Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Could a Supreme Court ruling help kill the cruise ship head tax?
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday slapped down the city of Valdez's tax on oil tankers, which may have legal implications on the state's $46 tax on cruise ship passengers.

Locals low-key about dangers of swine flu
With Friday's reports of the first two confirmed cases of swine flu in Juneau, residents are getting a chance to react.

Photo: Uncovering an eagle
Joe Young, left, and his brother, TJ, work on a 36-foot eagle totem pole Monday at the University of Alaska Southeast. The brothers, from Hydaburg, have until Sept. 1 to carve and paint the pole before it is erected on campus in 2010. Sealaska Corp. donated the 45-foot red cedar log for the project, which will be managed by Sealaska Heritage Institute.The pole will feature an eagle to represent all Eagle clans plus Shark, Wolf and Thunderbird.

Parks Division to study House of Wickersham trees
State Parks officials are delaying their plans to cut trees at the historic House of Wickersham until they know more about the property's cottonwood trees, said Mike Eberhardt, Southeast parks superintendent.

Tongass Blvd. home vandalized with racial slur
Vandals recently spray painted a racial slur on to a homeowner's fence facing Tongass Boulevard.

Photos: Sidewalk in the sky
Justin Johnson, a maintenance mechanic at the Capitol Building, shovels debris Monday after a wall and office doorway were removed to make way for the new skybridge hallway between the Capitol and the Thomas B. Stewart Legislative Office Building, formerly the Scottish Rite Temple.

Photo: Smoldering pilings at Merchants Wharf
Capital City Fire & Rescue firefighters pulled up planks from Merchants Wharf onMonday morning to put out a smoldering fire on the pilings beneath. "Fortunately, it wasmostly a nonevent. Had it been nighttime, no one around to notice it ... it could have been a different story," said Fire Marshal Dan Jager. A discarded cigarette probably started the fire, he said.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials and state police reported:

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials and state police reported:

Around Town
Today, June 17

Correction
A Neighbors story in the Juneau Empire on May 31 about affordable housing misstated the amount of financial assistance the Strong family received from the Home Opportunity Program. The family received a $30,000 no-interest loan from the program and a $180,000 bank loan for their home.

Around Town
Today, June 16

Terry Lee Bergman
Juneau resident Terry Lee Bergman died from injuries sustained in a car accident on March 20, 2009, in Kona, Hawaii. He was 67.

Harold "Skip" Zenger Jr.
Former Juneau resident Harold "Skip" Zenger Jr., of Bothell, Wash., died June 10, 2009, in Kirkland, Wash. He was 64.

Dave LeClercq
A prolific boat builder who for decades built boats for the Alaska fishing fleet has died in the Seattle area. Dave LeClercq was 93.

Katherine Johnson Grant
Lifelong Hoonah resident Katherine Johnson Grant, whose Tlingit name was Kaa.tut.wu.oo, died June 14, 2009. She was 89.

Elizabeth Lynne Smith
Former longtime Juneau resident Elizabeth Lynne Smith died on June 8, 2009 in Portland, Ore. She was 66.

Outside editorial: Remote Pakistan region takes big step fending off Taliban oppression
Villagers in a remote area of northern Pakistan took a big step last week toward halting the advance of Taliban fighters and fending off a new era of oppressive Islamist rule. What happened in Pakistan's Dir district might not seem terribly relevant from a U.S. vantage point. But these are among the little battles that could head off a much bigger one, involving American tax dollars and thousands of U.S. troops, in coming months or years.

Outside editorial: Economy shows sparks of life, but more problems could be ahead
The economy has shown sparks of life lately, with hopeful signs in the statistics about consumer spending, the housing market, new unemployment filings and the banking industry. Amid these encouraging readings, though, there are rumblings of bigger problems to come - problems exacerbated by Washington's response to the recession.

Alaska and ... Exxon?
The name of one of the world's largest corporations has been in the news a lot lately. I am of course referring to Exxon Mobil, the oil and gas behemoth.

Palin and Letterman
Did Sarah Palin not notice when late-night comedians were making fun of her daughter's pregnancy last fall, or did she simply get fed up with one-too-many cracks when a now-contrite David Letterman weighed in last week?

Roe decision hasn't met judge's initial intention
As we await the vetting of a new Supreme Court justice and abhor the murder of an abortion doctor, a little-remembered circumstance of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is worth examining.

Too many choices
If there's one thing we don't need, it's more choice in life. Take the supermarket. It's tough enough sifting through the variations of each product on the shelves, but it's a miracle if you make it home with the right one. So what does Coca-Cola do? Come out with a new flavor.

Online therapy
Living life online might make us more fractious and distracted and sad, but - luckily! - it can also make us feel better.

