A watch was found Tuesday night at the Chilkat Center outside of the dance studio. Call 766-2020...
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Alaska and Yukon Headlines
The state Department of Transportation is considering a highway project that would route the Parks Highway around Wasilla, instead of through it. The small Matanuska – Susitna Borough community has long been at the center of Parks Highway congestion, since vehicles have to pass through traffic signals at local intersections while traveling through the city.
Officials and court records have revealed new arrests and information in Friday’s shooting and bogus kidnapping in Juneau, now tying it to drugs and an early morning highway gunfight that no one had reported to police. The case involves heroin, which has become extremely profitable in the capitol city in the last few years.
When police shutdown the outbound lanes of Egan Drive late Friday morning, they now say they were searching for evidence from a highway gunfight stemming from a drug deal.
Friday’s shooting at the Coho Park Apartments after midnight was followed by an early morning exchange of gunfire from two moving vehicles on Egan Drive between “the parties” involved in the first shooting. That’s according to a press release the Juneau Police Department put out Monday.
Police say there were no injuries in the second shooting and that it went unreported.
Police had shut down the outbound lanes of Juneau’s main road artery by 10:22 a.m. Friday to collect evidence.
So far in the alleged drug deal turned shooting turned highway gunfight turned faux kidnapping, police say they’ve arrested three people, all Juneau residents:
- 44-year-old James Depasquale, aka James De Pasquale III. Police say Depasquale was shot twice at the Coho Park Apartments and was taken to the hospital from the scene. The latest police statement says “the parties” involved in the initial shooting were also in the highway shooting; it’s not clear how, if at all, Depasquale could be involved in the second shooting after he’d been hospitalized. Police could not be reached to clarify.
Court records show charges for seven felonies and one misdemeanor pending against Depasquale that are consistent with drug dealing, gunplay and tampering with evidence. They also show that about 11 hours before he was shot, the courts had issued a warrant for his arrest – he’d been on probation for an assault in July.
- Second, 24-year-old Jerall Torres. Court records show he’s facing two felony charges. One is for drugs. The other is for gunplay specifically from a moving vehicle. The vehicle hunt that police solicited the public’s help with Friday was for a truck that Torres reportedly left the initial shooting in. However, officials picked him up around 8:12 a.m. Friday in a sedan with…
- 26-year old Amanda Phillips. Phillips is facing a felony charge for tampering with evidence. Police accuse her of hiding the handgun that Depasquale used.
All three are due in court today.
Police have mentioned two more people somehow involved, but haven’t identified them by name:
- A 22-year-old woman who reported her kidnapping and escape from a man involved in the initial shooting Friday. Police now say she was “voluntarily involved” with Depasquale and Torres and that the kidnapping was likely a fabrication.
- Finally, police mentioned an unidentified third man involved in the highway shooting. Police did not elaborate on his role.
A police spokesman said Friday up to 6 search warrants were pending.
(Click here for a full screen version of this interactive timeline of Friday’s events.)
An Alaska commuter plane in which four people died last month had changed course from one small Alaska village to another because of deteriorating weather.
A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board says pilot Terry Hansen diverted from a scheduled landing in Mountain Village to Saint Marys and flew over the latter community’s airport before the plane crashed on Nov. 29, a mile away.
The preliminary findings gives few details as to the possible cause of the crash of the Hageland Aviation Cessna 208 turboprop.
The airplane was not required to carry a cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder.
Hansen and three passengers, 57-year-old Rose Polty, 65-year-old Richard Polty and 5-month-old baby Wyatt Coffee, died in the crash.
Six other passengers sustained serious injuries.
Amid an economic disaster and food shortage, Savoonga, a community on Saint Lawrence Island, harvested a 57-foot bowhead whale on Friday, the second whale for the community last week.
For eight hours on Friday, Isaac Kulowiyi, President of the Savoonga Whaling Captain Association, says whaling crews fought 13 miles of opposing tides and currents to tow the giant bowhead to land. Then most of Savoonga— men, women, children, and elders— gathered on the beach to help haul the animal ashore.
“Every time Savoonga gets a whale, especially this time of year, it’s a real blessing for the community,” Kulowiyi said. ”Everybody gets together and works as one person.”
Kulowiyi says, after dividing the meat among the whaling captains, the captains divided the portions among the crew, and from there, passed the meat throughout the community and then onto Gambell, the other village on the island.
