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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

December 14, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By RACHELLE SPEIGHTS

Tongass Narrows' Sunrise
Front Page Feature Photo By RACHELLE SPEIGHTS ©2018

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National: Federal Court Rules ObamaCare Unconstitutional, Appeal Planned By MARY KAUFFMAN - A federal judge in Texas tonight ruled the entire Affordable Care Act Law is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in a 55-page opinion that last year’s tax cut bill knocked the constitutional foundation from under “Obamacare” by eliminating a penalty for not having coverage. O’Connor is a conservative Republican appointee by President George W. Bush.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined by twenty Republican-led states brought the lawsuit. After Trump ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the health law, a coalition of ACA-supporting states took up the defense.

The lawsuit was opposed by a coalition of 17 Democratic attorneys general, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a former congressman. Democrats contended that the Republican tax law lowered the federal penalty for being uninsured to $0, but did not negate the Affordable Care Act Law’s constitutionality.

In the lawsuit, Attorney General Paxton said, “The Supreme Court held Obamacare was only tethered to the Constitution by a very thin thread – the fact that the individual penalty raised some revenue. Congress severed that thin thread with the tax act of 2017, and all of Obamacare must fall.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court. Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place."

President Donald Trump tweeted that Congress should pass a new law. In his tweet President Trump said today, "As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!"

Democrat Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi said in a prepared statement, “While the district court’s absurd ruling will be immediately appealed, Republicans are fully responsible for this cruel decision and for the fear they have struck into millions of families across America who are now in danger of losing their health coverage.  When House Democrats take the gavel, the House of Representatives will move swiftly to formally intervene in the appeals process to uphold the life-saving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reject Republicans’ effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act.”

The American Medical Association called O’Connor’s ruling an “unfortunate step backward for our health system that is contrary to overwhelming public sentiment to preserve pre-existing condition protections.”

Pelosi also said in her prepared statement regarding the district court's decision in Republicans’ Texas v. United States lawsuit striking down protections for people with pre-existing conditions and the Affordable Care Act, “Tonight’s district court ruling exposes the monstrous endgame of Republicans’ all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans’ access to affordable health care."

“The GOP Congress tried and failed to destroy the Affordable Care Act and protections for pre-existing conditions.  Then, in the midterm election, the American people delivered a record-breaking margin of almost 10 million votes against House Republicans’ vile assault on health care.  Now, the district court ruling in Republicans’ lawsuit seeks to subvert the will of the American people and sow chaos in the final day of open enrollment," said Pelosi. - More...
Friday PM - December 14, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By SHARON HOLT

Moonshine Over The Point
Front Page Feature Photo By SHARON HOLT ©2018


Dunleavy Administration Inherits a $1.6 Billion Deficit; Releases Proposed State Budget By MARY KAUFFMAN - Today Governor Mike Dunleavy released a revision to the prior administration's proposed Fiscal Year 2020 state budget with two changes: Updated revenue forecasts, which the Department of Revenue says is more in line with current trends, and 2019 Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) payouts according to the historic statutory formula.  

The Dunleavy administration submitted the Walker administration’s proposed $11.5 billion FY2020 budget today simply to meet the statutory deadline and, to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to be honest with Alaskans about the state’s budget shortfall. Quoting a news release, the root of the problem with the Walker administration’s budget lies in a single number – its unrealistic projection that oil will sell for $75 dollars per barrel between July 2019 and June 2020.

“The Dunleavy administration is all about truth in budgeting,” said Alaska Department of Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman. “We performed a thorough analysis of the revenue estimates submitted by the previous administration and, it became clear it did not represent the true size of the budget deficit.” 

Quoting a news release, Governor Dunleavy's budget uses a more realistic oil price forecast of $64 dollars per barrel, which balloons the deficit to $1.6 billion dollars after earnings from the Permanent Fund are used to pay for government services and dividends. That figure will be the starting point for vigorous discussions with state agencies, legislators and the public. The Walker $11.5 billion-dollar spending plan is unsustainable and leaves substantial room for spending reductions and budgetary reforms that reflect the state’s current fiscal situation.

The fall forecast is the revenue department’s first revenue forecast following passage of SB 26, which established a protocol for transferring a portion of the earnings of the Permanent Fund to the general fund each year. The department is presenting the estimated Permanent Fund transfer as unrestricted revenue beginning in FY 2019.  

Under this structure, this Permanent Fund transfer will fund both the Permanent Fund Dividend as well as general government operations. 

