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April 19, 2007

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


Alaska: Governor Signs Admin Order Creating Petroleum Systems Integrity Office - Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced Wednesday the "Petroleum Systems Integrity Office" (PSIO), her initiative to ensure Alaska's oil and gas infrastructure will get the maintenance and inspection it needs to operate safely for decades to come.

"The economic well-being of our state depends on the flow of oil from state lands on the North Slope and elsewhere in the state," said Governor Palin. "Alaska will continue to deliver the new energy our nation needs, and we absolutely demand that our oil and gas systems are up to the job."

Governor Palin's Administrative Order 234, signed April 18, 2007, creates the PSIO as an independent office inside the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Oil and Gas, with specific responsibilities and authorities to coordinate the state's permitting, oversight and compliance functions with all other responsible agencies.

PSIO addresses lax maintenance practices on the North Slope that came to light last year after corroded pipelines spilled 200,000 gallons of oil, leading to production shut-downs at Prudhoe Bay and interruption in the flow of oil revenue to the state, she said. - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007

Alaska: Alaska's FY08 Revenues Expected to Fall from FY07 Record - Alaska Department of Revenue Commissioner Patrick Galvin today released the first revenue forecast of the Palin Administration. The revenues for the current 2007 fiscal year will be a record high. The new Petroleum Profits Tax (PPT) became effective on April 1, 2006. FY 07 revenue from the PPT is about $1.0 billion more than what would have been received under the old Economic Limit Factor or ELF. Alaska will continue to experience higher oil prices, but revenue forecasts will continue to reflect declines in ANS production.

General Fund Unrestricted Revenue is forecast at $4.98 billion in FY 07 and $3.55 billion in FY 08. The FY 07 value is $68 million higher than projected in the fall of 2006 while the FY 08 value is $364 million lower than that forecasted in the fall. According to the Alaska Department of Revenue, the FY 08 estimate is lower because (1) expected crude oil production volumes have been reduced; (2) expected deductible costs under PPT have increased; and (3) unused tax credits earned in FY 07 for taxpayers' capital investments are being applied against FY 08 revenues. - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007

National: GOP joins No Child Left Behind skeptics By ROB HOTAKAINEN - Five years after President Bush got a Republican-led Congress to pass a landmark law that forces schools to give students more tests, his party is leading a revolt.

When Congress signed off on the No Child Left Behind legislation in December 2001, one Republican, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, said it represented a new era that would benefit students across the country, and he saluted Bush's leadership. Now Brownback, who's seeking the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, would be happy if states could just opt out of the federal testing mandates.

Ditto for Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt, the House's second-ranking Republican. After co-sponsoring the legislation, the minority whip now says he regrets voting for it.

Is No Child Left Behind about to get left behind? While no one is predicting its immediate demise, discontent is growing on Capitol Hill. - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007


Real Estate Watch: Congress looks for a solution on foreclosures By HOLDEN LEWIS - Congressional Democrats want to hold back a rising tide of foreclosures, but they're being told that there is not much they can do.

It wouldn't hurt to ask the right people. On April 17, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing called, "Possible responses to rising mortgage foreclosures." Of a dozen witnesses, none were mortgage servicers - the people whose companies collect mortgage payments, deal with delinquent debtors, and initiate foreclosures. The committee didn't call any lenders, either.

Instead, the committee called a regulator, the federal housing commissioner, the heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, several nonprofits, and two banking and securities lobbyists. This broad array of people agreed on one thing: This ain't your grandfather's mortgage industry. The business is so extraordinarily complex now, so decentralized, that it's hard for anyone to reduce foreclosures, no matter how fervently they wish to do so. - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007

Science: Ancient T. rex and mastodon protein fragments discovered, sequenced 68-million-year-old T. rex proteins are oldest ever sequenced - Scientists have confirmed the existence of protein in soft tissue recovered from the fossil bones of a 68 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) and a half-million-year-old mastodon.

Their results may change the way people think about fossil preservation and present a new method for studying diseases in which identification of proteins is important, such as cancer.

When an animal dies, protein immediately begins to degrade and, in the case of fossils, is slowly replaced by mineral. This substitution process was thought to be complete by 1 million years. Researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Harvard Medical School now know otherwise. - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007

Science: Study says ethanol could be as bad for health as gasoline By KEAY DAVIDSON - If ethanol ever gains widespread use as a clean alternative fuel to gasoline, people with respiratory illnesses may be in trouble.

A new study out of Stanford says pollution from ethanol could end up creating a worse health hazard than gasoline, especially for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

"Ethanol is being promoted as a clean and renewable fuel that will reduce global warming and air pollution," Mark Z. Jacobson, the study's author and an atmospheric scientist at Stanford, said in a statement. "But our results show that a high blend of ethanol poses an equal or greater risk to public health than gasoline, which already causes significant health damage." - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007

Alaska tamaracks still hanging on after attack
Last fall's needles still cling to this young,
live tamarack in Fairbanks.
Photo by Ned Rozell.

Alaska: Alaska tamaracks still hanging on after attack By NED ROZELL - The tamarack is one of Alaska's prettiest and most endangered trees. An insect outbreak in the past decade killed up to 80 percent of the adult trees in the state and scientists are keeping an eye on tamaracks to see if they'll need to resort to "genetic conservation," removing small trees from the forest so some will exist in the future.

Tamaracks are trees that look like spruce, but they have cones that sit upright on supple branches. Unlike spruce trees, tamaracks drop their needles every fall. When autumn arrives, tamarack needles change from green to gold before shedding like a dog's fur onto the forest floor. Each spring, new green needles emerge like the legs of spiders from branch nodules. Tamaracks grow on boggy ground in valleys of the Koyukuk, Yukon, Tanana, and Kuskokwim river drainages and foresters say the wood is similar to birch in terms of heating value per cord.

