The Federal Subsistence Board’s rural determination process will change, according to an announcement made at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention last month.Download AudioThe changes should mean a more favorable process for villages and other rural communities that rely on hunting and fishing. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael Connor told AFN attendees that the new regulations will come soon.“We’re moving out, beginning the discussions,” Connor said. “We’ve got to consult with the state, overall this is strongly supported throughout the leadership at the department of the Interior.”Title VIII in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, or ANILCA, mandates a subsistence preference for rural residents on public lands. Every ten years the Federal Subsistence Board determines whether a community meets certain guidelines to qualify for ANILCA’s subsistence preference. That rural determination process has been harshly criticized in recent years.In 2007, several communities were told that they were no longer considered to be rural, including the Southeast community of Saxman. The board reasoned that the community’s proximity to non-rural Ketchikan put it in the same category. While the community is incorporated as a municipality, a majority of the population is Alaska Native and are members of the Organized Village of Saxman.The tribe has fought against the board’s attempt to take away their rural status arguing that they have a history of traditional subsistence gathering in the area. The determination was put on hold in 2009 by then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar pending a comprehensive review of federal subsistence policies. That hold was scheduled to expire this past July, which meant that the Organized Village of Saxman’s opportunity to litigate would also expire.In April, the Federal Subsistence Board voted unanimously to submit new regulations in the rural determination process. The board does not have authority to implement new regulations, but it can propose them to the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. While Connor did not give details of the proposal, he did say that the board will defer more to communities and tribes in its decision-making process.“Once implemented the new determination process will enable the board to use more flexible criteria that could lead to the kind of determinations sought by AFN and others in cases such as Saxman in Southeast Alaska,” Connor said.Native American Rights Fund attorney Matthew Newman represents the Saxman tribe. He says the proposed rules give residents hope, but that the outcome is still in question. While the tribe favors an administrative fix, Newman says the lawsuit won’t be dropped until they’ve had a chance to review the new rules and are satisfied with them.“I think everyone is relieved and optimistic that the rule is going to move forward,” Newman says. “This rule moving forward is not just a good thing for Saxman, it’s a good thing for all rural communities subject to ANILCA’s priority. This rural determination process has really been a bane for many communities and this idea that every 10 years your way of life is potentially subject to change causes a very, very uneasy feeling among rural residents in Alaska.”Deputy Secretary Connor also announced changes in the board’s makeup. Two additional public members were added, Anthony Christianson of Hydaburg and Charles Brower of Barrow. Former AFN co-chair Tim Towarak from Unalakleet was named chair of the board. Towarak has served as a president of the Bering Straits Native Corp. and as rural affairs advisor to Gov. Tony Knowles.Connor said the Department of the Interior is working on a new process that would make it easier for communities and subsistence users to participate in the board’s decision-making process.
After a week of warnings, a heavy-duty storm washed into the Bering Sea early this morning. Hurricane-force winds smacked the far western Aleutian Islands. And while the storm has disturbed life at sea, it’s expected to start losing power fast.Download Audio
With Anchorage’s local election just around the corner, KSKA and Alaska Public media are bringing you a look at those running for mayor. As KSKA’s Zachariah Hughes reports, Dan Coffey brings years of experience in local government and business to his campaign, which is both an asset and a liability.Coffey has lived in Anchorage for almost his entire life. He’s a lawyer by trade, and has represented clients as diverse as the taxi cab industry to commercial developers. He served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, and was hired by the Sullivan administration to consult on a re-write of the city’s land use code.Coffey says his familiarity with the laws on the books informs his plans for new development in Anchorage.Dan Coffey. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)“First thing, we have a lot of city land and we need to bring that into the private sector–with restrictions and zoning requirements so that they build housing. And mainly high density housing, we need to do that,” he said. “Secondly, we’ve got to fix the regulatory scheme.”“And then the third thing: the processes of getting permits and development need to be addressed.”Coffey believes Anchorage’s large tax-base is a buffer against the revenue declines hitting the state, but says he has no intention of changing the existing tax code. As for reducing existing costs, he sees a need, but says two terms on the Assembly, including as chairman, taught him there’s little use speculating on future spending.“The problem is, until you actually get there you don’t have the depth of knowledge and understanding about all of the ins and outs of what you might actually cut,” Coffey said.“So the way I look at is as a set of guidelines, and when we get to transition period that’s the time to really dig in and find out those answers with real budgets in front of you and real information from real city employees.”In addition to his civic and business careers, Coffey served on the board of the United Way until January of this year. He thinks the city needs to better leverage resources in the non-profit sector to deliver services.“Breaking down the silos, collaborative efforts, so that we don’t have four entities doing something when, if you worked together, you could certainly be more efficient in the use of your resources,” Coffey said. “The second thing is you gotta have standards and metrics to determine if you’re actually accomplishing something.”Coffey has raised more money than every other candidate in the race – in part, because he filed to run for mayor in 2013, and has been able to appeal to donors multiple times. He addressed criticisms of his past business and political dealings by trying to run an open campaign, putting recent tax returns and other documents online for the public to see.When it comes to public safety, Coffey has been clear he wants to see the police force grow to 400 officers. At that staffing level he says the city can focus on preventative community policing.