General fund unrestricted revenues totaled $2.4 billion in FY 2018. Not counting the Permanent Fund transfer, the department is forecasting unrestricted revenue of $2.8 billion for FY 2019 and $2.3 billion for FY 2020. - More...
Friday PM - December 14, 2018

Southeast Alaska: Wolf hunting, trapping season to close in Unit 2 - The Thorne Bay and Craig Districts Ranger, Matt Anderson, under authority delegated by the Federal Subsistence Board, will close the Federal public lands of Unit 2 to the harvest of wolf from 11:59 P.M., Tuesday, December 18, 2018 until 11:59 P.M., March 31, 2019. However, due to the current weather, trappers will be allowed until 11:59 p.m., December 21, 2018, to collect gear in the field.

ADF&G and the U.S. Forest Service jointly set the regulatory year 2018 (July 2018 – June 2019) Unit 2 wolf hunting and trapping harvest quota at 46 wolves. ADF&G currently manages Unit 2 wolves for an annual harvest that should not exceed 20 percent of the most recent unit-wide, fall population estimate.

Managers anticipate that by the closure date additional harvest by hunters and trappers still in the field will reach or surpass the quota. Therefore, the wolf hunting and trapping seasons are being closed by emergency order. - More...
Friday PM - December 14, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By DESTINY MADEWELL

Harbor Sunrise
Front Page Feature Photo By DESTINY MADEWELL ©2018


Fish Factor: U.S. Fisheries Report Released By LAINE WELCH -  Alaska is the nation’s super power when it comes to seafood.

American fishermen landed just shy of 10 billion pounds of fish and shellfish last year valued at $5.4 billion, both up slightly. Of that, Alaska accounted for 61 percent of total landings (6 billion pounds) and 33 percent of the value ($1.8 billion).

That’s according to the  2017 Fisheries of the US Report just released by NOAA Fisheries which covers all U.S. regions and species, recreational fishing, aquaculture, trade and much more. The popular annual report also includes the top 50 U.S. ports for seafood landings and values and once again, Alaska dominated the list.

“The Alaska port of Dutch Harbor led the nation with the highest amount of seafood landings – 769 million pounds valued at $173 million – for the 21st year in a row,” said Ned Cyr, NOAA director of Science and Technology at a media teleconference. “New Bedford, Massachusetts had the highest value catch for the 18th year in a row – 11 million pounds valued at $389 million with 80% coming from the highly lucrative sea scallop fishery.”

The “Aleutian Islands” ranked second for seafood landings thanks to Trident’s plant at Akutan, the nation’s largest seafood processing facility. Kodiak bumped up a notch from fourth to third place. The “Alaska Peninsula” ranked 7th and Naknek came in at number 9.

Alaska ports rounding out the top 20 were Cordova, Sitka, Ketchikan and Petersburg. In all, 13 Alaskan fishing communities ranked among the top 50 list of U.S. ports for seafood landings.

The report also highlights the growing role for aquaculture in the domestic seafood industry.  U.S. marine and fresh water aquaculture was valued at $1.5 billion in 2016, equal to about 21 percent of the value of the nation’s combined seafood production, with oysters, clams and salmon generating the highest value.

The U.S. still imports over 80 percent of its seafood and federal overseers are intent upon turning that tide.
“The Dept. of Commerce and NOAA are committed to addressing the U.S. seafood trade deficit through regulatory streamlining, increasing aquaculture production and creating a better, fairer trading system for all Americans,” Cyr said.

Nearly six billion pounds of fish and shellfish were imported to the U.S. last year, up 1.6 percent, valued at $21.5 billion, a 10.4 percent increase from 2016. Shrimp, salmon and tuna continued to top the list of imports.

In other report highlights: - More...
Friday PM - December 14, 2018

Alaska Science: Grades keep slipping on Arctic Report Card By NED ROZELL - At this annual gathering of thousands of scientists that has grown in step with the increasing number of people on Earth, researchers at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union again sounded the alarm for a quiet place — the top of the world.

At a press conference devoted to the changes in the Arctic, expert panelists spoke of dwindling northern sea ice, its probable connection with severe weather down here, decreasing caribou populations (with a notable exception in Alaska) and the discovery that the Arctic Basin has “a higher concentration of microplastics than anywhere else in the world.”

This was the 13th consecutive year of the December release of NOAA’s Arctic Report Card, a series of essays written by scientists.

Sea ice, which floats on the Arctic Ocean and is now expanding in sheets during the cold, dark polar night, has always been the leadoff topic of the press conference at AGU’s fall meeting.

