Ohio's own Iditarod: Buckeyes down in Cincinnati, Ohio, who couldn't travel north for Iditarod 2014 have created an alternative: teams of five humans, instead of painstakingly bred racing canines, physically attach themselves to shopping carts and race through five checkpoints scattered around downtown Cincinnati. It's called Cinciditarod, and it happened Saturday, just as Iditarod kicked off in Alaska's largest city. An overview of the event on the city's Fountain Square website reads, "Cinciditarod is a wacky shopping cart competition that begins and ends on Fountain Square. Coined after the real Alaskan Iditarod, which involves (a) grueling 1,100 mile dog sled race, the Cincinnati version is a little less intensive and a lot more creative." In addition to the 5-mile course, participants must collect items on a grocery list by performing challenges at the checkpoints. According to Cincinnati FOX affiliate WXIX, many of this year's teams wore coordinated costumes, like an all-male team that adopted a Miley Cyrus theme, which included a wrecking ball. The corporation that manages Fountain Square used the event as a food bank fundraiser. (The Cinciditarod apparently dodged the Iditarod Trail Committee's recent round of cease and desist letters sent to "urban Iditarod" races in other Lower 48 cities.)
Palin says she totally called Ukraine: Sarah Palin has happily highlighted a prediction she made way back in 2008, when she was the GOP vice presidential nominee. On her Facebook page, Palin explained how she anticipated Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine: "Yes, I could see this one from Alaska. I'm usually not one to Told-Ya-So, but I did, despite my accurate prediction being derided as 'an extremely far-fetched scenario' by the 'high-brow' Foreign Policy magazine." While on the campaign trail in Reno, Nev. on Oct. 21, 2008, Palin was quoted as saying: "After the Russian army invaded the nation of Georgia, Sen. Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence -- the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next." Last year, now-ousted Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych tossed a European trade deal in favor of quick cash from Russia. This set off deadly clashes between Ukrainians who look west toward Europe and those who lean east toward The Motherland. Russia's parliament gave Putin approval to use the country's military in Ukraine on Saturday, CBS News reported.
Success for state sexual exploitation unit: A state investigative crime unit tasked with investigating cases of commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking nabbed an alleged Anchorage pimp the same month of the group was formed, Alaska State Troopers say. The Alaska Bureau of Investigations' Special Crimes Unit got up and running in February, and shortly thereafter it got information about a man who'd been exploiting several women in the sex trafficking trade in Anchorage and the Wasilla area. Through an investigation, the unit identified 33-year-old Jeron Mason Batts. "Investigators learned that Batts would procure patrons ... for the women who worked for him and in return would receive either a portion or the entire proceeds for the sex acts performed." At least one of the women told investigators that Batts threatened to physically harm her if she didn't do what he asked. On Thursday at 1:30 in the morning, officers executed a search warrant at Batts' residence. The alleged pimp created a diversion at his door before officers entered, and he reportedly destroyed "key evidence." Still, Batts was charged with first-degree sex trafficking, two counts each of second- and third-degree sex trafficking and seven counts of tampering with physical evidence.
Trooper on scene rescues accident victims: Two Alaskans were rescued from an overturned vehicle by an Alaska State Trooper who witnessed their vehicle rollover, according to the statewide law enforcement agency. Around 10 p.m. Thursday, a trooper observed a 1999 Subaru Legacy lose control near Milepost 100 of the Parks Highway in Talkeetna. The Subaru rolled over, "subsequently trapping both occupants in the overturned vehicle." The trooper was able to free Palmer residents Calli-Dawn Grimmett, 28, and Leon Kitagawa, 43, from the vehicle and call emergency responders to the scene of the crash. Grimmett, the driver, was airlifted to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Palmer for non-life-threatening injuries, and a ground ambulance took Kitagawa to the hospital for a suspected shoulder injury. Only Grimmett was reportedly wearing a seatbelt. The investigation of the rollover is "continuing through legal process," troopers say. Troopers did not say whether alcohol was a factor.
Leads sought in shooting: Alaska State Troopers say a 69-year-old woman was injured when multiple shots were fired at a home in Palmer on Friday. Troopers responded to a residence near the intersection of South Inner Springer Loop and the Glenn Highway for the report of shots fired a home by an unknown individual. Multiple shots struck the home, troopers say, and the woman was injured as a result. Authorities are continuing their investigation and have asked anyone with information about the shooting, or who have seen suspicious people or vehicles in the area, to call the troopers at (907) 745-2131 or Crime Stoppers at (907) 745-3333.