More than 9,000 people are booked for Alaska Marine Highway sailings that will likely be cut due to budget reductions.Download AudioFerry Chief Mike Neussl says about 2,500 vehicles are also scheduled for those sailings.But for now, the ferry system isn’t letting travelers know.“I am reluctant to pull the trigger (and) cancel those runs that we’ve already sold tickets on and rebook all those passengers because of the possibility that some of that service may be restored if funding is restored,” Neussl said.Neussl explained the situation to the state’s Marine Transportation Advisory Board during a Wednesday meeting in Juneau.He said travelers will be contacted and, if possible, rescheduled as soon as it’s clear how deep the cuts will be. He acknowledged some will be angry.
Former state legislator Ethan Berkowitz will be the next mayor of Alaska’s largest city.Berkowitz declared victory and marched into Election Central at the Dena’ina Center in downtown Anchorage just before 10pm, when it was clear he had a sizable lead over rival Amy Demboski.An hour later, with 98% of votes counted, Berkowitz had 59% of the vote to Demboski’s 41%.“We had a message that was very positive,” Berkowitz said of his strong returns. “When you appeal to people’s better angels you’re going to get a better response.”Berkowitz will begin assembling a transition team as he prepares to assume office on July 1st.“Every department will pepare a report that highlights the issues they’re working on, maybe the challenges they’re facing so that he’ll be well briefed coming into office,” said current Mayor Dan Sullivan.Demboski’s communications manager, David Boyle, confirmed by phone that she had conceded the race to Berkowitz.The runoff election was necessary because no candidate won 45% of the vote in the April 7 election.With just under 30% of eligible voters coming to the polls, the runoff election saw a higher turnout than the April election.
A relative newcomer to Cook Inlet’s oil and gas scene is charging ahead with big development plans, which could equate to oil production at 17,000 barrels a day, and the creation of more than 400 jobs.In the Cosmopolitan Unit off Anchor Point, it appears that the sixth time’s the charm. BlueCrest Energy is full-speed ahead with an ambitious development plan on its enticing prospects at the site.Larry Burgess, health, safety and environmental manager for the relatively new independent on the Cook Inlet oil and gas scene, said at a Kenai Chamber of Commerce presentation Wednesday that first oil is expected by second quarter of next year.“Probably sometimes in April of next year, which is very aggressive since there are no buildings on the site or anything right now other than some gravel and some piles that we’re driving right now,” Burgess said.BlueCrest is the sixth producer to attempt to make good on the Cosmo Unit’s promise, following Penzoil, which discovered the field in the 1960s, ARCO Alaska, which became Phillips, and then ConocoPhillips, Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska and Apache Corporation. BlueCrest and a partner acquired two leases from Pioneer, and BlueCrest picked up three more from Apache in 2013.And that partner?“Now, I’m going to mention the partner, but I don’t want anybody to throw anything at me,” Burgess said. “That partner was Buccaneer.”Following its financial troubles, Buccaneer sold its 25 percent share in the project, making BlueCrest the 100 percent owner. But before its financial implosion and withdrawal from Cook Inlet, Buccaneer drilled a delineation well at the Cosmo Unit that proved quite promising.“That single well that they drilled through the heart of the formation discovered several different pay zones of which was not known about before,” Burgess said.The small, privately held, Fort Worth, Texas-based company formed in 2006, and once it became full owner of the Cosmopolitan leases it quickly established an Anchorage office and got to work devising a plan to develop oil reserves found at Cosmo, while also exploring possibilities for the shallower natural gas finds sitting on top of the oil.“We’ve so far spent well over $100 million, we’re at about $112 million right now on the Cosmo project, with much more to go,” Burgess said.A 38-acre gravel pad has been constructed about six miles north of Anchor Point, at Mile 151 of the Sterling Highway. BlueCrest would like to drill at least one more delineation well to determine the extent of the reservoir next summer with a jack-up rig. Meanwhile, an onshore drilling rig is under construction in Houston, Texas, and will likely arrive via barge by September or October.“We’ll drill down and then out, and we’re going to drill out about 2.5 miles offshore, at a total vertical depth of around 7,500 feet,” Burgess said. “Total well length can be up to 25,000 feet, which requires a fairly significantly sized rig onshore to drill. And these are not easy wells to drill, either. They’re about $30 million apiece.”The potential production at maximum is estimated at 17,000 barrels of oil per day, with the drilling phase lasting five years. The plan is to truck the oil from Anchor Point to the Tesoro refinery in Nikiski, at least for the first couple of years while other options are considered. At peak production, that could mean a truck leaving Anchor Point every 45 minutes to an hour.The construction phase is ramping up now and is expected to employ 200 people through at least next March or April. The drilling phase will see 80 shift workers onsite at any one time — so, 160 jobs there. The operations phase, with the expected life of the field stretching 30 years to about 2046, will employ as many as 70 people.