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Get Alaska statewide news from the stations of the Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN). With a central news room in Anchorage and contributing reporters spread across the state, we capture news in the Voices of Alaska and share it with the world. Tune in to your local APRN station in Alaska, visit us online at APRN.ORG or subscribe to the Alaska News podcast right here. These are individual news stories, most of which appear in Alaska News Nightly (available as a separate podcast).
Updated: 15 min 1 sec ago

Fishermen Receive Fine, Probation For Fishing Violations

Tue, 2014-08-05 17:36

Two fishermen recently learned that commercial trolling out of season – even by a single day – can be expensive.

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Categories: Alaska News

Begich Calls For Park Service To Honor Aleut Internment

Tue, 2014-08-05 17:35

Sen. Mark Begich wants the National Park Service to include sites where Alaska Native peoples were forcibly relocated during World War II.

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Begich introduced a bill Thursday, asking the Department of the Interior to study the cost and feasibility of adding Aleut internment-related sites as one or more units of the parks system.

Kashega Village on Unalaska Island was deserted after residents were forcibly relocated during WWII. (Courtesy: UAA Archives)

The bill is called the Aleut Confinement and Relocation Sites Study Act. In a press release, Begich says it’s aimed at remembering a part of American history that has long been “swept under the rug.”

Begich is asking for a three-year study about incorporating sites in Southeast where hundreds of Unangan peoples were interned: Funter Bay, Burnett Inlet, Killisnoo, Ward Lake and the Wrangell Institute.

The relocated people spent two years at those sites, amid poor conditions and sickness. About 75 of them died.

The bill also covers the former Aleutian villages from which the people were taken: Makushin, Biorka and Kashega, all on Unalaska island, as well as the village of Attu.

The bill says those villages “were so depopulated and so significantly damaged by miliary [sic] activity and weather that the villages effectively could not be resettled after World War II.”

Begich’s office says the bill could lead to authorizing the Park Service to buy associated lands from current owners. The bill has the support of the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association. It’s been referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Territorial Guard ‘Wall of Honor’ Dedicated in Bethel

Tue, 2014-08-05 17:34

The Alaska Territorial Guard Memorial Park Wall of Honor was dedicated August 1, 2014. (Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK)

Volunteers working at Bethel’s Alaska Territorial Guard Memorial Park are one step closer to completion. On Friday afternoon, local organizers and state military leadership dedicated the recently completed ‘Wall of Honor.’

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The wall lists the names of 1-thousand, 435 members of the Territorial Guard who served from 31 Yukon Kuskokwim Delta villages. Buck Bukowski is a member of the ATG Park Committee and says the recognition is overdue.

“They were unpaid, all they got a rifle they had to turn back in when they were done, and no recognition until just a few years ago when most of them were already dead,” said Bukowski.

The Alaska Territorial Guard was formed in 1942 in response to the attack in Hawaii and occupation of some Aleutian islands. Members supplied all of their own gear and food, with no pay. Over 6,000 largely Alaska Natives members served the country until the ATG disbanded in 1947.

Major General Thomas Katkus is Commissioner of Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Adjutant General in charge of the Guard in Alaska. He says today’s military stands on the shoulders of those who came before.

“Those guys were here in a threatened environment, you look at the technology in those days before cell phones, before internet before the ability to communicate as quickly and rapidly as we do today. They stood there with an unknown threat coming and banded together, and basically were prepared to defend their communities,” said Katkus.

Organizers say there is work to be done on a 2-thousand foot walking trail on the tundra, plus more landscaping and potentially a gazebo to cover a picnic area. A tall bronze statue of a guard remember in a parka watches over the wall and veterans cemetery. The park includes large garden boxes and flags for each community.

Committee Co-chair Dave Trantham says the group is trying to get an old artillery gun for the site. He told a story about how the guard tricked Japanese spy planes.

“They cut driftwood and stuck it in the mud to represent an artillery pieces. I want to ask one question if may. Did the Japanese invade this part of the county? Uh uh,” said Trantham.

