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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 17, 2022

SitNews Front Page Photo By STEVE SPEIGHTS

Herring Cove
Black Bears are still frequenting Herring Cove and enjoying the delicious fish the cove still has to offer.
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Southeast Historical: Historic Totem To Return to Kasaan; 130 year old totem was in Los Angeles, Colorado for 116 years By DAVE KIFFER - More than a half century ago a Haida totem that was carved in the 1800s was laying forgotten in a lumber yard in Los Angeles. It was going to be turned to sawdust, but then fate intervened and it spent the rest of the 20 th century in the courtyard of a Colorado museum.

Historic Totem To Return to Kasaan; 130 year old totem was in Los Angeles, Colorado for 116 years

Son-i-Hat (Saanaxeit) Pole
Photo Courtesy MIKE JONES ©

Now it is coming home to Kasaan.

The pole, a 53-foot house pole with ties to Haida chief Son-i-Hat (Saanaxeit), will be welcomed back to Kasaan with a ceremony on November 5, according to Organized Village of Kasaan Tribal Chief Mike Jones.

"We are at a time of a new beginning here," Jones said recently. "We have never had anything repatriated to our village before, let alone a massive frontal house pole."

The totem pole was part of more than 200 tons of Haida cultural items that were shipped south in 1906 to take part in a national Indian Crafts Exhibition in Los Angeles. The exhibition was sponsored by California railroad magnate Henry Huntington and featured hundreds of Native Americans from dozens of tribes. It was held at an open space, now Lincoln Park, near downtown Los Angeles.

The totem pole, and the long house that it fronted, were among the highlights of the exhibition. It was featured on a page of the exhibition pamphlet

"Chief Son-i-Hat's house and Totem-Pole, by far the most historic in Alaska, were purchased and brought here at great expense, and form part of the Exhibition," the 1906 pamphlet read. "This Totem-Pole is the first and only one ever sold and taken from Alaska to stay."

The "famous Totem Pole" was also used for advertising flyers that were produced by the Tilton's Trolley Company which offered trolley trips throughout the Los Angeles basin.

Chief Son-i-Hat and several members of his family accompanied the pole and the other items to the exhibition. Despite his age, approximately late 70s, Son-i-Hat remained at the exhibition for about two years. He returned to Kasaan and died in 1912.

Jan Fisher has researched the history of the pole for the "Haida Genealogy" website. She said the pole was connected to a long house called the "Adolescent Girl House" which was dismantled and shipped to California. Fisher says that the entire collection was sold to the exhibition for $1,800 ($66,000 in 2022 dollars) in 1906 and left Kasaan in April on the steamship Alki, arriving in Seattle in early May. It was transferred to the steamer Umatilla where it was taken to San Francisco and then on to Los Angeles.

Along the way, the voyage made news, including in Seattle, where newspapers commented on the Son-i-Hat's age and blindness. Approximately a dozen other Haida acccompanied Son-i-Hat to Los Angeles, according to Fisher.

"By December,  they reassembled the house, raised the pole, and took up residence," Fisher wrote in August, 2022 on the website. "Saanaxeit, according to his son James Peele, stayed in California for about two years staging dances. giving speeches about the ways of the Haida and demonstrating Haida culture."

Fisher said that the images on the pole have been reviewed by Haida carver TJ Young who has identified two watchmen, a bear, a bear cub or frog, raven, a bird and a beaver. She said that carvers are looking forward to examining it in person when it arrives in Kasaan.

It's not clear what happened to the cultural items after the exhibition closed, but Jones believes the pole ended up in the hands of a collector. In 1951, it was found in a lumber yard owned by Joshua Marks, a well-known building constructor who built the famous Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

Native art expert Ralph Altman convinced the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center to acquire the pole.  Jones said the pole was taken to Colorado Springs and put in the center's courtyard where it remained until 2006 when it was taken down to be refurbished. At that point,  the center decided it would be unsafe to put it back up. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

Ketchikan: Governor Announces Judicial Appointment to the Ketchikan District Court - Governor Mike Dunleavy announced last week that Kristian Pickrell was appointed to the Ketchikan District Court.

