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Ketchikan: CARES Act Programs Available Through the Ketchikan Borough, City of Ketchikan and City of Saxman Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - The following Ketchikan Borough monetary assistance programs have been established to assist local citizens and businesses who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Deadlines vary. - More...
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Ketchikan: Ketchikan Schools Fully Re-Opening Sept. 8th By MARY KAUFFMAN - In a special board meeting held Wednesday evening, the Ketchikan School Board rejected the district's proposed Smart Start plan choosing to fully open the schools to on-site learning 5 days a week under the minimal risk scenario - a normal school year. The board opted the Smart Start Plan proposed by the district as a contingency for the 2020-2021 school year if necessary which will reduce on-site instruction.

The minimal risk, or normal school year, scenario is for 5 days back in school, all grade levels, with early release on Wednesdays. This is the same schedule the Ketchikan school year ended in March 2020 before the schools were closed due to the pandemic.

According to an email distributed by Ketchikan School Superintendent Beth Lougee Sunday afternoon, school building principals will officially be back to work on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. Lougee wrote that the administrators will start to plan the restart with attention to protecting the health and safety of staff, students and community.

After hearing citizens' testimony, Board Member Paul Robbins Jr. which failed after an almost hour discussion by the board. Robbins then moved to fully open the schools 100% which passed with a vote of 5-2. Citizens attending the special meeting responded with applause, According to Lougee's email, more district updates will be available after August 5, 2020. The website will be updated as answers to questions and more information is made available.

The first day of school for students is currently planned for September 8, 2020.

Prior to the school board meeting there had been concerns voiced by parents that decisions were being made on the start up of school without their involvement. During the 6 hour special meeting, the board heard testimony for numerous citizens on the Smart Start Plan. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

Southeast Alaska: UAS Announces Fall Semester 2020 Safety Expectations for Students - The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) announced last week it is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for students, employees, and visitors as the 2020-21 academic year begins.  Since March 2020 UAS has adapted its learning environment to meet the health and safety concerns of COVID-19. As the new semester begins, UAS has modified classes and services to address the challenges of COVID-19.

“I appreciate how much our faculty and staff have stepped up and dealt with the challenges.  COVID has been difficult to deal with, but I see optimism and excitement about the coming months,” said Interim Chancellor Karen Carey, “the University of Alaska Southeast campuses look forward to welcoming new and returning students.”

UAS campuses have implemented new health and safety measures and expectations in support of a productive learning environment.  Face coverings are now required for anyone on campus. Every person must wear a face covering that completely covers the person’s nose and mouth when in a shared enclosed space such as a classroom or lab. UAS will be providing cloth face coverings for students and employees, disposable face coverings, and humanity shields by request.

UAS has a robust offering of face-to-face classes requiring students, faculty and staff to adhere to face covering and physical distancing requirements. Instructors may remove their face covering when they are teaching in a classroom equipped with a classroom shield. 

Students will also be able to choose from a significant number of online courses delivered in one of two methods. First, courses listed in the fall schedule that require attendance via video conferencing software will have a day and time listed in the online schedule. Second, online courses that require students to work on course material at a time of their choosing, within timeline constraints and assignment due dates provided by the instructor. These courses do not have online meeting days or times listed in the online schedule.  - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

Alaska: AVTEC now allows high school seniors opportunities to enroll - Alaska Vocation Technical Center (AVTEC) has reviewed and modified its admissions policies to allow high school seniors an opportunity to enroll in training at AVTEC and earn a valuable employment credential during their final year of high school.

The program, dubbed “Senior Year to Career,” provides high school students who have completed all credits necessary to graduate or who are very close to graduation, to enroll in AVTEC training programs to build job skills, earn workforce credentials and prepare for employment upon graduation.

Before beginning the admissions process, high school students must obtain permission from their parent or legal guardian to attend and, if necessary, live in the residence halls. Students must turn 18 years of age prior to completion of AVTEC training and have all high school graduation requirements for their district completed.

In addition to the standard AVTEC admissions process and requirements including the requisite score on the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE), the assessment administered by AVTEC to incoming students meant to determine a student’s readiness for post-secondary training, reading and math. Each AVTEC program has a requisite score that is used as an indicator for student’s success in their chosen program. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

Fish Factor: Historic firsts... By LAINE WELCH - It got little attention from the mainstream media but seafood netted some historic firsts in the nation’s new dietary guidelines.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee submitted a report in July to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services that recommends what Americans should include in their diets from 2020 through 2025 , a task it has undertaken every five years since 1980.

