CIA Vets Air Briefing on Iran Threat; Rush, Savage Top Talkers on Web; Feds Let Pigs Fly

Sunday, 15 Jul 2012 02:10 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Newsmax's LIGNET to Broadcast Briefing on Iran Threat
2. Sabato Predicts Very Close Obama/Romney Election
3. Feds Issue Air Travel Rule: When Pigs Fly
4. Ex-Minister in Iran Urges Referendum on Nuclear Program
5. Confidence in TV News Hits New Low
6. Fortune: Only 5 U.S. Firms in Top 20
7. Rush, Savage Top 'Most Listened To' on Web
 

1. Newsmax's LIGNET to Broadcast Briefing on Iran Threat

Newsmax's new global intelligence and forecasting online service, LIGNET, will broadcast a special video briefing from top intelligence experts assessing the danger posed by Iran and its nuclear program.

The private briefing can be viewed at 11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 17.

Some experts believe the Israeli military may strike Iran soon and that the "window" is closing for Israel to stop Iran's nuclear program.

The threat of an escalation is real. And if Iran is struck, what would this do to the price of oil, the world economy and the stock market? And would Iran retaliate against Israel and the United States?

The LIGNET intelligence experts addressing these questions and others include former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden; LIGNET director Frederick Fleitz, a former veteran senior CIA analyst and former chief of staff to John Bolton; and Arnaud de Borchgrave, an expert on transnational threats, the Middle East, and geopolitics.

More details on the Iran briefing, as well as instructions for attending, are available by clicking here.

Editor's Note:



2. Sabato Predicts Very Close Obama/Romney Election

One of the nation's most respected — and accurate — election prognosticators, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball website, concludes that the only prediction appearing "very safe" right now is that the November presidential election is going to be very close.

Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, this week published an analysis by Emory University professor and Crystal Ball senior columnist Alan Abramowitz, using his "Time for Change" forecasting model.

Abramowitz "has tweaked his model to reflect the nation's polarized electorate," Sabato states. "The changes to the model, and its conclusions, provide more evidence that at this point the presidential election's outcome is very much in doubt."

According to Abramowitz, the outcome "will depend on which party does a better job of mobilizing its supporters and appealing to a small group of swing voters in a handful of battleground states."

His basic Time for Change model takes into account three factors: the incumbent president's approval rating in the final Gallup Poll in June; the change in real GDP in the second quarter of the election year; and a first-term incumbency advantage.

"The basic model does an excellent job of predicting the outcomes of presidential elections," according to Abramowitz. "It has correctly predicted the winner of the popular vote in the last five presidential elections with an average error of about two percentage points."

This year, however, Abramowitz has added an additional factor, the polarization effect, due to a decrease in the willingness of voters to cross party lines to vote for any candidate from the opposing party, including an incumbent.

This factor cuts the president's incumbency advantage by slightly more than half, from 5.2 percentage points to about 2.5 points.

President Barack Obama's approval rating in the final Gallup Poll in June was plus-2 points, 48 percent approval to 46 percent disapproval.

As for the change in real GDP in the second quarter, the number will be released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis on July 27. In Abramowitz's model, a change of minus-3 percentage points would lead to a prediction that Obama will receive 47.7 percent of the popular vote, while a plus-3 change would lead to a 51.5 percent tally.

"A growth rate of zero or less predicts a narrow popular vote win for Republican challenger Mitt Romney, while a growth rate of 1 percent or greater predicts a popular vote win for President Obama," Abramowitz discloses.

He adds that the outcome could come down to one or two closely contested battleground states. "And the next Florida might not be Florida — it might be Colorado, Ohio or Virginia.

"Based on the results of the revised Time for Change forecasting model, there is only one prediction that seems very safe right now — it's going to be a long election night."

Editor's Note:



3. Feds Issue Air Travel Rule: When Pigs Fly

A federal agency has issued a new ruling on pork — but not the kind most commonly associated with Washington.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has determined that airline passengers may board a plane with a potbellied pig if the animal is there to lend "emotional support."

The ruling was included in a manual published by the DOT in the Federal Register on July 5, "Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Draft Technical Assistance Manual."

The manual states: "A passenger arrives at the gate accompanied by a potbellied pig. She claims that the potbellied pig is her service animal. What should you do?

"Generally, you must permit a passenger with a disability to be accompanied by a service animal. However, if you have a reasonable basis for questioning whether the animal is a service animal, you may ask for some verification."

The manual defines a service animal as an "animal individually trained to perform functions to assist a person with a disability; animal that has been shown to have the innate ability to assist a person with a disability."

If the verification is satisfactory, potbellied pigs, which can weigh as much as 300 pounds, must be accepted aboard the plane.

Wendy Ponzo, vice president of the North American Potbellied Pig Association, told CNS News that the pigs can be trained to open and close doors and use a litter box. "They also seem to have a sense if the owner is not feeling well to stay by them," said Ponzo, who has multiple sclerosis.

Miniature horses and monkeys can also qualify as service animals and be brought on a plane, according to the manual. But carriers can bar passengers from bringing aboard rodents, ferrets, spiders, snakes and other reptiles — not to mention snow globes, sporting goods, and liquids over three ounces.

One more bureaucratic tidbit from the DOT: A carrier that declines to allow a passenger to bring an animal aboard a plane must document the decision in writing and provide it to the passenger within 10 days.

Editor's Note:



4. Ex-Minister in Iran Urges Referendum on Nuclear Program

A leading Iranian opposition figure and former interior minister has called for a national referendum on the country's nuclear program in response to new Western sanctions that have stifled the nation's economy.

"It is quite obvious that we should have the right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program, but the question is whether it's worth sacrificing national interests for the sake of only one issue," Abdollah Nouri said at a meeting with student activists in Tehran.

