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July 13, 2006

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Alaska: Governor: "We Are Building a Bridge to the Future" - Alaska Governor Frank H. Murkowski urged the Legislature to swiftly review and pass the Petroleum Production Tax ­ or PPT ­ and Stranded Gas Act amendments during an address to a joint session in the House Chamber in Juneau Thursday.

"I would like to address you not as a Democrat or Republican, but as Alaskans," Murkowski said. "The issue facing us today is greater than party politics; greater than petty bickering; greater than your job here as legislators and greater than my job here as governor."

Speaking before 51 members of the House and Senate, the governor said the gas pipeline project "is a rare and historic opportunity to authorize the largest construction project ever undertaken in our state. A project that for the next 50 years will solidify the economic foundation of our state for generations to come."

The governor re-submitted his proposed 20/20 PPT, with slight modifications, to both chambers yesterday, along with an amendment to the Stranded Gas Development Act authorizing him to negotiate oil and other terms with the project sponsors.

"Last night (First Lady) Nancy (Murkowski) asked me: 'What does this pipeline debate really mean to the average Alaskan?'" Murkowski said, adding that the gas pipeline willl provide an estimated $100-billion to the state's treasury; extend the life of the Trans Alaska oil pipeline system; allow the state to invest an estimated $25-billion into the Permanent Fund and provide nearly 10,000 construction jobs during project development.

"Sitting here in 2006, it may be difficult to visualize something that can happen in 2050," Murkowski said. "We believe that with the gas pipeline, there should be no reason for a personal income tax in Alaska. Likewise, there should be no need for any statewide sales tax.

"You may not be able to visualize the benefits to yourselves of something happening 30 and 40 years into the future. But there are young Alaskans ­ our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren ­ who will be here at that time and will benefit from our good decisions today." - More...
Thursday PM - July 13, 2006

Alaska: Governor Reintroduces PPT at 20/20; Stranded Gas Act Amendments - Alaska Governor Frank H. Murkowski Thursday introduced legislation that makes revisions to the state's oil production tax structure. The governor's bill keeps the tax at 20 percent of net profits, with a 20 percent tax credit feature, but incorporates important changes made by legislative committees during the special session that ended in June. He also introduced a bill to make changes to the Stranded Gas Development Act that will allow for finalization of a gas pipeline contract.

"The 20 percent net profits tax provides an increased return to the people of Alaska that is fair, but will encourage - not jeopardize - future investment that is crucial to our economy," Murkowski said. "With a higher tax rate, as we saw proposed during the last two sessions, or with a tax on gross profits, for which the minority Democrats have advocated, we are convinced the producers would have little or no incentive to invest in Alaska. That would inevitably lead to a downturn in the economy as the oil flow through TAPS would stop somewhere around 2030.


Murkowski urged legislators to take the long-range view of the state's future when considering the PPT and the need to balance increased revenue with substantial increased investment to arrest the decline in the flow of oil through TAPS. He said some legislators and others who have been critical of the 20/20 proposal risk missing the window of opportunity to get Alaska's North Slope gas into Lower 48 markets if action on the gas pipeline contract is delayed. The new tax rate is to be incorporated into the contract, which the governor hopes to have finalized and approved by this fall. - More...
Thursday PM - July 13, 2006

Ketchikan: Full safety stand-down ordered after 3rd tour vessel grounding - Following Thursday's grounding of an Allen Marine operated tour vessel, the third within the past two months, Coast Guard Sector Juneau has ordered the Sitka based company to take firm and immediate action to prevent future mishaps or risk shut-down of operations.

Allen Marine is being required by the Coast Guard to submit a comprehensive safety plan, within the next 24 hours, to Coast Guard Sector Juneau.  The plan must include a full safety stand-down for all operations personnel. 

Coast Guard officials said the purpose of this stand-down will be to allow Allen Marine operators and senior management to discuss safety and procedural changes necessary to prevent future incidents.

The Coast Guard will be involved in these safety stand-downs which are planned for all three Allen Marine ports of operation - Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. - More...
Thursday PM - July 13, 2006

Alaska: Alaska woman escapes after wolf pounces By KATIE PESZNECKER - The wolf saw Becky Wanamaker first.

She was strolling through a campground just off the Dalton Highway, along the Arctic Circle, waiting for her four traveling companions to wake up.

A long day in the car ahead, she decided to stretch her legs.

Then she saw the wolf.

Its eyes fixed on her. The animal was mostly gray and bigger than a husky, Wanamaker said Wednesday, now safely home in Anchorage after Friday's attack. And it had long, long legs.

"And I don't remember if it was moving toward me or if it was stopped when I first saw it," she said. "But I just freaked and I bolted and ran toward the (campground) outhouses. That's what was in my head - run faster, get inside. I kept running - just thinking, don't fall. If you fall, you're done."

But wolves run faster than elementary schoolteachers.

