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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

August 31, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By SUSAN HOYT

Lunch at Herring Cove
A small bullhead is on this juvenile eagle's lunch menu.
Front Page Feature Photo By SUSAN HOYT ©2017

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Alaska: Governor Calling 4th Special Session - The members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition responded to news that Alaska Governor Bill Walker will call the 30th Alaska State Legislature into a 4th Special Session in late October. The special session will be focused on a not yet disclosed revenue measure, or measures, to fill the projected $2.7 billion budget gap brought on by the continued low price of oil, which has pushed Alaska into a fiscal crisis and lingering recession. 

“The facts are that low oil prices are likely for the foreseeable future and we currently have less than one year’s worth of savings to fund essential state services like public education and public safety. That means it is time for all of us to put aside politics and come together to find a sustainable fiscal solution for Alaska,” said Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “The members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition are prepared to go back to work to finish what we started earlier this year when we passed a full fiscal plan that included new revenue to fill the budget gap. I am concerned that if action is not taken this fall the politics that inevitably spring up during an election year will get in the way of real and comprehensive fiscal solutions next year.”

Senate Democratic Leader Berta Gardner said in a prepared statement, "We applaud Governor Walker for calling the legislature back to session, insisting that we address revenue measures. We join him in refusing to accept procrastination as Alaska's credit rating falls and unemployment rises.  We urge our colleagues to help craft a fair and sustainable fiscal plan." - More...
Thursday PM - August 31, 2017

Alaska: State Files Motion In Support of Arctic Outer-Continental Shelf Leasing - The State of Alaska has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit regarding access to globally important oil and gas resources in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas on the Arctic Outer-Continental Shelf (OCS).

In April, the President signed an order reopening the Chukchi Sea OCS and portions of the Beaufort Sea for potential exploration. The prior administration had withdrawn the entire Chukchi OCS and the vast majority of the Beaufort OCS from the Department of Interior’s 2016 5-Year Offshore Leasing Plan. This matter is now in court. The State’s motion seeks to intervene in support of the President’s April order.

“In filing this motion, our objective is to make sure that the State of Alaska has future development opportunities in the Arctic OCS,” said Governor Bill Walker. “State agencies routinely balance environmental conservation and protection with responsible resource development, and the Arctic OCS is no different. This gives the state a unique stake in the outcome of this litigation, and puts us in the best position to defend those interests.” - More...
Thursday PM - August 31, 2017

Alaska: State of Alaska files 22 charges against five individuals in a scheme to defraud the Alaska Medicaid program - The State of Alaska today announced Tuesday the filing of 22 criminal charges against siblings Victor Aldeza, Regino Aldeza, Albert Aldeza, George Aldeza and Lovelyemy Libao for a medical assistance fraud conspiracy lasting from January 2009 to March 2017. The defendants are alleged to have defrauded the Alaska Medicaid program out of approximately $364,756.70 by R. Aldeza pretending to suffer from debilitating disabilities. This led to the Department of Health and Social Services approving his siblings to provide full-time home-based personal care assistant (PCA) services for him. 

Once the fraud came to light, Investigators with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit coordinated with the Alaska State Troopers, the Anchorage Police Department, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Social Services, and the Dimond Mall security team. Medicaid Fraud Investigators also obtained records from three Anchorage hospitals, the Alaska Court System and conducted many hours of interviews and investigation to establish that R. Aldeza was not currently suffering from a debilitating disability, nor had he been suffering from a debilitating disability since at least January 2009. For years, R. Aldeza’s siblings were paid as if they were providing full-time Medicaid-funded PCA services despite R. Aldeza allegedly not needing any of those services. - More...
Thursday PM - August 31, 2017

Alaska: Alaska Air National Guard Deployed in Support of Hurricane Disaster Relief Operations - Monday, Alaska Governor Bill Walker extended an offer of assistance to Texas Governor Greg Abbott to help in the Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Walker said Alaska National Guard personnel have already been deployed to assist with recovery, response, and rescues.

Alaska Air National Guard Deployed in Support of Hurricane Disaster Relief Operations

Alaska and California Air National Guardsmen arrived Monday in Fort Hood, Texas, via C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft to assist with Hurricane Harvey humanitarian disaster relief operations.
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O'Neal Dresel)

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Texas as they deal with historic flooding and damage from Hurricane Harvey. I’ll never forget how big of an impact small acts of kindness meant to Valdez after the 1964 earthquake. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I want to extend to Texas the Alaskan spirit of pulling together, and offer help. To aid Texas, Alaska has deployed more than 20 personnel from the 249th Airlift Squadron and the Alaska Air National Guard. May God watch over them and those affected by the hurricane, ” said Governor Walker in a prepared statement.

