Feds Scarier Than Terrorists, Poll Finds; FDA Punishes Fruit Tree Farmers; Fox News Gains 9%

Sunday, 05 May 2013 02:20 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Russians Renew Probe of Journalist Klebnikov's Murder
2. Singles Now the Majority of Taxpayers
3. Fruit Tree Farmers' New 'Tormentor': The FDA
4. Poll: Americans Worry More About Govt Than Terrorism
5. Home Ownership at 18-Year Low
6. April Was Big Month for Cable News
 

1. Russians Renew Probe of Journalist Klebnikov's Murder

Following the March death of Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, authorities in Moscow are intensifying their efforts to identify who killed Paul Klebnikov, the American-born editor of Forbes magazine's Russian edition, in 2004.

"And fingers are pointing at Berezovsky and his connection to Chechen gangsters in crimes Klebnikov supposedly uncovered," Forbes magazine disclosed.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Berezovsky gained control of a range of assets in Russia, including Russia's main TV channel.

He settled in London in 2000 after Russian prosecutors demanded he appear for questioning, and he was later convicted in absentia of economic crimes.

In 1996, Klebnikov wrote a Forbes article about Berezovsky titled "Godfather of the Kremlin?" linking him to the Chechen mafia. Berezovsky sued for libel, and the suit was withdrawn after Forbes issued a clarification.

But Klebnikov followed with a book with the same title, minus the question mark.

More recently, a former Russian government investigator claimed that Klebnikov reached out to him to discuss documents he had obtained linking Berezovsky to Chechen gangsters, and Klebnikov reportedly planned to write a new book about Berezovsky.

Soon after that, in July 2004, Klebnikov was shot multiple times from a moving car as he was leaving his Moscow office in what officials said at the time was a contract killing.

Three Chechens were accused of the murder, but were acquitted.

This past March, Berezovsky — depressed and in debt — was found dead in his home near London. Police believe he hanged himself.

Then in April, a Chechen named Kazbek Dukuzov appeared on a list of 18 Russians the Obama administration has barred from entering the United States. Dukuzov is one of the three Chechens accused and acquitted of murdering Klebnikov.

Forbes observes: "It is conceivable that Dukuzov's inclusion and Berezovsky's death could inch us a little closer to solving this tragic mystery."

Editor's Note:



2. Singles Now the Majority of Taxpayers

The sweeping demographic changes in America over the last half-century are strikingly evident in the changes in the status of federal income tax filers.

In 1960, 65.2 percent of taxpayers were married, filing jointly or separately, and 34.8 percent were single filers or unmarried heads of households.

Fifty years later in 2010 — the most recent year analyzed on the IRS website — 61 percent of filers were single and just 39 percent were married.

Back in 1960, married couples were the majority in every income quintile except the lowest. In the middle quintile, comprising "middle-income" taxpayers, 68 percent of filers were married and 32 percent were single, the Tax Foundation disclosed.

In 2010, however, singles accounted for 68 percent of middle quintile filers, while married couples accounted for 32 percent. Singles also dominated the first and second quintiles.

Other IRS facts uncovered by the Tax Foundation include:

  • Among 67 percent of married couples, both spouses are working, up from 47 percent in 1965, and the percentage of sole-earner couples has fallen from 40 percent to 27 percent.
  • The number of millionaire tax returns fluctuates wildly from year to year, due mostly to changes in the business cycle. In 2007, there were 392,220 millionaire returns, but just 168,977 in 2002, and 236,883 in 2009.
  • Many people become millionaires as a result of a one-time event such as the sale of stocks or a business. Between 1999 and 2009, 50 percent of millionaire filers were millionaires for only one year; 4.4 percent filed million-dollar returns five times in that period, while 5.6 percent filed nine times.
  • 33 percent of millionaire taxpayers are 45 to 55 years old, 28 percent are 55 to 65, and 18 percent are over 65. Just 0.3 percent are 18 to 26 years old, and 3 percent are 26 to 35.

 

Editor's Note:



3. Fruit Tree Farmers' New 'Tormentor': The FDA

The Food and Drug Administration is proposing costly new regulations for growers of apples, pears, and other tree fruits — even though they have a virtually flawless safety record.

"For decades, America's farmers, ranchers, and fruit growers have become grudgingly accustomed to dealing with onerous regulatory schemes emanating from the Environmental Protection Agency," according to the CFACT (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow) website.

"But now the people who grow apples, pears, and other tree fruits have a new tormentor: the Food and Drug Administration," which is backing standards "that many growers are convinced will put them out of business."

The new regulations emerge from the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, passed by Congress and the Obama administration, which directed the FDA to prevent foodborne illnesses rather than simply react to outbreaks.

