Alaska News Nightly: August 11, 2008

Federal court in Anchorage was busy today with a state lawmaker pleading not guilty and a prominent businessman pleading guilty as part of the FBI’s ongoing corruption probe. Plus, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is proposing changes to the Endangered Species Act, but environmental groups are calling it an attack on some of the act’s most essential provisions. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Cowdery pleads not guilty, Weimar pleads guilty in corruption cases
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
State Senator John Cowdery pled not guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges in federal court today. He was indicted a month ago.

Bush proposing radical overhaul of Endangered Species Act
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
The Bush Administration is proposing changes to the Endangered Species Act — changes that would be the biggest revision in 20 years to a law that protects America’s threatened wildlife. The new regulations would cut out some of the reviews agencies have to undergo when they propose construction or development projects. The proposal also says it’s not possible to link the emissions of greenhouse gasses to impact on wildlife — and so that shouldn’t be taken into account. The full details of the proposal will be released later this week, but Interior Department Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced his plans today, calling them “common sense changes.”

Class action lawsuit may extract gold from NovaGold
Paul Korchin, KNOM – Nome
NovaGold Resources has been hit with a class action lawsuit over its mothballed Galore Creek mine in British Columbia and related statements it made during a takeover attempt by Barrick Gold Corporation.

Search for two missing Juneau men fruitless so far
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
There’s still no sign of two Juneau men missing since Saturday on a flight from Young Lake on Admiralty Island. But today’s weather has been better for an air search for State Deputy Revenue Commissioner Brian Andrews and his 24-year-old son Brandon Andrews.

Investigation finds costly Indian Health Service mismanagement
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently concluded a year-long study of mismanagement within the Indian Health Service (IHS). The investigation was spurred by complaints alleging IHS property was being misplaced or stolen at IHS headquarters and agency offices across the country. Although the GAO has the authority to conduct investigations on its own, two U.S. House committees asked for the audit.

Delta Junction school may not open with student computers following theft
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The status of dozens of computers stolen from the Delta Junction school remains uncertain. $100,000 worth of computers and other electronics are still in the hands of law enforcement agencies after being recovered from a student charged with breaking into the school in June.

Juneau continues applying conservation lessons learned in power emergency
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
Conservation caught on throughout Juneau during the city’s energy emergency this spring. Alaska Electric Light and Power in Juneau says its three major classes of customers — residential, commercial, and government — all cut their consumption by 20% or more. The quadrupling of power prices made it very expensive for anyone not to cut back sharply on their electricity habit while Juneau was running on emergency diesel power. But the biggest energy savings occurred in people’s homes, not in businesses or government offices.

Tlingit ‘warrior’ honored in memorial services
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Funeral services were held today for Alaska Native leader Andrew John Hope, III at Saint Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral in Sitka. Hope died Thursday after a brief battle with cancer. He was 58 years
old. A traditional Tlingit ceremony and an Alaska Native Brotherhood memorial were held over the weekend for the man many people describe as a warrior for his people. Hope was born in Sitka and lived in Juneau for many years.