The Alaska Air National Guard stepped up to assist with Hurricane Harvey humanitarian disaster relief operations with the 176th Wing deploying 21 Airmen in one of their C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft Monday morning en route to Fort Hood, Texas.

Two aircrews from the 249th Airlift Squadron and 13 Guardian Angels from the 212th Rescue Squadron, a crew chief and a photographer, also departed at 10:45 a.m. Monday. They stopped at Moffett Federal Airfield, California to pick up two California Air National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters - which can be configured to fit inside of the massive C-17 - and seven support personnel to transport to Texas. - More...
Thursday PM - August 31, 2017

Alaska: Red Cross of Alaska Volunteers Head to Texas to Assist with Hurricane Harvey & Call for Volunteers - The American Red Cross is working around the clock along the Gulf Coast to help the many people whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane & Tropical Storm Harvey.

Thousands of people have been forced to leave their flooded homes, losing everything they own - and more rain and flooding is expected throughout the week. It is anticipated that many more families will be impacted. 

Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers from all over the country are on the ground, working to provide safe shelter and comfort to people impacted by this devastating storm.

Here in Alaska, The Red Cross has already deployed one Red Cross volunteer from Anchorage to Houston, and two more left from Anchorage Monday night and arrived in Austin early Tuesday morning. A fourth volunteer from Fairbanks is also slated to depart for Austin by Tuesday.

“Our hearts go out to the people affected by this catastrophic disaster in Texas,” said Tanguy Libbrecht, Red Cross of Alaska CEO. 

“We know this is a challenging and emotional time, and the American Red Cross is working to get help to where it is needed most. Here in Alaska we have four volunteers who are in Texas, or on the way and we are expecting to send more as we establish where assistance is most needed. We’re thankful for the dedication of volunteers who are willing to help those in need.”  - More...
Thursday PM - August 31, 2017


New Senior Curator of Programs Announced - The Ketchikan Museum Department announced that Marni Rickelmann is the new Senior Curator of Programs for the Tongass Historical Museum and Totem Heritage Center.

New Senior Curator of Programs Announced

Marni Rickelmann is the new Senior Curator

Rickelmann has served as the Program Director for the Ketchikan Area Arts & Humanities Council for the last ve years. Prior to moving to Ketchikan in 2012, Rickelmann worked for the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering, Office of Student Affairs as well as The Ark, a musical venue. - More...
Thursday PM - August 31, 2017

Southeast Alaska: Mining Company Renews $300,00 Investment In UAS Mine Training - Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company has pledged to renew a $300,000 commitment to the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) Center for Mine Training for their “Pathways to Mining Careers” program beginning in Fall 2017. This brings the company’s total investment in local mine training to more than $900,000 since 2011.

The program is a unique collaboration between UAS and Hecla Greens Creek instructors to prepare students for mining careers by offering introductory high school dual enrollment courses at UAS, short­-term occupational endorsements in Mine Mechanics and the Associate’s degree in Power Technology/Diesel Mechanics. The program also offers job shadowing opportunities with Hecla Greens Creek mentors. The “Pathways to Mining Careers” culminates in an opportunity for a six­ month term of probationary employment with the mine and a chance at full employment. - More...
Thursday PM - August 31, 2017

Ketchikan: ELT Signal Originated at Landfill - Wednesday morning the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad's duty officer received a call from the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Service Station in Ketchikan reporting an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) signal. Flight Service advised the rescue squad that pilots were reporting the signal stronger at the airport and weaker the farther west they flew.

At 9:45 AM, the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue team began to track the signal, setting up direction finding (DF) locations at Bar Harbor and Ketchikan High School. At 10:25 AM the source of the signal was located at the Ketchikan Landfill, the signal was tracked on foot to a 10 foot radius in the active debris pile. The team was unable to located the buried unit in the debris pile. However, the team did locate two empty survival suit bags at the site. - More...
Thursday PM - August 31, 2017

Study negates concerns regarding radioactivity in migratory seafood

Assistant professor Kevin Weng of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science with a dolphinfish or mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) collected as part of the study of Fukushima-derived radioactivity in large Pacific Ocean predators.
CREDITL © A. Gray aboard FV Aoshibi IV.

