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

Front Page Photo by Terri Jirschele

The SEA STAR moored Tuesday at Slagle's
"The Warf" located in Thomas Basin.
Front Page Photo by Terri Jirschele

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


National: Stockpiling oil ... Nixing nukes ... Navy D-Day Monument ... More By LISA HOFFMAN - It's not a crimp in the supply of crude oil that's causing the price of gasoline to balloon. Energy experts are in general agreement that the current spike is a result of shortages in U.S. refining capacity.

But don't tell that to the U.S. Energy Department, which continues to focus on building up the amount of crude the nation holds in its Strategic Petroleum Reserves, a network of old salt mines dotted along the Gulf Coast.

Though the reserves already contain nearly 690 million barrels of crude, the government is determined to double the stockpile's current storage limit of 1.5 billion barrels. Not only will that have little effect on the price of gasoline at the pump, it also would do little to cushion any future oil-supply crisis because that amount represents a piddling three months' worth of the nation's oil imports now.

And, despite decades of carping from the energy sector for federal encouragement in expanding refinery capacity, none is anywhere on the horizon.


It's not just industry groups lobbying Congress for bucks for pet projects. City, state and county governments, along with public universities and even utility departments, also are shelling out the bucks to persuade Capitol Hill to be generous with their pet projects. In fact, according to a study by the nonprofit group Americans For Prosperity, state universities have tripled their taxpayer-funded spending to push their pork in Congress from $10 million in 1998 to $32 million last year. Local governments spent $59 million last year -- up from $20 million nine years ago. - More...
Saturday - May 26, 2007

Alaska: Alaska ranked 12th in total per-pupil K-12 revenue - The United States Census Bureau has just released education-related financial data for the federal fiscal year 2005, which was the school year of 2004-2005. The report includes revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets (cash and security holdings) of elementary and secondary public school systems.

The report shows that Alaska ranked 12th of the states and D.C. in total per-pupil K-12 revenue ($12,064), which includes federal, state and local sources.

Alaska was second in per-pupil federal revenue ($2,284), eighth in state revenue ($6,629), and thirty-fifth in local revenue ($3,151). - More...
Saturday - May 26, 2007

Alaska: Pressure mounts to ticket Maggie out of Alaska By MEGAN HOLLAND - The Alaska Zoo's board of directors, under intense pressure from critics, likely will vote next week to move Maggie the elephant out of Alaska, the board's president predicted.

Dick Thwaites, who has been on the board 20 years and is currently president, said criticism has reached new volumes in recent days and has included personal threats against board members. "I'm not sure the board is inclined to keep her," he said. "The board is bowing to the pressure regardless of what the experts say." - More...
Saturday - May 26, 2007


National: Barrier sought at world's No. 1 suicide spot: Golden Gate Bridge By CAROLYNE ZINKO - An engineering study to test whether a suicide barrier could be built on the Golden Gate Bridge shows that it could be done in three ways without compromising the span's safety, but it would change the way the iconic bridge looks.

Suicides -- more than 1,250 since the bridge opened in 1937 -- concern bridge officials, but so does the possibility that changes to the suspension structure could affect how it behaves in the wind, causing it to become unstable or even collapse. Aesthetics are another sticking point at the major tourist attraction and the world's No. 1 suicide magnet.

In the eighth attempt to build a suicide barrier in the bridge's history, wind-tunnel tests by DMJM Harris of Oakland, Calif., and West Wind Lab of Marina, Calif., showed that it is possible to add to the existing railing, replace the railing or build a net that juts out from the deck.

All options would require devices to reduce wind stress on the bridge. None of the options would interfere with a planned movable median barrier designed to prevent head-on collisions.

"You can think of a cross section of the bridge as an airplane wing, and if you change the flap, you change how it responds to wind," said Denis Mulligan, chief engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

At a meeting Thursday, members of the district's Building and Operating Committee saw more than a dozen renderings of possibilities. No action was taken, and none is expected by the full bridge board until spring 2008. - More...
Saturday - May 26, 2007

Consumer Issues: Be wary of sweepstakes scams By KATHLEEN PENDER - My son is one lucky guy.

He recently won $58,000 in a sweepstakes he didn't even enter.

