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November 26, 2019

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Alaska - National: National Strategy to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Launched; Today, President signs an executive order to create a taskforce to help address the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women By MARY KAUFFMAN - - Attorney General William P. Barr launched a national strategy Friday to address missing and murdered Native Americans.  The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Initiative places MMIP coordinators in 11 U.S. Attorney’s offices who will develop protocols for a more coordinated law enforcement response to missing cases.  The plan also calls for the deployment of the FBI’s most advanced response capabilities when needed, improved data collection and analysis, and training to support local response efforts.  

Attorney General Barr made the announcement during a visit to the Flathead Reservation in Montana, home of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).  In addition, the Attorney General met with the CSKT MMIP working group and the CSKT Tribal Council.  He was joined by U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme, vice chair of the Attorney General’s Native American Issues Subcommittee (NAIS), whose office has been in the forefront of this issue. 

In welcoming Barr to Montana Friday, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Chairman Ronald Trahan said, “We’re honored to host Attorney General William Barr to the homeland of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.” Trahan said, “There are many issues we’d like to discuss including one that is particularly important, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons efforts.  Knowing that Attorney General Barr is working to secure the safety of our people brings us comfort in the face of a challenging issue.”

“American Indian and Alaska Native people suffer from unacceptable and disproportionately high levels of violence, which can have lasting impacts on families and communities.  Native American women face particularly high rates of violence, with at least half suffering sexual or intimate-partner violence in their lifetime.  Too many of these families have experienced the loss of loved ones who went missing or were murdered,” said Attorney General Barr.  “This important initiative will further strengthen the federal, state, and tribal law enforcement response to these continuing problems.” 

“The FBI recognizes the violence that tribal communities face and is fully committed to working with our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to provide support to those impacted by these crimes,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.  “We are dedicated to delivering justice and to the FBI’s mission to protect all the people we serve.  We reaffirm our focus on allocating resources to serve Native American needs.”

Chief Research Officer of Seattle Indian Health Board and director of its research division, Urban Indian Health Institute Echo-Hawk said, “MMIWG is a non-partisan issue because it is simply about the safety of women. We support our tribal partners and believe this federal task force has the potential to have an impact on reservations, but I urge that urban Indians have a voice within it. Our MMIWG report showed that the crisis extends beyond reservations and into urban cities across the country, which is where more than 70 percent of the American Indian and Alaska Native population reside.

Echo-Hawk said, "This action is a step in the right direction, but we look forward to seeing additional steps that are inclusive of urban Indian people.” 

“Addressing the crisis of missing, trafficked, and murdered Indigenous women has been a high priority of mine in the Senate. I applaud the administration for this announcement and for making proactive, directed initiatives to improve the federal response to this epidemic. I was glad to host Attorney General Barr and his team in Alaska to show him first-hand the role that the lack of public safety plays in this heartbreaking epidemic. The urgency and attention he has placed on this issue is truly critical,” said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). 

Murkowski said, “Understanding the extent of the problem and how we implement solutions is imperative. With the Senate Indian Affairs Committee advancing Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act this week, coupled with this announcement today, we are showing women across the nation, and those who love them, that we will not sit idly by as our sisters, our mothers, our neighbors, and our friends continue to go missing - that we are with them in this fight.”

The initiative mirrors much of the efforts of Savanna’s Act, legislation introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and cosponsored by Sullivan. Murkowski’s legislation was incorporated into the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that was introduced by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Sullivan earlier last week. 

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) also praised U.S. Attorney General Barr’s announcement Friday of a new national strategy to address missing and murdered Native Americans.

“No U.S. attorney general in history has shown greater commitment to the safety and well-being of indigenous people in Alaska than Bill Barr,” said Senator Sullivan. “The initiatives being undertaken and support being offered by Attorney General Barr and the Trump Justice Department are simply unprecedented. I believe his meetings with Alaska tribal leaders and visits to some of our most challenged villages this summer had a lasting impact on the attorney general. He is clearly determined to put the full weight of the federal government behind addressing the lack of justice for missing indigenous persons and safety in many rural communities. I want to thank Attorney General Barr for launching this comprehensive missing persons initiative that can bring hope to so many Alaskans who’ve mourned the loss of loved ones without answers and without justice being served.”

