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Richard Mauer

A former Alaska National Guard soldier said Thursday that she experienced firsthand the embarrassment of having the confidentiality of her rape breached in her unit and openly discussed by her command and fellow troops.

Sgt. Melissa Jones, now with the Illinois National Guard, told reporters by phone that she was left traumatized by the failure of Alaska guard officials to keep her case private. To add insult to that injury, she said, she was told by the guard’s sexual assault response coordinator that she couldn’t make an official report because her case had become too widely known...

Richard Mauer

An EPA effort to protect wetlands and small streams upriver from its established haunts on “navigable waters” is winning praise from outdoors groups as a way to ensure water quality, but U.S. House Republicans, including Alaska Rep. Don Young, say it’s “federal overreach.”

To emphasize the point, the House titled a bill to hold back the EPA, “Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014.” Young was one of its dozens of co-sponsors, and it easily passed the Republican-led House Tuesday, 262-152. One Republican voted no and 35 Democrats voted yes...

Richard Mauer

Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker on Thursday took back a promise to veto any legislation that would weaken abortion rights in Alaska, saying he shouldn’t have committed himself to a position on hypothetical bills.

“That’s further than I wanted to go,” Walker said. “I did something poorly and I went further than what I was comfortable with.”

Abortion rights are as hot and polarizing an issue in Alaska as they are in the rest of the country. When Democrat Byron Mallott and his supporters started meeting with Walker and his team to discuss a fusion ticket, pro-choice vs. pro-life played a big part in the discussions...

Richard Mauer

A federal judge in Anchorage ruled Wednesday that the state Elections Division violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act by failing to provide ballot and candidate information in Native languages to Yup’ik and Gwich’in speakers in three rural regions of Alaska.

In a big victory for Native rights advocates, U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason rejected the state’s assertions that it had done enough in Southwest Alaska and the Interior by providing bilingual poll workers and “outreach” personnel. Gleason said the state’s effort failed to provide “substantially similar” information in Native languages as it does in English, a requirement of the Voting Rights Act since 1975...

Richard Mauer

Their arms raised and hands clasped in a victory embrace, Bill Walker and his new running mate, Byron Mallott, declared at a rally and press conference Tuesday that their race for Alaska’s chief executive would be nonpartisan and inclusive.

Walker, a Republican until just a couple of hours before the event, and Mallott, the Democratic nominee for governor until he resigned from the ticket a short time before, declared they were running as independents to repair the state’s economy, energy policies, education practices and the state’s relations with its rural residents...

Richard Mauer

The Alaska Democratic Party broke with long tradition Monday when its central committee voted 89-2 to not field a gubernatorial ticket and instead put its weight behind the independent campaign of Bill Walker and Byron Mallott.

The vote to support the fusion ticket was contingent on Walker dropping his Republican Party affiliation. Mallott will quit as the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor, as will his running mate, state Sen. Hollis French. But Mallott will remain a Democrat, executive director Kay Brown said after the vote at party headquarters in a Spenard bungalow...

Richard Mauer

As merger talks continued Labor Day between Democratic gubernatorial nominee Byron Mallott and independent Bill Walker, the Democratic Party scheduled evening meetings of its governing body to ratify a deal on a unity ticket -- if one can be struck.

Since Friday, Mallott and Walker and their aides and supporters have been in serious negotiations about creating a single ticket and asking their lieutenant governor running mates to resign. Under most versions reported about a deal, the two would run as independents, with Walker the governor candidate and Mallott for lieutenant governor...

Richard Mauer

Democrat Byron Mallott and independent Bill Walker and their partisans have been in discussions since Wednesday about merging their gubernatorial campaigns into a bipartisan or nonpartisan unity ticket. With the Sept. 2 deadline looming for changes to the November ballot, the talks intensified Friday and are expected to continue through Labor Day. The negotiations could, for the first time in Alaska history, result in a blank spot on the ballot where the Democratic gubernatorial ticket normally would be -- an idea that key party members appear to be endorsing, though approval would have to come from the party central committee....

Richard Mauer

With two dull campaigns from the major party candidates and an independent trying to prove he’s relevant and electable, the talk so far about the 2014 governor’s race is less about issues than the notion that three people are running.

While Alaska has always had its share of fringe candidates populating the outer reaches of the ballot, it also has a history of flirting with real three-way gubernatorial contests. Since 1978, independent or third-party candidates have made strong showings in all but two elections and likely affected the outcomes in several. In 1990, the third-party candidate, Wally Hickel, beat his two main party rivals and won a four-year term...

Richard Mauer

A test of a new Army weapon failed 4 seconds into flight from the Kodiak Launch Complex early Monday when the rocket went awry and was blown to bits by flight controllers.

The fiery end to the rocket short-circuited the second test of a hypersonic glider designed to fly so fast it can reach anywhere on the globe in about an hour. The test target was the U.S. missile facility on Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, about 4,000 miles away.

Debris from the three-stage, solid-fuel launch vehicle rained down on the state-owned launch facility. No one was injured but buildings were damaged, said Craig Campbell, president and chief executive officer of Alaska Aerospace Corp ...

Richard Mauer,Laurel Andrews

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