More talk of bigger things for Palin. VeepWatch, a web site of The Voluntary Trade Council that has made it its business to track vice presidential possibilities, for the second time puts Gov. Sarah Palin No. 5 on its “power ranking” of veep contenders. And in identifying what she has going for her, the list — which the web site acknowledges is worth about as much as anybody else’s list — notes that she hasn’t been beaten up politically too much:
“Among the possible governors, she’s faced the least backlash, probably because she’s in Alaska.” Seven of the 10 Republicans listed are governors.
Thomas Cheplick, writing today in The American Spectator, also likes the “beautiful conservative Republican governor of Alaska” on the ticket. Her strengths, in Cheplick’s view: she’s young, she has an anticorruption image, she defeated a corrupt political machine, she has a son in the military, and she’s pro-life.
An Associated Press story published in the ADN on Monday also listed Palin among the nation’s governors whose names keep coming up for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket.
Meanwhile, Palin’s 24-minute interview Sunday on C-SPAN from the National Governors Association 2008 Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., has been posted online. In it, as noted earlier on ADN’s Politics Blog, she was pressed on what she would do if offered the second spot, but she dodged the question. And she also made at least two goofs in the interview: one in saying March 23 will be the anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the other in referring to the size of the spill as 11,000 gallons. (It’s March 24 and 11 million gallons.)
And the governor got yet another dose of national publicity in a Reuters story which declares that taking on the oil industry has “endeared her to some Alaskans” but, perhaps predictably, has “made her few friends in the oil industry." The story gives a brief account of Palin’s political rise and sets up the struggle that lies ahead with the oil industry. “The companies are not backing down without a fight. They have already announced investment cuts due to the tax hike and have warned … Palin's gas pipeline plan is doomed to failure without their support.”
Police suspect exposure in second Fairbanks death. A teenager found dead on the south side of Fairbanks might have died of exposure, a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story reports. It would be the second such death in the Interior city in less than a week. The latest case involves a Native male in his mid-teens who was found late Monday afternoon.
“No local children had recently been reported missing, but Fairbanks is known as a hub for many youths who run away from villages in northern and central Alaska, and police speculated he may have been a runaway,” the story says.
Smoking ban draws heat. Juneau is considering a rewrite of its smoking ban ordinance, and when it came time for public testimony on the issue, bar owners stood up to say it’s ruining their businesses, according to a Juneau Empire story. One bar owner said he’s had to lay off four employees, while one private club member said his club will likely close under the rewritten law, which aims to close loopholes in the original that let private clubs escape enforcement.
Those in favor of the ban, however, renewed their public health arguments. “It was never about economics,” Juneau resident Joan Cahill said. “It was about public health.”
Laptops in the lurch. Kodiak City Council members are stuck over what to do about a new warning from the city manager that having public business on their personal computers could mean the loss of the computer if a lawsuit comes up, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reports. While the council tries to judge the risk and figure out what to do about it, at least one council member has made his choice:
“Because I use my computer for business I don’t want anymore city e-mails,” Tom Walters said. “Just take me off the list.”
Born to run … but in Maryland? Sled dog racing is at the height of its season in Alaska, what with the Fur Rondy races over the weekend, the just-completed Yukon Quest, and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race coming up this weekend. But sled dog season in Maryland?
According to a Washington Post story, a dog sled touring operation in western Maryland is making a go of it. The region gets 100 inches of snow a year, has 90,000 acres of parks and forest lands, and a lot of people show up to ride. The operation claims to be the southernmost dog sled touring company in the U.S.
And if you prefer wheels over dogs … Fat-tire bicycles are still a fairly new phenomenon, but they are catching on and are boosting the popularity of snow biking, according to an Associated Press story. “The wider treads allow riders to maneuver on snowy trails that stymie even the burliest mountain bikes. And biking routinely trumps skate skiing, the fastest cross-country ski technique,” the story says.
At least one Alaska blogger, Jill Homer of Juneau who writes “Up in Alaska,” has understood the appeal of snow biking for a time and has been documenting her preparation for the Iditarod Invitational, which began Sunday. She’s also been posting periodically on NPR, which reports today that Homer is leading her division in the 350-mile race from Knik Lake to McGrath.
Click here to read an ADN piece on Homer that ran earlier this month. The story includes details the evolution of Homer’s interest in snow biking.
All in all, “pretty scary.” A story in The Oregonian relates how the family of a Portland man who survived an avalanche in Alaska over the weekend (click here for the ADN account of the slide) found out about the episode. The family apparently pieced together events before actually speaking to anyone through a series of telephone messages, including one from Ian Wilson, who survived the avalanche, and a bunch of others from news media.
In the end, after they’d talked to their son and got the whole story, Wilson’s mother and father concluded it was a beacon and a cool head that saved their son’s life. “I think he did everything he could,” said Steve Wilson. “But let’s face it. The gods were with him on that one.”
Fluoride ban gains support. A proposal that would eliminate fluoride from public drinking water already won a degree of backing before the Fairbanks City Council, according to a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story. The plan, however, has a way to go before it will be voted up or down.
Those in support of the plan contend fluoride is a health hazard. They say it is available for consumers to buy on their own if they want it in their water to help prevent tooth decay.
Juneau residents voted last fall to ban fluoride from the capital city’s water supply.
No more polar bears? A KTVA Channel 11 story takes note of the delay in the Bush administration’s decision on whether Alaska’s polar bears need special protections, and then poses the question: What if the animals vanished?
The story quotes one wildlife official as replying that with the polar bear’s spot at the top of the food chain, their disappearance could change the entire structure. “Polar bears eat ringed seals, ringed seals eat and so on. So if you remove one component of the Arctic ecosystem, then the rest of the Arctic ecosystem will probably change as well.”
Beneath the surface. Remember Lynne Cox, the long distance swimmer? She got a fair amount of international attention when she swam from Little Diomede Island to Big Diomede Island (thus swimming from the United States to Russia) back in 1987. She’s also dipped into the ocean between islands in the Aleutians and into the cool waters of Portage Lake.
Well, now she’s gone beneath the surface for adventure, according to a Los Angeles Times story. And seeing the ocean from underneath has a different set of challenges. “As I often explain to interviewers, I'm hydrophilic,” says the woman who the Times calls one of the greatest swimmers alive. “I love all water — rain, fountains, ponds, puddles and frigid oceans. I've spent my life swimming across water's surface, wrapped in waves, cradled by currents, caressed by the winds. Water always was about being light, buoyant. Going underwater wasn't natural at all.”