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April 14, 2007

The Alaska Marine Highway System's fast ferry Chenega
manuvering to the dock on a windy Ketchikan day.
Front Page Photo by Dan Hart

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Alaska: Stevens reaches seniority mark ... with an asterisk By KEVIN DIAZ - The Senate, where seniority is king, toasted Alaska's Ted Stevens Thursday as the longest-serving Republican in history - with an asterisk.

Stevens reaches the mark on Friday, surpassing the longevity of the late Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who, as Stevens noted, started his career as a Democrat.

"I passed this milestone only because Strom made the mistake of being a Democrat for two terms," quipped the Alaska Republican, who started his Senate career on Christmas Eve 1968.

Stevens, 83, received several standing ovations during a half-hour tribute led by Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

"This is an outsize accomplishment for a man whose name is virtually synonymous with the nation's largest state. Yet no one who ever crossed paths with Senator Stevens is surprised that he's achieved it," McConnell said.

At least twice, Stevens tried to motion his colleagues to sit down.

Stevens' staff said he was surprised by the event, having expected only "a few words" of recognition from McConnell during morning business. Instead, McConnell delivered a 1,779-word tribute recalling Stevens' early days in office, when Newsweek magazine described him as "a 5'6" cigar smoker who hunts moose and earned a reputation as a scrapper in the Alaska House of Representatives." - More...
Saturday - April 14, 2007

Ketchikan: Public Employees Local 71 Bargaining Agreement Signed - The State Division of Personnel and Labor Relations on Friday announced a newly signed two-year collective bargaining agreement with Public Employees Local 71, representing the Labor, Trades and Crafts (LTC) Unit. "We appreciate that the Governor recognizes the blue collar workers of Alaska," says Jim Ashton, Business Manager of Local 71. The agreement covers the period from January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2008.

Local 71 represents 1,700 state employees from Ketchikan to Kotzebue covering 24 unique job classifications. "These are folks who maintain our roads and airports, and keep our Pioneer Homes comfortable for our senior citizens," comments Ashton. "We maintain public facilities, ferry terminals and support the State's communications."

"We appreciate Local 71 showing leadership and moving forward to work with this Administration," said Governor Sarah Palin. "It's rewarding to see the efforts of both sides working collectively to recognize the hard work of our employees who are providing the direct services for Alaskans." - More...
Saturday - April 14, 2007


Fish Factor: Maritime superstitions, Fast Catamaran, and Workers wanted By LAINE WELCH - Since 1991 this weekly column has been written on Friday­ and this week it happened to occur on April 13th. Friday the 13th --what better time to search out sea going superstitions!

For centuries, seafarers who face a life of danger and uncertainty have observed a strict set of rules steeped in myth and superstition. Many beliefs are based on the Bible, for example, the well known notion that Friday is the worst day to set out to sea.

Most sources credit that to the belief that Christ was crucified on a Friday. Therefore, this day must be observed and respected and will be unlucky for anyone who attempts to go about business as usual. Similarly, Sunday is the best day to begin a voyage, because Christ's resurrection on that day is regarded as a good omen. Thus the old adage, 'Sunday sail, never fail.'

A traditional view for centuries was that women had no place at sea. They weren't considered strong enough, emotionally or physically, and the men would be distracted from their duties, angering the seas and dooming a ship.

Interestingly, lore has it that a naked woman onboard would calm the seas. That's why many vessels have a bare breasted figurehead of a woman on the bow. Superstition amongst sailors said that the figurehead should have eyes to find a way through the seas when lost, while her bare breast would shame a stormy sea into calm. Pliny, the ancient Roman scientist and historian, first recorded this belief over 2000 years ago.

Since the 1700s, bananas have been regarded as bad luck by mariners. One explanation is that bananas carried aboard slave ships fermented and gave off poisonous methane gas. Another is that crewmen would die from lethal spiders hiding in the bunches of bananas. - More...
Saturday - April 14, 2007

Alaska: Public comments sought on large passenger vessel wastewater discharge permit - The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Commercial Passenger Vessel Compliance Program is inviting public comments on its proposed Large Commercial Passenger Vessel Wastewater Discharge General Permit. This general permit will satisfy the new permit requirement of the Cruise Ship ballot initiative that passed in August 2006. 
The general permit will apply to wastewater discharges such as treated sewage, graywater, (such as wastewater from sinks and showers), and other wastewater from large commercial passenger vessels operating in state marine waters within Southeast, Southcentral, and other waters of the state. Large commercial vessels provide overnight accommodations for 250 passengers. Owners/operators must apply for coverage under the general permit and comply with all the conditions in the permit, including monitoring, recording, and reporting wastewater discharges.  - More...
Saturday - April 14, 2007