“So there will be some good employment during the rest of that timeframe and some good short-term employment for local,” Burgess said.A preliminary project design to extract natural gas has been developed but isn’t being actively pursued by BlueCrest at this point. Still, the plan would be to drill for the gas from two offshore, monopod platforms because the gas zones are too shallow to drill from shore. BlueCrest estimates being able to produce 60 to 70 million cubic feet of gas per day.But what to do with the gas is the challenge. BlueCrest is discussing a partnership with WesPac Midstream LLC, which is exploring an LNG project to supply communities in Interior Alaska that currently only have diesel fuel.Transporting the gas is the biggest hurdle. The natural gas distribution system can’t currently accommodate the volume of gas BlueCrest could produce.“Right now they can accept around 30 million cubic feet a day from us, but Enstar is not the only owner of the pipeline distribution system and there are some constraints to go over that that we would have to overcome,” Burgess said. “BlueCrest would be responsible for putting in compression, probably.”For now, BlueCrest is plenty busy focusing primarily on Cosmo’s oil.
Leo Tondreault recently moved into his own place at Safe Harbor after four years on the street. (Hillman/KSKA)About 30 percent of people who are chronically homeless in the United States suffer from severe mental illnesses. These individuals more frequently require emergency services and can cost the city of Anchorage up to $60,000 per year. A new program in the city is trying a new tactic to help them, by meeting them where they’re at. Literally.Download AudioIn August, substance abuse specialist Delroy Duckworth and his colleagues received a call from someone who needed help.“The first thing we did was went out to find him,” Duckworth recalls. “And we went to the mall to look for this person and we did not know who he was. So we called him on the phone. We heard a phone ring, we saw a man answering his cell phone, I said, ‘Mary that’s him!’”The man with the phone was 60-year-old Leo Tondreault, tall and bulky with a graying beard, joints achy from rheumatoid arthritis. He’s distrustful in general but knows he needs help.“I’ve been homeless off and on for four and a half years. And nobody cares about you out there. And people that say they understand? How can they have no idea where I’ve been. Everyday is survival. How I’m going to eat, where I’m going to be for the night. Most of the times I just walk all night, drink coffee.”Part of the reason he never stayed still was to help cope with his anxiety and bipolar disorder – a severe mental illness.“I just stayed away from people. Because not a lot of people understand what bipolar is. And the worst part for me is the mania. The hyper vigilance.”Tondreault says he went to see a case worker at Providence Hospital in August and he learned about the CHOICES program. It’s short for Consumers Having Ownership in Creating Effective Services. Unlike other service providers, CHOICES does everything — mental and physical health care, housing, substance abuse treatment, job skills training.“We are like a one-stop shop,” says Duckworth of the ten-person team that uses hyper individualized care tailored to each client.They’re using a model called Assertive Community Treatment. It was developed in the 1970s, but this is the first time it’s being tried in Alaska. Research shows it’s more effective than standard case management models, where an individual meets with many different organizations. It costs more up front, but saves money in the long run because clients are less likely to use expensive services, like emergency rooms and hospitals.The CHOICES program has a budget of $1.8 million for the next three years. It’s funded mostly through the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and specifically targets people who have severe mental illnesses and are homeless. The team is mobile and adaptable. They carry tablets and keyboards and meet people on their own terms.“We don’t want to overwhelm them,” says housing specialist Mary Abraham. “If they become angry we say, it’s okay, we’ll meet later on. And usually it works out.” They’ll work with people who are still using substances, too.Abraham’s goal is to get people into housing first. That’s what she did for Tondreault at Safe Harbor at Merrill Field.He sits on the edge of his twin bed in a sparsely furnished former hotel room. He has a microwave and a mini-fridge, but shares the kitchen. He often runs into other tenants in the hall, who he says offer him alcohol, but he’s resisting. He’s been sober for nearly two months. Tondreault says he’s tried other programs and received some help, but he’s never felt supported the way he does with CHOICES.“I’m pretty peaceful today. Delroy came over today and said, ‘Man, you look well rested.’ Well, yeah. You change my situation and give me the things I need to help me survive, I’m a different person.”Tondreault hopes the CHOICES staff can help him accomplish his goals- like staying sober and going back to school in the spring. He knows he needs to put forth his own effort, but he says now he has support to get there.