The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs contributed 140-thosuand dollars for the project, while local companies and organizations donated many thousands more in materials and work. General Katkus says Bethel’s park stands out in the state.

“They capitalize with the good ideas, they get the community behind a very small amount of resourcing and together come up with a project that that is greater as a whole than the sum of the resources sent out here. It’s just incredible what they’ve been able to do with it,” said Katkus.

The Alaska Territorial Guard Park is located on Tower Road near the airport. Organizers say it’s scheduled to be done in time for Pearl Harbor Day.

Categories: Alaska News

Former Haines Exchange Student Now Living In War Zone

Tue, 2014-08-05 17:33

From his bedroom window, Haytham Mohanna took this photo of Israeli flares about a week ago. (Photo by Haytham Mohanna)

Just days after exchange student Haytham Mohanna made the long journey from Southeast Alaska to his home in the Gaza Strip, the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated into war.

Haytham lived and studied in Haines through a U.S. Department of State program that brings students from Muslim countries to America.

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Two months ago, 17-year-old Haytham Mohanna was kayaking in Sunshine Cove and hiking to the Mendenhall Glacier ice caves in Juneau.

Now, Haytham is home in Gaza City spending his summer break in a war zone.

“Every minute we are expecting a bomb. When we hear a near bomb, we are saying that our house is going to be the next one,” Haytham says.

His family has an emergency bag packed with their identification and other important documents. If they get a call that their house will be bombed, they’re ready to evacuate.

Haytham Mohanna attended Haines High School during last school year. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

“My family is lucky ‘til now that nobody died and they didn’t see anyone dying,” Haytham says.

At the moment, he is living with 14 people – his parents, grandmother, three siblings and his aunt’s family.

“Her house kind of is near the tanks and the bombs, so she’s scared and ran away from there and she came to our house,” Haytham says.

His parents and siblings sleep on the floor, while his aunt’s family shares the six beds in the house. It’s crowded, but up to 50 people have stayed in the house during other wars. This is Haytham’s third.

Haytham says they haven’t had electricity for more than a week. His family has their own gas-run generator, which they turn on to charge flashlights, laptops and phones. They also use it to pump water to the house.

Without a refrigerator, Haytham’s father takes the risk of going to the market a few times a week.

“In the U.S. we had fulltime electricity, we have water all the time, we have freedom to go anywhere. But here, I can be scared to go out to get the trash out of the house and I’ll be scared if I’m going to go to our neighbors’ to drink some tea or something. It’s really hard to get out, even from the house,” Haytham says.

The last time Haytham went outside was more than 10 days ago during a ceasefire. It lasted six hours.

“I went to hang out with my friends. We tried to go and get a haircut but the places were very crowded so we didn’t have a haircut,” he says.

Everyone was in the streets.

“People were happy, you know, just going out from their houses. Not really happy, just relief, you know,” he says.

Haytham says days pass inside the house doing nothing and he loses track of the date. He only sleeps between 5 and 10 a.m. when bombs are less frequent. He says there are more bombs at night.

Inside, Haytham says his family still occasionally laughs.

“But it’s not the laugh that comes from the heart. We just laugh to let my 6-year-old brother to laugh and feel that he’s safe and we’re not in danger,” he says.

Haytham has mixed feelings toward the U.S. due to its relationship with Israel. The U.S. provides Israel with $3 billion in foreign military financing annually, according to the Department of State.

Haytham misses living in Haines, but he says, “I can’t really wish to be there right now. My country now needs me. If everyone wishes to be outside, nobody is going to be in Gaza. There should be people staying in Gaza so they can protect it and after the war, they can build it.”

Haytham is supposed to start his senior year of high school at the end of the month. But, he says, schools have delayed opening. Even if the war ends soon, it’ll still take time to repair.

Related content:
Differences between U.S. & Gaza Strip? Weather and freedom
Origami peace peacock finds a home in the state capitol
Forum@360: Middle East to Southeast
Haytham Mohanna on Photography

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Native Family Takes Part In Circumpolar North Gathering

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:23

An Alaska Native family recently traveled to Russia’s Far East to take part in a gathering of indigenous people from seven nations throughout the circumpolar north. The three participated in Native games, music and the celebration of traditional culture in a tiny coastal village along the Bering Sea.