“This is by far the strongest they’ve come out for seafood in all of the U.S. dietary guidelines history, and at virtually every point in the lifecycle from babies to pregnant and lactating moms to adults. I was really amazed,” said Dr. Tom Brenna, a professor of pediatrics, chemistry and nutrition at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas/Austin and at Cornell University.

Along with taking a whole life approach for the first time, Brenna said the advisors also considered nutritional requirements for children under two years of age.

“The general idea is that kids should be breastfed, that's the recommendation to six months of age. And starting at six months when you're introducing finger foods, solid foods, the recommendation is to include seafood right from the beginning,” he said.

Another first - the dietary panel did a deep dive into the reams of evidence proving seafood’s nutritional benefits.

“The omega 3s found in seafood are to a developing retina and brain what calcium is to bones. But it is not just the omega 3s, it is these great minerals that are in some cases rare in other foods,” Brenna explained. “The zinc and iron and selenium and iodine...and these are just not as high as they need to be in diets that are missing seafood.”

The new diet guidelines now need a stamp of approval by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture before they become policy. If passed as written, seafood would be required eating at, for example, women/infant/children’s (WIC) feeding programs and school lunches.

“If you read just the executive summary, the thing you would stick into the WIC program is seafood. It looks like the most important damn thing that women could be eating,” Brenna said.

“Twenty-five years ago, out of an abundance of caution, people were concerned about mercury. They said we don't know what the thresholds are for mercury or whether it's bad for neuro-development. It turns out after decades of research that the danger was not eating too much fish, it was eating too little fish. I could probably calculate the number of IQ points we've lost because of this policy. We've got to get people eating seafood as they used to, and we've got to make it a priority and a federal policy.” - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

Alaska: Syphilis rates in Alaska have more than doubled in a year; Overall STD rates remain among the highest in the nation - Alaska’s syphilis outbreak is growing, with cases that more than doubled in 2019 from 2018.

“This is the largest number of syphilis cases that we have ever had reported in one year,” said Alaska Department of Health and Social Services HIV/STD Program Manager Susan Jones.

Overall, combined rates of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are at all-time highs, both in Alaska and the nation. Nationally, syphilis rates have increased almost every year since 2001. Sexually transmitted disease (STDs) can have severe health consequences.

“This is a reminder that as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic, there are other outbreaks that need our attention,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Alaska’s State Epidemiologist.

The Alaska Section of Epidemiology Bulletin issued July 30, 2020 (pdf), emphasizes the drivers for the increase and notes several contributing factors, such as more infection among heterosexual men and women, and some of those infected reporting illicit drug use and homelessness. The increase in case reports among women raises the risk that a mother could pass the infection on to her baby (congenital syphilis) during pregnancy. The Bulletin details the syphilis outbreak in Alaska and recommendations for care.

The current syphilis outbreak in Alaska was first declared in 2018. During 2018, 114 cases of syphilis were reported to the Alaska Section of Epidemiology. In 2019, that number jumped to 242 cases, a 112% increase in cases in a single year. Most (86%) of the cases were newly acquired and considered “infectious.” When left untreated, syphilis can affect the heart, brain and other organs in the body.

Of the 207 primary, secondary or early latent cases in Alaska: - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

Scientists record aurora using earth-monitoring tools in Alaska

Scientists record aurora using earth-monitoring tools in Alaska
The aurora crosses the sky in 2019 near Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska. Recent discoveries made by researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the U.S. Geological Survey allowed researchers to record aurora using seismometers, the primary tool to monitor earth movement.
Photo by Aaron Lojewski


Alaska: Scientists record aurora using earth-monitoring tools in Alaska By FRITZ FREUDENBERGER -Earthquakes, with origins deep underground, and the aurora, at the limits of our atmosphere, seem like phenomena worlds apart. The reality is more surprising. 

New research from Alaska shows that seismometers, the primary instruments used to measure motion from the Earth, can be used to monitor an aurora. This is the first research to use seismometers to study the aurora.

“The Earth’s ground is in continual, low-level motion that is captured by seismometers,” said Carl Tape, associate professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute and primary author on a paper published this week. “It turns out that these seismometers also capture continual influences from space weather, including during aurora displays.”

