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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 02, 2007

Front Page Photo by Mike Kurth

Fireboat Harry Newell
Ketchikan Volunteer Fire Department diver Brian Short perpares to do
a training dive off the Fireboat Harry Newell at the Talbot's Hardware dock.
Front Page Photograph by Mike Kurth

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U.S. News
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Southeast Alaska: Judge Strikes Down Long Island Aerial Pesticide Spraying Permit - An Alaska State Superior Court judge decided in favor of safe wild foods, clean water, and wildlife when he reversed a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) permit that would have allowed Klukwan, Inc. to spray pesticides from a helicopter on Long Island near Prince of Wales Island. The judge's decision follows an appeal of DEC's decision filed on June 19, 2006 by the Hydaburg Cooperative Association, City of Hydaburg, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Organized Village of Kake, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, and Alaska Community Action on Toxics. Briefings and oral arguments were made by the parties on March 19, 2007.

"This is a great win for the Tlingit and Haida people," said Bill Martin, President of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. "It protects the customary and traditional use areas that are so important to us. It's definitely something to celebrate!"

One of the main concerns that brought the different parties together on the appeal was the precedent the permit would set to allow aerial spraying of chemicals near salmon streams, hunting areas, and locations used for gathering traditional foods and other resources. Buck Lindekugel, Conservation Director and staff attorney for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, was lead counsel for the parties in the appeal.

"This is great news for Hydaburg," said Anthony Christiansen, Mayor of Hydaburg and Environmental Planner for Hydaburg Cooperative Association. "People here were extremely worried about the effects of spraying these chemicals on their traditional foods." - More...
Wednesday - May 02, 2007

Alaska: BP asked if scrimping led to oil field leaks By WESLEY LOY - Congressional leaders say they've obtained e-mails and other documents suggesting a "severe cost-cutting atmosphere" at BP that might have led to pipeline corrosion and leaks last year in the giant Prudhoe Bay oil field.

The documents show that BP considered reducing the use of corrosion-inhibiting chemicals in pipelines to save money, according to a letter two congressmen sent to a BP executive. The company also might have skimped on corrosion monitoring techniques such as running pigs - devices that slide through pipes looking for trouble spots - and digging up road crossings to visually inspect pipes, the letter says.

The letter sets up a Thursday hearing in Washington, D.C., on last August's partial shutdown of Prudhoe, the nation's top-producing oil field, due to pipeline leaks.

The shutdown rattled world oil markets, and a major spill from a corroded pipe months earlier remains under scrutiny by federal criminal investigators. The 201,000-gallon release was the largest oil spill ever on the North Slope. - More...
Wednesday - May 02, 2007


Alaska: Governor Calls for Comprehensive Assessment of Alaska's Oil and Gas Infrastructure - Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced Tuesday that she is launching a comprehensive assessment of the condition of Alaska's oil and gas infrastructure. Referred to as a "risk assessment," the effort is fundamentally an engineering analysis involving a thorough, independent appraisal of the condition of the state's oil and gas facilities. It goes on to identify facilities and systems that pose the greatest risk of failure, along with measures to reduce risks.

"For our new Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO) to do an effective job, it must have access to comprehensive, thorough, and objective assessment data to tell us the status of the infrastructure and what it should be," said Governor Sarah Palin. "No such system-wide risk assessment has ever been conducted of this complex system."

Alaska's oil and gas infrastructure comprises a complex, integrated system. Over the years, new parts have been added and older parts have been modernized. Changes have been made to increase efficiency and production, to improve integrity, and to adapt to changes in field characteristics. At the same time, there have been advancements in oil and gas science and technology. The current state of the infrastructure is a result of the combined effects of age, change, industry operations, and government oversight. - More...
Wednesday - May 02, 2007

Alaska: DNA links prison inmate to 1994 Bonnie Craig murder By MAGAN HOLLAND - A grand jury has charged a former Anchorage soldier with murder in the slaying of Bonnie Craig, an 18-year-old college student who was raped and savagely beaten before she toppled over a cliff into a creek in 1994.

