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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

November 13, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By JAMES (JIM) LEWIS

Northern Pygmy-Owl
Photographed along the Coast Guard Beach Trail, located approximately 13 miles north of Ketchikan in the Clover Pass area.
Front Page Feature Photo By JAMES (JIM) LEWIS ©2018

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Southeast Alaska: B.C. Government Issues Request for Plans to Remediate Tulsequah Chief Mine - On November 6 the British Columbia (B.C.) government issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) “for the development of a Remediation Plan that will enable the mitigation of contamination from the Tulsequah Chief Mine.”

“It’s encouraging to see the B.C. government moving to take over responsibility for the mine,” said Chris Zimmer, Alaska Campaign Director for Rivers Without Borders. “Two companies have gone bankrupt trying to re-open this mine, both leaving a significant acid mine drainage problem in the Taku watershed, the transboundary region’s top salmon producer. Permanent mine closure with full reclamation would be the best and most cost-effective solution to the Tulsequah Chief issue and we urge the B.C. government to adopt such a plan, as opposed to partial interim measures such as on-site water treatment.”  

This move by British Columbia comes about a month after bankrupt mine owner Chieftain Metals and its main creditor West Face Capital missed yet another deadline on October 8 when they failed to provide a  revised mine cleanup plan for the abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine to B.C. West Face did provide a cleanup plan in September but it lacked timelines, costs and a plan to deal with the large amount of toxic sludge produced by water treatment.  B.C. found the plan inadequate and ordered a new one.  Neither West Face nor Chieftain Metals is now expected to submit an adequate new cleanup and remediation plan.

“The original West Face plan was lacking in three major areas and B.C. was right to reject it. Given the failure by Chieftain, and its predecessor Redfern, to conduct any successful cleanup efforts, it’s good to see B.C. taking the first steps toward taking on responsibility for mine remediation,” said Zimmer. “Tulsequah Chief simply isn’t a viable mine, and it’s encouraging to finally see  B.C. stepping in to take over responsibility, rather than hoping for a mining company to re-open the mine and clean it up.”

Recently the Douglas Indian Association (DIA), the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) and the Governor of Alaska have written letters expressing frustration with delays and demanding that B.C. ensure a prompt and complete mine cleanup.  - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2018

Alaska: State report compiles Alaska’s drug overdose data from 2013-2017 - The Alaska Division of Public Health Section of Health Analytics & Vital Records and the Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention within the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services released the 2017 Drug Overdose Mortality Update today, examining all drug overdose deaths using Alaska mortality data through 2017.

DHSS had earlier released a brief preliminary report for opioid overdose mortalities through June of 2018, showing a decline in opioid overdose deaths during the first half of this year. The new report provides updated data for all drug overdose mortalities, not just opioid overdoses, based on data from 2013 through the end of 2017.

Mirroring national trends, the new report shows an overall increase in overdose deaths between 2013 and 2017. In 2017, Alaska’s age adjusted overdose death rate reached the highest level for Alaska in 10 years, at 19.3 deaths per 100,000 people. Between 2013 and 2016 (the most recent year for which national data are available), overdose deaths increased by 43.5 percent nationwide; during that same period, rates increased by 21.1 percent in Alaska.

The data show trends in overdose mortality for various classes of drugs. Use of methamphetamine (classified as a psychostimulant) and fentanyl (a very potent opioid analgesic/pain reliever) were on the rise in Alaska during the period, with overdose deaths related to these two drugs more than doubling since 2013.

Overdose deaths increasingly involve more than one substance. Of the 620 drug overdose deaths that occurred in Alaska over the last five years, a quarter involved alcohol, approximately 17 percent involved a combination of opioid analgesic/pain relievers and sedatives like benzodiazepines, while 11 percent involved a combination of opioid analgesic/pain relievers and psychostimulants like methamphetamines. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2018


Alaska: Rising economic confidence one signal Alaska's recession might be ending - According to the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development, Alaskans are optimistic about Alaska's economic future.