Using seismometers alongside magnetometers, which record magnetic variations, and all-sky cameras, upward facing cameras with a large viewing area, scientists examined three aurora events above Alaska to look at the phenomenon in a whole new light. 

Tape co-authored the publication with colleagues from the Geophysical Institute and the U.S. Geological Survey. Their results were published in the journal Seismological Research Letters. 

The colorful lights of the aurora are part of a long series of processes that originate at the sun. When the sun spews charged particles, called solar winds, which meet the magnetic field that surrounds the Earth, it produces the aurora. The collisions of these electrons produce light as the atmospheric gas particles are excited and then relax. Different particles create different colors. For example, green aurora is from oxygen particles.

The interactions between these particles and our magnetosphere can also cause fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field. Often referred to as space or geomagnetic storms, these events can have significant effects on electrical grids, radio equipment and GPS instruments. 

Magnetometers are the primary instruments used to record data from aurora and space storms, but seismometers can read magnetic fluctuations as well. Researchers have known that the ferromagnetic materials used in seismometers make them sensitive to magnetic activity. Since seismometers are used to monitor earth movement, signals from such magnetic activity have been regarded as noise, not data. Because of this,some are equipped with protective shields that guard them from these space weather events. However, most seismometers will pick up signals even if they have magnetic shielding, if the magnetic activity is strong enough, according to Tape. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

State plans to house Stampede Trail bus at UA Museum

State plans to house Stampede Trail bus at UA Museum
Bus 142 is shown with a UH 60 Blackhawk helicopter that supported the Alaska Army National Guard operation that transported the bus from the Stampede Trail to an interim staging point on the Stampede Road.
Photo courtesy of Alaska DNR


Alaska: State plans to house Stampede Trail bus at UA Museum - The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) intends to negotiate with the University of Alaska’s Museum of the North as the likely repository of the well-known historic “Bus 142,” removed from the Stampede Trail last month.

“Of the many expressions of interest in the bus, the proposal from the UA Museum of the North best met the conditions we at DNR had established to ensure this historical and cultural object will be preserved in a safe location where the public could experience it fully, yet safely and respectfully, and without the specter of profiteering,” DNR Commissioner Corri Feige said last week.

The bus became well-known after Jon Krakauer’s 1996 book “Into the Wild” and a 2007 movie with the same name popularized the story of 24-year-old wanderer Chris McCandless, who sadly died there alone in 1992 after a 114-day stay at the site, about 25 miles west of Healy.

Over the years unprepared travelers to the bus sometimes became lost or injured, requiring the assistance of local search and rescue teams; two travelers died in their attempts to reach the bus, in separate incidents in 2010 and 2019. Seeking to reduce the risk of future tragedies, DNR asked the Alaska Army National Guard for help, and on June 18 the Guard helicoptered the bus away from the site. DNR has since kept the bus in a secure but undisclosed location while considering options for its long-term disposition.

As the bus was abandoned on general state land, DNR is responsible for its disposal, and has received dozens of suggestions and offers from museums, institutions and individuals across the state and nation who had a variety of plans to preserve, exhibit, monetize, or memorialize it, Feige said.

After careful consideration, DNR decided to entertain the UA Museum’s proposal, which fully met the departments’ requirements that any long-term disposition must enhance public safety, minimize financial impact the state, be legally defensible, and be respectful to the families that lost loved ones in connection with the bus.

The UA Museum of the North proposal has several advantages, Feige said: It is one of just three official state repositories, and the only one in the Interior able to accept and curate state-owned historical items (and the only one in the Interior); it has experts on staff who can help restore, curate and display the bus; it can legally accept non-profit donations to pay for the costs of the bus; and it would allow DNR to retain legal ownership of the bus and play an active role in its use, including whether and to whom to lend it out for display elsewhere.

Feige said her department understands the bus has played an important role in many Interior lives over the decades: moving Fairbanks residents around their city in the Fifties; housing mining road construction crews in the early Sixties; sheltering hunters and adventurers in the Seventies and Eighties; then becoming a destination for adventure seekers and fans of the “Into the Wild” book and movie since 1992. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020



Analysis: Yes, kids can get COVID-19, 3 pediatricians explain what's known about coronavirus and children By KATHRYN MOFFETT-BRADFORD, MARTIN WEISSE & SHIPRA GUPTA - We are three pediatric infectious disease specialists who live and work in West Virginia. The West Virginia University health system serves 400,000 children and according to our internal data, to date, 2,520 children up to 17 years of age have been tested for the coronavirus. Sixty-seven of them tested positive and one became sick enough to be admitted to the hospital.