Letterman no joking matter for beleaguered conservatives
A reader wants to know why I didn't mention what David Letterman said.

Police ID persons of interest in Mendenhall valley burglary
JUNEAU - The Juneau Police Department has identified two persons of interest relating to a burglary this week in the Mendenhall Valley and are searching for another man.

Ketchikan motorist indicted on four felony counts
KETCHIKAN - A 26-year-old Ketchikan man who led Alaska State Troopers on a high-speed chase has been indicted on four felony counts.

Fuel recovery operations on hold in Alaska inlet
ANCHORAGE - Fuel recovery operations from a sunken boat in Alaska's Cook Inlet are on hold.

Exxon, TransCanada to meet with lawmakers June 23
ANCHORAGE - Representatives from Exxon Mobil Corp. and TransCanada will update Alaska lawmakers on their recent agreement to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope across Canada, feeding Midwestern markets.

Coast Guard's Alaska district command to change
JUNEAU - The Coast Guard's Alaska district is getting a new commander.

Assembly interested in hiring solid waste coordinator
JUNEAU - Anxious to make a decision about what Juneau will do about its trash, elected officials gave an initial go-ahead Monday for the city to hire a solid waste coordinator.

Fishing boat grounded near Wrangell
JUNEAU - The Coast Guard reported a fishing boat with one person aboard grounded near Wrangell.

Point Lay takes first whale in 72 years
ANCHORAGE - A village on the northwest coast of Alaska is preparing to celebrate its first whale kill in 72 years.

Anchorage officer shoots, wounds youth wielding BB gun
ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage police officer is on administrative leave after wounding a man in a fast-food restaurant parking lot.

Gay rights ordinance comes back before Anchorage board
ANCHORAGE - An ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation is back before the Anchorage Assembly.

Alaska city changes fireworks ordinances
WASILLA - The four prominent fireworks stands along the Parks Highway near the city of Houston likely will not see any competition soon.

Division titles still up for grabs
With only two weeks left until the 34th Annual Rainball Tournament, to be held June 26-28, the men's and women's division action has kicked up another notch.

Every rodent has its thorns
Just the other day while bushwhacking through blueberries and wind-thrown trees, I startled a baby porcupine. It was really small; head and body together maybe reached seven inches, and it was very dark, without the yellowish guard hairs that adults have. Young and small, yes, but it had all the normal defensive reactions of turning its back and flaring its quills. In fact, little porcupines are able to do this almost immediately after they're born, even before their thousands of quills are fully hardened.

Sports in Juneau
Thursday, June 18

Palin nominates Daniel Sullivan as attorney general
Gov. Sarah Palin on Tuesday appointed a former Anchorage lawyer with White House and State Department service to be Alaska's new attorney general, just weeks after state lawmakers rejected her last choice.

Exxon ordered to pay $500M more for 1989 spill
ANCHORAGE - Exxon Mobil Corp. was ordered Monday to pay about $500 million in interest on punitive damages for the Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, nearly doubling the payout to Alaska Natives, fishermen, business owners and others harmed by the 1989 disaster.

His resume sparkles - but is he lawyerly and Alaskan enough?
Alaska's new attorney general has an impressive resume with senior staff positions in the administration of President George W. Bush, but appears to have little actual experience practicing law.

Permanent fund gets new trustee
Gov. Sarah Palin appointed a former Anchorage legislator to a seat on the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation's Board of Trustees on Monday.

Sarah Palin accepts David Letterman's apology for joke
NEW YORK - Sarah Palin says she accepts David Letterman's apology for the joke he made about her daughter.

Fairbanks dedicates new virology laboratory
FAIRBANKS - A new $32 million state virology laboratory in Fairbanks is helping health officials track disease in Alaska.

Palin backers raising funds for her legal defense
ANCHORAGE - Supporters of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are holding a Web-a-thon to raise money for her legal defense fund.

High court strikes down Valdez tax on oil tankers
ANCHORAGE - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down as unconstitutional a tax that the city of Valdez imposed on oil tankers loading crude oil from the southern terminus of the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline.

Photo: Soldier for a day
Nicole Vandall tries to squeeze on a small army helmet on her sister Kayla Collyer-Platzer Monday in preparation for their flight in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Collyer-Platzer, 15, who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, was treated to a day in the life of a soldier at Fort Greely U.S. Army Base near Delta Junction. Vandall is a first lieutenant at Fort Greely.

Fairbanks man pursues nuclear power module
FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man is trying to bring nuclear-powered electricity to the area.

Smolt die before release at Homer lagoon
HOMER - An estimated 40,000 late-run silver salmon smolt died in the holding area of the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer spit.

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