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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 09, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By DOUG BURKMAN

STEVE, the Aurora-Like Mystery
If your name is Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement aka STEVE, then there's quite bit behind the name, according to NASA. Glowing in mostly purple and green colors, a new celestial phenomenon is sparking the interest of scientists, photographers and astronauts. At first thought to be an aurora, now reports it isn't an aurora after all. And,according to LiveScience, this eerie sky glow is completely unknown to science. STEVE does not contain the telltale traces of charged particles blasting through Earth's atmosphere that auroras do. Steve, therefore, is not an aurora at all, but something entirely different: a mysterious, largely unexplained phenomenon that has also been dubbed a "sky glow." This photo was taken in the Ketchikan area in mid-September.
Front Page Feature Photo By DOUG BURKMAN ©2018

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Ketchikan: Remembering a local legend; 40 years after his death, Ed Todd remains fresh in the mind of the minds of those that flew with him By DAVE KIFFER - It has been 40 years since legendary Ketchikan pilot Ed Todd made his final flight. But the Ketchikan-based “Cowboy of the Skies” who called everyone “partner” remains very alive in the memories of the people who knew him.

Todd was 59 when he died in a crash in Misty Fjords on October 5, 1978. The fact that Todd was in a crash wasn’t a surprise because he had a decades long reputation for flying in every bad type of weather imaginable. Whereas most of the pilots in the area learned to be careful by observing how many of their cohorts died in bad conditions, Todd seemed to relish the challenge of flying when others wouldn’t.

Todd’s Air Service advertisements in the Ketchikan Yellowpages made that abundantly clear.

“We fly when YOU want to fly.”

In fact, it was common knowledge around town that there were three kinds of weather. Good weather. Bad weather. And Todd weather.

“No matter that the wind was gusting to 40 knots, or that dense rainfog forced motorists to use headlights at noon or that the sun had already set behind the western mountains,” Pilot/journalist Gerry Bruder wrote in his 2014 book “Seaplanes Along the Inside Passage,” which featured an entire chapter on Todd called “Barefoot Hero.”

“In marginal situations, when we stood by the office window, weighing the risks against the potential rewards, the sight of anyone else’s floatplane taxiing out into Tongass Narrows often goaded us into launching on of our own planes for a look; weather that was good enough for a neighboring air service was good enough for us. Todd exerted no such influence when he flew by, however. He had different standards and belonged to a different class.”

Indeed, even forty years later, locals can recall flying with Todd in situations that might have been inadvisable, at best.

“He told my Aunt Anna if the sea gulls can fly so can him,” Marlene Steiner said recently.

But even when the seagulls weren’t flying Todd was. Which sometimes meant “improvising” by either flying at very low altitude or even not “flying” at all.

“Dad and I were in Metlakatla for a dive job,” Dean Parkhurst said recently. “Ed was supposed to pick us up but it was terribly foggy that day. Off in the distance we heard a plane, it was Ed step-taxiing his way to the dock. Hop in, he says, it’s flat calm today. And away we went, step taxiing all the way back to town.”

“Weather permitting a phrase he was not familiar with” his daughter Joyce Adair said recently.

It seemed that if someone needed to get somewhere, Todd was always willing to give it a go.

“When I was 16 and working at National Bank of Alaska, I was asked to find someone/anyone to hire to fly Elmer Rasmusen to Metlakatla,” Connie Williams said recently. “It was your typical ugly Ketchikan late fall day, sideways rain. Ed Todd was the only one who said ‘Yes, have him out here in about 20 minutes.’ I dropped Mr. Rasmusen off, Mr. Todd told me to be back in 3 hours to pick him up. I was right there at the appointed time, only to have Mr. Rasmusen get in my car and state to me ‘Never again,’ I didn't know if he meant never aqain in this weather, or never again with Ed Todd. Good times.”

Of all the pilots in Ketchikan, Todd was known as the best of getting into – and out of - lakes -  a valuable skill as many people – Todd included – loved fishing in the numerous, secluded lakes in the area.