The letter announcing his good fortune set off so many alarm bells my ears were ringing: It allegedly came from a company in the Bahamas and listed the "sponsor" as "Lotto, Reader's Digest, Publisher's Clearing House, Sweepstakes." The envelope had no return address and a Canadian stamp.

The only thing that stopped us from chucking it in the shredder was a very authentic-looking check for $1,940 from a Vancouver company drawn on Wachovia Bank. The check was an "advance" to cover the "processing fee and taxes" required by "international law," the letter said.

The check looked so real we were tempted to deposit it and see what happened. Using my better judgment, I decided to research it for a column.

Turns out this is one of a growing number of counterfeit check scams made possible by banking regulations, copiers capable of faking checks that can fool tellers, plus a healthy dollop of greed and gullibility.

"This is huge," says Steve Baker, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Midwest region, which handles counterfeit check fraud because "a lot it comes out of Canada." - More...
Saturday - May 26, 2007


Basic Rules

letter JEWELRY STORE LIMITS By Bill Tatsuda - Saturday PM
letter Honoring Our Nation's Fallen Heroes By Rep. Don Young - Saturday PM
letter Jewelry store ordinance By Rodney Dial - Saturday PM
letter Gas Prices By Carol Naranjo - Saturday PM
letter Gas Prices....possible solution By Michael Branco - Saturday PM
letter Memorial Day By Sen. Ted Stevens - Saturday PM
letter CKF By Chris Elliott - Saturday PM
letter Jewelry Store Limitations By Neil Gray - Saturday PM
letter Newtown Gets the Shaft By Bobbie McCreary - Saturday PM
letter Memorial Day By Anita Hales - Saturday PM
letter Ketchikan school board has sure deteriorated By Geoff Brandt - Saturday PM
letter Rainiest cities By Robert Fruehan - Saturday PM
letter Rainfall in the lower 48 By Melissa O'Bryan - Saturday PM
letterWheelchair access By Liz Lybrand - Thursday PM
letter Superintendent Failed District Report Card By Mike Harpold - Thursday PM
letter Gravina Clean Up By Jerry Cegelske - Thursday PM
letter What's up with the gas prices? By Jerilyn Lester - Thursday PM
letter Newtown gets the shaft By Tom Ferry - Thursday PM
letter Keep the crap off the highway. By Robert McRoberts - Thursday PM
letter Maggie By Jennifer O'Connor - Thursday PM
letter Good Try Mark Neckameyer By Charlotte Tanner - Thursday PM
letter Rainfall in the lower 48 By Andy Williams - Thursday PM
letter Citizens for Ketchikan's Future By Chris Elliott - Tuesday
letter Be Careful What You Wish For -- Fewer Jewelry Stores? By Ed Purvis - Tuesday
letter Citizens for Ketchikan's Future - Right on! By Bobbie McCreary - Tuesday
letter Jewelry Store Initiative By Hunter Davis - Tuesday
letter CFK JEWELERY STORE ORDINANCE By Charles Edwardson - Tuesday
letter Citizens for Ketchikan's Future By Janet Engle - Tuesday
letter Jewelry Stores By Pattie Fay Hickox - Tuesday
letterPDQBach? By Judith Green - Tuesday
letter Superintendent Failed District Report Card By Brenda Loughman - Tuesday
letter Good try Jimmy Carter! By Mark Neckameyer - Tuesday
letter "Mickey Mouse and Eisenhower" By Bob Harmon - Tuesday
letter More Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter


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Parnassus Book Reviews

George R. Pasley: GRACE (EVENTUALLY) written by Anne Lamott - Anne Lamott never disappoints, and her new book proves the point.

The prelude to GRACE (EVENTUALLY): Thoughts on Faith tells about a horrible time in her pre-Christian life, when she was dumped by her lover and, as she puts it, "still drinking."

In the story she meets up with her ex, spends the night with him, and then gets physically ill when he leaves his apartment to go back to his new girlfriend. But on his nightstand she discovers a book: The Only Dance There Is, by Ram Dass. - More...
Thursday - May 24, 2007

George R. Pasley: "God Laughs & Plays" written by David James Duncan - "God Laughs & Plays" is a collection of essays by David James Duncan, a writer known for his love of fly-fishing and for two previous books, "The River Why" (another essay collection) and "The Brothers K" (a novel). This particular collection is subtitled "Churchless sermons in response to the preachments of the Fundamentalist Right". Fear not, though. The book is neither dry theology, nor ranting polemic. Instead, it is indeed exactly as the title says- a discussion of a happy God, and the creation of that same God.

