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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 05, 2009

Front Page Photo by MIKE KURTH

F/B Harry Newell
Fire Boat Harry Newell warming up on a winter's day.
Front Page Photo by MIKE KURTH


National: Fixing nations' broken banking system will be costly By BARRIE MCKENNA - Capping executive pay is the easy part.

But fixing the broken banking system remains as elusive a goal for President Obama and his new Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, as it was for the Bush administration.

Experts say it will take time, and a whole lot more taxpayers' money -- perhaps another $2-trillion. And maybe a few more false starts.

The administration will unveil what Geithner called "a comprehensive program for financial recovery" next week.

"We will have to do more -- substantially more -- to fix this crisis," Geithner said.

The plan is expected to include one or all of the following options: a giant "Bad Bank" to consolidate toxic loans, an orderly winding up of hobbled banks, federal guarantees to shore up the surviving banks and more aid for homeowners. Some experts are even advocating nationalizing key banks. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

National: How did the nation climb out of the Great Depression? By MEGAN MCCLOSKEY - As senators wrangle this week over Washington's plan to stimulate the economy, the debate is laced with competing interpretations of something that happened seven decades ago: the Great Depression.

Many Democrats believe government's spending under Franklin Roosevelt helped the nation climb out of the Depression. They support President Barack Obama's plan to inject $900 billion into the economy.

Other lawmakers, mainly Republicans, believe the opposite. They want to rein in Obama's stimulus package and provide more tax breaks so the private sector can reverse the downturn.

"All the government spending did not take us out of the Depression," Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign said.

So which view of the Depression is correct?

Let's start with the president who occupied the White House when the Depression began -- Herbert Hoover. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

National: Meth abuse costs nation more than $23 billion By DOUGLAS QUAN - The economic cost of methamphetamine abuse in the U.S. -- including the cost to jail users, put addicts through treatment and clean up meth labs -- was about $23 billion in 2005, according to a just-released study

The findings are surprising given how little attention meth use has gotten in anti-drug campaigns compared with other drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana, wrote the authors of the study, which was conducted by the RAND Corp.

"Obviously the next step is to look into prevention efforts, enforcement efforts," said Nancy Nicosia, the study's lead author and a RAND economist.

Meth, sometimes known as "speed," "ice," and "crank," is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It can be smoked, inhaled or injected.

The RAND study was the first attempt to do a national assessment of the costs associated with meth use. Researchers looked at data from 2005 because it was the most recent year for which data needed to do the estimate was available. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

Alaska Science: Ernest Leffingwell: Scientist with a fan club By NED ROZELL - One hundred years ago, a group of men sailed to the northern coast of Alaska on an expedition to find a land mass rumored to exist in the Arctic Ocean. Sea ice disabled the ship, they didn't find the land, and after wintering in the North everyone hurried back to warmer places. Except for Ernest Leffingwell.

Leffingwell, a geologist, teacher, and a veteran of the Spanish-American War, stayed behind on Flaxman Island, a sandy wedge of land north of Alaska's coast and 58 miles west of Kaktovik. He lived for nine summers and six winters in a cabin made from the ship that brought him there in 1906.

Scientist and explorer Ernest Leffingwell spent nine winters in Flaxman Island, off Alaska's northern coast. Photo from the book, Conquering the Arctic Ice, by Ejnar Mikkelsen.

From that lonely home base, Leffingwell made 31 trips around the area by sled and small boat, covered about 4,500 miles, and camped in a tent "about 380 times." This detail he included in a 250-page report for the U.S. Geological Survey that reads like a manual on how to live and perform science in the Far North. He gained some fans from the works.

"He wasn't a traditional scientist," said University of Alaska Fairbanks permafrost scientist and world traveler Kenji Yoshikawa, a Leffingwell admirer. "He was more like an early explorer from the 18th century."

"Unlike his counterparts of the time who were mostly looking for glory and doing only enough science to support that, Leffingwell quietly wandered on his own, dedicating himself to a better understanding of this interesting place," Matt Nolan, from UAF's Water and Environmental Research Center, wrote on his Web site.

Nolan found rock cairns at spots where Leffingwell photographed Okpilak Glacier in the Brooks Range in 1907. Nolan repeated Leffingwell's photos in 2004 and shows the impressive loss of ice since Leffingwell hiked there from the coast.

In addition to taking photos of things that interested him, Leffingwell wrote down observations of everyday life, including dogs' reactions to wearing packs made of sealskin ("A good dog will pack half his weight all day, but he does not enjoy it."), and the prevailing opinion about polar bears ("Locally they are regarded much as wolves are in cattle country.") - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009


Columns - Commentary

DALE MCFEATTERS: Tripped up by the tax code - Congress likes to talk about simplifying the tax code -- which, bear in mind, is solely its own creation -- but never does. Perhaps the tax problems of three of President Obama's nominees to top posts will prompt it to act.