“My ex-wife (Maureen) and I and a couple others had flown into Heckman Lake,” Mike Crosby said recently. “We were to leave on a certain date... that date came and the weather was unbelievable. Well, not really having been born and raised there. But it was nasty. Rain, wind, low hanging clouds not a one of us at the Forest Service Cabin expected to be picked up, but just in case we packed everything up. Lo and behold a short time we hear power and here comes Todd. He pulls into the beach, we load up our gear, climb into the plane and again the weather is nasty, the lake isn't all that long and we have it loaded.”

Most, if not all, pilots would have emptied out the plane to make sure that it could get back out of the lake. But Todd was not most pilots.

“One of us said, 'Todd can you get off?' ” Crosby continued. “ 'Let’s find out' and he guns it. Bounces that plane down the lake finally at what seemed the last second he lifted off, I do believe if I had opened the window I could have grabbed a few spruce needles. As we were flying towards town, being in the front seat I notice that one fuel tank is on dead empty and the other needle is bouncing on empty. I asked Todd if we had enough fuel to get to town. His response was, 'heck yes. I planned this. How do you think we got off the lake? If I'd have been loaded with fuel no way. So I brought just enough.' We made it! Scary. My ex, who wasn't a drinker said after mine and Todd's conversation. I think I need a drink.“

Terry Carlin remembered a similar “close scrape” on Gravina Island.

 “Todd flew us into Long Lake on Gravina for deer hunting,” Carlin said recently. “Can’t remember how many of us or how many deer on the trip out but the plane was loaded very heavy. As Todd was pulling the plane as far back on the weedy shoreline for maximum takeoff distance one of us asked him if we would clear the trees at the end of the lake (stupid question but we were nervous). His reply: “Maybe”. Crap! We cleared them by about 20 feet.” - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018


Southeast Alaska: U.S.Secretary of State Urged to Defend U.S. Interests from Canadian Transboundary Mines - The Alaska Delegation recently joined together to urge the U.S. Secretary of State to discuss the risks posed by transboundary mining activity during upcoming bilateral meetings between the United States and Canada. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, Congressman Don Young, Governor Bill Walker, and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing Alaska’s priorities for strong and continued engagement between the State Department and the Canadian Government on the management of mining activity affecting Alaska and British Columbia’s transboundary waters.

Today, Salmon Beyond Borders expressed their thanks to the delegation for their October 2, 2018 letter urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the U.S. Department of State to act to defend Alaskan interests, salmon, and salmon-producing rivers from under-regulated mining activity in transboundary British Columbia / Alaska watersheds.

The request follows up on a November 13, 2017 letter from the lawmakers to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with similar asks. This letter, however, specifically requests the State Department deliver this “strong message” to Global Affairs Canada at the U.S.-Canada bilateral meetings later this month in Ottawa.??

The October 2nd letter also reiterates “that the Department’s representatives impress upon their Canadian counterparts the critical need for binding protections, joint water quality monitoring, and financial assurances to protect Americans downstream of large-scale Canadian mines.”

Salmon Beyond Borders Campaign Director Jill Weitz said she was thrilled the letter urges those actions, specifically. ?

Weitz said, “The development of large-scale open-pit B.C. mines in watersheds that flow into Alaska is moving forward at a mind-blowing pace, while the cleanup of mines like the bankrupt Tulsequah Chief, which has been polluting the Taku River watershed for more than 60 years, is at a seemingly constant stand-still. With the uncertainties regarding Imperial Metals' financial standing, we need enforceable protections now, before the Red Chris mine goes bankrupt and begins polluting the Stikine River on a far greater scale.”

Weitz said, “This unity and leadership from Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, Representative Young, Governor Walker, and Lt. Governor Mallott during otherwise politically divisive times is in direct response to their constituents. Fishermen, tribes, businesses, municipalities, and nearly 10,000 Alaskans have called for these measures to help ensure Alaskan economies and ways of life stay healthy for generations to come."