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Categories: Alaska News

Voting Season Begins For Alaska Primary Election

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:22

The August 19th primary is 15 days away, but voting opens Monday for early absentee, special needs and electronic transmission voting State Elections director Gail Fenumiai says the state has set up polling places across Alaska for registered voters.

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Categories: Alaska News

GOP Candidates for U.S. Senate Debate Abortion, Social Issues

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:22

Republican Senate candidates debate social issues

The three Republicans vying to run against U.S. Sen. Mark Begich met today in an Eagle River church to debate social issues in a forum sponsored by Alaska Family Action. All three took anti-abortion, conservative positions but, judging by the applause, this was Joe Miller’s crowd.

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Miller doesn’t believe in exceptions to an abortion ban, even when a woman becomes pregnant as a result  rape or incest.

“This is the barometer of ‘We the people,’” he said. “Are we going to protect the most defenseless, or are we going to give platitudes?”

The audience at Community Covenant Church cheered and applauded.

Mead Treadwell says the issue is personal with him.

“My mom got pregnant in college. Abortion was available then, but I stand in front of you today because mom and dad chose life, and I thank god every day that she did,” Treadwell said.

Treadwell says abortion should only be allowed if both the mother and baby would otherwise die. Dan Sullivan says he would allow a rape and incest exception.

“That does not mean I’m supportive of abortions in those situations, but because they’re such horrendous situations and support for the victim in those kind of situations of rape and incest is also very important, from my perspective that’s something that the family should be making the decision on,” Sullivan said.

Miller had the other two on the defensive for blocking an anti-abortion initiative in state government. Lt. Gov. Treadwell and Sullivan, a former state attorney general, say the measure they ruled against conflicted with existing law.

“Was that a hard decision to make? Yeah,” Sullivan said. “Did I feel I had fidelity to the law? What I was supposed to do as attorney general? Yes. Sometimes these are difficult choices.”

Treadwell challenged Miller to draft a better initiative than the one he had to turn down.

“If it passes muster, that initiative could move forward, but Joe, you just can’t criticize people for following the law,” Treadwell said.”We followed the law!”

Miller had a ready response: “You know, we’ve heard that argument before, ‘I was just following orders.’”

The candidates all says they are against amnesty for illegal immigrants, against allowing gay marriage and against legislation that would roll back the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. Miller is running far behind the other two in the polls, and in campaign contributions. In his closing statement, though, he suggested those present give to the family of Rick Shields, a Palmer conservative activist who died a few days ago. Miller, who says he’s the only non-millionaire in the race, managed to turn the plea into a subtle dig at his rivals.

“Of course, Dan doesn’t need your money, and Mead’s spending his own, and you know that my campaign functions on sweat equity. But please don’t give to our campaigns today. If you came here with a checkbook to write out to one of these candidates give it to the Shields,” Miller said.

During Treadwell’s closing statement, Miller supporters passed out a two-year-old press release from the ACLU highlighting that Treadwell allowed transgender Alaskans to change the gender category on their drivers’ licenses.

This was a pre-Primary debate, so Democrat Mark Begich wasn’t represented. His campaign issued a written statement afterward characterizing the forum as contest “over who would be most effective at denying women access to birth control or cutting funding for women’s reproductive health services.”

Categories: Alaska News

Troopers Looking for Missing Missouri Man on Willow Creek

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:20

The Alaska State Troopers are looking for a missing fisherman in the Willow Creek area.

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Jerry Warner. (Photo courtesy Matanuska-Susitna Borough)

According to the troopers, 71 year old Jerry Warner of Missouri left the Willow Creek Resort at about 11:00 am on Sunday to go fishing by himself.  He planned to be away for a few hours. When he did not return by 7:30 pm, the troopers were contacted and a search began. On Sunday night, teams on foot as well as a Mat-Su Borough boat searched the creek until midnight, but found no sign of Jerry Warner.

