October-Issue-1 2011

 

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Top musher will return to defend Iditarod title

Top musher will return to defend Iditarod title

When John Baker won last year in record time — and became the first Alaska Native musher to win in 35 years — he hadn't considered what would come next.
Pentagon weighing how to respond to cyberattacks

Pentagon weighing how to respond to cyberattacks

The Defense Department is finalizing policies that will determine what the military can do in the event of a cyberattack as the government figures out who should have the power to shut down computer networks seized by an enemy nation, terrorist group or criminal hacker.

Deadly salmon virus raises concerns in US, Canada

Scientists in Washington state are working to improve testing of a deadly, contagious marine virus as a precaution, after the virus was detected in wild salmon for the first time on the West Coast.

US sales of previously occupied homes fell in September

The number of Americans who bought previously occupied homes fell in September. Home sales are on pace to match last year's dismal figures — the worst in 13 years.

EPA to regulate disposal of fracking wastewater

Federal environmental regulators say they will develop national standards for the disposal of polluted wastewaters generated by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Social Security benefits to go up 3.6 percent

Social Security benefits will go up by 3.6 percent next year, the first increase since 2009 for the one in five Americans who rely on government retirement and disability programs.

Education makes political comeback in Washington

A rare show of bipartisanship in a divided Congress produced a deal to fix an education law long considered flawed, until a single senator stalled progress Wednesday.

Ferry board weighs in on SE transportation plan

The state Department of Transportation & Public Facilities predicts it will have less money to spend on ferry service in the future, and wants suggestions about where cuts can be made in its new Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan.

PFD applicants, state, banks struggle to sort out snafu

The state folks who usually distribute Alaska Permanent Fund dividends spent much of last week trying to recover 5,500 PFDs they paid in error.

4th man in Army Corps bribe case to remain in jail

One of four men charged in what federal prosecutors call one of the largest government contracting frauds in the country's history will remain behind bars, a judge ruled Tuesday, after prosecutors said they had overwhelming evidence of him participating in a kickback scheme.

Measure aimed at Pebble narrowly passes, 280-246

Voters in the Lake and Peninsula Borough of southwest Alaska narrowly passed a ballot initiative that attempts to block the large Pebble copper/gold mine planned by Anglo American and Northern Dynasty Minerals, officials of the Lake and Peninsula Borough announced late Oct. 17.

Utility costs will go up almost across-the-board in Anchorage

BlackBerry blackout is new threat to brand

BlackBerry blackout is new threat to brand

The longest BlackBerry outage in many years left customers outraged this week, threatening to cost the granddaddy of all smartphones more business when it's already struggling to keep up in a crowded marketplace.

Retail sales rose strongly in September on autos

U.S. consumers stepped up their spending on retail goods in September, a hopeful sign for the sluggish economy.
GOP isn't sold on Romney, seeking other options

GOP isn't sold on Romney, seeking other options

If polls show one thing with certainty, it's that Republicans aren't sold on Mitt Romney and they've been looking for other presidential candidates.

Murkowski, Begich split on jobs bill vote

Two Democrats join 46 Republicans in voting against $447 billion bill.

Senator pitches brief tax exemption for gas line

An Anchorage Democrat plans to introduce legislation exempting a natural gas pipeline project from state property taxes until gas flows through the line.
Lawmakers seek probe on banks' new debit card fees

Lawmakers seek probe on banks' new debit card fees

Members of Congress are asking the Justice Department to investigate whether Bank of America and other major banks improperly worked together to charge customers new monthly fees for using their debit cards.

State rebuffs Johansen recall attempt

The backers of an effort to recall Ketchikan state Rep. Kyle Johansen will decide whether to take the issue to court after the state rebuffed their attempt.
Vets: Killer whale in Alaska river was pregnant

Vets: Killer whale in Alaska river was pregnant

Veterinarians said Wednesday that a killer whale that baffled biologists after swimming up a river in Alaska and remaining in the fresh water for weeks until her death had been pregnant.

Movers and Shakers Oct 2011

BREAKING: Bristol Bay red king crab quota cut in half

Snow crab harvest announcement delayed until Oct. 5 at earliest.

Archive »Real Estate

US sales of previously occupied homes fell in September

The number of Americans who bought previously occupied homes fell in September. Home sales are on pace to match last year's dismal figures — the worst in 13 years.

Archive »Transportation

Ferry board weighs in on SE transportation plan

The state Department of Transportation & Public Facilities predicts it will have less money to spend on ferry service in the future, and wants suggestions about where cuts can be made in its new Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan.

Archive »Construction Articles

4th man in Army Corps bribe case to remain in jail

One of four men charged in what federal prosecutors call one of the largest government contracting frauds in the country's history will remain behind bars, a judge ruled Tuesday, after prosecutors said they had overwhelming evidence of him participating in a kickback scheme.
Post-earthquake inspection rules questioned after deaths

Post-earthquake inspection rules questioned after deaths

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Passing trucks shook the six-story office building constantly in the months after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in September 2010.
Dutch Harbor dock near completion

Dutch Harbor dock near completion

Archive »Oil & Gas

EPA to regulate disposal of fracking wastewater

Federal environmental regulators say they will develop national standards for the disposal of polluted wastewaters generated by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Utility costs will go up almost across-the-board in Anchorage

Senator pitches brief tax exemption for gas line

An Anchorage Democrat plans to introduce legislation exempting a natural gas pipeline project from state property taxes until gas flows through the line.
Mission launched to see if oil remains on old WW2 ship

Mission launched to see if oil remains on old WW2 ship

Two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese submarine shot a torpedo at an American oil tanker just off the California coast, sinking the ship and sending 3 million gallons of crude to the bottom of the ocean.

Environmental groups petition 9th Circuit on Shell’s Beaufort Sea permits

A coalition of environmental groups have filed a notice of petition with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asking the court to block the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s approval of a plan of exploration for Shell’s drilling in the Alaska Beaufort Sea in 2012, an attorney for the environmental law firm handling the case said.

ConocoPhillips maintenance spending up; new development down

ConocoPhillips says it is spending a greater percentage of its budget to maintain aging North Slope oil fields this year and less on development of new oil.

Opponents decry State Department ‘bias’ on oil pipeline

Industry criticizes BLM for paltry offer in NPR-A sale

State officials say they have been told by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that a federal lease sale planned for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in December will be held on the same day, Dec. 7, that the state will hold an area-wide sale on state lands including acreage adjacent to the NPR-A.
COMMENTARY: Spilled oil? Want trust? Companies must be transparent

COMMENTARY: Spilled oil? Want trust? Companies must be transparent

As seen in the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico last year and in ExxonMobil’s pipeline spill in Montana this summer, the public expects accurate and timely information about oil spills and the efforts to clean them up.

Shell moves closer to OK for offshore drilling

Step by step, Shell is moving closer to gaining final permission to drill exploration wells in offshore Arctic waters next summer. But, environmental groups aren’t giving up on court challenges.

Slope oil production decline may be accelerating, state data shows

Production from the North Slope may be declining faster than expected. Production declined 7.45 percent for the 12-month period preceding July 1, compared to the previous 12 months, according to preliminary data from the state Department of Revenue.

Work on 2 gas pipelines continues; state picking up most of the tab

Work continues on the two pipeline projects planned to bring natural gas from the North Slope, one project an alternative in case the other falters. The state of Alaska is contributing financially to both projects to the tune of about $900 million.
Lawmakers, state square off in continued tax debate

Lawmakers, state square off in continued tax debate

Sen. Hollis French and state Deputy Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman squared off Sept. 21 in a testy prelude to the Legislature’s oil tax debate that will resume in Juneau in January.

Archive »Telecom

BlackBerry blackout is new threat to brand

BlackBerry blackout is new threat to brand

The longest BlackBerry outage in many years left customers outraged this week, threatening to cost the granddaddy of all smartphones more business when it's already struggling to keep up in a crowded marketplace.

Archive »Technology

Review: Skype phone and adapter for home calling

NEW YORK (AP) — With two new products, Skype has made it easier to make Internet calls from home phones, for savings on international calls and potentially also domestic ones.
A buyer’s guide to the new iPhone 4S

A buyer’s guide to the new iPhone 4S

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple is trotting out a new iPhone on Oct. 14, but it’s not the iPhone 5 some were expecting. Instead, it’s a more modest upgrade, the iPhone 4S. Here are some facts to help you decide if it’s time to make the plunge.
Apple expected to unveil new iPhone this week

Apple expected to unveil new iPhone this week

Apple fans are amped. The computer and gadget maker is expected to announce a new, more powerful version of its wildly popular smartphone this week — more than a year after it unveiled the iPhone 4.

Archive »Alaska Politics

4th man in Army Corps bribe case to remain in jail

One of four men charged in what federal prosecutors call one of the largest government contracting frauds in the country's history will remain behind bars, a judge ruled Tuesday, after prosecutors said they had overwhelming evidence of him participating in a kickback scheme.

Murkowski, Begich split on jobs bill vote

Two Democrats join 46 Republicans in voting against $447 billion bill.
Rural Alaska communities aim to preserve culture, subsistence

Rural Alaska communities aim to preserve culture, subsistence

Does rural Alaska have a future? Can small rural villages be sustained?

Redistricting plan wins approval from Justice Department

Spruce bark beetle mitigation coming to Kenai Peninsula

Kenai’s city council gave its approval to have the Kenai Peninsula Borough conduct a spruce bark beetle program on its land.
ANCSA paved way for Alaska Natives, state to prosper together

ANCSA paved way for Alaska Natives, state to prosper together

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services enforcement officer Harry Pinkham got more than he bargained for when he arrested a couple Iñupiat hunters for shooting ducks around Barrow in May 1961.

State rebuffs Johansen recall attempt

The backers of an effort to recall Ketchikan state Rep. Kyle Johansen will decide whether to take the issue to court after the state rebuffed their attempt.

COMMENTARY: Developers vie for the chance to build the Knik Arm Crossing

I’ve heard a lot of people say “If you build it, they will come” about the Knik Arm Crossing. This week we all heard loud and clear “If you give them a chance to build it, they will come.”

Archive »National Politics

Pentagon weighing how to respond to cyberattacks

Pentagon weighing how to respond to cyberattacks

The Defense Department is finalizing policies that will determine what the military can do in the event of a cyberattack as the government figures out who should have the power to shut down computer networks seized by an enemy nation, terrorist group or criminal hacker.

Social Security benefits to go up 3.6 percent

Social Security benefits will go up by 3.6 percent next year, the first increase since 2009 for the one in five Americans who rely on government retirement and disability programs.

Education makes political comeback in Washington

A rare show of bipartisanship in a divided Congress produced a deal to fix an education law long considered flawed, until a single senator stalled progress Wednesday.

4th man in Army Corps bribe case to remain in jail

One of four men charged in what federal prosecutors call one of the largest government contracting frauds in the country's history will remain behind bars, a judge ruled Tuesday, after prosecutors said they had overwhelming evidence of him participating in a kickback scheme.
GOP isn't sold on Romney, seeking other options

GOP isn't sold on Romney, seeking other options

If polls show one thing with certainty, it's that Republicans aren't sold on Mitt Romney and they've been looking for other presidential candidates.

Murkowski, Begich split on jobs bill vote

Two Democrats join 46 Republicans in voting against $447 billion bill.

Sens. Brown, Ayotte bill could end catch share fishing system

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte on Oct. 11 introduced a bill that could scrap a contentious new system for managing New England’s fisheries.

Bilingual voting ballots ordered in 25 states for 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the run-up to the 2012 elections, the federal government is ordering that 248 counties and other political jurisdictions provide bilingual ballots to Hispanics and other minorities who speak little or no English.

Archive »Money Talks

Small business owners are getting more pessimistic

NEW YORK (AP) — When the country recovered from recessions in the past, small businesses were usually the first companies to start hiring. But smaller companies are so pessimistic now that they’re not taking on their historical leadership position.

Archive »Finance

Social Security benefits to go up 3.6 percent

Social Security benefits will go up by 3.6 percent next year, the first increase since 2009 for the one in five Americans who rely on government retirement and disability programs.

PFD applicants, state, banks struggle to sort out snafu

The state folks who usually distribute Alaska Permanent Fund dividends spent much of last week trying to recover 5,500 PFDs they paid in error.

Utility costs will go up almost across-the-board in Anchorage

Retail sales rose strongly in September on autos

U.S. consumers stepped up their spending on retail goods in September, a hopeful sign for the sluggish economy.
G-20 wrangles over Europe's crisis bill

G-20 wrangles over Europe's crisis bill

PARIS (AP) — Finance chiefs from the Group of 20 rich and developing nations wrangled Friday over whether the eurozone should pick up the whole bill for its escalating debt crisis, or whether the rest of the world should help out more.
Lawmakers seek probe on banks' new debit card fees

Lawmakers seek probe on banks' new debit card fees

Members of Congress are asking the Justice Department to investigate whether Bank of America and other major banks improperly worked together to charge customers new monthly fees for using their debit cards.

Archive »Editorials

Alaska’s public school system is a mission worth supporting

It’s a proud day when Alaska makes a policy statement such as that found in our Constitution that the state “shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children…”

EDITORIAL: Obama’s NCLB rule opens doors to the next steps in education

Successful employers help employees succeed financially

Successful employers help employees succeed financially

In today’s challenging economic environment, it may be tempting for a business to leave employee retention off its list of priorities. Yet with 76 million Baby Boomers eligible to retire in the next decade and a projected 56 million jobs that will need to be filled through 2012, it’s a long-term issue U.S. businesses cannot afford to ignore.
Business succession plans can smooth ownership transitions

Business succession plans can smooth ownership transitions

According to a recent edition of Trusts & Estates, family-owned businesses account for approximately nine out of every 10 businesses in the United States today. In all, about 35 percent of the businesses on the S&P 500 are family-owned and include such well-known companies as Walmart and Ford.

Archive »Features

Top musher will return to defend Iditarod title

Top musher will return to defend Iditarod title

When John Baker won last year in record time — and became the first Alaska Native musher to win in 35 years — he hadn't considered what would come next.
Alaska Airlines jet sustains damage in Sitka

Alaska Airlines jet sustains damage in Sitka

Teaching Tlingit tradition

Teaching Tlingit tradition

Pinkwashing for breast cancer awareness questioned

Pinkwashing for breast cancer awareness questioned

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The country is awash in pink for breast cancer awareness month — and some women are sick of it.

New health plans expose workers more to care costs

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Many workers will have a new form of health insurance coverage to consider when they sign up for next year’s benefits plans this fall, and in some cases, it may be an offer they can’t refuse.
Salads are nice, but burgers are what really sell

Salads are nice, but burgers are what really sell

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans talk skinny but eat fat.

Cervical cancer virus fuels oral cancer type, too

WASHINGTON (AP) — A prolonged sore throat once was considered a cancer worry mainly for smokers and drinkers. Today there’s another risk: A sexually transmitted virus is fueling a rise in oral cancer.
Eklutna Inc. plans new development in Eagle River

Eklutna Inc. plans new development in Eagle River

Eklutna Inc. may soon have some new digs.

Anchorage welcomes AFN Convention-goers

Native corporations doing well, for now, but problems still loom

Alaska Native corporations have become financial powerhouses in Alaska. In 2010, eight of the 10 top corporations in Alaska, in terms of gross revenues, were owned by Alaska Natives and four of these grossed more than $1 billion, according to Alaska Business Monthly magazine’s Top 49er list of companies.

Teacher’s passion leads to Native education job in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS (AP) — Yatibaey Evans, the new coordinator of the Alaska Native Education program, was in her last semester of pre-med classes at the University of Washington when a thesis project for her major, Comparative History of Ideas, prompted her to change her career path from medicine to education.
Vets: Killer whale in Alaska river was pregnant

Vets: Killer whale in Alaska river was pregnant

Veterinarians said Wednesday that a killer whale that baffled biologists after swimming up a river in Alaska and remaining in the fresh water for weeks until her death had been pregnant.
They’ll do anything to stay healthy

They’ll do anything to stay healthy

The Bookworm Sez: Breaking rules to break glass ceiling

The Bookworm Sez: Breaking rules to break glass ceiling

You’ve run out of breath just running in place.
Groom’s cakes not simple or Southern

Groom’s cakes not simple or Southern

Workers’ comp rates to increase in 2012

Workers’ compensation insurance premiums that employers pay are likely to increase modestly in 2012 after several years of decline, state Division of Insurance officials say.

4 arrested in alleged government bribery case

Two employees of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and two others were arrested Tuesday in a $20 million bribery and kickback case. Director of contracts for Eyak Technology LLC, and Alaska Native corporation, also charged.

Alaska reaches settlement over rural schools

The state has agreed to settle a 14-year-old lawsuit that alleged inequities in funding for rural public schools.
Nobel physics winner has Alaska connection

Nobel physics winner has Alaska connection

Nobel physics winner Brian Schmidt attended school in Alaska.

Care in a ‘desperate place’

The University of Washington graduate's two-year experience operating in one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world would change a Kenai doctor's life, both professionally and personally.

Sealaska strategy helps it get through recession

Like most Alaska Native regional corporations, Sealaska Corp. of Juneau has navigated the recession with a successful strategy of business diversification, but there are major uncertainties out there. The economic recovery is weak, which has caused slower growth than expected in some Sealaska businesses, Sealaska President and CEO Chris McNeil says.
Mountain View is making a grand comeback

Mountain View is making a grand comeback

Where others saw a neighborhood that had almost become a lost cause with blighted structures, rundown housing and crime, Ellis saw an opportunity. The vision was so clear to her she nearly jumped out of Carol Gore’s moving car when she heard the lot at the corner of Mountain View Drive and Bragaw was available.

Archive »Fish Bytes

BREAKING: Bristol Bay red king crab quota cut in half

Snow crab harvest announcement delayed until Oct. 5 at earliest.

Archive »Mining

Measure aimed at Pebble narrowly passes, 280-246

Voters in the Lake and Peninsula Borough of southwest Alaska narrowly passed a ballot initiative that attempts to block the large Pebble copper/gold mine planned by Anglo American and Northern Dynasty Minerals, officials of the Lake and Peninsula Borough announced late Oct. 17.

Demand from drillers drives Ark. sand mine permits

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas is experiencing a mining boom — but it’s not for diamonds or gold. It’s for tiny, perfectly round silica sand used in hydraulic fracturing.
Alaska voters weighing in: salmon vs. gold

Alaska voters weighing in: salmon vs. gold

The battle over a copper and gold mine near one of the world's premier salmon fisheries is headed to the ballot in a vote next week that has turned a normally sleepy local election into a national environmental debate.

Archive »Fishery Stories

Deadly salmon virus raises concerns in US, Canada

Scientists in Washington state are working to improve testing of a deadly, contagious marine virus as a precaution, after the virus was detected in wild salmon for the first time on the West Coast.

Good news and bad for Bering Sea crabbers in upcoming fishery

Bering Sea crabbers got good news and bad news when catch quotas were announced for fisheries that opened this week.

King crab quota cut in half; council may collect more crew info

The highest value Alaska crab fishery is being cut in half for 2011.

COMMENTARY: Halibut prices through the roof as quota cuts reduce supply

Prices for Alaska halibut are so high they are in the nosebleed area, but buyers continue to compete for all they can get.
Halibut charter, bycatch issues will get more time

Halibut charter, bycatch issues will get more time

A pair of contentious halibut measures are on hold until at least 2013 following the meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Dutch Harbor.
Federal fishing officials faulted at Mass. hearing

Federal fishing officials faulted at Mass. hearing

Top Massachusetts elected officials joined with local fishermen to sharply criticize the federal government's oversight of the New England fishing industry at a public hearing OCt. 3.

BREAKING: Bristol Bay red king crab quota cut in half

Snow crab harvest announcement delayed until Oct. 5 at earliest.

Kenai River anglers ask board to take up king salmon plan

Kenai River Sportfishing Association is asking the Board of Fisheries to take up king salmon management outside the normal cycle in response to a late-run return that might have fallen below the lower end of escapement goals.

Alaska’s mariculture industry has room to grow

With 33,000 miles of coastline, mariculture could be the next big job and economic booster for remote Alaska regions. The Oceans Alaska Marine Science Center at Ketchikan aims to be the state’s go-to place for mariculture research and development for farmers wanting to grow oysters, mussels, scallops, seaweeds and pricey geoduck clams.

NMFS asks for more input on halibut plan

National Marine Fisheries Service is asking for more input from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council before it publishes the final rule governing the halibut catch sharing plan.