The Alaska Delegation wrote in their letter,  “We write to express our appreciation for the Administration’s preliminary efforts to protect American interests in the face of potential environmental harm from large-scale hard rock mines in Canada that lack fundamental international oversight.” The Alaska Delegation wrote, “These Canadian mining projects are located near transboundary rivers that flow from British Columbia into four U.S. states, including Alaska, and, if managed poorly, pose a threat to Southeast Alaska’s flourishing commercial fishing and tourism industries.” - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Polar bears gorged on whales to survive past warm periods; won't suffice as climate warms

Polar bears are shown scavenging on the carcass of a dead bowhead whale that washed ashore on Wrangel Island, Russia.
Photo Credit: Chris Collins/Heritage Expeditions

Alaska: Polar bears gorged on whales to survive past warm periods; won't suffice as climate warms - Polar bears likely survived past warm periods in the Arctic, when sea ice cover was low, by scavenging on the carcasses of stranded large whales. This food source sustained the bears when they were largely restricted to land, unable to roam the ice in search of seals to hunt.

A new study led by the University of Washington found that although dead whales are still valuable sources of fat and protein for some polar bears, this resource will likely not be enough to sustain most bear populations in the future when the Arctic becomes ice-free in summers, which is likely to occur by 2040 due to climate change. The results were published online Oct. 9 in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

"If the rate of sea ice loss and warming continues unmitigated, what is going to happen to polar bear habitat will exceed anything documented over the last million years. The extremely rapid pace of this change makes it almost impossible for us to use history to predict the future," said lead author Kristin Laidre, a marine biologist at the UW's Polar Science Center and associate professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

Polar bears need sea ice to survive because it is an essential platform for hunting seals, their main food source. They travel over the ice, searching for breathing holes or seal birth dens. When the ice breaks up in late spring, polar bears in some populations will fast on land, waiting for the ice to re-form so they can resume hunting.

Still, polar bears are opportunistic feeders and have been observed in multiple locations eating the carcasses of whales that died at sea and washed ashore. The bears can quickly consume and store large amounts of fat, which works in their favor. In some cases, between 40 and 60 different polar bears have been observed feeding on large bowhead and gray whale carcasses and, in 2017, more than 180 bears were seen scavenging on a single dead bowhead whale. Individual bears frequently return to the same carcass over multiple years.

The authors drew upon years of observations in the field to assess the potential importance of whale carcasses and how they might help polar bears survive an ice-free Arctic. It is clear that polar bears persisted through low-ice interglacial periods in the past that resulted from naturally occurring climate cycles. The researchers hypothesized that, to a significant degree, the bears likely survived by scavenging on whale carcasses, storing large amounts of fats when hunting seals was not an option. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018



TOM PURCELL: Failing U.S. Citizenship - "If younger generations don't know why and how America is such a great nation, we are doomed!"

"Ah, you speak of the recent Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation survey that finds only one in three Americans can pass the U.S. Citizenship Test."

"You got that right. Two-thirds of Americans failed the 10-multiple-choice-question test even though they only needed six correct answers to pass."

"That is troubling. The foundation says, 'Only 13 percent of those surveyed knew when the U.S. Constitution was ratified.' It says: 'More than half of respondents (60 percent) didn't know which countries the United States fought in World War II. And despite the recent media spotlight on the U.S. Supreme Court, 57 percent of those surveyed did not know how many Justices actually serve on the nation's highest court.'"

"What are these people being taught in high school and college?"

"A better question is what are they NOT being taught? As the foundation notes, 'It would be an error to view these findings as merely an embarrassment. Knowledge of the history of our country is fundamental to maintaining a democratic society, which is imperiled today.''"

"Just for the heck of it, I took the test. The questions aren't so difficult. How can so many Americans not answer at least six correctly?"

"The foundation reports that 72 percent of respondents weren't sure about or misidentified the 13 original states, and just 24 percent 'could correctly identify one thing Benjamin Franklin was famous for, with 37 percent believing he invented the lightbulb'" - the same percentage who 'knew the correct answer as to why the colonists fought the British.'"

"Yeah, and I'm especially worried about the 2 percent who thought climate change was the cause of the Cold War!"

"The survey also found that younger generations are especially ignorant of the American system. Americans age 65 or older 'scored the best, with 74 percent answering at least six in 10 questions correctly.' But only 19 percent of those under 45 passed, 'with 81 percent scoring a 59 percent or lower.'"

"That means older generations, who understand the importance of checks and balances to restrict each government branch's power - and the triumph of our free-market system over socialism and communism - will eventually give way to younger generations who don't understand these basic concepts." - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Climate

Political Cartoon: Climate
By David Fitzsimmons ©2018, The Arizona Star, Tucson, AZ
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

Related: Just Released, Special Report on Global Warming


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Dunleavy is the one who is untrustworthy By Barbara McDaniel - In Mike Dunleavy’s recent column, “A Deficit of Trust,” the former, partial-term state senator blames others for his own failures as a legislator, a very common but deceitful defense tactic.

