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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 23, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By SUSAN HOYT

Bubble-Net Feeding
Humpback whales photographed feeding south of Ketchikan. Bubble-net feeding is a unique and complex feeding behavior engaged in by humpback whales. It is one of the few surface feeding behaviors that humpback whales are known to engage in.
Front Page Feature Photo By SUSAN HOYT ©2019

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Southeast Alaska: Kake's Coaching Boys into Men Program Receives the 2019 Shirley Demientieff Award - Thursday in Fairbanks at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy and First Lady Rose Dunleavy announced Coaching Boys into Men as the 2019 winner of the Shirley Demientieff Award. 

Coaching Boys into Men is a national program that has been implemented in many of Alaska’s schools by encouraging athletic coaches to have meaningful conversations with their student athletes about respect, integrity, and nonviolence. 

“If Alaska will ever turn the corner on our horrendous rates of sexual assault and domestic violence, we must begin training and teaching our youth that these behaviors are unacceptable,” said Governor Michael J. Dunleavy. “The First Lady and I were impressed by the successes that Coaching Boys into Men have demonstrated in the communities that it has been implemented, especially those in in rural Alaska. We hope by shining a light on this program, more coaches and athletic directors will begin to implement it in their High School sports programs.” - More...
Wednesday PM - October 23, 2019

Alaska: Historic DOJ Public Safety Investments for Alaska Praised by Alaska Delegation; DOJ Announces Various Public Safety Grants for Tribes Published & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young (all R-Alaska) praised the U.S.Department of Justice’s announcement that Attorney General Barr will award $42 million in grant funding to improve public safety in rural Alaska. Specifically, the funding aims to address the lack of law enforcement in communities across Alaska through support for Alaska Native villages, tribes, and victim services.

Attorney General Barr made the announcement during a teleconference address on October 18th to the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Fairbanks. The total amount of Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation awards to Alaska tribes was over $20 million in addition to millions more awarded from the Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside Program Awards ($167.2 million nationwide).

Various grants are being awarded directly to Alaska Native tribes and tribal designees through the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation – which streamlines the application process and increases access to various public safety focused grants for tribes – and the Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside Program – which assists tribes to implement and improve services for victims of crime.

“Violent crime and domestic abuse in American Indian and Alaska Native communities remain at unacceptably high levels, and they demand a response that is both clear and comprehensive,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “We will continue to work closely with our tribal partners to guarantee they have the resources they need to curb violence and bring healing to the victims most profoundly affected by it.”  

“In the case of rural public safety, good governance requires cooperation, trust, resources, and determination. It’s encouraging to know we are seeing more of that each and every day,” said Senator Murkowski. “Thank you to Attorney General Barr for reinforcing his commitment and follow-through to the public safety crisis in rural Alaska. These investments announced today demonstrate the tremendous value in hearing from Alaskans firsthand and seeing conditions on the ground to truly recognize the severity of the crisis. I thank the administration for their continued partnership and collaboration. We’ve been given a substantial boost to addressing the crisis, and I look forward to continuing this significant work.”

 “We are extremely grateful to Attorney General Barr for coming to Alaska - for listening and learning and for taking very significant concrete and decisive action,” said Senator Sullivan. “We have a public safety crisis in our state. Communities throughout Alaska have been pleading for help. At long last, the federal government is recognizing its responsibility to help keep us safe by taking this historic action. These funds will go far to bolster the public safety presence in rural communities across the state – and help realize the goal of a trained law enforcement presence in every community—the same basic protections that communities in the Lower 48 enjoy.”

“Alaskans know that our state’s vast geography presents unique challenges, especially for law enforcement in our rural Native villages. Horrifying stories of homicide, sexual assault, and other violent crimes continue to make headlines, so it is critical that we are doing all that we can to bring perpetrators to justice,” said Congressman Young. “Attorney General William Barr has been a strong partner for Alaska as we work to turn the tide against crime and create safer, stronger communities. This funding from the Department of Justice will be critical in protecting families in our Native communities and ensuring children can grow up in neighborhoods that are safe and secure. I am proud to stand with Senators Murkowski and Sullivan as we continue working together to protect our state’s most vulnerable. Alaskans have my commitment that I will keep working with both our Delegation and the Administration to ensure that our rural areas have the tools and resources they need to keep Alaskans safe.”

