August 2021

New rules may help small energy projects sell to the grid

first_imgEnergy & Mining | InteriorNew rules may help small energy projects sell to the gridNovember 25, 2015 by Rachel Waldholz, APRN Share:Alaska Environmental Power workers and contractors prepare to hoist the hub of a rotor and the three large blades to the hub to the left Sept. 3 for the Delta Wind Farm’s second 900-megawatt wind generator. (Photo by Tim Ellis/KUAC)New rules could make it possible to develop more renewable energy in Alaska, by making it easier for independent projects to sell their power to the grid.Mike Craft has been trying to expand his wind farm near Delta Junction since 2010. In his view, the project is a win-win.“(I want to) create some jobs for my kids and friends and family and neighbors,” Craft said. “I want to bring down the cost of power, and I want to do something about this air in Fairbanks.”But the local utility, the Golden Valley Electric Association, wouldn’t buy his power. They said it was too expensive — even though it was potentially cheaper than some of their existing sources.“I can compete with diesel,” Craft said. “I can compete with natural gas. I can compete with — coal’s pretty tough. Coal’s a bargain, no doubt about it. If you don’t mind the consequences of burning it, it’s a bargain.”But, Craft argued, he shouldn’t have to compete with the cheapest part of a utility’s portfolio. He should only have to beat the price of whatever power his project would displace. In 2013, he filed a petition with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA), which oversees electric utilities.This month, after two years of hearings, the commission issued new rules — and Craft got his way. Under the old system, a wind farm or hydro project had to beat the “average” cost of a utility’s power — that included everything, from cheap coal to relatively expensive diesel.Under the new rules if, say, a wind project can produce electricity more cheaply than diesel, the utility has to buy that less expensive power. That brings Alaska into line with rules in the rest of the U.S. And Craft calls it a game changer.“Basically, the door’s open,” he said. “And independent power producers, entrepreneurs, developers, or just a guy that has a house, when he wants to put a wind turbine on his house — Alaska’s open for business now.”Ethan Schutt, of the Cook Inlet Region Inc., or CIRI, has a more measured response.“It definitely could help a little,” Schutt said. “And sometimes just a little is all it takes to get something from concept to construction.”CIRI developed the Fire Island Wind Project in Cook Inlet. With 11 turbines, it can produce up to 17 megawatts for Chugach Electric, one of the main utilities in South Central.But CIRI scrapped a project to double the number of turbines when they couldn’t find a buyer for the new power. Schutt said one big issue is integration. Sources like wind and solar are variable — when the wind isn’t blowing, no electricity is produced.That means it’s more complicated to integrate them into the grid than a traditional natural gas or coal plant.Utilities charge fees to cover that — and in the past, Schutt said, it wasn’t clear how they came up with those costs.“In the absence of regulatory guidance, each utility was able to address those issues in its own, self-serving way,” he said.The new rules include a set of criteria that utilities must use in making those decisions.That doesn’t mean the Fire Island expansion is coming back. For CIRI, there’s still another major hurdle: transmission costs. If they want to sell to, for instance, Golden Valley in Fairbanks, right now they have to pay every other utility along the way.That can double the price of their electricity. The new rules don’t solve that problem.But for Mike Craft, in Delta Junction — he says it’s full steam ahead.“I’m excited. I feel like I have my life back in a sense, and I have my state back,” Craft said. “I’m going to finish building this wind farm.”Share this story:last_img read more

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Murkowski: FDA confirmation hinges on GE salmon labeling

first_imgFisheriesMurkowski: FDA confirmation hinges on GE salmon labelingJanuary 14, 2016 by Liz Ruskin, APRN-Washington Share:Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks on the senate floor. (Screenshot)The Food and Drug Administration has already declared genetically engineered salmon safe for human consumption, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday she’ll block confirmation of a new FDA commissioner until the agency agrees to require labeling for GE salmon.Murkowski reiterated at a committee meeting that she will put a hold on Robert Califf’s nomination. Murkowski says she’s pressing for more “conversations” with him.“I want to make sure that the FDA knows that voluntary labeling guidelines really are not sufficient,” Murkowski said. “It does not comply with what is now law.”Murkowski added a measure to the national spending bill last month that she calls a labeling requirement.It requires the FDA to keep GE salmon off the market, at least until October, or until the agency publishes labeling guidelines. It also directs the FDA to spend at least $150,000 to develop those guidelines, and on a program to disclose to consumers whether a salmon offered for sale is genetically engineered or not.The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee easily advanced Califf’s nomination. His confirmation bid now joins dozens of other executive branch nominations awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.Share this story:last_img read more

