Legislative blather
I just caught the end of Con Bunde's committee on pulltab sales and the extra tax to be added to tab sales. The Legislature always compares Alaska to other states when trying to impose new taxes. Per capita is their way of comparing us to them.

About 'drivel'
In perusing such venues for public commentary as the Letters to the Editor section of the newspaper, I am often struck by the seeming dearth of political knowledge in the population. This was driven home with particular clarity as I digested "Democrats playing games," a somewhat prosaic fulmination aimed at those "peaceniks" still hoping for some solution other than war in Iraq.

Lobby law with teeth
It's truly reprehensible for this state's chambers of commerce to be asking for relaxation of the lobbying rules, but certainly not unexpected. For campaign law reform concerning lobbyists to be effective, here's a suggestion for a lobbying law that might be more appropriate.

There are many options for diplomacy
As the United States careers toward war, the rest of the world is planning and building an infrastructure of peace and justice. The new International Criminal Court (ICC) is swearing in judges in The Hague. The United Nations inspections team is slowly but surely destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Get off the boat
Geoff Brandt's letters of March 4 and 12 make some very important points that are hard to argue against. Let's face it. Trees are a renewable resource and could be an important source of much-needed revenues for not only the families that make a living in the logging industry but also for the community and state coffers as well.

1984 all over again
In George Orwell's book, "1984," the government of Big Brother created a language, "doublespeak," to explain and legitimize any of its actions. "War is peace" is one example.

This Day in History
Plans were announced for a second group of Detroit residents to travel to Alaska to create a "Little Michigan" in Alaska. According to their leader, they had plans to "move the mountains and spill the glaciers."

Around Town
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Due to a photographer's error, the caption on a page 1 photo in Thursday's Empire misspelled the name of Mark Stopha.

City digs out from storm
A day after a storm that dumped nearly 20 inches of snow on some parts of Juneau, airline flight schedules are back to normal, roads are plowed and avalanche danger has decreased, officials said this morning. Thursday's storm, which brought heavy snow and rain as well as gusting winds to communities from Ketchikan to Haines, paralyzed air travel, delayed school buses, caused events and meetings to be canceled, and raised concerns about avalanches.

Man sentenced to prison for beating Juneau woman
A man with more than 40 convictions will be out of prison in less than a year partly because his latest victim was drunk when he beat her, prosecutors said. Larry Rieger, 45, pleaded guilty Thursday to a fourth-degree assault charge, a misdemeanor, in Juneau Superior Court.

Police and Fire
Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers reported:

Rice likes the ice
The blades of Randy Rice's skates cut soundlessly into the ice at the Treadwell Arena. He weaves gracefully through the whirl of skaters, gliding on one skate, then the other, now forward, now backward. He does a small hop and lands on his right foot, going into a tight spin for a few revolutions before he trips slightly and stops. "Old knees," he said with a grin.

Juneau expands its bear problem areas
The city is expanding the boundaries of four "bear problem areas" in an effort to keep bears out of garbage-filled Dumpsters. Acting City Manager Donna Pierce issued new boundaries for the four existing bear problem areas on Thursday. Dumpsters in such areas need to have a metal lid or be placed behind a barrier to keep bears out.

Photo: Ati-Athi Celebration
Nelda Stewart,i n the head dress, visited Patti Janicek's Auke Bay Elementary School first-grade class to teach them about the Ati-Athi Celebration that takes place in the Philippines in January.

A bounty of fresh halibut in Alaska
Wow! The opening price for halibut was $3 a pound and up. In Homer and Seward some sales went to $3.25. The season opened March 1 and will last until Nov. 15. This is a quota fishery, meaning fishermen can catch fish anytime during the year, when they want, and when they think the market will be best. Each fisherman has a certain number of pounds that can be caught. The price will probably level out, after the initial frenzy of buying at $2.30-2.70 a pound.

Old number nine
I love numbers and looking for patterns. I search for them in my own life. I bid a variation of pi on my first house a few years back because I needed to start somewhere and a piece of the pi seemed like a perfectly, irrational, non-terminating, non-repeating significant place to start.

Photo: Chilkat sunset
The sun sets behind the Chilkat Mountain Range on Wednesday. The clouds were part of the weather front that brought a dumping of snow.

Eriksen named February Rotary student of the month
Juneau-Douglas High School senior Christina Eriksen was selected as February Student of the Month by the Glacier Valley Rotary Club. Eriksen's high school activities have included Student Council, Students for Social Responsibility and Key Club. She has served as National Honor Society president; captain of the Debate Team; Student Council representative to the Mayor's Task Force on Youth; and Link Crew leader for freshman orientation.

Thank you
...for the hard work; ...for the support.

