Alaska News Nightly: July 17, 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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‘Law of the Sea’ Opponents May Have Enough Votes To Block Ratification

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

Opponents of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea believe they have the necessary votes to block ratification.

Senators Say More Money Needs To Be Allocated For Debris Cleanup

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

The federal government is allocating a quarter of a million dollars to Pacific states to deal with debris washing ashore from the Japanese tsunami. Alaska’s senators say the amount is astonishingly low, and more needs to be on the way.

Backbone Comes Back Together To Support Bi-Partisan Majority

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Backbone is coming together again. That’s the public interest group that was organized in the 90s to protect the state’s interest against BP’s attempts to gain more control over the North Slope. This time, the leaders say they want to promote and support the bi-partisan approach to government that has controlled the Senate since 2007.

Divers Determine Noble Discoverer Did Not Ground

Stephanie Joyce, KUCB – Unalaska

Divers inspected the hull of Shell’s drill ship, the Noble Discoverer, Monday night and determined that the rig did not touch bottom when it dragged anchor on Saturday. Coast Guard Lieutenant Jim Fothergill says investigators watched a live feed of the hull inspection from aboard the ship.

Alaska-Based Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

The Associated Press

An Alaska-based soldier from Arizona has been killed in an attack in Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Alaska officials identified the soldier as 24-year-old Staff Sgt. Carl Eric Hammar of Ariz. Officials say he died Saturday from injuries he received when his dismounted patrol was attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire in the Khost Province.

Hammar served two tours in Iraq.

State Seeking Federal Disaster Declaration For Chinook Salmon Fisheries

The Associated Press

Gov. Sean Parnell is seeking a federal disaster declaration for the Chinook salmon fisheries on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers.

In a letter to Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank Saturday, Parnell noted the troubling low salmon runs.

He says the fisheries are critical to residents in the region. Many rely on money earned from even small commercial fisheries to make it through Alaska’s winter.

Parnell said the Cook Inlet region is seeing low Chinook salmon returns and may also qualify for an economic disaster declaration once the season ends.

A federal disaster declaration will not bring automatic assistance to the region. A federal appropriation is needed to provide money.

DEC Considers Changing Pesticide Regulations

Lorien Nettleton, KTNA – Talkeetna

The State Department of Environmental Conservation is considering a change to its pesticide regulations that would no longer require agencies to obtain a permit for chemical treatments on state-owned lands. This proposal has caught the attention of at least one state lawmaker.

Officials Propose Change To Medicaid-Funded Abortion Regulations

Wendi Jonassen, APRN – Anchorage

Alaska is one of 17 states that helps pay for medically-necessary abortions. More than half of the over 1,600 performed last year in Alaska were paid by Medicaid adding up to about 900 state-funded abortions. Right now the Health and Social Services Department is proposing to change the regulations for Medicaid-funded abortions, resurrecting a contentious debate about low-income women and abortion.

Many Rural Villages Getting Broadband Access

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

Dozens of rural villages are getting broadband Internet access for the first time, opening the door to new economic, employment, tele-health, and educational opportunities, and creating demand for technicians to service the computers, servers, and other equipment needed to maintain high speed connections.

Study Aims To Determine Feasibility Of Tanana Road To Fairbanks

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

This month, the Department of Transportation begins a reconnaissance and feasibility study as part of an effort to offer the Interior community of Tanana road access to Fairbanks.  It’s part of Alaska Governor Sean Parnell’s ‘Road to Resources Initiative.’  The initiative aims to increase access to natural resources and reduce fuel and supply costs to Alaska’s rural communities.  If built, more than 35 miles of road will be the first link in a longer road that could stretch between the interior and the Bering Sea coast.

Wrangell Suing Former Hospital CEO

Anne Hillman, KSTK – Wrangell

The Borough of Wrangell is suing the hospital’s former CEO Noel Selle-Rae and six of the re-called board members. They are seeking the return of the $520,000 given to Selle-Rae as a portion of his severance package.

Pitbull’s Kodiak Appearance Likely Before End Of Month

Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak

Walmart has made it official – Kodiak has won a visit from Miami singer Pitbull, and he may be coming here in less than two weeks.

Sarah Spencer, the director of corporate communications for Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas, phoned KMXT with the news this morning:

“Kodiak, Alaska is the winner of the Walmart and Sheets Facebook contest, which means Mr. Worldwide will make his first trip to Alaska at the end of the month.”

Spencer said July 30th is the most likely date for Pitbull’s appearance, as it fits in with his current worldwide tour. The singer, whose real name is Armando Perez, said in a Youtube video he’s looking forward to the visit:

“This is Mr. Worldwide. I’m over in Madrid, Spain, right now, rocking Rio. There’s a huge Walmart/Sheets Energy Strips campaign going on, and I heard Kodiak, Alaska, has the most likes. So I said okay, great, this sound really good. You got to understand I’d go anywhere in the world for my fans. With that said, enjoy, and follow me to Kodiak. Dale’.”

Kodiak won the contest by racking up over 72,000 likes on Walmart’s Facebook page, easily outpacing any other store in the country. A lot of the attention was spurred on by Boston Phoenix columnist David Thorpe, who latched on to the idea of sending Pitbull to the most remote Walmart he could find, which turned out to be Kodiak.

But instead of crying foul over the hijacking of the contest, Pitbull embraced the “Exile Pitbull” movement on Twitter and turned the tables on Thorpe, inviting him to join him here in Kodiak. Thorpe, in his column, has agreed to come.

Spencer said exactly what Pitbull will do here in Kodiak is still up in the air – it could be a few songs at the local Walmart, or more:

“Well, we’re still thinking everything through, and we hope to have the exact date and what the appearance details will looking like in the coming days. I’m not going to confirm anything right now. We’re going to hold onto the suspense as we try to nail everything down, but definitely more to come.”

Pitbull currently has a Top 40 hit with “Back in Time,” a song from the new Men in Black 3 movie.

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