Pickrell has been an Alaska resident for 24½ years and has practiced law for 17 years.

He graduated from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2004 and is currently an assistant district attorney in Ketchikan.

The Alaska Judicial Council met with applicants on September 1 and announced that Pickrell and one other applicant were nominated to fill the judicial vacancy. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022


Alaska: ACLU OF ALASKA DEMANDS ANSWERS TO DEATHS IN DOC CUSTODY - In response to the record number of deaths of incarcerated Alaskans this year, the ACLU of Alaska formally requested that the Dunleavy Administration initiate an independent investigation into the matter. Friday, the civil rights organization sent a letter to Governor Mike Dunleavy requesting an independent review of the deaths of Alaskans while in DOC custody. The ACLU of Alaska also gathered with community members in a downtown Anchorage peaceful protest Friday afternoon to publicly reenforce the need for this investigation.

In the letter, the ACLU of Alaska wrote to the governor with grave concerns over the fact that 15 people have died while in Department of Corrections (DOC) custody in 2022, the highest number of deaths in custody since 2015.

Quoting the letter written by Mara Kimmel ACLU Alaska Executive Director, "Nine of these 15 people have died since August 4, and the four most recently deceased people were unsentenced and no older than 48. The youngest person to die, Kitty Douglas, was 20 years old and in custody for less than a week." - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

Ketchikan: KIC Proposes Rural Status for Ketchikan Area By Ketchikan Indian Community - In May 2022, Ketchikan Indian Community (KIC) submitted a proposal to the Federal Subsistence Board requesting a change in designation of Ketchikan from urban to rural. This change in Ketchikan’s status would help realize the Tribe’s mission to enhance and protect the interests of its Tribal citizens by increasing access to traditional fish and wildlife. Additionally, rural status would grant subsistence rights to all residents of Ketchikan and support more efficient food collection methods. 

The determination process is a three-year process, starting in 2022, with final determinations made in Spring 2025. In October of 2022, the Regional Advisory Council meets in Ketchikan to consider the proposals before them and hear from members of the public who wish to provide comments. At the conclusion of this meeting, the Regional Advisory Council will determine whether to recommend KIC’s proposal for further consideration by the Federal Subsistence Board.

Currently, the Federal Subsistence Board adheres to a federal-state dual management system for subsistence rights that does not allow differentiation between Alaskan Natives and non-Alaskan Natives for subsistence purposes. 

As the Ketchikan’s Native citizens are striving to live and revive their heritage, Ketchikan Indian Community has been focusing their efforts on ensuring the revival and continuation of “Our Way of Life.” That way of life is directly tied to the Tribe’s ability to hunt, fish, gather and share their traditional foods. This ability is currently hampered by the inappropriate actions of federal agencies that continue to fail to meet their trust responsibilities to the indigenous peoples of this land. 

The Alaska Native Settlement Claims Act of 1971 and the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act of 1980 both demonstrate an expectation that the State of Alaska would uphold a promise to protect and ensure the subsistence needs of Alaska Natives, granting them subsistence priority. Ketchikan’s Tribal citizens have yet to receive sufficient access to their traditional foods so they can sustain themselves and their families throughout the year. Far from fulfilling their obligations, both the state and federal regulations and policies regarding hunting, fishing and gathering, heavily restricts the rights of Ketchikan’s Tribal citizens to safely and efficiently provide for the food needs of their families on their traditional lands. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

 Red King Crab and Snow Crab Declines in 2022

Red King Crab and Snow Crab Declines in 2022; Science behind snow crab and Bristol Bay red king crab stock declines in Alaska in 2022
Red King Crab
Photo courtesy NOAA Fisheries

Alaska: Red King Crab and Snow Crab Declines in 2022; Science behind snow crab and Bristol Bay red king crab stock declines in Alaska in 2022 - NOAA Fisheries, in close coordination with federal and state partners, is responsible for fostering healthy, productive, and sustainable marine fisheries. Their management process is based on science and conducted according to a process outlined in the Magnuson-Stevens Act. All of NOAA Fisheries' stock assessments are subject to a public, transparent, rigorous, peer-review process. 

