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Many in the Arctic have vowed that tensions outside the region between Russia and the West would not affect circumpolar cooperation. After last week’s downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, however, the escalation of tension has threatened to spill northward, at least in the political realm.

According to Reuters, in a news conference, European Union energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger expressed, “If they (Russia) don’t decisively try to do something to prevent escalation, then there is no reason for us to help promote the growth of their industry and develop new resources for gas and oil and therefore to put this equipment on the list of sanctions.”...

Mia Bennett

Around 10 activists chained themselves on Wednesday to a large drill machine at a mine in Norra Kärr, by Sweden’s second largest lake, Vättern.

“People are sitting on the back of drill,” activist Malin Norrby told Swedish Radio P4 Jönköping.

The company Tasman Metals is doing test drilling for rare earth elements at Norra Kärr.

The metals are used in the manufacturing of things like computers, mobile phones and wind power generators. Until now this type of metal has mostly been found in China. According to the company, the deposit in Norra Kärr is the only one in Europe and one of the four biggest in the world.

But there has been a lot of protest against the company’s plans. The site is a few miles from Lake Vättern. The Green Party and the activist organization Save the Water, among others, have spoke out against the plans.

“This destruction of the environment must stop,” a person at the scene told P4 Jönköping.

Concerns about water quality

One of the demonstrators said that they are concerned that the drilling will affect the safety of the water in the region...

Radio Sweden

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja says that he’s satisfied with the results of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers on Tuesday.

On the agenda was tougher action against Russia after a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane crashed in territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine after apparently being shot down by an anti-aircraft missile.

The meeting agreed that new names would be added to the list of individuals subjected to sanctions, but stopped short of broader measures against the Russian economy.

The UN Security Council has demanded investigators be granted full access to the crash site, and Tuomioja says that sanctions will be stepped up if Russia does not comply with demands from the international community.

“This is a small step forward,” said Tuomioja after the meeting. “The (UN) Security Council accepted for the first time a resolution on Ukraine, which mandates actions to help the investigation of this crash or shooting.”...

YLE News

Alaska’s gold rush history is celebrated across the state, but aircraft owners can enjoy a particularly unique perspective by flying to the Interior town of Eagle and then on to Dawson City in Yukon Territory, Canada. Both destinations offer visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the past while also enjoying some staggering sights along the way.

Located about 190 miles east of Fairbanks, the village of Eagle is about a two-hour flight in a Cessna 180. The flight is directly along the Mertie Mountains, named for one of Alaska's great geologists and explorers and the town itself is located on the Yukon River, a dozen miles upriver from the Yukon-Charley National Preserve.

Best known Outside as a checkpoint on the Yukon Quest and setting for a portion of John McPhee's "Coming Into the Country," Eagle was originally populated by the Han Athabascan Natives and was the first incorporated city in the region. At its population peak during the late 19th century, 1,700 people lived in Eagle, most of them gold miners...

Colleen Mondor

An Anchorage man charged with possession and production of child pornography pleaded guilty to two felony counts Wednesday in Superior Court as part of a plea deal.

Kevin Dale Callander was charged in November with 13 felonies for the possession, production and distribution of child porn, as well as sexual abuse and exploitation of minors. The state added two more possession charges after examining more than 1,000 seized computer files. On Wednesday, he agreed to plead guilty to one second-degree sex abuse count and a consolidated child porn possession count.

The state agreed to drop all other charges. Despite the significant reduction of charges, Callander also faces a federal case stemming from the allegations.

Assistant attorney general Adam Alexander said the state ensured the plea covered the sexual abuse.

“It was very important (to the state) that he plead to the most serious conduct he was charged with,” the prosecutor said, adding the victims were abused in Alaska and Florida...

Jerzy Shedlock

Winter is coming: The Brooks Range was forecast to be coated with snow on Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Several inches of snow was expected to fall on the southeastern Brooks Range , while in the northern Brooks Range, “significant snowfall” up to 4 inches was forecast . While it is not unusual for the Northern Interior to see a light dusting of snow during summer months, “to get a few inches of it is not normal,” said Ben Bartos, meteorologist with the NWS Fairbanks office....

Alaska Dispatch News

A 55-year-old Tok man died Tuesday in a single-vehicle rollover on the Alaska Highway, Alaska State Troopers said.

Michael Verhoff was driving a 2008 Ford F-150 when he crashed at Mile 1357 of the highway, troopers said. The crash occurred about 44 miles from Tok, toward Delta Junction, in the area of the Gerstle River.

A passing motorist reported the accident just after 1 p.m., troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. A trooper and Tok emergency medical personnel responded. Verhoff was declared dead at the scene.

There is no clear indication why Verhoff crashed on the straight stretch of highway, Peters said. That could mean he had a medical condition or fell asleep, she said. There was no indication that drugs or alcohol were involved but the state medical examiner will perform a standard toxicology test.

Verhoff wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the truck, Peters said.

Zaz Hollander

The invasives are not coming. They are here already and, unfortunately, they are everywhere. If you think dandelions are bad, just you wait. The invasive and noxious weeds I am writing about have government agencies plotting their demise. Take that, mere dandelions! These are real invasives.

Did I say “just you wait?” Because waiting is not acceptable. If you are a gardener, it is simply not an option. Instead, each and every single one of us has to act quickly to try and stem the tide of these unwanted plants. Hopefully it is not too late (as it is with dandelions). If we are not a lot more vigilant, we will be sorry in our roles as gardeners as well as Alaskans.

I know I recently pointed the reader toward the website maintained by the Committee on Noxious and Invasive Plants and the good folks at the Cooperative Extension Service (who should be remembered at funding time). Here you will find what you need to become familiar with what I consider to be Alaska's enemies. Go there. Bookmark the site and promise me you will spend some time on it...

Jeff Lowenfels

The Muldoon area of Anchorage is not exactly the Left Bank, so I was excited to learn that Paris Bakery and Café, under the ownership of Chef Antoine Amouret, has been quietly serving French cuisine, a culinary niche that is sadly underrepresented in Anchorage, there since 2010. So, with an Edith Piaf song in my heart and a mad craving for escargots, I headed there for lunch with a few friends.

The room is a pleasant, quiet little oasis in a decidedly funky strip mall. Located amidst a scratch card outlet, tanning salon, gun store and tae kwon do studio, it is surely the only business in the mall playing French accordion music. A black chalkboard wall displaying the day’s specials is an evocative and charming touch. The room is a bit dated, but comfortable and clean (with the exception of the well-used menus, which have seen better days)...

Mara Severin

FAIRBANKS -- When the Alaska Senate approved a bill setting up the framework for state participation in a liquefied natural gas project, Gov. Sean Parnell said the measure “ensures an open public process going forward.”

But a new joint venture agreement with the three major oil companies that includes a state commitment of up to $125 million will remain confidential to the public and to legislators under terms of a broad legislative grant of secrecy governing gas pipeline work.

Between $50 million and $60 million of that amount would be put up by the state, while TransCanada would provide the balance under its financial partnership deal with the state. If TransCanada doesn’t continue beyond the preliminary work into the front-end engineering and design stage, the state would pay the company back, plus 7.1 percent.

Overall, the state, TransCanada, BP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips are to spend $500 million on this preliminary stage, the goal of which is to gather enough facts so, in the next three years, they can decide whether to move forward with front-end engineering and design...

Dermot Cole