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Favorite (news) Link Friday Week of December 9, 2016

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PFD protection bill pre-filed; would safeguard dividends in AK Constitution

Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) has pre-filed a bill in advance of the 30th Alaska legislative session which he says would allow Alaskans a vote to safeguard the Permanent Fund Dividend in the state’s constitution.

In a press release Wednesday, Wielechowski said the principal or “corpus” of the fund is already constitutionally protected and cannot be spent, but the earnings of the fund can be appropriated by the legislature for any purpose.

Sen. Wielechowski says his bill would not preclude the use of the earnings reserve of the Permanent Fund by the legislature, but would require PFD checks to be paid first, utilizing the current formula and ensuring that the full dividend gets paid out every year.

If the legislation passes both the House and the Senate with a 2/3 vote, the question of whether the PFD program should be constitutionally protected will be put to the people via referendum on a statewide ballot.

Governor Bill Walker, with a veto last June, prevented $666.4 million from being transferred into the fund's earnings reserve, reducing the check Alaskans received in the fall. The cut was part of $1.3 billion in widespread vetoes and deferred state spending. [Full Source]


City of Ketchikan objects to DOT traffic design

by Leila Kheiry
Front, Mill and Stedman streets are part of the state highway, but also are part of the primary downtown corridor. Summer traffic is particularly busy in that area because of thousands of cruise ship passengers walking through town, and the related tour buses.

The City of Ketchikan recently received the state’s latest project design drawings for upgrades to those streets. DOT officials have proposed widening sidewalks by seven feet on much of Front Street, to accommodate pedestrian traffic. That would mean the removal of the center southbound lane on Front Street.

There would be a turn lane at the Mission Street intersection, with room for about four standard vehicles, and a designated left turn lane from Mill onto Bawden Street.

The plan calls for the removal of three parking spaces along that corridor.

The Council voted unanimously to object to the removal of the center lane on Front Street, and to recommend widening sidewalks by less than the proposed seven feet. The motion also included objections to many of the proposed sidewalk bulb-outs, which are corners that extend into the street somewhat, allowing pedestrians to better see and be seen by oncoming traffic. The city provides crossing guards during the summer, which Council members agreed take care of that issue. [Read full story]

2 Million Pounds of Ready-to-Eat Chicken Recalled: Here's Why It's Risky


On Sunday (Dec. 4), the food manufacturing company National Steak and Poultry announced a recall of more than 1.9 million pounds of the products, which were produced from Aug. 20, 2016, through Nov. 30, 2016, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The products were shipped to restaurants and fast-food chains throughout the country, and were also sold directly to consumers during a monthly public sale at the company.

The recalled products may have been undercooked, and so they have the potential to contain bacteria, the USDA said. [Source]

John Glenn, American space-race hero, dead at age 95

CINCINNATI — Over the long arc of John Glenn’s life, it proved impossible to ever ask him to do something for his country. No matter the mission, no matter the risk, he had already stepped forward, his hand raised, his jaw set, ready to go.

Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, and later a four-term U.S. senator from Ohio, died Thursday at the Ohio State Cancer Center. He was 95.

To understand why John Glenn became so important in America, it is important to remember how badly the United States was losing the space race in the early 1960s. The Soviet Union had pulled ahead in this Cold War battle when it launched Sputnik, the first man-made object to be placed into orbit. It then made a mockery of the American program by sending the first human being, Yuri Gagarin, into orbit. Then the Soviets sent a second cosmonaut into orbit.

So all of America was watching at 9:47 in the morning on Feb. 20, 1962. Sitting in the cramped quarters of the Friendship 7 spacecraft, Glenn took off from Cape Canaveral. Scott Carpenter, the backup astronaut for the mission, famously said: “Godspeed, John Glenn.”

On Oct. 29, 1998, just months from the end of his time in the Senate, Glenn became the oldest person ever to go into space. He was 77 years old when he finally got his second mission, this time aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Glenn underwent a series of medical tests before, during, and after the flight. NASA scientists tested Glenn's balance and perception, his protein metabolism, and his heart and blood flow. Glenn also wore a harness during many of his nights in space to monitor sleep disorders, another common problem in space travel.

This flight involved 134 orbits of the earth, instead of three trips around he took back in 1962. But he said the same thing to his wife he used to tell her every time he would embark on a dangerous mission in war or in space. “I’m just going down to the corner store to get a pack of gum,” Glenn would say. And she responded: “Don’t be long.” [Read the full story]

King Tut Was Eastern European, According to the DNA Results

Scientists at Zurich-based DNA genealogy center, iGENEA, have reconstructed the DNA profile of King Tut, his father Akhenaten and grandfather Amenhotep III.

Researchers discovered that King Tut belonged to a genetic profile group known as haplogroup R1b1a2. More than 50 per cent of all men in Western Europe belong to this genetic group as do up to 70 per cent of British men.

But among modern-day Egyptians, less than 1 per cent of residents belong to this haplogroup, according to scientists. [Full Source]


Johnny Depp Is Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actor For The Second Year In A Row 

Thanks to recent ticket booth disappointments, Depp is this year’s most overpaid actor: His last three movies returned just $2.80 at the box office for every $1 he was paid on them.

Will Smith, who ranks second, has had a similarly poor run at the box office: He returned a dismal $5 at the ticket booth for every $1 he earned from his recent films. With Concussion, an Oscar nod evaded him and the movie barely met its $34 million production costs; Focus was a little better. Smith’s outsized paydays, coupled with box office disappointments, translate to poor returns.

9. Most over paid is Julia Roberts  [For the full List of overpaid actors go here]

Video of the Week: 




Historical Anecdote: 


A 25 year old Julius Caesar was sailing the Aegean Sea when he was kidnapped by Sicilian pirates. The pirates who captured him initially asked for a ransom of 20 talents of silver (which is about 620 kg of silver or $600,000 by today’s silver prices). According to Plutarch, rather than send his associates off to gather the silver, he instead laughed at the pirates and demanded they ask for 50 (1550 kg of silver), as 20 talents of silver was too small of a ransom for himself.

The pirates, of course, agreed and Caesar sent some of his associates off to gather the silver, which took 38 days to accomplish. Now nearly alone with the pirates (only keeping two servants and one of his friends), rather than cower, he instead took the route of treating them as if they were his subordinates. He even went so far as to demand they not talk whenever he decided to take a nap or go to sleep for the night. He spent most of his time with them composing and reciting poetry, as well as writing speeches. He would then recite the works to the pirates. He also joined in with playing various games with the pirates and participating in their exercises, generally acting as if he wasn’t a prisoner, but rather, their leader. The pirates quickly grew to respect and like him and allowed him the freedom to more or less do as he pleased on their island and ships.

While he was friendly with them, he also didn’t appreciate being held captive. As such, he swore to them that he would hunt them down and have them crucified, once the ransom was paid. Despite the fact that at that time he was just acting as a private citizen, once he was free, he manage to quickly raise a small fleet which he took back to the island the pirates had held him at. Apparently they hadn’t taken his threats seriously, because they were still there when he arrived. He captured them and took back his 50 talents of silver, along with all their possessions.

He next delivered the pirates to the authorities at the prison at Pergamon and then traveled to meet the proconsul of Asia, Marcus Junius, to petition to have the pirates executed. The proconsul refused, wanting to sell the pirates as slaves and take the spoils for himself. Unhappy with this outcome, Caesar traveled back to Pergamon where the Sicilian pirates were being held and ordered that they be crucified under his own authority, which was subsequently done. [Source]


Read More: Favorite (news) Link Friday Week of December 2, 2015

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