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State & National
April 21, 2007
Front Page Photo by Carl Thompson
Fish Factor: Big
push to expand aquaculture By LAINE WELCH - Offshore fish
farms could be down in the deep within two years if legislation
authorizing the new industry gets the go ahead from Congress
- and according to industry insiders, it is expected to pass
Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV),
chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced
last week that, at the request of the Bush Administration, he
will introduce the National Offshore Aquaculture Act to Congress
to help establish the new industry. The legislation would create
a regulatory framework for fish and shellfish farming in U.S.
waters from three to 200 miles offshore.
The big push towards expanding
aquaculture stems primarily from the nation's $8 billion seafood
trade deficit. More than 70 percent of the seafood eaten by Americans
is imported from foreign countries. Globally, more than half
of all seafood production comes from aquaculture.
Legislating the offshore industry
flies in the face of Alaska's federal and state lawmakers. Senator
Murkowski and Governor Palin have asked for a five year ban on
offshore fish farming to allow time for more environmental and
economic studies. Palin also wants a ban on farming certain species
like halibut and sablefish, along with subsidies for the fishing
industry to compensate for competition from U.S. backed fish
But like it or not, the new
industry is poised to move forward fast, and Alaska better pay
"The world is experiencing
an aquaculture revolution. Regardless of whether or not we have
interest ourselves, we should be paying very close attention
to what's happening so we can anticipate where our global markets
are likely to be in the future," said Gunnar Knapp, an economist
at the University of Alaska Institute of Social and Economic
Since the late 1980s Alaska
has had a ban on fish farming of any kind. Knapp said he is not
advocating rushing into aquaculture, nor does he believe Alaska
should shut the door to the possibility of changes in the future.
"With any kind of resource
development, what are the potential opportunities that we might
take advantage of, responsibility and safely?
"My feeling is that we
should go on more than a gut feeling and a knee jerk reaction
of no change from where we are at the moment, to looking at the
available evidence with regard to both environmental and market
concerns and be sure we're making the right decision," he
"It strikes me as a little
incongruous that we would take this attitude of no finfish farming
whatsoever under any circumstances, and yet we have a very extensive
salmon hatchery program that is of great economic benefit. We've
made the judgment that any environmental or ecological risks
are reasonable and controllable," he added. - More...
Saturday - April 21, 2007
encounter with a bear whisperer By CRAIG MEDRED - Fifty miles
northwest of Alaska's largest city, the roadless hills and boggy
swamps of the Yentna River Valley have for years hidden the secret
of bear man Charlie Vandergaw.
Far from the bear-viewing spectacle
of Katmai National Park, and farther still from the hype that
made a celebrity of the late Timothy Treadwell, a retired Anchorage
science teacher has quietly transformed himself into what Treadwell
only dreamed of being: a true bear whisperer.
What goes on each summer at
Vandergaw's remote homestead is so far from the ordinary as to
be almost unbelievable. Visitors tell of him petting black and
brown bears, playing with grizzly cubs while sows stand by, sitting
on bears and teaching them tricks. His own photographs show even
more. They capture him easing to within feet of breeding grizzlies
and nursing an injured brown bear.
From the air on an overcast
day late last summer, the "Bear Farm," as it's known
to some, doesn't look much different from dozens of other recreational
homesteads sprinkled across the region.
As an Anchorage air taxi turns
for its final approach, the scene appears unremarkable. But as
the floatplane glides across a lake toward Vandergaw's Piper
Cub, visitors get a first hint of the extraordinary. Protecting
Vandergaw's floatplane is an electric fence - an unusual precaution
against bears in this part of Alaska. Once on the ground, though,
the need for the fence becomes quickly apparent.
Along the four-wheeler trail
winding toward Vandergaw's cabin, the mud is thick with bear
tracks and sprinkled with scat. Closer to the buildings, the
bear sign increases.
Across a neatly grazed lawn
under a poplar canopy, is Vandergaw painting one of his outbuildings.
Ten, maybe 15 feet behind him is a sleek, 150-pound adult black
bear acting for all the world like a Labrador retriever. Vandergaw
pays the animal no attention.
There are regularly more bears,
many more bears.
Sometimes, too, there are visitors,
but not today. Vandergaw is alone and none too happy to have
uninvited guests from the Anchorage Daily News. He promptly asks
them to leave.
"I'm not looking for notoriety,"
he says. "My talking to you is not going to solve any of
the problems you're going to create."
A discussion - some might call
an argument - follows. Vandergaw eventually relents. Convinced
that his love affair with the bears has become so widely known
it can no longer be hidden, he begins to talk. Eventually, he
invites the visitors into his cabin to see the huge and stunning
collection of bear photographs stored in his computer. - More...
Saturday - April 21, 2007
Lear Jones, 76 - Willard Lear Jones, age 76, died on April
5, 2007, in Ketchikan. His Haida name was Naastao of the Raven-Brown
Bear Killerwhale Clan of Taas Laa Naas (Kasaan).
He was born on May 30, 1930,
in Kasaan. He attended schools in Kasaan, Richmond Beach, Washington,
Sheldon Jackson Junior and Senior High School in Sitka, and Oakland
(Calif.) City College in diesel mechanic training. He lived in
Kasaan, Sitka, Metlakatla, Big Delta, Oakland, Calif., and Ketchikan.
He married Mary Elizabeth Baines
on March 15, 1951, in Sitka, and they recently celebrated their
Mr. Jones was employed as a
commercial fisherman, diesel mechanic, high school teacher, and
college diesel instructor at the Ketchikan Community College
and University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus for 17 years.
