Some new titles 'yule' find in the bookstores in time for Christmas shopping
As the song says, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" - and that's also true on the "new fiction" shelf of bookstores, where novels by Anne Perry, Jude Deveraux and Debbie Macomber all have Christmas settings.

In the Stacks: This week offers tapes to listen to while wrapping gifts
What better way to keep yourself on track wrapping gifts and baking goodies than with a great book on tape? Here are a few ideas to get you started; all are unabridged.

Laughing at life's misfortunes
I found Pat O'Brien's letter taking offense at the "Wizard of Id" kind of odd.

A fair comparison
The comparison of bestiality and homosexuality is a fair one in the Bible. It says that they are both worthy of death.

Canada's flawed fish farms
I am writing this letter in regards to fish farms and their potential to negatively affect Alaskan sport, Native and commercial fisheries. The B.C. salmon farm industry is poised to expand open-net fish farms to the Prince Rupert area, which is situated right next to the Alaskan border. The industry has been plagued with job layoffs due to farmed Atlantic salmon die-offs from IHN disease, which we believe could cause catastrophic harm to both Alaskan and B.C. wild salmon runs in that region.

The real health hazard
The Juneau Clean Air Coalition is pushing for "clean air?" It is actively going after local bars and their smoking clients as the cause for this unhealthy problem; they state that it is they who are causing all the health problems in the world.

As society changes, so should rules
I grew up in a society in which most people smoked; as a child there was practically no way to get away from the smell of cigarette smoke - in the home, at restaurants, family gatherings and many public places. As that society became aware, by degrees, of the dangers of smoking, not just as a personal choice but to the general welfare, restrictions on smoking became more and more prevalent.

A new store
If you are looking for a real treat, wind your way to South Franklin and check out one of Juneau's newest stores: The Imaginarium. Owned and operated by a Juneau born-and-bred couple, this store is here to stay and we are the lucky ones. It is full of every imaginable thing to warm the heart of a child of any age. Not a catalogue in the world offers more.

'Legal' smoking is a killer
In their Dec. 15 letter ("Smoking - or not - is a legal choice"), Judy and Rudy Ripley seem to believe that tobacco is perfectly legal.

City to split high school construction contract
The city will split construction work on the planned high school in the Mendenhall Valley into two parts to attract more bidders, especially from Southeast, and gain some time in a very tight schedule for an August 2006 opening.

Holiday train rally entertains young, old
Younger visitors, though, were not as adept as multi-tasking. Kids as young as 3 stood mesmerized by the 15 working trains on display at the first-ever holiday train rally held at the museum. Many stood silent for minutes at a time, watching.

Dreaming of a White Christmas
Though hundreds of Christmas songs are piped through stereo systems at retail stores this time of year, "Let it Snow" is the song of the season for some Juneau proprietors.

Bartlett expansion could cost more
The $40 million Bartlett Regional Hospital addition and renovation may cost more and be delayed. At issue are the cost of construction and whether to solicit bids for one job or divide it into three smaller projects.

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

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

Holiday services
Local times and locations for holiday services

Bertha Brekhus
Former Juneau resident Bertha Florence Brekhus, 85, died of emphysema and complications from pneumonia Nov. 25, 2003, at St. Tammany Hospital in Louisiana.

Toe cartoon
Cartoon by local artist Toe.

My Turn: Praying for a white Christmas
This last column for 2003 wishes all of our readers a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2004. Unfortunately, this holiday finds American young men and women again in foreign lands protecting our security.

Ski report
Saturday midday, there was 28 inches of snow at the Eaglecrest Ski Area lodge, and about 72 inches on top. It's a heavy wet snow. The groomed runs are soft snow turning, the ski area said. Fat skis and snowboards work best off the groomed.

Playing reindeer games
Despite 20 years of recovery efforts, the last wild herd of woodland caribou in the Lower 48 states continues to struggle for survival. Only 41 of the caribou, a close relative of the reindeer, were counted in the 2003 annual census within the greater Selkirk Mountains north of Spokane.

Wildlife Notebook: Juneau's great blue herons stick around for the winter
On a recent winter morning, a great blue heron stalked the tidal flats at the mouth of Gold Creek. Wading carefully, the tall bird didn't make a single ripple in the shallow water. It paused, then plunged its dagger-like bill underwater and pulled out a wriggling fish.

Out & About
Upcoming local outdoor events.

Toadfish mating call a clue to fighting human muscular diseases
Web links The love song of the lonely toadfish is giving scientists new insight on fighting human muscular diseases. Blessed with a face that only a mother could love, some males of a type of toadfish called the plainfin midshipman work hard for a date, hiding under rocks in shallow waters and humming to attract egg-laying females.

Outdoors Web links
Web sites of interest to local outdoors enthusiasts.

Southeast Wild: Population growth
Do you live in a community where moose outnumber people? For the winter residents of Gustavus the answer is a resounding "Yes!" In fact, there are about twice as many moose living on the Gustavus forelands this winter as there are human inhabitants. This hasn't always been the case, however, as moose have been known to occur in this area only for the last 40 years or so.

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.

Photos: Masters of the Holiday
This year marks the 11th run of the Holiday Cup indoor soccer tourney.

Cavaliers claim second straight win on the road
LeBron James did the No. 23 proud in his idol's house. With Michael Jordan watching from a skybox, James scored a game-high 32 points and had a career-high 10 assists Saturday night to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their second straight road win, a 95-87 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Juneau boys finish sixth at Service tourney
The youthful Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team made progress this weekend, but not enough to keep from posting a 1-3 record in its season-opening road trip to Anchorage.

Stevens says he has done nothing illegal, unethical
ANCHORAGE - Sen. Ted Stevens on Friday dismissed calls from activist groups that he resign as chairman of the Appropriations Committee and disputed a newspaper report that said he used his powerful position to enrich himself and others.

Research team to study one of Alaska's ghost villages
Returning to King Island for the first time in three decades, Helen Pushruk was struck by the impossible layout of the crumbling Eskimo village where she was born. The homes, built high on stilts, clung to the steep, rocky faces of the island, battered by the Bering Sea.

Photo: Eagle on the mend
Heida, a female bald eagle, left, closes her wings as she perches next to an unnamed male eagle Thursday, at the Hutchinson (Kan.) Zoo. Heida a 20-something bald eagle from Sitka, made her debut at the zoo as she recovers from a neurological injury.

Alaska Digest
News in brief from around the state.

This Day in History
In Alaska; in the nation; in the world.

State distributes $9 million in grants for fish marketing
A $9 million package of state grants for fish marketing will help move hundreds of thousands of cases of canned pink salmon that have been gathering dust in Alaska warehouses, Gov. Frank Murkowski said Thursday.

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