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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

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Ketchikan: Undulatus clouds
Altocumulus stratiformis undulatus perlucidus clouds cam confuse viewers because they appear similar to cloud streetspatch, The stratocumulus undulatus always runs perpendicular to the wind. The spaces between the elements allow the Sun, the Moon, the blue of the sky or higher clouds to be seen. This variety often occurs in the species stratiformis.
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Southeast Alaska Historical: Southern Southeast Alaska has Often Been the 'Gateway' to Gold By DAVE KIFFER - It always surprises some people that the most famous "Alaskan" gold rush, the Klondike Rush of 1897-98, was not really in Alaska at all.

The Klondike rush, which brought more than 100,000 gold seekers into the North, really only had a "pass through" effect on Alaska, as most of the hopefuls came by steamship through the Inside Passage and Skagway before heading over the Chilkoot and White passes into the Klondike which was in the Canadian Yukon Territory. Some even went all the way into the Bering Sea in order to take the Yukon River upstream to the main gold fields around Dawson, Yukon Territory.

But the Klondike did have a major effect when many of the gold seekers remained in Alaska and took part in future rushes such as the ones in Nome and Fairbanks. Some even ended up in Southern Southeast looking for gold amongst the seemingly endless quartz veins where they spurred the growth of Ketchikan from a group of small shacks around Ketchikan Creek into one of Alaska's larger communities.

The Klondike, though, was not the first gold strike to bring stampeders north seeking their fortune. There were other strikes, once again in Canada, in which the water routes through Alaska's Inside Passages were just as popular - and sometimes more so - than the overland routes through the rugged Canadian Rockies and the Coast Range.

Only a few decades after the Hudson's Bay fur trappers began piercing the interior of Western Canada in the early 1800s, reports of gold strikes began drawing fortune hunters into the area. The first smaller rushes were in the Queen Charlotte (now Haida Gwaii) Islands and the Cariboo Country in central BC in the 1850s.

In 1861, Alexander "Buck" Choquette staked a claim just downstream from the confluence of the Stikine and Anuk rivers. Choquette had married one of the daughters of Chief Shakes V, who presided over the Wrangell area at the mouth of the Stikine, which was then in Russian America but was being leased to the British and under their control. Choquette was a familiar presence in Fort Stikine and had also prospected throughout the area, particularly in Nass River area, not far from what was then Fort Simpson,  now Lax Kw’alaams, a Hudson's Bay fort in northwest British Columbia.

When the claim, on Choquette's Bar, did produce some gold, there was a minor rush as several hundred mirs - different estimates say anywhere from 500 to 1,000 - went from Victoria to Stikine. Contemporary reports indicate that most ended up staying in Fort Stikine and never made it up the Stikine to the site of Choquette's Bar, some 150 miles from the mouth.

But interest in the area, led to the British government declaring sovereignty over the "Stickeen Territories" within a few years, setting the stage for a much larger gold rush in 1860, the Cassiar Rush.

In 1870, a prospector named Harry McDame found gold on what would later be called McDame Creek which was near Thibert Creek, which itself was a tributary of Dease Creek. This was to the north of Choquette's find in the Stikine area. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2022

Federal Government Urged to Uphold Commitments to Protect International Salmon Rivers from Canadian Mining

Federal Government Urged to Uphold Commitments to Protect International Salmon Rivers from Canadian Mining
Picture showing acid mine drainage that has been going on for decades from the Tulsequah Chief Mine flowing into the Tulsequah River which is a tributary of the Taku (T'aaku) River.
Photo courtesy Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska


Southeast Alaska: Federal Government Urged to Uphold Commitments to Protect International Salmon Rivers from Canadian Mining - The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson joined other tribal leaders in Washington, D.C. to advocate for clean rivers and sovereignty over waterways. 

President Peterson, along with President Trixie Bennett (Ketchikan Indian Community), President Joe Williams (Organized Village of Saxman), President Mike Jones (Organized Village of Kasaan), and Vice President Lincoln Bean (Organized Village of Kake), met with United States Department of the Interior (DOI) Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland and Solicitor Bob Anderson to provide an update on ways the Biden Administration’s commitment to Indigenous rights is threatened by poorly regulated gold, copper and coal mining in British Columbia, which is just over the political border from Southeast Alaska in the region's largest salmon-producing rivers.

“Indigenous people have stewarded the lands and rivers of this region since time immemorial. The rivers we share with Canada connect our history, our traditions, our family, and our way of life,” President Peterson said. “We don’t want toxic mine tailings and dams upstream from our communities. Canada’s mining in our shared rivers is one of the biggest threats to our wild salmon and our Indigenous way of life.” 

