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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 12, 2007

Front Page Photo by Jim Lewis

Lunch Creek
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Alaska: Washington State Shipping Tax Will Hurt Alaskans - Representative Bill Thomas (R- Haines) is worried that his colleagues in the Washington State Legislature will adversely impact Southeast Alaska with a measure to impose a $100 fee on marine terminal operators who ship containers from the state. By sponsoring House Joint Resolution 8 (HJR 8), Thomas is putting in writing what he and fellow members of the House of Representatives regard as an unnecessary "nuisance tax" that could pass an undue burden onto Alaskans.

"Alaska depends heavily on goods shipped through ports in Washington State, which has long been a gateway to our state," Thomas said. "Many people do not realize Alaska is the Puget Sound's fifth largest trading partner. The close economic connection between our two states is responsible for at least 103,500 jobs and over $4 billion in commerce. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2007

Fish Factor: Annual "score card" for the 2006 salmon fishery ready for release By LAINE WELCH - Industry watchers will soon have a more complete picture of how Alaska salmon is playing out in world markets. The state Dept. of Revenue is expected to release its annual "score card" for the 2006 salmon fishery any day.

The Alaska Salmon Price Report will provide first wholesale prices and sales volumes for key salmon products: canned salmon, fresh and frozen/headed and gutted, fresh and frozen fillets, and salmon roe.

The Annual Production Report will tell exactly how much salmon was processed by Alaska seafood companies last year.

"It allows us to pin down what we produced and what was the real growth in products like fillets, which are of great interest to many people," said analyst Chris McDowell of the Juneau-based McDowell Group, which tracks and translates the salmon data in reports to the industry. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2007

Alaska: DEC warns of PSP in shellfish - Shellfish gatherers should be cautious of the dangers of Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) from clams and mussels gathered on beaches across Alaska. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is warning sport harvesters not to eat shellfish from beaches that DEC has not classified as safe. A recent PSP incident in which a person became ill from eating butter clams in the Juneau area of Southeast Alaska prompted this warning to sport harvesters.

The risks of PSP from clams and mussels from unclassified beaches are real. PSP occurs widely in Alaska and strikes people nearly every year. The only safe shellfish collection areas are those that DEC classifies for commercial harvest, where clams, mussels, and other shellfish are tested on a regular basis. - More...
Monday PM - February 12, 2007


National: Helicopter downings vex U.S. military analysts By ANNA BADKHEN - Alarmed by the recent spike in successful attacks against American helicopters in Iraq, military officials and analysts are trying to discern: Is this a string of bad luck for U.S. pilots, or an ominous escalation in capabilities enabling insurgents to bring down aircraft crucial to American operations in Iraq?

If the latter conjecture is true, these new tactics could significantly impede the U.S. effort in Iraq, experts say. At worst, they might lead to an American defeat in the war by making the Iraqi airspace as dangerous to navigate as its roads, in the same manner CIA-supplied Stinger missiles contributed to the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan nearly two decades ago.

"Either it's bad luck of no larger consequence, or we have an Afghanistan-sized problem," said John Pike, director of, a military think tank in Alexandria, Va.

Six helicopters have crashed in Iraq over the past three weeks. The latest accident took place Wednesday, when a Sea Knight helicopter crashed, for reasons unclear so far, near the town of Taji about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad, killing all seven people onboard. - More...
Monday PM - February 12, 2007

Alaska: Research rocket launches from Poker Flat, through pulsating aurora - This morning, a NASA suborbital sounding rocket launched from Poker Flat Research Range into an aurora display over northern Alaska at 3:45 a.m. Alaska Standard Time, allowing researchers to gather more data about the power source behind pulsating auroras.

Marc Lessard of the physics department at the University of New Hampshire was the principle investigator for the experiment to investigate various aspects of pulsating aurora. The 662 pound experiment housed in the nose cone of a 65-foot Black Brant XII rocket arced above the atmosphere 408 miles above northern Alaska. Pulsating aurora is a subtle type of aurora that seems to blink on and off in large round patches.

Lessard's experiment, called ROPA (Rocket Observations of Pulsating Aurora), was complex even by rocket-science standards. It had a main instrument cluster, known as a payload, and three sub-payloads, which separated early after the rocket cleared the upper atmosphere at an altitude of 140 miles.

