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Trip shot: Arizona Sunset

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(c)2017 J.S.Reinitz

 Sunset from Apache Junction, Arizona.

Trip shot: Lake view

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(c)2017 J.S.Reinitz

  View of Roosevelt Lake, Arizona, from the trail to the lower cliff dwellings at Tonto National Monument.

Photo: Window visitor

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(c) 2017 J.S.Reinitz


This feathered visitor knocked into the ground floor window at my day job (yeah, I need one of those to pay the bills).
Our office is next to a river, so we get all the excitement — bald eagles fishing in the winter, seasonal flooding, abandoned bull mastiffs trading water, dive teams looking for submerged cringe guns, and the occasional jumper (who ultimately lands in waist-deep water and knee-deep mud).
The hawk above saw something interesting on our features editor’s desk and thumped into the glass. After standing around dazed, he flew off.

Recommended reading

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  I’m not sure Amazon’s recommended items knows much about children’s lit.

Backcountry skier rescued at Grand Teton

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A missing skier was rescued Wednesday after two nights in the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park after exiting a backcountry gate leaving the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Jackson, Wy., according to the National Park Service.

Two skiers were reported overdue by friends at approximately 7 p.m. Monday night, February 20, when they did not return from skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The men were identified as 30-year old Chris Prem from Destin, Florida, and 31-year old Mike Syverson from Telluride, Colo.

The emergency call to 911 prompted a conference call with Teton County Sheriff’s Office and Teton County Search and Rescue with Grand Teton National Park to initiate a search for the men. Information to help determine a search area was very limited, other than it was believed the men planned to exit the resort and ski the nearby backcountry. At approximately 10 p.m. the Teton County Sheriff’s Office successfully got a cell phone ping to help determine that the missing skiers were in the Granite Canyon area of Grand Teton National Park. This information greatly helped to narrow the search area.

The National Park Service took the lead with the search. Due to avalanche danger and darkness, resources were gathered to begin an aerial and ground search for early Tuesday morning.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 21, a resort tram operator spending the night near the top of the tram was awakened by one of the missing skiers, Prem. An emergency call was made to alert rescue personnel. Prem was uninjured, and communicated that he had separated from Syverson because he had gear that would allow him to travel back to the summit for help. He also had a GPS coordinate from a phone app that could help to locate his friend. Prem spent the night atop the mountain.

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California auctioneer indicted in rhino horn investigation

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Black rhino. File art.

Jacob Chait, 34, the head of acquisitions and auctioneer of a Beverley Hills, Calif., gallery and auction house, appeared in Manhattan federal court in New York to face charges of conspiring to smuggle rhinoceros horns, in violation of the Lacey Act on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

He is charged in a one-count indictment handed up by a federal grand jury on Feb. 15.

According to the DOJ, allegations contained in the indictment include:

From approximately 2009 and 2012, Chait and his co-conspirators purchased rhinoceros horns and taxidermy mounts in the U.S. and sought to sell them to foreign buyers in private deals, including in at least eight separate deals or attempted deals involving 15 rhinoceros horns worth an estimated $2.4 million. This included one alleged incident in which Chait personally smuggled two endangered black rhino horns to China in his luggage. Rhinoceros horns are worth more per pound than gold due to the high demand in Asia and increasing scarcity of supply.

The trade in rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory have been restricted since 1976 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by over 180 countries around the world.
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Marble sarcophagus piece returned to Greece

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photo courtesy Manhattan District Attorney’s Office

 
An ancient marble sarcophagus fragment to the Hellenic Republic during was returned Greece during a repatriation ceremony Feb. 10, 2017, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

As part of an ongoing joint investigation in January, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office seized pursuant to a search warrant the ancient marble sarcophagus fragment from a gallery in Midtown Manhattan, where it was displayed as the centerpiece. The item, which originally dates back to 200 A.D. and depicts a battle between Greek and Trojan warriors, was stolen from Greece in 1988. The artifact was then smuggled abroad and transported through Europe before finally landing in New York. 

