energy dominant superpower.

“Pursuing a new Five-Year Program will provide a meaningful review to guarantee that the offshore leasing program contributes to U.S. energy dominance and to ensure some of the most prolific regions of the United States have not been arbitrarily excluded from competitive leasing,” the Senators wrote. “We encourage you to carefully review those areas that were not included in the 2017-2022 Five-Year Program to ensure that opportunities are not missed.”

A total of 94 percent of the federal OCS is currently unavailable for leasing. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the nation’s OCS contains 89.9 billion barrels of oil and 327.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

“Offshore development has undergone rapid technological innovation ensuring it is cheaper, safer, and provides access to previously out-of-reach areas,” the group wrote. “Offshore leasing benefits the economies of all of the states, helps reduce the federal deficit, provides affordable energy to families and businesses, and strengthens our national security.” - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017

Columns - Commentary



DANNY TYREE: Who Knew Dogs Could Keep You So Healthy? - Alas, we haven't been a "dog family" since we had to euthanize poor old Turpy; but a article titled "More Evidence That Owning A Dog Is Really Good For You" certainly grabbed my attention.

Not only can having a dog around the house lead to lower stress levels, decrease the risk of asthma in children and contribute to lower blood pressure, but the responsibility of caring for a canine can jolt older people out of a life-shortening sedentary lifestyle. 

(Younger people? Owning a family dog USED to mean lots of romping and frolicking in the Great Outdoors. Now caring for a dog just jolts young couch potatoes into ordering a drone to walk the critter. But I digress.)

A recent study shows that older people who take their dogs for a walk take 2,760 steps more per day on average compared to non-owners. That's an extra 23 minutes a day of moderate exercise!

(Granted, this is very close to the amount of time that we cat owners spend letting the cat in and out ---- and looking at the feline's smug expression that says, "They thought Lincoln freed ALL the slaves? Puh-leeze.")

The findings of that study were strengthened by even more recent research by the University of East Anglia and the Center for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge. - More...
Thursday PM _ July 27, 2017


ARTHUR MARTIN: Who Am I To Judge? Why it’s Okay to Judge People and Cultures. - I was in church for the first time in a long time and the pastor said something that bothered me immediately after he said it but I didn’t realize why. He said, “Who are we to judge? We should not judge.” I didn’t realize why it bothered me so much until I came back home and thought about the message.

A few days later, after I jumped in the shower the answer finally hit me.

If we take that question to the ultimate conclusion one has to ask, “Why?” “Why are we not to judge?” The immediate answer is because “morals and ethics are subjective.” We see this everywhere in Western Society. “Let people do what they will. Let them be who they are. Live and let live.” This infectious ideology has spread like a parasite into every segment of Western Society including religion, which is supposed to be the pillar of ethics and morality.

Virture Signalling: The very public act of showing how humanitarian you are at the expense of common sense, personal safety and national security.

“Who am I to judge?”

On the face of it, that question feels nice doesn’t it? “As long as people don’t bother me, what does it matter to me what others do or do not do?” “People simply have different values and morals, who am I to judge?” We hear it everywhere in media, on television and even…from pastors at church.

Of course, if you take just 10 seconds to think about that question and the idea of moral relativism it is the epitome of virtue signaling. - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: WASSERMAN SCHULTZ

Editorial Cartoon: WASSERMAN SCHULTZ
By Bill Day ©2017, Cagle Cartoons
The White House called Thursday for a thorough investigation related to the arrest of an IT staffer for Democratic  Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz who remained on the job and with congressional computer access for about five months after the  FBI began investigating him for fraud.
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

Capital Budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Later this week, the Legislature will convene for its third (and hopefully very brief) special session to pass a capital budget. Negotiations with the Senate have been completed and I’m confident that a compromised version of the capital budget will pass out of both bodies. It will meet the minimum needs of the state and it’s residents in terms of infrastructure investment. - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