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Alaska job forecast holds steady despite plunging oil prices

first_imgEconomyAlaska job forecast holds steady despite plunging oil pricesJanuary 26, 2016 by Rachel Waldholz, APRN Share:The most recent forecast from the Alaska Department of Labor predicts only modest job losses in 2016.As oil prices have dropped to levels that were unthinkable just a year ago, many Alaskans are wondering whether the state is facing economic calamity.The short answer is: not yet. Last year, the state added jobs, despite plunging oil prices. In fact, oil and gas employment reached a record high in 2015.In its annual employment forecast, out this month, the Alaska Department of Labor predicts modest job losses in the year ahead. Those losses are expected to be concentrated in the oil and gas industry; in state government, where budget cuts are expected to cull the ranks of state workers; and in the construction industry, which relies on both oil and gas and government spending for projects.If the forecast is right, it will be the first net job loss the state has seen since 2009. But the Department anticipates the decline will be less than 1 percent — and doesn’t expect major ripple effects.We spoke with state labor economist Neal Fried, to ask how it’s possible that at $30 a barrel, Alaska is still doing pretty well.FRIED: When we look at oil industry employment for 2015, we started out the year quite strong. In other words, employment numbers at the first part of 2015 were the highest they’d ever been, and by the time we got to the end of last year, we started to lose ground compared to 2015. So we saw that trend happen.And we saw that with state government as well. A little different. It started out slightly negative in 2015, and as the year went by, by the time the third quarter was over, we started seeing numbers that were a thousand or more lower than they were the previous year. So we’ve seen those two clear signals that come probably as a result of lower oil prices.But again, if I just looked at total employment, total income, those big, big numbers, it would be hard to find.WALDHOLZ: Hard to find any signal of $30 a barrel oil right now?FRIED: That’s correct.WALDHOLZ: And are you surprised that we’re not seeing a bigger impact yet?FRIED: I am sort of surprised. We are in sort of uncharted waters. I forecast Anchorage, and last year I actually forecast us to lose ground, employment-wise. And we didn’t, I was wrong. We actually ended up slightly positive in 2015. And as I said, we are forecasting again this year, statewide and for all the areas that we forecast for, we are forecasting some job loss, overall job loss, and that is tied to the price of oil.Most of the job losses that we’re looking at that we think are going to occur are tied to state government and the oil industry, and things tied to that industry.WALDHOLZ: Turning to the oil and gas industry itself, there have been a few announcements of high-profile layoffs – at ConocoPhillips, BP. But overall, how is the industry doing?FRIED: Well, right now, if you look at the numbers right now, they still look relatively high from a historical perspective. But that could change.The biggest numbers out there in the oil sector are not the producers, are not the BPs and the Conocos. It’s really the service companies that are the biggest players, the drillers, the service companies like Halliburton or Doyon Services. And so we’re waiting to see what happens there. And you’re less likely to get a public announcement from that side of the industry, although I think eventually we will hear about it. And we do get their numbers, so eventually, that will be calculated in our monthly employment statistics.WALDHOLZ: How is Alaska different from, say, North Dakota? Where you’ve seen companies go bankrupt, where you’ve seen big layoffs, where you’ve seen rigs come out of the ground. It seems like our oil industry just operates differently, we can’t bust as fast just because we aren’t built that way.FRIED: I think part of it may be that. That’s going to be answered in the next year or two. We appear to be more project-based. When you undertake a project in Alaska, it’s usually a pretty big one. So if you’re in the middle of it, or a third of the way through, you’re not going to just probably quit. On the other hand, if you’re in a place where you can just punch lots of holes in the ground, drive a truck somewhere on a road and punch holes, you can end that activity, as well, much more quickly. So it’s much easier to shut things down in many of those places.Neal Fried also serves on Alaska Public Media’s board of directors.  Share this story:last_img read more