While Alaskans have tepid feelings about the current state of the economy, optimism about the future is growing says the Alaska Dept. of Commerce. The Alaska Confidence Index (ACI) readings have been up and down on a quarter-to-quarter basis this year, but the overall trend has been positive since the first quarter of 2017. While it is still unclear when and how the economy might return to where it was in 2015, rising economic confidence is one signal that the recession might be ending.

However, continued job losses and the recent election uncertainty contributed to a decrease in Alaskans’ confidence about current economic conditions. (The third quarter survey was conducted before Governor Walker suspended his reelection campaign.) Confidence in the current state and local economies, as well as respondents’ personal

However, continued job losses and election uncertainty contributed to a decrease in Alaskans’ confidence about current economic conditions. (The third quarter survey was conducted before Governor Walker suspended his reelection campaign.)

Confidence in the current state and local economies, as well as respondents’ personal financial situations, was down from the second quarter, leading to an overall Alaska Confidence Index reading one point lower than the previous quarter.

According to the Alaska Division of Economic Development, the latest ACI shows increased confidence over the previous quarter in the future of local economies and personal financial situations. Strong oil prices and hints at the end of the recession are possible drivers of confidence in the future. The reading for the current state economy was unchanged. All three components were considerably higher in the third quarter of 2018 than the same quarter last year. - More...
Tuesday PM - Novermber 13, 2018

Alaska: Alaska sues BLM over title to more land beneath Fortymile River - The State of Alaska filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management last week, asserting ownership of the submerged lands beneath the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Fortymile River. This lawsuit comes on the heels of other successful efforts to confirm the State’s ownership of navigable waterways across the State.

The Fortymile River is a 60-mile tributary of the Yukon River in the state of Alaska and the Canadian territory of Yukon. The Middle Fork and North Fork of the Fortymile River is located in the Fairbanks census area.

“Unlike many other areas in the U.S., Alaska’s waterways are very much still used as highways,” said Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. “It’s important that this access be maintained for the public and that the federal government recognize the State’s ownership.”

Starting with the federal government’s disclaimer of interest in the Mosquito Fork of the Fortymile River, the State has successfully challenged the federal government’s failure to recognize the State’s ownership and management of the submerged lands beneath Alaska’s navigable waterways. 

“Mosquito Fork was a long fought battle that finally resulted in a win for the State when BLM suddenly disclaimed its interest in the river on the eve of trial,” said Assistant Attorney General Jessie Alloway. “These cases take an enormous amount of research and evidence to prove navigability, and DNR has done an excellent job of making the case for state ownership.” - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2018

Alaska - Americas: DNA of world's oldest natural mummy unlocks secrets of Ice Age tribes in the Americas - A legal battle over a 10,600 year old ancient skeleton - called the 'Spirit Cave Mummy' - has ended after advanced DNA sequencing found it was related to a Native American tribe. 

The revelation has been published in Sciencetoday (Thursday, November 8 at 14:00 US Eastern Time) as part of a wide ranging international study that genetically analysed the DNA of a series of famous and controversial ancient remains across North and South America including Spirit Cave, the Lovelock skeletons, the Lagoa Santa remains, an Inca mummy, and the oldest remains in Chilean Patagonia. The study also looked at the second oldest human remains from Trail Creek Cave in Alaska - a 9,000 year old milk tooth from a young girl. 

Scientists sequenced 15 ancient genomes spanning from Alaska to Patagonia and were able to track the movements of the first humans as they spread across the Americas at "astonishing" speed during the Ice Age, and also how they interacted with each other in the following millennia.

The team of academics not only discovered that the Spirit Cave remains - the world's oldest natural mummy - was a Native American but they were able to dismiss a longstanding theory that a group called Paleoamericans existed in North America before Native Americans. 

