Becoming 'The Nutcracker'
The queen of the snow, a tasty chocolate from Spain, a sweet plum fairy, and a giant mouse; what could they possibly have in common? They are a tiny portion of the characters that Juneau Dance Unlimited will bring to life in "The Nutcracker."

'Damned United' a compelling film
Having the skill to bring authentic stories to forceful and persuasive dramatic life is a gift not all writers have, but no one has it more than Britain's Peter Morgan. Best known for having written "The Queen" and "Frost/Nixon," Morgan does it again in his potent script for "The Damned United."

Felted ornament workshop Saturday
A felted ornament workshop, led by fiber artist Sara Lee, will be held at the Juneau Douglas City Museum on Saturday. Lee, whose solo show "Heartfelt History" is on display at the museum this month along with "Lines of Design" by bead artist Salty Hanes, will lead two separate sessions: the first from 1-2 p.m. and the second from 2-3 p.m.

"Dracula" visits the Phoenix Stage
Perseverance Theatre's Young Company will present "Dracula," in four shows this weekend, beginning tonight on the Phoenix Stage. Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10-12, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.

Holiday Pops Concert held this weekend
Juneau Lyric Opera will present their annual Holiday Pops Concert this weekend, featuring a community chorus under the direction of Sally Smith.

Winter ball held this weekend, dance tonight
The annual Winter Ball, featuring musical guests the Thunder Mountain Big Band, will be held from 8-11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 at Centennial Hall. The ball is sponsored by the Juneau International Folkdancers.

Local filmmakers selected for Film Fest
Two local filmmakers will visit Anchorage as part of the ninth annual Anchorage International Film Festival, which began Dec. 4 and runs through Dec. 19.

Who's minding the mice?
The mice are loose.

A look back at 2009 releases
Our fair state was well-represented in print in 2009.

Alexie's latest collection will please fans, may shock newcomers
In "War Dances," literary virtuoso Sherman Alexie returns to adult fiction following his National Book Award-winning young-adult novel, "The Completely True Diary of a Part-time Indian." Alexie's narratives draw strength from encounters that force us to confront our own discomfort with issues of race, sexuality and love.

Top-notch cast drives 'Brothers'
It is generally a good idea to avoid melodramas. At work, they're uncomfortable whether you're directly involved or not. In relationships with the opposite sex (believe me, I could tell some stories), they're deal-breakers. Every so often, though, melodramas can make for some excellent entertainment. A good chunk of my motivation to feign illness in middle school was the thought of catching up on "All My Children" and "General Hospital"; stop laughing, I quit the daytime stories cold turkey years ago.

Opera To Go presents world premieres
Opera To Go will present a pair of world premiere one-act operas with four performances over the next two weekends. "The Last Leaf" and "The Gift of the Magi" by Michael Chordas will be performed at 8 p.m. on Dec. 12, 18 and 19 and at 3 p.m. on Dec. 20 at the Thunder Mountain High School Auditorium.

New nonfiction for young readers
Nonfiction for young readers is shelved with the non-fiction for adults, making it easy to supplement books that have just the right text with books with even more illustrations.

Begich promised not to toe party line
Remember when Sen. Mark Begich stood before the cameras during the 2008 election? He told us his vote would not be fore sale, that he would vote in Alaska's best interest, and when his party was wrong, he would vote against his party? He looked so confident, and he was so believable.

Education is the core of democracy
Education. That's what everything boils down to for any civil and social construction. A substantive, unbiased exchange of information that increases awareness would not enable self-serving profit-maximizers to delude the majority into voting against health care for all, when we need curtail the spread of pandemics such as AIDS and swine flu. An unbiased, non-specifically sequenced liberal education (as of that at the elementary, primary and secondary "brain partitioning" years) is essential for a democratic republic to function properly.

Heroic teen deserves to be recognized
Recently, a teenage boy saved the life of a teenage girl from being stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend in Anchorage at Service High school. What this young man did was not only heroic but very brave. If it wasn't for him acting on what he saw instead of just walking by, the girl would be dead today.

Obama takes path of president before
I want to thank our local columnist, Ben Brown, for a concise history primer about the occupation of Afghanistan printed in the Dec. 6 Juneau Empire.

Juneau needs to grow to thrive
Juneau is by far one of the most beautiful areas I have lived in. During what seems like a long 23 years, I have had the privilege of living around the world in areas such as Indonesia and across the United States. I even called Iraq home for a year while I was deployed with the U.S. Army.

Car dealer mum after closing stores
One woman is waiting for seat belts. Another wants her truck fixed and returned.

JPD becomes first police agency in state to receive accreditation
Juneau Police Chief Greg Browning likes telling anyone who will listen about how good the Juneau Police Department is - and now he has the tangible proof to back up his assertions.