In a news release today, NOAA Fisheries announced their best available science indicates that the crash of the Bering Sea snow crab stock leading to the fishery closure was related to the 2019 heat wave in the North Pacific. That heat wave as well as earlier heat waves have been attributed to climate change. 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and NOAA Fisheries work together to produce the Bristol Bay red king crab stock assessment in accordance with the co-management agreement outlined in the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Crab Fishery Management Plan.

According to the news release, the red king crab closure in Bristol Bay was related to a continued decline in that stock for many years. The cause of that decline is likely due to a combination of factors and related to continued warming and variability in ocean conditions in Alaska.  - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

Alaska: Governor Dunleavy to Introduce Bill Cracking Down on Illicit Fentanyl, Drug Dealers - Governor Mike Dunleavy today announced that he will present the Legislature with a crime bill next session to target the fentanyl crisis in Alaska. Earlier this year, Governor Dunleavy tasked his Administration with developing strategies to protect Alaskans from the scourge of fentanyl and fentanyl-laced illegal opioids. This announcement is the first part of a holistic approach to combatting this epidemic.

Under Governor Dunleavy’s proposal, if a person dies as a result of ingesting a controlled substance, the individual that sold or distributed that controlled substance can be charged with Murder in the Second Degree (which is an unclassified felony with a sentencing range of 15 – 99 years). Additionally, an individual sentenced to a drug dealing-related crime will have their eligibility for “good time” parole restricted.

“Public safety has and will continue to be our number one priority. These drug dealers are killing Alaskans with illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-laced illicit opioids,” said Governor Dunleavy. “We need to use every tool at our disposal to hold these dealers accountable to the fullest extent possible. By increasing criminal penalties and eliminating good time credit for dealers of illicit drugs, our prosecutors can do better.”

“Given the ongoing damage to our communities caused by illicit drugs and the increased lethality posed by fentanyl,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor. “Justice demands that we adjust criminal penalties accordingly in order to better protect Alaskans.” - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

SitNews Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY JOHNSON

Sunny Day Fog
Alaska Airlines 60 flying over Ketchikan International Airport on 10/07/22 due to fog. The flight was able to make it on on the third try.
SitNews Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY JOHNSON ©2022
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Alaska: Alaska Airlines pilots ratify new collective bargaining agreement - Alaska Airlines pilots, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), voted today to ratify a new three-year contract. The new contract, which has been overwhelmingly supported by their pilots, includes significant improvements including: increased pay, greater flexibility, better benefits and stronger job security.

More than 96% of Alaska's 3,300 pilots voted, and the agreement passed by 82%.

"Our pilots are leaders in our operation," said Alaska Airlines' CEO Ben Minicucci. "While it took some time, I'm glad to have them working under a new contract that values their contributions to Alaska. I'm grateful to our colleagues at ALPA who bargained with determination and a fierce dedication to our pilots. This new contract reiterates what many of us have known for decades: Alaska is a great place to spend a pilot career."

"Our goal was to negotiate an agreement where our pilots could make Alaska Airlines a lifelong career," said Captain Will McQuillen, Chairman of the Alaska Airlines Master Executive Council. "This contract is good for our pilots and their families and also good for our airline."

The new contract, which is effective immediately, includes: - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

Alaska: ALASKA DIVISION OF BANKING AND SECURITIES ISSUES AN INTERIM TEMPORARY CEASE AND DESIST ORDER TO TYCOON TRADING LLC. - The Alaska Division of Banking and Securities (DBS) on October 14, 2022 issued an interim temporary cease and desist order against Tycoon Trading LLC and Garrett Elder. Tycoon Trading LLC, an unregistered firm, and Garrett Elder, an unregistered investment advisor, are alleged to have defrauded Alaskans, engaged in selling unregistered securities, and acted as an investment advisor to Alaskans.