Photo: AquaBounty TechnologiesIt’s the announcement the Alaskan salmon industry has long feared: The FDA this morning approved an application for genetically engineered salmon, declaring the product as safe to eat as natural salmon. Critics, including Alaska’s congressional delegation, are considering their next steps.Download AudioIt’s primarily an Atlantic salmon, but it has genes from a Chinook and a bottom-dweller to make it grow extra fast on less food. It’s called AquAdvantage, and it’s the first genetically altered animal approved for human consumption in the United States. Alaska’s industry and congressional delegation call it “frankenfish.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she’s livid the FDA calls it food.“It’s not going to be served at my dinner table, ever,” she said. “And boy oh boy, I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that restaurants don’t serve it, that stores don’t have it sold in their store.”Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young say they will try to pass a bill requiring a label on AquAdvantage, identifying it as genetically engineered. Farm-state lawmakers, though, have fiercely opposed any such a labeling requirement, fearing the next step would be mandatory labeling of genetically engineered crops. The FDA has issued guidance for optional labeling of the new fish. Murkowski scoffs.“You think that the aquAdvantage people are going to … volunteer to put a label on that says ‘this is fake, this is genetically engineered, this is a Frankenfish’?” she said. “No they’re not going to.”The company, Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, declined an interview request. It plans to produce the altered eggs on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and raise them in Panama, in covered, land-based tanks. The FDA has so far restricted them to those locations. But in a written statement reacting to the news, the company suggested it hopes the fish will eventually be produced in the U.S., too.“The U.S. currently imports over 90% of all the seafood, and more specifically over 95% of the Atlantic salmon, it consumes,” the company said. “AquAdvantage Salmon will offer the opportunity for an economically viable domestic aquaculture industry while providing consumers a fresh and delicious product.”The company insists its fish will never see ocean and, in any case, are incapable of reproduction. Opponents in Alaska, though, say the fish could escape and damage wild stocks.The critics have an ally in national environmental groups.“We will continue both educating consumers as well as restaurants and grocery retailers,” says Dana Perls, food and technology campaigner for Friends of the Earth. The group has worked for years to get consumers and businesses to reject AquAdvantage.“Already there’s more than 60 grocery store chains including Safeway and Kroger, Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods,.that have already said they will not sell the GMO salmon, regardless of the FDA approval.”She says Friends of the Earth will call on the Obama Administration to rescind the decision and will also challenge the process the FDA used.In an email, AquaBounty said it’s too early to discuss how fish will appear on the market. Since farmed salmon grabbed substantial market share in the 1990s, Alaska has spent millions to pitch its salmon as wild and healthy. Alexa Tonkovich, executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, says ASMI can draw on that experience to meet the challenge of engineered fish, too.“ASMI will just continue to promote wild natural and sustainable seafood and continue to try to differentiate ourselves in the market place,” she said.One thing ASMI won’t do, she says, is bash the new fish. Tonkovich says their policy is not to speak ill of the competition.
Alaska Congressman Don Young will have a say in drafting the final version of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s energy modernization bill. That’s because the U.S. House passed its own energy bill this week, to match the Murkowski bill already passed in the Senate. House leaders then picked Young to serve on the conference committee that will negotiate a compromise between the two bills.Download AudioRepresentative Don Young speaking in Washington, DC. (Photo: Don Young congressional webpage)“I’m very happy to be on the conference bill,” Young said. “It is really a big thing because you think Lisa, Sen. Murkowski is going to be the chairman, and I’ll be on the conference. It gives us sort of a double whammy, concerning Alaska.”There are big differences between the bills. Murkowski’s bill is a mix of priorities from the left and right. It promotes both renewables and fossil fuels. The House bill is more Republican. Young said his top priority will be to ensure the final bill includes his Native American Energy Act. Young said it will allow tribes and Alaska Native corporations to cut red tape so they can produce more energy on their own lands.“It doesn’t mean there’s going to be any more environmental damage or anything,” Young said. “It’s going to be, in fact, that they don’t have to wait for permits.”The White House, though, said Young’s bill would undermine environmental protection and set unreasonable regulatory deadlines. It threatened a veto a few months ago, when the House passed it as a stand-alone.Young said a big point of contention will be the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Murkowski’s energy bill would remove the expiration date of the fund, which was a key selling point for Democrats. The fund uses off-shore oil revenues to protect land, often by buying it. Young said the government already owns too much land, so he sides with House leaders who want to require congressional approval to buy more.