Under Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland’s and President Joe Biden’s leadership, DOI has made significant strides in tribal relations, and supporting Indigenous stewardship of traditional lands in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which manages much of the land in Southeast Alaska through the U.S. Forest Service, has also worked with Tlingit & Haida to develop the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy (SASS) to help support a diverse economy, enhance community resilience and conserve natural resources.

Across the border from Southeast Alaska, however, is a threat shared by multiple tribal nations in four U.S. states, the contamination of international and tribal rivers from poorly regulated gold and coal mining just over the political border, in British Columbia, where more than 30 large-scale gold and copper mines are in advanced stages of exploration, development, and operation or already abandoned and contaminating the headwaters of the region’s largest salmon-producers, the Taku (T'aaku ), Stikine (Shtax'héen) and Unuk (Joonáx̱) Rivers.  - More...
Monday - December 12, 2022

itNews Front Page Photo By MOLLY MURDOCK

Undulatus clouds over Ketchikan
An Air Express plane is seen on the tarmac.
Altocumulus are composed of separate or merged elements, either elongated and broadly parallel, or arranged in ranks and files having the appearance of two distinct systems of undulations
SitNews Front Page Photo By MOLLY MURDOCK ©2022
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Alaska: Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force Final Report Released Posted & Edited by MARY KAUFFMAN - Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy recently received and has released the final report conducted by the Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force (ABRT), which he formed last November under Administrative Order No. 326.

The Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force report studied what impacts bycatch has on fisheries to further recommend policies and to ensure state agencies are leveraging available resources to better understand the issue of bycatch and to utilize the best available science to inform policy makers and the public about these issues.

Fifteen voting and two non-voting members were appointed from all areas of the state representing diverse interests. The voting members represent subsistence, Alaska Native interests, sport charter, personal use, communities, and the commercial sectors of halibut, salmon, crab, and trawl groundfish, as well as representatives from the Department of Fish Game and Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.

“I would like to thank the task force members for their hard work and service,” said Governor Dunleavy. “I look forward to working with task force members and stakeholders to do everything we can to get more fish to return to Alaska’s waters.”

The work largely fell to four committees to become informed by a better understanding of the bycatch issue in order to prepare research, state engagement and management recommendations. The Science Committee was created to help the other committees organize their presentations and to be a resource for the committees and Task Force. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2022

Alaska: 2022 Highlights from the Alaska Tobacco Facts Report - Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Alaska. During each year, smoking alone is linked to an estimated 700 deaths and $575 million in health care costs in Alaska. About 2 out of 3 smokers want to quit but struggle to break the addiction.

Alaska’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program in the Alaska Department of Health has published its 2022 Alaska Tobacco Facts report. This 91 page report is an annual update of key trends about tobacco prevention and control from state data sources. The report summarizes Alaska’s most current data on tobacco and nicotine use among adults, youth and pregnant women. The results help raise awareness about the toll tobacco continues to take on the health and well-being of Alaskans. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2022

Alaska: Online series focuses on preserving Alaska’s natural foods By JULIE STRICKER - Learn to safely preserve foods at home in a five-week series of online classes available statewide from Jan. 7 to Feb. 4, 2023.

Sarah Lewis, an agent with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, will teach the Preserving Alaska’s Bounty series. Students will learn about and practice pickling and fermenting vegetables; can fruits, berries and pickles in a boiling water bath; and preserve meat, fish and vegetables using a pressure canner. Classes will also cover dehydrating fruits and vegetables, making jerky and smoking fish. Other topics will include emergency preparedness, how to start a cottage foods business and information about harvesting wild plants.

Live instruction will be offered during a three-hour Zoom session each Saturday at 1 p.m. Students will complete assignments in their kitchens on their own schedules. Assigned readings and other activities will be accessed via the Canvas platform.  

Participants must be 16 or older (unless joining a household adult.) The registration deadline is Dec. 31, 2022. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2022

Undulatus clouds
Altocumulus stratiformis undulatus perlucidus look like wavy rows. Formed from puffy or thin clouds, they reside in the atmosphere high up, at mid-levels or closer to the ground. Photo taken in the Murphy's Landing location.
SitNews Front Page Photo By RACHELLE SPEIGHTS ©2022
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Health News: Investigation Reveals The System Feds Rely On to Stop Repeat Health Fraud Is Broken By - The federal system meant to stop health care business owners and executives from repeatedly bilking government health programs fails to do so, a KHN investigation has found.

That means people are once again tapping into Medicaid, Medicare, and other taxpayer-funded federal health programs after being legally banned because of fraudulent or illegal behavior.