The temporary cease and desist order issued by DBS names Tycoon Trading LLC and salesperson Garrett Elder. According to the order, Elder was acting as an unregistered investment adviser representative due to the fact that Garrett was being compensated for advice related to investing in, purchasing, or selling securities without being properly registered in Alaska.

From 2017 through September 2022, Elder offered and sold securities “in the form of participation in profit sharing agreements, investment contracts, and speculative trading in foreign currencies to Alaska residents through his business Tycoon Trading LLC”. DBS reports the cumulative amount invested by or on behalf of 32 Alaskans was more than $4 million, whose ages ranged from 6 to 63 years old. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

Growing “giant pumpkins” and fish habitat in Petersburg

Growing “giant pumpkins” and fish habitat in Petersburg

Petersburg’s Rock-N-Road Construction had several employees on the East Ohmer Creek restoration project. Pictured is Jode Coil at work. Another equipment operator, Tom Lutton, said that before starting the work, he was a skeptic. “I didn’t really understand it beforehand. After being down in there and seeing exactly what they’re doing, I figured it all out,” he said. “To make pools, make deeper waters for fish to hole up in so they’re not always in the riffles, and just better spawning and habitat for the fish themselves.” Prior to logging and gravel mining in the area, trees fell into the stream naturally, creating those kinds of structures and varied streams that are good for fish.
Photo by Mary Catharine Martin, SalmonState


Southeast Alaska: Growing “giant pumpkins” and fish habitat in Petersburg By MARY CATHARINE MARTIN - At East Ohmer Creek, 22 miles south of Petersburg, Alaska, is a tree believed to be the largest left on Mitkof Island. Forest Service Fish Biologist Eric Castro said foresters estimate the tree, which grew on a once-rich floodplain, is around 600 years old.

“Those giant pumpkins are what used to grow in this type of environment,” Castro said.

That tree stands in contrast to those that have grown around it over the last 60 years, which have reached four to eight inches in diameter - about a tenth what would once have been expected.

Why does the floodplain that grew some of the largest trees left on Mitkof grow stunted trees now? It’s a mystery that, when he first came across it, Forest Service hydrologist Heath Whitacre was determined to get to the bottom of.

After talking to Petersburg old-timers, he learned the reason wasn’t just because the area was clearcut around 60 years ago. It’s because when workers extended Mitkof Highway in the 1950s, they took gravel from the rich soil of the area, depleting the nutrients. This also lowered the ground level to the point it was too close to the water table for trees to grow well. Logging and gravel mining also had negative implications for fish, straightening streams and eliminating or lessening the fallen trees, deep pools and rich back-channel floodplain habitat that can be so productive for rearing salmon fry.

A few years ago, Whitacre, Castro and the Petersburg Ranger District began putting together a project not only to restore fish habitat in East Ohmer Creek, but to gradually replenish soils, restore floodplain flows, and bring the area back to what it was prior to the gravel mining and logging of the 1950s.

“It kind of rights our wrong from the past,” Castro said.

It’s also a project that, while it was completed this summer, has a much longer-term vision.

“Soil formation is a centuries-long process,” Whitacre said.

Big machine, little fish

While the timeline for bettering growing conditions for trees and restoring the area to its former “giant pumpkin” glory may be centuries, fish habitat in the area is already improving. Excavator operator Tom Lutton of Rock-N-Road Construction in Petersburg was a skeptic when he first started working on East Ohmer Creek restoration. By day two, he was a convert. - More....
Monday - October 17, 2022

Columns - Commentary



DAVE KIFFER: The Summer Industry is back, with a 'license.' - A lot of folks seem concerned about whether or not, the tourism industry came back or not.

Even more than the number of people who are concerned about whether or not I will ever NOT end a sentence with the word's "or not."

Anyway, I am getting a lot of questions (or not).

Are the visitor numbers up? Did we have an okay season (not that it is quite over yet)?

Well, not like 2019 when Ketchikan hosted 1.6 trillion visitors in its Grand Canyon sized downtown.

