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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 11, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By JAMES (JIM) LEWIS

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet displaying its colorful head feathers at Herring Cove.
Front Page Feature Photo By JAMES (JIM) LEWIS ©2018

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Southeast Alaska: Craig Man Sentenced for Role in Large Scale Drug Trafficking Conspiracy - An Alaska man was sentenced yesterday to federal prison for his role in a large scale drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in the small community of Craig, Alaska, and the surrounding communities of Prince of Wales Island.  The announcement was made today by U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder.

Bradley Payton Grasser, 63, of Craig, Alaska, was sentenced Monday by Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess, to serve 10 years in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release.  In July 2017, Grasser pleaded guilty to methamphetamine conspiracy, and agreed to forfeit all rights to $89,703 in U.S. currency and 11 firearms, among other items, named in the forfeiture allegation.

According to court documents, starting in at least January 2014 and continuing until January 2017, Grasser coordinated and directed the distribution of methamphetamine on Prince of Wales Island for the conspiracy, as well as, collection of drug proceeds from co-conspirators.  Specifically, Grasser arranged for methamphetamine to be mailed to co-conspirators at various addresses on Prince of Wales Island and in Ketchikan, from his source of supply in Washington State.  Grasser would then use the drug proceeds to obtain more methamphetamine from his source of supply, for subsequent distribution on Prince of Wales Island.  During the course of the conspiracy, Grasser directed at least five individuals to either receive the drug packages and/or send drug proceeds back to his source of supply in Washington State. 

The total amount of methamphetamine seized during the conspiracy was 1133.7 grams intended for distribution on Prince of Wales Island and in Ketchikan. Additionally, the investigation revealed that Grasser was in possession of $89,703 in drug proceeds and property that he obtained from his drug trafficking activities, which included 11 firearms, artwork, vessels, tenders, motorcycles, utility trailers, containers, and gun safes. 

“Protecting the citizens of rural Alaska is a high priority for my office and our law enforcement partners,” said U.S. Attorney Schroder.  “According to the 2010 U.S. Census Borough, the population of Craig is 1,201, which means the amount of drugs seized from Grasser would be enough for nearly one gram of methamphetamine, or approximately 10 dosage units for every single person in the community.  The citizens of Craig, including the young people, are safer because of the efforts of the law enforcement agencies that investigated this case.” - More...
Tuesday PM - December 11, 2018

Southeast Alaska: Juneau Couple Sentenced for Roles in Drug Trafficking Conspiracy - A Juneau couple was sentenced yesterday to federal prison for their roles in a drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute drugs in Juneau, Alaska. The announcement was made today by U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder.

Tiffany Spaulding, 35, of Juneau, was sentenced Monday by Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess, to serve five years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to one count of drug conspiracy.  Her co-defendant, Christian Peters, 46, of Juneau, was previously sentenced to serve 30 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, on the same charge. 

According to court documents, a federal investigation was launched after a suspicious package was identified on Aug. 6, 2017, that originated from “Melly Sanchez” in California, to be delivered to “Rosetta Stone” in Juneau, Alaska.  

A search warrant was obtained and executed on the package, and located inside the package was 198.8 grams of methamphetamine, and a quantity of 50 oxycodone pills.

After U.S. Postal Inspectors conducted a controlled delivery of the package on Aug. 9, 2017, Spaulding accepted the package and brought it to a residence she shared with Peters, who arrived a short time later.  Upon Peters’ arrival, the package was opened knowing that it contained methamphetamine intended for further distribution in Juneau. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 11, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By REX BARBER

Looking out toward Escape Point from a high muskeg.
Front Page Feature Photo By REX BARBER ©2018


Fish Factor:
Healthy Skin in Arctic Botanicals? and Naknek Plans Expo; Blue Economy Buzz By LAINE WELCH -  An Alaskan sisterhood of sorts is advancing a line of tundra botanicals mixed with the sea to create potent anti-aging skin care products bearing the best of both.

A wild salmon Skin Serum is the first wellness product the Salmon Sisters have added to their popular line that features original designs on clothing and other ocean-themed goods.

“We love how smooth and light it feels. There are beautiful notes of crowberries, which we picked throughout our childhood on the tundra behind our homestead to make jam and pies. It doesn’t smell fishy, but the salmon oil gives it a silkiness that feels very nostalgic of Alaskan summers at fish camp,” said Emma Teal Laukitis.

She and sister Claire Neaton of Homer have become two of Alaska’s most well-known seafood industry ambassadors with features in Vogue, a Microsoft television ad, Forbes’ 30 under 30 list, and their now famous legacy designs on XtraTuf boots.

The crowberries in the serum are gathered from the tundra by the Sparck triplets, along with fireweed and Arctic sage (or “Ciaggluk,” meaning “nothing bad about it,”) explained Michelle (Macuarr'uq) of Chevak, who along with Cika (Ji-kah) and Amy (Kelama) operate ArXotica. Along with their own Quyung-lii brand, the Sparck sisters are producing the Skin Serum for the Salmon Sisters.

