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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
November 27, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By JIM LEWIS

Wintering Over
This Anna's hummingbird was recently photographed at a North Tongass home. Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna) is a medium-sized hummingbird native to the west coast of North America and was named after Anna Masséna, Duchess of Rivoli. This hardy little bird is a permanent resident along the Pacific Coast, staying through the winter in many areas such as Ketchikan where no other hummingbirds are present.
Front Page Feature Photo By JIM LEWIS ©2017

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Southeast Alaska: Canadian Agency Dismisses SEACC's Complaints About KSM Permitting Process By MARY KAUFFMAN - Canada’s National Contact Point (“NCP”) has concluded that a complaint it received from the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council on December 23, 2016, regarding aspects of the environmental assessment review process for Seabridge Gold Inc.’s Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) Project did not merit further examination and its file has now been closed after only the initial assessment level of review.

The National Contact Point issued its statement in response to allegations made by the Juneau-based Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), a Non-Governmental Organization, that Seabridge violated the Guidelines by failing to disclose project documents and engage appropriately with stakeholders in Alaska and that the Company had not exercised sufficient due diligence regarding potential environmental and human rights impacts of the KSM Project. Seabridge received provincial and federal approvals for its KSM Project in northwestern British Columbia in 2014.

Seabridge Chairman and CEO Rudi Fronk stated: “We are pleased that the thoroughness of the federal and provincial joint environmental assessment review process for KSM has been acknowledged and that this complaint has been dismissed. I want to thank the Canada’s National Contact Point for its detailed investigation and reiterate that Seabridge remains committed to continuing engagement with the people of northwestern BC and southeastern Alaska, including Treaty and First Nations, as the KSM Project moves toward development.”

The National Contact Point found that the KSM Project was subject to a rigorous and detailed environmental assessment process by both the federal and provincial governments. In its statement, the NCP reports that in its investigation into the complaint, which commenced in January of 2017, it discovered:

Seabridge had disclosed all of its relevant studies and plans related to the environment;

federal and provincial environmental assessment agencies conducted public consultations; 

evidence that Seabridge had also engaged with Alaskans at multiple points during the environmental assessment process despite no legal requirement to do so;

the federal and provincial environmental assessment review processes included examination of all potential negative impacts and identification of mitigation measures where needed;

evidence that the concerns of stakeholders had been integrated into the environmental assessment process and ultimately had led to important changes in KSM Project design. - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

Southeast Alaska: Ferry Service reduced in Southeast and Service to Prince Rupert Canceled - The Alaska Marine Highway System announced last week that extended repairs needed on the MV Malaspina will change winter ferry service for Southeast Alaska and Prince Rupert. From December 22, 2017 to February 23, 2018, the Columbia and LeConte will cover for the Malaspina.

Most Southeast Alaska communities will receive winter ferry service once a week and service to Prince Rupert is canceled. At the end of February 2018, the Kennicott will return to service to cover for the Malaspina and full ferry service to Southeast Alaska and Prince Rupert will resume.

"We know this is a big impact to communities who rely on ferries for passenger travel and cargo shipments. We rescheduled service to maximize port calls with available vessels and to offer communities full service for spring events like Gold Medal," said Captain John Falvey, Alaska Marine Highway General Manager. "We're disappointed and trying to make the best of it for passengers."

The Malaspina went in for its annual overhaul and certification on October 1, 2017 and was scheduled to return to service on December 22, 2017. During the overhaul, engineers determined that extensive steel replacement was needed and that both propeller hubs must be repaired. Because shipyard space is limited and propeller hubs will take several months to complete, the vessel is now scheduled to return to service in late spring. - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

Bill Signed Into Law Toughening Up Penalties for Theft and Other Crimes By MARY KAUFFMAN - Governor Bill Walker signed into law Senate Bill 54, the majority of which took effect at 12:01 a.m. today.

"The passage of SB 54 helps to build a Safer Alaska," Governor Walker said. "While some portions of the legislation may need to be addressed by the court system, this law is an important first step in returning some important tools to the law enforcement community."

“Senate Bill 54 does many good things, including toughening up penalties for theft and other crimes that are making Alaskans feels less safe in their homes and businesses. The bill gives law enforcement many of the tools they asked for to respond to the current crime-wave, and it sends a clear message that criminal behavior in Alaska will not go unpunished,” said Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham).

Edgmon said, “I, like many of my colleagues, am troubled by the bill’s Constitutional issue, which the Legislature could have remedied had the Senate been willing to convene a conference committee. We now hope that the court system will be able to address the issue as quickly as possible without the need for another crime bill in the next legislative session.”

