Alaska News Nightly: March 27, 2008

Law enforcement officials in Sitka release names of 4 murder victims. Plus, a loca schools funding bill becomes law. And a rescued sailor from the Alaska Ranger recounts the last hours as the ship sank. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Contemplating defense against futuristic weapon
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The topic of a resolution introduced by request of the Joint Legislative Armed Services committee, sounds like something from a 1950’s era science fiction movie, but those involved in planning to guard against an Electromagnetic Pulse Attack are serious about the threat’s implications. Congress formed a commission to look at how to plan for such an attack a few years ago. An electromagnetic pulse attack, or EMP, results from a nuclear device detonating high in the atmosphere creating a shock wave that moves rapidly across the magnetic spectrum– knocking out electric generation and transmission.

Police release the identities of Sitka murder victims

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
Law enforcement officials have released the identities of the four victims in a multiple murder which took place in Sitka on Tuesday. The dead are 69-year old John Abbot, his wife 68-year old Alice Abbot, their daughter 40-year old Elizabeth Abbot, and her boyfriend 37-year old Charles Tate. Authorities list Tate’s birthplace as Nome. Unofficial sources report that a fifth victim of the attack, Mary Rickards, a daughter of one of the deceased, is in stable condition at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. 18-year-old Jason Abbot remains in custody on 4 counts of first degree murder and 1 count of attempted murder. The killings are the largest homicide case in modern memory in Sitka, and possibly one of the most tragic cases of domestic violence in the state.

Senator Stevens hails Korea free-trade pact as good for Alaska

Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
The US Secretary of Commerce says a potential free trade deal with South Korea could eventually benefit Alaska. Secretary Carlos Gutierrez made his remarks during a visit to Fairbanks yesterday with Senator Ted Stevens. Gutierrez says a Free Trade Agreement before Congress could further open the doors with South Korea, Alaska’s third-largest trade partner. But he says Congress can’t tackle that proposal until it works its way through a similar deal with Columbia that’s taking priority. Gutierrez says eventually Alaska could send more goods to Asia.

Rescued sailor describes final hours of lost fishing vessel
Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
High-ranking Coast Guard officials and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board have convened in Unalaska for a public hearing on the sinking of the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger on Sunday. The proceedings begin tomorrow, but in the meantime details are gradually emerging on what happened in the early hours of Easter on the Bering Sea.

Longterm education funding bill becomes law.
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Sarah Palin signed the measure today.The bill was the result of a special task force set up at the end of last year’s session that included members of the House and Senate – and one public member. Their assignment was to find a balance to the various interests that have led to school funding becoming a perennial political deadlock at the capitol.

Senate Committee looks at PBMs
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
A Senate Committee today opened hearings on a proposal to put controls on what supporters say is the largest unregulated industry involved in the delivery of prescription medicines.Pharmacy Benefits Managers – or PBM’s – process claims from pharmacies and patients for insurance companies.

Sweepstakes dog teams in fierce competition
Jacob Buckenmeyer, KNOM – Nome
One musher has withdrawn, and the lead has changed hands several times during the second day of the centennial running of the All Alaska Sweepstakes Sled Dog Race from Nome to Candle and back. The lead mushers were expected to reach the race’s half-way mark of Candle sometime this afternoon.

Telapalooza set to kick off this weekend

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Alyeska ski resort in Girdwood is hosting the fifth annual Telepalooza festival this weekend. The event began as a memorial to Jeff Nissman a skilled tele skier and US forest service worker who died under an avalanche that fell off the building where he was working. This year, the festival is home to the first ever world telemark free-skiing championships.