The ground-breaking research also discovered clues of a puzzling Australasian genetic signal in the 10,400 year old Lagoa Santa remains from Brazil revealing a previously unknown group of early South Americans - but the Australasian link left no genetic trace in North America. It was described by one of the scientists as 'extraordinary evidence of an extraordinary chapter in human history'. 

Professor Eske Willeslev, who holds positions both at St John's College, University of Cambridge, and the University of Copenhagen, and led the study, said: "Spirit Cave and Lagoa Santa were very controversial because they were identified as so-called 'Paleoamericans' based on craniometry - it was determined that the shape of their skulls was different to current day Native Americans. Our study proves that Spirit Cave and Lagoa Santa were actually genetically closer to contemporary Native Americans than to any other ancient or contemporary group sequenced to date."

The Lagoa Santa remains were retrieved by Danish explorer Peter W. Lund in the 19th century and his work led to this 'Paleoamerican hypothesis' based on cranial morphology that theorised the famous group of skeletons could not be Native Americans. But this new study disproves that theory and the findings were launched under embargo by Professor Willeslev with representatives from the Brazilian National Museum in Rio on Tuesday, November 6 2018.

He added: "Looking at the bumps and shapes of a head does not help you understand the true genetic ancestry of a population - we have proved that you can have people who look very different but are closely related."

The scientific and cultural significance of the Spirit Cave remains, which were found in 1940 in a small rocky alcove in the Great Basin Desert, was not properly understood for 50 years. The preserved remains of the man in his forties were initially believed to be between 1,500 and 2000 years old, but during the 1990s new textile and hair testing dated the skeleton at 10,600 years old.

The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, a group of Native Americans based in Nevada near Spirit Cave, claimed cultural affiliation with the skeleton and requested immediate repatriation of the remains under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2018



TOM PURCELL: Effective Wit a Dying Art in Politics - Among today's most regrettable trends is the dying art of effective humor and satire in politics.

During 1984's second debate between President Reagan and Democratic nominee Walter Mondale, moderators rightfully asked Reagan, then 73, if he had enough stamina to carry out his duties.

Reagan answered, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

Nearly everyone, even Mondale, laughed. Reagan's humor reassured America that he had his wits about him. He defeated Mondale in a landslide.

Humor, well executed, is a powerful thing.

A well-designed joke can cut to the heart of the matter better than any speech or law or government policy - slicing through political divisions and uplifting and uniting us like no other form of communication.

The art of political humor is faring poorly of late. No longer are we seeing the stylish political barb.

President Lincoln, possibly the best-spoken American politician ever, cut one opponent to the quick by saying, "He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met." - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2018

JOHN L. MICEK: Spending My Childhood With Stan Lee - On Sunday afternoons in the late 1970s and early 1980s, long after 11 a.m. mass had finished, my cousin and I would head down the street to a little convenience store, hard against the Berlin Turnpike, that sold milk, bread, snacks, sundries, and, most important of all - comic books.

We'd let ourselves in, the bell hanging on top of the door jingling, the traffic still echoing in our ears in the brisk snap of a New England fall, and head for the spinning rack where four-color heroes on newsprint pulled us in with gravitational force.

Our prizes collected, we'd pay, and head back for an afternoon of heavy reading, passing the books between us until the sun hung low in the sky and our parents were beckoning from the front door, the cars warming in the driveway.

I'd read the Marvel titles and pretend I liked them. In truth, it was mostly to humor my cousin. I was a DC kid through and through.

Then one Saturday afternoon, I discovered a copy of a paperback collection called "Origins of Marvel Comics." It was pretty much what it sounded like: An omnibus reprint of the origin stories of "The Fantastic Four," "The Hulk," "Spider-Man," "Thor," and the mysterious "Dr. Strange."

