Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, December 17, 2004

Friends of Animals delivers 2,800 cards to Murkowski

JUNEAU -The Friends of Animals delivered 2,800 postcards to Gov. Frank Murkowski's office from U.S. residents boycotting Alaska tourism because they are outraged by his reintroduction of aerial wolf hunting.

The international animal rights group decided to hand-deliver the cards. The governor's staff claimed not to have received thousands of postcards the group mailed via the United Parcel Service in 2003, said Scott Moran, the group's Alaska region project coordinator.

Some people who signed the postcards wrote personal messages to the governor asking him to change the policy. They all pledged to avoid traveling to Alaska until wolf hunting is stopped.

Alaskans who sent postcards said they wouldn't support their friends and family traveling to the state.

"It's the second season of the boycott," Moran said, adding, "it seems to me like a lot of people in the administration are pretending that this isn't happening."

The Connecticut-based non-profit's postcard delivery coincides with the aerial wolf hunting season. Hunters who applied to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game aerial hunt in the fall are now able to go out and shoot their prey.

The Murkowski administration reintroduced aerial wolf hunting to boost moose populations.

"Basically, Alaskans voted twice, in 1996 and 2000, that they didn't want aerial hunting," Moran said. "It's wrong to be out killing wolves, period."

Rampart man gets 60 years for murder

FAIRBANKS - A Rampart man was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the shooting death of his girlfriend last year.

Randy Joseph, 46, was convicted of first-degree murder in June. He later was convicted of two counts of fourth-degree assault stemming from a confrontation with Alaska State Troopers investigating the death of Joseph's girlfriend, 40-year-old Doris Folger.

At his trial, Joseph testified he shot Folger on Oct. 26, 2003, after she pointed a gun at him at his mother's cabin in Rampart.

At his trial, Joseph testified that he had spent the day drinking at a friend's house, and that he recalled fighting over the gun. But he said his recollection of what happened afterward was hazy.

Joseph testified that Folger, in a fit of jealous rage, confronted him with a rifle. They wrestled to the floor and when he jerked the gun out of her arms, the gun went off.

Testimony on both sides said during the trial that Folger was shot in the middle of the chest at close range.

Prosecutors questioned how Joseph could have such a good memory of the self-defense portion of the case, but no memory of what happened afterward.

Judge asked to look at marijuana case

ANCHORAGE - The state is asking a Superior Court judge to take another look at a case that led to a 1975 Alaska Supreme Court decision allowing adults to possess up to 4 ounces of marijuana for personal use in their homes.

In an action supported by Gov. Frank Murkowski, the Anchorage district attorney has requested a re-examination of the Ravin v. state conclusion that marijuana in small amounts is not dangerous enough to override Alaska's constitutional right to privacy at home.

"The idea that marijuana is a harmless substance is contrary to all the scientific studies that exist today," said John Novak, chief assistant district attorney and one of the prosecutors who filed a motion Tuesday in Anchorage Superior Court.

The state appeals courts have already said they would be willing to reconsider Ravin if presented with compelling new evidence that small amounts of marijuana are harmful.

Prosecutors may also be buoyed by the 138,072-105,590 vote in the Nov. 2 election against decriminalizing all amounts of marijuana.

The vehicle chosen to re-examine the subject is a 2000 case against a convicted drug dealer Gerald Mahle, 64, who is currently serving a 25-year sentence on an unrelated 2002 conviction, according to assistant district attorney Keri Brady, who prosecuted both cases.

State opposes pipeline price hike

ANCHORAGE - Alaska has filed a formal protest of a proposed rate increase by the owners of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline to ship crude oil down the 800-mile line.

The largest of the five pipeline owners, London-based BP, wants to increase its rate in 2005 from $3.01 per barrel to $3.86 - a 28 percent increase, state officials said. The other owners - Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, Unocal Corp. and Koch - also have proposed substantial rate hikes for 2005.

State officials said they filed the protest with federal regulators because of the big difference in the rates for shipping oil for use within the state and oil that goes to the Lower 48 aboard tankers.

Under a 2002 order from state regulators, the pipeline owners can charge $1.96 per barrel to move oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez for oil to be refined in Alaska. Yet they want much more - up to $3.98 - to move oil bound for outside the state next year.

That means some parties are paying much more than others to have their oil shipped the same distance down the pipeline, constituting discrimination, the state said.

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