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Yukon kings arriving in early blast; Kuskokwim kings arriving in late trickle

first_imgFisheries | SouthwestYukon kings arriving in early blast; Kuskokwim kings arriving in late trickleJuly 19, 2017 by Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK-Bethel Share:King salmon, red salmon, and chum salmon. (Photo by Shane Iverson/KYUK)The Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers are having opposite experiences with king salmon this season.Audio Playerhttp://media.aprn.org/2017/ann-20170718-09.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The Kuskokwim kings arrived late, in a small trickle, and state biologists now say that the run may meet escapement goals. Less than 60,000 kings are estimated to have passed the Bethel sonar station.To meet the lowest end of drainage-wide escapement, 65,000 kings would need to reach their spawning grounds.Meanwhile, the Yukon River kings arrived early in the largest run observed in more than a decade.More than a quarter-million kings have passed the lower river sonar site at Pilot Station. The run is expected to meet escapement goals and provide a larger subsistence harvest than last year.Some Yukon tributaries have already met escapement for king salmon, but high water is disrupting accurate counting on others.The summer chum run on the Yukon also is experiencing a banner year. More than 3 million summer chum have passed the lower river sonar station, far above historical numbers, and escapement goals for these fish are being met along the river.Starting July 18, chum salmon arriving in the Yukon River will be considered fall chum.Share this story:last_img read more

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first_imgEducation | Environment | Juneau | WildlifeKrattmania comes to Juneau: ‘Wild Kratt’ brothers teach kids about natural science, animalsJuly 25, 2017 by Annie Bartholomew, KTOO Share:Martin and Chris Kratt share stories Thursday at Meet The Kratts, Wild Alaska Live Meet & Greet at Thunder Mountain Auditorium. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)Brothers and television hosts, Chris and Martin Kratt are known for their PBS Kids’ wildlife shows: “Kratts’ Creatures,” “Zoboomafoo” and now “Wild Kratts.”The Kratts are in Alaska, anchoring the BBC and PBS’s prime-time “Wild Alaska Live” specials from the Mendenhall Glacier.Last week, KTOO’s Annie Bartholomew caught up with the brothers and some of their biggest fans in Juneau.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2017/07/26KRATTS.wav00:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.At Eileen Begenyi’s house in Douglas, her kids are getting excited.Charlie Begenyi, 7, holds gifts he made for the Kratt brothers. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)Seven-year-old Charlie Begenyi shows me a little of what he’s been working on: a picture of an octopus, a beaded orca, wrist band and a picture of the Wild Kratts. They’re gifts for Chris and Martin Kratt, who the family is going to see at a KTOO event at Thunder Mountain High School.Four hundred tickets sold out in under 10 minutes.Charlie says you can tell them apart by their colors, “Martin wears blue and Chris wears green, always.”He doesn’t have a favorite, but his 5-year-old sister, Anna, says she does, “(I like) Martin because blue is kind of my favorite color, too, and he has blue eyes like me.”“Wild Kratts” is a hybrid live-action and animated series that teaches kids about natural science and animals.In their animated world, the Kratts access technology of the future, traveling the continents in their flying amphibious vehicle, the Tortuga, which is in the shape of a turtle. Resident inventor Aviva helps them along their journey.“She makes so much cool inventions,” Anna says. Her favorite? “The fish cam, it’s like this fish camera that they use underwater to see such cool stuff.”The most important technology is the brothers’ power suits they use to gain animals’ creature powers. Think cheetah speed or a chameleon camouflage.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3INz-4LUegU&t=19m39sFor their trip north as part of “Wild Alaska Live,” the Kratts created a special “Wild Kratts Alaska” show, where the animated Kratts get salmon-sized and follow a sockeye to her spawning ground.Along the way they leap with orcas, dodge salmon sharks and escape danger from predators like grizzly bears, gray wolves and Steller sea lions.The bald eagle Justice from the Juneau Raptor Center at Meet The Kratts, Wild Alaska Live Meet & Greet at Thunder Mountain Auditorium on Thursday, July 20, 2017.At the sold out Juneau event, the Kratts previewed the new episode.After the opening scene, the lights faded up to reveal Chris and Martin Kratt, in their signature blue and green. Joined onstage by a bald eagle and falcon from the Juneau Raptor Center, the Kratts opened the floor to questions.Kids in the audience quizzed them on their favorite animals, scariest encounters and whether they’d considered doing shows about creatures like slugs, flamingos, house pets and more.Backstage, Martin Kratt says Juneau’s kids gave them lots of good ideas.“The animals that they think about, may not be the animals we’ve thought about,” he says. “We haven’t got to flamingos yet so obviously that would be a great power and a really odd and unusual creature.”“Apparently we have to do an episode about puppy power,” he says laughing.With more than 130 “Wild Kratts” episodes, the brothers say they’ve only scratched the surface of the creature world.Season 5 is in the the works with 20 new episodes, including a Halloween special, in which they will get the creature powers of the vampire bat and tarantula.Chris and Martin Kratt encouraged kids to go on creature adventures of their own. In the Tongass National Forest, they don’t have to go too far.Watch Wild Kratts Alaska: Hero’s Journey on pbskids.org. The Kratts are hosting the second installment of “Wild Alaska Live” at 4 p.m. Wednesday with a repeat at 7 p.m. on Alaska Public Television. The third and final show is at 4 p.m. Sunday.The programs will also stream live at pbs.org/wild-alaska-live. More details on broadcast times in Juneau are posted here.Chris Kratt holds an envelope of gifts from Charlie and Anna Begenyi backstage after Meet The Kratts, Wild Alaska Live Meet & Greet at Thunder Mountain Auditorium. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)Share this story:last_img read more