What, you say I am exaggerating? I think not. The second week of June, 2019, I stopped my car to let someone cross Stedman Street. I didn't get moving again until October 3rd. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022


CARL GOLDEN: DEMOCRATS SHOULDN’T FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE MIDTERMS - There is a definite “whistling past the graveyard” vibe in the air surrounding the Nov. 8 Congressional midterm election.

The pursed lips belong to the Democratic Party leadership, who’ve spent the past few weeks confidently predicting their party will not only maintain control of the House of Representatives, but build on their majority.

Their optimism overlooks the long history of midterms – the party of the president loses seats – but ignores the boiling discontent in the country over a punishing rate of inflation that has driven the cost of virtually every commodity to heights not experienced in decades.

Consider this brief sampling:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “We will hold the House by winning more seats.” - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022


FINANCIAL FOCUS: How should you pay for short-term financial goals? Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - As you go through life, you will likely have long- and short-term financial goals. But how will your strategies for meeting your long-term goals differ from those needed for your short-term ones?

If you’re like most people, your biggest long-term goal is achieving a comfortable retirement. And for this goal, a common strategy is putting away money in tax-advantaged retirement vehicles, such as your 401(k) and IRA.

So, how should you go about preparing for shorter-term goals, such as a family vacation, home renovation, wedding or major purchase?

For starters, determine what your goal is, how much you can spend on it and when you’ll need the money. Even if you can’t pinpoint a precise amount, you can develop a good estimate. Of course, the sooner you start this process, the better off you’ll be, because you’ll have more time to save. - More...
Monday PM - October 17, 2022


TAYLOR KOVAR: Ask Taylor: Debt, Emergency Fund, or Retirement? By Taylor J Kovar, CFP® - Hi Taylor - I just got a promotion and it looks like I’ll finally be able to pay my bills and start saving. I still have some credit card debt and also want to start saving for retirement, so I’m wondering—what should I do first?

Hey Elsa - Congrats on the new gig! Sounds like this is a big shift for you. You can start doing a lot of exciting things with your money soon, but let’s make sure you take the right steps in the right order to set yourself up for success. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022


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jpg Opinion

Vote Dan Ortiz for House Representative By Barbara L Bigelow and Richard H. Smith - My spouse (Richard H. Smith) and I write this letter of dedicated support for House Representative Dan Ortiz. Dan has been serving the communities in his district for several years and is what we call a seasoned leader. Others desire to serve, but we choose to put our vote where one leader stands out among others and has an extraordinarily strong record of commitment to the overall best interests of his constituency.

Dan has an incredible record of keeping the communities he represents informed on the issues facing the State Legislature.  Dan writes regularly to the different media outlets, makes himself regularly available for community town halls, and reports on a regular basis to municipal government bodies. 

I am personally aware of many instances where Dan's constituents from all walks of life and political outlooks have reached out to his office in hopes of receiving advocacy for a particular issue or concern.  This was true for Barbara too when Dan co-sponsored HB308, an act relating to dementia and healthcare.

Effective advocacy and knowledge of legislation that support our local communities and their economies is so important.  Such as standing up for the fishing, tourism, and timber industries.   Especially important to island communities is the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) including funding and for the specific issue of making sure our Ferry System resumed regular scheduled service to Prince Rupert, where so many Alaskans dock with their vehicles for intercontinental travel. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

jpg Opinion

DAN ORTIZ ENDORSEMENT FOR ALASKA STATE HOUSE, 2022 By Jim and Mary Lynne Dahl - The upcoming Alaska state election will be critical to the future of our state. As retired financial planners with 25 and 43 years in Ketchikan, we have always taken a broad and long-term view of how to solve problems and plan for a prosperous future. It is for this reason that we will vote for Dan Ortiz for District 1, Alaska State House this coming November.

Dan brings the experience in office that is necessary to get the work done, and most importantly, the integrity to put the interests of the people of Alaska first. As an independent, he can and will work across party lines in order to achieve the maximum benefits for the greatest number of Alaskans.