ArXotica has gained fame since 2006 for its “Tundra Loving Care” products that “harness the unparalleled properties of extreme environment flora to create a super status skin care line.”

“Right now we are working with the Salmon Sisters’ vision, and they are very good at design and packaging and marketing. We are hoping they will add their own magic touch to their skin care line,” said Michelle.

“We love ArXotica products because they are made with ingredients unique to our state with a rich history of wellness and healing,” said Emma. “We have grown up with the wholistic benefits of wild Alaska salmon and their nutrients allow us to stay sharp and healthy and feel beautiful. It is a superfood for your skin!” 

The salmon/skin benefits have been borne out by other advocates.

Famed New York 5th Avenue doctor Nicholas Perricone’s bestselling books promise that eating wild salmon for 28 days is the cure for wrinkles and provides a “nutrition based face lift.” 

Scientists in Norway discovered a skin softening enzyme called zonase in the hatching fluid of salmon eggs that helps digest the protein structure of the shells without harming the tiny fish. A company called Aqua Bio Technology uses the enzyme in its AquaBeautine XL skin care lotion.

ArXotica is now expanding into men’s and unisex products using their anti-aging serums mixed with ground mammoth tooth and will soon introduce a bearded seal oil item.

“It’s for men’s beards. There’s no seal in it but we’re playing on an item that people still eat out in western Alaska,” Michelle said with a laugh. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 11, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By CHRISTA CALDWELL

Day's End
Sunset from the United States Coast Guard Base Ketchikan
in December 2018.
Front Page Feature Photo By CHRISTA CALDWELL ©2018


Alaska: Study: Degrading permafrost puts Arctic infrastructure at risk by mid-century By SUE MITCHELL - Seventy percent of the current infrastructure in the Arctic has a high potential to be affected by thawing  permafrost in the next 30 years. Even meeting the climate change targets of the Paris Agreement will not substantially reduce those projected impacts, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

“Much more needs to be done to prepare Alaska and Alaskans for the adverse consequences of coming changes in permafrost and climate,” said Vladimir Romanovsky, a scientist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute who has been monitoring permafrost across Alaska for 25 years.

Permafrost is ground that is frozen year-round for a minimum of two years. When it thaws, it can change from solid earth into mud. In many cases, the ground will slump, leading to destructive failure in any structures erected there.

“These observations have led me to believe that the global warming is not a ‘fake’ but the reality,” Romanovsky said. “And here, in Alaska, we are dealing already and will be dealing even more in the near future with this reality.”

Romanovsky is one of the study’s authors, along with researchers from Finland, Norway, Russia and Michigan. The research is the first to explicitly show the amount of fundamental infrastructure across the Northern Hemisphere that is at risk of structural failure from permafrost thaw caused by climate change.

The paper reports that by 2050, about three-quarters of the population now living on permafrost, about 3.6 million people, will be affected by damage to infrastructure from permafrost thaw. In Alaska, about 340 miles of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline traverses ground where near-surface permafrost may thaw by 2050.

“The results show that most fundamental Arctic infrastructure will be at risk, even if the Paris Agreement target is achieved,” the authors write. However, after 2050, attaining the Paris Agreement goals would make a clear difference in potential damage to infrastructure. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 11, 2018



TOM PURCELL: I'm Dreaming of a Debt-Free Christmas - Merry debt-fueled Christmas, America!

According to a recent NerdWallet study, nearly 40 million Americans are still struggling to pay off credit-card debts from last Christmas.

Here's what's worse: NerdWallet finds that this Christmas, "American consumers plan to spend more, charge more to credit, and take a longer time to pay it all off."

Good grief!

The grand irony is that the gifts we go in hock to give our kids and each other are often forgotten before the debt is paid off. 

I was a kid in the '70s. But aside from a Huffy "Spyder" bike I got when I was 10, I can't remember a single gift I received - though I vividly remember the extraordinary blessings my parents bestowed on me.

I remember going from lot to lot with my father in search of the perfect Christmas tree. We'd bring it home and set it on a sturdy plywood platform he built. We'd decorate the tree as a family, and my mother would explain the history of antique ornaments handed down by family members no longer with us. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 11, 2018

JASE GRAVES: Pierced Fears: Adventures in Body Modification - I feared this day might come, but I wasn't really prepared for it when it did. No, I don't mean the first time I had to remind my 14-year-old middle daughter to shave her armpits. It was when she asked if she could get a piercing on something other than her earlobe. 

Now, before you get the wrong idea, I need to clarify that the appendage my daughter wished to have impaled was still in the general ear vicinity. But instead of the traditional lobe area, she wanted a pinhole puncture wound in her upper ear gristle, which I had always assumed, based on extensive experience, was only good for painful flicking by junior high boys. 