On Monday morning the search resumed with the addition of an Alaska State Trooper helicopter and four search and rescue dog teams. As of late Monday morning, no sign of Warner has been discovered.

According to the troopers, Warner was carrying only a fishing pole, and has no survival gear with him.

Categories: Alaska News

21 Mushers Add Their Names To 2015 Yukon Quest Roster

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:19

The headquarters of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in both Alaska and Canada were buzzing Saturday with talk of snow and mushing.

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Two-time champion Allen Moore plans to return.

“We’re gonna do the same that we’ve done every year,” he says. “Hopefully we’ll have a good chance at the end. There’s lots of people that will have a good chance to win, but everything has to line up, as you know.”

But Moore can’t run the exact same race he has the last four years. This year, mushers and dogs will see a mandatory 36 hour layover at the race’s midway point in Dawson City reduced by 12 hours. Two hours have been added to another mandatory stop at the checkpoint in Eagle, and teams will take two additional six hour layovers at a checkpoint of their choosing in the first and last third of the race. Moore says the new rules shake up his tried-and-true race strategy.

“I’ll probably have to add rest at other places, probably,” he says. “We did set a record pace a couple years ago when we were coming this direction.”

But in 2013, race official diverted the trail around American Summit near Eagle. Evenso, Moore says a pace that fast will require rest somewhere, regardless of whether its mandatory or not.

So far, 21 mushers have add their names to the roster.

Categories: Alaska News

New Boat Lift Expected To Boost Wrangell’s Growing Marine Industry

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:18

Wrangell’s new boat lift is the second biggest in Alaska and is expected to boost the former logging town’s growing marine industry. Last week, the 300-ton lift tested its upper limit.

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Categories: Alaska News

New Eagle and Raven Totem Poles to Rise This Month

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:17

Haida carver T.J. Young carves fine details into an Eagle totem pole in progress. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Haida carving brothers Joe and T.J. Young are back in Juneau to finish a pair of Eagle and Raven totem poles.

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About this time last year, the Hydaburg men and their apprentices were using axes and chainsaws to shape the red cedar logs. Friday, they were working with small hand tools.

“As you work your way, as you start roughing it out, you’ll start getting — the tools’ll get smaller and smaller and smaller,” says T.J. Young. “And you’ll do a lot more sharpening throughout the process.”

Sealaska Heritage Institute commissioned the new poles to replace the deteriorating, 36-year-old ones in front of the Gajaa Hít building off Willoughby Avenue.

Young says they’re working 12-hour days, but are on schedule. The new totem poles are supposed to be raised at the end of the month.

Categories: Alaska News

Wounded Warriors Go Fishing With Bethel Guide Company

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:16

National Guard members, Along with PBA’a Karl Powers deliver pizzas to the Wounded Warriors during their trip. (Photo courtesy of Papa Bear Adventures.)

Papa Bear Adventures in the Kuskokwim hub community of Bethel recently took six veterans on a rafting trip. The guiding company brought them down the Kanektok River near Quinhagak, a village about seventy miles southwest of Bethel, as part of the Wounded Warriors program. The group found relief from injuries on one of the premier fishing rivers in the world.

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Steve Powers runs Papa Bear Adventures. He says this trip is his company’s way of supporting service men and women.

“We try to do a trip with the Wounded Warriors each year, and take some wounded soldiers out to float down one of the rivers, to get the chance to go fishing to enjoy Alaska. My brother originally thought about it and we talked about it and we just felt like this was the right thing to do,” say’s Powers.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a national program with the sole purpose of honoring and empowering veterans of the United States Armed Forces who are hurt or injured in battle. Papa Bear guiding company has been taking Wounded Warriors on trips for five years.

One of those being honored is Alaskan Mike Buzinski. He served in the Air Force as a crew member on board a Boeing E-3. During his service he was stationed in Iraq. He says he was disabled after being diagnosed with tinnitus, a condition that causes constant ringing in the ears. He says though this is an annoying condition, he is more fortunate than others.

“My disability is very minor compared to some of the other guys that were in the army and the marines that went to Afghanistan, and had injuries from shrapnel and different disabilities created by the conditions on the ground,” say’s Buzinski.