“American Indian and Alaska Native people suffer from unacceptable and disproportionately high levels of violence, which can have lasting impacts on families and communities. Native American women face particularly high rates of violence, with at least half suffering sexual or intimate-partner violence in their lifetime. Too many of these families have experienced the loss of loved ones who went missing or were murdered,” said Attorney General Barr. “This important initiative will further strengthen the federal, state, and tribal law enforcement response to these continuing problems.”

The launch of the MMIP Initiative comes just one month after Attorney General Barr’s announcement at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, in Fairbanks, of $42 million for Alaska Native tribes, tribal consortiums, and shelters to increase law enforcement presence and improve public safety in the state’s rural communities, with an additional $7 million being sent to the Denali Commission to tackle this issue in the form of micro-grants. And, in June, Barr declared a law enforcement emergency for rural Alaska following his visit to a number of communities. Barr’s emergency declaration provided another $10.5 million in resources dedicated to training and equipping rural law enforcement officers, acquiring mobile holding cells, and funding 20 officer positions. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019


Alaska: PFD Scheduled To Be Paid Before Lawsuit Was Filed – Governor Michael J. Dunleavy, Attorney General Kevin Clarkson and the other defendants were unaware of any denial of a permanent fund dividend based on the same-sex marital status of an applicant, until they read the stories in the press yesterday. The governor immediately asked his staff, in consultation with the Department of Law and the Department of Revenue, to begin looking into the incident to determine what occurred and how to fix it. What his staff discovered is that the issue had already been remedied and the plaintiff’s attorney had been notified before the lawsuit was filed. The PFD Division is in the process of updating its manual to ensure this inadvertent mistake does not happen again.

“I was only made aware of this yesterday,” said Governor Dunleavy. “I immediately wanted to get to the bottom of it. The PFD should go to all eligible Alaskans regardless of their marital status. We are examining our regulations and processes to ensure those who are qualified get their PFD.”

According to the Department of Revenue, the PFD division recognizes same-sex spouses.  Individual’s spouses who are living out of the state for allowable reasons will be paid under AS 43.23.008(13): “accompanying another eligible resident who is absent for a reason permitted…as the spouse, minor dependent, or disabled dependent of the eligible resident.” A question had been raised this summer based on the Division’s Statutes and Regulations Booklet that still included the requirement from statute that same-sex marriages are not recognized—mirroring the Alaska Constitution’s definition of marriage that was struck down by the court as unconstitutional in 2015. The applications that could have been denied based on this statute were supposed to be put on hold, while the PFD Division sought advice from the Department of Law to ensure it was properly complying with the law. However, Denali Smith’s application inadvertently was denied instead of being placed on hold. The Division remedied this denial in October, following legal advice that the statute was unconstitutional and should not be enforced. Early in November, the Division communicated to the applicant and her attorney that she was eligible to be paid a PFD.

“No one disagrees that the denial letter never should have been sent,” said Attorney General Kevin G. Clarkson. “But the Division promptly remedied the action once it figured out its mistake. As an attorney, I am appalled that Ms. Shortell would file a false lawsuit knowing full well that the Division had already changed course and had in fact informed her that her client’s dividend was scheduled for payment before the lawsuit was filed. Attorneys have an ethical duty to not file false factual statements with a court.” - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

Alaska: New bill would prevent DOC from shipping inmates to out-of-state prisons – State lawmakers are pushing back against the Dunleavy Administration’s effort to send Alaska inmates to private prisons in the Lower 48.

New legislation sponsored by Rep. Zack Fields (D-Anchorage) would remove the ability of the Department of Corrections commissioner to incarcerate prisoners in out-of-state facilities, unless the move is needed for medical reasons or to place a prisoner closer to family. Transfer for trial or extradition would still be allowed.  

This proposal is necessary because – even after the House Finance Committee did everything in its power to direct funding toward in-state facilities such as the Palmer Correctional Center – the governor refused to open existing facilities here and instead moved forward with an effort to ship inmates out-of-state. 

"We need to keep Alaska safe, not import dangerous gangs from Outside,” said Representative Fields, a co-chair of the House State Affairs Committee. 

“Prisoners sent out of state to serve their sentences will return home to Alaska,” said one co-sponsor of the bill, Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan).

