Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Empress of the North in Portland for repairs

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JUNEAU - Majestic America Line's Empress of the North arrived last weekend at Vigor Industrial's shipyard in Portland, Ore., for repairs.

The riverboat-style cruise liner was damaged last month when it ran onto rocks in Icy Strait, forcing evacuation of passengers and some crew.

Vigor Marine said in a press release Monday that a team of 20 workers and supervisors went after the accident to Ketchikan, where they made repairs to stabilize the Empress. She was then towed to Portland for further work.

The ship had run aground before.

"We have done work on the Empress of the North in the past, so we know the vessel pretty well," said Rene Doiron, vice president of Vigor Industrial.

Fort Richardson paratrooper killed

FORT RICHARDSON - A Fort Richardson paratrooper was killed in Iraq, an Army spokesman said Monday.

The paratrooper died Sunday from wounds suffered when a bomb on a vehicle detonated near his position at a checkpoint near Karbala, Capt. Richard Hyde said.

No other paratroopers were injured in the incident. Next of kin have been notified.

The paratrooper was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Richardson.

The 3,500-member combat team deployed last fall; since then, 44 paratroopers from the unit have been killed.

Tribal leaders unveil new 'meth tool kit'

ANCHORAGE - The use of highly addictive methamphetamine is endangering tribal cultures across the nation, leaders with the National Congress of American Indians said Monday, unveiling a new "meth tool kit" to help communities battle what they called a looming crisis.

"Meth is a lot different than marijuana and alcoholism, which is more long-term," NCAI President Joe Garcia said during a news conference in Anchorage, where the organization is meeting this week. "With meth, the effects are almost immediate."

American Indians have been especially wracked by the drug, with an abuse rate of 1.7 percent, almost three times the rate for whites, according to NCAI statistics. On some reservations, addiction rates are closer to 30 percent.

"Meth threatens to eradicate an entire generation," said Carl Artman, the assistant secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. "This is something we cannot waste a lot of time on."

The multimedia tool kit, packaged in a large colorful box, is the product of a joint effort between tribal leaders, the BIA and NCAI, one of the nation's oldest organizations serving indigenous groups, including Alaska Natives.

Teen arrested after one killed in shooting

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage teenager was arrested Sunday and charged in an early morning shooting at a party that left a man dead and a 15-year-old girl injured.

Dirkston Gonzalez, 17, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder and tampering with evidence, police said. He was being held on $250,000 cash bail.

The dead man was identified as David James Irvin, 22, of Anchorage, and the injured teenager was identified as Stephanie Nilsson, the sister of Irvin's girlfriend. She was listed in serious, but stable condition, at a local hospital, police said.

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