I finally understood the human-level dramas of the dysfunctional "Fantastic Four." The dangers of the nuclear age, and the Cold War, then still very real, were driven home in the tragedy of "The Hulk." Thor's pseudo-Chaucerian dialogue was preposterous, but I loved it anyway. The ostracization "The X-Men" endured was a metaphor for every repressed minority, a reminder of how easy it is to hate and fear someone or something you don't understand. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Gallant Firefighters

Political Cartoon: Gallant Firefighters
By Jeff Koterba ©2018, Omaha World Herald, NE
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

In observance of Veterans' Day By Rep. Dan Ortiz - This year marks the 100th year since the end of World War I. The guns fell silent on the Western Front in Europe, and the armistice with Germany had come into effect. Over nine million soldiers were killed in World War I, and an additional twenty-one million were wounded. After more than four years of warfare marked the highest casualty counts in modern warfare, the fighting stopped.

Armistice Day later became known as Veteran’s Day, when Americans take time to reflect on the myriad of sacrifices made by our soldiers. As we celebrate the long weekend, let us remember what we are observing: Veteran’s Day. It is a time for Americans to remember the sacrifices made by those who have served our great country in the United States Armed Forces. - More...
Friday PM - November 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Proposed Distillery at The Old Firehouse By Shauna Lee - Finally, after a long period of stagnation, I’ve seen the spark of change here in Ketchikan and it’s made me feel quite optimistic about our future. Businesses like Nibliks, SoHo Coho, Chinook and Company and Ketchikan Dry Goods have brought new life into the downtown core with their updated design aesthetic and merchandise that encourages our local dollars to stay local. Venues like the New York Café, the Bawden Street Brewery and the Fish House have brought us new menu offerings and the opportunity to eat, drink and be merry right here in our hometown. It’s an exciting time for the First City and I feel like we are on the precipice of a new era where we leave old outdated ideas behind and embrace what our future could be. So how do we keep this momentum going?

As a business person I have learned over the years that I am more successful when I reach out to other local businesses and organizations. Working with my fellow colleagues rather than against them, has been a recipe for success. I want to help other companies become successful because when their boat rises, I get to ride the same high tide. That is why I want to encourage the City of Ketchikan to support the proposed distillery at the old Ketchikan Fire Department location. - More...
Friday PM - November 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Lone Independent By Austin Otos - With the 2018 state elections coming to a close, the Alaska State House District 36 chose, yet again, an unaffiliated candidate to represent them in the state congress. For three consecutive terms, Dan Ortiz has inched out his opponents ranging from a well-connected political staffer, to a longstanding Ketchikan city council member, and finally our districts local republican chairman. Going into the 2018 Alaska state house, Ortiz will be the only unaffiliated representative in a sea of red and a pond of blue. The Republican running on restoring a full permanent fund dividend and reforming local property tax contributions to the state wasn’t enough to persuade voters of District 36. What mattered to voters more were the candidate’s actions such as door-to-door engagement, one-on-one personal communication, and community outreach.

Our brand of independence is an anomaly distinctly found amongst the residents who inhabit southeast Alaska. Being geographically isolated to islands and limited in resources, residents of southeast must work creatively together in order to accomplish community goals. I truly believe that partisan politics and blind party affiliation disrupts representation, siphoning individuals into two polarized groups. - More...
Friday PM - November 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

100 Years After WWI Ended By Donald and Elizabeth Moskowitz - WWI ended on November 11, 1918. In commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the end of WWI my wife, Elizabeth Ann (Jones) Moskowitz, and myself, wish to acknowledge the service of WWI marines Alton Christmas Jones (wife's father) and William Howard Jones (wife's uncle) who fought in France and Belgium during September 1918 to November 1918.  

They fought in many WWI battles, including Belleau Wood, the Verdun operations, Aisne-Marne Offensive, Meuse-Argonne Offensive, St. Mihiel Offensive, and the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge. William Howard received the French Croix de Guerre and the U.S. Silver Star for his service at Blanc Mont Ridge, France on October 3, 1918. The Silver Star award stated "by lying down in the middle of the road using his automatic pistol so effective that he staid the enemy counter attack until remainder of group could get in line." - More...
Friday PM - November 09, 2018

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