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Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, October 18, 2006

National activist to speak on right to die

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JUNEAU - A nationally renowned activist on end-of-life issues will be speaking Friday at the University of Alaska Southeast.

Bill Colby was the first attorney to bring a "right-to-die" case before the U.S. Supreme Court, and is the author of two books on the issue. In 1983, Nancy Cruzan, a 25-year-old Missouri resident, was in a car accident that left her in a coma. Cruzan survived for five years in a hospital with the assistance of a feeding tube. Colby represented the Cruzan family and fought the battle that eventually led to the removal of the tube, and Cruzan's death.

Colby will speak about right-to-die cases, and the steps someone should take to avoid uncertainty about their own end-of-life issues. The presentation takes place at 7 p.m. Friday at the Egan Library.

Fishermen only thing missing for king crab season

DUTCH HARBOR - The Bering Sea's red king crab season kicked off on Sunday, but there's just one thing missing: the crab fishermen.

The majority of the crab fleet is still tied up in the port of Dutch Harbor, refusing to fish for a third consecutive day, while price negotiations with seafood processing companies remain at an impasse.

As of Tuesday afternoon, only three processors - Alyeska Seafoods, Westward Seafoods and Ocean Beauty Seafoods - have agreed to pay a price that the crab harvesting cooperatives that represent the fishermen consider acceptable, according to co-op representatives.

Crab boats contracted to those processors are out fishing now, but the majority of the fleet is still at the docks, awaiting a better offer.

Greg White, who is representing the harvesting co-ops in the negotiations, said that some of the prices processors were suggesting Tuesday amounted to 33 percent of last year's price.

Bush declares areas of Alaska a disaster

ANCHORAGE - President Bush has declared areas of Alaska a disaster from flooding in August.

The flooding two months ago damaged bridges and washed out roads in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Denali Borough and Cordova.

President Bush issued the declaration Monday, making the areas eligible for federal aid. According to the White House, federal funding is available for emergency work, permanent repairs and hazard mitigation to public facilities and for select nonprofit organizations.

William Lokey of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was named federal coordinating officer for recovery operations. Lokey also served as federal recovery officer for FEMA during the Hurricane Katrina response in Louisiana.

State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management officials said FEMA representatives are expected next week to assess damages and sign off on repairs. The process typically takes a week to 10 days, said state Homeland Security spokesman Jamie Littrel.

Repair crews restore communications

ANCHORAGE - A fiber-optic cable severed 14 miles north of Talkeetna was repaired and all services have been restored, a spokeswoman for Alaska Communications Systems said Tuesday.

"Everything's back up and running," said Meghan Stapleton.

Telephone, e-mail and Internet services were disrupted. Services were restored by 9 p.m. Monday, Stapleton said.

The cable was cut Monday morning by an Alaska Railroad crew replacing a metal culvert, said Alaska Railroad spokesman Tim Thompson.

"As the culvert came out, there was a spinning motion," he said. "The sharp end is what actually sliced the cable."

The railroad took Alaska Communications Systems repair crews to the site, which is accessible only by rail.

The line affected both ACS and GCI customers in Fairbanks, Cantwell, Healy and the North Slope.

A backup fiber-optic line that parallels the trans-Alaska pipeline also was out of service, damaged by flooding last week.

"That's sort of the anomaly," Stapleton said. "This is one extreme example of both going out at the same time."



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