The Edge Update: New state budget proposals, Standing Rock evacuation and North Korean assasination

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The Edge Update can be heard daily on KRUA 88.1 FM The Edge, UAA’s college radio station.

Local:

On Friday, the state senate’s Republican-dominated majority proposed a bill to reduce the state’s deficit by reducing Permanent Fund dividends and limiting government spending. Senate Bill 70 would withdraw 5.25 percent of the Permanent Fund annually. The fund is currently worth $57 billion. Three-quarters of the withdrawn cash would pay for state services, while the rest would go towards dividends, which would be set at $1000 each for the first few years. After three years, the withdrawals would reduce to five percent. Projections by the Legislature’s budget analysts show the bill reducing the deficit from $3 billion to $900 million. SB 70 would also cap the state’s general fund level at $4.1 billion, allowing it only to grow with inflation. It remains to be seen whether this particular bill, one among a few tackling the state’s budget gap, will make it into law.

National:

Last Thursday, police officers in riot gear cleared out the Standing Rock protest camps, arresting the few stragglers who had refused to leave the day before. Authorities used bulldozers to raze the camp debris, much of it set ablaze by protesters the day prior. Some ran to Sacred Stone, the original campsite established 10 months in what was the largest environmental protest in history. The movement was sparked by the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.8 billion, 1,170-mile project by energy company Energy Transfer Partners. The pipeline would carry oil from the Bakken shale fields in North Dakota to Illinois. Energy Transfer Partners says the pipeline will be a safer means of transporting oil than truck or rail. Opponents said the project threatened sacred native lands and could contaminate water supplies from the Missouri river. The local Standing Rock Sioux tribe and thousands of Native Americans from across the continent gathered in camps to try and block the construction of the pipeline. The protest also counted as one of the largest gatherings of Native Americans in history.

Global:

On Sunday, Malaysia’s health minister announced that the exiled half-brother of North Korea’s leader had been killed by a dangerous nerve agent. The Feb. 13 killing of Kim Jong Nam at a Malaysian airport has sparked a dramatic heightening of tensions between the two countries, not helped by the fact that assassination appears to have utilized a banned chemical weapon, VX nerve agent, in a crowded public place. Although North Korea’s government has steadfastly denied any involvement in the incident, the Malaysian government has requested that local North Korean diplomatic officials turn themselves over for questioning. The Malaysian government has stated that four North Koreans provided two women with the poison to carry out the attack. The four men then fled the country; the women were arrested. One of them, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, claims that she was believed she was being paid to pull a harmless prank.