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AK Beat: 1 dead, 1 hurt in Wasilla home

Alaska Dispatch News
The 4th Avenue Theatre pedestrian tunnel was barely usable with its human waste and stench Wednesday evening, June 25, 2014, downtown. Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News

1 dead, 1 hurt in Wasilla home: Alaska State Troopers say they found one man dead and another seriously injured early Monday morning in a residence on Pioneer Peak Drive in Wasilla. At 5:20 a.m., troopers got a call about “injured people” in the home, according to a Monday trooper dispatch. When troopers arrived, they found one person dead. The other individual was taken to the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, the dispatch says. Next of kin have been notified, and the Alaska Bureau of Investigations in looking into the incident. No further information was immediately available late Monday.

Downtown Anchorage breezeway to be blocked off this week: The Municipality of Anchorage is in the final stages of mitigating a smelly problem in its downtown core. Officials with the Public Works Department said that the installation of security gates at both ends of a Fourth Avenue breezeway -- a covered 140-foot-long cut-through between the historic 4th Avenue Theatre and the main branch of First National Bank of Alaska -- will be completed sometime this week.  Support gates went up about two weeks ago, but Anchorage Director of Public Works Alan Czajkowski said the locking mechanism had to be specially ordered, delaying completion of the job. The breezeway had become a common place for people to illegally relieve themselves. Prior efforts to power wash the path had to stop at the end of last year after the liquids were found in the bank basement.

Coast Guard conducts dual medevacs in Southeast: The U.S. Coast Guard conducted two medevacs in Southeast on Sunday, deploying responders to aide an injured 21-year-old female aboard a fishing vessel near Kendrick Bay and to airlift an ailing cruise ship passenger near Zarembo Island. Coast Guard watchstanders in Juneau got a report about an injured woman aboard the fishing vessel Haida Chief who “suffered a head injury when a line parted,” according to a Monday news release. A 47-foot response boat was launched from Ketchikan to meet up with the fishing vessel near the south end of Prince of Wales Island. The woman was transported back to Ketchikan for treatment. Then, the cruise ship Carnival Solstice requested a medevac for a 71-year-old man suffering from stroke-like symptoms, the release says. The Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, whose crew hoisted the passenger from the ship and flew him to Juneau for treatment. Weather during the fishing vessel medevac was reported as 1-foot seas and 7 mph winds while weather during the cruise ship medevac was reported as 3-foot seas and 10 mph winds.

Climate change could help reindeer -- or might harm them: Global warming is working out great for reindeer. Or maybe not. A recent study that followed the animals (the same species that’s mainly known as caribou in Alaska) on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard -- an Arctic archipelago that’s part of Norway -- found that population was growing as the area warmed. The correlation makes sense: “[T]he plants that reindeer eat during the relatively short Arctic summer are available for longer periods as the region warms,” writes National Geographic. “‘Having better food resources means the reindeer are in better condition and therefore more able to cope with the Arctic winter,’” the study’s lead researcher told the publication. But it’s not that simple, University of Alaska Fairbanks biologist Perry Barboza, not connected to the study, told National Geographic. Warming temperatures can also pose a threat because the increase the chance of deep snow and ice, both of which can keep reindeer from reaching their food. “Barboza also stressed that reindeer populations often undergo boom-and-bust cycles for reasons that can be difficult to pin down,” National Geographic noted.

A year after VAWA was reauthorized, Alaska remains an outlier: When the Violence Against Women Act was re-authorized last year, it was amended to clarify issues that arose over tribal jurisdiction, and whether tribal authorities can enforce protection orders against non-Natives (under the 2013 amendments they can). But nearly all of Alaska remains exempt from that amendment. That continues to create problems for authorities seeking to address domestic violence, especially in the state’s rural areas, David Voluck, a tribal court judge for the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska told Al Jazeera America. ““The trooper is waiting, because he’s not sure who has jurisdiction,” he said. “We need to get rid of those exceptions that create confusion.” But the state’s attorney general, Michael Geraghty, countered that the jurisdiction issue isn’t a major problem in combating domestic violence in Alaska: “Geraghty said he has never heard of a situation when a victim was in danger because of confusion over jurisdiction,” Al Jazeera America reported. “If tribal courts had jurisdiction before, they do now,” Garaghty told Al Jazeera. “Troopers are not lawyers. If they are faced with a situation, they are going to protect the public. These concerns are overblown.”