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News Round Up [June 16, 2017]

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Mehrangarh Fort absolutely dominates the city of Jodphur, India and the surrounding landscape. It houses 7 palaces and you have to pass through 7 gates to get inside the fort proper. It was built in 1460.

Alaska House Passes $11 Billion Budget Plundering One-third of the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve

By MARY KAUFFMAN

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - Tonight, to avoid a government shutdown at the beginning of the month, the Alaska House of Representatives passed a combined Capital and Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The House budgets reverse the Senate’s $69 million cut to K-12 education and most of the cut to the University of Alaska. Additionally, the Capital Budget restored the full amount of expected Permanent Fund Dividends, which will be paid in the fall to eligible Alaskans.

Alaska Senate President Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) responded what he described as the House Majority’s failure to compromise on an operating budget. Kelly said in a prepared statement, “We are deeply disappointed in the House Majority’s actions tonight."

Kelly said, “In one fell swoop, the House Majority’s $11 billion budget plunders one-third of the Permanent Fund earnings reserve, forcing the fund’s managers to sell off high-earning assets in exchange for a quick political ‘fix’ that solves nothing. This is the same fund that pays out dividends to Alaskans."

“Contrary to the House Majority’s rhetoric," said Kelly, "their budget and adjournment tonight does not avert a government shutdown, but forces the Legislature into an additional special session that adds costs, grows uncertainty for the public and private sectors, and further hampers the ability of the two bodies to reach a compromise."

“Our actions tonight were not taken lightly. We simply had to remove the threat of a government shutdown from over the heads of Alaskans and our already struggling economy,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “We negotiated in good faith for a comprehensive and evenhanded fiscal plan, but the Senate Majority refused to consider anything other than their plan to cut Permanent Fund Dividends. Such a plan is simply unfair and places the sole burden of filling the over $2 billion budget gap on every man, woman, and child in Alaska without balanced contributions from the oil industry or the thousands of out-of-state workers.”

Tonight’s unusual move to combine the Capital and Operating budgets shows the determination of the Alaska House Majority Coalition to keep Alaska up and running, especially during the vital commercial fishing and tourism seasons. The members of the Coalition urge their Senate colleagues to accept the budget so that Alaska’s airports stay open, sport fishing, commercial fishing, and tourism can continue uninterrupted, and thousands of hard-working state employees stay on the job serving the people of Alaska.

“I support what we did tonight. It’s time to fulfill our only Constitutional obligation to pass a fully funded budget, because a government shutdown is not acceptable. I am disappointed that the inflexibility of the Senate Majority prevented passage of a fair and comprehensive fiscal plan that gives economic certainty to families and small businesses throughout Alaska,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). [Read the rest]

Shareholders consider shrinking Sealaska board

Alaska Public Media by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska

Should Southeast’s regional Native corporation shrink its governing board? That’s a question before Sealaska’s more than 22,000 shareholders. Management opposes the change.

Juneau-headquartered Sealaska has 13 members on its board of directors.

Shareholder Karen Taug thinks that’s too many — and costs too much.

“I believe that if we were a moneymaking machine and we were just rolling in successful corporations and we had a lot to manage, I think it’s justified to have more board members,” Taug said.

But, Taug said that’s not the case.

Taug, who works in finance, is one of 12 shareholders running for four seats on Sealaska’s board of directors this spring. She’s also the author of a resolution to shrink the board from 13 to nine members.

Sealaska opposes the measure, though it would not grant an interview on the topic. A statement on its website said a smaller board would result “in decreased representation of shareholder interests.” It also said fewer seats would lessen the chance of independent candidates being elected. [Source]

Is this the oldest settlement in North America?

A super-ancient settlement has recently been unearthed in Canada.

The age of the settlement? Fourteen thousand years old.

Let’s put that into perspective for a moment. A settlement that existed circa 12,000 B.C. would clearly lie within the Paleolithic period when ice covered Europe and man lived his nomadic existence of hunting and gathering. The Canadian settlement would have sprung up not long after the creation of cave paintings at Lascaux, France, and around the same time that the Altamira caves were painted in Spain. It would have pre-dated some of the most ancient-known civilizations at Jericho and Çatal Höyük by several thousand years.

This is pretty amazing. While Paleolithic people left several fascinating works of art in sites across Europe, I am unfamiliar with any found in North America. Could this find bring about a more intense search for prehistoric North American settlements? It would be quite interesting to me if North America ever had its own version of the Venus of Willendorf. [Source]

Huntsville man charged with supporting act of terrorism, law enforcement say threat is over

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Huntsville Police Department has charged a man with Soliciting or Providing Support for an Act of Terrorism.

22-year-old Aziz Sayyed, of Huntsville, was taken into custody Thursday afternoon. The arrest is the result of a tip from a citizen. Sayyed was stopped and taken into custody in the area of Church Street and Clinton Avenue. Investigators say Sayyed is a U.S. citizen, born in North Carolina.

"We successfully mitigated a threat today with this arrest," said Roger Stanton, FBI Birmingham Special Agent in Charge.

Further details have not been released, as the investigation is ongoing. But authorities stressed that the threat posed by the individual is over. [Source]

Male, female or X? Oregon adds third option to driver's licenses


Oregon became on Thursday the first U.S. state to allow residents to identify as other than male or female on state driver's licenses, a decision that transgender advocates called a victory.

Under a policy unanimously adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission, residents can choose to have an "X," for non-specified, displayed on their drivers' license or identification cards rather than an "M" for male or "F" for female. The move was cheered by supporters as a civil rights victory.

The state's Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division expects to start offering the option in July.

"I very much plan to head to the nearest DMV and ask for that ID to be corrected on July 3rd," said Jamie Shupe, an Army veteran who successfully petitioned for the non-binary gender option. "And then I'll no doubt stand out front of the building, or sit in the car, and cry."

Transgender rights have become a flashpoint across the United States after some states, including North Carolina, have tried to restrict transgender people's use of public bathrooms. [Source]

How Much Sleep Do "Perfectly Happy People" Get?


What’s the secret to happiness? Maybe seven hours of sleep.

A recent survey of 2,000 people by mattress company Amerisleep suggests “perfectly happy” people get 7.1 hours of sleep per night.

"Mostly happy" people sleep seven hours and "somewhat happy" people sleep 6.9 hours, the study shows. Women reported getting the least amount of sleep, and those reporting the fewest hours also said they were the least happy.

“Less than 6.8 hours of sleep meant complete unhappiness in relationships, constant worry, and never a shred of gratitude,” the report states. [Source]

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