Alaska News Nightly: March 21, 2011

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FCC Wants to Change How Universal Service Fund is Used
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
When you look at your phone bill, you might notice a charge for the “Universal Service Fund.”  It collects money into a national pot that helps lower telecomm rates for high cost and low income areas.

The program benefits Alaska’s villages and the phone companies that serves them.  But the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, wants to change how the fund is used.

Aniak Fuel Spill May Be Smaller Than Reported
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation believes that a sizeable fuel spill in the Kuskokwim River village of Aniak was smaller than originally reported by Crowley Petroleum Distribution.

As of right now, there’s no evidence that the fuel escaped the containment area, but the DEC says they will monitor the clean-up effort well into summertime.

German News Publishes Gruesome Photos Related to Army Probe
Associated Press
The German news organization Der Spiegel has published photographs showing a US Soldier from Wasilla posing with an Afghan corpse.

Army investigators looking into the deaths of three Afghan civilians last year seized several gruesome photographs kept by troops as war trophies. Five soldiers based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle have been charged with murder.

In one photograph published Sunday, Corporal Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla grins as he lifts the head of a corpse by the hair. In another, Private 1st Class Andrew Holmes of Boise, Idaho, poses with the same corpse. The Army says the photos depict “actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army.”

Governor Courts Cruise Lines in Miami
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Governor Sean Parnell continues to court cruise lines, pushing for more sailings to Alaska ports. But he says his efforts, including reducing the head tax, will be hurt by legislative cuts in tourism marketing.

Skier Dies in Hatcher Pass Avalanche
Associated Press
Alaska State Troopers say searchers have recovered the body of a skier who went missing after an avalanche at Hatcher Pass. Troopers say the body of 65-year-old James Helling of Palmer was recovered Sunday morning. Another skier, 54-year-old Jerry Kallam of Palmer, was injured in the snow slide Saturday afternoon.

Ketchikan Volunteers Suspend Search for Missing Snowboarder
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad on Sunday suspended its search for a snowboarder missing on Deer Mountain since March 12. As KRBD’s Deanna Garrison reports, volunteers invested thousands of hours searching for 35-year-old Michael Madden.

‘Back to the Wild’ Provides Insight into Best Selling Book
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Chris McCandless is finally getting to tell his own story.  A new book offers up photographs and writings by the young adventurer who died of starvation on the Stampede trail near Healy in 1992.  As KUAC’s Dan Bross reports, the book “Back to the Wild” provides new insight into a story that previously spawned a best-selling book and major motion picture.

3A, 4A Basketball Championships Wrap Up
Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage
The 3A and 4A state high school basketball championships finished up in Anchorage on Saturday evening.  As the winners were crowned, one thing became apparent, the players and coaches worked as hard as they did for each other, forming the bond that all championship teams seem to have.

Halverson Wins Red Lantern
Diana Haecker, APRN – Nome
With the arrival of Ellen Halverson in Nome, the 2011 Iditarod trail sled dog race officially came to an end. US Senator Lisa Murkowski was a surprise visitor under the burled arch and handed over the widow’s Lantern for Halverson to extinguish. APRN’s Diana Haecker was at the finish line in Nome as Halverson’s dogs made it up Front Street.