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Shell collecting: “Military device” shuts down beach

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Crusty military device, with glove for scale. Photo courtest Dare County Emergency Management.

 A newly formed island on North Carolina’s Outer Banks has been reopened after a Navy bomb squad removed the crusty remains of a World War II era training bomb that washed ashore Friday, July 14.

The “military device” was spotted on Shelly Island, a mile-long 500-foot wide sandbar, prompting the evacuation of a one-mile safety buffer.

Below is the National Park Service account:

Hatteras Island Rescue Squad responded to a report of what appears to be an old, unidentified military device on the sand bar off Cape Point. Dare County Emergency Management requested assistance from the U. S. Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit from Little Creek Virginia. Based on images below, out of an abundance of caution, the EOD unit asked that a one mile safety perimeter be established until they could arrive and determine the exact nature of the item.

A portion of the one mile perimeter falls within the boundaries of Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore), in the Cape Point area. The Seashore, in partnership with the Dare County Sheriff’s office, Hatteras Island Rescue Squad, and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, will comply with the U.S. Navy’s direction by temporarily establishing a perimeter starting at the entrance to off-road vehicle (ORV) Ramp 44. The ORV ramp will reopen to ORVs and pedestrians once the Seashore has received an all clear from the U.S. Navy.

More on Hobby Lobby forfeiture 

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 This week’s announcement that Hobby Lobby reached an agreement with the U.S. government over hundreds of smuggled cuneiform tablets and other artifacts brought a lot of questions. People were under the impression that the historical loot was being sold at stores.

But, this report by NPR indicates Hobby Lobby’s owners are in the process of building a Bible museum. Below is the forfeiture complaint, which has a lot of details but sheds no light on why the items were acquired.

Forfeiture filed for Hobby Lobby artifacts

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tablets edit

Cuneiform tablet. Photo courtesty ICE

Courtesy Immigration and Customs Enforcement

NEW YORK – Pursuant to an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations New York of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the nationwide arts-and-crafts retailer and two of Hobby Lobby’s corporate affiliates, the United States filed civil complaint to forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae.

As alleged in the complaint, these ancient clay artifacts originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates and Israel, contrary to federal law. Packages containing the artifacts were shipped to Hobby Lobby and the shipping labels on these packages falsely described cuneiform tablets as tile “samples.”

The government also filed a stipulation of settlement with Hobby Lobby, in which Hobby Lobby consented to the forfeiture of the artifacts in the complaint, approximately 144 cylinder seals and an additional sum of $3 million, resolving the civil action. Hobby Lobby further agreed to adopt internal policies and procedures governing its importation and purchase of cultural property, provide appropriate training to its personnel, hire qualified outside customs counsel and customs brokers, and submit quarterly reports to the government on any cultural property acquisitions for the next eighteen months.

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Bison attack at Yellowstone

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 From the National Park Service

On Wednesday morning, June 28, 2017, a married couple received injuries after being “butted” by a bison at Mud Volcano, just north of Lake Village in Yellowstone National Park.

The Heber City, Utah, couple was taking photographs on a boardwalk at Mud Volcano, when a bison approached them. The bison butted The wife, age 72, who then fell into her husband, age 74, and both individuals fell to the ground.

Park rangers responded immediately and evacuated the couple from the trail, a quarter mile, to the road. The couple was transported to the Lake Clinic. The husband had minor injuries, and the wife was transported by Life Flight to Idaho Falls, Idaho. She was in stable condition. Citations were not issued to either individual.

When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards away from all large animals – bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.

This is the first confirmed incident of a bison injuring visitors in 2017. In 2015, five people were injured after approaching bison.

U.S. returns Royal Seals valued at $1,500,000 to Korea

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Royal Seals from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) . photo courtesy ICE

Courtesy Immigration and Customs Enforcement

WASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) returned two Royal Seals from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) to the Republic of Korea. Each seal is valued at approximately $750,000.

The Royal Seals belonged to Queen Munjeong, who reigned from 1545 to 1565 and King Hyeonjong, who reigned from 1659 to 1674. The seal belonging to Queen Munjeong is believed to have been stolen during the Korean War (1950-1953) and illegally removed from Korea. King Hyeonjong’s seal is believed to have been stolen during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945).