In large part that’s because the government relies on those who are banned to self-report their infractions or criminal histories on federal and state applications when they move into new jobs or launch companies that access federal health care dollars.

The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services keeps a public list of those it has barred from receiving any payment from its programs — it reported excluding more than 14,000 individuals and entities since January 2017 — but it does little to track or police the future endeavors of those it has excluded.

The government explains that such bans apply to “the excluded person” or “anyone who employs or contracts with” them. Further, “the exclusion applies regardless of who submits the claims and applies to all administrative and management services furnished by the excluded person,” according to the OIG.

Federal overseers largely count on employers to check their hires and identify those excluded. Big hospital systems and clinics typically employ compliance staff or hire contractors who routinely vet their workers against the federal list to avoid fines. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2022

Health News: Audits - Hidden Until Now - Reveal Millions in Medicare Advantage Overcharges By - Newly released federal audits reveal widespread overcharges and other errors in payments to Medicare Advantage health plans for seniors, with some plans overbilling the government more than $1,000 per patient a year on average.

Summaries of the 90 audits, which examined billings from 2011 through 2013 and are the most recent reviews completed, were obtained exclusively by KHN through a three-year Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, which was settled in late September.

The government’s audits uncovered about $12 million in net overpayments for the care of 18,090 patients sampled, though the actual losses to taxpayers are likely much higher. Medicare Advantage, a fast-growing alternative to original Medicare, is run primarily by major insurance companies.

Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have said they intend to extrapolate the payment error rates from those samples across the total membership of each plan — and recoup an estimated $650 million as a result.

But after nearly a decade, that has yet to happen. CMS was set to unveil a final extrapolation rule Nov. 1 but put that decision off until February.- More...
Monday - December 22, 2022


Holiday: Christmas trees can stay fresh for weeks - a well-timed cut and consistent watering are key By - Every year somewhere between 25 million and 30 million Christmas trees are sold in the United States. If you’re one of the people who decorate for the holiday with a freshly cut Christmas tree, you might be wondering how to keep it looking good all the way through Santa’s visit – and maybe even a little beyond.

Curtis VanderSchaaf is a forestry specialist at the Mississippi State University Extension Service who knows a thing or two about conifers. The Conversation U.S. asked him for guidance on how to keep a fresh green Christmas tree from becoming a giant pile of brown needles, for as long as possible. Whether you end up with a Douglas fir, a Scotch pine, a Leyland cypress, a piñon or any other evergreen, he says the quality of care you provide is a major factor in the prolonged freshness of your tree.

What to consider when choosing a tree

Select a tree that looks fresh and whose needles are not brittle. You want one that has a strong fragrance and a dark natural green color. Avoid bored holes in the wood, signs of bugs – like spider egg sacs – and other marks of pest damage. This advice holds whether you’re chopping down your own tree or buying it from a retailer.

Different species of trees have various colors, shapes, branching habits, needle types, scent and even bark type. Depending on what’s available to you, this comes down to personal preference.

If you can, pick a tree that’s been harvested as recently as possible and been watered and kept cool. Often a tree’s freshness is directly related to the moisture content of its needles. If the stump – where the tree’s trunk was cut – is sticky with sap, that’s a good sign.

Give the tree a good shake, even a hard pound on the ground. That will dislodge any animal stowaways. If a ton of dead needles or dry limbs fall out, keep looking.

Getting your tree home

Tree farms and retail lots will net your tree. It’s a lot easier to transport with the branches tucked in. If you’re going to bring it home on top of your car, consider using a tarp to keep scratches and sap off your vehicle. Make sure the tree is securely tied down, with the trunk facing forward to reduce wind damage to the branches. Take it easy on the road.

If you’re not bringing your tree indoors right away, store it in a cool, damp area that is blocked from wind and out of the sun. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2022 - More...





Columns - Commentary



JASE GRAVES: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: A JUDGMENTAL GUIDE - One of my fondest childhood memories of Christmas in the 1970’s was riding around in the family station wagon, “Bessie,” to look at Christmas lights while I whined to my parents about needing a snack – again. There was something magical about a familiar evening landscape transformed to a radiant wonderland at the expense of someone’s lumbar spine.

My dad always made sure that our house was exemplary in its presentation of illuminated holiday décor, and even now, his legendary displays make my own attempts look like those of an unsupervised toddler with a Lite-Brite toy.

Little did I know as a child exactly how much work goes into producing a respectable home display that delights passersby and annoys the neighbors. But now that I’m an adult (sort of), I take pride in climbing on the roof and crawling around the yard for the sake of an electrified Christmas spectacle that makes me feel like I’ve sprained everything except my belly button. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2022


CARL GOLDEN: TRUMP 2024 CAMPAIGN IS OVER BEFORE IT BEGAN - On Nov. 15, former president Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Less than three weeks later, he ended it.