Nancy Killefer, Obama's choice to be White House performance czar, withdrew over $946.69 in back taxes, interest and penalties for a brief period when she failed to pay the unemployment compensation tax for her household help. This is the recurring nannygate problem that came to prominence when it tripped up then-President Clinton's first two choices for U.S. attorney general.

Thomas Daschle withdrew from consideration as secretary of Health and Human Services over $140,167 in taxes and interest because he failed to treat the use of a company-provided car and driver for three years as taxable income.

Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner was roughed up in his confirmation hearings because of $34,023 in payroll taxes from a two-year stint with the International Monetary Fund. Either he didn't know or it failed to register that Americans who work for international organizations that do not deduct for Social Security are liable for both the employer half and their own half of the federal payroll tax. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

JAY AMBROSE: Billions of lost jobs? - As if to make positively sure no one missed the point that congressional Democrats don't have the slightest idea what they're doing with the stimulus package, Nancy Pelosi told the press the other day that prompt action was necessary because the United States is losing 500 million jobs a month.

That's a lot because, if you figure it out, we could then have lost 6 billion jobs by the end of the year, and that's nothing to sneeze at in a country of 300 million people.

Oops! Something is wrong here, but maybe you say it is no big deal -- everyone makes slips of the tongue and 500 million sounds something like 500,000 and we have in fact been losing roughly that many jobs a month lately.

Such might be a good argument except that this is the same speaker of the House who was recently explaining how condoms could come to our economic rescue, who feels compelled to insult Republicans when she needs their support and who once said any progress in Iraq was due to nice Iranians instead of surge tactics.

She is incompetent, over her head, and lest you think this is male chauvinism talking, we should quickly note that Harry Reid is someone whose non-sequiturs, self-contradictions, misinformation, name-calling and partisan rants make him seem more a jokester on "Saturday Night Live" than a Senate majority leader. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009


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Basic Rules

letter Performing Arts Center By Rodney Dial - Congratulation to Lallette Kistler and the Arts Council regarding their efforts to secure a borough endorsement of $500,000 Cruise Ship funds for a performing arts center. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letterBAILOUT, DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY? by Ken Bylund - Go on the internet and ask 'what is in the bailout bill'. You won't find anything... biggest, best kept secret and We shouldn't be cautious or suspicious of aristocrats running government? Does anyone think GM will change if we give them billions [that's thousands of millions] of dollars? Who believes it only postpones an inevitable collapse of a corrupt and dying industry? Why is that a good idea? Bernie Madoff should've been stopped when he began the world's 2nd biggest ponzi scheme... show of hands on that? So, SEC is incompetent or worse? Is corruption in government responsible for our owing $10,674,204,242,448 or nearly... Eleven - Thousand - Billion-dollars; roughly $35,000 dollars for every citizen - 300 million of us. American money is worthless, promissory notes for what? Don't worry? - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letter Taxes By Dustin Hofeling - This is in response to Mr. Carro's assessment of sales taxes in Ketchikan. I agree wholeheartedly with his assessments. Taxation is necessary to pay for road maintenance, utility lines, etc. We simply cannot go without taxes. However the idea of raising taxes is a death spiral. As more money comes in, the government will spend more, which requires more money, which induces more spending. It is hard for the government (or any other entity) to get out of such a chain of events. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letter Fireside Pork By Dan McQueen - In this time of budget cuts, layoffs, bailouts, states [Calif] going bankrupt, the very last thing Ketchikan needs is to go into DEBT for a Performing Arts Center! As this summer will prove, people ain't got the money to CRUISE so that money will DRY UP! We can't afford another remodel rental. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letter Roads and Bridges to SOMEWHERE By Alan R. McGillvray - While I may agree that Nome needs road communication with the rest of the state, I say that a road to Hyder, AK and Stuart B.C., with its attendant bridge from Revilla Island to the Mainland would probably better serve the State of Alaska. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letter PERFORMNG ARTS CENTER??? By Charles Edwardson - I also agree with the Borough Assembly's decision to endorse the performing arts center with the head tax fund we receive from tourism and with the decision to explore the old Fireside building for the location. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letterRe: Offensive By Hunter Davis - Thank-you Gerry. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letterMiddle Class Bailout By Jim Thompson - While the letter was a bit long winded & more than a bit highfalutin for my taste I whole heartily agree with Mr. Hanger. If all the money that is being given to bailout the business that are so critical to our Nation's Economy was actually given to the American Citizens that actually spend money that keeps our Economy working, the BIG BUSINESSES WOULD NOT NEED A BAILOUT!!!!!!!! - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letter Senator Murkowski's vote By Al Johnson - Well, Senator Lisa Murkowski (RINO-Alaska) voted for Eric Holder to become the U.S.Attorney General. Remember Holder from the Clinton administration? He ushered through pardons for 16 Puerto Rican terrorists in the last days of the Clinton administration. To refresh your memory the following excerpt from the Los Anglos Times: - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letterMiddle Class Bailout Petition By Peg Travis - The petition and article were well done and we do need to sign and get it to our politicians as soon as possible. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letterRE: Horrible roads By Thomas Thrush - Where do you think that snow and ice will go if not into the bay? I too applaud the government workers who worked hard to keep our steets and highways drivable. I also like the berm ideas, it's safer. - More...
Thursday PM - February 05, 2009