The Department of Justice also announced on October 18th in a news release, that it had awarded over $273.4 million in grants nationwide to improve public safety, serve victims of crime, combat violence against women and support youth programs in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Two-hundred and thirty six grants were awarded to 149 American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages and other tribal designees through the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation , a streamlined application for tribal-specific grant programs. Of the $118 million awarded via CTAS, just over $62.6 million comes from the Office of Justice Programs, about $33.1 million from the Office on Violence Against Women and more than $23.2 million from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. A portion of the funding will support tribal youth mentoring and intervention services, help native communities implement requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, and provide training and technical assistance to tribal communities. Another $5.5 million was funded by OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide training and technical assistance to CTAS awardees. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 23, 2019


Alaska: AFN Declares a State of Emergency on Climate Change - Alaskans rallied last week in front of the Carlson Center at Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) convention to voice their urgent need for climate action and call for an immediate end to proposed projects that would threaten Indigenous hunting and fishing areas. The impacts of climate change are affecting Alaska Native communities right now -- villages must be moved, wildfires rage, melting permafrost changes the land, and people are losing their lives. The rally was held on October 17, 2019.

The coalition of Native organizations called on Alaskan Native leadership to move with urgency to address climate change and stop harmful projects. This year’s AFN theme, “Good Government: Alaskan Driven,” encourages a conversation about tribal sovereignty as a solution for our people’s well-being. Indigenous rights are the remedy for this crisis.

Young Alaskans Quannah Potts (17) and Nani’eezh Peter (15) succeeded in introducing a resolution during the Elders & Youth conference to declare a state of emergency on climate change. “We as Alaska Native youth are asking our leaders, as is traditional, to consider the future of their grandchildren & the generations to come.”

First Chief for the Traditional Chief Curyung Tribal Council, Thomas Tilden said, “It is up to us to ensure our children and our children’s children have a future. Pebble Mine has come to Bristol Bay, and all they see is minerals. They don’t see the water, the richness, the people. The water is holy. When water is contaminated, it destroys out home, our food, our people, our language, our way of life.”

Mary Matthias, Orutsararmiut Native Council’s Natural Resources Director, similarly raised alarm about the impacts the proposed Donlin Mine would have on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta: “How can we call our home ‘home,’ when the Donlin mine fails & kills salmon in the river? It’s our land, it’s our home -- not the corporations’. For them to stand by and do nothing, shame on them. They should bring jobs into the communities that benefit our home now and into the future.”

Speakers from Southeast Alaska urged for unity in divisive times. Said Dylan Lee: “The pillars upon which we built our ways of life and our culture are in jeopardy on all fronts.” Shawaan Jackson-Gamble of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Tribes said, “I think it is time as Indigenous People we unite, because it will be powerful when we all come together.”

Arctic Refuge protector, Gwich’in Steering Committee Executive Director Bernadette Dementieff, “Giving up is not an option”. 

Samantha Eyre, a relative of Cody Eyre’s - who was fatally shot by law enforcement in Fairbanks on Christmas Eve, 2017 - spoke to the crowd about the scale of injustice present within rural law enforcement in Alaska. Eyre connected the issues of violence with relationship to the earth saying, “the land is integral to our being.”

On October 19, 2019, the climate change resolution from First Alaskans Institute Youth & Elders conference made its way onto the floor for debate at the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) convention. The resolution highlighted the severe impacts that climate change is having on Indigenous ways of life and the spiritual and cultural well-being of Alaska Native communities. The resolution called for the creation of a climate action leadership task force within the Alaska Federation of Natives with the purpose of advancing Indigenous voices and advocating for strong climate policies that will ensure the survival of future generations. It also moved for AFN to declare a state of emergency due to climate change. The resolution passed following just over an hour of debate. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 23, 2019


Analysis: Why the US has nuclear weapons in Turkey – and may try to put the bombs away By MILES A. POMPER - As the Syrian crisis pits Turkish troops against former U.S.-allied Kurdish forces, Pentagon officials have been reviewing plans to remove 50 nuclear bombs stored at a U.S air base in Turkey.

A congressional directive to the Pentagon to quickly assess alternative homes for U.S. “personnel and assets” currently stationed at Incirlik Air Base is part of a broader bipartisan bill, still being debated, that proposes sanctions against Turkey. President Donald Trump has been forced to issue public reassurances that the weapons are secure.

During the Cold War, the U.S. stationed B-61 nuclear bombs in Turkey, among other NATO countries. Formally, the U.S. controlled the weapons during peacetime, but the host countries’ forces trained and equipped planes so they could drop the bombs with U.S. support in the case of war. The idea was to deter Soviet ground forces and reassure U.S. allies by making clear that the U.S. would be willing to risk nuclear war to block a Soviet invasion of a country hosting the bombs.

In addition, in the years before the U.S. developed intercontinental ballistic missiles, they presented a way for NATO to demonstrate it could act quickly to respond to a Soviet attack.