He was a Sealaska and Kavilco shareholder. He was Kavilco's first
Chairman of the Board and a board member for 21 years.
He served in the U.S. Army
during the Korean Conflict with training in Big Delta.
A member of the Presbyterian
Church, Mr. Jones enjoyed singing in the Sitka, Metlakatla and
Ketchikan choirs. - More...
Saturday - April 21, 2007
The Week In Review By
THOMAS HARGROVE - Thirty-three shot to death at Virginia
Virginia Tech students and
faculty suffered the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history
Monday when English major Cho Seung-Hui gunned down 32 people
before shooting himself. Cho, whom acquaintances described as
a sullen loner, mailed video recordings to NBC the morning of
the shootings in which he rambled against rich students and people
he said had wronged him. "You decided to spill my blood,"
Cho said during the often-obscene tirade. "You had a hundred
billion chances and ways to have avoided today." Several
Virginia Tech students complained that police and university
authorities were slow to warn them of Cho's first attacks.
Gonzales struggles to explain
dismissals of prosecutors
Senate criticism grew louder
after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' testimony Thursday over
why he authorized the firings of eight federal prosecutors late
last year. Gonzales vehemently denied political motives, but
frequently claimed a faulty memory when asked about the extent
of his own involvement. "The notion that there was something
that was improper that happened here is simply not supported,"
he said. Several key Republicans were unconvinced. "The
best way to put this behind us is your resignation," said
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. White House spokesman Tony Fratto
said President Bush believes Gonzales "can be effective
Ministers loyal to al-Sadr
resign from Iraq Cabinet
Hopes for a political solution
to Iraqi violence dimmed Monday when six Cabinet ministers loyal
to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr resigned in protest
over the prime minister's refusal to set a deadline for the withdrawal
of U.S. troops. Their exit raised concerns that al-Sadr's Mahdi
Army might resume death-squad attacks that have killed thousands
in Baghdad. Violence quickly escalated, with more than 80 execution-style
civilian deaths discovered Tuesday and more than 180 deaths from
suicide bombings Wednesday.
Reid says Iraq war is lost
Senate Democratic leader Harry
Reid angered the White House and several top Republicans Thursday
when he said the U.S. military occupation of Iraq has failed.
"This war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything
as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday,"
the lawmaker from Nevada said. Reid was referring to a wave of
suicide bombings that killed more than 180 Iraqi civilians in
a single day. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called Reid's
position "disturbing" and dared Democrats to cut off
war funding. "If this is his true feeling, then it makes
one wonder if he has the courage of his convictions and therefore
will decide to de-fund the war," she said. - More...
Saturday - April 21, 2007
Washington Calling: Crying
'Uncle Sam' over oil ... Pravda and Imus ... more By LISA
HOFFMAN - Don't expect Capitol Hill to react to the Virginia
Tech mass murder in any consequential way.
Unlike after the 1999 Columbine
High School massacre, when Democrats in Congress won new rules
that limited the availability of some firearms, even fierce gun-control
advocates like New York Sen. Charles Schumer are largely laying
Political strategists blame
Al Gore's tie-breaking vote in favor of the restrictive measures
as one reason he lost the 2000 presidential election, and Democrats
are so hungry to win the White House back next year that they're
not going to risk hurting themselves this time.
At most, Congress will likely
dole out money that universities can use to buy and operate surveillance
cameras, hire more security guards and install communications
Seems the price of oil is too
high even for Uncle Sam. Attempting to fill up the tanks in the
nation's crude oil reserve after selling 11 million barrels of
it to stabilize prices after Hurricane Katrina, the Energy Department
solicited bids last month for 4 million barrels of crude. But
the price offered by oil suppliers was far too steep. So, the
department is trying again, setting a bid deadline of May 1.
When the price is right, the contract will be the first direct
purchase of crude oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve since
Now comes a handy glossary
of election terminology, courtesy of the U.S. Election Assistance
Commission, which this week unveiled an English-Spanish version
and hopes to produce others in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese,
Korean and Tagalog.
The first in the series offers
Spanish translations for hundreds of phrases and terms of great
import to America's electoral systems, including: hanging chads
(perforaciones que no se han desprendido totalmente); deceased
candidate (candidato fallecido), and catastrophic system failure
(falla catastrofica del sistema).
The costs of treating the big
megillahs of American illness - heart disease and cancer - increased
by more than $50 billion between 2000 and 2004, according to
new estimates from the federal Agency on Healthcare Research
and Quality. The tab for heart care jumped to $90 billion from
$62 billion; for cancer, it increased to $62 billion from $42
Even so, only about 3 million
more people were treated for heart problems in 2004 than 2000,
and about 1.6 million more for cancer.
So that's why Don Imus was
canned! Pravda, that bastion of Russian journalistic excellence,
tells us the radio star lost his job because he threatened to
release secrets about the U.S. government's involvement in the
9/11 terror attacks. "Unable to attack such a powerful media
figure as Don Imus, directly, the U.S. War Leaders(cq)... resorted
to a massive media attack against him using as the reason a racial
slur against a U.S. woman's basketball team."
Pravda said it expects actor
Charlie Sheen will now bite his tongue before criticizing the
Bush administration, lest he wind up like Imus, who Pravda believes
likely will face jail time if he keeps threatening to spill the
9/11 beans. Who knew? - More...
Saturday - April 21, 2007
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