Alaska News Nightly: November 8, 2012

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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Freezing Rain, Snow Quell Dillinham-Area Blaze

Dave Bendinger, KDLG – Dillingham

A mix of freezing rain and several inches of snow is rarely good news. But for residents in the Dillingham area who’ve watched a large tundra fire continue to burn since last Friday, last night’s wintry mix came not a moment too soon.

Former Whaling Commission Director Sentencing Continues

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The sentencing of the former director of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission continued today in federal court in Anchorage. Ahmaogak was director of the commission for 17 years until she was fired in 2007 from the commission, which receives federal funds. She pleaded guilty in May to two counts of theft and misapplication of funds.

The focus of the sentencing hearing for the last four days has been how much money Ahmaogak stole from the commission.

Anchorage Daily News reporter Casey Grove has been following the action in the courtroom.

Acoustic Sensors Give Scientists A New Perspective In The Arctic

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

Much of what we know about marine life in Alaska is the result of direct visual observation. Relatively recently, though, scientists began focusing more of their efforts on what goes on beneath the waves and the ice, when marine life is out of sight.

Stevens Joins New Senate Majority

The Associated Press

The new Senate majority now has 12 members.

Senator Gary Stevens of Kodiak has joined the majority, and will be chairman of the Senate’s Education Committee. Stevens had been Senate president for the last four years when the bipartisan coalition held power.

New Senate President, Charlie Huggins of Wasilla, made the announcement today in a news release.

Going into Tuesday’s elections, the Senate was comprised of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans, with six Republicans joining Democrats to form the bipartisan majority. The GOP won at least 12 seats in the general election. Two other races are still too close to call.

Republican Majority Ousts Stedman From Leadership

Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka

Senator Bert Stedman of Sitka is the only Republican coalition member who hasn’t joined the new majority.

Sitka officials say Stedman losing his chairmanship on the powerful Senate Finance Committee is bad news Southeast Alaska. But they’re not quite sure what the exact impact will be.

Democratic Groups Urge Congress To Protect Entitlement Programs

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

Just two days after the election, traditional Democratic groups are pushing Republicans in Congress to protect entitlement programs as they attempt to reduce the deficit.

Labor leaders in Alaska want Congress to tax the wealthy instead.

Scientists Study Earthquake Intricacies

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Ten years ago this week, the Denali Fault earthquake shook Interior Alaska. On November 3, 2002 the 7.9 magnitude quake caused extensive damage to infrastructure along the fault line, including bridges, roads and even an airport. Scientists and engineers have spent the last decade studying the intricacies of the earthquake, hoping to learn how to prevent damages from future earthquakes.

Peter Haeussler, a geologist with USGS in Anchorage is one of those scientists.  He says the Denali earthquake was a strike-slip earthquake.

Copper Basin Is On After Organizers Overturn Cancellation

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The future for a dog sled race between Paxson and Glenallen was in question after most of race board resigned last year.  A series of trail, weather and personal difficulties forced the last remaining board member to post a cancellation notice on Facebook last month.  But outcry from the mushing community gave organizers a reason to regroup. The Copper Basin is back on in 2013.

US Mint To Unveil Quarter Honoring Denali Park

The Associated Press

Officials from the U.S. Mint will be in Alaska next week to unveil a new quarter honoring Denali National Park.