HSI began investigating Queen Munjeong’s seal in 2013 at the request of CHA after the seal was located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), who had purchased the artifact in good faith in 2000. Subsequent investigations also lead to the discovery of King Hyeonjong’s seal in a private collection.

Weekend rescues at Rocky

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Highline rescue operations in the Roaring River, Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountain National Park

Courtesy National Park Service

June 25, 2017

Rocky Mountain National Park’s Search and Rescue Team members were called to several incidents on the weekend of June 24-25, 2017, including one where an 18-year-old male was rescued via a highline operation across the Roaring River above the Alluvial Fan.

On Saturday afternoon, the 18 year old from Kansas had been rock hopping on this section of the Roaring River when he became stuck on the west side of the river. Park rangers were notified at 2:30 p.m. The young man’s family members were on the east side of the river. Rangers assessed the situation with members of Estes Valley Fire Protection District’s Dive and Swiftwater Rescue Team, and after considering the complexity and length of time the rescue would likely take, it was determined that it would be safest to conduct the rescue on Sunday morning. Rangers provided the man with warm clothes, a sleeping bag and food overnight. A ranger stayed overnight on the other side of the river from the young man…

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Clandestine pot farm damages historic site

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  FRESNO, Calif. — One person has been sentenced to prison in connection with a pot farm found in a prehistoric site in the Domeland Wilderness in the Sequoia National Forest.

Carlos Piedra-Murillo, 30, of Mexico, was sentenced to two years and one month in prison for conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

Authorities located more than 8,000 marijuana plants, a .22-caliber rifle, a pellet rifle and .22‑caliber ammunition in August 2016.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice:

The marijuana cultivation operation caused extensive environmental damage. It covered about 10 acres and was within the burned area of the 2000 Manter Fire. Some of the new vegetation and trees that sprouted after the fire had been cut and trimmed to make room for the marijuana plants. Water was diverted from a tributary stream of Trout Creek, a major tributary to the Kern River. Fertilizer and pesticides, including illegal carbofuran and zinc phosphide, highly toxic pesticides from Mexico, were found at the site. Large piles of trash were found near the campsite. The moving of soil to accommodate a basin around each marijuana plant caused extensive damage to a large prehistoric Tűbatulabal archaeological site. Holes were dug in the middle of the archaeological site and artifacts were found scattered on the surface among the marijuana plants. 

Also charged were Juan Carlos Lopez, 32, of Lake Elsinore; Rafael Torres-Armenta, 30, and Javier Garcia-Castaneda, 38, both of Mexico. Torres, Lopez, and Garcia have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. 

Historian arrested for National Archives theft

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  GREENBELT, Maryland – A College Park, Maryland, historian had been charged with allegedly stealing records and artifacts from the National Archives and Records Administration, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Here’s an excerpt from the DOJ announcement:

According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, between in or about October 2015 and on or about June 9, 2017, (32-year-old Antonin) DeHays, a historian, repeatedly visited the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, and stole dog tags and other documents belonging to U.S. servicemen whose planes had crashed during World War II. DeHays sold the stolen dog tags on eBay. In addition, on at least one occasion, DeHays gave a stolen dog tag assigned to a Tuskegee Airman to a museum in Virginia, in exchange for an opportunity to sit inside a Spitfire airplane.

On June 9, 2017, investigators executed a search warrant at DeHays’s residence and seized six dog tags and other documents that had been stolen from National Archives at College Park, according to court records.

Have you seen me: Red notice for suspected ivory trafficker

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Madi Conteh

 Courtesy of Interpol. March 2017

LYON, France – Interpol issued an internationally wanted persons Red Notice for a suspected ivory trafficker following the seizure of hundreds of pieces of elephant tusks in Thailand.

The Red Notice for Madi Conteh, a Gambian national, was published at the request of the Malawi authorities, where he is wanted on charges of ‘exporting government trophies without permit’. Conteh is suspected of concealing 330 kg of ivory pieces in a shipment falsely labeled as unprocessed gemstones sent from Malawi and seized in Bangkok in early March.