My Turn: Fish, wildlife deserve protection
The governor's executive order eliminating ADF&G's Habitat Division is likely to have unintended and unfortunate consequences. The Legislature should stop the move; at least until there can be an objective analysis of the program and how to address any real shortcomings.

Strong fourth quarter lifts Ketchikan boys
KETCHIKAN - When the Ketchikan boys basketball team found itself trailing the Sitka Wolves after three quarters of Thursday's Region V-Class 4A boys tournament opener, Kings senior Calin Bjur dredged up some bad memories. Two years ago, Bjur and Ketchikan were knocked out of the tourney in the opening game by the Wolves, and Bjur remembered what that felt like. "I didn't want to do that again," he said.

Juneau Gun Club Trap League Standings
Standings after the ninth week of shooting in the 12-week Juneau Gun Club Trap League.

Iditarod Winners
The past winners of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the 1,150-mile race from Anchorage to Nome. Winning mushers are listed with their times in days, hours, minutes and seconds.

Juneau Coed Volleyball
The standings from the Juneau Department of Parks and Recreation's coed volleyball leagues through matches of March 9.

Teammates step up when Ketchikan's Elliott goes out
KETCHIKAN - When Ketchikan's Anne Elliott went out, her teammates stepped up. The standout senior player was sidelined with foul trouble for a portion of Thursday's Region V-Class 4A girls tournament game against the Sitka Wolves, but several of the Kings' younger players filled in on offense to lead the Kings to a 55-41 victory at Ketchikan High School's Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.

Douville leads Craig to another state tourney berth
KETCHIKAN - When Ketchikan's Anne Elliott went out, her teammates stepped up. The standout senior player was sidelined with foul trouble for a portion of Thursday's Region V-Class 4A girls tournament game against the Sitka Wolves, but several of the Kings' younger players filled in on offense to lead the Kings to a 55-41 victory at Ketchikan High School's Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.

Spring Tennis and Racquetball Tourney
Final results from the 2003 Well's Fargo Spring Tennis and Racquetball Tournament held March 7-10 at the Mendenhall Valley location of JRC/The Alaska Club.

Sports in Juneau
Information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Juneau hoop teams arrive in Ketchikan, but luggage doesn't
KETCHIKAN - The Juneau-Douglas boys and girls basketball teams finally made it to Ketchikan on Thursday afternoon. Their luggage didn't. The Crimson Bears were originally scheduled to leave Juneau on an early-morning flight Thursday, but it was canceled due to the snow.

Mushers make their way to Nome
NOME - One day after Robert Sørlie of Hurdal, Norway, claimed victory in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, mushers continued to make their way to Nome. By midmorning today, 18 teams had crossed the finish line. Among the top teams, John Baker of Kotzebue reached Nome at 5:33 p.m. Thursday to claim 8th place. Ed Iten of Kotzebue finished at 9:07 p.m. to claim ninth place and Sonny Lindner of Fairbanks reached Nome at 10:18 p.m. in 10th place.

Senate approves supplemental budget with lobbying funds
A $71.8 million supplemental spending bill to fund natural disaster relief, as well as pay for lobbying Congress to open the arctic refuge to oil exploration, was approved Thursday by the Senate. The spending bill includes $19 million to pay for the past fire season and another $10.7 million for earthquake, flooding and storm damages.v

State Briefs
Puppy rescued, revived in Ketchikan; Celebrate St. Patrick's Day; House panel cuts community schools; Treadwell Arena skate times altered; Game Board proposes land-and-shoot hunting of wolves

Anchorage hospital trims 60 jobs
ANCHORAGE - Alaska Regional Hospital is cutting nearly 60 jobs, citing lower-than-expected patient volume. About 30 employees chose to leave their jobs and receive severance packages, which include a cash payment and the option to continue health insurance coverage, said Ed Lamb, the hospital's chief executive officer.

Leman: Murkowski committed to working with rural leaders
FAIRBANKS - Alaska's lieutenant governor told Native leaders in the Interior that Gov. Frank Murkowski is committed to working with rural Alaska and resolving the subsistence issue. Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, speaking before delegates from more than 40 villages, said the governor also is committed to working with rural Alaska to strengthen families and improve education, economic opportunities and resource development.

Trident exec says he knew of no agreement to cut fish prices
ANCHORAGE - A processing company executive said Thursday that he knew of no agreements between processors and importers to reduce prices to fishermen for Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. Bart Eaton, a commercial fisherman and Trident Seafoods' executive vice president, also said he couldn't imagine that Chuck Bundrant, the president of Trident, would ever have participated in price fixing.

Beating the pulltab odds
Gov. Frank Murkowski's plan to raise taxes on charitable gaming would result in fewer winners at pulltab parlors across the state. Senate Bill 102, submitted by the Murkowski administration, would cap the percentage of winning tickets at 72 percent. The percentage of prize payouts now is closer to 80 percent.

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