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News Round Up [July 21, 2017]

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Alaska Permanent Fund total value exceeds $60 billion


On July 19, the Alaska Permanent Fund hit a milestone, as it reached an unaudited value of over $60 billion, according to the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC).

The entire Fund is managed as a single investment pool, and it is invested in assets like stocks, bonds and real estate. Moreover, the Permanent Fund contains two major accounts: the corpus and the earnings reserve. The Alaska Constitution states that the principal money may not be spent. The latter contains the interest the fund has accrued over the years, and the earnings may be spent by the Legislature for any public purpose, including the annual Permanent Fund Dividend checks made out to Alaskans.

Dividends, historically, have been based on the earnings reserve's value over a 5-year period. But this year and last, instead, have been set arbitrarily by policymakers.

This fall, residents will receive a check for $1,100, as called for in the operating budget, unless the Democrat-led House, Republican-controlled Senate and governor agree to add more cash for dividends into the capital budget. [Story]

Initiative to regulate bathrooms likely to appear on Anchorage ballot

Alaska Public Media by Zachariah Hughes

The measure seeks to regulate bathrooms, locker-rooms and other so-called “intimate spaces” on the basis of biological sex rather than gender identity. The Alaska Family Action Council, which calls itself a “public policy ministry” that stands for conservative values, wrote in a release today that supporters submitted nearly 8,500 signatures to the municipal Clerk’s Office Thursday morning. The initiative needs 5,754 signatures from qualified Anchorage voters to appear on the city-wide ballot in April.

The measure has already sparked controversy and an opposition campaign among those who say it would discriminate against transgender residents. Proponents of the measure say it protects privacy and religious freedom to define who is allowed into areas like changing rooms.

If it passes, the proposition would require municipal bathrooms designate use by a person’s biological sex as defined on a birth certificate, and delete current language in city code that lets a person use facilities consistent with gender identity. It would also recognize gender as being permanently defined by a person’s assigned sex at birth and allow for employers like businesses and churches to use similar criteria in regulating their own bathrooms. [Source]

Salmon Runs and Cathces Are Surging Across Alaska

Alaska’s total salmon catch is approaching 80 million fish of which more than half are sockeye salmon. The sockeye harvest has already blown past the 41 million forecast – over 35 million of the reds are from Bristol Bay – with more coming on there and elsewhere around the state.

The total chum forecast for Alaska this year is 17 million and at this rate could easily be surpassed.

So far those hard to predict pinks are running ahead of last year’s dismal pace, but not as strong as in 2015. Pinks run in two year cycles and it’s too soon to tell if this summer’s catch will reach the 142 million preseason forecast.

The pink catch has topped 20 million with more than 13 million coming from Prince William Sound and there’s lots more to go across the state.

The biggest fish story of the year is the sockeye surge at Bristol Bay, which is turning out to be one of the most valuable fisheries in decades.

Buyers are paying $1.00 a pound, up from 76-cents last year, plus 15 cents extra for chilling and 5 – 10 cents more for bled and floated fish, meaning salmon that’s not smushed in the hold. So far the dockside value already is pegged at $50 to $60 million above last year. [Read the rest]

Diversity and Vibrancy Suddenly Don't Appear to be Strengthening Trans-European Ties:


AUSTRIA has warned it will send soldiers to close the border with Italy in 24 hours if Rome decides to take the "nuclear option" and grant visas to almost 100,000 migrants stranded in the Mediterranean country.

Austria is threatening to close the Brennan mountain pass border with Italy. Desperate Italian officials have said they are considering allowing thousands of migrants out of the country and into the rest of Europe, as they struggle to cope with the 10,000 people arriving every day.

Austria, which shares a border with Italy via Brenner, an Alpine mountain pass, has reacted to the proposals with fury, saying it would immediately introduce border controls in the region.

Yesterday during a border visit, Austria's Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said: "Italy granting humanitarian visas to migrants is unacceptable. In that case, we would immediately introduce controls in Brenner. [Source]

Tabasco selling '20 times' hotter 'Scorpion Sauce'


Tabasco has released its hottest sauce yet.

Its new "Scorpion Sauce" is 20 times hotter than original red Tabasco sauce.

Scorpion Sauce is made from scorpion peppers grown in Trinadad and blended with pineapple and guava.

The spicier Tabasco product is on sale online or at the company's headquarters on Avery Island, Louisiana. [Source]


Wife is found guilty of murdering her husband after the couple’s pet PARROT 'outed her' by repeating 'don't f***ing shoot' in the victim's voice

Glenna Duram, 49, was convicted of first-degree murder in a Michigan courtroom Wednesday over the death of her husband, 46-year-old Martin Duram.

The 49-year-old had been accused of shooting her husband five times, before turning the gun on herself in a failed suicide attempt at their home in Newaygo County.

The trial lasted a total of 10 days, with defense lawyers having a list of her medications admitted to evidence during its final stages with the hope of convincing the jury the 49-year-old was not in her right mind at the time of the shooting.

Martin Duram’s pet parrot, Bud, was the only witness to the murder, however he was not called upon during the trial.

However, Duram's ex-wife, Christina Keller, who took Bud in after the murder, said the parrot overheard Martin begging for his life before being shot.

Keller said Bud repeatedly said, 'Don’t f***ing shoot' while mimicking his former owner's voice, which the ex-wife said was the bird replaying the final words he heard from Martin Duram on the night he was shot. [Source]

IT’S NOT THE AVOCADO TOAST: FEDERAL RESERVE FINDS STUDENT DEBT REDUCING MILLENNIAL HOME OWNERSHIP


IN MAY, A MELBOURNE-BASED real estate mogul’s claim that millennials would be able to afford homes if only they cut back on discretionary expenses such as avocado toast went viral — with many heaping mockery on the suggestion.

Now the Federal Reserve has its own hot take to throw on the pile. Except this one is based on empirical research. In a paper published last week by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, five researchers offered an explanation for declining home ownership rates among millennials that does not require avocado toast.

Looking at nine student cohorts, they concluded that the increase in public tuition and resulting student debt can account for anywhere between 11 and 35 percent of the decline in home ownership for 28- to 30-year-olds in the years between 2007 and 2015.

The paper also finds that there isn’t a significant relationship between increasing tuition and the number of students seeking higher education — perhaps a sign of the increasing necessity of higher education in attaining living wage work. “Students’ price elasticity of demand for higher education is quite low,” they conclude. “As college costs increase, American students do not forego education, but instead amass more debt [Source]


Toronto man builds park stairs for $550, irking city after $65,000 estimate


A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards.

Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job.

Mayor John Tory acknowledged that the city estimate sounds “completely out of whack with reality” on Wednesday. However, he says that still doesn’t justify allowing private citizens to bypass city bylaws to build public structures themselves.

“I think everyone will understand that it will be more than $550,” he said on Wednesday. “We just can’t have people decide to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that’s what they would like to have.” [Source]

That's right citizen, you can't DECIDE TO GO OUT TO HOME DEPOT AND BUILD A STARCASE IN A PARK because how else would the politicians get that extra money in their pockets if they can't give construction bids to their friends who turn around and reward them by giving them money under the table and during re-eletions!?!?





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