However, according to Representative Lora Reinbold (R- Eagle River, the Alaska Department of Law has stated that the arguments raised against SB 54, have already been defeated through past litigation, therefore the state would prevail if any unnecessary, frivolous constitutional challenges are forthcoming.

For more than a week the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska had been stirring up talk that a single amendment, put forward by Rep. Reinbold to increase penalties for Class C Felons (like those who steal vehicles, a firearm or sexually assault a minor in the third degree), should prevent SB 54 from becoming law. Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon released a statement echoing the ACLU.

Reinbold said earlier that it was clear now what was standing between SB 54 becoming law is the ACLU and the Speaker of the House, not his amendment. Reinbold said SB 54 needed to be signed without delay for it gives important tools back to prosecutors and law enforcement to hold criminals more accountable.

Reinbold said since the Alaska Senate adopted the House version of SB 54, the Speaker of the House dug in his heels against progression of the bill by holding unofficial House Floor sessions with the fantasy that work would resume on the bill. Edgmon's actions were supposedly tied to this idea that SB 54 was flawed but with these recent comments from the Department of Law said Reinbold, it’s clear there is no reason for him to have drug out the special session.

Below are highlights of five major points in SB 54: - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017



Fish Factor: Farmed Salmon Saves Wild Salmon Push is Misplaced By LAINE WELCH - Recurring news headlines that have widely circulated about alarming declines of Pacific salmon have spawned a savvy new marketing strategy that tells consumers they can help save wild fish by eating farmed.

Earlier this year actor Leonardo DiCaprio invested in a company called LoveTheWild  (“a champion of sustainable, delicious fish”) which is promoting its oven-ready farmed fish dishes to U.S. supermarkets. 

“With LoveTheWild, we sought to create healthy and easy-to-prepare meals that people can feel good about – both in terms of how the fish is raised and how it tastes,” CEO Jacqueline Claudia told SeafoodSource news. 

The Denver-based company has now partnered with Amazon-owned Whole Foods Markets to sell its frozen fish dinner kits in more than 400 stores. (The dinners include Salmon with Coconut Red Curry, which features farmed fish from Norway.) Meanwhile, an investment fund called Aqua-Spark is backing LoveTheWild with $2.5 million to help them ramp up social media and marketing outreach to tempt consumers to opt for farmed fish at more than 6,000 supermarkets over five years.

“The exploitation of our oceans has left many marine ecosystems on the brink of total collapse, and LoveTheWild is empowering people to take action on the crisis in a meaningful way,” DiCaprio said in a People Magazine splash earlier this year. 

In terms of salmon, “that is very misconstrued and quite frankly, wrong,” responded Michael Kohan, Seafood Technical Director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “Farmed production is in a completely different arena. It has no basis in terms of a consumer’s decision making whether or not to choose a wild or a farmed product at the supermarket.”

“Alaska’s science-based management is a model of sustainability for other fisheries around the world,” she added. 

Andy Wink, senior fisheries economist with the McDowell Group, said the “farmed saves wild push” is misplaced.

“Their heart might be in the right place, but I don’t think they are thinking it through,” he said. “They forget that the fisheries they are trying to protect are just a very small portion compared to all the fish that are caught in Alaska. If you’re worried about that, just buy fish from a responsible fishery. Then you’re voting with your dollar to support those who are doing things right.”

The economic importance of supporting sustainable fisheries gets lost in the farmed fish message, Kohan pointed out.

“Alaska’s fisheries support over 60,000 jobs,” she said. “We have a huge community of people who rely on consumers eating wild fish to support their livelihood. You support wild fish by eating wild fish.” - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017


Columns - Commentary


jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Identify Theft Calling - Ring, ring.

"Hello, this is Tom."

"Hi, Tom, I called to thank you."

"Thank me?"

"Do you remember the data breach at the credit-rating agency Equifax last summer? You were among the 143 million people whose personal data were compromised."

"I was?"

"That's right. I gained access to your Social Security number, driver's license number and credit card accounts."

"Who are you?"

"Your worst nightmare, Tom. Using your personal information, I opened credit card accounts that funded a spending spree - thousands of dollars, in your name. Cancun is especially relaxing with you footing the bill."

"You dirty rat."

"It gets worse, Tom. With your personal information, I located your online bank accounts and drew out all your cash."

"My bank accounts are password-protected!"