Due to heightened trafficking concerns following the recovery of illegal ivory in a similar shipment from Africa in 2016, customs authorities conducted additional checks of the cargo and discovered 442 pieces of ivory worth around USD 500,000 concealed in several containers.

Another Gambian national was arrested in Bangkok when he attempted to pick up the shipment containing the trafficked ivory. The two are suspected to be part of an ivory trafficking ring involved in smuggling elephant tusks from Africa to Asia.

Interpol’s Environmental Security unit is supporting the investigation through its Project Wisdom which assists member countries in combating the illegal trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn.

A new Interpol initiative launched in January targets traffickers in Asia sourcing wildlife from Africa, by providing a strengthened law enforcement response in source, transit and destination countries, particularly those linked to the illicit trade in ivory, rhinoceros horn and Asian big cat products.

Man Severely Burned in Hot Spring

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  Courtesy National Park Service.
June 14, 2017

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – A 21-year-old man, Gervais Dylan Gatete from Raleigh, North Carolina, sustained severe burns after falling into a hot spring late on Tuesday, June 13. The incident occurred in the Lower Geyser Basin off of Fountain Flat Drive just north of the Old Faithful area. Gatete, currently an employee with Xanterra Parks and Resorts, was with seven other people when he fell.

After the incident, the group attempted to evacuate Gatete by car. Just before midnight, they flagged down a ranger near Seven Mile Bridge on the West Entrance Road. Park staff provided immediate medical assistance and transported the patient via ambulance to the airport in West Yellowstone. From there, he was flown to a hospital.

Since rangers were not at the scene of the incident last night, it is not yet clear exactly where and how it occurred. Investigations continue today and additional information will be provided when it is available.

The ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and there is scalding water just below the surface.

This is the first serious injury in a thermal area this year. Last June, a man left the boardwalk and died after slipping into a hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin. In August 2000, one person died and two people received severe burns from falling into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin.

Two Climbers Rescued from the Kahiltna Glacier

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Courtesy National Park Service

June 5, 2017

TALKEETNA, Alaska – Denali National Park and Preserve rangers responded to two concurrent mountaineering incidents starting in the early morning hours of Monday, June 5. In addition to a routine medical evacuation, mountaineering rangers and guides rescued a critically injured climber in a labor intensive, 14-hour crevasse rescue effort.

First, NPS Ranger Dan Corn and five mountaineering Volunteers-in-Parks (VIPs) were descending to the Kahiltna Basecamp around 11 p.m. on Sunday, June 4 when they encountered a sick solo climber at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill at 7,000 feet. VIP Medic Elizabeth Keane performed a physical assessment and determined that Michael Metzler, age 23 of Carnation, Washington, was suffering from an acute abdominal illness. The team provided pain medication and then assisted Metzler to the Kahiltna Basecamp.

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Ancient Site Discovered at Channel Islands National Park

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Photo courtesy National Park Service

courtesy National Park Service

June 3, 2017
The National Park Service (NPS) discovered a significant ancient Native American site while conducting archeological monitoring during a rehabilitation project of the historic Main Ranch House on Santa Rosa Island.

Archeologists discovered artifacts characteristic of ancient Paleocoastal sites that were occupied by the first islanders on the northern Channel Islands between 8,000 and 13,000 years ago.

Scientists now believe that ancient sites from this period may be evidence of a coastal migration following the North Pacific Rim from Northeast Asia into the Americas, part of the peopling of the new world.

The ancient site was discovered under the Main Ranch House, part of the historic Vail and Vicker Ranch at Bechers Bay, in the process of lifting the building to construct a new foundation.

“The northern Channel Islands have one of the largest and most significant clusters of early coastal sites in the Americas with more than 100 sites over 7,500 years old,” said Jon Erlandson, University of Oregon Archeologist and leading expert on Paleocoastal archaeology. “We suspect the site is at least 10,000 years old, with evidence of some of the earliest people on the West Coast, the first Americans.”

Among the artifacts uncovered were two types of stone tools that are distinctly representative of early North American Paleoindians —Channel Islands barbed points and crescents. Made from local island chert and used for hunting and fishing, they are signatures of a sophisticated technology of early tool making on the Channel Islands.

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