Alaska News Nightly: June 24, 2011

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Judge Orders Joe Miller to Pay Legal Fees from Election Challenge

Associated Press

An Alaska judge has ordered that failed U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller pay almost $18,000 in legal fees incurred by the state in fighting Miller’s challenge to last year’s election.

But Judge William Carey said Miller won’t have to pay legal bills for his rival, Senator Lisa Murkowski.

In the order, issued today, Carey said the main thrust of Miller’s challenge to the election was not, in his view, to promote and preserve constitutional protections but rather to win an election – and to get the benefits that come with that.

Miller sued over the state’s handling of the election and counting of votes for Murkowski, who ran as a write-in after losing the GOP primary to Miller.

U.S. House Rejects Cutting Funding to Offensive in Libya

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC

In a surprising turn of events Friday, the U.S. House rejected a measure to cut off funding for the U.S. offensive in Libya. In an odd coalition, Republican leadership and liberal Democrats were pushing the effort to buck President Obama’s efforts there. But despite the GOP having the majority in the House, leadership couldn’t muster the votes. Republicans had 89 votes against the resolution. Congressman Don Young calls that shocking. He supported it and wants to cut off funding. Young says the U.S. should be out of Libya. The final vote was 180 to 238.

President Obama has pledged to do only air strikes, but Young fears the U.S. will end up putting troops on the ground. He calls the President’s decision to go in three months ago a bad mistake.

“That’s a crazy country…not going to win.”

The House resolution would have cut off funding for the U.S. forces that aren’t engaged in support missions for the NATO coalition. It would have severed money for drone strikes.

Earlier Friday, the House rejected another resolution that would have authorized the military effort in Libya. That vote failed 123 to 295. Young stuck with his message of ending the fight in Libya and voted against it.

Republicans and some Democrats who voted against authorization wanted to punish President Obama because he didn’t ask for Congressional authorization before launching the Libyan airstrikes. But those who voted to support authorization said they worried a divisive vote would
send a message to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and NATO that the U.S. is weak and isn’t supporting the war effort.

Residents Return to Unalaska and Dutch Harbor After Tsunami Warning

Jacob Resneck, KUCB – Unalaska

Downtown Unalaska and Dutch Harbor emptied out after a tsunami warning triggered an evacuation of the entire community to high ground. A 7.2 earthquake east of Atka at 7:09 p.m. Thursday caused local authorities to order everyone to at least 50 feet above sea level.

Coast Guard Trains for More Arctic Traffic

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

As the arctic sea ice pulls back and more shipping, research and other vessels ply the opened-up waters, the U.S. Coast Guard is trying to beef up its arctic presence. Future plans call for a deepwater port for enforcement and rescue vessels somewhere in arctic Alaska, but for now they have to rely more on aircraft. On Thursday, APRN’s Steve Heimel went out to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to watch a Coast Guard flight crew and Air National Guard para-rescuemen working together on a way to drop help to people in distress in the arctic.

Biologists Test Effects of Acid Drainage from Tulsequah Mine

Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau

Fish and Game biologists are testing for the effects of acid mine drainage from the defunct Tulsequah Mine at the headwaters of the Taku River.

Meanwhile, new owners are planning to restart the mine and say a water treatment plant will be in place this fall to begin the cleanup.

Pridefest History Marks City’s Changes

Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage

On Saturday, two of the most popular events of Anchorage’s annual, nearly month-long Pridefest take place–the downtown parade along with the Delaney Park Strip celebration.  This year’s parade participants can expect a friendlier reception than their predecessors did at the city’s first gay pride march.

This week in AK: Rhubarb Renaissance

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The humble vegetable is undergoing something of a Renaissance, with studies on its health benefits, export possibilities and plans for commercial production of rhubarb juice in the works.  The hardy plant, sometimes used as ornamentation in landscaped gardens, supplies us with juicy pie fillings and other dessert fare.  Ellen Lockyer, who’s a big fan of rhubarb, brings us this look at the dramatic, leafy plant, which some people think will be the next big thing.