The 50 bombs still at Incirlik Air Base, in southern Turkey – and others in Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands – are the last nuclear remnants of that Cold War strategy. The U.S. began pulling nuclear bombs out of NATO countries after the Cold War ended, and since 2000 has removed 40 bombs from Turkey.

Two decades ago, the Turkish Air Force stopped equipping its planes to drop B-61s. Now the bombs at Incirlik could only be used if U.S. pilots first flew nuclear-weapon-capable planes there to load them up. The bombs were left in Turkey even after a 2016 coup attempt raised serious concerns about their safety. After that event, the U.S. Defense and Energy departments began planning how to remove them – but didn’t actually bring them back to the U.S.

How secure are they?

U.S. nuclear weapons are stored in hardened bunkers, protected by electronic systems and heavily armed U.S. troops. The Pentagon has recently reinforced both of those methods of defense.

The bombs themselves also require 12-digit codes to activate them, However, those protections are only strong enough to delay unauthorized use, rather than actually prevent it. If those barriers were overcome, U.S forces could disable the weapons by destroying electrical components or detonating their chemical high explosive without causing a nuclear release. In the worst case, they could blow up the weapons or the facilities at Incirlik.

Still the U.S. procedures are not designed to prevent skilled attacks or sabotage, especially from an ally. With enough time, Turkey could make use of the nuclear material – if not to detonate in an actual nuclear explosion, then to “release disastrous and deadly radiation.” - More..
Wednesday PM - October 23, 2019


JOE GUZZARDI: Dem Debate Overlooked Threat To Our Quality of Life - Last week, 12 Democratic presidential hopefuls took to the stage at Otterbein University near Columbus, Ohio, to pitch their credentials. The dozen are at the very least advocates for loose borders. Ask the candidates their positions on the environment and ecological stability, and the dozen would be on board about the importance of a green America. But the reality, which they prefer to ignore, is that open borders are incompatible with protecting the nation’s environmental future.

The candidates are more than willing to talk about the perceived benefits of Medicare for All, income inequality, gun control and climate change. But record high legal immigration and quasi-open borders, an informal policy that has for decades allowed hundreds of thousands of people to come to the U.S. illegally, remain taboo, even though there are significant negative environmental consequences.

The link between immigration – illegal or legal – and environmental degradation is indisputable. Years ago, before huge illegal immigrant border surges overwhelmed agents, the Government Accountability Office issued a report that outlined the challenges that illegal crossings presented to land management agencies, specifically the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the Forest Service. The GAO found that rising illegal activity on the border and its federal lands threatens law enforcement officers, visitors and employees, and “damages fragile natural resources.” Human traffickers smuggling aliens into the U.S. have destroyed irreplaceable vegetation and natural species. Lax immigration enforcement has led to blatant disregard for the 1973 Endangered Species Act. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 23, 2019


CHRISTINE FLOWERS: I've Had Enough, I'm Done With the Republican Party - With so much happening in the world, you probably don’t want to read about my own personal dark night of the soul.

But at the risk of sounding narcissistic, I do think there is some value in examining why a person like me would feel compelled to leave the Republican Party.

It was only four years ago that I proudly, defiantly and publicly abandoned the Democrats. I’d left them in spirit many years before, mostly because of their insistence on treating abortion rights as fundamental. Nevertheless, apathy kept me from changing my registration for several years longer than I probably should have.

In 2016, John Kasich was my escape hatch. Changing my registration just in time for the Pennsylvania presidential primary gave me the sense that even if he didn’t win the nomination, I was able to cast my vote for a genuinely pro-life candidate: pro-child, pro-mother, pro-worker, pro-immigrant, pro-faith. He spoke a language I understood, a language that had become mangled in the mouths of Democrats.

Watching the debates last week, I heard that confused rhetoric again, with the candidates all declaring their horror at the carnage of gun violence but completely at peace with legalized abortion. If I needed any reminder of why I stopped supporting the Democratic Party, it was right there on that stage. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 23, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Republican Reps storm secret Hill meeting

Political Cartoon: Republican Reps storm secret Hill meeting
By Dave Granlund ©2019, PoliticalCartoons.com
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Domestic Violence Awareness Month: A Call to Action By Col. Barry Wilson - We are near the end of October, and as each day passes, I see the snow progressing down the mountains. As I watch the leaves change from green to vibrant yellow, I also know that October represents something other than the changing of the seasons. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

Alaska has many secrets and scars and many wounded women, men, and children. Alaskans are being deprived of beauty in their lives and are being harmed.  Our children are growing up in homes where violence is a daily occurrence.  

