Repeat offender convicted of sexually assaulting his daughter: A 46-year-old Anchorage man with a history of sexual abuse was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting his 20-year-old daughter while she was drunk. Adam Kasgnoc, 43, was also found guilty of incest. According to the Anchorage district attorney’s office, the assault occurred in the early morning hours of Aug. 21, 2012. Kasgnoc invited his daughter into his Spenard apartment after she’d been drinking. She fell asleep and awoke to find her father had stripped her clothes off and sexually assaulted her. She was able to escape and call the police from a friend’s house. Kasgnoc had previously been convicted of sexual abuse of his minor daughter in Nome in 2000, as well as other assaults. His sentencing is set for July 11 in Anchorage. He faces 20 to 35 years in prison.
Ballot items are official: Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell signed off on two ballot initiatives Wednesday after meeting with the Division of Elections, which is responsible for determining whether initiative sponsors collected sufficient signatures. The first is a bill that would declare the production, sale, possession and recreational use of marijuana to be legal in the state of Alaska and direct the state to set up a taxation and regulation framework. The other could raise minimum wage in January, 2015 to $8.75 and then to $9.75 the next year. Both items will appear on the August ballot.
Bill would pay restitution to wrongfully imprisoned Alaskans: A House Democrat from Fairbanks introduced legislation Wednesday that would compensate victims of wrongful imprisonment. Rep. Scott Kawasaki’s House Bill 352 would create a process by which Alaska prisoners who’ve had criminal convictions overturned can request compensation from the state for time served. In order to qualify for the compensation, they must have served time in prison and then have been exonerated through retrial, dismissed charges or executive pardon because of innocence. The bill says, “A person who meets the requirements ... is entitled to compensation in the amount of $50,000 multiplied by the number of years served in prison ... up to a maximum of $2 million.” It also stipulates that people who receive compensation due to wrongful imprisonment may not bring legal action against the state or boroughs and their employees. “Our judicial system is meant to incarcerate the guilty and protect the innocent. If the system fails Alaskans, then the state is responsible to help the innocent get back on their feet,” Kawasaki said in a prepared statement. If passed, Alaska would be the 13th state, plus the District of Columbia, to have a compensation statute of some sort.
Snowmachiners rescued: The Alaska Air National Guard said it hoisted three snowmachiners from the Talkeetna Mountains -- a 100-mile-wide set of mountains that borders the Matanuska and Susitna River valleys -- after they got stuck in cold temperatures without survival gear. The Guard said the unidentified men were cold and wet, and one was running out of medication, when units of the 210th, 211th, and 212th Rescue squadrons were dispatched to the site on Tuesday evening after the trio called for help. A fourth snowmachiner with the group had left to get help but had not checked back in by late Tuesday. An Air Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter was used to hoist the men from the rugged terrain and transport them to Talkeetna, where they declined medical treatment. The Guard said Alaska State Troopers were unable to assist in the rescue because of darkness. The fourth snowmachiner was later able to return to Talkeetna on his own.
Big 6.1 quake shakes Alaska in Aleutians: A 6.1 earthquake shook the Alaska communities of Nikolski and Unalaska Wednesday, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center. The strong shake occurred around noon in the Bering Sea region of the state. The center says the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 and was located at a depth of 23 miles. The towns, located near the mid-section of the arc of the Aleutian Islands stretching more than 1,000 miles toward Asia, reportedly didn’t suffer any damages. Quakes with magnitudes of about 4.5 or greater are strong enough to be recorded by sensitive seismographs worldwide. Great earthquakes, such as Alaska's 1964 Good Friday earthquake, have magnitudes of 8.0 or higher. The U.S. Geological Survey says that on average, one earthquake of that size occurs somewhere in the world each year.
Two small explosions detected at Cleveland Volcano: Researchers detected two small explosions at Cleveland Volcano on Monday afternoon and early Tuesday morning, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory. The first occurred a little after 5 p.m. Monday and the second at 1:35 a.m. Tuesday. The AVO said the explosions were brief, and were detected by infrasound and lightning alarms. A small ash cloud -- the presence of which was confirmed by satellite -- was estimated to be drifting at an altitude of about 16,000 feet above sea level. “These explosions are typical of eruptive activity of Cleveland over the past few years,” reported AVO. “There may be a heightened chance of additional ash emissions in the coming weeks. Because these explosions were brief and there is no sign of ongoing eruption, Cleveland remains at Volcano Alert Level/Aviation Color Code YELLOW/ADVISORY.” The 5,676-foot peak, also known as Mount Cleveland, is in Alaska's Aleutian Islands and has erupted numerous times in recent years. Its alert level was briefly raised to orange for a week in January, before being lowered to yellow again Jan. 10.
Driver medevaced to Anchorage after Aniak ATV accident: A four-wheeler accident in Aniak sent the driver to Anchorage for treatment of severe injuries, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers reported that two people traveling from Kalskag to Aniak were injured in the accident. The passenger, whose injuries didn’t require transport to Anchorage, reportedly told troopers that the two had been drinking whiskey before they began the ATV trip between the two Kuskokwim River villages, and that when they reached Aniak, a tire on the ATV had suffered a blowout, causing the driver to lose control. Both were thrown from the vehicle and into trees that lined the side of the road, with the four-wheeler landing on them, according to the passengers account, said troopers. An investigation into the incident remains ongoing.
Norwegian intelligence says talk of Arctic conflict is overblown: Despite increased presence of commercial shipping and oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, there’s little risk of conflict in the region, and no real “power struggle” in the region, says the Norwegian Intelligence Service. This comes according to an AFP report from Phys.org, a site focused on science reporting. The intelligence service reportedly wrote that “The risks for a potential conflict are however limited and it cannot be said that there is a rush or a power struggle for resources going on between states,” in its annual threat assessment. Still, Arctic nations, including the U.S., have been beefing up their security presence in the region and rethinking their strategic orientation toward the region.