Fisheries: Study negates concerns regarding radioactivity in migratory seafood - When the Fukushima power plant released large quantities of radioactive materials into nearby coastal waters following Japan's massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami, it raised concerns as to whether eating contaminated seafood might impair human health--not just locally but across the Pacific.

A new study by an international research team shows that those concerns can now be laid to rest, at least for consumption of meat from migratory marine predators such as tuna, swordfish, and sharks.

The team focused on cesium, a silvery metal with a large number of radioactive isotopes. Two of these, 134Cs and 137Cs, form when uranium fuel breaks down in nuclear reactors. The cesium isotopes are of particular concern because they were discharged in large quantities following the disaster, exhibit relatively long half-lives (2.1 and 30 years respectively), and tend to accumulate in the muscle tissues that people like to eat. 

However, the team's sampling of tissues from predatory fishes and other large vertebrates collected across the northern Pacific between 2012 and 2015 revealed no detectable levels of 134Cs, and 137Cs concentrations that were generally consistent with background levels from aboveground nuclear testing during the 1940s and 50s. They collected the animals from waters near Japan, Hawaii, and California.

Lead author Daniel Madigan of Harvard University says, "Our measurements and associated calculations of how much radioactive cesium a person would ingest by eating this seafood shows that impacts to human health are likely to be negligible. For marketed fish to be restricted from trade, the cesium levels would have to be more than 1,600 times higher than in any samples we measured."

Co-author Kevin Weng, an assistant professor at William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science, participated in the study by collecting fish samples in waters around Oahu and a remote seamount. He says, "Go ahead and eat some sushi! Our work shows that radioactivity from the Fukushima disaster is very low in open-ocean vertebrates."  - More...
Thursday PM - August 31, 2017


Columns - Commentary



DANNY TYREE: Labor Day 2037: Expect The Unexpected - Will Labor Day be recognizable in another 20 years?

Certainly, changes in culture, politics and technology will affect the love-hate relationship between capital and labor.Dizzying changes await this holiday. Yes, a holiday which honors the working people of the nation and grants them time to grill burgers and commemorate gains in workplace health and safety --while waiting to watch NFL players dutifully knock each other's brains out. 

By 2037, many current occupations will have have disappeared; but hundreds of jobs we haven't even dreamed of will take their place. ("Dibs! I call dibs!" shouts workaholic Steve Harvey.)

There will still be lots of opportunities for safari guides. There will always be a demand for someone to help track down increasingly scarce things such as tigers and rhinos. ("Look. Don't even step on a twig. It's a nearly extinct company-paid pension! I want that bad boy hanging above my mantel, next to employer-funded health care.")

The lucky few may even be able to double down on the sort of benefits that the Europeans are always boasting about. At socially progressive companies, I wouldn't be surprised if paid maternity leave is expanded to cover flying across the country to a karaoke bar to sing, "Baby, baby, where did our love go?"

Right now the "$15-an-hour living wage" campaign is making headlines, but that concept may be made moot not only by inflation but by the coming Zombie Apocalypse. Yes, workers may soon be shambling down the street demanding a "walking dead" wage. ("Brains! More brains! We can't survive on THIS guy's brains! He invested in gold instead of Confederate memorabilia way back when.") - More...
Thursday PM - August 31, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Antifa

Editorial Cartoon: Antifa
By Rick McKee ©2017, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

Stop medical price gouging By Amanda Mitchell - We all need care from time to time and finding that perfect doctor can be tough. Adding to the problem of finding a good doctor is price transparency. No one wants to go in to a doctor needing help for something that is not life threatening and come out with a medical bill that is life altering. However, this is reality and medical insurance has only made this problem worse: It’s called mining for diagnostic codes. With how the system is currently set up, insurance companies allow clinics to exploit the system to get the max amount of money they can possibly extract. It's not about what is fair or reasonable to the individual. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 30, 2017

Opinion - Letter

“Alaska Government Accountability Act” By Rep. Dan Ortiz - If legislators do not pass a budget within the regular legislative session, they should not receive legislative per diem during the subsequent special session. Alaskans for Integrity – a group founded by one independent lawmaker, one Democratic lawmaker and one Republican citizen –proposed a ballot initiative for 2018 that will raise legislative standards of financial transparency and accountability to the public. I support this initiative, known as the “Alaska Government Accountability Act.” - More...
Wednesday AM - August 30, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Please stop the name calling By Kelli Carlin-Auger - Regarding David Hanger's response to Rex Barber's letter: David, the fact that you call Liberals "Libtards" show your true (ugly) colors. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 30, 2017

Opinion - Letter

An opportunity to return to honor By Mary L. Stephenson - By the time William H. Seward was born in 1801, Russia’s empire included Kodiak and Sitka.