Once presented with evidence of the theft, the Manhattan-based art gallery forfeited the item willingly, and the repatriation ceremony represents the return of the ancient sarcophagus fragment to Greece, where it will be displayed for public view and research at the National Archeological Museum of Athens.

Three sentenced in snake trafficking investigation

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 Three men have been sentenced as a part of Operation Kingsnake, a three-year investigation that uncovered the illegal trafficking and collecting of hundreds of wild snakes in Oregon, 11 other states, and Canada, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Michael Collalto, of Rochester, New York, pleaded guilty Jan. 30, 2017, in federal court in Rochester, New York, to four Lacey Act violations for his role in the trade of illegally caught snakes. From 2008 through 2012, Collalto was part of a group of individuals that trafficked hundreds of illegally collected snakes to or from Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Canada.

Collalto, a breeder and collector of reptiles, pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal transport of wildlife and one count of illegal receipt of wildlife, which are misdemeanors under the Lacey Act. In court documents, Collalto admitted that between 2011 and 2012, he knowingly participated in violations, which involved the illegal collection, transport, and receipt of snakes that were collected from and protected by New Jersey and Oregon.

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Indictments for imitation jewelry

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photo courtesy ICE

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A federal grand jury returned an indictment Tuesday charging four individuals with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by conspiring to import and fraudulently sell Filipino-made jewelry as Native American-made.

This is the second indictment filed as the result of a continuing federal investigation that began in January 2015. The investigation targeted an international scheme to violate the IACA, and has included the execution of eight search and seizure warrants and investigative activity in New Mexico, California, Alaska, Kentucky, Nevada and the Philippines.

The three-count indictment charges the following four defendants with conspiring to violate the IACA and the federal fraudulent importation, money laundering, wire fraud and mail fraud laws:

Imad Aysheh, 41, formerly of Gallup, New Mexico, who is identified as the owner and operator of Imad’s Jewelry, a jewelry manufacturing business in the Philippines;

Iyad Aysheh, 45, of Lodi, California, who is identified as the chief executive officer and agent for IJ Wholesale, Inc., a California corporation that imports jewelry into the United States;

Nedal Aysheh, 37, formerly of Gallup, New Mexico, and

Raed Aysheh, 39, of American Canyon, California, who is identified as the owner and operator of Golden Bear & Legacy, LLC, a retail store in Calistoga, California, that specializes in Native American-style jewelry.

A fifth defendant was indicted in 2015.

According to the indictment, from March 2014 through October 2015, the four defendants conspired to violate the IACA by displaying and offering for sale jewelry manufactured in the Philippines in a manner that suggested that it was Indian-produced and the product of American Indian tribes. The indictment also alleges that these defendants conspired to defraud the United States and its people of money by using the U.S. mail and wire communications to promote the importation and sale of the Filipino-made jewelry as Indian-made, and to launder the proceeds of those unlawful sales.

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Conviction in Pakistani smuggling case

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A New Mexico man was convicted Thursday by a federal jury for multiple crimes, including his role in a conspiracy to smuggle ancient artifacts into the United States from Pakistan. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the National Geographic Association.

According to evidence presented at trial and court records, Ijaz Khan, 42, of Sante Fe, New Mexico, was part of a conspiracy that smuggled ancient artifacts into the U.S., including pottery and bronze weapons stolen from burial sites and coins from a cave temple in Pakistan called the Kashmir Smast. Khan and Vera Lautt, 57, also of Santa Fe, used their business, Indus Valley, to sell the artifacts. One shipment of artifacts was stopped at Dulles International Airport in October 2013. Khan and others then attempted to obtain the shipment by submitting various false and fraudulent documents to CBP.

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Photo: Downtown sunrise

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Downtown Sunrise.

 
It’s finally that time of the season when the sun is starting to come as I leave my morning exercise class. No filters, just metered off the clouds.

Photo: Winter driving

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Sliding through the holidays, taking care of a few last-minute errands.

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