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AK Beat: Judges named to Alaska Criminal Justice Commission

Alaska Dispatch News

New Alaska Criminal Justice Commission members named: Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Dana Fabe has appointed three judges to the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission. The 13-member commission created by Senate Bill 64 -- an omnibus crime bill passed during the last legislative session – consists of legislators, state and municipal officials, law enforcement, victims’ rights advocates, and Alaska Natives. It’s charged with reviewing crime and incarceration rates, sentencing laws and practices and alternatives to traditional forms of incarceration, among other tasks. The plan is for the commission to make annual recommendations to the Alaska Legislature. The judges appointed by Fabe are retired Justice Alexander O. Bryner, who worked his way up from the district court bench in Anchorage to the state’s Supreme Court, where he served for a decade before stepping down in 2007; Judge Trevor Stephens, a Ketchikan native, the presiding judge of Alaska’s First Judicial District and the second most senior member of the state’s three-judge sentencing panel; and Judge Stephanie Rhoades, who has served as a district court judge in Anchorage since 1992. Correction: An earlier version of this item included an incorrect bill number for the legislation establishing the commission.

Will Smith's Alaska Native leading lady? That's the rumor running around the Internet, according to Indian Country Today, which has cobbled together Facebook posts, IMDB updates and Tweets that seem to indicate that Irene Bedard is the top contender for the female lead in "Hancock 2" opposite the former Fresh Prince. Born in Anchorage, Bedard is an Inupiaq actress best known for her role in the film "Smoke Signals" and as the speaking voice of -- and physical model for -- the title character in Disney's "Pocahontas" and "Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World." Indian Country Today notes: "If you wanted to cast a Native actress in a Hollywood blockbuster, you'd be hard pressed to find a better candidate than Bedard. ... We're not sure what to think, but we're keeping an eye on Bedard's pages and the IMDB, which still lists Bedard's name alongside Will Smith's." Bedard was last seen onstage in Anchorage in "The Winter Bear" at Cyrano's in 2010. 

Quake rattles remote section of Southeast Alaska at Canadian border: A strong earthquake rattled the border of Alaska and Canada early Thursday morning, seismologists said. The Alaska Earthquake Information Center said a preliminary 6.0-magnitude quake struck at 3:49 a.m. about 62 miles northwest of Yakutat. The epicenter straddled the border between Alaska and Canada. The quake was relatively far from population centers, but was strong enough to be felt in Yakutat, as well as in Elfin Cove and the Yukon community of Whitehorse. AEIC Seismologist Natasha Ruppert said she had not heard any initial reports of damage. Several dozen aftershocks were recorded in the region following the quake, the largest of which was about a magnitude 3.0, according to Ruppert.

Petersburg blast injures man, sparks investigation: Officials with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Petersburg police are investigating an explosion that sent a Petersburg man to a Seattle hospital on Sunday, the Juneau Empire reports. Authorities said they’re not sure what the man -- who they didn’t identify, but who the Empire reported was local real estate developer Mark Wayne Weaver -- was doing at the gravel pit, owned by the Petersburg Borough, where the explosion took place. Among the things they’re investigating is whether Weaver had proper permits for the explosives, at least some of which, police said, appeared to be commercially available substances.

Murkowski sees positive signs for potential crude exports: Following a meeting with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker over efforts to loosen federal restrictions on exporting U.S. crude oil, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she is encouraged about the prospects of those efforts, according to a report from industry site Fuel Fix. Although Alaska oil can be exported under a Clinton-era exemption, Murkowski has led the charge on rolling back the nationwide ban. The push comes as U.S. oil production surges, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia.