Alaska News Nightly: March 10, 2009

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Cowdery sentenced to 6 months home confinement
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Former Alaska state senator John Cowdery has been sentenced to six months home confinement and fined $25,000 on federal bribery charges. Cowdery, a former Republican Senator from Anchorage was sentenced today in US District Court.

Alaska blogger Cliff Groh to discuss Alaska corruption scandal on C-SPAN

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
The sentencing of Cowdery has put Alaskan corruption in the spotlight again. This Sunday C-SPAN will air an hour-long interview with an Alaskan blogger who closely followed the Ted Stevens trial last November. Cliff Groh is an Anchorage attorney in private practice. As part of the research for an upcoming book on Alaskan political corruption tentatively called “The Slippery Slope,” Groh attended the entire five weeks of the Stevens trial in Washington DC.

Court continues to sort out irregularities in Stevens trial

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
The Justice Department got back on track in court today in the case of former Senator Ted Stevens.  At their last court appearance in February, three attorneys were found in contempt for not turning over documents to Stevens’ lawyers.  Today a new team of Justice lawyers met before Judge Emmet Sullivan for a status hearing.

Senator Murkowski injured in ski accident

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Senator Lisa Murkowski seriously injured her knee while skiing in Alaska Sunday.  She tore two ligaments and cartilage in her left knee, and is temporarily using a wheelchair.  Murkowski was at Alyeska Ski Resort in Girdwood when she fell.

GovernorPalin tussles with Democrats over Senate appointment

Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Juneau is still without representation in the state senate – and it appears Governor Palin is in no hurry to fill the seat recently vacated by Kim Elton. She has until April first to appoint a replacement. Juneau Democratic party officials last week nominated Representative Beth Kerttula to replace Elton.  But Palin says she wants more names. The governor is now conducting her own application process.

Alaska’s only female electrical lineman testifies before US Senate
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
23-year-old Anchorage resident Deborah Kelly gave her support to unions and a union-backed bill now before Congress.  Kelly is an apprentice in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and works for Chugach Electric Association in Anchorage.  She was one of four workers who told their stories to the committee today

Fighting to save Alaska Native languages
Anne Hillman, KUHB – Unalaska
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, recently released an updated atlas of the world’s languages. It allows you to search a map of the world that pinpoints which languages are spoken where. It also tells you if the languages are endangered. According to the atlas, of the 26 languages spoken in Alaska since the 1950s, one – Eyak – is extinct and 15 are critically endangered.

Seismic activity at Mt. Redoubt declines

Casey Kelly, KBBI – Homer
The Alaska Volcano Observatory has lowered the aviation color code and alert level for Redoubt Volcano, located on the west side of Cook Inlet. After about a month and a half at color code “Orange” and alert level “Watch,” AVO decided today to lower the levels to “Yellow” and “Advisory.”

Iditarod leaders out of Nikolai
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Yukoner Hugh Neff is leading the Iditarod sled dog race. He was the first musher out of the Nikolai checkpoint this afternoon. Aaron Burmeister was close on his heals. Sebastian Schnuelle was the first musher to arrive at Nikolai earlier today followed by Paul Gebhart, Ed Iten,  Lance Mackey, Bjonar Andersen, Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle.

Mar-Gun clean up going well

Anne Hillman, KUHB – Unalaska
The clean up of the Pollack fishing vessel  Mar-Gun is going smoothly. The vessel went aground last week on St George Island. The At the end of the day yesterday, the Coast Guard strike crew had removed 5,782 gallons of diesel fuel from the grounded fishing vessel. About 9,000 gallons remain. The only sign of pollution was a light sheen of oil in the water near an empty tank that was slightly damaged. The sheen has dissipated.

Board of Game approves new predator control program

Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
The state’s game board has approved new predator control tactics aimed at reducing bear populations in some parts of Southwest and Southcentral Alaska. The new methods include ground snares and the use of helicopters for access in areas north and west of Cook Inlet. The expanded predator control program authorizes state employees to use poison gas to kill orphaned wolf pups in dens. The board rejected a bid by the state Department of Fish and Game to allow private hunters to shoot wolves from helicopters.