Ortiz said, “We learned from the state’s past decision to house prisoners in the Lower 48 that they return all too often as hardened criminals, something that has contributed to our state’s prolific struggle with violent crime.” - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

November 30th Earthquake was Alaska’s Largest Natural Disaster Since 1964 Good Friday Quake

November 30th Earthquake was Alaska’s Largest Natural Disaster Since 1964 Good Friday Quake
Lateral spreading disruptured Vine Road near Wasilla. Many failures of engineered materials occurred on or adjacent to saturated lowlands filled with organic sediment, silt, or sand.
Photo By Rob Witter, USGS


Alaska: November 30th Earthquake was Alaska’s Largest Natural Disaster Since 1964 Good Friday Quake – The Nov. 30, 2018 Earthquake was Alaska’s largest natural disaster since the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. The 7.1 earthquake shook Alaska’s most densely populated area in South Central Alaska and caused damage to homes, roads, public buildings, utilities, and other critical infrastructure. State and Federal Disaster Declarations activated disaster recovery programs.  More than $130 million in state and federal Disaster Recovery Assistance has been provided to Alaskans impacted by the earthquake. The earthquake's epicenter was near Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, about 10 miles north of Anchorage, and occurred at a depth of 29 miles.

“This earthquake caused significant damages over a vast geographic area. The State of Alaska worked closely with FEMA to ensure that each and every disaster recovery program delivered the maximum amount of assistance possible,” said Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Mike Sutton. “This was the largest disaster the State of Alaska has encountered since the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake.”

In total, 4,333 individuals and households received assistance under the Individual and Household Program (IHP). FEMA approved more than $26.2 million under IHP and the Small Business Administration provided nearly $72.9 million in loans. More than $31.7 million has been approved, or set aside for, loans to small businesses, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding, and Public Assistance grants to repair critical infrastructure.

“While the damage was widespread, we did not suffer a single death or major injury from the earthquake. For that we are extremely grateful,” said Sutton. “Building standards, emergency preparedness, and Alaskan resiliency all contributed to lives saved. However, Alaskans cannot be complacent. The next big earthquake could happen at any time. We must always strive to prepare for the next big disaster.” - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

Alaska: Troopers Launch Thanksgiving Enforcement Campaign; Holiday enforcement will focus on safe seatbelt usage, impaired driving, and other safety hazards.  – The Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers will conduct focused traffic enforcement efforts on roads and highways around the state to ensure safety this Thanksgiving holiday. Troopers will be enforcing safe seatbelt usage and watching for motorists who are speeding, driving impaired, driving aggressively, and driving distracted. The efforts will run November 27 - December 1, 2019

“The intention is to reduce the number of major-injury or fatal collisions on Alaska roads to zero,” said B Detachment Deputy Commander Lt. Freddie Wells.  “Thanksgiving is a time for people to gather with family and friends. We want to do our part to ensure Alaskans reach their destinations safely and make it home safely, too.”

Troopers encourage motorists to always wear seatbelts and to never drive impaired. Those who choose to celebrate with alcohol or marijuana should arrange to have a designated driver, stay the night, or call a cab.  - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

Southeast Alaska: How to get a Christmas tree from the Tongass National Forest – ‘Tis the season to head out into the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree.

Alaskans are starting to decorate for the approaching holiday season, and for many, the tree can be a focal point of holiday decorations.  While several retailers sell Christmas trees, some folks prefer to venture outside to select and cut their own tree.  If you are one of those people, the Alaska Division of Forestry provides for this holiday tradition.

“Cutting an Alaska-grown Christmas tree is an annual tradition for many Alaskans,” said Governor Michael J. Dunleavy.  “It’s fun to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Alaska winters, it’s free, and it’s just one more way we are helping Alaskans benefit directly from our common lands and resources.”

Forest users do not need a permit to cut a Christmas tree from the Tongass National Forest for personal use. However, a household may remove one Christmas tree per year. Make sure to check the area Motor Vehicle Use Map to confirm the tree is in a Forest Service land management area before cutting.

There are no regulations on what tree species or size to cut in the Tongass National Forest. However, there are a few rules people are asked to follow: - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019



DANNY TYREE: Are You Thankful For Any Of These Things - With festive turkey-based feasts fast approaching, and having just re-watched a classic Thanksgiving-themed Steve Martin video, I thought it appropriate that I share a few of the things for which I am thankful. I apologize if the list is too predictable and schmaltzy, but please bear with me.

