A crumbling pillar
How sad that on the day marking the 40th anniversary of the death of a champion of civil rights, social equality and selfless pursuit ("Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"), the U.S. House position on Medicare will begin unraveling a pillar of our "Great Society."

Steaming mad at airport cup policy
On Oct. 31, 2003, I left for Montana on a family trip. It was quite early in the morning and so I decided I'd get a Chai tea to wake myself up. Just before our plane was boarding we headed for security. The security guard told me I couldn't go through because the cup containing my tea was plastic, so I would either have to stand there and drink all of it or go back downstairs to put it in a paper cup.

Too much too fast
Senator Murkowski's 70-page Alaska Land Transfer Acceleration Act of 2003 (S.1466) would substantially change the rules by which national forest and national wildlife refuge lands are transferred out of public ownership. The bill would also authorize the Secretary of Interior to open or close certain federal lands to various uses without providing an opportunity for public notice, public comment, environmental review or judicial review.

A sacred trust broken
It finally hit me this morning as I watched CSPAN2, when once again the much-talked about support of the membership of AARP was touted by a senator praising the Medicare turkey. There on a poster was a list of the AARP membership as proof. Once again I saw red.

A road means freedom
In response to Rayda Renshaw's concerns, I have never heard of any child being abducted and taken up to Canada from the towns of Haines or Skagway where there is road access to Canada. A loaf of bread in Anchorage costing three times the amount of a loaf of bread here? I hardly think so.

Not trying to imitate B.C. ferry system
Recent headlines incorrectly stated that the Marine Transportation Advisory Board (MTAB) proposed privatizing the ferry system and modeling the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) after the British Columbia (B.C.) ferry system. As the chair of MTAB I feel the need to set the record straight.

New policy unfairly gives special rights
A few letters to the editor state that everyone deserves insurance. The CBJ health policy doesn't cover relatives, as I will show in examples below, but they will provide coverage to non-relatives to be "politically correct."

Praise for wolf ruling
We applaud Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason's decision temporarily halting aerial wolf killing until its necessity and legality are evaluated fairly and without prejudice in a court of law.

Praise for straight talk
Kudos to Trevor League for telling it like it is. Does anyone find it ironic that those who ask for tolerance would appear to be most intolerant of those who disagree with their whacky ideology?

Due to incorrect information provided to the Empire, a Friday article about Christmas trees in Juneau misidentified the group selling Christmas trees outside Fred Meyer. The Juneau-Douglas High School Swim Club is selling the trees, which went on sale Saturday. Due to a reporter's error, the Empire misspelled the name of the local manager of Fred Meyer. His name is Fred Sayre.

Photo: Getting into the spirit
Jeff White holds his son, Jack, 5, as they watch the Douglas Community Tree Lighting festivities Friday evening between Waterwheel Plaza and the Douglas Community United Methodist Church.

Young students Fast ForWord
Sean O'Brien said he was skeptical when educators recommended sitting his kindergartner son at a computer to address concerns that the boy had difficulty following directions.

Around Town
Today Low-Impact Exercise, 10 a.m., Juneau Senior Center and Valley Senior Center. Details: 463-6175.

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

Bill Spear: Going his way
Alaska had been a state for less than a decade in 1968. The Trans-Alaska pipeline wouldn't be completed for another nine years. And William Spear interviewed in a Kansas City airport for a job he would take as an assistant attorney general under Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel.

Express bus service to be accessible
As of Monday, people who use wheelchairs and mobility aids will be able to take Capital Transit's express bus.

Alaska eaglets California-bound
Scaling a 100-foot Sitka spruce and then perching at the edge of an eagle's nest, Jim Spickler's job is only half done. He speaks to the 8-week-old raptors in the nest, just long enough to coax them into a padded nylon bag and make the descent.

Program is seen as being worth the cost
When grant money runs out to pay for the Fast ForWord program, the Juneau School District will begin picking up the bill. Superintendent Peggy Cowen said there won't be a lab set up at every school, but the program has proven itself, locally and nationally, to be worth the cost.

This Day in History
In Alaska:• In 1894, the Yukon Order of Pioneers was organized at Forty Mile on the Yukon River. • In 1935, the University of Alaska Library at Fairbanks moved into the new library/gymnasium building. It took 13 hours to move 12,000 books.

Petition groups hit the malls, Internet
As the holiday shopping season kicked into full swing Friday, signature gatherers for ballot initiatives were taking advantage of the crowds.

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

Juneau gets serious about shopping
At 6:30 a.m. Friday, Fred Meyer had been open for 1 1/2 hours. People who arrived at the store at 4:30 a.m. to get a jump-start on the after-Thanksgiving sales were hustling through the snow, pushing loaded carts to their cars.

Photo: O, the weather outside
Chris Siddon breaks up icy snow as he digs his car out Sunday afternoon at the corner of Indian and Seventh

Photo: 'tis the season
Ann Robinson, left, and Candy Wierzelewski joined the ranks of shoppers looking for gifts and holiday decorations at the Nugget Mall on Friday.

Police & Fire
Reports from Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers.

Wesley E. Merrill
Former Juneau resident Wesley E. Merrill, 72, died Nov. 24, 2003, in Vancouver, Wash., from complications of diabetes.