PFD's Future in Supreme Court's Hands By Dr. Jack Hickel - Governor Jay Hammond, Permanent Fund founder, knew this time would come – the time when politicians would move to spend the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) without public consent. Hammond believed in the PFD as Alaskans’ right to share equally in the resource wealth saved in the Alaska Permanent Fund and as a way to protect the Fund. Ever since the start of the PFD in 1983 the dividend has been the politicians’ target for spending. Today, politicians are working to grab a large percentage of the people’s PFD. That is exactly what Hammond and other Alaskans warned against and opposed during past failed attempts. - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

37th anniversary of the Legislative coup By Ray Metcalfe -June 12, 2017 was the 37th anniversary of the Legislative coup toppling Juneau's State House Representative Jim Duncan's Democratic Majority Caucus. The Legislature had been at a standstill for about three weeks. The Bush Caucus, all Democrats, was unhappy with the share of the legislative pie the Majority was offering. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The Republican Healthcare Bill is Horrible for Alaska, Regardless of its Name By Ghert Abbott - The first version of the Republican healthcare plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) raised premiums, increased deductibles, reduced coverage quality, lowered the subsidies that help people buy insurance, financially penalized senior citizens, and drastically cut Medicaid for rural states, all in order to pay for tax cuts to the top 1%. As a result, 24 million Americans were to lose their health insurance, 45,000 of them Alaskans, of which approximately 1,000 would have been Ketchikan residents. When Don Young provided one of the essential votes in the ACHA’s passage out of the House, he claimed there was no cause for concern as the Senate would substantially improve the legislation. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Tansy Ragwort By Farrel Lewis - I spent the last two days pulling tansy ragwort in the Cambria area.  I just dropped off five garbage bags full of the stuff at the landfill to be burned.  This is the perfect time to pull it up, after it bolts the roots release far easier from the soil. Unfortunately, you cannot just pull the blooming plants and leave them on the ground to die, doing research on this subject I found out that the seeds will still mature.  These plants need to be disposed of properly. - More..
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE: Fact versus fiction By Rodney Dial - Summer is a busy time for most of us in Ketchikan. Personally, I have better things to do than respond to Rep. Ortiz’s latest letter, however it presents a great opportunity to show how politicians like Ortiz play the word game to deceive and mislead. For example: - More...
Wednesday PM - July 19, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Re: NRA Propaganda By D Jay O'Brien - The violent images in the NRA video Mr. Chaudhary references are indeed disturbing. The video is a compilation of segments from actual events that have occurred in our cities and on our college campuses since the last election. Is this video clip propaganda or just depictions of the new reality of violence that may be brought upon someone for their beliefs and political leanings? - More...
Wednesday PM - July 19, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Giving Alaska's oil away By Ray Metcalfe - Alaska doesn't have a budget problem; Alaska has bribery problems, and gullible legislator problems. Alaska allows oil companies to extract fair payment for their services from net oil production revenues. Additionally, they keep 90% of our ownership equity; equity other owner states keep. At today's prices, the big three are making over $17 per barrel plus cost of production and delivery from our oil. (See ConocoPhillips' quarterly reports) That's about $9 Million per day, or $3.2 billion per year. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

NRA Propaganda By Norbert Chaudhary - The politically partisan, hate filled NRA recruiting video posted a few days ago is shocking but sadly not so surprising. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Budget cuts By Liz Bruce - All this reduction in spending is good but the problem is there are so many promised benefits and retirement we can't afford. You sit in a position where you can vote to keep state employee and teacher benefits intact when we can't afford those benefits as a state. New taxes are regressive and too easy to rely on. Our household has not seen an increase in income since 2011 but we have to live within our budget. It is time for the state to quit promising benefits we can't afford. You can't expect taxpayers to always come up with more. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Fact versus fiction By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As an elected official, it’s my responsibility to keep Alaskans informed with factual and relevant information about the issues that affect them. As I write I’m busy working for you up in Juneau, so here’s a quick rundown of fact versus fiction. - More...
Sunday AM - July 09, 2017

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