Alaska News Nightly: May 23, 2012

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Israel Keyes Attempts To Flee Courtroom

The Associated Press

The man charged with kidnapping and murdering an Anchorage barista attempted to flee today at a hearing in federal court.

U.S. marshals say 34-year-old Israel Keyes was quickly subdued.

Supervisory deputy Dave Long says handcuffs had been removed and Keyes broke leg restraints.

Long says Keyes tried to dash but was grabbed by a marshal. Long says Keyes either tried to leap over the bar separating the public from the defendant’s table or his momentum carried him over it.

Other marshals descended on Keyes.

He’s charged with abducting 18-year-old Samantha Koenig in February from the coffee stand where she worked. Her body was recovered from a lake in April.

Lawyers Wrap Up Examination Of FBI Informant In Militia Trial

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The trial of Peacemakers militia leader Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon continued today in federal court in Anchorage. The prosecution wrapped up with their star witness, FBI informant Gerald Olsen. Richard Mauer is an investigative reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and is covering the trial. Mauer says for two days Olsen told of his observations while undercover in the militia, but today under defense cross examination, there were revelations about his character.

Anchorage Clerk Resigns As Investigation Mounts

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

Anchorage Municipal Clerk Barbara Gruenstein has resigned. Her resignation comes after nearly two months of controversy surrounding the April 3 Municipal Election.

Brown Bear Killed By Fish And Game

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

A young brown bear that had been a favorite subject of Anchorage area photographers the past few weeks has been killed by state wildlife officials.

Committee To Address Law of the Sea Treaty This Year

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry announced at a hearing Tuesday he will bring up the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea treaty this year. Both of Alaska’s Senators strongly support treaty ratification But Kerry will wait until after the November election to bring it to a vote

Top Obama administration officials have been urging the Senate to take up the 30-year-old treaty for weeks and the Senate has now officially begun what will be a long process.

The first of several committee hearings on the treaty featured the nation’s top security brass, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey.

The treaty – which more than 160 countries have ratified – regulates shipping routes and deep-sea mining. It enjoys broad support, from business groups like the Chamber of Commerce to environmental ones, like the Natural Resources Defense Council.

And because of that swath of support, Secretary Clinton took the unusual step of using her opening remarks to needle opponents of the pact who say it infringes on U.S. sovereignty.

“Well the fact that a treaty was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations, which is after all a convenient gathering place for the countries of the world, has not stopped us from joining treaties which are in our interests. We are party to dozens of agreements negotiated under the U.N. auspices,” Clinton said.

Secretary Clinton says those focus on commerce, telecommunications and defense.

That last reason is why Secretary Panetta is making the pitch. He says the treaty expands the sovereignty of the United States – in such a size and way not seen since the country grew to include the West and Alaska.

Secretary Panetta says that as the U.S. Navy is facing a myriad of ongoing issues, from turmoil in the South China Sea, to an increased global presence in the Arctic, it will need to form partnerships with other countries to ease the burden, and that’s where the treaty comes in.

“If 160 nations have acceded to it, and we say to hell with them, we’re not going to participate in that, then 160 nations are going to determine what happens with the Law of the Sea. And we won’t be there,” Panetta said.

Only the Senate can ratify a treaty and, right now, there are at least a couple dozen skeptical Republican senators.  Senator Kerry, a vocal supporter, says moving the vote on the treaty until after the election will remove a substantive global pact away from the toxic political climate.

But if the hearing is an indication, maybe it won’t. Idaho Senator Jim Risch read a segment of the treaty that he interprets as global environmental standards, something he’d like to work around.

“After this is adopted by the Senate, if it is, how are we going to get around the fact that we agreed that we will adopt these new laws and regulations?,” Risch said.

Ideological disagreements on regulation will not be resolved by Nov. 6.

But moving the vote provides more working room. Kerry says he’ll hold hearings with industries that support the pact, and top military personnel.  That could pit Republican hold-outs groups they typically get along quite well with.

And moving the vote past the election gives two key senators a little more time to sway the skeptics – Republicans Dick Lugar and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. Those two supporters will have to convince a fair number of their own party to hop on because the treaty needs 67 votes to pass.

And even if they think they can get the votes – they’ll need to make the argument that the treaty is worth time in a lame-duck session that’s guaranteed to be packed from beginning to end.

Preliminary Gas Line Work To Continue This Summer

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Preliminary work will continue this summer on an in state natural gas pipeline. That’s despite the legislature’s failure to approve $200 million, and expanded powers for the agency charged with pursuing the project, the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation.  The legislature did provide $21 million, and AGDC President Dan Fauske says that’s enough to keep the North Slope to Southcentral project going in light of new direction from Governor Parnell.

Documentary Series Combats Obesity Problem

Dave Bendinger, KDLG – Dillingham

The Alaska Health Department is using a new four-part HBO documentary on obesity to draw attention to its effort to combat the problem.

Galena Students Taking Part In Potato, Carrot Production Project

Jeremy Scott, KIYU – Galena

The school year may be over for Galena’s students but, for some, the seeds of next year’s education are already in the ground. Over 80 students from the Interior Learning Academy and Sidney C. Huntington School are taking part in the Potato and Carrot Production Project.