Alaska News Nightly: Friday, Dec. 18, 2015

Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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Obama frees 2 Alaska inmates

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Anchorage

Two Alaskans are among dozens of federal inmates who will be freed decades early, the White House announced today.

Alaska Innocence Project nets first big victory in Fairbanks Four case

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

George Frese, Eugene Vent and Kevin Pease are spending their first day out of prison today in 18 years. They were released yesterday in Fairbanks after the court approved a settlement in the case of the murder of 15-year-old John Hartman. It was a big win for the Alaska Innocence Project.

Law Dept. insists Fairbanks Four not ‘exonerated’

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage
Dave Bendinger, KDLG – Dillingham

The state’s Department of Law maintains the Fairbanks Four were not exonerated in the settlement, or completely cleared of blame.

US budget bill passes, Sullivan votes no

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Anchorage

Congress has finished its work for the year with a 1.8 trillion dollar spending bill, which president Obama quickly signed. The package drew a mixed response from Alaska’s delegation.

Models show permafrost melting faster than thought

Robert Hannon, KUAC – Fairbanks

For years researchers studying permafrost in the Arctic have seen a warming trend. Now scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks say it is happening even faster than expected.

Al Jazeera documentary highlights erosion in Kivalina, Newtok

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

On Sunday evening, the issue of Alaska coastal erosion will be featured on the Al Jezzera America program Fault Lines. The correspondent who reported the story for the program is former APRN reporter Libby Casey.

Home heating assistance on chopping block with budget cuts

Hannah Colton, KDLG – Dillingham

Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed budget, released Dec. 9, would cut just over $9 million dollars in home heating subsidies for low-income Alaskans by eliminating the Alaska Heating Assistance Program.

AK: Finding a home, building a family

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

More than 2,000 kids in Anchorage are considered homeless by the school district. Research shows that kids who lack stability don’t do as well in school, but the support of even just one adult can change that. In the case of teenager Jmari House, an entire family stepped in to make sure she didn’t get lost in the shuffle.

49 Voices: Katiya Simonsson of Unalakleet

This week, we’re hearing from Katiya Simonsson — who is 23, and has lived in Soldotna, Kotzebue, and more recently Chicago. Her roots are in Unalakleet where she married her husband Thomas on July 10th.