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November 20, 2006

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Alaska: House Passes Legislation Calling for Advisory Vote on Same-Sex Benefits - Before adjourning on Friday, the House passed House Bill 4001 which prohibits the commissioner of administration from adopting or implementing regulations that grant or extend employment-related benefits to same-sex partners of state employees and members of the state retirement systems unless expressly authorized by statute. The House also passed House Bill 4002 which calls for a statewide advisory vote.

Governor Murkowski called the Legislature into special session to respond to orders by the Supreme Court and Superior Court Judge Stephanie Joannides that the State start providing employment and retirement benefits to homosexual "partners" by January 1, 2007.

In an update on the special session, Lt. Governor Loren Leman stated on his website that both the governor and he believed the people of Alaska spoke clearly on this issue in 1998 when Alaska became the first state in the United States to protect the definition of marriage in its constitution. Leman stated that both administrators believe the Supreme Court decision is wrong, but also recognized that the proper venue for initiating a response is the Legislature, not the Administration through regulations.

Leman noted that the Legislature had expressed reticence to accommodate the Court's demands during its "lame-duck" status, and instead had asked the Supreme Court to give it time to address possible changes to Alaska's constitution or to State law in its next regular session that starts in January 2007.

However on Friday, the House of Representatives passed CSHB 4002, sponsored by House Rules Chairman Representative Norman Rokeberg (R-Anchorage) by a vote of 24-6. The legislation calls for an advisory vote of the people on the issue of benefits for same-sex partners of public employees or public employee retirees. Voters would be asked if they support a constitutional amendment to change the marriage amendment to exclude same-sex couples from receiving health insurance benefits. - More...
Monday AM - November 20, 2006

Nearshore Fish Atlas of Alaska

NOAA Fisheries Launches
'Nearshore Fish Atlas of Alaska' Website

Biologists from NOAA's Auke Bay Laboratories beach seining in an eelgrass bed near Sitka, Alaska in summer 2006.
Photo courtesy NOAA

Alaska: NOAA Fisheries Launches 'Nearshore Fish Atlas of Alaska' Website - NOAA Fisheries has launched a web-based scientific atlas on the distribution, relative abundance, and habitat use of nearshore fishes in Alaska.

"We've really expanded our knowledge about the extent and utilization of shallow, nearshore habitats by many fish species, and to make that knowledge more useful, we put it on the internet so that the public and resource managers can readily access this information from many areas along the Alaska shoreline," said fisheries research biologist Scott Johnson, from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Auke Bay Laboratories.

The atlas interfaces with an existing Alaska ShoreZone website, which allows people to view low-altitude video imagery of the shoreline at low tide. Through partnerships with federal, state, and non-profit organizations, about half of Alaska's coastline has been inventoried using the ShoreZone mapping system. The combination of the fish atlas information and the ShoreZone imagery will help researchers and people interested in coastal habitat.

"We see the atlas website as dynamic and it will be updated regularly as we continue sampling throughout Alaska," said Johnson. - More...
Monday AM - November 20, 2006

Alaska: U.S. District Court Grants State's Request to Intervene in Juneau Access Lawsuit - Alaska Attorney General David Márquez announced Thursday that U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick granted the state's request to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) against the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Transportation involving the Juneau Access improvement project.

On August 16, 2006 SEACC and various other groups filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in federal court to enjoin contract award or construction of the first segment of the Juneau access project. The plaintiffs assert various violations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other environmental rules. The plaintiffs also challenge the final environmental impact statement (EIS) approved by the FHWA.

"The lawsuit threatens to delay or halt the first phase of the Juneau Access improvement project - a project that will ultimately make the state's capital more accessible to its citizens and reduce transportation costs of people and goods to Juneau, while still protecting the environment," said Márquez. - More...
Monday AM - November 20, 2006


Basic Rules

letter Consolidation By Glen Thompson - Sunday PM
letter Consolidation By Al Johnson - Sunday PM
letter Clear the Air, then Solve Pension Crisis By Sen. Bert Stedman & Sen. Lyda Green - Sunday PM
letter Sharing the land By Craig Moen - Sunday PM
letter Cherished Beaches Threatened By Ardath Piston - Friday
letterRE: Deception, deviousness and consolidation By Bill Thomas Sr. - Friday
letter Re: Alaskans investing in Alaska By Rudy McGillvray - Friday
letter A quick question for the Consolidation Commission... By Gavin Piercy - Friday
letter Airport Parking Lot By David Zenge - Friday
letter Airport By Rob Glenn - Friday
letter Consolidation is bad for Ketchikan. Please vote no. By Rodney Dial - Friday
letterCan Democrats tackle Social Security? By Mary J. McLaughlin - Friday
letter Not Your Land By Don Hoff Jr. - Friday
letter Level the field of freebies By Nevin Appel - Friday
letter "Adaptation of the fittest" By Valerie Cooper - Friday
letter Airport lot parking fee By Ty Walker - Wednesday
letter Re: Deviousness, deception and consolidation By Debby Otte - Wednesday
letter Alaskans Investing in Alaska By Jerilyn Lester - Wednesday
letterOur land By Rick Watson - Wednesday
letter Re: Consolidation Voter Fraud By Ken Bylund - Wednesday
letter Happy Living In Ketchikan By Mike Graham - Wednesday
letter It is time for Alaskans to invest in Alaska's future. By Patrick Jirschele - Monday
letter Let's make a Deal By Rodney Dial - Monday
letter Deviousness, deception and consolidation By Bill Thomas Sr. - Monday
letter It's about money and control. By Myrna Gardner - Monday
letter All-volunteer 'Greatest Generation' By Sen. Ted Stevens - Monday
letter Re: This Can Not Be Happening By Robin Anderson - Monday
letter Here's a New Idea By Marie Monyak - Monday
letter Open Letter to the President By Mike Jones - Monday
letter RE: Ketchikan's High Gas Prices By Floyd Crocker - Monday
letter RE: The value of Sealaska stock is not monetary By Don Hoff Jr. - Monday
letterWe need a Governor for the people. Not a governor for the party! by Edward Brown - Monday
letter Waiting an Hour in Traffic By Charlotte Tanner - Monday
letter More Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter

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SitNews Archives
November 2006
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Columns - Commentary

Dave Kiffer: Dreaming of a Wet Christmas - I've been asked by three different people what it means to have significant snow before Thanksgiving.

Does it mean a harsh winter? Does it mean a mild winter? Does it mean six more weeks of muskrats seeing their shadows?

My initial reaction was to reply "what do you think I am? A meteorologist?"

But that inspired one of my friends to retort: "I'm not asking about shooting stars, you doofus!"

Uh, right.

Since I appear to have the only known copy of "Poor Skookum Gregorchuck's Sourdough Almanac" people seem to think that I have cornered the market on local folk/anecdotal wisdom.

So here goes.

If if snows before Thanksgiving, it means we're going to have a mild winter.

I can remember maybe five times that it has snowed heavily before Thanksgiving in the last 30 years or so. At least three of those times, it hardly snowed at all the rest of the year. One time, it continued to snow up until Christmas and then stopped for the rest of the year. One time it kept snowing until March. That was a year in which I lived in Wyoming. That doesn't count. - More...
Monday AM - November 20, 2006

Tom Purcell: The Real Thanksgiving - "A myth! What do you mean America's Thanksgiving holiday is based on a myth!"

"The Christian Science Monitor published a detailed report on it. They found that the holiday has two distinct histories ­ one real, the other made up. We celebrate the made-up version."

"Made up!"

"Yep. Everything historians know about the first Thanksgiving is based on the accounts of two colonists: Governor William Bradford and a fellow named Edward Winslow."

"Go on."

"In 1621, Winslow wrote a letter to a friend. He said that after a plentiful harvest, the 52 remaining colonists decided to feast. The governor sent out four men to hunt for fowl. Ninety Native Americans, the Wampanoags, also joined in; they contributed five deer. The colonists and Wampanoags feasted for three days."

"They ate deer meat on Thanksgiving?" - More..
Monday AM - November 20, 2006

Bob Ciminel: Giving Thanks - As we drove south from Atlanta this past Thursday, traffic on I-75 was heavy. The right lane was filled with 18-wheelers, so my wife, who was driving, tended to stay in the far left lane. We took an exit and she bought a cup of coffee to help shake off the late afternoon drowsiness; I bought a bottle of soda because I planned on napping while she drove the 60 miles to Macon where I would take over.

As I dozed off in the passenger seat, everything seemed normal. A short distance north of Exit 193, I heard my wife say, "Oh, Bob!" and woke up to see the car moving toward the guard rail. And then, at 75 mph, we hit the guard rail and I thought, "This is going to be expensive!" as the left front fender crumpled and the headlight and parking light assembly flew off. I didn't realize that it was going to be a lot worse than expensive.

As the car bounced off the guard rail, my wife overcorrected and the car lurched into the middle lane, and then began fishtailing. One second we were heading for the ditch at the side of the highway, and the next second we would be heading back toward the guard rail. The car was completely out of control. And that's when I thought, "We're going to die!" - More...
Monday AM - November 20, 2006

Steve Brewer: Perhaps we should all have our own laugh tracks - Of all the things I find annoying - and, boy, there's a list that just keeps getting longer - laugh tracks are near the top.

I've all but given up watching TV situation comedies because of the canned laughter that erupts every time a character so much as exhales. Sometimes, the laughs come from a "live studio audience" of morons, but usually the laughter and applause are generated by a machine.

One of the worst offenders is a sitcom that is, naturally, a favorite of my teenage sons. "That '70s Show" can be pretty funny at times, especially for those of us who can remember the actual '70s and the stupid clothes we wore, but the sitcom is ruined by the loud laughter that spews after virtually every spoken line. I can recognize the show by its waves of fake laughter, even when I'm at the other end of the house, and I'm sometimes forced to hide in the bathroom until it's over.

What rankles is the feeling that sitcom producers believe that we, the television audience, are too stupid to "get" the jokes unless we hear other people laughing, too. Plus, they apparently feel they can get away with weak material if they "sweeten" the laughs with machine-made ha-has. - More...
Monday AM - November 20, 2006

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