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Some Alaska Natives allowed visa-free travel to Russian area

Jul 31, 2015 -- 12:00pm
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Some western Alaska Natives can travel back and forth to a Russian region without a visa under a 1989 agreement that was recently revived. Vera Metcalf, a Native leader who works part time with the State Department, said Friday that the program allows indigenous residents from both sides of the Bering Strait to visit for up to 90 days without the documentation. Alaska and Chukotka Natives have historically been linked to the Chukotka region, and many are still related. Metcalf says administrative issues had forced those Alaska Natives to get a visa over the past three years. She says the issues have been resolved, allowing the program to begin again in mid-July. She declined to elaborate. Metcalf says those on the Russian side haven't needed a visa under the program.

Authorities report 2 arrests in Portland's drilling protest

Jul 31, 2015 -- 11:45am
- PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office says it made one arrest during an effort by protesters to block a Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker from leaving Portland for an Arctic drilling operation. Lt. Harry Smith says 19-year-old Christian Pence refused to leave the Willamette River after being told the waterway was closed Thursday afternoon, and then assaulted a deputy who tried to remove him from the water. He faces charges of resisting arrest, interfering with a police officer and assaulting a public safety officer. Portland police also reported one arrest, a 24-year-old man accused of criminal trespass. The icebreaker made its way to the Pacific Ocean after authorities forced the demonstrators from the river and the St. Johns Bridge.

New ruling on protective orders for Alaska Native tribes

Jul 31, 2015 -- 11:30am
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Alaska Native tribes will no longer be forced to go the extra mile to have their domestic violence restraining orders enforced by the state. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards issued a legal opinion stating that Alaska law was in violation of the federal Violence Against Women Act. The legal opinion has paved way for a direct link between tribal courts and state troopers. The Alaska law requires tribal court-issued restraining orders to be registered with courts before they can be enforced. The legal opinion found that law was superseded by the Violence Against Woman Act, which says protective orders don't need to be registered prior to enforcement. Tanana Chiefs Conference President Victor Joseph says the decision will help curb domestic violence and empower tribes. 

Mild winter lowers number of moose, car collisions

Jul 31, 2015 -- 11:15am
- KENAI, Alaska (AP) - Wildlife officials say the mild winter this year kept road visibility decent enough to save some moose and driver's lives. The Peninsula Clarion reports that the Alaska Moose Federation tracked 167 moose-car collisions in the Kenai Peninsula's highways this year, compared to 206 in the previous year. Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife technician Larry Lewis says the low snowfall kept many moose off roads. The animals walk where it's easiest, which in snowy years is often the street. However, Lewis says the real spike in collisions comes in the summer, when there is increased movement in moose calves and more summer tourist traffic.

EPA announces $445K settlement with North Slope Borough

Jul 31, 2015 -- 11:00am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with Alaska's North Slope Borough over alleged hazardous waste violations. EPA officials said Thursday the borough stored more than 45,000 pounds of hazardous waste in Barrow without a storage permit required under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Officials say the borough also failed to perform at least five hazardous waste determinations at the site. The EPA says the violations occurred between 2012 and 2014. Officials say the waste included antifreeze contaminated with benzene, corrosive solvents and other materials. The waste has been removed. EPA spokeswoman Judy Smith says the borough has 30 days to pay a penalty of more than $445,000 as part of the agreement reached earlier this month. Acting North Slope Borough attorney Teresa Bowen did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

US judge rules Greenpeace in contempt for Oregon protest

Jul 30, 2015 -- 12:15pm
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A federal judge in Alaska has ordered Greenpeace USA to pay a fine of $2,500 for every hour that protesters continue to block a Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker from leaving Portland, Oregon, for the Arctic. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled Thursday in Anchorage that Greenpeace is in civil contempt because of protesters dangling off a bridge in Portland, whom she said impeded the Shell vessel. Gleason in May granted Shell's request that activists protesting Shell's Arctic drilling plans be ordered to stay away from Shell vessels and beyond buffer zones.
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