These two whales come amid an island-wide food shortage. After gathering one-third of its yearly walrus harvest, Saint Lawrence Island, declared an economic disaster in August.
Perry Pungowiyi, Alternate Commissioner for the Savoonga Whaling Captain Association, says though not walrus meat, these whales substitute for a sizable portion of this year’s lost subsistence intake. He said this while standing on the beach on Saturday, carving the bowhead.
“This replaced a lot of our walrus meat, and there are a lot of happy stomachs out there,” Pungowiyi said. ”It can’t compare with walrus, but these two whales are a substantial portion of what we don’t have in our homes as food.”
Though the whales substitute some of this year’s lost walrus protein, the whales do not replace the walruses’ lost ivory, a important cash source for many of the island’s residents and their families. Kulowiyi says whales are not as profitable as walruses. Besides baleen, the bowheads do not provide much cash opportunity for the community.
Even with the island’s food shortage, both Kulowiyi and Pungowiyi say residents will send parcels of the bowheads to relatives, friends, and former community members on the mainland. Adeline Pungowiyi, office clerk for the Savoonga Whaling Commission, calls this sharing a tradition.
“So we try to share everything with our family that moved out,” Pungowiyi said. ”We cannot forget the people who moved from Savoonga. I know they want some. So we continue doing that.”
These whales were Savoonga’s two final strikes of the year, an annual quota set by the Alaska Whaling Commission. The community will have to wait until spring to harvest another one of these animals.
For over 80 years, hundreds of polar bear skulls from St. Lawrence Island have been sitting in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Now, under NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the artifacts may be returning to the tribe that buried them.
Between the 1930’s and 1950’s Dr. Otto Geist—who was at the time affiliated with the University of Alaska Fairbanks— excavated hundreds of animal bones, mostly polar bear skulls, from human burial sites on St. Lawrence Island.
The oldest artifacts, according to a notice by the National Park Service, date from about 200 B.C. to 500 A.D and derive from the Old Bering Sea culture of the island. Many bones were taken from the grave of the hunter and whaler Kawarin. The remaining bones were extracted from the Kukulik Eskimo burial mound.
Because the items were removed from burial sites, they classify as funerary objects. And though their extraction at the time was legal, the 1990 passage of NAGPRA gives the tribes and lineal decedents associated with the items the right to claim ownership of the objects. And this week, after several years of historical, genealogical, and oral history research by the Bureau of Land Management and the American Natural History Museum, the BLM is contacting the objects’ associated entities—descendents and the Native Village of Gambell and the Native Village of Savoonga— with the option of repatriating the artifacts.
Robert King, BLM Alaska State NAGPRA Coordinator, says about a dozen similar repatriations have occurred in Alaska under NAGPRA. And this process, King say, is not only “respectful,” but “healing.”
“It’s a recognition that tribes and individuals, they connect to a specific sets of either human remains or burial objects or sacred items or items of cultural patrimony,” King said.
According to a National Park Service notice, no human remains were removed during these excavations.
Roller Derby came to Alaska in 2007 when Rage City was founded. It's grown steadily since, with teams emerging in Fairbanks, Kenai, Kodiak, Wasilla and Juneau. A Dec. 7 bout pitted the team Orange Crush against Mat-Su's Boom Town Derby Dames.December 10, 2013
Canada’s Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said today that Canada will make a claim to the North Pole, but has not finished the science around its Arctic seabed.
Baird and Canadian environment minister Leona Aglukkaq, who also chairs the Arctic Council, made public Canada’s claim to the extended continental shelf in the Arctic, in a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons.
“We have asked our officials and scientists to do additional work and necessary work to ensure that a submission for the full extent of the continental shelf in the Arctic includes Canada’s claim to the North Pole,” said Baird.
The ministers explained the country’s scientific submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
This submission includes claims to both the Atlantic and Arctic seabeds. There is no extended continental shelf Canada can claim in the Pacific Ocean.
While the science on the Atlantic is complete, the government is only presenting “preliminary information” on its Arctic claim.
The findings outline Canada’s claim to the seabed and undersea bed beyond the 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, which would extend Canada’s ownership of natural resources in the area.
“Fundamentally, we are drawing the last lines of Canada. We are defending our sovereignty,” explained Aglukkaq.
The submission is part of Canada’s responsibilities as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Canada’s western Arctic is rich in resources and communities keen to participate in responsible development.