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Alaska Bar programs provide some legal help for low-income residents

first_imgCrime & Courts | SoutheastAlaska Bar programs provide some legal help for low-income residentsAugust 31, 2017 by Leila Kheiry, KRBD-Ketchikan Share:Alaska Bar Association President Darrel Gardner meets KRBD’s official greeter Monday. Gardner stopped by the station to talk about ABA outreach programs. (Photo by Krista Scully, ABA Pro Bono Director)Alaska Bar Association President Darrel Gardner was in Ketchikan this week to meet with local bar members.He and ABA Pro Bono Director Krista Scully came by KRBD Monday to talk about some of the association’s outreach programs, meant to help low-income Alaskans facing legal matters.Audio Playerhttps://krbd-org.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/29BarPrez.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.When someone is charged with a criminal offense, they are constitutionally guaranteed a lawyer, even if they can’t afford one.But, ABA President Darrel Gardner said, most people won’t ever be charged with a crime.It’s much more likely they’ll end up in court for a civil matter.“Child custody issues, divorce issues, housing issues, employment issues, wrongful terminations — the gamut of what people are involved with in their day-to-day lives – and oft times end up in some sort of legal dispute,” he said. “And attorneys are expensive, so there are a lot of individuals out there who simple get inadequate or, as the studies have found, no (legal) assistance.”That’s because in civil matters, there’s no guaranteed legal representation.Gardner cited some statistics from New York that show how much of a difference an attorney’s help can make in civil cases.“The chances of someone in a landlord-tenant situation, I think it was 17 times more likely that the tenant could challenge the eviction as being wrongful with the assistance of an attorney,” he said. “For long-term domestic violence retraining orders, having an attorney again resulted in, I think it was 10 or 12 times more likely that a victim of domestic violence would be able to obtain a long-term restraining order with the assistance of an attorney.”But, as Gardner said, lots of people can’t afford $400-$500 an hour for a lawyer. There are some agencies in the state that can help, such as Alaska Legal Services Corp., Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Alaska Institute for Justice, and the Disability Law Center.The Alaska Bar Association also has some programs for low-income residents who need a lawyer. Among those are walk-in clinics and an annual live phone bank on Martin Luther King Day, which falls in mid-January.Scully said they have held those events in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks, and next year they’ll expand the program to a few other communities.“We do a phone bank from 4-7 (p.m.), so anybody throughout the state who might not have access to one of the walk-in clinics can call in and talk to a volunteer,” she said.That’s just once a year, though. The Alaska Bar Association has some year-round programs, as well, and members are helping to develop new ones.The national Justice For All project this year granted the state a cash award to develop a plan for providing legal services to every state resident in need.Microsoft also provided a grant to develop a statewide online portal for legal services. That would supplement an online program the ABA started last year for low-income residents. Through that website, qualified residents can submit civil-law questions for volunteer attorneys to answer.Scully said so far, there’s been a good response to the online program.Volunteers like it, too, because they can pick and choose questions that intrigue them, and take some time researching an answer.“They have a total of 10 days to be responsive, but the client will get a notification: ‘Your question has been selected to be answered. Please wait for a response,’” she said. “So, it’s a warm handoff. People aren’t just dropped.”If a question isn’t selected and sits in the queue for too long, Scully said  she sends that person an email providing resources about how they could get more information on that topic.Gardner said he’s focused his one-year term as the Alaska Bar Association president on increasing volunteerism among members.He notes that there’s a requirement for all attorneys to provide some level of pro bono work every year.“Pro bono is a fancy Latin word, and it’s basically ‘for free,’” he said. “Essentially, it’s an obligation. It’s a professional obligation that attorneys have when they become attorneys.”Gardner is a lifelong Alaska resident, and works as a federal public defender. He previously worked with the state Office of Public Advocacy.Share this story:last_img read more