You have to understand that among my three girls, the middle one is the most like me - and not just in the irresistible charm, devastating good looks, and sincere humility departments. She also tends to be impulsive and daring, like the time she videoed herself kissing a live mullet - the fish variety - at the beach for no apparent reason (not that there ever would be just cause for snogging wild sea life). This is also the child whom we have repeatedly taken to the doctor for the removal of various foreign objects, usually from her eyeballs. Apparently, introducing external fixtures to her person is a natural tendency with her. 
- More...
Tuesday PM - December 11, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Pepto Vitriol Legislation Blocker

Political Cartoon: Pepto Vitriol Legislation Blocker
By RJ Matson ©2018, CQ Roll Call
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Opinion

Towards the Restoration of our PFDs By Ghert Abbott - As we move towards what will hopefully be the full restoration of our PFDs and the complete elimination of the state government’s tax on the Permanent Fund’s earnings, I expect that we’ll hear the return of a number of arguments which were used to justify and sell this atrocious policy in the first place. These arguments are “the state government can’t afford a full PFD,” “a full PFD endangers the Permanent Fund,” and “if we don’t use the Permanent Fund’s earnings we’ll have to have a tax.” I shall answer these arguments in advance.

1. The natural resources of Alaska belong to you; that is why the Permanent Fund and its dividends belong to you.

2. As this money belongs to you, when the state government takes from your dividend and the Permanent Fund’s earnings reserve, this is a regressive tax on your family’s present and future income.

3. In refusing to admit that taking from the PFD is a tax, the politicians implicitly claim you are a freeloader – that you do not really deserve the money derived from the sale of your natural resources.

4. In refusing to admit that taking from the PFD is a tax, the politicians implicitly claim that the Permanent Fund’s earnings are the governments money, to be spent however it wants. - More...
Saturday PM - December 08, 2018

jpg Opinion

Puppet Politicians By Donald Moskowitz - President Trump declared "almost a complete victory" after learning of the results of the mid-term elections. However, this is another fabrication used to bolster his ego and security. This is no victory because the Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives and won the governorships of the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, the Democrats are ready to institute wasteful investigations of the Trump administration instead of working on bipartisan programs beneficial to our country. This could backfire on them in future elections.

Our politicians are puppets who follow the Republican or Democratic lines established by their parties. Their is no individual thinking.. It is all about group thinking and party politics, and this is why there is gridlock and a lack of accomplishment in Washington D.C. Republicans and Democrats behave like lemming groups. - More...
Saturday PM - December 08, 2018

3 ways Facebook and other social media companies could clean up their acts – if they wanted to By Anthony M. Nadler & Matthew Crain - Facebook is in crisis mode, but the company can take major steps to fix itself – and the global community it says it wants to promote. Facebook founder, CEO and majority shareholder Mark Zuckerberg need not wait for governments to impose regulations. If he and other industry leaders wanted to, they could make meaningful changes fairly quickly.

It wouldn’t be painless, but Facebook in particular is in a world of hurt already, facing criticism for contributing to civil unrest and sectarian turmoil around the world, delayed responses to disinformation campaigns, misleading users about data-handling policies, and efforts to discredit critics – not to mention a budding employee revolt.

Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media companies are causing society-wide damage. But they tend to describe the problems as much smaller, resulting from rogue individuals and groups hijacking their systems for nefarious purposes. Our research into how social media can be exploited by manipulative political operatives, conducted with Joan Donovan at the Data & Society research institute, suggests the real problem is much larger than these companies admit.

We believe the roots lie in their extremely profitable advertising systems, which need a major overhaul. We have identified some key changes that these giant powerhouses could make right away. These moves could reduce opportunities for political manipulation and limit the harm to democratic societies around the world. - More...
Saturday PM - December 08, 2018

Medicaid work requirements: Where do they stand after the blue wave? By SIMON F. HAEDER - The 2018 midterm elections have dealt a significant setback to President Trump’s agenda in the legislative arena. - More...
Wednesday PM - December 05, 2018

jpg Opinion

Socialism… A short essay By Paul Livingston - Socialism is a governmental parasite that feeds off the wealth created by the production (income, savings and investment) of a country.  Government with its politicians has both good and evil qualities, as government takes on the qualities of its creators, which are humans who also have good and evil qualities.  Government is about law and order and maintaining an orderly environment for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  Government is not about creating wealth, jobs and the distribution of wealth.  - More...
Wednesday PM - December 05, 2018     

1 in 4 government officials accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era is still in office today By JAMILLAH WILLIAMS - At least 138 government officials, in both elected and appointed positions, have been publicly reported for sexual harassment, assault, misconduct or violence against women since the 2016 election, according to an analysis my colleagues and I conducted. - More...
Monday PM - December 03, 2018

US-China trade war truce: 2 reasons why it's unlikely to last By JEFFREY KUCIK - Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping have agreed to a ceasefire in their increasingly painful trade war, yet their governments’ differing depictions of the deal show just how far apart they really are. - More...
Monday PM - December 03, 2018

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