But tapping into the economic potential of the region, which includes the Yukon and Northwest Territories, remains a challenge. Particularly when it comes to transportation and infrastructure.
The independent Canadian think-tank The Centre for International Governance Innovation (or CIGI) , recently held a workshop in Canada’s Northwest Territories to explore some of these questions.
Titled “Western Canadian Arctic Marine Transport and Governance Roundtable,” the workshop explored some of the shipping challenges Canada faces its northwestern-most regions.
“If I look at the bottle half full, you’ll see the enormous human resources that we have up in the Arctic,” says CIGI’s John Higginbotham.
“You’ll see some promising signs of work in the federal government in this area in some projects. You’ll see the vigor of the private sector in the surprising and welcome transit by the Nordic Orion of the Northwest Passage… So that’s the bottle half full.”
However, Canada has a lot of work left to do if it wants to compete with other circumpolar countries, he says.
“The bottle half empty is when you compare the scale and speed and resources and programs and policy direction that you see in Norway and Russia in terms of very large national efforts they’re putting into Arctic development. We really are not in that league at the moment.”
There were rumors, of course, but no way to know for certain. If you read the pundits or listened to the politicians on the radio, you could believe anything you wanted to believe, or fear anything you wanted to fear.
They were young and in love. We don’t know for sure if they discussed the rumors, but almost certainly they did. Perhaps their love gave them the courage to surmount the rumors, or perhaps it was because of the rumors that they wed on the last day of November, 1940.
Their first anniversary came on a Sunday a year later and once again we can believe the rumors and threats were not foremost in their minds, because they held a new life in their arms that day. Their first child, a girl, had been born the previous Sunday. Now they were parents with an infant to love and protect.
A week later it all changed. A week later, Dec. 7, 1941, when their daughter was exactly two weeks old, the Japanese launched a sneak attack against the United States by bombing and strafing Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The young father did not have to go to war immediately, but instead worked in manufacturing plants in Detroit.
Again the red star adorned the top of the Christmas tree, though this holiday season was fraught with worry and concern. America was having a difficult time in the war and the country was responding to help in the effort at home.
On their third Christmas the black and white photograph shows them with their year-old daughter between them, in front of the tree topped with a red star.
Eventually the father was called and found himself stationed in the Philippines. The mother moved from the duplex in downtown Detroit to a large house in a more rural area of the city, where her sister lived with her five children. While the men were gone to war, the women stayed home and raised their children as best they could. Letters arrived sporadically from the men, sometimes taking months.
Each time a vehicle slowed in front of the large house, the women would watch anxiously, hoping it would not stop, hoping that bad news would pass them by. There are no photographs for several years of a tree topped with a red star. We know it was there only through oral stories, the decorated tree with the red star.
The men came home from the war but jobs were hard to find. Soon the young couple moved to Alaska to begin a new life in a territory far from home. The photographs began again and every year the same star graced the family Christmas tree.
One season the mother brought home a beautiful angel in a white gown trimmed with gold, decorated with spun glass. She placed it atop the Christmas tree and set aside the old piece of red foil. The eldest of the four children objected and the younger ones added their concurrence. They wanted the old red star back on their tree. The angel disappeared.
This evening, more than seven decades after it first was placed on top of a tree in the home of a hopeful, newly-wed couple facing threats of world war, it was once again fastened to the top branch of an evergreen, though it is now a miniature light that pierces its center and allows it to shine. It bears the signs of its age, creased, wrinkled, and flattened. The young couple is gone now. The youngest of their three daughters also is gone, well before her time.
The second child, a son, also went off to war and returned. He now has two sons and a daughter. The third child, a daughter, herself has two daughters.
And I, that child born two weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I am the one who placed that battered star in its place of honor. As I did, I thought of my parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews. We who remain are scattered from one side of the country to the other. Like that star, we bear the signs of age, faces creased and hands wrinkled with age, hopes and dreams pressed with the realities of life.
I wonder which of the nieces or nephews will take the star when I am gone. Which of them will someday say, “This star has shone from the top of our family tree for exactly one hundred years.”
Emerging under a threat of war, strengthened in a move to a frontier land, unscathed by accidental fire, wounded by untimely death, tempered by love, rewarded with allegiance, this star has seen it all. There’s a lifetime of stories in its crinkles and creases. They give it character.
Courage, strength, survival, loss, love, dedication and above all else: hope. That is the significance of this old red star atop the Christmas tree.