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State releases agreement signed with China on gas pipeline venture

first_imgAlaska Public Media’s Wesley Early contributed to this report. Share this story: Alaska’s Energy Desk | Energy & MiningState releases agreement signed with China on gas pipeline ventureNovember 21, 2017 by Rashah McChesney, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Juneau Share:Alaska Gov. Bill Walker speaks at a press availability in Anchorage about the recent developments on a Chinese deal for Alaska LNG on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)At a news conference this morning, Gov. Bill Walker unveiled the new gas pipeline agreement he signed in China earlier this month.Walker, and Alaska Gasline Development Corp. president Keith Meyer, talked about what they hope will come out of the agreement.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2017/11/21CHINAGAS.wav00:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Meyer said Alaskans will see significant progress on the proposed gas pipeline mega-project next year.  “There’s going to be trips to China, trips from them to Alaska,” Meyer said. “So a lot of due diligence, a lot of papering. We’ve got a multinational, multi-billion dollar purchase agreement, lending agreement, investment agreement. We’ve got a regulatory process that we’re trying to get through by the end of next year.”Alaska Gov. Bill Walker peeks out for a photo after a group signs an agreement to study a partnership between China and Alaska to build a gas pipeline megaproject on Nov. 9, 2017, in Beijing, China. (Photo courtesy Alaska Governor’s Office)The other parties to the agreement are three Chinese government-owned entities that could act as customers, investors, and partial owners of the project.Under the agreement, Alaska and the China will work together to develop a plan that could make Alaska’s LNG megaproject feasible. That framework gives China the opportunity to take 75 percent of the liquified natural gas produced by the project in exchange for providing 75 percent of the funding to build it. The remaining portion of the funding to build the project, or about $11 billion, would be paid for by the gasline corporation and its partners. According to a media release, the corporation envisions getting that funding from a combination of Alaska Native Corporations, cities and private investors, issuing tax-exempt bonds and state money. Meyer said the Chinese partners have visited Alaska and are considering the project carefully.“They’re down to the point where they’re actually smelling the core samples. These folks are serious about this project. We have an electronic data room that they have spent hundreds of hours in, in due diligence,” he said.  “Their government folks have talked to our government folks, not just the state folks but the federal folks to see — is the U.S. going to be receptive? Is the US Congress going to be receptive? And they’ve gotten positive feedback on that.”The agreement calls for the group to make a final decision to partner on the project by the end of 2018. In its current form, the project is estimated to cost $43 billion to build and could temporarily add 12,000 jobs to Alaska’s economy.last_img read more