In times as divisive as the present, we understand that in order to get the work of governing this state done, we need a representative who will listen to our opinions and seek consensus among his elected peers, on our behalf, rather than sticking to a party line and achieving little or nothing. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

jpg Opinion

Actions set an example of civic pride without fanfare By A.M.Johnson - While driving home this afternoon, I witnessed what I have been seeing for the past several months swearing to comment on it. It is the gentleman who is wandering along the streets of Ketchikan picking up trash. I cheered him on silently reflecting on past history of Ketchikan when the court would allow folks arrested for minor issues resulting in short jail time, to acquire a city provided garbage can on wheels and implements, of which they would clear the street gutters much as this apparent volunteer is employing.

My hat is off to him and were there a community award for categories other than the local rich and famous, (said with good humor intent), he should be nominated. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

jpg Opinion

AMHS Season Change Update By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As your state representative, one of the concerns I hear most frequently about is our Alaska Marine Highway System. I am thankful for the educated, vocal, and committed constituency we have here in southern Southeast. Continuing to speak up about what we need from the ferry system is vital.

The Alaska Marine Highway Operations Board hit the ground running when they were created this past year. They’re tasked with providing input on short-term planning, as well as creating a comprehensive long-range plan for development and improvement of the system.

I encourage everyone to look at the work they’re doing and provide feedback. Information about their plan for our ferry system can be found online.

This past summer, the AMHS made trips to Prince Rupert once again. That being said, with the changing season, there will be much less service to and from Prince Rupert this winter. There are hardly any trips scheduled in January. When the draft winter schedule was released, planners heard loud and clear from Southeast that they needed to continue service to Prince Rupert. I will continue to work with the Department of Transportation to keep that route going strong. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

jpg Opinion

RE: Reconciliations took decades to come By A.M.(Al) Johnson - I was a young vestry member of St. Johns during this decision. It was heart rendering, tremulous and yes, it was a fiscal decision, the decision was as I recall, which of the two church buildings would be shuttered. The logical answer was to retain St. Johns in part, to the location. This decision followed the advocation of the then viewed, fiscal condition of the Alaska  Episcopalian diocese's  conditions where funds to maintain the two churches argued with the needs of the over all of the diocese.

As the article by Dave Kiffer stated, Bishop Rowe funded out of his own pocket reflecting the then and even now, short fall of fiscal need.  (Not an excuse, just fact)

What is remembered, there was disappointment and some bitterness with the result.  The vestry keeping in mind the instructions of Bishop Gordon, had little wiggle room in obtaining the end result. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

jpg Opinion

Getting people back into the Ketchikan workforce By Michael Hosley - We here at First City Haven shelter in Ketchikan are reaching out to members of the community to gauge interest in a community work program we are working on to help those who are able and willing to work to reintegrate into the workforce and gain more current work experience.

If you have any interest in or ability to help our organization find ways to get people back into the workforce, such as having employment opportunities or ideas or information that could help us do so please reach out! Any feedback or input is appreciated. - More...
Monday- October 17, 2022

jpg Opinion

November Election Issues By Donald Moskowitz - The upcoming mid-term election and possibly the general election in 2024 could revolve around three major issues ------ internal threats to our democracy, abortion and inflation.

Polls show almost 60% of the U.S. population is concerned with threats to our democracy posed by far right un-American extremists who continue to believe the false narrative put out by Trump that the 2020 election was stolen from him by election officials in states across the country. These allegations were proven false in over 60 court cases presided over by many Trump appointed judges, but this didn't stop Trump's stormtrooper followers from conducting an insurrection on January 6,2021 when they stormed our seat of government.

The partisan U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade abortion case allowing states to implement anti-abortion laws. About 70% of Americans believe women should be allowed to choose to have abortions, and probably a higher percentage believe abortions should be permitted for incest, rape and medical conditions. This issue might be almost as important to Americans as the threats to our democracy. - More...
Monday - October 17, 2022

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Stories in the News
©1997 - 2022
Ketchikan, Alaska

In Memory of SitNews' editor
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