Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, January 14, 2007

Church to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

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JUNEAU - A community celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is scheduled at 2 p.m. Monday at the Glacier Valley Church of God, 8497 Thunder Mountain Road in the valley.

All are invited. The celebration, like those of the past 20 years, is sponsored by the Black Awareness Association of Juneau.

A choir rehearsal was planned at the church at 4 p.m. Sunday. Last year there were over 60 voices. All interested in singing with the choir are welcome. For more information, call 790-9371.

Tsunami advisories canceled for Alaska

ANCHORAGE - Tsunami advisories were canceled Saturday in Alaska and Hawaii after officials determined waves from a powerful earthquake in the northern Pacific were too small to pose a threat.

A tsunami of less than 4 inches was recorded Friday night at Shemya, Alaska, at the western end of the Aleutians, the National Weather Service said.

Alaska's tsunami warning, made after an 8.3 magnitude earthquake struck off Japan's northern coast on Friday, prompted more than two dozen people on a remote Aleutian island to take refuge in an underground shelter.

"It's one of those situations where the indications are, when you look at Shemya and the other places in Japan, it really doesn't meet the criteria to be destructive," said National Weather Service spokesman Greg Romano.

Prosecutors: Accused killer wasted no time

KETCHIKAN - Prosecutors paint Earl Pickering Jr. as an abusive husband who killed his wife the same day he got out of jail for assaulting her.

The defense says there's no direct evidence to link him to the murder.

Opening statements were presented last week by Ketchikan Assistant District Attorney James Scott and public defender Marvin Hamilton in Pickering's murder trial. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

Earl Pickering, 60, is accused of shooting Carolyn Pickering in the head with a .44-caliber rifle Nov. 30, 2005, the same day he was released from jail. Authorities said that jail time was for earlier assaulting his 50-year-old wife.

He was charged with first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and third-degree weapons misconduct.

Before jury selection began Tuesday, Pickering pleaded no contest to the protective order violation and weapons misconduct charges, leaving the murder and evidence tampering charges to be decided at trial.

Report: Crew in fatal Arctic dive drank beer

SEATTLE - Two Coast Guard divers killed in a botched Arctic training dive were loaded with too much weight and were assisted by untrained crew members who had been drinking beer, an official investigation said Friday.

The two divers, from the Seattle-based icebreaker Healy, plunged to about 200 feet - 10 times further than intended - shortly after entering the water on Aug. 17, 2006.

Coast Guard Lt. Jessica Hill, 31, of St. Augustine, Fla., and Boatswain's Mate Steven Duque, 22, of Miami, were killed in the accident, about 500 miles north of Alaska.

Their asphyxia deaths were the result of a chain of mistakes, said Vice Adm. Charles Wurster, the Coast Guard's Pacific area commander.

"Had any link been broken, this accident would not have occurred," Wurster told a news conference Friday.

That included the untrained "tenders," who were monitoring the divers from the ice above, and a lack of enough qualified divers to conduct such a training exercise, the report said.

It also included the ice liberty, which featured impromptu dips in the icy water, games of football and beers for crew members, and was held too close to the dive site.

Drinking was allowed during the liberty, with each person limited to two beers. But no records were kept about how many beers were consumed, which is against policy, Wurster said.

Anchors fall off 2 oil tankers from Alaska

SEATTLE - Anchors fell off two oil tankers during heavy weather as they were carrying crude oil from Alaska to Long Beach, Calif., and the Coast Guard and state of Washington are investigating.

The anchors were discovered missing in late December when the 941-foot tankers were being unloaded at Long Beach, said Anil Mathur, chief executive of the Alaska Tanker Co. of Beaverton, Ore.

The ships were allowed to continue to Washington where they finished unloading at a BP refinery at Cherry Point. Now the Alaskan Frontier is at Port Angeles and the Alaskan Navigator in Seattle while they await new anchors.

Each ship has two anchors and the remaining anchor on each ship is cracked. So the company is flying four anchors - 15 tons each - on Sunday from Holland to be installed next week, Mathur said.

Each anchor is more than 13 feet tall and hangs at the bow of the tanker.

It's unknown exactly when and where the anchors fell away because it happened in transit late last month during storms.

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