"I felt it sink its teeth into the back of my right leg and release," recalled Wanamaker, who teaches deaf and hearing-impaired children. - More...
Thursday PM - July 13, 2006



letter Poor choice by the parade committee! By Rick Watson - Thursday
letter Parade By Cecelia Johnson - Wednesday
letter Respecting our troops on Independence Day By Elizabeth Schafer - Wednesday
letter Items Stolen By Vickie Inkster - Wednesday
letterKEEP IT SIMPLE By John Binkley - Tuesday
letter Why accept anything less than half of the oil profits? By Samuel Bergeron - Tuesday
letter Peace-niks By Anita Hales - Tuesday
letter The real end-game of the radical environmentalist By Marvin Seibert - Tuesday
letter Jim Pinkerton By Bert Blackmon - Tuesday
letter Rotary Youth Exchange By Marrissa Barker - Tuesday
letterState, Especially Rural Areas, Can't Afford to Wait on Oil Tax by Senator John Cowdery - Monday
letterOffended by the anti-war propaganda By Gerry Kay Olmstead - Monday
letter'Go to the gross' for oil tax solution By Rep. Ethan Berkowitz - Monday
(And We Thought Gateway Forest Products Was Bad)
By David G. Hanger - Saturday
letter The governor, the jet and right or wrong By Sen. Kim Elton - Saturday
letter Consolidation By Robert McRoberts - Saturday
letter Re: Offended by anti-war Bug! By Charlotte Tanner - Friday
letter Raw Data and Concerned Scientists By Jay Jones - Friday
letter Thank You All By Cindy Inouye - Friday
letterConsolidation / Round Two by Rodney Dial - Thursday
letter Dirty Bug By Dawna Vigil - Thursday
letter Legal machinations obscure our rights By Gregg Erickson - Thursday
letter Pipeline deal should benefit Alaskans for generations By Rep. Les Gara - Thursday
letter Freedom of Speech By Alan R. McGillvray - Thursday
letter An open letter to Sealaska and Sealaska's original shareholders By Michael Nelson - Thursday - Thursday
letter Offended by anti-war Bug! By Cindy Inouye - Thursday
letter Global Warming By Robert McRoberts - Thursday
letter More Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter

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Columns - Commentary

Ann McFeatters: A people's pay raise - A telling battle is brewing in Congress - the haves, the have-nots and the wanna-haves are squaring off.

It's that time of year when lawmakers realize they must raise their pay if they are to get an increase next year. If they wait until later this year, voters will be angry (one-third of the Senate and the entire House are up for re-election in November).

Members now make $168,500 a year. Cleverly, they don't actually vote to increase their pay - they merely have to do nothing, and a 2 percent raise goes into effect automatically. The House already has passively approved to raise its pay; the Senate wants to follow suit.

But Democrats, who have been stumbling in the dark looking for an issue to use against Republicans this November besides the war in Iraq, on which there is no unanimity, have rediscovered the minimum wage. It has been $5.15 an hour for nine years, meaning that millions of families work all year long and their wages still fall well below the official government poverty level. - More...
Thursday - July 13, 2006

Clifford D. May - A widening war: Israel is tested again - What must Hamas leaders have been thinking? Last month they sent guerrillas through a secret tunnel from Gaza into Israel where they launched an attack, killing two Israeli soldiers and kidnapping a third, 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Since no civilians were targeted, this was not an act of terrorism. It was an act of war.

Perhaps they had come to believe their own spin; their boast that it was "armed resistance" that had caused then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw Israeli soldiers and settlers from Gaza. Maybe they believed that more violence would lead to more Israeli concessions - especially now that Israel is led by a center-left coalition, the hard-line Likud Party having split and then collapsed over the wisdom of the Gaza withdrawal.

So far, at least, Israel's new prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has proven Hamas wrong. He has responded to Hamas' military attack with a military counterattack. He returned Israeli forces to Gaza, ordering them to search for Shalit, and also to stop the missiles - hundreds of them - that have rained down on Israeli cities and towns virtually every day since the Israelis left Gaza. - More...
Thursday - July 13, 2006

Deroy Murdock: Saddam Hussein's Iraq had weapons of mass death - Like chanting Buddhist monks, the president's critics repeat 100 times daily: "Bush Lied - People Died." The "lie," of course, is that Saddam Hussein possessed Weapons of Mass Death. "There were none," Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., told colleagues June 21. "They were not there." Absent such munitions, the argument goes, U.S. involvement in Iraq is nothing but a blood-soaked misadventure unfolding on a collapsed facade of falsehoods.

Nevertheless, while the liberal press gently sleeps, evidence continues to mount that Saddam had WMDs, though perhaps not in quantities that would bulge warehouses.

"Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent," states a June 21 declassified summary of a report from the National Ground Intelligence Center. "Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist." - More...
Thursday - July 13, 2006

Dan K. Thomasson: A new bureaucratic no-man's land - When humorist Will Rogers appeared at the passport office as he prepared for a trip to Russia he was told that he couldn't receive one until he produced a birth certificate. Having come into the world before the turn of the last century in what was then Indian Territory, he said he didn't quite understand and was told by the pinch-faced bureaucrat that it was a document proving his birth.

Professing incredulity, the gum chewing, rumpled Oklahoman replied that he had never heard of such a thing. "Why back home," he said, "when folks saw you walking around they just sort of took it for granted that you had been born."

But that isn't enough to gain one much of anything these says, including access to Medicaid, the federal health care program for the indigent. Under a new federal law it is now mandatory that every applicant show proof of citizenship with either a passport or a birth certificate, a requirement that is aimed at denying service to illegal immigrants but, according to its opponents, is inevitably going to do the same thing to thousands of Americans who like Rogers have no record of when or where they were born. - More...
Thursday - July 13, 2006

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