Kenneth Dion, now 37 and in prison in New Hampshire for a series of armed robberies there, has also been charged with rape in one of the most highly publicized and emotional slayings in Anchorage in recent decades.

DNA evidence that prosecutors say links Dion to the slaying was central to the solution, according to cold-case investigators.

"It's a major step in a case that was of significance to Anchorage and a burden to the family for years," prosecutor Pat Gullufsen said.

Dion was on probation on an Anchorage robbery conviction and had been out of prison for only a few months when Bonnie Craig was killed.

"Just to know he's already in jail and there's no way he can hurt anyone else is a relief," said Bonnie's mother, Karen Foster. She said she had been told in January that charges could be coming in the slaying of her daughter, who had been a high school wrestler and had taught swimming to junior high kids.

Troopers were able to match semen found on Bonnie with Dion through a national computer database of DNA profiles. Dion was never known to troopers and wasn't a suspect in the case until the DNA match came back in November. - More...
Wednesday - May 02, 2007

Northern sea ice continues to shrink

Northern sea ice continues to shrink
Sea ice floating offshore of Gambell.
Photo by Ned Rozell

Alaska Science: Northern sea ice continues to shrink By Ned Rozell - Since 1979, the first year we were able to look at sea ice from above with satellites, scientists have never seen less ice floating on the northern oceans at this time of year.

"This April (2007) has the lowest sea ice extent on record of any April we've seen before," said Mark Serreze, a sea-ice specialist and senior research scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. "We're setting ourselves up this summer for a very large ice loss."

Serreze's observation comes at a time when he and his colleagues have written a paper in which they concluded that northern sea ice could disappear much earlier than computer models suggest.

"We're a good 30 years ahead in ice loss than what the models are showing," said Walt Meier of the University of Colorado. "Instead of losing ice in summer near the end of this century, it might occur before 2050." - More...
Wednesday - May 02, 2007


Public Meetings

KETCHIKAN BOROUGH LOGO CONTEST COMMITTEE: The Borough Logo Contest Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday, May 3, 2007, at 12:00 p.m. in the Borough Conference Room, 344 Front Street, in order to discuss contest submissions. The public is invited to attend.

Basic Rules

letter Some Mean and Short Sighted People By Jerry Cegelske - Thursday
letter Open Meetings By Michael Spence - Thursday
letter Letter of appreciation By A. M. Johnson - Thursday
letter Wilson Clinic and New Horizons By Patrick Branco - Thursday
letter Recycle Bins By Carol Baines - Thursday
letter A LONG OVERDUE THANK YOU!!! By Dugan Daniels - Thursday
letterWebb's Apology By Jason Moore - Thursday
letter Fiscally Responsible Goverment By Ed Fry - Monday PM
letter Apology By Carl C. Webb - Monday PM
letter Janelle Hamilton will be missed By Frances Natkong - Monday PM
letter Big Changes are Coming. By George Miller - Monday PM
letter Missing $200K By Hunter Davis - Monday PM
letter Does anyone remember... By James Gropper - Monday PM
letter Wilson Clinic and other names By Marcia Hilley - Monday PM
letter Re Immigration Reform By Mike Isaac - Monday PM
letterSerious questions about the missing $200,000 of Borough money By Mary Lynne Dahl - Friday
letter Immigration Reform? By John Maki - Friday
letter Re: Wilson Clinic By Dave Kiffer - Friday
letter More Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter


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National: San Francisco crash shows 'what if' in tankers-as-weapons By ANNA BADKHEN - In the aftermath of a fiery gasoline truck accident that destroyed key ramps on a San Francisco highway, security analysts and truck drivers are weighing the scope of damage a deliberate terrorist attack using tankers could cause U.S. metropolises and highways.