In 2015, following the collapse in oil prices and Alaska’s revenues, Sen. Dunleavy and the Republican-controlled legislature were afraid to offer ideas for revenue; they dug in and insisted there would be no solution but to cut state jobs and services. We are still paying the price: In the face of rising crime, they cut prosecutors, troopers, and treatment options. After months of legislative inaction, special sessions, and important bills to pay with no money, Walker demonstrated the courage and independence needed to make the tough decisions. Looking at the numbers, pretty much everyone with a calculator agreed that the State would need to tap into the Permanent Fund to fund basic services like schools, infrastructure, and public safety. Governor Walker capped the dividend and reinvested the rest back into the Permanent Fund, so that it could continue providing PFDs for generations. Following Walker’s leadership, the next two years, the legislature stepped up and arranged for reductions to preserve the PFD and its earnings income. We all, including Mr. Dunleavy, need to stick to the truth on this issue.

I have other concerns with Mike Dunleavy. In 2015, he infamously attempted to use his sway in the Republican-controlled senate to block the popular safety bills, Erin’s Law and Bree’s Law. With Gov. Walker’s support, I’m grateful a bipartisan legislature ignored Dunleavy and passed the laws. Now age-appropriate K-12 healthy relationship education is provided in our public schools, with a parental opt out provision. Anecdotally teachers indicate students already demonstrate improved character, refusal, and reporting skills. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

False personal attacks on Mark Begich By Deborah Bonito - Given the current lack of public trust in our political system and the dangerous lack of honesty and accountability in the current national political discourse, it is important that our campaign set the record straight on the Lt. Governor’s disappointing decision to knowingly launch false personal attacks on Mark Begich - someone he has known personally for decades. 

The Lt. Governor has claimed - using an assortment of disingenuous rhetoric - that Mark hasn’t been in Alaska, offered advice, or reached out to help with the fiscal situation. I was personally shocked and disappointed to read and see Byron’s assertion. Being in a unique position to know where and how Mark has spent his time while not in public office, I know that what Byron is saying is false. I asked Mark’s scheduler to look back over the past three years, during which Mark and I have been home in Anchorage and her research verified what I know to be true.  

Aside from the various public comments and pieces that Mark has published as a reflection of his commitment and concern for our state’s issues, Mark has also met with both the Governor and Lt. Governor more than a dozen times over the last 3 years. 

The meetings covered a range of topics and participants, but one thing was always consistent: Mark Begich was there because he cared about the future of Alaska and he was willing to listen, help, or be of service in any way he could if it would help his state.  - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Our Progessive Senator By Rex Barber - Hence forth the name Lisa Murkowski will be synonymous with Obama. Clinton and traitor. She voted present on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. This is the very act which defines a cowered. If she didn't want to vote for the man at least she should of had the [courage] to say NO!!! (I guess no dosn't mean no)

But why should this be a surprise? Her boy Obama voted present most of the time, I guess she was just following suit.(Politically she can say she didn't vote against him.) - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Vote Yes on Prop 1 By Robert K. Rice - In response to “Tracking the outside money by Larry Barsukoff. The facts on the money raised are as follows: Supporting Prop 1 $475,000; Opposing Prop 1 $8,670,000. Follow the money. - More...
Friday PM - October 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Political Winds of Change By Austin Otos - The 2018 Ketchikan Gateway Borough municipal election has come to a close. With 6 candidates running for office, our community had the opportunity to vote for a wide array of individuals. Thankfully, Ketchikan chose 2 candidates that represent the future of our community. Voters were clear that newer and younger voices take precedent over experience and past ideals. - More...
Friday PM - October 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Murkowski By Rob Holston - Lisa Murkowski may be a fine woman but she’s just not the right Senator for Alaska right now. - End of letter...
Friday PM - October 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Roadless Rule Public Comment Period By Rep. Dan Ortiz - The US Forest Service is seeking public comment on exempting the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule. The comment period ends on October 15th. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 03, 2018

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