Alaska News Nightly: February 11, 2010

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Legislators Exploring Impact of Campaign Decision
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Legislators are looking at ways to require more detailed disclosure of who pays for political advertising.  The issue arises out of last month’s decision by the US Supreme Court that will allow corporations and labor unions to use their own money to influence voters.  The decision involves independent campaign expenditures – advertising and other activities that are not coordinated with a candidate’s formal campaign structure.    Assistant Attorney General John Ptacin told the House State Affairs Committee this Thursday that the decision does not invalidate Alaska’s ban on corporate contributions directly to an individual candidate. However, there are impacts on other parts of existing law. He said a corporation or a union must now be considered as a person and will be limited exactly the same as any individual who makes a private statement during an election.  Such limits include a ban on anonymous advertising.  Legislative attorney Alpheus Bullard told the committee that there is no easy way to simplify all the ramifications of the Supreme Court decision.  As an example, the ban on anonymous advertising can be bypassed by establishing a new, non-profit corporation to create ads and pay for their use.

New Fur Research Could Lead to Better Understanding of Bering Sea
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
New fur seal research will help scientists learn more about the overall dynamics of the Bering Sea. The information might also explain why the Pribilof Fur Seal population is declining while the Bogoslov population is growing.

Mohatt Remembered for Contributions to Teaching, Community
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The director of the Center for Alaska Native Health Research in Fairbanks has died. Sixty nine-year-old Dr Gerald Mohatt was remembered Thursday by friends and family as a great teacher who was passionate about his family and work. Dr. Mohatt died on Wednesday at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital after battling leukemia for the past four years. Colleagues say Mohatt, a University of Alaska Fairbanks psychology professor, is nationally known for his work with Alaska Natives and other indigenous people. Besides teaching at UAF, he was instrumental in developing the College of Rural Alaska and was the founding president of the first tribal college on the Lakota Souix Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Bert Boyer worked with Mohatt at the Center and has known him for more than a decade. He says Mohatt taught him to respect indigenous knowledge.

Yukon Quest Update: Gatt Leads at Halfway Mark
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbank and Joshua Armstrong, Fairbans Daily News-Miner
Hans Gatt, a three-time Quest champ, took the half way prize gold Wednesday night by throwing down an impressive run between the last checkpoint at Eagle and Dawson.  He covered the 150-mile stretch in 22 hours 41 minutes, a likely but unconfirmed record.  Four-time past Quest winner Lance Mackey, and last year’s runner-up Hugh Neff trailed Gatt into Dawson by 3 hours.  Zack Steer and Ken Anderson were another three hours behind. Mackey says he isn’t shaken by Gatt’s bold run into Dawson and midway point lead.

Finally: Refunds Issued By MarkAir
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
More than 6,000 people, many of them Alaskans, have finally gotten refunds for airline tickets they bought 15 years ago. The travelers had vouchers or tickets for flights on MarkAir, a discount carrier that went bankrupt. Ticket-buyers are only getting back about a quarter of what they spent.

Survey of Seafood Processors Released
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
A new survey of the seafood processors that operate in Bristol Bay shows some substantial changes including less canned product and an increase in chilling capacity in the bay’s drift boat fleet.

Haines Serves Up Test Market for Alaska Meats
Tara Bicknell, KHNS – Haines
Haines recently served as testing grounds for a state experiment that sought to find out if Alaska-grown meat had a market in Southeast.

Canadian Energy Board Hears Offshore Plans
Allison Devereaux, CBC – Yellowknife
Canada’s National Energy Board plans public hearings about offshore oil and gas drilling in the Beaufort Sea, as producers with leases begin to talk about stepping up exploration work.