The Anchorage Legislative Information Office, March 4, 2016. (Photo by Megan Ahleman)As a cost-saving measure, 22 legislative information offices around the state are shuttered starting this Friday afternoon.Listen nowThe offices will be closed every Friday afternoon while the legislature is not in session. The legislature’s in-house administrative council voted the action through 9-1 on Thursday.The Legislative Council’s vote, which also included a reduction in payroll for support staff that work irregularly, is expected to cover a $298,000 cut in the legislature’s operating budget for the current budget year.Some legislators on the council expressed an appetite to cut further and close the offices for the entire day on Fridays.Sen. Gary Stevens, a Kodiak Republican, chairs the council and said that could still happen down the road.“I can accept a half-day closure on Fridays to see how it works. It saves us enough money. And in the future if we find that’s still not enough, when there are additional cuts, then maybe we should be going to a full day on Friday. But I think this is a step towards solving our problem,” he said.The information offices are staffed by nonpartisan employees of the Legislative Affairs Agency.Those employees facilitate teleconferencing for Alaskans to remotely attend legislative meetings. They also serve as a public point of contact and as interpreters of what’s often an arcane lawmaking process.Sue Cotter, who manages the legislature’s information and teleconferencing, told the council that in some of the remote offices, her staff also help process Permanent Fund dividend documents.
Logo for Alaska Department of TransportationAdvocacy group Alaska Trails sent a letter to let Governor Bill Walker know that transportation funds are at risk. Last September, Alaska returned $2.6 million to the US Department of Transportation.Listen nowThe Transportation Alternatives Program, or TAP, provides federal funding for smaller-scale transportation projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities.Each year the federal government authorizes TAP funds for every state that must be obligated to local projects within four years. Projects funded through TAP require a 20 percent state or local match.The Alaska Department of Transportation had to return the remainder of its 2013 TAP fund after failing to obligate all of the money before it expired in 2016.The Safe Routes to School National Partnership releases a quarterly report on states’ progress in obligating TAP funds. Deputy director, Margo Pedroso said that Alaska’s lapsed TAP funding is a missed opportunity.“These dollars that are allocated to Alaska Department of Transportation are, in essence, Alaska’s fair share of the gas tax that every resident pays as they get around,” Pedroso said. “And by letting those funds lapse and be returned to the federal government, Alaska dollars are now going and being distributed to other states.”Alaska DOT spokesperson Jill Reese said that the 2013 TAP money was not obligated in time because there were not enough projects submitted from local stakeholders that were eligible for funding.Alaska Trails Executive director Steve Cleary thinks the DOT could have done better outreach to find projects for TAP funding.“The fact is, there was four years for this program to be implemented and run,” Cleary said. “And the DOT in my estimation waited too long to start it. So of course there are going to be hiccups and stumbling, but if they had taken advantage of more time, then they would have been able to solicit and recruit qualified applicants rather than just having to take the applications that came in.”According to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, nearly $4 million of Alaska’s TAP funding from 2014 could be returned to the federal government if it is not obligated by September 2017.