I am thankful for the deer that frolic in my yard, for indoor plumbing, for pimento cheese, for CBD oil, for a loyal readership, for online treasure troves of long-ago photographs.

I am thankful that in this country a person – no matter his station in life– has the opportunity to pursue his wildest dreams, at least until he awakens to find that his friends have dipped his hand in a bucket of warm water.

I am thankful that the conscientious use of abbreviations, nicknames, acronyms, hand gestures and emojis has provided mankind enough spare time to conquer the common cold and land a human on Mars. Oh, wait…

I am thankful that today is the first day of the rest of your life, unless somebody knocked you into the middle of next week, which would make it the eighth (?) day of the rest of your life, unless they hit too hard and you’re, you know, DEAD. In that case, I am thankful I have a new suitcoat for the funeral.

I am thankful that the government hasn’t yet placed a microchip underneath my skin to keep track of my every movement, because that landline phone my mother got Dr. Rutledge to insert back in ’76 made wearing long sleeve shirts a pain in the keister. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019


TOM PURCELL: America, Let's Talk This Thanksgiving... After The Mashed Potatoes Fly! - America could use a good food fight this Thanksgiving.

Every day in our country, factions grow and battle lines harden. Americans are spending more time with like-minded people, their “tribes,” and less with people holding differing viewpoints, those “Neanderthals hell-bent on destroying the country.”

Technology has widened our divide. Social media encourage us to befriend those who think like us – and defriend and demonize those who don’t.

When I grew up in the 1970s, America watched ABC, CBS or NBC. Since many homes had just one television set, networks maximized viewership by catering to families. Walter Cronkite, voted “most trusted man in America” by viewers, was at his career’s peak.

Is any TV news journalist as widely trusted today?

Meanwhile, cable TV’s targeting of niche audiences has produced talking-head shows that lather up the left and right with increasingly exaggerated and toxic rhetoric that helps to destroy civil discourse, as shameless producers turn niche viewers into fat paychecks.

I don’t believe Americans are as divided or rigid in our beliefs as we seem. I believe we all want what’s best, but have different ideas for achieving that desired outcome – and we should discuss them. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Thanksgiving Day Melting Pot

Political Cartoon: Thanksgiving Day Melting Pot
By Rick McKee ©2019, CagleCartoons.com
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Response to Public Records Request By Mike Holman - The City of Ketchikan responded to my October 18 Public Records Act request on November 19.

One of the more interesting documents produced by the City is the response of Market Sensing Survey Respondent A. Pages 3-4 of Respondent A’s survey response are attached. I invite you to read them. If you read them, I’m sure you will conclude that the City should hasten to hand over the keys to our docks to Respondent A on January 21. LOL - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

jpg Opinion

Emergency Declarations are for Things That Can Be Changed By John Harrington - Terri Robbins is “appalled” by DEC Commissioner Jason Brune’s statement at the AFN. Apparently the commissioner said, “that climate change is not an emergency in Alaska.” She even accuses him of potential “malfeasance of the most egregious kind.” Terri suggested that he consult with scientists.

Terri’s letter is political propaganda. It is like much of the discussion on ‘Global Warming’ that is reported routinely. It is heavy on half-truths and biased reporting. Like Teri’s attempt to silence the Commissioner, other attempts to silence dissent, and destroy dissenters is happening regularly. The lack of civility, and unwillingness to acknowledge differing data sets and opinions is typical of the anti-science approach to Global Warming theories promoted by the extremists. It is akin to those religious leaders of the past who relied on dogma and tried to silence scientific discussion. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

jpg Opinion

Impressive Work Ethic By A.M. Johnson - Within the past days, a work order on the hook with KPU to install a power pole to provide access to our breaker box in compliance of electrical code, was completed.

Was advised about 20 minutes to their arrival of their coming. The crew of three linemen, all young well fit lads, discharged from the trucks, made a ground inspection, speaking quietly among them selves. Shortly they spread out to their respective positions and actions directed by obvious many such activities with power pole placement.