Basic Rules

letter Schools etc. etc. By Bill Thomas Sr. - Saturday
letter Open Letter: TLMP By Robert Pickrell - Saturday
letter DISCLOSURE APPROPRIATE By Pete Ellis - Saturday
letter Faith By Gregory Vickrey - Saturday
letter Chamber Lunch By Laura Plenert - Saturday
letter New Library building By Signe Markuson - Saturday
letter Thanks for Making Ketchikan Better! By Jerry Cegelske - Saturday
letter "Do we really need a new public library?" By Robert Fruehan - Saturday
letter Alaska Coins By Tom LeCompte - Saturday
letter Swan death: What a shame By Amanda Martin - Saturday
letter New Running Track! By Becky Maynard - Wednesday PM
letterA Time to Refocus By Michael Spence - Wednesday PM
letterDo We Really Need a New Public Library? By Robert D. Warner - Wednesday PM
letter Driving Team Announced! By Tom LeCompte - Tuesday PM
letterDon Young Guest of Honor at Pork Dinner By Carol Cairnes - Tuesday PM
letter Tongass Roads By Joan Hurliman - Tuesday PM
letter Swan Death over Easter By Terri-Lee Gould - Tuesday PM
letter In the interest of "facts" By Penny Marksheffel - Tuesday PM
letter Thanks Jim for your caring... By Anita Hall - Tuesday PM
letter A Bridge to Somewhere By John Maki - Tuesday PM
letter Trash By Rebecca Simpson - Tuesday PM
letter Bridge to Where? By Charlotte Tanner - Tuesday PM
letter Coming Home to Ketchikan By Aisha Marshall - Tuesday PM
letterFacts, not opinions By Joel Galli - Sunday PM
letter Tongass Coast Aquarium/ Oceans Alaska By Rob Holston - Sunday PM
letter School, etc By Alaire Stanton - Sunday PM
letterK-town in general By Richard Harney - Sunday PM
letter 70% of the community?
By Soren Wuerth - Sunday PM
letter Bridge to Somewhere!! By Forrest A. Mackie - Sunday PM
letter The Liberating Truth By George Miller - Sunday PM
letter Traduced By Chris Elliott - Sunday PM
letter Open Letter to Sitnews By Patti Fay Hickox- Sunday PM
letter Mutt Breeders By Vickie Hansen - Sunday PM
letter 70 percent of our population? By Kevin Mackey - Sunday PM
letterMore Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter


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Alaska: Warming can harm Alaska's economy in many ways By ELIZABETH BLUEMINK - Alaska's warming trend could hit the state's economy on many fronts - from fishing and oil and gas exploration, to road repair and expanding agriculture.

Alaska scientists told the state's Climate Impact Assessment Commission that some of those economic consequences will build gradually over years. Others, like unexpected storms, are already hitting Alaska.

The commission, made up mainly of industry officials and chaired by state Rep. Ralph Samuels, R-Anchorage, was set up by the Legislature last May.

Until January, the commission will be developing a complete overview of the likely impacts of climate change in Alaska and recommendations to reduce harm from the changes. Part of that involves looking at the effects on Alaska's economy and on communities. - More...
Saturday - April 14, 2007

Alaska: Juneau's celebrity wolf stirs passionate debate By SABRA AYERS - This is a story about pets, the owners who love them and a lone, black wolf that has for the past four winters, depending on who you talk to, either harassed or entertained the community they all live in.

This is also a story about life in a town on the edge of the wilderness and what some say can be the sometimes fine line between observing and interacting with nature.

Four years ago, when a black wolf began roaming the snow and ice playground that is the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, wildlife watchers and photographers such as Nick Jans were thrilled. - More...
Saturday - April 14, 2007

Alaska: Kaktovik's 11 quakes don't shake residents By ALEX deMARBAN - An unusual series of earthquakes near an Arctic Ocean village this week have generated a buzz of excitement there.

But almost no one felt them, said Kaktovik residents.

Some learned about them on the radio, from a Barrow station 300 miles to the west, they said. Others saw the news on the Web.

The Inupiat village of 288 north of the Brooks Range is no stranger to earthquakes, but the stretch of 11 that began Saturday were close to the village.- More...
Saturday - April 14, 2007

Washington Calling: No representation for D.C. ... Good news on crotch front ... More By LISA HOFFMAN - As you grumble about taxes, consider the plaint of District of Columbia residents, for whom "taxation without representation" appears to be their fate for the foreseeable future.

Forget Monday's march by city leaders and residents to Capitol Hill to sound the (likely futile) final battle cry for a measure that would give city residents a vote in the House of Representatives, where tax policy is made.

While the bill has drawn more GOP support than ever before for similar quests, and it technically remains alive in Congress, it has become politically tangled with the city's handgun ban and is being panned by the White House as unconstitutional.

So any hope that the 500,000 city residents will finally get a say in how their federal taxes are levied and spent is almost certainly dead.


If you're still smarting from the chomp your state and local taxes took out of your wallet, you might consider moving to the states with the lowest tax burdens: Alaska (6.6 percent of income), New Hampshire (8 percent), Tennessee (8.5 percent), Delaware (8.8 percent) and Alabama (8.8 percent), according to a just-released study by the Tax Foundation.

The biggest chunks are taken by Vermont and Maine, which each eat 14 percent of income, and New York, which consumes 13.8 percent. Five states have registered double-digit drops in their tax burden since 2000: New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Georgia and North Dakota.


The American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor are demanding that Japan issue an apology for its brutal treatment of the 27,465 Americans taken prisoner by the Japanese army during World War II. The organization of former U.S. POWs says a 1995 general apology from then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama was insufficient because it did not address the barbarism suffered by Americans. The group is calling on President Bush to bring up the issue when he meets April 26 with new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House.


A coalition of U.S. ethnic groups wants the next decennial Census to quantify the ingredients in America's melting pot. The "Ancestry Working Group" - which represents those of Italian, Irish, German, Arab, Greek, Iranian and Caribbean descent, among others - is calling on the Census Bureau to include a question on ancestry in the 2010 short Census form. The group won an earlier battle with the bureau to keep the question on the 2000 long form. The agency maintains that the short form simply doesn't have room and that adding an ancestry query would bump more vital questions.


It's always the little things ... When first distributed to U.S. soldiers last year, the new "Army Combat Uniform" drew assorted gripes, including that the camouflage duds stained way too easily and that the crotch of the pants was way too flimsy.

Good news on the crotch front: That all-important nexus point has been redesigned with more fabric, heavier thread and stronger stitches. But the troops will have to live with the stains for now because the light-colored camouflage pattern simply shows dirt more than the previous darker one. Efforts are under way to treat new batches of the uniforms with stain-release finishes. - More...
Saturday - April 14, 2007

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