This photo shows the rockslide area neighboring a Skagway cruise ship dock. (Courtesy Andrew Cremata)Early Tuesday morning, a rockslide crashed into Skagway’s largest cruise ship dock. It was the second slide event in less than two weeks and caused a pair of cruise ships to divert to other ports. Some Skagway residents are calling on the city and the private company that owns the dock to take action.Listen nowRetired fisherman Craig McCormick was sleeping in his charter boat in the Skagway harbor when a sound woke him up at about 3 a.m. Tuesday.“I could hear, kind of feel the slide above the railroad dock coming down,” McCormick said. “And I kind of rolled over and it came down again at 5:30ish.”A steep cliff prone to slides neighbors the boat harbor and Skagway’s biggest cruise ship dock.“The one later in the morning sounded kind of like a waterfall,” McCormick said.More than an inch of rain fell in Skagway the day before the Sept. 5 rockfall. This slide follows one on Aug. 26. As a safety precaution, White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad shut down the dock.White Pass is Skagway’s largest tour company and it owns the railroad dock. White Pass official Tyler Rose said the Sept. 5 slide was bigger than the one in August.“Obviously [we’re] thankful no one was injured,” Rose said. “We’re assessing the area of the damage.”Rose said the damage this time was a bit more extensive. A railing was damaged, along with a water main.After the August slide, White Pass had a geotechnical engineer assess the site. Rose told KHNS that the dock was deemed safe to continue accepting ships the next day.Rose declined to provide more information about the August engineer report or what the assessment entails.This time around, the city of Skagway will be conducting its own evaluation.“It’s something we need to look at in more detail,” Skagway Borough Manager Scott Hahn said.Hahn said he decided late last week to hire a geotechnical engineer to assess the area for the city. Initially, he was going to wait for direction from the assembly. But Hahn said he decided to go ahead and contract with PND Engineers instead of waiting for the next assembly meeting. This second slide just happened to take place the same day the engineer was due to arrive in town.“We need to assess the risk to the dock and the public on the whole hillside,” Hahn said. “So I’m just gonna wait and see what our engineers come up with and go with our best estimates.”Even though White Pass owns the railroad dock, Hahn says the cliff where the slides keep occurring is city land. As for why White Pass is the entity that responds to and assesses the slides, Hahn says he doesn’t know how that process was established.“I don’t know if it’s our liability or their liability,” Hahn said. “But I’m looking at that issue as well.”The assembly is set to talk about the rockslides at its meeting this Thursday.This most recent slide happened at an inconvenient time for Skagway’s tourism industry. The town had no dock space available after the railroad dock was closed. So, two ships were diverted to other ports. The Celebrity Solstice sailed to Icy Strait and the Star Princess went to Haines.“Our tour started like now, so they cancelled them,” Star Princess passenger Jerry Seals said. He was one of dozens lined up Tuesday morning to try to make it to Skagway on a fast ferry shuttle. “We had an excursion in Skagway, gold mining, dog sledding, and that’s all been cancelled.”But the economic toll of the ship diversion isn’t the main thing worrying some Skagway residents. Many spoke out on Facebook Tuesday. They called on White Pass and the city to take action before a slide harms more than the cruise ship schedule.
Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprnListen nowWhittier police arrest two men with 33-pound bag of methAaron Bolton, KBBI – HomerWhittier Police arrested two men who allegedly possessed a backpack filled with 33 pounds of methamphetamine Thursday.Six suspects in custody in connection with North Pole murderDan Bross, KUAC – FairbanksSeveral suspects are in custody in connection with a North Pole murder.Construction company says its truck didn’t drop deadly rockAssociated PressA company working on road reconstruction on an Alaska highway south of Anchorage says its gravel trucks were not responsible for the rock that hit a car and killed an 8-year-old boy inside.Alaska House primary has the most candidates in 22 yearsAndrew Kitchenman, KTOO – JuneauThe competition is mostly within the Republican Party.Taixtsalda Hill wildfire likely human-caused, officials sayDan Bross, KUAC – FairbanksOfficials suspect that the 15,000-acre Taixtsalda Hill wildfire near Tok is human-caused. Fire information officer Jim Schwarber says lightning does not appear to be a factor in the blaze which started May 23rd.After deadly bear attack, hikers in Eagle River weigh risksEmily Russell, Alaska Public Media – AnchorageIf you live in Alaska, you live in bear country. While the risk of a bear encounter or attack is low, there’s always a chance the worst could happen.Value of Bristol Bay salmon rises, even as the fish shrinkAustin Fast, KDLG – DillinghamBristol Bay’s strong salmon returns stand in stark contrast to other parts of Alaska where the fish have trickled in slowly or seemingly not at all. Statewide, though, fish of all species are coming in smaller.Halibut dock prices rebound, but upswing may not lastAaron Bolton, KBBI – HomerHalibut ex-vessel prices are seeing a slight uptick around the state, which is good news for some fishermen after prices fell about $2 per pound at the beginning of the season.ALASKAbuds signs lease to house Bethel’s first cannabis shopAnna Rose MacArthur. KYUK – BethelThe ink is drying on a lease that could house Bethel’s first cannabis shop. The owner of an Anchorage marijuana store wants to expand his business to Bethel and bring Alaska’s booming cannabis industry to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.International journalist exchange brings Pakistani reporters to Anchorage TV stationLori Townsend, Alaska Public Media – AnchorageTwo young journalists from Pakistan completed their assignments in Anchorage last week. Tarhub Asghar and Shaista Mairaj spent three weeks at an Anchorage Fox News affiliate as part of an international journalism exchange through the U.S. State and Education Departments.