Buzinski lives in Anchorage, but had never been to the Bethel area. He and a few other veterans anxiously wait at Papa Bears lodge on weather hold, because of fog. He’s eager to fish Pegati Lake at the headwaters of the Kanektok.

“I’ve never been out there, a couple of us have made it out there already and the rest of us are sitting here waiting for the fog to break so we can get out there and join em.”

Eventually the fog lifts. Buzinski and 5 other veterans are enjoy some lake fishing and then a seven day float trip down the Kanektok. When they return to Bethel they’re treated to a welcome back gathering and dinner at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars building.

There, they exchange many humorous stories such as some members falling off the raft. But perhaps the most interesting story of the trip involved a once in a lifetime delivery as recounted by veterans Patrick Upchurch and Thomas O’Brien.

“Karl from Papa Bear Lodge, and the National Guard came out and visited us on I think day 3, and brought us some pizza from Bethel, awesome pizza, so that was a pretty welcome surprise I mean,” says Upchurch. “Floating down the river and an Army Black Hawk comes soaring by, everyone’s looking around all confused, and then it lands and there’s Karl waiting for us to float right up to him,” says O’Brien.

Papa Bear’s Steve Powers hopes to continue giving warriors a chance to experience some of the best of what Alaska has to offer.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: August 4, 2014

Mon, 2014-08-04 17:10

Individual news 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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Alaska Native Family Takes Part In Circumpolar North Gathering

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

An Alaska Native family recently travelled to Russia’s Far East to take part in a gathering of indigenous people from seven nations throughout the circumpolar north.  The three participated in Native games, music and the celebration of traditional culture in a tiny coastal village along the Bering Sea.

Voting Season Begins For Alaska Primary Election

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

The August 19th primary is 15 days away, but voting opens Monday for early absentee, special needs and electronic transmission voting State Elections director Gail Fenumiai says the state has set up polling places across Alaska for registered voters.

Republican Senate Candidates Debate Social Issues

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Anchorage

The three Republicans vying to run against U.S. Sen. Mark Begich met Monday in an Eagle River church to debate social issues in a forum sponsored by the Alaska Family Council. All three took anti-abortion, conservative positions, but this was Joe Miller’s crowd.

Anti-Marijuana Group Asks Muni To Pull Pro-Initiative Advertising

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The group Big Marijuana Big Mistake is taking issue with pro-marijuana initiative bus ads, and they’re asking the Municipality of Anchorage to intervene.

Troopers Looking for Missing Missouri Man on Willow Creek

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

The Alaska State Troopers are looking for a missing fisherman in the Willow Creek area.  According to the troopers, 71-year-old Jerry Warner of Missouri walked upstream from the Willow Creek Resort at about 11:00 a.m. on Sunday for a solo fishing trip.  He planned to be away for a few hours.  When he did not return by 7:30 pm, the troopers were contacted and a search began.

21 Mushers Add Their Names To 2015 Yukon Quest Roster

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The headquarters of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in both Alaska and Canada were buzzing Saturday with talk of snow and mushing.

New Boat Lift Expected To Boost Wrangell’s Growing Marine Industry

Katarina Sostaric, KSTK – Wrangell

Wrangell’s new boat lift is the second biggest in Alaska and is expected to boost the former logging town’s growing marine industry.  Last week, the 300-ton lift tested its upper limit.

New Eagle and Raven Totem Poles to Rise This Month

Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO – Juneau

Haida carving brothers Joe and T.J. Young are back in Juneau to finish a pair of Eagle and Raven totem poles.

Wounded Warriors Go Fishing With Bethel Guide Company

Charles Enoch, KYUK – Bethel

Papa Bear Adventures in the Kuskokwim hub community of Bethel recently took six veterans on a rafting trip. The guiding company brought them down the Kanektok River near Quinhagak, a village about seventy miles southwest of Bethel, as part of the Wounded Warriors program. The group found relief from injuries on one of the premier fishing rivers in the world.

Categories: Alaska News

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