Around Town
Today, Dec. 10

Around Town
Today, Dec. 9

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials reported:

An A3 story in Wednesday's Empire reported the acronym of the school district's interim tests, or MAP tests, stands for Measure of Academic Performance. MAP actually stands for Measure of Academic Progress.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials reported:

Former coach allegedly admits guilt
A longtime Juneau-Douglas High School basketball coach's lawyer said Tuesday his client would plead not guilty to felony sexual assault, even though court documents indicate James M. Hamey admitted to police that he groped a 50-year-old woman last week without her consent.

AGIA critics may pick up fight
Alaska's effort to build a natural gas pipeline under 2007's Alaska Gasline Inducement Act is either finally making progress after years of delay, or a costly disaster which will cause further holdups, depending upon the commentator.

Carnival pulls two ships from 2011 schedule
Two cruise lines owned by industry giant Carnival Corp. announced ship redeployments Wednesday that will result in two fewer ships visiting Southeast Alaska in 2011.

Merry mansion
Gov. Sean Parnell knows this year may be particularly tough for many families given the difficult economic times, so on Tuesday he wanted to be sure to wish Alaskans a merry Christmas and happy holiday season during the annual open house at the Governor's Mansion.

Rep. Woodie Salmon announces support for Democratic caucus
Democratic Rep. Woodie Salmon of Chalkyitsik is disputing a report on Juneau's KINY radio that he's left the Democratic minority caucus to join the Republican led-majority headed by Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski.

Industry group aims to stem cruise outflow
Sitka businessman John Litten said something has to be done about the loss of cruise business in Alaska.

Persily nominated as pipeline coordinator
Legislative aide and former journalist Larry Persily has been named federal pipeline coordinator by the Obama administration, a position designed to help bring Alaska's natural gas to North American markets.

Photos: Hope through music
Los Angeles singer songwriter and cancer survivor Charlie Lustman, center, poses Tuesday during his concert at the Silverbow Back Room. With Lustman are, from left, longtime friend Bob Gray, Cancer Connection vice president Tish Griffin Satre, Juneau Empire advertising director Todd Vodnansky and Juneau Empire marketing coordinator Meghan Grunow.

Bartlett hopeful about health care reform
Juneau's Bartlett Regional Hospital and a handful of other rural hospitals around the nation are hoping to continue to participate in a demonstration project that provides extra Medicare money to rural hospitals.

Photo: Jelly drive
University of Alaska Southeast student assistants Megan Johnson, left, and David Moriarty show off some of the collections from the university's Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive, held to benefit the Food Bank of Alaska.

School District outlines calendar changes
Students will be let out of school between 45 and 60 minutes early on the second and fourth Monday of every month to allow for teacher collaboration under the Juneau School District's proposed 2010-2011 calendar.

Ricardo Tahod Deleon
Former Juneau resident Ricardo Tahod Deleon died Dec. 3, 2009, in Escondido, Calif. He was 52.

Patricia A. Gehring
Juneau resident Patricia A. Gehring died unexpectedly Dec. 2, 2009, in her home. She was 38.

Ramona A. Green
Juneau resident Ramona Green died Dec. 5, 2009, in Juneau. She was 78.

Iraq breakthrough
The following editorial appeared in the Washington Post:

Alaska editorials: Solving the beluga mystery
The following editorial appeared in the Anchorage Daily News:

Faux news, real results
A Hong Kong media company launched a worldwide YouTube hit last week with an animated re-creation of Tiger Woods' infamous fire hydrant crash. The video, which has been viewed more than 2 million times, shows an avatar of the golfer's wife slapping a digital Tiger across the face and then chasing after him, golf club swinging, as he speeds off in what looks like a 1980s minivan.

What good are holiday tales if we discard moral lessons?
For more than 40 years, Black Friday has been the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. Now we have Cyber Monday, a newly named tradition that is supposed to be the first day for Christmas bargains on the Internet. Regardless of which way people choose to shop, neither day is a local story worthy of much attention. Both are imported marketing gimmicks where the competition to buy and sell does little more than reveal weaknesses in human nature.

My turn: Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share measure is successful
Two years have passed since the Alaska Legislature enacted Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share, a new oil valuation measure. Today the benefits of this legislation are apparent. This article will look at the impact ACES has had on revenue, on jobs, and on oil production, exploration and development.

Using forest growth to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide
To prevent timber harvest, Tongass Conservation Society has recently attacked biomass as a renewable energy source, claiming that "science" proves it harmful to carbon dioxide reduction (Nov. 12 Juneau Empire and Dec. 5 Ketchikan Daily News). However, we need to use all the known science that applies, not just a few generalities that appear to prove a point.