President Donald Trump sent North Korean leader Kim Jong Un an “excellent” letter, the North’s state-run news agency reported Sunday, quoting Mr. Kim as saying he would “seriously contemplate it.” The White House declined to confirm that Mr. Trump had sent a letter to Mr. Kim. It comes as nuclear talks between the U.S. and North Korea broke down after the failed summit between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump in February in Vietnam. Also Read – Shahid Afridi joins ‘Kashmir Hour’ in military uniform Advertise With Us The U.S. is demanding that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons entirely before international sanctions are lifted. North Korea is seeking a step-by-step approach in which moves toward denuclearization are matched by concessions from the U.S., notably a relaxation of the sanctions. Mr. Kim “said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content,” Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency reported. Also Read – EAM Jaishankar calls on European Parliament President David Sassoli Advertise With Us “Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong Un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” the agency said, without elaborating. South Korea’s presidential office said it sees the exchange of letters between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump as a positive development for keeping the momentum for dialogue alive. Advertise With Us Mr. Trump’s letter also came days after Mr. Kim’s summit with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping, which experts say underscored China’s emergence as a major player in the diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with the North. North Korean state media said Mr. Kim and Mr. Xi discussed the political situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula and reached unspecified consensus on important issues. Mr. Xi is expected to meet Mr. Trump next week in Japan during the G-20 summit. Analysts say he could pass him a message from Mr. Kim about the nuclear negotiations. Mr. Kim said during his New Year’s speech said he would seek a “new way” if the United States persists with sanctions and pressure against North Korea. After the collapse of his meeting with Mr. Trump in Hanoi, Mr. Kim said Washington has until the end of the year to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage the negotiations. Following a provocative run in weapons tests, Mr. Kim initiated negotiations with Seoul and Washington in 2018, which led to three summits with South Korea’s president and his first with Mr. Trump in Singapore on June 12 last year, when they issued a vague statement on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing how and when it would occur. The lack of substance and fruitless working-level talks set up the breakdown of Mr. Kim’s second meeting with Mr. Trump, which the Americans blamed on excessive North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for only a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities. Nuclear negotiations have been at a standstill since then, but on the eve of the anniversary of the Singapore summit, Mr. Trump told U.S. reporters he received a “beautiful” letter from Mr. Kim, without revealing what was written. In an interview with TIME magazine last week, Mr. Trump said he also received a “birthday letter” from Mr. Kim that was delivered by hand a day before. Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim also exchanged letters in 2018 after their first summit. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said at the time that the letters addressed their commitment to work toward North Korea’s “complete denuclearization.” In September 2018, Mr. Trump told a cheering crowd at a campaign rally in West Virginia that Mr. Kim “wrote me beautiful letters and they’re great letters. We fell in love.” Analysts say the gesture of sending letters is part of North Korean efforts to present Kim as a legitimate international statesman who is reasonable and capable of negotiating solutions and making deals. Because of the weight of formality they provide, Mr. Kim might see personal letters as an important way to communicate with leaders of countries the North never had close ties with, they say
SRINAGAR: Despite assertions by Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik that the separatist Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks, Home Minister Amit Shah is unlikely to extend them an olive branch during his two-day visit to the state starting Wednesday, informed sources said. Sources also said that Malik and the Union Home Ministry were not on the same page on with regard to a dialogue with the Kashmiri separatist leaders. Also Read – After liquor, Bihar bans ‘pan masala’ as well Advertise With Us “Malik favours breaking the impasse over talks between the Centre and the separatists. Or at least, he favours such a possibility in the near future. The Prime Minister’s Office and the Home Ministry have an entirely different viewpoint on these talks,” said top sources here.Shah, according to sources close to him, would not do anything on the dialogue front with the separatists that does not gel with his newly created image of the ‘Sardar Patel’ of today’s India. Also Read – Demanding Scindia as MP Congress chief, supporters threaten mass resignation Advertise With Us “In line with his typical no-nonsense image, Shah would focus more on bringing in peace by fighting separatist violence rather than shake hands with the separatist leadership to give an impression that the present political dispensation in Delhi is not different from the previous ones that went on soft pedalling while handling the state,” a senior BJP leader said. Advertise With Us Malik has been a strong advocate of breaking the back of militancy while keeping the option of talks with the separatists open. This, according to sources, does not go down well with the image of the BJP government at the Centre that has a massive mandate to deal with all separatist aspirations firmly and uncompromisingly.It is only the so-called moderate group of the Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq that has shown willingness to talk. The hardline Hurriyat Conference, headed by Syed Ali Geelani, has given no such indication. This is another stumbling block to Malik’s reported attempts to bring the separatists across the dialogue table with the Centre. “How can the Home Minister even be expected to offer talks to the separatists when India has been categoric that Pakistan must first stop supporting terror on its soil before the peace process between the two countries is re-started,” argued a source close to the Home Minister. In the nutshell, Shah’s visit is likely to be a strictly security exercise aimed at securing the upcoming Amarnath Yatra and ensuring that the anti-militancy operations are carried out without any laxity.