Alaska’s rates of domestic violence and sexual assault are unacceptable.  As a 30-year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers, I bore witness to countless acts of domestic violence and sexual assault and have seen the long-lasting impacts of the physical and psychological trauma inflicted on victims.

Recently, the Alaska Department of Public Safety updated policies relating to domestic violence regarding our response and investigation.  Significant advancements in training have occurred over the past five years to improve how domestic violence cases are investigated and how children exposed to violence are interviewed.  DPS will partner with a school district in a pilot project called Handle with Care – an effort to support the continued academic success of children who have experienced or witnessed violence. 

As a law enforcement officer, it is easy for me to focus on solutions that are solely within the criminal justice system. Law enforcement’s role in domestic violence cases is to respond, investigate, and arrest to stop the immediate and ongoing acts of violence. However, as a husband, father, and grandfather, I know that many of the solutions to this crisis lie outside of the criminal justice system. I know that I must be a role model in and out of uniform - especially to children and young men.  - More...
Wednesday PM - October 23, 2019

jpg Opinion

RESPECT ALASKA TRIBES' RIGHTS ON THE TONGASS QUESTION By Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson - The Central Council Tlingit and Haida Constitution declares as our peoples’ inherent right that our tribal government, “Protect, preserve and enhance Tlingit ‘Haa Aani’ and Haida ‘Íitl' tlagáay’, our way of life, its ecosystems and resources, including the right to clean water and access to native foods and traditional practices through our inherent rights to traditional and customary hunting, fishing and gathering.”

Tlingit & Haida works constructively with all elected officials of any political party without partisanship. We aim to be collaborative partners, working together in the best interest of Alaska- our homelands. Yet today we are challenged by our disagreement with Alaska elected officials that support the proposed full exemption of the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule.  Any elected official in Alaska who supports a full exemption, is disregarding their constituents, undermining the public process, and ignoring the sovereign Tribal governments – who’s people have lived and depended on these lands and waters since time immemorial.  - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019

jpg Opinion

AMHS: WHY SUCH A BIG COST HIKE? By Norma Lankerd - I’m writing because I have a friend and her husband pay for a same day ticket from Ketchikan To Annette Bay, a 45 min. ride on the Lituya which supposedly made specifically to run between Annette Bay and Ketchikan. (Her cost went up from $206.00 to 286.00) because the ticket was bought the same day.  Then my friend looked online and a ticket one way from Ketchikan To Wrangell is $102.00 and 102.00 back.

SO WHY SUCH A BIG COST HIKE (traveling from Ketchikan To ANB)?

My only beef with AMHS is that the ferry was supposed to run about 6 times a day and 7 days a week just so the people from Metlakatla could have people go to Ktn. To work and go back to Metlakatla on the last ferry.   But the ferry only runs Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun, and Mon. (making a run in the morning leaving Met. At 900a.m., and leave Ktn., at 10:45a.m arriving at Annette Bay at 11:30.  Then heading back to Ketchikan, at 245a.m. arriving in Ketchikan at 3:30p.m.

Our little ferry Lituya was where the driver went free (then) that dropped and our price went to 1/2 price for the driver, then that was dropped and now charged full price for car and  driver. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019

jpg Opinion

Ketchikan's Cruise Ship Project By Janalee Gage - For full disclosure, I’m serving my second term on the Ketchikan City Council. These are my views and information I’ve gathered working on the cruise ship project, speaking only for myself as a resident, and not for the council.

The question I’ve heard a lot lately is, why solicit a port expansion Request for Proposals when most residents don't want more tourists? This RFP wouldn’t be looking at expansion; it’s about reconfigurating the port to accommodate ships already visiting Ketchikan.

The question should be: Why haven’t we investigated every opportunity that benefits our community with an RFP? - More....
Saturday PM - October 12, 2019

jpg Opinion

Domestic Violence Will Never Be Tolerated By Amanda Price - He is the monster under my bed, saboteur of my dreams. His résumé includes schoolteacher, felon and, more recently, retired country “gentleman.” He is a specter of my past, a stalker who lurks within waiting to spring into view and set my heart pounding. He is the Devil at my doorstep, progenitor of my greatest fears. Most poignantly, though, his blood is my own. He is my father.

Only last week I was startled awake after 3 a.m. by a house-rattling “bang!” It was him. He was in the hallway outside my closed bedroom door, beating my mother. My mother screamed and, smothered by darkness and too terrified to move I cowered beneath my blankets, trembling as I had so many times more than 45 years before.  - More...
Saturday PM - October 12, 2019

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