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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 26, 2007

Front Page Photo by Carl Thompson

Ward Lake: Swan with Ducks
Front Page Photo by Carl Thompson

Top Stories
U.S. News
U.S. Politics


Alaska: SEWARD'S DAY MARCH 26: Celebrating the Alaska Purchase By JUNE ALLEN - It was at the end of March 1867 that the sale of Russia's possessions on the far northwest shoulder of North America was negotiated. It was a curious transaction in that the sellers didn't particularly want to sell and the buyers were not all that interested in purchasing such a huge, seemingly worthless chunk of real estate. And even at the successful end of the negotiations between representatives of the two nations, the United States Senate approved the purchase of Alaska by only a single vote! It was the popular and powerful Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts who eased the passage of the treaty allowing the sale - and who also suggested that the nameless frozen properties in the North Pacific be named "Alaska."

Seward's Day...

Portrait of Secretary of State William H. Seward, officer of the United States government. Created 1860 - 1865. Civil War photographs / compiled by Hirst D. Milhollen and Donald H. Mugridge, Forms part of Selected Civil War photographs, 1861-1865.
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

It was two years after the close of the War Between the States and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln that the Purchase of Alaska was engineered. At the time, Washington D.C. was a springtime quagmire of muddy and rutted, manure-fouled streets. Men carried side arms and spat tobacco juice. The seemingly lawless nation's capital still wore the in-progress look of a "created" community, the progress halted by the empty coffers of a country devastated by a long and costly civil war.

The two men who engineered the Alaska Purchase, U.S. Secretary of State William Henry Seward and Russian diplomat Edouard de Stoeckl - couldn't have been more different.

William Henry Seward had been Secretary of State under President Lincoln - against whom he ran unsuccessfully for the presidential nomination in 1860. After Lincoln's assassination, Seward remained as Secretary of State under President Andrew Johnson.

Seward was born to a wealthy family in New York state, became a lawyer like his judge father, and entered politics at a young age, becoming a two-term governor of New York before he exercised his presidential ambitions. As Lincoln's "right hand," he was said to have been an effective secretary of state. - More...
Monday - March 26, 2007


National: Questions raised about Army board's disability assessments By MICHAEL GILBERT - The Army is rethinking the way it evaluates wounded and injured soldiers who are no longer fit for duty because of post-traumatic stress disorder and certain other conditions.

But a board at Fort Lewis, Wash., continues to move soldiers with those medical problems through the Army's disability-assessment system, even though the new guidelines have yet to be published, according to attorneys who represent soldiers.

n effect, soldiers must argue their case without knowing the rules by which the board will size up their injuries, say the three Army lawyers who represent soldiers before the Fort Lewis Physical Evaluation Board, or PEB.

Attorneys from the Office of Soldiers' Legal Counsel stated their objections in a letter to the PEB president, Col. John O'Sullivan.

"A soldier's statutory right to a full and fair hearing is fundamentally violated if they are not provided the standards upon which they are to be judged in advance of the hearing," they wrote.

Meanwhile, in a letter sent after visiting Fort Lewis several weeks ago, the Army's top civilian lawyer raised concerns about a possible "Wal-Mart greeter test" in determining whether soldiers are well enough to be denied benefits.

The PEB decides whether wounded and injured soldiers from across the Western United States should receive retired pay and military benefits such as health-care coverage and base privileges, or one-time severance payments with no benefits, or no compensation at all.

The three attorneys who wrote the letter are Maj. Damon D. Gulick, Lt. Col. Ronda W. Sutton and Steven E. Engle, a civilian who is the chief of office.

They said that until the new rules are distributed, the soldiers and their lawyers "do not know what evidence to gather, marshal and present that will be most relevant" to the board's decision-making in each case.

A board official and an Army Human Resources Command spokesman declined to comment late last week.

The Army's Physical Disability Agency is in the midst of a rewrite of the guidelines for rating the severity of injuries such as PTSD; lost range of motion in joints such as the neck and shoulders; sleep apnea; and other conditions.

The revisions are apparently in response to complaints that have come to light in the wake of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal last month. Since then, soldiers and their advocates have raised questions about the fairness of the Army's system for determining whether wounded and injured soldiers are fit for duty, and if they're not, how to compensate them for their disabilities.