"It would therefore be wise to let the people decide in a referendum about the nuclear dispute between Iran and the world powers."

The referendum would ask whether Iranians prefer to continue with the nuclear program or discontinue it in the face of Western sanctions imposed due to fears Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, the opposition website Jaras reported Thursday.

"It is said that the latest oil sanctions have decreased national income by 25 percent and it is quite obvious that such a decrease will gravely affect the economy and people's lives," Nouri said.

Nouri, 62, was interior minister from 1989 to 1993 and again from 1997 to 1998, but in 1999 he faced a trial over the publication of anti-Islamic materials and reputed links to the United States, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. A clerical court sentenced him to a five-year jail term. He was released in 2002.

There is talk in Iran that he could be the reformist opposition candidate in next year's presidential election.

As the Insider Report disclosed last week, in a recent survey conducted in Iran by the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, more than two-thirds of respondents opted for "the suspension of uranium enrichment in exchange for the gradual lifting of sanctions," in answer to the question: "Which way do you prefer to confront the unilateral sanctions of the West against Iran?"

But nearly 20 percent favored closing the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for the sanctions.

Nouri's calls for a referendum come as the U.S. Navy is rushing dozens of unmanned underwater craft to the Persian Gulf to help detect and destroy mines in a buildup aimed at preventing Iran from closing the strategic strait, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The 88-pound, 4-feet-long remotely guided submersibles carry a TV camera, homing sonar and an explosive charge. When the craft, known as the SeaFox, detects a mine, it obliterates itself as well as the mine.

Some officials in Tehran have threatened to close the narrow strait between Iran and Oman, a choke point for a fifth of the oil traded worldwide, using sea mines, speedboats and coastal missile batteries, according to the Boston Herald.

Along with the SeaFox devices, the Pentagon now has eight minesweeping ships in the region, and four MH-53 minesweeping helicopters.

Editor's Note:



5. Confidence in TV News Hits New Low

Americans' confidence in television news has dropped to a new low, with just 21 percent of adults saying they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the news, a new Gallup Poll reveals.

That's down from 27 percent last year, from 35 percent in 2003, and from 46 percent when Gallup began tracking confidence in TV news in 1993.

The loss of confidence is especially marked among liberals and moderates. Confidence among liberals has plunged from 30 percent last year to 19 percent, and it has dropped from 30 percent to 20 percent among moderates. Among conservatives, confidence has dipped only one percentage point, from 23 percent to 22 percent.

Younger Americans are more likely to have confidence in TV news. Confidence stands at 28 percent among 18-to-29-year-olds and 22 percent among 30-to-49-year-olds, but at just 16 percent among 50-to-64-year-olds and 21 percent among those 65 and older.

Americans' confidence in newspapers has also been on the decline. Only 25 percent of those polled said they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in newspapers, down from 28 percent last year, 37 percent in 2000, and 51 percent in 1979.

Confidence in newspapers was highest among Democrats, 37 percent, but just 20 percent among Republicans.

"Americans have grown more negative about the media in recent years, as they have about many other U.S. institutions and the direction of the country in general," Gallup observed.

TV networks "and the news media as a whole," Gallup adds, "will have to renew their efforts to show Americans that they deserve a higher level of confidence than what they enjoy today."

Editor's Note:



6. Fortune: Only 5 US Firms in Top 20

Fortune magazine has released its new list of the world's 500 largest companies, and only five American firms are among the top 20 revenue earners of 2011.

The top earner last year was Royal Dutch Shell, which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands. The oil company, with 90,000 employees, reported $484 billion in revenue, and profits of $30.9 billion.

Second on the list is Texas-based Exxon Mobil, which had $452 billion in revenue but outpaced Shell with $41 billion in profits.

Another U.S. firm, Wal-Mart Stores, is third on the list, with $446 billion in revenue. The company had $15.6 billion in profits, and was the world's largest employer by far with 2.2 million workers last year.

No. 4 is London-based BP, followed by two Chinese oil companies — Sinopec Group and China National Petroleum — and the Chinese state power company, State Grid.

California-based Chevron is No. 8, Houston-based ConocoPhillips is No. 9, and Toyota Motor rounds out the top 10.

The next five largest firms in terms of 2011 revenue are Total (a French oil company), Volkswagen, Japan Post Holdings (Japanese postal service), Switzerland-based commodities trader Glencore International, and the Russian energy giant Gazprom, which reported the most profits of any company last year, $44.4 billion.

Completing the top 20 are E.ON, a German utility company; ENI, an Italian oil and gas firm; ING Group, a financial company based in the Netherlands; General Motors; and Samsung Electronics, headquartered in South Korea.

The biggest money-loser among the top 100 companies? Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association), which lost $16.8 billion on revenues of $137 billion.

Editor's Note:



7. Rush, Savage Top 'Most Listened To' on Web

Rush Limbaugh heads the new Talk Stream Live "Power 50," a ranking of the top talk radio shows streaming on the Internet and mobile devices, and Michael Savage is No. 2.

Talk Stream Live (TSL) sampled more than 1.2 million listeners during the first six months of this year to compile its list of the 50 most influential talk show hosts streaming on the Web.

"We are proud to report that Rush Limbaugh is No. 1 and Michael Savage is No. 2," TSL said. "These are the most listened to talk show hosts in the world."

Savage noted that when listeners hear him through streaming, they don't count in the traditional ratings system, and said his audience therefore is "bigger than most people think."

Rounding out the top 10 on the Power 50 list are Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Tammy Bruce, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz, Bill Bennett, and Dennis Miller.

Note: Newsmax magazine is now available on the iPad. Find us in the App Store.

Editor's Note:



Editor's Notes:

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