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Sarah Palin’s oldest son pleads not guilty in assault case

first_imgCrime & CourtsSarah Palin’s oldest son pleads not guilty in assault caseJanuary 8, 2018 by Rachel D’Oro, Associated Press Share:Updated | 5:08 p.m. MondayPALMER — Sarah Palin’s oldest son pleaded not guilty Monday to a felony charge in the case accusing him of assaulting his father at the family’s Alaska home last month.Track Palin’s lawyer entered the plea to a burglary charge on his behalf at his arraignment. The 28-year-old did not attend the hearing in person, but participated by phone. His parents also did not attend.During the brief proceeding, Palin said only, “Yes, ma’am,” when the judge asked if he was on the telephone line.The judge set Palin’s trial for the week of Feb. 26.Palin was arrested in December after Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and a former Alaska governor, told authorities her son was on some kind of medication and “freaking out.”A police affidavit said father Todd Palin was bleeding from cuts on his head. He told police the dispute began when his son called to pick up his truck from the Palins’ home in Wasilla.Track Palin last month also pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief. He is out on bail with electronic monitoring.According to the affidavit, Todd Palin said he told Track Palin not to come to the house but that his son said he would come anyway to beat him up. Todd Palin told police he got his pistol “to protect his family.”Track Palin told police he broke a window, disarmed his father and put him on the ground.Wasilla police Officer Adam LaPointe wrote in the affidavit that Todd and Sarah Palin had left the home when police arrived and that she was visibly upset.Track Palin yelled at officers, calling them peasants, and “moved around in a strange manner” before being arrested without incident, the affidavit says.He told police he “consumed a few beers earlier,” the document says.The Palins obtained a court order barring their son from having contact with them and their children who live at home. Todd Palin told the court by phone in December that the family is prepared to re-establish contact.In 2016, he was suspected of punching his girlfriend, who then became concerned that he was going to shoot himself with a rifle, court documents said.He faced several charges but pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm while intoxicated, and the other charges were dismissed.His then-girlfriend later filed for custody of their child and requested a protective order against Track Palin, who served in Iraq for a year in 2008.Sarah Palin indicated that post-traumatic stress disorder might have been a factor in that case.Original story | 9:37 a.m. MondayANCHORAGE — Sarah Palin’s oldest son is scheduled to appear in court Monday on charges he assaulted his father at the family’s Alaska home.Track Palin was arrested in December after Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and a former Alaska governor, told authorities her son was “freaking out” and on some kind of medication.A police affidavit says father Todd Palin was bleeding from cuts on his head. He told police the dispute began when his son called to pick up his truck from the Palins’ home in Wasilla.Track Palin, 28, is charged with assault, criminal mischief and burglary and is out on bail with electronic monitoring. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.According to the affidavit, Todd Palin said he told Track Palin not to come to the house but that his son said he would come anyway to beat him up. Todd Palin told police he got his pistol “to protect his family.”Track Palin told police he broke a window, disarmed his father and put him on the ground.Wasilla police Officer Adam LaPointe wrote in the affidavit that Todd and Sarah Palin had left the home when police arrived and that she was visibly upset.Track Palin yelled at officers, calling them peasants, and “moved around in a strange manner” before being arrested without incident, the affidavit says.He told police he “consumed a few beers earlier,” the document says.The Palins obtained a court order barring their son from having contact with them and their children who live at home.Todd Palin told the court by phone in December that the family is prepared to re-establish contact.This is the second time in two years that Track Palin has been arrested in a domestic violence case.In 2016, he was suspected of punching his girlfriend, who then became concerned that he was going to shoot himself with a rifle, court documents said.He faced several charges but pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm while intoxicated, and the other charges were dismissed.His then-girlfriend later filed for custody of their child and requested a protective order against Track Palin, who served in Iraq for a year in 2008.Sarah Palin indicated that post-traumatic stress disorder might have been a factor in that case.Share this story:last_img read more