Fort Lewis is home to one of three Physical Evaluation Boards in the Army. The others are at Walter Reed in Washington and at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. A fourth, mobile board is occasionally convened to address case backlogs around the country. - More...
Monday - March 26, 2007

Front Page Photo by Hamilton Gelhar

Ward Lake: Girl with Swan
Front Page Photo by Hamilton Gelhar

National: Ethanol's ties to oil price could spell trouble for farmers By MIKE MEYERS - After 70 years of efforts to stabilize farm incomes from the perils of swings in crop prices, government might have found a new way to inject risk into the business of farming - ethanol.

The consensus view is that corn growers are better off thanks to ethanol. It's a key reason, along with reducing oil imports, that billions in taxpayer subsidies are being devoted to the alternative fuel.

But a number of economists and financial market observers have started to second-guess the assumption that ethanol is nothing but good news for corn growers.

Their argument, in short, is that farmers, who have always been beset by droughts, floods, insect invasions and other caprices of nature, now must also contend with the regular seesawing of oil prices.

"Tying a large part of agriculture to oil is to introduce vagaries and risks to an already risky business," said C. Ford Runge, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy.

Ethanol production was supposed to ease risks for farmers by giving them the opportunity to invest in plants that produce the alternative fuel. So far it has. Corn prices have soared and ethanol profits, boosted by federal and state subsidies, delivered what an analyst at A.G. Edwards of St. Louis called " a stellar year" in 2006.

More stellar years could lie ahead if oil prices stay high. But if oil comes down, demand for ethanol could fall as well.

"If you're a believer that oil prices are coming down to the $40 range, there could be headaches all around," said Ron Oster, senior associate analyst at A.G. Edwards. "By investing in ethanol, (farmers are) betting on higher oil prices." - More...
Monday - March 26, 2007


Basic Rules

letterAMHS Southern Gateway Shuttle Ferry Needs to be Operating in 2008 By Mike Round - Sunday AM
letterDog Breeders By Margaret Cloud - Sunday AM
letter Neckameyer is right on with his Islamofacisist remarks By Bob Harmon - Sunday AM
letter Roads on Gravina By Mike Salee- Saturday PM
letter School Superintendent By KJ Harris- Saturday PM
letter New airport in lieu of bridge By Edward Brown- Saturday PM
letter School Board Controversy By Diana Chaudhary - Saturday PM
letter KPU Dividend? By Mike McColley- Saturday PM
letter Daylight Savings Time By Ken Levy- Saturday PM
letter How Ketchikan "used to be" By Jeanine Miller- Saturday PM
letter Some explaining to do... By Jon Hurley- Saturday PM
letter Dog Breeders By Kara Jeanne Blazier- Saturday PM
letter Re: IT errors at PFD By Glen Thompson - Saturday PM
letter Tourism money and city projects By Christy Smith - Saturday PM
letterAn accurate, technical explanation of the PFD data loss By Norm Snyder - Thursday AM
letter Finding Peace... By Mark Neckameyer - Thursday AM
letter GLOBAL WARMING AS AN INDICATOR By Ken Bylund - Thursday AM
letterGang Type Activity in Ketchikan By Laura M. Warren - Wednesday AM
letter Never buy a dog from any breeder By Margaret Cloud - Wednesday AM
letter Just heard... By Rick Krueger - Wednesday AM
letter Daylight savings time & government health care... By Ken Lewis - Wednesday AM
letter Taxes and Bus Service By Rodney Dial - Tuesday AM
letter KANAYAMA BEGINNINGS By Bill Tatsuda - Monday AM
letterDowntown Sitka By Sarah Corporon - Monday AM
letter Looking for photo of an old boat (the "Famous") By Heidi Ekstrand - Monday AM
letter Gun Safety By Kerry Watson- Monday AM
letterGravina By Eric Tyson - Monday AM
letter EIS hearings in Saxman By Anita Hales - Monday AM
letter Defensive Driving in the Snow By Chris Elliott - Monday AM
letter Too many pit mixes in town By Tammy Sivertsen - Monday AM
letter Daylight Savings Time
By Ken Levy - Monday AM
letter Gravina Views By Robert McRoberts - Monday AM
letter AIRPORT SHUTTLE By Ken Levy - Monday AM
letter LIFE LESSONS By Jeff Wahl - Monday AM
letter Israel-Finding Peace with its Arab Neighbors By Tom Proebsting- Monday AM
letterMore Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter


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National: Got rbST ... in your milk? By GEORGE RAINE - Richard Cotta, CEO of California Dairies Inc., the nation's second-largest dairy cooperative, is guided by a simple business philosophy: "If you want milk with little blue dots, you'll have it, as long as you are willing to pay for it."

So, when a string of major customers, including supermarket giant Safeway, came to his co-op saying they would no longer accept milk from cows treated with a genetically engineered growth hormone, the co-op bowed to the inevitable.

In January, California Dairies' board voted to ask its members not to inject synthetic bovine growth hormone into their cows. If they do, their milk will have to be segregated and they'll pay a surcharge.

"Consumer demand is obvious," Cotta said.

The action by a co-op that ships 50 million pounds of milk every day is part of a sweeping, consumer-driven agricultural makeover, in which suppliers are forced to adapt to a changing marketplace. Demand for natural foods is rising, while increasing numbers of consumers are avoiding products that rely on antibiotics or growth hormones. And food retailers are listening.

Recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rbST, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration 14 years ago. Injected every two weeks into cows, it sustains lactation by stimulating cows' appetites so they eat more and produce more milk, perhaps an extra 5 quarts per day.

The hormone supplements the natural bovine somatotropin (bST), or bovine growth hormone, produced in a cow's pituitary gland. St. Louis' Monsanto Co., which developed the synthetic hormone known by the trade name Posilac, says the increased milk output translates to an average increase in net profit for dairies of $100 a year per cow.

The synthetic hormone may have been used in 20 percent to 30 percent of the nation's cows since it became available in January 1994, according to some estimates. - More...
Monday - March 26, 2007

Home: Ten tips to help you get your taxes done By SARAH WELCH and ALICIA ROCKMORE - Ah, tax time. Just the mention of it is enough to inspire the most organized of us to wince. It seems like every year around this time, we say to ourselves, "OK, so next year I'm going to get it together so I'm not going to be a crazy person come April 17th."

Then you go back to scouring the house for receipts, deciphering new tax codes, and wishing your spouse were an accountant. Since there's no way to go back in time and get a system in place to make the tax process easier, a routine that will make next year's tax time even less stressful. we've come up with some helpful hints to streamline and de-stress this year's task.

1. Review Last Year's Return

The best way to start in on this year's taxes is to get out last year's return to review it. Look and see what deductions you made, what changes you made in your life that may affect this year's return, and note if there are any carry-over losses you might have forgotten about.

2. Visit IRS Online

Even the Internal Revenue Service knows how complicated the tax process can get. By visiting the IRS Web site at, you can get clarification on all of your tax questions, learn what tax laws have changed, and, most importantly, see what does and doesn't qualify as a deduction. (Sorry, as much as they seem like it, cats are not dependants.)

3. File Return Electronically.

In 2006, more than 70 million people filed their tax returns electronically. Not only is it faster and easier to fill out, it's more accurate as well. Plus, if you qualify for a refund, the waiting time for e-filers is half that of paper filers.

4. Can't Pay? Don't Panic.

A huge source of tax-time stress comes from the realization that you may not be able to pay what you owe come April. Don't worry. There are options. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, which lets you break up your payments. There are also various options for charging your balance to a credit card. Visit for more information.

5. Made a Mistake? It's OK.

Did you already send in your return, only to discover that you forgot a deduction, or made a few errors on it? Instead of turning yourself in to the proper authorities, simply fill out a 1040x form, which lets you amend your original return up until three years after the original filing date.

6. Make Process A Family Affair

Everyone is involved in taxes, so everyone should be involved in putting them together. Couples should sit down and divide tasks between them, while families with children can get them involved so everyone has an understanding of what it takes to run a household. - More...
Monday - March 26, 2007

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