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AK Beat: Report of kidnapping turns into drug bust in Kodiak

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Report of kidnapping turns into drug bust in Kodiak: An alleged kidnapping in Kodiak early Monday turned into a $14,000 drug bust, which landed three people in jail, according to a dispatch from Alaska State Troopers. Early Monday morning three men, aged 17, 21, and 23, were camping outside the city of Kodiak when someone cut open their tent with a knife and the men were bound together by a telephone cord. Troopers said the 21-year-old was "struck repeatedly by a large wooden dowel rod." The men escaped and went to the island hospital. Wildlife troopers and Kodiak police officers searched a residence in Kodiak and found two suspects in the alleged kidnapping, Jami Gibson, 39, and Philip Gibson, 38, inside. Troopers reported that both Gibsons, along with 27-year-old Julian Valdez were getting back at the 21-year-old because he had stolen "a large sum of money." Inside the residence, investigators found stolen items from the camp site and materials used to commit the crimes, along with 15 grams of black tar and brown heroin, one gram of methamphetamine, prescription narcotics and various drug paraphernalia, troopers wrote. The drugs had an estimated street value of $14,000. The three suspects have been arrested on a variety of charges including: kidnapping, robbery, drugs charges, assault and theft. 

Alaska SeaLife Center takes in stranded seal pup: The Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward took in its first stranded marine mammal of the year, a spotted seal pup, on May 1. The female seal pup was a mere week old when it was picked up April 30 by a resident in the community of Clark's Point, in Alaska's Bristol Bay region. The resident couldn't spot any other seals around and received authorization from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to rescue the pup, according to the SeaLife Center. The pup was flown to Anchorage where wildlife responders picked her up. She weighed in at 21 pounds on her first day at the Seward center. The pup seems to be in good shape and eating five meals a day, the center reported.

Alaska Supreme Court hears arguments in same-sex couples survivor benefits case: The Alaska Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday for a woman looking to receive survivor benefits after her partner was murdered. In 2011 Kerry Fadely was killed by a disgruntled former employee while working at the Millennium Hotel. Her partner of 10 years, Deborah Harris, was denied survivor benefits following her death, since the two were not married and could not legally marry in Alaska. It's the latest update to the case, which has been working its way through the legal system for almost two years. Alaska law defines survivor benefits, designed to help offset funeral costs and assist families after a death, as entitled to only "husbands" and "wives." Recently, the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled in favor of extending some benefits to same-sex couples, last month allowing property tax exemptions to such couples. In 2005, the court found that same-sex couples were entitled to partner benefits afforded by the state.

Truck theft and DUI lead to jail: An Anchorage man was jailed Sunday afternoon after stealing a pickup truck from a Girdwood driveway and driving it away while under the influence of alcohol, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers reported that 26-year-old Pete Jorgensen was charged with first-degree vehicle theft, DUI and driving with a revoked license. Troopers say the vehicle’s owner notified them after spotting the truck heading toward the Seward Highway. Troopers stopped Jorgensen a t around 3:51 p.m. Sunday at about mile 96, within the Seward Highway Traffic Safety Corridor. The vehicle was returned to its owner without damage troopers said, and Jorgensen was remanded to the Anchorage Correctional Complex on $4,000 bail.

Recovery of McKinley climber's body may be delayed: It might take National Park Service officials as long as two weeks to recover the body of a women who died in a fall earlier this month, reports a newspaper in the victim’s hometown. The Tacoma News Tribune cited a spokesperson for Denali National Park and Preserve who said that mountaineering rangers have not yet become acclimated to the elevation where the remains of 39-year-old Tacoma physician Sylvia Montag are resting. Rangers believe Montag died after falling about 1,000 feet near Denali Pass, a Mount McKinley landmark with an elevation of 18,200 feet. She and climbing partner Mike Fuchs, of Berlin, Germany, were among the first climbers on the mountain, and the first at such high elevations, official said last week. Denali’s mountaineering rangers are still constructing the rescue camp at 14,200 feet, the spokesperson told the News Tribune.

Koreans succeed at artificially inseminating Alaska pollock: A Korean team has managed to produce nearly 100,000 Alaska pollock by means of artificial insemination, the first time that’s been achieved, reports industry news site Undercurrent News (citing a report from Korea’s JoongAng Daily.) The research is aimed at bolstering stocks of the fish in the Sea of Japan (known in Korea as the East Sea). In the 1980s, JoongAng Daily reports, fisherman caught between 80,000 and 150,000 tons of the species, a number that dropped to one ton in 2007. In Alaska, the fish have been doing well, with the 2014 season's quota raised slightly to 1.267 million metric tons.

Could Begich win even in a Republican sweep? On Friday, as part of the New York Times blog The Upshot’s elections coverage, they simulated the upcoming midterm elections, finding a Republican sweep. The model did predict one Democratic exception to the Republican tide, though: Alaska Sen. Mark Begich. As The Upshot’s Nate Cohn notes, such a scenario isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. Even though Alaska is a more conservative state that some of those predicted to elect a Republican, the 49th state’s peculiar electoral dynamics could play a role. One of the three Republican candidates could wind up playing a spoiler, the blog notes. Plus, the piece points out, President Obama’s performance in Alaska in 2012 (41 percent), while not spectacular, “was the best performance by a Democratic candidate there since 1968,” which the Times takes as a sign he might’ve had a chance of winning Alaska in 2008 had Palin not been on the ticket. That leads Cohn to the conclusion that “it would not be terribly surprising if that sort of state managed to re-elect its incumbent Democratic senator, even in a bad year for Democrats.”