Starting in the early 1990s, the larch sawfly started attacking tamaracks over the entire range of the tree, more than one million square acres. By 1996, the sawfly infested almost every tamarack in Alaska, gobbling up the solar panels the tree uses for nourishment. - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007


 Public Meetings

The Ketchikan City Council will hold a regular meeting on Thursday, April 19, 2007 at 7:00 pm in the City Council Chambers.
Agenda & Information Packets (pdf) - Click on each agenda item to download the information packet.

The Assembly/School Board Liaison Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday, April 19, 2007, at noon in the City Council Chambers, 334 Front Street. The committee will be discussing items of mutual concern to the Assembly and School Board. The public is invited to attend.

Basic Rules

letter "Family" By Julie Steiner - Wednesday PM
letter Ketchikan School Board By Rick Krueger - Wednesday PM
letter Penalties for dumping By Gavin Piercy - Wednesday PM
letter Margaret McCombs Story By Carolyn Frye - Wednesday PM
letterEarth Day By Tara Wilhelm - Wednesday PM
letter Virginia Tech Shootings By Glenn A. Bell - Wednesday PM
letter McCombs: Free to Roam By Amanda Chandler - Monday PM
letter Jim Elkins By Taylor Gregg - Monday PM
letter Honesty and character By Al Johnson - Monday PM
letterDo We Really Need a New Public Library? By Robert D. Warner - Monday PM
letter Ketchikan Garbage By Sonia Streitmatter - Monday PM
letterWorld Port, Superintendent, Library... By Robert McRoberts - Monday PM
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
letter More Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter


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Columns - Commentary

Ann McFeatters: The Bush administration's sex scandal - What would you think if the president of the world's most powerful bank, after being given the job by the president of the United States, used his influence to get his girlfriend at the bank detailed to the State Department at a salary higher than that of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice?

What would you think if the bank president then went on to say that he wanted the hallmark of his new career to be an all-out fight against global corruption and for good governance while ferreting out irregularities within the bank itself?

What would you say if while this bank president was in his previous job as the No. 2 official at the Defense Department and was advising the U.S. president to go to war in Iraq, the Pentagon sent that same girlfriend, Shaha ali Riza, to Iraq to report on the situation there? - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007

Preston McDougall: Chemical Eye on a Hokie CAVE - Romanian-born engineering professor, Liviu Librescu, who specialized in materials designed for unsteady aerodynamics, survived the Holocaust, and escaped a brutal communist dictatorship. But, in what might have been his most heroic moment, his body's life force was spent dissipating the chaotic whirlwind of hate that has sent shockwaves all around the world from the campus of Virginia Tech.

It makes me want to crawl into a CAVE.

While it is just as possible, I am not afraid of a similar tragedy occurring here at Middle Tennessee State University, which is like Virginia Tech in some ways; a large, state-supported university, set in a college town, surrounded by lots of beautiful scenery.

And while there are lots of caves in Middle Tennessee, that slightly acidic ground water has chemically carved out of the basic limestone bedrock, none are of the kind that I am thinking about. The CAVE I want to tell you about can be used to escape reality, or to distort it as in Plato's allegory, but neither of these would be my purpose.

Furthermore, the CAVE I want to take you to is hardly a safe distance from the site of the massacre - it is right in the middle of the Virginia Tech campus! - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007

Dan K. Thomasson: Politicians won't stand up to gun lobby - Missing from the incredible outpouring of grief in the tragedy at Virginia Tech was the one ingredient that might provide a measure of assurance that it won't happen again - unrelenting public outrage over the gun culture that has brought us to this excruciatingly sad place.

As the pieces of the killing field puzzle and the profile of its deranged perpetrator unfolded, authorities announced only that he had bought the two murder weapons legally under the laws of Virginia, among the most lax in the nation, absolving the Roanoke dealers who sold them to him of any criminal responsibility in the matter and certifying just how disruptive the commonwealth's lack of gun control is to human life.

The absolution granted the dealers and the state were about the only uttered references in the first 48 hours to the real issue paramount in the minds of caring, sane people. What is it going to take to convince the nation's intimidated lawmakers that this is a society on the verge of becoming the most violent in history, a place where a clearly disturbed person like Cho Seung Hui has easy access to weapons to satisfy his delusions? - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007

Michael Reagan: Gun laws kill - Thirty-two fine young men and women are dead and that is a huge tragedy. It is also, however, a tragedy that the death toll could have been substantially lower if it were not for an absurd law that kept the students and faculty from exercising their Constitutional right to protect themselves and others by bearing arms on campus.

Thanks to that law a madman was able to confront the men and women at Virginia Tech secure in the knowledge that he was armed while his victims were unarmed and defenseless.

One of those victims used the only weapon he had to protect his students. Liviu Librescu, a man who survived both the Nazi Holocaust and Communist tyranny in his native Romania, used his body as a defensive weapon against the madman's assault, putting his shoulder to the door to keep the killer from getting into the classroom while his students fled though the windows. - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007

Dale McFeatters: NBC's painful but necessary decision - Between his first and second round of killings, gunman Cho Seung-Hui went to the local post office and express-mailed a packet of photos, a video and a rambling, often incoherent 22-page screed attempting to justify the execution of his classmates.

After clearing it with police, NBC News began airing brief excerpts Wednesday night and has taken considerable heat for doing so. It must have been devastating to the victims' loved ones to see the boastful killer posturing with his handguns. And even NBC's own consultant, former FBI agent Clint Van Zandt, said that airing the video was Cho's "ultimate victory ... reaching out from the grave and grabbing us." - More...
Thursday - April 19, 2007

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