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Top News Links: Monday, July 20

State’s unemployment rate remains at 6.1 percent

Alabama's unemployment is remaining steady but is still above the national average. State officials on Friday announced that the June jobless rate was 6.1 percent, the same as it was in May. By comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate in June was 5.3 percent. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has promised not to accept his salary until the state's unemployment rate drops to 5.2 percent. – AP/AL.com

Alabamians pay hefty price for their electricity

Alabama's power rates are some of the highest in the country when compared to other states. WalletHub.com ranked the state as the 39th most expensive state for energy prices, with Alabama consumers paying some of the highest rates in the U.S. While Alabama is a top electricity producer, generating more in April 2015 than Mississippi and Kentucky combined, it ranked 49th overall for monthly electricity cost, with customers paying an average of $160 per month. – WalletHub/BizJournals

Alabama’s tax-free weekend arrives Aug. 7

Alabama’s annual Back-to-School tax-free weekend will take place from 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 7 to midnight on Sunday, Aug. 9. Mountain Brook, Hoover, Vestavia, Homewood, and Shelby County will be participating in the tax exemption. In addition to the sales tax exemption, many stores will feature special sales over the weekend. – 280Living.com

An Alabama fraudster’s cautionary tale

Danny Ray Butler, high school drop-out and Tuscaloosa used car salesman, had plans. In the unincorporated community of Fosters, Al., Butler built a grocery store, a gas station, and a $7 million privately-owned sewage treatment plant that connects to both projects. The high-flying businessman also had a stake in a 60-acre pecan orchard; a sod farm; a $4.3 million 108-acre wetland property with a lodge, saloon, cabin and a garage; a luxury skybox at Bryant-Denny Stadium; high-end boats and cars; and, the Gulf Shores seafood restaurant Tacky Jacks. But his business empire began to collapse in February 2012 when it was discovered that the deals that catapulted him into riches, many involving loans from Alabama One Credit Union, were based on lies. – AL.com

Tax credits bringing stars to Alabama

Richard Rionda Del Castro, the producer of "USS Indianapolis" -- an upcoming movie starring Nicolas Cage about the sinking of the ship that transported the nuclear bomb to end World War II -- is filming on and off Alabama's coast this month. But it's not just Orange Beach's white sand, downtown Mobile's historic architecture and a mansion outside of town that make Alabama an attractive setting for such a major motion picture. There's something else pretty about this picturesque port town: tax credits. – Sun Herald

Rigorous striving may be bad for your health

Even in the worst circumstances, people with the most self-control and resilience have the highest likelihood of defying odds—poverty, bad schools, unsafe communities—and going on to achieve much academically and professionally. Except that even when that is possible, those children seem to age rapidly during the process. – The Atlantic

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