This year, Don Perovich of Dartmouth College spoke of how thin that ice is over much of the Arctic Ocean, unlike a few decades ago when lots more of it survived the heat of summer. Now, sea ice constructed of slabs more than four years old makes up just one percent of the total ice cover. - More...
Friday PM - December 14, 2018



SARA CROOM: Trump's Medicare Plan Would Be Terrible for Healthcare - "First, do no harm." That's the most basic and sacrosanct principle in all of medicine, and Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar should take serious note of it before going ahead with a poorly drawn, "race to the bottom" plan to index Medicare Part B drug prices to countries with socialized health care, where government bureaucrats undervalue and tightly ration access to lifesaving drugs and treatments developed here in the United States.

During his campaign, President Trump promised to put a stop to bad trade agreements that rip off American business and workers. He also vowed to protect Medicare, encourage lifesaving medical innovations, and unleash free market forces into the health care system. This so-called "International Price Index" scheme would accomplish none of the above.

Trump's plan would jeopardize the coming generation of groundbreaking research and medical advancements - and quick access to those breakthroughs for 44 million Medicare recipients - while drastically undervaluing the current generation of Medicare Part B drugs.Whatever price reductions might result from this debacle would not come close to compensating for the permanent, long-term damage.

Here in America, we have medical research figured out. America's biopharmaceutical industry and American taxpayers - including Medicare recipients who have paid into the system from their first day on the job - have a partnership that is the envy of the world. Other nations know it, and they benefit from our hard-won intellectual property without paying one dime in return. Instead, using mandated price controls that can't be negotiated, they ration the lifesaving drugs and therapies we develop here in America to their people on the cheap. - More...
Friday PM - December 14, 2018


MICHAEL REAGAN: All is Fair in the War on Trump - It's not like it was something we didn't already know.

But what the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's did to President Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is fresh proof that there are two kinds of justice operating in the Washington swamp.

One kind - the mean, devious, throw-the-book-at-'em kind - is used for prosecuting Donald Trump and his people.

The other kind of justice - the nice, easy-going, so-what kind - is used for not looking into the law-breaking email fiascos of Hillary and the financial fishiness of the Clinton Crime Syndicate.

Hillary continues to skate free, unbothered by the FBI or any federal agency for the dirty things she and the Obama administration's injustice department did during the 2016 election to try to defeat Donald Trump.

But not General Flynn.

His life was ruined by the FBI bosses who set out to nail him - and did.

Comparing transcripts from phone wiretaps, the FBI caught Gen. Flynn lying about what he said in a phone call with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December of 2016.

Flynn's terrible crime - a single count of lying to an FBI agent in 2017 - obviously had nothing to do with the Trump election team colluding with the Russians, mainly because there was no collusion. - More...
Friday PM - December 14, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Trump Shutdown Gift

Political Cartoon: Trump Shutdown Gift
By Rick McKee ©2018, The Augusta Chronicle, GA
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Opinion

Pedestrian Safety When It Is Dark By Cheryl Henley - Parents' children getting off the bus after school when it is getting dark out are risking the possibility of the child of not being seen whether the child is walking off of the side of the road, or getting picked up.

People waiting for the Borough Bus in the dark should put on some sort of reflector. They might think drivers see them standing on the shoulder of the road at night, but not always. It may be cool not to have any reflective tape, or whatever on, but it is needs to be used.

Years ago, the STATE TROOPERS handed out Safety Bear reflectors to kids in school so that people could be seen. I guess the budget doesn't allow it now. - More...
Friday PM - December 14, 2018

jpg Opinion

Alaska Consumer Protection Unit & CBD Alert By A.M. Johnson - In reading the Alaska Dept.of Consumer Protection Unit public piece in our local Sitnews online paper, it seems that you have not identified if you are addressing untested CBD products grown and processed in Alaska or CBD as a whole nation wide. While I note a comment regarding out of state (Or online) purchases, the unknowing reader would tend to believe that any and all CBD sold in Alaska is suspect. Suspect due to your worry that CBD is non tested product being fostered on to the public unaware.

Were that a fact, you would have a point, however I am of the thinking that you are not fully educated to the degree that independent third party testing IS being done and done so with a large segment of the hemp industry.

Your charge that "Claim's of CBD bringing relief for various illnesses are false" or the intent of giving the public you address that charge, is fraught with proof of ignorance to the industry as a whole. - More...
Friday PM - December 14, 2018

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. - 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. - 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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