Alaska News Nightly: December 16, 2009

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Clock Winding Down on Senate Health Bill
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The clock is counting down in Washington for the Senate to pass a health care overhaul before the Christmas holiday.  Democrats still say it can be done, but Republicans want them to put on the brakes.

Retirement Lawsuit Headed to Trial
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The state’s $11 billion lawsuit to help cover the shortfall in the Public Employees’ and Teachers’ retirement system will go to trial next summer.  The Juneau Superior Court judge has denied a motion by Mercer, Incorporated, to dismiss the case.

Former Juneau Priest Sues Catholic Church for Libel
Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau
A former Juneau priest is suing the catholic church in Alaska for allegedly libelous comments made about him after he left the church.

Senate Committee Passes Early Warning Bill
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The US Senate Energy Committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would create a volcano early warning system under the US Geological Survey.  The National Volcano Warning and Monitoring System would track the most active and potentially dangerous volcanoes.

Bristol Bay Villages Denounce Native Corp’s Pebble Position
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
A couple of village corporations in the Bristol Bay region have denounced the resolution approved last week by the Bristol Bay Native Corporation opposing development of the proposed Pebble Mine.

Pollock Quota Set for 2010; Less than 2009
Anne Hillman,  KUCB – Unalaska
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council officially set the pollock quota at 813,000 metric tons for 2010, a bit less than last year. It’s the lowest quota in 32 years. The quota is based on recommendations from the groundfish plan team, which used survey data to set the level. Last year biologists at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center predicted that the population would increase and quotas would go up again. Jon Warrenchuck, an ocean scientist with Oceana, thinks the quota should be cut in half. He says the pollock population cannot increase because most of the large, spawning age fish are being harvested.

Homer Police Missing Two Handguns
Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer
A Homer police officer had a pair of handguns stolen from his private vehicle Monday night. The unidentified officer apparently left the weapons – both 40-caliber Glock semi-automatic pistols – in a bag inside the vehicle. The chief of the Homer Police Department is remaining tight-lipped on details of the theft but is asking for help in locating the stolen weapons.

Fairbanks Man Pedaling to DC to Highlight Climate Change
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A Fairbanks man has taken his concerns about climate change on the road.  Don Ross is riding his bike from Fairbanks to Washington, D.C. stopping along the way to get the word out about the warming planet. Ross, who has pedaled about 2,300 miles to southern British Columbia since leaving Fairbanks October 3rd, says he’s doing the trip during the winter to get attention.

Aniak Raises the Curtain on Holiday Performances
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
There may not be a mall, or a movie theater, or even a sit down restaurant in the village of Aniak. But there will be no shortage of entertainment in the community this Friday night. Most of the town is expected to pack into the high school gym for the annual Christmas play.

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