letterPerforming Arts Center By Lallette Kistler - I would like to thank the Borough Assembly for taking a giant step towards making a Performing Arts Center in Ketchikan a reality. They recently endorsed the contribution of $500,000 in cruise ship head tax funds to go towards the First City Players purchase of the old Fireside/Elks Club building. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 03, 2009

letterMIDDLE CLASS BAILOUT APPLICATION FORM By David G. Hanger - Realizing as they should have that the Congress of the United States forfeits both its moral authority and its actual authority to govern by representing only the one percent of this country that has managed to steal so much from everyone else, and in recognition of the precedent established that when the fox steals all the hen-house chickens, the U.S. Government gives the fox another hen-house full of chickens, we the vast physical majority of the U.S. citizenry do hereby apply for relief from impoverishment and from the need to support all these rich bastards who have lied, cheated, and stolen all of us into this abhorrent mess. Since the U.S. Congress has seen fit to finance the whims of the criminal elements of our society, indeed has seen fit to limit communication essentially to only the minions of that criminal element (lobbyists), and has seen fit to cater to their needs and not to the needs of the vast majority of the honest, hard-working citizens of this country, it is only appropriate that the precedents established to support this criminal element also be used to support the honest, ordinary citizens of this country. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 03, 2009

letterSales Tax By Justin Carro - I noticed a lot of discussion about sales tax lately. Taxes are an unfortunate part of life and though necessary to run the parts of our government most of us appreciate. However, one thing that we need to keep in mind is that we have nearly the highest sales tax rates in the state. Let that sink in just a bit -- highest sales tax rates in the state, because that is exactly what we will have if we raise them at all. This is counter-productive to keeping our position as a regional hub. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 03, 2009

letter Offensive By Gerry Knasiak - First let me assure Mr. Rob Holston that should you have any opinions that are repugnant to me I would defend your right to have them; they belong to you. Having said that I would add that that right stops, as it should have at the Cabaret performance on Friday , January 23,, 2009, when you blatantly included as part of your act something that obviously reflects your opinion that can only be termed racist. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 03, 2009

letter Direction Please! By James Schenk - Thank you for this forum, I enjoy its content and our citizens participation in community concerns. What I don't understand is why all the negativity? If this forum is available why not utilize it to build our community, rather than criticize its failings? When you build something you take into account what that something's strengths and weaknesses are. Then you begin to find ways to change the weakness to strength. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 03, 2009

letterPoor Herring Stocks By John Arthur - This is in response to Larry Demmert's Letter to the Editor. You can sure tell Mr. Demmert knows "nothing" about healthy herring stocks. Maybe he should come to Sitka and visit the Pioneer Home and senior centers and learn all about "Healthy Herring Stocks" here in Sitka. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 03, 2009

letterThe price of gas By Jim Dornblaser - The price of fuel (gas included) is regulated by the demand on a base amount of supply. We are living in a capitalistic free market society & I for one am GLAD, HAPPY, wouldn't want it any other way. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 03, 2009

letter Thank you for the help By Judith Green - This morning as I was trying to get out of my driveway, my car got high centered. SO the car was half in the drive and half on the South Tongass Highway, at the bottom of Shoup St. While standing there trying to figure out how to un-do, an AP&T employee saw the dilemma, turned around and stopped to assist. Then a neighbor on Shoup St saw, and stopped and came over to assist. Then a truck with a snow plow attahment stopped in the middle of the highway to stop traffic from both directions, and voila! the car was freed and I was ready to go. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 03, 2009

letter Underneath the Politics By Tim Reveri - When my Grandpa entered the hospital two weeks before my birthday, it was supposed to be for a simple operation. It was so minor that my parents almost forgot to tell me. The procedure went off without a hitch, and my dad visited him the next day, telling me later that my Grandpa was his normal, albeit incoherent, grouchy self. He spent his time in bed bemoaning the Yankees pitching staff to the family. Two days later, he suddenly fell into critical condition, he had been retaining fluid in his stomach but, since there were only two nurses tasked to the entire hospital floor, it had gone unnoticed. My grandpa had gotten up to go to the bathroom and ended up not seeing the next morning. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 03, 2009

letter Horrible Roads By Jerilyn Lester - I would like to inform Ms. Lawrence that as soon as the city could move the snow they did. The EPA has told them they could not dump it into the bay because of the chemicals that are put onto the road. When they remove the snow this time should we suggest that they dump it into your yard? Or is there somewhere else that you would like it put? I don't want it in my yard, but I have to agree with Mr. Young that for you to complain is completely uncalled for. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 03, 2009

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