Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Elderly rape suspect arrested in Alaska

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ANCHORAGE - A 71-year-old man who fled to Alaska after authorities in Oregon charged him with rape was arrested this weekend at a friend's apartment in Anchorage, authorities said.

Anonymous tips led officers to Larry G. Dunham of Salem, Ore., in Mountain View on Saturday evening, Anchorage Police Lt. Paul Honeman said.

Dunham was arrested on charges of second-degree rape, being a fugitive from justice and providing false information to police.

Dunham, who is listed on the Salem Police Department's Web site as one of a dozen "most wanted" subjects, had been sought for an incident that occurred in 2006, Lt. Dave Okada, spokesman for the department, said Monday.

Okada said he could not provide more information about Dunham because the district attorney's office in Salem takes over cases after an arrest. Calls to the office on Monday were not immediately returned.

Anchorage police released Dunham's description to the public on Friday and received two tips on his whereabouts the following day.

Oregon workers sue agency for back pay

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Former workers at a fish-processing plant near Astoria are suing a labor agency for back pay.

They say they gathered at Anytime Labor's Hillsboro storefront office and waited hours, then paid $6 to board a school bus for the 2-hour ride to the plants where they spent the night cleaning and sorting fish.

They often returned near dawn and in a few hours got up to do it again. They say they were paid only for their time on the processing line.

"We didn't say anything because we didn't want to lose our jobs," said Edelmira Hueramo. "If you were cooperative like that, you were one of the people who got called back."

Staffing companies once supplied mostly office workers but now increasingly provide low-cost labor for less pleasant jobs.

The agencies absorb the costs of hiring, benefits and insurance against employee injuries.

They often charge clients by the worker, adding about 30 percent of wages to cover payroll taxes, costs and profit.

Eleven former workers want pay for hundreds of hours they spent waiting for, and then riding, the bus.

They say their managers told them they would lose the work if they left Anytime Labor's hiring hall or the processing plant in Hammond and say they were barred from driving there on their own.

Researchers test for renewable electricity

PORTLAND, Ore - Advocates of wave energy plan to float two buoys off the Oregon coast near Newport in coming days as part of a wider effort to find renewable sources of electricity.

The Canadian firm, Finavera, was preparing to launch its experimental Aquabuoy 2 over the Labor Day weekend, said company CEO Jason Bak.

"We see this as the first step in establishing wave energy as a commercial technology in the United States and Canada," said Bak, who estimates that devices similar to Aquabuoy could produce between 5 and 10 percent of the electricity used in North America.

Later in September, researchers from Oregon State University were planning to deploy a test buoy of their own off of Newport, OSU spokesman David Strauth said.

A third company, Oceanlinx Limited of Australia, has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deploy 10 buoys, each weighing 330 tons and rising 23 feet above the water, off Florence. That project has met resistance from local fishermen and sportsmen.

Because of its steady winds, the Oregon coast is one of the best spots in the world to harness wave energy, according to Roger Bedard, of the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., principal author of a comprehensive study of topic.

Group considers food drops to help bears

TRUCKEE, Calif. - A sharp increase in bear-human conflicts this summer is prompting a bear advocacy group to consider backcountry food drops for the animals at Lake Tahoe.

Ann Bryant, executive director of the Lake Tahoe-based BEAR League, said her group is seeking permission from the California Department of Fish and Game to use food to lure bears away from developed areas.

A lack of precipitation has led to a shortage of natural food, forcing bruins into towns in search of human food. A record 20 bears have died after being hit by vehicles in the Lake Tahoe area so far this year.

"We are going to do backcountry food drops, putting natural food back into the backcountry," Bryant told Truckee's Sierra Sun newspaper. "We have hundreds and hundreds of pounds of food we plan to put in several locations that won't bring the bears near neighborhoods."

Bryant said similar programs have been successful in other states, including Alaska and Montana.

Jason Holley, a biologist for the state wildlife agency, agreed that a scarcity of food is driving bears into populated areas. But feeding bears runs contrary to the department's policy, he said.

"It's an unnatural situation that forces bears to congregate. Who knows what long-term problems that could create," Holley said. "If the smell of people is on the food, they could be more likely to associate people with food in the future, and they could become more susceptible to hunters."

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