Two of the sub-payloads had their own rocket motors, propelling them away from the main payload where they obtained measurements of the pulsating aurora, which occurred near the latitude of Toolik Lake on Alaska's North Slope. Dirk Lummerzheim of the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute was on the ground at Toolik Lake. During the launch, he identified what looked like pulsating aurora in the all-sky camera at the research station there. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2007

Temperature Inversions

Temperature inversions go to extremes
Higher elevations in Alaska are often warmer in winter due to temperature inversions.
Photo by Ned Rozell.

Alaska: Temperature inversions go to extremes By NED ROZELL - Hydrologist Ed Plumb of the National Weather Service in Fairbanks was out measuring ice thickness on the Chatanika River last week. On his drive to a valley north of Fairbanks, he kept his eye on an outdoor thermometer attached to the truck.

As he crested Cleary Summit, the thermometer read 44 degrees Fahrenheit. He watched the temperature drop as he descended toward Chatanika Lodge, where the thermometer read minus 2 degrees. That temperature difference, caused by an extreme temperature inversion, occurred over a distance of about seven miles when Plumb dropped from a height of about 2,200 feet on the hilltop to 713 feet at the valley bottom.

Temperature inversions - where air temperature increases with elevation - happen in calm, windless places such as Interior Alaska. With no wind to mix the atmosphere, not much sunlight to heat the surface and a snow-covered surface that reflects sunlight, cold air tends to pool in low places and stay there. Fairbanks often has temperature inversions - that's what makes car thermometers so much fun here - but the ones on the last two days of January 2007 were exceptional. - More...
Monday PM - February 12, 2007


Basic Rules

letterWhat People Think By Jerry Cegelske - Tuesday AM
letter Airport Shuttle Was Best Idea By Ken Levy - Tuesday AM
letter Smoking By Robert McRoberts - Tuesday AM
letter Disclosure vs Shorter Session By Rep. Peggy Wilson - Monday PM
letter Government regulation of smoking in cars with children By Devin Klose - Monday PM
letterVehicular Homicide By Rob Holston - Monday PM
letter Trash Everywhere By Andrea Wick - Monday PM
letter Re Firing Squad By Carl Webb - Monday PM
letter Thank You Dr. Walton and staff By Agnes Moran - Sunday PM
letter Welcoming Letter to the Tourists By Carol Christoffe - Sunday PM
letter KETCHIKAN BOROUGH Airporter BUS.. A Solution? By Gigi Pilcher - Sunday PM
letter No Bridge By Don Hoff Jr. - Sunday PM
letter Pro Family Choice By Charlanne Heath - Sunday PM
letter RE: Children Without Choices By Dave Kiffer - Sunday PM
It IS different By Dinah Pearson - Sunday PM
letter Child abuse in Cars? By Ron Currit - Sunday PM
letter Bring your rubber boots & help clean up By Gretchen Klein - Sunday PM
letter Why is this happening in Ketchikan By Tony Gwynn - Sunday PM
letterTHANK YOU KGB MAYOR AND ASSEMBLY MEMBERS By Reggie Reinhardt - Thursday PM
letterNo Different Than Child Abuse By Carl Webb - Thursday PM
letterProposed Waterfront Zoning change By Ed Purvis - Thursday
letter Charitable Gaming Legislation By Vicki O'Brien - Thursday
letterBarge litter to Canada By Ken Lewis - Thursday
letter Family Choices By Dinah Pearson - Thursday
letter Response to "Litter and Slobs" By John Kiser - Thursday
letter "Metlakatla Moon" By Judith Green - Thursday
letter Second Hand Smoke in Cars By Rob Holston - Thursday
letter Children Without Choices By Carl Webb - Tuesday PM
letterRevised Tongass National Forest draft Management Plan By William E. Brown - Tuesday PM
letter Litter, and Unclean Streets In Some Areas By Carol Baines - Tuesday PM
letter 'Take Off' By Chris Elliott - Tuesday PM
letterPublic Beaches Under Threat By Eric Muench - Monday
letter"Take Off" By Karen Pitcher - Monday
letter Trashing of Alaska By Anita Hales - Monday
letter Airport Shuttle Needed By Ken Levy - Monday
letter Very Proud By Veta Mutart - Monday
letter More Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter


The Ketchikan School Board will hold a regular meeting in the City Council Chambers on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 at 6:00 pm
pdfDownload the Agenda


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Columns - Commentary

Dave Kiffer: Our Cajun Sister State - I read recently that the most popular baby names in Alaska are "Madison" for girls and "Ethan" for boys.

