Alaska News Nightly: September 20, 2007

Former state lawmaker Pete Kott offered an emotional apology to jurors today during his federal corruption trial in Anchorage. Plus, scientists think the traditional Yupik diet may provide clues for warding off diabetes. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Prosecutors cross-examine Kott on the stand
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
Former legislator Pete Kott completed his testimony this afternoon in Anchorage federal court. He was called as a witness in his own corruption trial yesterday by his attorneys. Today the prosecution took the opportunity to cross-examine Kott.

AP: Ted Stevens secretly taped in call with Bill Allen
The Associated Press
Two sources say the FBI was working with former VECO Chief Bill Allen when it secretly taped phone calls between Allen and Senator Ted Stevens. The sources spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the investigation continues. Allen agreed to the taping last year after authorities confronted him with evidence he had bribed Alaska lawmakers. He pleaded guilty to bribery and is a key witness against Alaska legislators. He also has told prosecutors he paid his employees to renovate the senator’s house in Girdwood. In July, FBI agents raided that house.

Stevens has denied any wrongdoing and said he paid every bill he received for the project. Spokesman Aaron Saunders declined to comment today. FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said the agency would not discuss any aspect of the ongoing investigation. Allen testified in federal court last week that he called several people at the FBI’s behest. They declined to say how many calls were recorded or what was said.

Allegations of Pebble Mine payola met with backlash
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Three Alaska Native Corporations want Fairbanks Republican Jay Ramras to retract comments he made concerning the public opinion fight over the Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska. Ramras has written to the Attorney General and to the U.S. Attorney in Anchorage asking for further investigations of Northern Dynasty’s relationship with elected officials and residents of the communities that could be affected by development of the mine.

Northern Dynasty: Pebble Mine corruption allegations baseless
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Northern Dynasty’s spokesman Sean Magee says Representative Ramras’ allegations of bribes or improper payment to individuals or companies in the Pebble Mine project are are without foundation. Magee says the company was surprised by the accusations.

Icicle Seafoods paying nearly $1 million for Clean Water violation
Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
Icicle Seafoods will pay $900,000 for dumping fish waste off the coast of Unalaska in a settlement reached with the Environmental Protection Agency. The settlement was agreed upon in June and filed with the agency this week. The case started four years ago when an inspector for the state Department of Environmental Conservation found a one-acre pile of fish waste had accumulated under the Northern Victor, a floating processor owned by Icicle and anchored in Udagak Bay off Unalaska. The waste amounted to a violation of the Clean Water Act.

Fisheries observer found dead in Captain’s Bay, near Unalaska
Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
Divers have found the body of a fisheries observer who was reported missing yesterday in Unalaska. The man is only the second observer to die while working on a boat in Alaskan waters.

Resource development forum begins in Barrow
Janelle Everett, KBRW – Barrow
Over 200 representatives are gathered in Barrow today and tomorrow for the oil and gas forum hosted by the North Slope Borough. Participants are discussing development over the next 40 years.

UAF to study Yupik diet, lifestyle, genetics, obesity and diabetes
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) researcher has garnered a grant to look at the relationship of diet, physical activity and genetics in the health of Yupik people. UAF Associate Professor of Molecular Biology Bert Boyer has received $2.8 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to consider a possible link between certain dietary fats, obesity and the development of diabetes.

Anchorage hotel room boom rolling along
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Earlier this month a national chain broke ground for a new hotel in Anchorage. Meanwhile construction of another large hotel is taking place in midtown and the room boom is expected to continue.

On Monday’s Alaska News Nightly (17 Sep 2007), in a story on the Alaska Power Association meeting in Valdez, we wrongly attributed a quote about the need to invest heavily and immediately in alternative energy in the state. We originally identified the speaker as UAA’s Steve Colt. The speaker in the quote is actually Tony Izzo, CEO of TMI Consulting and former CEO of Enstar. Steve Colt says he doesn’t agree that the state may suffer an economic collapse from rising fuel prices. He says they are a challenge we can deal with, not a death sentence. We regret the error and have noted the correction in all instances of the story on our web site.