Security experts said the crash - and the costly repairs - demonstrated how easy it would be for terrorists to disrupt normal life in major U.S. cities.

"It's very difficult now to purchase explosives ... but it's not that hard to steal a truck full of gasoline, and you can do quite a bit of damage," said Christopher Falkenberg, a former Secret Service agent who is now the president of Insite Security, a consulting firm in New York. "You don't need access to sophisticated explosives to have a big impact." - More...
Wednesday - May 02, 2007

National: A note of caution about dog vaccines By SUSAN BANKS - The mammoth recall of pet food that grabbed headlines over the past month after contaminated batches were linked to at least 16 pet deaths has put a new spotlight on proper handling of pet products and care issues.

But there's another area that has gotten little attention but could also pose a risk to dogs, especially those among the smaller breeds.

It involves vaccines and how often they should be given.

According to major veterinary schools and the American Animal Hospital Association, most major canine vaccines should be given once every three years - not annually. In fact, for some smaller breeds - pugs, Yorkies, French bulls, Maltese and Pekinese - the yearly vaccines can lead to sometimes lethal complications.

While most vet schools and national veterinary societies endorse the three-year regimen for distemper, parvovirus, parainfluenza and adenovirus 2 vaccines, it's hard to find veterinarians who aren't pushing annual shots for these diseases.

An informal phone poll of more than 15 animal hospitals in the Pittsburgh area found only one, Point Breeze Animal Clinic, that was giving shots at three-year intervals.

"Are we vaccinating too much? The answer is yes, we are," says Dr. Lawrence Gerson, who runs the Point Breeze practice. - More...
Wednesday - May 02, 2007

Health - Fitness: With a flood of imports, food safety is in doubt By DEB KOLLARS, JIM DOWNING and DORSEY GRIFFITH - With food coming in from all corners of the earth, the simple act of eating in America has become not just an exercise in the delicious, but also the awe-inspiring:

Peaches in the dead of winter. Golden curries from Asia. Cookies that stay fresh for months. Powders that turn a morning smoothie into fuel for a marathoner.

But the global dinner plate also comes with dangers, as has been painfully demonstrated in the recent scare from melamine in pet food that wound up in the human food chain.

"This whole debacle where you've got a plastic getting into a food supply shines a huge spotlight on a broken, broken system," said Elisa Odabashian, the West Coast director of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

According to consumer and food safety experts, a vast array of foods and ingredients pours into the United States every year with little or no scrutiny.

In the past, grapes from Chile, raspberries from Guatemala and onions from Mexico have sickened consumers or even led to their deaths.

In recent days consumers learned that pet food contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine had been fed to hogs destined for market, some of which were consumed.

Although no one has reported becoming ill from eating the pork, the incident has pushed worries over imported foods and ingredients to a new level. - More...
Wednesday - May 02, 2007

Health - Fitness: New developments in the fight against fat By LEE BOWMAN - American scientists working with mice are successfully experimenting with drugs that trick cells into burning fat.

And elsewhere on the weight front, British researchers are hoping to develop infant-food supplements that might protect babies from becoming obese later on.

In a study presented Monday in Washington during a conference on experimental biology, researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., reported that in adult mice, a drug designed to mimic fat can switch on the master hormone regulator of cells' ability to burn fat.

Even when the mice are not active, the drug switches on the same fat-burning process that occurs during exercise. The resulting shift in energy balance makes the mice less likely to gain weight, even when on a high-fat diet.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Ronald Evans, had discovered the gene that turns on the master fat regulator, called PPAR-d, several years ago and bred so-called "marathon" mice that had their energy-burning switch permanently turned on, making them leaner and having more endurance.

Since such genetic engineering is not possible in adults, Evans' new focus is on finding a way to turn the switch on late in life.

He envisions a one-a-day pill that could set cellular fat burners on high. - More...
Wednesday - May 02, 2007

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