Patancheru: Student leaders on Sunday planted fruit and flower-bearing plants in local BC Boys Hostel along with several youngsters. The leaders included district BC students Association president Balram, Navabharatnirman Yuva Sena district president Mettu Sridhar. Balram and Sridhar said that they had explained to students the importance of tree plantation in view of the unprecedented depletion of groundwater levels. They said it was high time for people to realise the serious situation, otherwise the future generations would face severe hardship.
BN Reddy Nagar: Local corporator went door-to-door in self finance colony in BN Reddy Nagar on Sunday seeking people to join TRS as part of the party’s membership drive programme.She also handed over receipts to those joined the party. Colony president Venkat Reddy, Jayamma, Radha, Manikonda Ramudu, Nagabushanam, Yousuf and others were present.
Secunderabad: For the smooth flow of Bonalu festival at historic Ujjaini Mahankali temple in Secunderabad on July 21 and 22, the police department is leaving no stone unturned to make the state festival a grand affair. All the minute things are being checked and railing for the queue line is being set at the surroundings of Mahakali temple.Speaking to the media, Kalmeshwar Shingenavar, Deputy Commissioner of Police, north zone, said that the police have intricate security arrangements for the occasion, around 2,500 police personnel, quick reaction team for emergency propose, fire action teams, traffic regulation team, octopus police team including 10 platoons of Telangana State Special Police and City Armed Reserve would be deployed as part of the bandobast. Also Read – Warrant issued against Renuka Chowdhury in cheating case Advertise With Us Apart from that 200 CCTV cameras will be installed from which footage would be monitored from the control room in Mahankali police station and also LED screen would be placed at the strategic points and also ban on movement of vehicles on RP road and battery cars for senior citizens would be provided at temple premises. He further said officials from various departments, including GHMC, HMWSSB, Road and Buildings, and Revenue, would also monitor the situation from the control room and 30 SHE teams officials would be deployed for the safety purpose for the two-day Bolanu festival which includes the Laksala Bonalu and Ragam. Also Read – Parts of Hyderabad witness heavy rainfall Advertise With Us As last time there was only a single queue line of general devotees and devotees carrying the Bonam, so this time there is a separate line for devotees carrying the Bonam. An iron shed, 150 by 60 ft, would be put up at the temple premises to protect the devotees against rain and sun. As many as 1,500 passes were issued for VIP pass holders and there is a separate line. Devotees and VIP pass holder and the general public would come from Ramgopal police station and RP road, Bata there would be a Bonam line. To avoid any confusion and smooth flow of the festival, all agreement is being minutely taken care. He also requested the devotees to corporate with officials and also be in the queue lines, added Kalmeshwar Shingenavar. Meanwhile, temple executive officer S Annapurna said, “We are expecting more than 40 lakh devotees for the two-day festival and last year 35 lakhs devotees visited the temple and a gold Bonam weighing 3.08 kg will be presented to the presiding deity. Right now finishing touches are being like lighting works and flower decoration works.”
Srikakulam: Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Srikakulam district unit Chairman Gurugubelli Narasimha Murthy sealed two Child Care Institutions (CCI) on Thursday. In the name of Saranya Manovikas Kendra, its organiser Yenda Sridevi got licences two run two CCIs one is for boys and another is for girls under Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 (JJA). But Sridevi violated the rules regarding JJA in caring of children and run two centres in single campus. Previously, CWC chairman and members inspected the CCIs and ordered for its closure. But the organiser turned deaf ear. Finally, on Thursday, CWC chairman along with members reached CCIs and sealed it. In total, 19 children were shifted to another CCI, Behara Manovikas Kendram in Srikakulam.
Ongole: Prakasam District SP Siddharth Kaushal held a meeting with the software developers, IT core team members, PCR, command and control staff in his office in Ongole on Friday to prepare a list of features for the smart policing app. In the meeting, he discussed with the software developers Rakesh and Nagendra and other staff that the application should be designed using the crime analysis reports to step up vigil in the crime hotspots and reduce crime considerably. He shared his ideas to the developers and advised that the movement of Bluecolts and Rakshak vehicles would be monitored and deployed various places in such a way where the crime rate is high. SB-II CI N Srikanth Babu, IT core team, PCR, command and control room SIs and other staff also participated in the meeting.