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Alaska troopers say fentanyl big concern for authorities

first_imgAlcohol & Substance Abuse | Crime & CourtsAlaska troopers say fentanyl big concern for authoritiesFebruary 14, 2018 by Rachel D’Oro, Associated Press Share:ANCHORAGE — Alaska authorities say the synthetic opioid fentanyl is an escalating problem in the remote state, and it’s leading to a significant increase in deaths.Alaska State Trooper Capt. Michael Duxbury said at a news briefing Tuesday that the dangerous black market drug is “by far the biggest concern” in the opioid crisis.Alaska chief medical officer Jay Butler says 2017 statistics have not been finalized, but there were at least two dozen fentanyl-related deaths, compared with five or six deaths the previous year.Duxbury says Alaska is a destination state, with opioids like heroin and other illegal drugs manufactured elsewhere and brought to the state by gangs and Mexican drug cartels.Duxbury says dealing with the state’s opioid crisis presents challenges amid state budget cuts and trooper staff shortages.Share this story:last_img read more

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Florida shooting suspect set to appear in court on 17 murder charges

first_imgNation & World | Public SafetyFlorida shooting suspect set to appear in court on 17 murder chargesFebruary 15, 2018 by Colin Dwyer, NPR Share:Less than a day after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing at least 17 people and wounding 15 more, the suspect behind the rampage is due to appear for the first time in court Thursday afternoon. Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been booked on 17 charges of premeditated murder at Broward County’s Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.President Trump spoke to the country prior to the hearing.The developments Thursday follow a brutal day in Parkland, just up the road, where Cruz allegedly fired on unarmed students and teachers at the high school that had expelled him for disciplinary reasons. Authorities say he began the attack outdoors toward the end of the school day, working his way indoors using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with “countless magazines,” smoke grenades and a gas mask.Then, the fire alarm sounded — which “seemed odd,” NPR’s Greg Allen reports, “because there had already been a fire alarm that day.”Greg explains what happened next:“Soon teachers and students got the word: It was a code red. There was an active shooter in the school. In some classrooms, teachers made sure their doors were locked, lights turned off and students hidden in closets or under the desks.“But thinking it was a drill, one student interviewed on television says her teacher led them out of the classroom before recognizing the danger. As he got them back into the classroom, she said he was shot and killed.”SWAT teams were soon on the scene, evacuating students from the building. Before the hour was out, law enforcement had arrested Cruz, who had apparently left the premises. Cruz was first taken to the hospital for treatment before being returned to police custody.“It was pretty chaotic, to be honest,” Broward County Mayor Beam Furr told Morning Edition on Thursday. “There were policemen from every one of our cities — we have 31 cities in Broward County, and I believe every force from the county was there. And as I arrived [yesterday] the kids were coming out, and the parents were beside themselves hoping to see their kids.”Furr is not only the mayor of the county, but he also worked as a teacher in the local school district. He said the rampage Wednesday called to mind some of the kids he had taught in the classroom.“You keep your eyes on those kids who become disconnected — you know, they’re out on the fringes. And as a teacher, you try to bring them in to the fold, so to speak, in one way or another,” he said. “It’s part of our mission to make sure that kids become part of the overall community — and when one gets away, it’s just sad.”In a statement released Thursday, Trump said the country “grieves with those who have lost loved ones in the shooting.” He also proclaimed that the American flag be flown at half-staff at the White House and public buildings throughout the U.S.“We will take such action as we’re able to take. We’ve got to reverse these trends we’re seeing in these shootings,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Major County Sheriffs of America conference on Thursday.“You and I know that we cannot arrest everybody that somebody thinks is dangerous,” he added. “But I think we can and we must do better. We owe it to every one of those kids crying outside their school yesterday and those who never made it out of their school.”Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.Share this story:last_img read more

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