Not by a formal statement of withdrawal, but by thrusting a dagger into his viability by arguably the most deranged bit of lunacy to ever pass the lips of a public figure in the history of the republic.

The U. S. Constitution, he said, should be subject to “termination,” – his word – and he should be reinstated immediately as president because Twitter censored and suppressed potentially damaging allegations regarding President Biden’s neer-do-well son, Hunter.

Had the drug-addled Hunter’s activities been spread through Twitter, he claimed, the damage inflicted on Biden would have been so severe as to turn the election to Trump. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2022


FINANCIAL FOCUS: Advice can help when making charitable gifts Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - Now that it’s the holiday season, gifts are probably on your mind – and you might intend for some of those gifts to go to charities. Although your intentions are good, you could be shortchanging both your recipients and yourself with your method of giving. But with some guidance, you can make choices that work well for you and those charitable groups you support.

Of course, you could simply give money to these groups. However, by donating other types of assets, can you increase the value of your gift and gain greater tax benefits, too?

It’s certainly possible, but your ability to gain any tax advantages depends somewhat on whether or not you can itemize deductions on your tax return. Due to legislation passed a few years ago that significantly increased the standard deduction, many people may no longer be itemizing. But if you still itemize, you can generally deduct up to 60% of your adjusted gross income for cash donations to IRS-qualified charities. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2022


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It’s an honor to now lead Alaska’s largest renewable resource By Deven Mitchell, Executive Director, Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation - This October, I was provided the opportunity to serve as the Executive Director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation. As a lifelong Alaskan, leading APFC is my childhood dream come true. From meeting with Governor Hammond with my third-grade class in 1976, to receiving the benefits of the Fund’s existence throughout my life, to now having the experience to manage the Corporation is truly special.
To tell a little about myself, I was born in Cordova and raised in Yakutat and Juneau, where my wife Erin and I reside and raised our two sons. For several decades, I served as Alaska’s Debt Manager and Executive Director of the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank Authority.

In my career, I often explained and highlighted the strengths of the Permanent Fund and the talented staff of the Corporation. I am pleased to report that during my first month on the job, my long-standing belief in an organization comprised of top-notch talent and a culture of outperformance has been validated.

As we count down to 2023, I encourage you to pause and reflect on what a remarkable decision Alaskans made in 1976 when they voted to set aside money that they could have spent then to ensure future generations of Alaskans would also benefit from the state’s resource wealth. Think about that, every year since the Fund was established, the people of Alaska have made do with less to ensure the Permanent Fund would be able to benefit future generations. That intergenerational foresight for saving and investing a portion of the state’s revenue has helped Alaskans in the past, is supporting us today, and is being managed to continue providing in the future. - More...
Sunday - December 04, 2022

jpg Analysis

Jobs are up! Wages are up! So why am I as an economist so gloomy? By EDOUARD WEMY - In any other time, the jobs news that came down on Dec. 2, 2022, would be reason for cheer.

The U.S. added 263,000 nonfarm jobs in November, leaving the unemployment rate at a low 3.7%. Moreover, wages are up – with average hourly pay jumping 5.1% compared with a year earlier.

So why am I not celebrating? Oh, yes: inflation.

The rosy employment figures come despite repeated efforts by the Federal Reserve to tame the job market and the wider economy in general in its fight against the worst inflation in decades. The Fed has now increased the base interest rate six times in 2022, going from a historic low of about zero to a range of 3.75% to 4% today. Another hike is expected on Dec. 13. Yet inflation remains stubbornly high, and currently sits at an annual rate of 7.7%.

The economic rationale behind hiking rates is that it increases the cost of doing business for companies. This in turn acts as brake on the economy, which should cool inflation.

But that doesn’t appear to be happening. A closer dive into November’s jobs report reveals why.

It shows that the labor force participation rate – how many working-age Americans have a job or are seeking one – is stuck at just over 62.1%. As the report notes, that figure is “little changed” in November and has shown “little net change since early this year.” In fact, it is down 1.3 percentage points from pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

This suggests that the heating up of the labor market is being driven by supply-side issues. That is, there aren’t enough people to fill the jobs being advertised.

Companies still want to hire – as the above-expected job gains indicate. But with fewer people actively looking for work in the U.S., companies are having to go the extra yard to be attractive to job seekers. And that means offering higher wages. And higher wages – they were up 5.1% in November from a year earlier – contribute to spiraling inflation. - More....
Sunday - December 04, 2022

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