Alaska News Nightly: August 4, 2009

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Permanent Fund Closes Books on First Annual Loss
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Permanent Fund is closing the books on its first annual loss since it was established in 1976.  The $30 billion balance at the end of the fiscal year shows a $6.5 billion drop in value from last year.  The loss reflects the condition of one of the five worst years in the history of U-S investment markets – dating back more than 200 years.

Biologists Studying Gray Whale Mystery
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Alaskan biologists are working to help solve a deep mystery surrounding gray whales hunted by Native groups in Chukotka, Russia. For decades, hunters have described occasionally harvesting foul smelling whales that sickened anyone who ate the meat. In the last ten years, the problem appears to be increasing.

New Wildfire Springs up Near Fairbanks
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A new wildfire near Fairbanks is drawing a major response. The Hard Luck Creek Fire is burning about 25 miles northwest west of town near Murphy Dome. The fire has move quickly through volatile black spruce and has burned at least a thousand acres.

Senate Votes to Keep Rural Energy Program
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The Senate voted on Monday to keep an energy grant program for rural areas that specifically benefits Alaska.

Sullivan Organizes Gas Task Force
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
Southcentral natural gas customers are getting higher bills in the mail this month.  And future rate increases could be in store, unless a new source of natural gas comes on line. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan has set up a task force to find a new supply.

Fairbanks Non-Profit Builds Climate Specific Home
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A Fairbanks based non-profit has tapped local knowledge to build a climate specific home in Anaktuvuk Pass.  The Cold Climate Housing Research Center director Jack Hebert says the project mixes 21st century technology with traditional sod house construction.

Security Tapes Could Provide Clues to Cruise Ship Death
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Onboard security tapes could help investigators determine whether a woman who fell off a cruise ship near Juneau committed suicide.

Hydaburg Raises Four Totem Poles
Jay Marble, KRBD – Ketchikan
It would be difficult to over-estimate the amount of activity in Hydaburg this past weekend, where four totem poles were raised.

Homer Photo Fest Kicks into High Gear
Marcia Lynn, KBBI – Homer
Homer Photo Fest 2009 started Tuesday in Homer.  It celebrates the art of photography through lectures, workshops and juried exhibits.  Top photographers from Alaska and around the country will share their expertise with participants.

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