My view of these lads was made impressive by the work ethic, the safety roles each demonstrated again, as by force of having worked as a team where safety on the site was second nature. Upon completion of the pole placement, the area was cleaned and left in perfect condition. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

jpg Opinion

Open Letter To DEC Commissioner Jason Brune By Terri Robbins - I was appalled to learn of your recent statement at the AFN conference. To say that climate change is not an emergency in Alaska is incorrect, at best, and malfeasance of the most egregious kind, at worst.

We just experienced the hottest summer on record. Sea levels have risen, forcing coastal villages to relocate. Habitat for polar bears and other arctic mammals is disappearing at an alarming rate. The interior experienced devastating wildfires, as did south central and the Kenai Peninsula. The water levels in key salmon streams was dangerously low. Southern southeast communities were forced to rely on diesel power to supply electricity due to low levels of water in lakes supplying hydropower. An extreme drought was declared. In our oceans, whales were dying in large numbers due to starvation, arguably caused by warmer ocean temperatures which killed off plankton and krill. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 20, 2019

jpg Opinion

State Legislature Year in Review By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As the House Representative for District 36, I’m writing to update you on some of the issues currently before the Alaska State Legislature. The 2019 legislative sessions were challenging – we continued to grapple with creating the budget, implementing a long term sustainable fiscal plan, and address declining revenue.

While we were able to hold fast on funding for departments like Fish & Game and Education, the Marine Highway System faced unprecedented cuts. During the interim, I have been focused on re-establishing the AMHS link to Prince Rupert. I will continue to push this issue until we see a long-term commitment by the Alaska Department of Transportation to keep Southeast connected.

New sources of revenue were not addressed, and funding for the budget continues to come predominately from our oil resources and a portion of the Permanent Fund Earnings. I am an advocate for policies that will promote as large of a dividend as possible while maintaining funding for essential government services and allowing for growth in the overall value of the Permanent Fund itself. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

Save Our Seas 2.0 tackles global marine debris crisis By Sen. Dan Sullivan, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Bob Menendez - We may have plenty of political differences, but we come from coastal states. That means we have a front-row seat to the peril of plastic waste and marine debris flowing into our oceans at the rate of around 8 million metric tons per year. We understand what it will mean for our fishing and tourism industries when the weight of plastic in our oceans equals the weight of fish in the sea — something projected to happen by mid-century. We don’t have a moment to lose in confronting this problem.

That’s why we built a coalition in Congress and gathered input from environmental and industry stakeholders alike. Despite a divided Washington, that work resulted in a bill that won broad, bipartisan support. When the Save Our Seas Act became law last October, it was a moment of bipartisan progress on a vital issue — one to be celebrated.

Before the president’s ink on Save Our Seas was dry, our bipartisan trio of senators began developing the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. We sought to harness the momentum behind the first bill to up the ante on combatting the global marine debris crisis. Marine debris requires multifaceted, multisector solutions with a global reach, and the United States ought to be driving these solutions.

In developing the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, we collected hundreds of comments and ideas from researchers, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations and industry. We reviewed the latest science on marine debris and plastics pollution. We identified areas ripe for legislative action and others where investments in research are needed. We looked inward at the United States’ own waste management systems and how we could better position the country as an international leader — not hindrance. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

Impeachable Offenses By Donald Moskowitz - Article Two of the U.S. Constitution states "The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

The current impeachment inquiry by the U.S. House of Representatives against President Trump is focusing on the allegation he tried to bribe and/or extort President Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in the runup to the 2020 election in exchange for $400 million in foreign aid to Ukraine. The investigation of the Bidens did not occur and the $400 million in aid was subsequently given to Ukraine.Therefore no bribery or extortion occurred.

But did President Trump's actions meet the test of "high Crimes and Misdemeanors"?

A recent president to be impeached was Bill Clinton.. He was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice relative to the Monice Lewinsky affair. Richard Nixon was charged, but not impeached as an outgrowth of the Watergate coverup. He was charged with obstruction of justice, abuse of power and defying subpoenas during the impeachment investigation. The House Judiciary Committee stated that "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" goes beyond crimes to include "behaving in a manner grossly incompatible with the proper function of the office and employing the power of the office for an improper purpose or personal gain." 

Going back to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 the founding fathers decided the phrase "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" provided "flexibility and guidance" in deciding on impeachable offenses, which references 400 years of practice in Great Britain. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 19, 2019

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