It seems odd to name a young girl after either a president or an avenue, but what do I know? Maybe there are a lot more "Splash" fans out there than I realize.

The name Ethan has been a pretty popular one for boys for some time, so that is no surprise.

Once upon a time just about every young child was named either John or Mary, so at least we are progressing beyond that.

After all, it could be like the 1890s when an awful lot of kids were being saddled with Gertrude and Horace.

Naming someone Gertrude or Horace in 2007 would lead to a later-in-life lawsuit for "parental malpractice."

I was curious about baby names in other states so I checked with the Social Security Administration website to see where Alaska's name choices ranked. - More...
Monday PM - February 12, 2007

Jason Love: Computer Hell - It was a typical day -- chop wood, carry water -- when I got a pop-up from Symantec: "Your Norton virus definitions are about to expire. Renew now?"

I thought virus definitions went on forever like the giant tortoise or Dick Clark. Evidently, they have to be renewed any time Norton demands "payment."

The Internet was such a good idea on paper. Now we tiptoe through the day afraid of spyware and macros and worms -- oh, my. It's enough to make you become a plumber.

What do hackers get out of the virus anyway? They're not even around to enjoy their evil. It's like ordering a pizza to someone else's house:

"I'll bet they're opening the door right now ... I'll just bet ..."

Norton promotes itself the same way our government does: "malicious threat" ... "security risk" ... "buy this or die!" Norton is even now spreading new viruses should we fail to pony up. So it goes. - More...
Monday PM - February 12, 2007

Ann McFeatters: An unrealistic budget - President Bush's spending blueprint for the rest of his term is what his father used to call "voodoo economics" - cut taxes, increase spending on the military and balance the budget - with a lot of devils in the details.

Nobody is going to spend much time on the president's massive $2.9 trillion budget proposal as written. With Democrats controlling, barely, the House and Senate, it's proverbially dead on arrival. But it is important to look at the budget because this once-a-year exercise tells us where Bush wants to take us for the next two years.

The thinking in the White House is that if unrealistic budgeting was good enough for Ronald Reagan, it's good enough for his wannabe clone. But Reagan's sleight-of-hand figuring gave the country enormous deficits. Also, George W. Bush is not Ronald W. Reagan. This president has already spent his political capital on Iraq.

This White House is to be congratulated for finally including the cost of the war in Iraq in its budget - instead of sending up off-budget spending resolutions, as it has been doing. (We will have spent more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than we did in Vietnam, even adjusted for inflation.) But the buck stops there. - More...
Monday PM - February 12, 2007

Dan K. Thomasson: Communities bear burden of Iraq - Not long ago while perusing reports of the daily slaughter in Iraq, I noticed that one of those killed in action was a 48-year-old enlisted man with five children.

What, I asked myself, is a man of that age with those responsibilities doing in this fight? We didn't take those men in World War II. Then it occurred to me. He was either a member of the National Guard or the Reserve.

The recent casualty lists from Iraq reflect a military problem common to most wars but punctuated in this one by the apparent lack of professional troops, a reliance on citizen soldiers who signed up for the National Guard to serve their states and to be called up to federal duty in extraordinary times. Iraq seems to be one of those times as the U.S. military struggles to keep up with the manpower demands.

The result has been the loss of their services, often permanently, to their families and communities that was never anticipated when they enlisted for part time duty in what has been known, sometimes derisively and unfairly, as the "weekend warriors." These are often men and women approaching middle age who come from the same locale, not 18-year-old regular military volunteers who come together from different parts of the country. The impact, therefore, can be devastating to their towns.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, sees this as one of the major concerns of the continuing long-term deployment of Guard troops, calling the overuse of these forces the result of "a tone deafness" that has plagued the war planning and management from the beginning. He notes that in his state 80 percent of the guard has been called to fight in Iraq, "exacting a huge strain on families and employers both private and public." The losses to community services include policemen, nurses and teachers, fathers and mothers. - More...
Monday PM - February 12, 2007

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