Celebrity gossip is just so much juicier when you hear it firsthand
"The last time I talked to Tiger Woods, we stood in the middle of a country club parking lot talking about golf." - Bryan Burwell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dec. 1, 2009

Pearson's Pond changes ownership
JUNEAU - Pearson's Pond, a bed and breakfast-style resort in the Mendenhall Valley, was purchased by Maryann Ray, a former resident of Phoenix.

Territorial Guard may get pension checks
ANCHORAGE - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says Alaska Territorial Guard members whose military pensions were reduced by a Pentagon policy change in January should see full payments resume by year's end.

Alaska Guard taking bikes to Afghanistan
ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Air National Guard will transport donated bicycles to Afghanistan, where the bikes will be given to more than 20 disadvantaged children.

Anchorage plans vaccination clinic
ANCHORAGE - The municipality of Anchorage is offering a swine flu vaccination clinic from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Clark Middle School for children age 9 and younger.

Murkowski proposes study of Arctic water port sites
ANCHORAGE - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has introduced a bill to study the possibility of building a deep water port in the Arctic.

Charges filed in teen stabbing
ANCHORAGE - Anchorage police said a student suspected of stabbing a former girlfriend outside Service High School has been charged with attempted murder.

Governor's open house sets new attendance record
JUNEAU - The 2009 holiday open house at the Governor's Mansion had a record turnout Tuesday night with an attendance of 4,114 people, according to the Gov. Sean Parnell's office.

Four slain officers honored at memorial
TACOMA, Wash. - A procession of 2,000 cars followed the flag-draped caskets of four slain police officers to a memorial service Tuesday as thousands of mourners, mostly members of law enforcement from across the country, lined the streets.

Member of Anchorage drug ring sentenced
ANCHORAGE - A 28-year-old Anchorage man has been sentenced to more than 23 years in federal prison for his role in large drug ring.

Juneau Coast Guard Chiefs to host annual senior dinner
JUNEAU - Juneau Coast Guard Chiefs and members of the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer's Association Juneau Chapter are holding the 36th annual Senior Citizen's Holiday Dinner at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall Sunday beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Domestic violence shelter opens in Bethel
ANCHORAGE - A new shelter for battered women and their children is opening in the western Alaska town of Bethel, a $9 million facility operators call a crucial step in addressing the growing problem of domestic abuse in the largely native region.

Juneau's cold, clear weather generates 'air emergency'
JUNEAU - Cold, clear weather brought air emergencies and subsequent wood stove burning bans to the Mendenhall Valley earlier this week.

Crew sent to rescue up to 100 dogs in rural Oregon
PORTLAND, Ore. - The Oregon Humane Society on Tuesday sent a team to rescue as many as 100 dogs living without shelter in cold weather on rural property in Eastern Oregon.

Bering Straits names Schubert new CEO
ANCHORAGE - Bering Straits Native Corp. has named Gail Schubert its chief executive, succeeding Tim Towarak, who has led the company since 2000.

Falcons hit the hardwood
Thunder Mountain is once again preparing for a season opener in what has been a season of firsts for the new Falcons athletics program.

Four TMHS grapplers prep for state
Things could be worse for Thunder Mountain wrestling. After all, sending four student-athletes to the state meet in the program's inaugural season is not half bad. In fact, it's downright good.

Sports in Juneau

Cordero, Swanson set to take mat at state for Crimson Bears
Juneau-Douglas is sending two senior grapplers to this weekend's 4A state wrestling championships at Chugiak High School. Both are first timers in Alaska's biggest meet of the year.

Sports in Juneau

Justices skeptical of law dealing in 'honest services'
WASHINGTON - A federal law that makes it a crime to deprive the public or one's employer of "honest services" is a favorite of prosecutors on the hunt for corrupt politicians and self-dealing corporate honchos.

Federal timber program becomes vast entitlement
RESERVE, N.M. - A federal program that began as a safety net for Pacific Northwest logging communities hard-hit by battles over the spotted owl in the 1990s has morphed into a sprawling entitlement - one that ships vast amounts of money to states with little or no historic connection to timber, an analysis by The Associated Press shows.

Thieves take police car on wild drive in Bethel
ANCHORAGE - Talk about a wild drive: barreling a stolen police car along a frozen river in western Alaska, while firing rounds from an officer's semi-automatic rifle.

Giant North Slope oil spill likely caused by ice buildup
ANCHORAGE - Officials believe that ice plugged up a pipeline and likely caused a rupture that sent 46,000 gallons of crude oil and water gushing onto snow-covered tundra on Alaska's North Slope late last month.

Draft plan suggests merging utilities
FAIRBANKS - A draft plan on statewide electrical generation in Alaska suggests savings by consolidating six electrical utilities in Fairbanks and the Southcentral region.

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