Proposal to privatize some ferry services a concern
Some of the ideas presented to Governor Murkowski's Marine Transportation Advisory Board (MTAB) last week are disturbing, especially an idea to use B.C. Ferries Inc. as a model for an improved Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS).

The spectrum of the Constitutional Eagle
You know one cannot really tell what a Democrat or a Republican stands for these days. For decades many people have been losing faith in the two major political parties. We hear the terms "liberal" and "conservative" as unscrupulous individuals, and they become the subjects of condemnation with whichever party is in control.

Up to the Legislature
Gov. Frank Murkowski presents his budget and a plan for funding it on Dec. 15. It will be interesting, but it is up to the Legislature to craft the real budget for the state. The governor has some control in that he can introduce a budget and legislation, and can veto actions of the Legislature. He also doesn't have to spend all of the money appropriated. But it's the lawmakers who approve a final budget and pass any laws affecting dividends and taxes.

Toe cartoon
Editorial cartoon by local artist Toe.

Safety on the slopes
Ideally, skiers and snowboarders at Eaglecrest Ski Area this season have spent the summer and fall hiking, biking, in-line skating and strength training to get in shape for the season. But in case they haven't, Juneau physical therapists, who often see downhill winter sports enthusiasts after the athletes blow out their knees, have some tips to stay out of the emergency room this season.

Web links
Web sites of interest to local outdoors enthusiasts.

Out and About
Upcoming outdoor activities in Juneau.

Out for a carriage ride
Michael Muir and Cindy Goff, both of Lexington, Ky., and Allison Tyas of Norfolk, England, are taking a 1,000-mile road trip from Louisville, Ky., to Cedar Key, Fla., by horse-drawn carriage.

Snow report
Snow report from Eaglecrest.

Sports in Juneau
Sports in Juneau is a service provided by the Juneau Empire to provide information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Purdue upsets No. 2 Duke to claim Great Alaska Shootout title
Purdue has the reputation of a big-bodied, hard-banging team that scores most of its points inside, but it was the Boilermakers' outside-shooting guards who were the key to upsetting No. 2 Duke on Saturday.

A team of two
When Fred Phillips and Gunnar Combs decided to go out for a sport at Pelican School, there was no question what it would be. At Pelican - high school enrollment four - wrestling is the only game in town.

Sports in Juneau
UPCOMING EVENTS Saturday, Dec. 6 • 10th annual Jingle Jog - The 10th annual Jingle Jog, a 5-kilometer run or 1-mile walk, will be held on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 10 a.m. Check in at 9 a.m. at the parking lot of JRC/The Alaska Club's Mendenhall Valley location.

Vikings look for region repeat
The Petersburg Vikings will be the team to beat at the Region V-Class 2A/3A wrestling meet Friday and Saturday in Wrangell.

Freshman phenom
As a freshman on the University of Bridgeport volleyball team, Amy Neussl hoped to get on the floor. She ended up doing a whole lot more.

Alaska Digest
News in brief from around the state.

Park Service maintains cruise ship status quo at Glacier Bay
The National Park Service has decided to maintain the status quo on how many cruise ships will be allowed to enter the whale-filled waters of Glacier Bay National Park. The decision means that 139 ships will be allowed into Glacier Bay during the summer season, officials said, or one or two ships a day from May to September.

Thanksgiving in Alaska is best of both worlds
They celebrated Thanksgiving twice Thursday in the Nunivak Island village of Mekoryuk, but the turkey and mashed potatoes had to wait until later. At noon, people had their first feast: reindeer, dried fish and that old favorite, Eskimo ice cream, known locally as akutaq. It's just the opposite in Allakaket, up the Koyukuk River. The turkey dinner was Thursday, but on Friday, the community gathers for moosehead soup, beaver tail and bear. And of course, akutaq.

KPC cleanup nearly complete
It's been nearly seven years since Ketchikan Pulp Co. closed its It's been nearly seven years since Ketchikan Pulp Co. closed its pulp mill and four years since it last hauled timber off the Tongass National Forest, and the cleanup of sites contaminated by the company's logging operations is nearly complete.pulp mill and four years since it last hauled timber off the Tongass National Forest, and the cleanup of sites contaminated by the company's logging operations is nearly complete.

Federal funding slated for sexual assault investigations
Anchorage police would receive $2 million for sexual assault investigations under the appropriations bill pending in Congress.

Hovercraft delivers to the Alaska Bush
ANCHORAGE - Each year, Glen Van Valin and his crew wait for a good stretch of nice, cold weather to descend on the Bethel area - cold enough to freeze the muddy waters of the Kuskokwim River into a wide open, frosty-white freeway.

Alaska Digest
staff and Wire reports

National economic growth could be good for Alaska
FAIRBANKS - Alaska's oil-dependent economy is less diverse than the nation's as a whole, but recent national growth could still carry good tidings for the state this holiday season and beyond, according to economists.

Scientists: Did industrial whaling cause sea-otter decline?
GRANTS PASS, Ore. - A cascading decline in seal, sea lion and sea otter populations in the North Pacific may have been triggered by industrial whaling after World War II that forced killer whales to look for new sources of food, a group of scientists suggests.

Lawmakers consider stricter regs for under-21 strip clubs
ANCHORAGE - Looking back on her 19 years, BobbyLee Castoe says one year of stripping for a living was worse than multiple years in and out of the McLaughlin Youth Center, a juvenile jail.

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