In 1867, Seward, as President Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of state, negotiated the Alaska Treaty of Cession in 1867. Two years later, the retired public servant began traveling around the world – first to Alaska. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 30, 2017

Opinion - Letter

CORPORATE TAXES SHOULD BE ZERO By Wiley Brooks - Tax reform is a priority agenda item in the 115th Congressional session. In the coming months, we will hear significant proposed changes to the extremely complex income tax laws. One of the hotly debated provisions will be what to do with the corporate tax rate. The current rate of 35% is the highest in the industrialized world. When you add the corporate amount charged by most states the total in near 40%. The average rate levied by other industrialized countries is about 23%. This is a huge disadvantage for American businesses in the global economy. It is driving American corporations and their profits offshore to avoid such a heavy tax burden. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 30, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Safe Operation of Ships By Donald Moskowitz = As a former Navy Enlisted (1950s) and Naval Officer (Navigator and Officer of the Deck, 1960s), I am quite concerned with the recent collisions by our warships in Asian waters.  We lost seven sailors in the collision of the USS Fitzgerald and another ten sailors in the collision of the USS John S. McCain.  Two guided missile destroyers are out of service and need extensive repairs. - More...
Saturday PM - August 26, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Nazi Apologists By Tristan Moyer - Equating Nazis with people who are against Nazism is so strange I hardly know where to start. I've seen comments like this a number of times lately. Why would anyone defend Nazis? Is it because they were wearing MAGA hats and waving Trump campaign signs? According to this logic people who fought against Nazism in the 1940s are worse than Nazis for fighting back. What an insult to the millions who fought and resisted Nazi fascism. - More...
Saturday PM - August 26, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE: REX BARBER By David G Hanger - In response to Rex Barber’s latest missive all that can be said is such genius cannot possibly be exceeded.

I do hope that comment does not offend our local mullahs and ayotallahs, i.e. our local preachers, priests, etc., i.e. our local censors of speech, thought, association, and pretty much everything else. - More...
Saturday PM - August 26, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Anti-fa haters By Ken Leland - Right on, Rex Barber. Your first point is spot on, although they will never admit it.The violent response to free speech that is opposed to their belief system reminds me of the Nazi Brown Shirts. - More...
Saturday PM - August 26, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Common Denominator By Rex Barber - There are many similarities between hard core progressives (antifa) and the Nazi party.

1. They are both socialist. That's what Nazi means: National Socialist German Workers party. And progressivism is synonymous with socialism. - More...
Wednesday PM - August 23, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Freedom of speech and the rule of law By Paul Bergeron Sr. - What a mess. A group of people get a permit to hold a rally to protest the removal of monuments honoring the soldiers on the confederate side of the civil war.

The KKK and other extreme right wing groups get wind of it and decide to add their voice to the permitted protesters. Their agenda has never been a secret. They want a white race America and believe that a race war in the USA is the way to reach this utopian dream. They came prepared to protect and initiate violence should the opportunity arise. - More...
Monday AM - August 21, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Statues today, books tomorrow By A.M. Johnson - Confederate statues today, book burnings tomorrow?

Public Announcement: Please DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT use the $1 $2 $50 or the $100 bills. They have pictures of former slave owners on them! Send them all to me and I will dispose of them properly! - More...
Monday AM - August 21, 2017

Opinion - Letter

We need politicians with courage and ideals By Norbert Chaudhary - The violence, death and injuries that occurred in Virginia was completely predictable and given the direction the President has taken this nation, pretty much inevitable. 

This sort of reaction from Far Right minions is exactly what the fear/hate blathering heads on cable TV, a.m. Radio and the internet have been driving their weak minded, low information voters to do for years. And this isn't the first time they have acted up. Remember the Bundy Ranch standoff? The armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge? Or the Oklahoma City bombing? There is no forgiving the carnage these 'for profit' social agitators have wreaked upon us.  - More...
Monday AM - August 21, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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