"Good one, Tom. It took less than a minute to crack your code. Only a fool would use '123456,' the worst password for several years running, according to PCWorld. What a rush it was to gamble your savings away in Vegas!"

"You lousy son of a - "

"I'd also like to thank you for the big fat tax refund. I filed a return in your name. Your fraudulent refund covered my entire tour of Europe!"

"You won't get away with this, fraudster."

"Regrettably, Tom, it is you who won't get away with what I did. I committed dozens of felonies using your driver's license, which I forged. Skipping out on hotel bills was one of my favorites. The cops will be calling!"

"I'll sue to get my good name back!"

"That's a laugh, Tom. Few people have the time or money to hire expensive lawyers to sue big companies like Equifax. As for me, after I'm done pretending to be you, I'll disappear." - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

jpg Political Cartoon: GOP tax overhaul plan

Political Cartoon: GOP tax overhaul plan
By Dave Granlund ©2017, Politicalcartoons.com
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

Easy to take money from those who have sacrificed, planned and worked By Jerry Cegelske - Ghert Abbott's letter to Sitnews on November 21st stated that the solution to the Alaska fiscal problem is to heavily tax the investment income from the “rich” people. A problem I have with his solution is the government is the entity which defines the term “rich” or economically advantaged. It is easy for government to lower the definition of rich so that the numerous middle class and lower taxpayers end up paying the bill. Government has an unlimited power to take from people and an unlimited ability to spend more than they should. - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The GOP’s Malevolent Tax Proposals By Garrett Abbott - It is impossible to fully convey the sheer, unbridled malevolence of the GOP tax plans currently being rushed through Congress. In order to pay for permanent corporate tax cuts which will predominately benefit the super-rich, working and middle class Americans will receive a permanent tax increase. At first this tax increase will be masked by temporary tax cuts, but once all the temporary cuts expire 50% of Americans will find themselves with a higher tax bill. These permanent tax increases will be particularly concentrated on households earning below $75,000 a year. The GOP’s tax plan will thus redistribute wealth upwards, increasing the tax burden of ordinary Americans while decreasing the taxes paid by the extremely wealthy. But the costs of paying for these corporate tax cuts won’t stop there. - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Open Letter: Thank You By Alannah Hurley Dear Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission, On behalf of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay (UTBB), I would like to thank you for standing in unity with the people of Bristol Bay. The letter from your tribe urging the EPA to finalize protections for our watershed and Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Alutiiq way of life is a great help to our efforts. Like many in your region, our tribal members still live a traditional way of life in balance with our pristine lands and waters. The health of our watershed is directly connected to the health and well-being of our people and the continuation of our cultures, we thank you again for helping us work to protect this connection for future generations. - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

“YOU WHO HATE” By David G Hanger - When next you choose to rant on a subject, Mr. Tim Livingston, I would suggest you at least understand what the subject is lest you again appear as stupid as you do in this instance. The term “plausible deniability” is technically a legal term for a method or action frequently used by extreme right-wing politicians in an effort to advance their agenda of lies, deceit, and ironclad control. In its more pedestrian utilization we have the denials and semi-denials of such as Menendez and Franken, but as refined political utility it is a right-wing phenomenon first developed by Goebbels, and more recently re- invigorated by the likes of Karl Rove. - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The Republican Tax Plan: Tax Cuts for the Rich, Higher Medical Expenses for Everyone Else By Ghert Abbott - Just when we think we’re out, they pull us back in. The Republican Congress is launching yet another assault on the healthcare gains created by the Affordable Care Act, albeit one that is somewhat sneakier and less direct than the last five attempts. Instead of wholesale repeal of the ACA, Congressional Republicans are merely seeking to eliminate the individual mandate while also financially undermining Medicaid/Medicare and removing the medical expenses deduction from the tax code. By these methods Congressional Republicans hope to partly achieve the up till now frustrated goal of ACA repeal: gut healthcare and use the savings to give ever greater tax cuts to the super rich and large corporations. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 21, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The Reality of the Existence of God By Tim Livingston - For some, the presence of egregious acts of evil in the world convinces them it is impossible for there to be God. It is these same people who tend to classify moral lapses into two distinct categories, one reserved for those who commit the most abhorrent crimes, and the other for the rest of society who fail to honor the speed limit or merely cheat a little on their taxes. Their focus on the presence of the worst travesties allows them to assuage their own guilt when it comes to their ‘small’ wrongdoings which they believe pale in comparison to murder, rape, and other acts of violence. “It is the other guy who must be brought to justice and punished for his crime.” - More...
Tuesday PM - November 21, 2017

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

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