Alaska News Nightly: July 30, 2012

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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Soldier Accused of Negligent Homicide Not Guilty

The Associated Press

A military jury has found an Army sergeant not guilty of negligent homicide in the death of an Army private based at Fort Wainwright who killed himself in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Adam Holcomb of Youngstown, Ohio was found guilty Monday on two lesser charges, maltreatment of a subordinate and assault. He faces a maximum of 2 1/2 years in prison.

The 10-member jury deliberated for two hours in military court at Fort Bragg on Monday after hearing closing arguments.

Holcomb was the first of eight soldiers to be court-martialed for the alleged racial hazing of Pvt. Danny Chen, who killed himself last October.

Throughout the trial, the defense painted Chen as an incompetent soldier disowned by his family. Prosecutors said Holcomb abused Chen because of his Chinese heritage and drove him to suicide.

Chen was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Wainwright but was under the command of a Fort Bragg general in Afghanistan.

Outlook Bleak for Law of the Sea Treaty Ratification

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

The outlook for ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea this term in Congress is not good. Opponents have long said they worry about the treaty’s infringement on the nation’s sovereignty. Specifics as to what that means are hard to come by.

Two More Walrus Calves Headed To SeaLife Center

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Two more walrus calves are on their way to the Alaska SeaLife Center. Both were rescued near Barrow yesterday. One was found floating on an ice floe by hunters looking for bearded seal. The other one showed up on a beach in Barrow. Raphaela Stimmelmayr is a Wildlife Veterinarian with the North Slope Borough. She says a representative from the Alaska SeaLife Center was landing in Barrow to pick up the first calf when she heard about the second one.

“Both of them were not in such great body condition. So, ribs were palpable, you could see some of the hip bones protruding so these calves most likely have been without nursing for quite a while, but its hard to say how long,” Stimmelmayr said.

The Alaska SeaLife Center started caring for another walrus pup from Barrow last week. All three are young males. And none of the calves appear to have the mysterious illness that’s affecting marine mammals in the Arctic.

Bruce Woods is a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says it’s unusual to have so many abandoned calves from one area in such a short time span.

“That said, we have seen abandoned walrus calves picked up on several occasions over the years. At this point, we don’t know of anything that could be a specific cause in either all or any one of these cases. There seems to be adequate ice in the area from what we know and the walrus are using the ice at this point,” Woods said.

Scientists Hope To Use Walrus Calves To Shed Light On Mysterious Illness

Wendi Jonassen, APRN – Anchorage

The first walrus calf rescued by the Alaska SeaLife Center has been gaining weight since he arrived last week. And as he develops, scientists are hoping he can shed light on the illness afflicting seals and walruses on the North Slope.

Elodea Invading Chena Slough

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

Alaska isn’t home to nearly as many invasive plants as Lower 48 states.  But they are beginning to creep in. An invasive aquatic plant is invading a waterway near North Pole.  During a plant survey in 2010, specialists discovered Elodea in Chena Slough.  This summer, the Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District is testing an eradication method.

Former UAF Shooters Compete At Olympic Games

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Two former University of Alaska Fairbanks rifle team members are competing on the U.S. team at the London, Olympics.  Matt Emmons is a two-time Olympian who won gold and silver at the games in 2004 and 2008.  Jamie Beyerle Gray scored a 4th and 5th in 2008.  Gray competed in the air rifle event Saturday, and finished 5th again, one spot behind Emmon’s wife Katerina, who shoots for the Czech Republic. Yi Siling of China won.  Gray says the places in shooting are typically determined by shots just millimeters apart.

Two Kwethluk Men Drown In Separate Incidents

Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel

Two men from the Kuskokwim village of Kwethluk drowned in separate incidents within the past week.

FCC Officials Visit Rural Alaska

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, Office of Native Affairs and Policy is visiting remote villages, hub communities, as well as Anchorage and Fairbanks to learn about the obstacles Alaska Natives face in accessing the Internet. The visiting officials also held a training session Friday in Anchorage.

Rapper Pitbull Visits Kodiak

Brianna Gibbs, KMXT – Kodiak

A month after an online campaign started an effort to send Miami singer Pitbull to Kodiak, Mr. Worldwide finally touched down on the island this morning.