In "God Laughs & Plays" Duncan repeatedly says he is not Christian, but makes it very clear that he loves Jesus. He also displays a tremendous knowledge of the Christian faith, and a greater understanding of the faith than most Christian congregants and many Christian preachers. Duncan was raised by Seventh Day Adventists, with an occasional visit to church with one Presbyterian grandmother (He calls worship there "banal". Ouch!) - More...
Thursday - May 24, 2007

Columns - Commentary

Jay Ambrose: Repairing Social Security - The Democratic Congress has launched some 36 investigations, has reaped six administration resignations -- and you know what else it has done? Nothing.

All this probing has its political advantages, of course, and some slight sliver of it might even be in the national interest. Meanwhile, however, the months are passing and Congress hasn't given final passage to a single major law the Democrats promised, much less acted on one very important challenge they have been dodging.

This important matter -- far more important than the promises -- is to fix Social Security. Here's a program absolutely vital in the lives of tens of millions, a program that is explicitly the responsibility of these congressional malingerers and a program that is in such a bad way financially that there won't be enough revenues to finance all the benefits just a decade out.

Do nothing about it, and along with Medicare it will eventually swallow the budget whole. Wait to act until the crisis is at hand, and the options will all be ghastly tricks on a trusting public.

Suppose, though, that the Democrats sit down with a president who has given them an invitation to come to the table with any ideas they like, and that they negotiate in good faith and with an eye on reality. Lo and behold, they may start discovering solutions that will be consistent with the political values they constantly express. - More...
Thursday - May 24, 2007

Martin Schram: They finally get it - Today we are news-trackers, hot on the trail of tomorrow's Page One, prime-time news.

And it appears that tomorrow's news may be a glimmer of good news at last for conservative Republicans who have been bitterly disappointed with what they concede, mostly in private, but occasionally in public, is the overwhelming failure of the Bush presidency: The misconduct of the Iraq war, a series of political and intelligence leadership blunders that has trapped America's brave, volunteer military in a combat mission that is not yet lost, but may never be won.

Evidence has surfaced, not on Page One or in prime time, but on page A15, the op-ed page of the May 22 edition of The Washington Post, that President Bush is reportedly working, belatedly but finally, to come up with a post-surge strategy, the so-called Plan B the administration hadn't gotten around to devising. - More...
Thursday - May 24, 2007

Dan K. Thomasson: Carter should pound nails, not Bush - Of all the criticisms Jimmy Carter shouldn't be making, the allegation about President Bush's foreign policy shortcomings tops the list. He should not need to be reminded that it was his botching of the Iranian hostage situation that helped get us where we are today.

While few would disagree about the president's failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and his inability to bring key European allies into the mix, only a brief glance at history will tell us where this whole mess began. But then Carter has been in denial about his role almost since the last vote was cast for his successor Ronald Reagan in 1980, leaving him to search for vindication by sticking his nose into every international crisis from Haiti to the Middle East in an ultimately successful campaign for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The former Navy officer turned politician turned peanut farmer turned politician can claim credit for winning a detente between Egypt and Israel that was no small achievement. He also is a nice man whose bitterness over what he felt was an unfair rejection by the voters finally spewed out in his ranking of Bush as the biggest Oval Office lunk head in history when it comes to overseas affairs and his slandering of British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a toady, breaking the rule about former presidents not speaking ill about the current holder of the job. - More...
Thursday - May 24, 2007

Dale McFeatters: Oxymoron ethics - Congressional Republicans are badly in need of a laugh and their Democratic colleagues are obligingly giving them one.

Last year the Republicans had the teensiest little problem with ethics. It seems their breach of the ethical niceties sent two of their number to jail and more may be on the way, and forced two others out of Congress.

Being in the minority for so long, the Democrats didn't have quite the same opportunities for ethical lapses, but even so, the voters handed control of the Congress to the Democrats.

Their new leader and now House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said on her party's behalf, "We pledge to make this the most honest, ethical and open Congress in history." One is tempted to say this is not a particularly tall order. - More...
Thursday - May 24, 2007

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