Palin channel reportedly in the works: Former Alaska governor and onetime GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is rumored to be starting up her own digital television channel, called "Rogue TV." Online news magazine Capitol reports Palin's channel will be hosted by TAPP, a forthcoming digital video service founded by former CNN and NBC Universal executives. Subscriptions are expected to cost $10 per month. Capitol said Rogue TV is expected to launch in April or May and will feature "video commentaries from the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, discussing current events and political issues" as well as "footage of Palin and her family in Alaska." The channel will also include parenting and cooking advice from Palin and may offer subscribers regular video chats with her.
March sled dog races added in Bethel: While many local and regional sled dog races in Alaska are struggling financially to stay afloat, the pull-tab-funded Kuskokwim 300 organization in Bethel is adding events to make up for those canceled earlier in the year because of a snow shortage. The K300 has announced a 40-mile race on March 16 with a $10,000 purse. The once postponed Akiak Dash, a 70-mile race with a $12,000 purse, is set for March 22. And a "Camp-Out Race," an overnighter, is scheduled for March 29-30 with a $10,000 purse. Bethel is a community of approximately 6,000 residents, many of them Yup'ik Natives, about 400 miles west of Anchorage. It years ago began taking advantage of gambling profits as one way to help fund sled dog races to ensure the survival of Alaska's dog mushing traditions.
Kodiak-area regional Native corporation names new president: Tom Panamaroff, 52, has been named president of Koniag Inc., the Kodiak Island-based Alaska Native regional corporation. Panamaroff has been serving as the company's interim president since former president and CEO Will Anderson resigned in March 2013 amid revelations that the corporation faced financial problems. In a press release, Koniag said Panamaroff will split his time between offices in Kodiak and in Anchorage and will oversee shareholder relations, regional affairs, and lands and natural resources. Koniag owns more than 1 million acres of surface and subsurface rights on Kodiak and Afognak Islands in Southcentral Alaska.
Suspect Identified in Palmer homicide: Alaska State Troopers Thursday night released the name of a suspect in the murder of a man found dead along the Glenn Highway Wednesday night. According to trooper reports, 17-year-old Jacob Allen Dvorak, of Palmer, was arrested on a single charge of first-degree murder and taken to Mat-Su Pretrial Facility without bail. Dvorak is charged in the death of 45-year-old Frank L. Pushruk, of Palmer. Pushruk was discovered dead, apparently from gunshot wounds, shortly before midnight on Wednesday at about mile 52 of the Glenn Highway, according to troopers. His body was forwarded to the State Medical Examiner Office for an autopsy. According to online court records, Pushruk had about two decades of misdemeanor and felony charges in Anchorage and Palmer.
High-speed chase ends in multiple charges, including DUI: A Wasilla man is in jail after leading officers on a drunken car chase that reached speeds of about 120 mph on the Glenn Highway early Friday morning, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers reported that an officer spotted a 1988 Chevrolet Corsica traveling northbound at about 95 mph near mile 31 of the Glenn Highway at about 2:21 a.m. Friday. When troopers attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver, 40-year-old Terry Wilson, of Wasilla, accelerated to speeds of up to 120 mph, troopers said. Wilson eventually lost control of the vehicle, crashing into a guardrail on Fireweed Road, troopers said, whereupon he was arrested and charged with felony DUI, felony DUI refusal, felony eluding, driving with a license revoked and reckless driving. Wilson was taken to the Mat-Su Pretrial facility where he was held without bail.
Troopers seek missing Kalskag man: Alaska State Troopers say a 30-year-old from the village of Lower Kalskag in Western Alaska hasn't been seen since March 3. Troopers initiated a search and rescue operation for Travis Alexie on Friday but haven't found him. He was last seen at 6 p.m. in Tuluksak, a village about 35 miles to the southwest. "It is presumed that Alexie headed back to Kalskag at that time. He was last seen driving a black Honda four-wheeler with a homemade plywood windshield," troopers wrote in a Thursday dispatch. Anyone who's seen Alexie since his disappearance is asked to call the trooper post in Aniak at 675-4398.
New language research deepens picture of ancient Beringia: In addition to the evidence from mitochondrial DNA and traces of ancient birch and willow found in sediment cores taken from beneath the Bering Sea floor, there's one additional piece of evidence that point to a prolonged human habitation in the ancient region of Beringia, according to a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE Wednesday: Language. The paper, which was co-authored by University of Alaska Fairbanks language scholar Gary Holton, suggests that an extended layover in the area that was once the Bering Land Bridge explains the relationship between the Na-Dene language family, which includes Alaska's Athabascan language group, as well as some Native American languages from the desert Southwest, and the Yeniseian family in central Siberia, as the New York Times explains. When researchers first found the link in 2008, they'd assumed the Na-Dene languages descended from the older Yeniseian, differentiating itself as the speakers traveled east. But the new research suggests that both Yeniseian and Na-Dene descended from a common, now-lost ancestor tongue, which in turn suggests that after a period of isolation in the Beringia region, populations migrated in both directions -- some heading deeper into North America, while others extended toward Siberia.
Murkowski calls for conservation, emission reductions: In a position that diverges from those of many of her Republican counterparts as well as those of Democrats across the aisle, Sen. Lisa Murkowski called on the U.S. to pursue conservation and technological measures to curb emissions contributing to climate change while continuing to use conventional fuels, according to a Bloomberg report published at Fuel Fix. Murkowski, the ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee dodged questions on the degree to which human activity is responsible for climate change, but emphasized that fossil fuels remain "abundant" and could be developed while simultaneously being made cleaner and more efficient. The article notes that some of her fellow Republicans have balked at investing in such technology without guarantees that other major emitters, such as China and India, would do the same. "I take a different approach," Murkowski told Bloomberg. "I'm one that is big into self-responsibility. We are a country that consumes a lot. I think that we should be more efficient. I think that we should conserve more. I think that we should lead in that way."
Legalizing pot in Alaska won't allow federal employees to spark up: If Alaska's ballot measure legalizing the recreation use of marijuana passes in August, at least one slice of the state's population still won't be free to light one up. According to a report in Government Executive magazine, marijuana use remains forbidden for federal employees, regardless of the laws of the state they reside in. The restriction comes from an executive order signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and is still being enforced, a Justice Department spokesperson told the magazine: "Marijuana is illegal under federal law and the rules prohibiting federal employees from using it still apply, regardless of state laws." Moreover, as GovExec points out, as recently as August 2013, in a memo clarifying the Justice Department's policy that marijuana is a low enforcement priority, it affirmed that "preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property" remains a higher priority. It's impossible to know exactly how many people this might affect, but according to January 2014 estimates by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the 12-month average for federal government jobs in the state for 2014 will be about 15,000.