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Alaska Beat

AK Beat: White Pass and Yukon Railroad spraying plan stirs opposition

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published June 24, 2014

Herbicide spraying plan for White Pass and Yukon Railway arouses opposition: A proposal by the White Pass and Yukon Railway to spray weed-killing chemicals on the railroad's tracks has prompted a backlash from Yukon environmental groups, reports the CBC. The railroad, which runs from Skagway in Southeast Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon's territorial capital, doesn't connect to other rail networks, but is a popular tourist route. Among other things, Yukon environmental groups are upset that word of the plans only became public when they were mentioned at a council meeting in Skagway. The much larger Alaska Railroad has its own controversial history over the use -- and permitting process -- of herbicides to keep tracks free from weeds.

Second potential victim emerges in Fairbanks sexual abuse case: A second potential victim has accused a former tutor at Hutchinson High School in Fairbanks of rape, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Claude Fowlkes III, 34, has been in jail since March after he was accused of sexually assaulting a student five times on school grounds since January. The charges said he gave the student gift cards after the alleged assaults. The News-Miner, citing the newer charges against Fowlkes, reports the second victim was abused more than three years ago, between September and October 2010. In addition to the original seven counts of first-degree assault, Fowlkes was indicted Friday in Fairbanks Superior Court on three counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, and single counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and first-degree sexual assault. The charging documents do not indicate whether the second possible victim was a student, and Fairbanks District Attorney Michael Gray told the newspaper he could not comment beyond what's included in court documents. Fowlkes had previously worked in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District for several years at Lathrop High School and Tanana Middle School. In 2010, Fowlkes was working at Tanana as a teacher aide.

$14,000 worth of Kodiak-bound heroin intercepted at Anchorage airport: A drug bust at the Anchorage airport on Sunday led to the seizure of Kodiak-bound black tar heroin bound with a street value of $14,000 of more, authorities said. About 3 p.m. on Sunday, someone tipped off the Anchorage Western Alaska Alcohol and Narcotics team that heroin was on its way to Kodiak, according to an Alaska State Troopers dispatch. A joint investigation by the Kodiak Police Department Narcotics and the Anchorage Police Department's K-9 unit resulted in a female passenger being taken into custody at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, the dispatch said. Authorities seized 20 grams of black tar heroin, with an estimated Kodiak street value ranging from $14,000 to $20,000, according to Alaska State Troopers. The woman, who was traveling on a local air carrier, was arrested and taken to Anchorage Correctional Complex, where she was being held in lieu of $20,000 cash bail, the dispatch said.

How do you survive a bear attack? Let's ask a bear: It can be tough to know exactly how to comport oneself in bear country. Should you run or stay still? Do dogs offer a layer of protection or to they make an encounter worse? Fortunately, McSweeney's has cut through all the speculation and gone straight to the source, with its most recent (and not necessarily appropriate for everyone) short imagined monologue: "A bear explains how to survive a bear attack."

Anchorage among the worst places to celebrate Independence Day, concludes report: Fourth of July in Anchorage pretty well sucks for people, or so concludes which examines economic and social metrics to rate almost everything in the country these days. On Tuesday it put Anchorage near worst on its list of "2014 Best & Worst Cities for 4th of July Celebrations." One hundred cities made the countdown and only Durham, North Carolina, scored worse than Alaska's urban core. Anchorage, according to WalletHub, costs too much and lacks for fun. The hotels are expensive. The beer and wine is among the costliest in the country. Arts, entertainment and recreation establishments are sadly lacking. And there aren't many swimming pools. The city did, however, get a pretty good score for temperature with 75 considered the ideal and most cities far too hot. And Anchorage was number one for "acres of parkland per capita," making it arguably the absolutely perfect place to spend the Fourth of July if you are a bear or a moose. Hello, Yogi bear! C'mon up Bullwinkle!

In Russia, melting sea ice means glaciers aren't shrinking -- at least for now: Even while the Arctic warms at a rate faster than anywhere else in the world, some glaciers are getting bigger. That's especially true in a few places in Russia, where researchers found a correlation between melting sea ice and the surprising absence of glacier melt, reports Environmental Research Web. The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found that an increase in melting sea ice meant an increase in precipitation -- in the form of snow -- which helped preserve the glaciers. At first glance, that might seem like a neat example of a self-regulating system, but one of the researchers warned against too much optimism: "Once this region is warm enough, liquid rainfall might dominate precipitation, which can further accelerate glacier snowmelt, instead of moderating ablation when in its solid form."

Measuring carbon coming from North Slope streams: How much of the carbon released in the atmosphere from the Arctic comes from fresh water? Somewhere between 20 and 40 percent scientists believe. But research at the Toolik Field Station aims to pin that number down more precisely, according to a report from water issues site Circle of Blue. The research focuses on the peculiarly Arctic phenomenon of beaded streams, which drop from pool to pool -- features that can, depending on condition sequester some carbon, at least for awhile.

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