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AK Beat: 'Today' show filming in Juneau

Alaska Dispatch News

NBC morning show filming at Mendenhall Glacier: NBC's "Today" show will be broadcasting live from Alaska's capital city Thursday morning. Host Natalie Morales has been exploring the area around Juneau for travel segments that will air during the broadcast, including ice caves in the Mendenhall Glacier, and brown bear viewing areas on nearby Admiralty Island. The show will be hosted from the U.S. Forest Service's Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center's outdoor pavilion. That center is typically closed overnight but is opening to the public at 2 a.m. for the 3 a.m. Alaska time broadcast of the show on the East Coast. The public is invited to view the broadcast but is being cautioned to dress warmly as the breezes off the glacial lake are often quite chilly. And the public is also being warned to not being food or flavored beverages, so as to not attract the mostly black bears that frequent the area.

Alaska ranks No. 7 among least-insured states: Alaska’s clutching toward the bottom of another list, but this ranking from WalletHub.com has larger implications for the state’s well-being compared to its level of fun or Independence Day appeal. According to the website’s 2014 Health Insurance Coverage report, which offers an initial projection of uninsured rates state-by-state post-Affordable Care Act, 18.96 percent of Alaskans lack health insurance. That’s the seventh highest uninsured rate in the country. Still, Obamacare reduced the rate by 1.52 percent in one year in Alaska, the report says. Also among the report’s findings: 12,890 individuals enrolled in private health insurance plans under ACA, and 2,266 enrolled in Medicaid between summer 2013 and April 2014. 

Mat-Su aircraft collision injures two: Alaska State Troopers say two people suffered injuries after their Aeronca C85 overshot the runway in Sky Ranch near Palmer. Troopers, Mat-Su Borough medical responders and Palmer Fire and Rescue got a report about an aircraft collision in the Sky Ranch community Tuesday night shortly before 8 p.m. Palmer resident Russell Dunlap, 55, was reportedly piloting the Aeronca C85, and 22-year-old Davis Dunlap was a passenger. Troopers say Russell tried to land the plane but was unable to stop, and the plane came to rest in the woods off Sky Ranch Loop. Davis was treated on scene for minor injuries while LifeMed flew Russell to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center for his injuries. The plane sustained “disabling damage.” The NTSB has been notified, and an investigation is ongoing, troopers say.

Alaska Libertarians could influence Senate contest: Could an Alaska Libertarian Party candidate play spoiler in the battle over control of the Senate? Perhaps, says the Washington Post, in a roundup of seven states where U.S. Senate seats are in play and a Libertarian candidate (or two, in Alaska’s case) could be a factor. As the Post notes, Alaska Libertarian voters will be able to vote in a “competitive primary” between Thom Walker and Mark Fish. Either could siphon votes away from the winner of the three-way Republican primary in a general election contest against incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Begich. Other states where the Post suggests Libertarian Senate candidates might be a significant factor are North Carolina, Montana, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Arkansas.

Japanese shipper to launch year-round Arctic LNG shipments: A Japanese shipping company will be the first to ship liquefied natural gas year-round in Russia’s Arctic, according to a report from Russian News Agency ITAR-TASS. The report says Tokyo-based Mitsui O.S.K Lines plans to use three specially designed icebreaking tankers to transport the LNG from Russia’s remote Yamal Peninsula -- which extends in the Arctic Ocean from central Siberia -- to destinations in Europe and East Asia (though only the shorter European route will remain open year-round)

Report faults improvised alarm system, poor rifle training in fatal polar bear attack: A 2011 polar bear attack that killed a 17-year-old British schoolboy on an expedition in Norway’s Svalbard Islands was exacerbated by a faulty warning system and inadequate rifle training, according to a just-released report covered by British newspaper The Guardian. The report comes as an inquest into the death takes place this week in Britain. The report noted that a tripwire system set in place to warn campers of approaching bears had made improvised use of paper clips, and had already once proven ineffective (when a leader making a nighttime toilet trip stumbled into the system and failed to trigger it). Further, the report noted that a leader had attempted to fired several rounds from at the bear during the attack, from a Mauser rifle brought along for bear protection, but the rounds had ejected without firing -- possibly because the safety was never released, or released improperly. Eventually, the leader managed to retrieve one of the ejected rounds and kill the bear, but not before four more campers, including that leader, were injured. In addition to recommending better rifle training, the report also recommended a bear watch for future such expeditions.