Northwest Digest

Posted: Monday, November 05, 2007

Man killed in house fire in Anchorage

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ANCHORAGE - An 18-year-old man has died in a house fire in Anchorage.

Fire officials say the second-floor blaze at the Fairview neighborhood home was reported about 6 a.m. Sunday.

Two minors were hurt in the fire. They were treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released.

Officials did not immediately release the names of the dead man or the injured teenagers.

Damage to the house is estimated at $50,000.

Kenai bears still on prowl for easy meals

KENAI - Bears are still prowling around on the Kenai Peninsula, drawn by easy access to garbage and bird seed.

Wildlife biologist Jeff Selinger said bears will be active as long as there's a food source available to them.

Selinger, an area manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the Kenai Police Department were called early one morning last week when a bear and her cub broke a window at a Strawberry Road home. Garbage bags and bird feeders on the porch were a giveaway to the reason for the bears' visit.

The resident took responsibility for the garbage, but Selinger said many people want Fish and Game to take action against the bears before a child gets mauled.

"(They say) what's it going to take? Are you going to wait until a kid gets mauled before you do anything," he said. "(When we) find out what the bear is doing, there is always something the bear is getting into. We can always find attractants."

Selinger said he's responded to a lot of bear calls recently. On Thursday he responded to a call on Lou Morgan Road near Sterling of bears tampering with a freezer. The appliance was secured with ratchet straps, but Selinger said he suspects the bears had access to the food inside it in the past and were looking for another easy meal.

The resident was carrying a shotgun when he took his dogs out and shot over the bears' heads. One of the bears stood up to look at the man, but the second bear charged toward him.

"When he shot it, it ran off," Selinger said. "(The resident) is not sure if he hit it."

Proposal aims to ban scavenging in trash

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblyman Charlie Rex wants to ban people from picking through public trash bins.

Rex has introduced a proposal that would prohibit the removal of items from garbage bins at 15 transfer sites - delivery points for household garbage that have grown popular with scavengers. The proposed ban would exempt recycling "reuse areas," which exist at five of the 15 sites.

Rex said garbage includes "identifying information that could be used in identity theft or other crimes."

The borough essentially would "assume ownership" of trash inside the bins if the assembly approves the ban, borough attorney Rene Broker told assembly members at a work session Thursday.

Broker cited a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision that determined that people have no "subjective expectation of privacy" when they voluntarily leave garbage at the curb for pickup.

Some state supreme courts, however, have since ruled that personal privacy rights do protect trash left out for collection. The 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision was split, drawing strong objections from dissenting justices.

The Borough Assembly could vote on the proposal as early as Nov. 15.

North Pole resident Greg Gilstrap said Saturday he regrets not reporting suspicious activity at the North Pole site last year.

Gilstrap said he saw a man apparently opening trash bags and removing paperwork close to a filing cabinet set up in the back of his van.

"My wife and I immediately went out and bought a (paper) shredder, and now we shred everything," Gilstrap said.

U.S. mayors discussclimate change

SEATTLE - Mayors weren't the only people to show up at the U.S. mayors' climate conference in downtown Seattle.

Corporate America was a constant presence, drawn by the prospect of capturing business, influencing policy and promoting their environmental image.

Company lobbyists milled in a hallway of the Edgewater Hotel, chatting up some of the more than 100 mayors gathered here.

The 29 sponsors of the event, ranging from Microsoft to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, had their names displayed on a poster and on brochures that went to each mayor.

Some of the sponsors even had a chance at the podium, intermingling talk about greenhouse gases with subtle pitches for their products. Going green, clearly, is tied for some companies to earning some green.

"I think it's really about exploring potential partnerships," explained Lynn Cutler, a former high-level official in the Clinton White House who now works for a Chicago law firm, and is co-chair of the national Mayors Business Council.

In her purse, she carried brochures she gave out to mayors for a client - a company that cities can hire to track people's recycling and reward them with shopping coupons.

The economics of climate change, and its effect on businesses was a chief topic at the two major events Friday, the final day of the two-day conference.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at a lunchtime speech before the mayors, called for a federal tax on greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with a cut for employment taxes.

"We're complaining that we're not going to do it because the other guy's not doing it. It doesn't make any sense to me at all," he said.

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