Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, September 14, 2007

Son of Alaska governor enlists Sept. 11

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ANCHORAGE - The 18-year-old son of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin enlisted in the Army on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Track Palin will report for basic training next week at Fort Benning, Ga., said the governor's spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow.

Neither he nor family members are commenting on his decision to sign up Tuesday, which was the sixth anniversary of the 2001 attacks.

The Palin family wants to keep private some aspects of his decision, Leighow said.

Track was adamant about not wanting publicity, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Nagl, the station commander at the Wasilla recruiting office where he signed up.

Nagl would not discuss details of the enlistment.

"Joining the military is something I've been considering for a while now," he said in a statement provided by the governor's office. "I've always been competitive and look forward to the challenges that will come as I answer the call and serve my country."

After training, he could be assigned to any infantry unit in the world, but Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. J.D. Gordon said all infantry units eventually spend a tour of duty in the Middle East.

Track is the oldest of four children, and the only son, of the governor and her husband, Todd Palin. The family lives in Wasilla, about 40 miles north of Anchorage.

Track is a former Alaska All Stars hockey player who also played junior hockey in Michigan during part of his senior year, Leighow said.

Alaska's elephant will move to California

ANCHORAGE - It looks like Alaska's only elephant will be moving to Northern California.

Alaska Zoo officials have chosen the Performing Animal Welfare Society in San Andreas, Calif., as the first choice for a new home for Maggie.

Last month, retired game show host Bob Barker promised to donate $750,000 for her care there.

Zoo officials hope to finalize the agreement this month and will visit the Calfornia facility. Arrangements for the move continue.

Animal activists have long called for Maggie to move out of Alaska. The pressure mounted in May when firefighters twice had to hoist her to her feet because she couldn't stand up.

Anti-meth commercials airing in Alaska

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A series of anti-meth ads are expected to run through March 2008 in Alaska, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington - all of which have battled dangerous meth labs and the related crime and neglected children meth abuse spawns.

The ad features a teenage girl standing in a run-down home, sadly recalling how she and her father used to make breakfast together, and how those happy mornings ended when he became a methamphetamine addict who used the kitchen to cook meth instead.

Then, she describes how police raided the kitchen her father had filled with volatile chemicals and whisked her off to a hospital to be decontaminated.

"I haven't seen my dad since," she says wistfully.

That public service announcement and others featuring real testimonials from people whose lives were touched by meth began airing this month in a federally funded media blitz targeting young adults in Iowa and seven other states facing big meth problems.

The $10 million effort, announced Sept. 4 by White House drug czar John Walters, is employing television, radio and newspaper spots to let young people know that trying the highly addictive stimulant can lead to a devastating addiction.

People ages 18 to 34 have the highest rate of meth use and are more likely to urge peers to try some of the drug, said Jennifer de Vallance, a spokeswoman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is coordinating the campaign.

Army may move Striker brigade to Alaska

HONOLULU - The Army said Thursday it will hold public meetings on the Big Island and Oahu in two weeks about an environmental study on the basing of a Stryker brigade in Hawaii.

The first meeting is Sept. 25 in Hilo, followed by sessions in Waimea, Waianae and Wahiawa. The last will be held in Honolulu on Oct. 3.

The Army prepared the environmental impact statement to comply with a federal appeals court order. That ruling said the Army violated environmental law by bringing a Stryker brigade to Hawaii without adequately considering alternative locations.

The current report analyzes basing options for the brigade, including leaving it in the islands or moving it to Alaska or Colorado.

Separately, the Hawaii Air National Guard on Thursday released an environmental study for its plan to replace an F-15 squadron at Hickam Air Force Base with F-22s, the Air Force's most advanced fighter jet.

The study evaluates the environmental consequences of renovating existing facilities and constructing new buildings for the F-22s, the state Department of Defense said in a statement.

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