We are asked almost daily about children and COVID-19: Do they get COVID-19? Should they attend day care or school, play sports, see friends and attend summer camps? What are the risks to themselves and to others?

Based on current research and our own experiences, it would seem that kids 17 years old and younger face little risk from the coronavirus. Nearly all children have asymptomatic, very mild or mild disease, but a small percentage of children do get very sick. Additionally, there is evidence that children can spread the virus to others, and with huge outbreaks occurring all across the U.S, these realities raise serious concerns about school reopenings and how children should navigate the pandemic world.

Children at risk

When considering the role of children in this pandemic, the first question to ask is whether they can get infected, and if so, how often.

Of the 149,082 reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of late April, only 2,572 – 1.7% – were children, despite children making up 22% of the U.S population.

But current research shows that children are physiologically just as likely to become infected with SARS-CoV-2 as adults. This discrepancy between case numbers and biological susceptibility may be due to the fact that children generally generally have minimal to mild symptoms when infected with the coronavirus and are therefore less likely to get tested. It also may be that children in general have had less exposure to the virus compared to adults. Kids aren’t going to work, they are probably going out to stores less than adults, and in the states that had relaxed quarantine measures, they aren’t going out to bars or gyms.

Even though children are less likely to get sick from the coronavirus, they are definitely not immune. Data shows that children less than one year old and those with underlying conditions are the most likely to be hospitalized. These kids usually experience the respiratory distress commonly associated of COVID-19 and often need oxygen and intensive care support. As of July 11, 36 kids 14 or younger had died from the virus.

In addition to the typical COVID-19 cases, recently there have been some frightening reports of children’s immune systems going haywire after they are exposed to SARS-CoV-2.

Notable are reports of Kawasaki disease. Normally, Kawasaki disease affects toddlers and preschool children, causing prolonged high fever, rash, eye redness, mouth swelling and swelling of arteries in the heart. The vast majority of children that get Kawasaki disease survive when given treatments that bring down the swelling, but sadly, a few children have died from it, after exposure to the coronavirus led to the disease. Physicians don’t know what causes Kawasaki disease normally or why a coronavirus infection could trigger it.

In the past few months, there have also been reports of some children, after becoming infected with the coronavirus, experiencing fever and rash along with a life-threatening blood pressure drop and sudden severe heart failure. The children and teenagers with this COVID-19-related shock syndrome – now named multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C – are older than those doctors usually see with Kawasaki disease. Experts think these two illness are not the same, despite having similar features and similar treatments. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020


RICH MANIERI: TRUTH IS RELATIVE WHEN IT COMES TO ‘MOSTLY PEACEFUL’ PROTESTS - Are the riots in major cities around the country really happening?

It’s a question that should only require a simple “yes” or “no” answer, but in an age when relativism prevails and even gender is a state a mind, there are no simple questions. There are, however, a lot of dumb answers.

A preponderance of the evidence, including video, tells me the violence is real. In Portland, for example, the Department of Homeland security has chronicled over 50 consecutive nights of lawlessness.

Still, when cornered by a TV producer a few days ago, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) called the rioting “a myth.” If he’s right, he’s uncovered the greatest conspiracy since Neil Armstrong jumped off a couch in front of a green screen in his basement and snookered the entire world into thinking he had actually landed on the moon.

It appears that Nadler himself is more than one small step removed from reality. There he was again Tuesday, this time presiding over a Capitol Hill hearing featuring Attorney General William Barr and Nadler still feigning denial that violence is actually occurring in Portland and elsewhere.

The hearing itself, assuming it really happened, was mostly a waste of time. The Democrats had been clamoring for weeks for Barr to appear. When he showed up, they accused, insulted, interrupted and made an embarrassing hash of the whole thing. For his part, Barr held up fine. The Democrats on the committee, Nadler especially, looked silly. They should have just put Barr in a dunk tank. At least that would have had some entertainment value. Although the way the Dems were pitching, they wouldn’t have hit the target once. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

jpg Political Cartoon: Cognitive test for us all

Political Cartoon: Cognitive test for us all
By John Darkow ©2020, Columbia Missourian
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Compliments By Leslie Becker - I am writing to you as a private citizen to compliment the many parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and staff who faithfully worked together to petition the school board to safely reopen at full capacity.

Each of you shared your unique family needs and specifically defined how imperative the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District is to the health of our children and to the entire community. Many of you came to the podium at every open meeting throughout June and July. You were all extremely well spoken and obviously had spent a significant amount of time researching data. Your energy levels and passionate commitment to your children and the good of the community was quite resounding. Well done! - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

jpg Opinion

Ranked-Choice Voting and Ballot Measure 2 Should Be Voted Down By Mead Treadwell - Every Lieutenant Governor of Alaska I’ve known takes his or her role overseeing elections very seriously. Impartial, crystal-clear election rules are vital to our democracy. We should not be bamboozled by a proposal – set for the November ballot – that would deny political parties the ability to put forward a candidate, and totally confuse the process for the rest of us as voters.

A national voting fad has made its way to Alaska this November, by way of ranked-choice voting in Ballot Measure 2. It would eliminate party primaries for a free-for-all. It would create confusion at the polls. It potentially would render a person’s vote not to be counted.

As a former Lt. Governor of our state with experience overseeing elections, I join leaders of all political parties urging Alaskans to vote this proposition down.

Imagine a situation where candidates of the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Alaska Independence Party, even perhaps the Republican and Democratic parties are, after a wide-open primary, not even allowed to appear on the General Election ballot. Only four candidates would make it to a General Election ballot, in a state which usually has five or more parties.

Thus, Ballot Measure 2 restricts our civil right to associate and form a viable party. Sounds hardly Constitutional or fair. I’ve worked with Libertarian, Green, and Alaska Independence Party elected officials during my career, and we already make it tough — perhaps too tough — for newer or “smaller” parties to put a candidate forward in a General Election. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

jpg Opinion

One year later, Recall Dunleavy still committed to Alaska By Bruce Jamieson - Unlike countless people-powered initiatives in the Lower 48 that have shuttered in the face of COVID-19, Recall Dunleavy continues on with innovative ideas, steadily collecting signatures during this pandemic. Our “sign at home” petitions, drive through events, and pop-up signature collection are active and ongoing today, one year after a committed group of Alaskans joined together to recall Governor Mike Dunleavy.

Alaska is empowered with a viable recall. If we want change on a national level, we lead this change by first upending the tenure of Governor Dunleavy, right here in our great state.

Governor Dunleavy has not become more competent, more ethical, nor more capable over the last year. Unsurprisingly, he has simply become more adept at slipping through unpopular actions during a distracting and difficult time for every Alaskan. We remain thankful for the true professionals that remain in government, and we sincerely hope that—in the interests of Alaskans’ health moving forward—he heeds their expertise and guidance moving forward.

In 2019, the recall effort was not born of anger or frustration over the last election, but rather in shock and disbelief over the Governor’s blatant disrespect for Alaska’s constitution, incompetence, inability to do the job required, and his lack of basic budgeting abilities. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

jpg Opinion

HISTORICAL REVISIONISM AT ITS DUMBEST & SILLIEST By David G Hanger - While Jerry Cegelske has proudly, even adamantly, self-asserted his status as a student of history, it should be emphasized that as such a student he has yet to get out of diapers or to get the binkie out of his mouth. He claims to have read hundreds of books about history, but his spew suggests to me that he is reading the “All About” books I read as a kid, or at best something out of a Time-Life series. He gushes nonsense. More pertinently, he is not even capable of getting his facts straight; simple, basic facts.

For example, Old Abe really could not free all of those slaves of the Indians in the southeastern portion of the United States because, wait for it, between 1861 and 1865 the southeastern portion of the nation, including in particular Florida, was a part of the Confederate States of America. The Emancipation Proclamation, of course, freed any slaves extant in such territory the instant Union forces got there. Oh, and wait for it again, with the exception of the Seminoles there were not even any Indians in Florida at that time.

There was this little thing in Andy Jackson’s time called “the Trail of Tears.” You might have heard of it, but then again maybe not. That was when the five civilized tribes were deported to Oklahoma, losing something like a third of their number along the way. Once they got to Oklahoma they did in fact get into slavery with the Cherokees holding as many as 4000 black slaves. They also had real problems; proximity to Mexican territory meant that escaped slaves ran south and west, not north; and slaves were much more aware that freedom was an actual option. So by February 1863 most of these slaves had been freed. The rest were freed between 1865 and 1866. During the Civil War the five civilized tribes split their allegiance with some fighting for the south, some for the north. The rights of these freedmen are still a matter of periodic court disputes to this very day. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2020

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