Alaska News Nightly: October 22, 2008

Aleutian waters may have claimed 11 lives and a 92-foot fishing vessel overnight. Search teams have found debris and a body, but no survivors so far. Meanwhile, Ted Stevens — and voters — now await a formal Washington, DC jury verdict with bated breath. Plus, Alaska’s Department of Law is set to reveal its take on fuel price-fixing allegations tomorrow. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Fishing vessel ‘Katmai’ and crew lost at sea in the Aleutians
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
The Katmai, a 92-foot cod fishing and processing vessel and some of its 11-member crew are missing in the Bering Sea. The vessel was in Amchitka pass just west of Adak in the Aleutian Islands when it went missing. The Coast Guard responded to an EPIRB signal from the ship at about 1:00 a.m. local time but received no mayday calls. Coast Guard petty officer Wes Shinn said when an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and a C-130 arrived from Kodiak five hours later, they only found an empty survival suit and part of a life raft. After searching from air for 6 hours, 4 survivors were found. They found the body of a crew member wearing a survival suit with the name of the vessel on the back. The body of another crew member was also found. The good Samaritan fishing vessel Courageous is helping with the search. So far, they’ve found buoys, fishing gear, a life raft, a life ring, and an empty survival suit. Another good Samaritan vessel will be in the area by 7:00 p.m.

Sub-prime mortgage mess pops up in Alaska
Weld Royal, KTOO – Juneau
The sub-prime loan crisis has made it to Alaska. The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) says it unwittingly bought bad loans earlier this year and it’s cracking down on lenders that don’t meet its credit guidelines. In Juneau, some home buyers can’t get credit and that’s hurting the real estate industry and others.

Department of Law to report on fuel price-fixing investigation
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Alaskans can get a look at two investigations into high energy prices tomorrow at a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee in Anchorage. The panel will hear details of a Department of Law investigation to find out if there has been price-fixing in the gasoline and diesel retail industry. In an interview on APRN 10 days ago, Assistant Attorney General Ed Sniffen pointed out the state has no control over the prices that retailers charge for products, however it can determine whether those prices were the result of illegal collusion among marketers.

Stevens’ trial officially in the hands of the jury
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Senator Ted Stevens’ fate is now in the hands of a Washington, DC jury. Judge Emmet Sullivan read them 81 pages of instructions this morning, before the 8 women and 4 men went behind closed doors to deliberate.

Voters: Should Alaska borrow cash for roads and more?
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
While choosing among the candidates on election day, voters will also decide whether the state should go into debt to pay for $315 million in transportation projects.

Wrangell planning facelift for downtown area
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Wrangell is making plans to rebuild parts of its downtown. The Southeast city of about 2,100 hopes to upgrade streets, sidewalks, utilities and landscaping over the next few years.

AFN 2008: First Alaskans explore impact of statehood
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) convention gets officially underway tomorrow in Anchorage. But that doesn’t mean that there’s any lack of activities related to the convention going on beforehand. The First Alaskans Institute is sponsoring a series of panel discussions on Native perspectives on statehood, in recognition of the state’s fiftieth anniversary. Byron Maillot, Vic Fisher and Liz Cheney headed a discussion panel in Anchorage aimed at understanding the impact statehood had and continues to have on Natives. Maillot said statehood came at a time when Alaska Natives were discriminated against, therefore they were left out of the process.

Alaska Native artists picking up online sales skills
Paul Korchin, KNOM – Nome
Blending Alaska Native culture with modern technology was at the heart of a recent workshop in Nome. The program encourages local artists to leverage the power of the Internet for higher profiles and better sales.

Canadian ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ process struggling to achieve either outcome
Betsy Trumpner, CBC – Prince George
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission met yesterday for the first time with residential school survivors in northern British Columbia. The meeting came the day after the Commission’s leader resigned. Justice Harry LaForme said he wanted to focus on reconciliation… while his two commissioners wanted to uncover and document truth.