This year the FDA designated which items of produce would be included in the new regulations. Those usually consumed raw (including apples, blueberries, bananas, pears, and peaches) would have to abide by the new regulations, and those that are usually cooked or processed (sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, pumpkins, artichokes, winter squash, etc.) would be exempt, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Growers subject to the new regulations would face an array of new responsibilities, including regular testing of irrigation water, sanitizing canvas fruit-picking bags, and keeping animals away from crops, The Journal explained.

Tree fruit farmers argue that the FDA should focus more on items that have caused deadly outbreaks in the past, such as spinach, instead of items that have never posed a health threat.

An apple farmer in Virginia told The Journal that the compliance costs "would end up getting passed on to the consumer, if we didn't go out of business first."

The FDA has said the new requirements would cost American farms about $460 million a year.

Also, some farmers fear that foreign products will not be subject to the same regulations, and foreign competition will drive American farmers out of business.

Farms with average yearly sales of $25,000 or less, and certain other farms that average less than $500,000 in annual sales and sell mostly to consumers within a 275-mile radius, would be exempt from the new requirements, the FDA says.

CFACT reports: "Hoping to avoid the mass shutdown of fruit-tree operations, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Fresh Produce Association are urging the FDA to redraft its proposed regulations."

Editor's Note:



4. Poll: Americans Worry More About Govt Than Terrorism

A poll conducted just days after the Boston Marathon bombings shows that despite that tragedy, Americans are more concerned that government will trample constitutional rights than they are about the government failing to prevent terrorist attacks.

The Washington Post survey posed the question this way: "Which worries you more: that the government will not go far enough to investigate terrorism because of concerns about constitutional rights, or that it will go too far in compromising constitutional rights in order to investigate terrorism?"

Nearly half — 48 percent — said they are concerned the government will go too far, while 41 percent believe it will not go far enough. The rest said "neither" or had no opinion.

As recently as 2010, a Post poll found that just 27 percent feared government will go too far, compared to 63 percent who said they were more concerned it will not go far enough.

The new poll also disclosed that 66 percent of Americans believe "terrorists will always find a way to launch major attacks," while 30 percent say the government can eventually prevent all major attacks.

Respondents in a Fox News poll also conducted after the Boston bombings expressed sentiments similar to those in the Post survey.

The Fox poll asked: "Would you be willing to give up some of your personal freedom in order to reduce the threat of terrorism?"

Only 43 percent said "yes," while 45 percent said "no" — the first time since 9/11 that more respondents said "no" than "yes" in a Fox News survey.

Just 38 percent of respondents under age 35 in the new Fox poll said "yes," while 51 percent of those 65 and older said "yes."

Editor's Note:



5. Home Ownership at 18-Year Low

Home ownership in the United States fell to the lowest rate in nearly 18 years, due largely to a rise in investor-owned rentals and tight credit for mortgage seekers.

The share of Americans who own their own homes was 65 percent in the first quarter of this year, down from 65.4 percent a year ago and the lowest level since the third quarter of 1995, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday.

The vacancy rate for rented homes fell to 8.6 percent from 8.8 percent a year earlier, while vacancies for owner-occupied homes also dipped slightly.

"Investors are buying single-family homes and renting them out to capitalize on demand among families unable to qualify for a mortgage," Bloomberg disclosed.

Purchases by investors, many of whom pay in cash, are helping to push prices up. Home values in 20 cities rose 9.3 percent in February from a year earlier.

"Gains in pricing have been driven significantly by investors, leaving many would-be buyers behind," according to the Los Angeles Times.

"Because lending standards remain tight, the everyday home shopper is often losing out to investors able to pay cash."

The dwindling supply of available houses also is constraining home ownership. The number of homes on the market in March was down nearly 17 percent from a year earlier, pushing prices higher.

Phoenix, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and San Francisco were the four cities with the highest year-over-year price increases in the Case-Shiller index, considered the most reliable analysis of home values.

Home ownership peaked at 69.2 percent in June 2004, due in large part to the easy credit that led to the housing bubble.

Editor's Note:



6. April Was Big Month for Cable News

The Boston bombings and their aftermath and the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas led to a huge news month in April, and Fox News led the way among cable news channels.

Fox was up 9 percent in total viewers compared to April 2012, with an average of 2.01 million viewers in primetime.

"The O'Reilly Factor" was up 7 percent in total viewers, and "Hannity" saw a rise of 14 percent over the same month last year.

The daytime shows enjoyed the largest gain, with "Your World" up 22 percent in total viewers.

CNN finished second among the cable news networks, topping MSNBC in both total day and primetime viewers for the first time in more than two years, Mediabistro observed.

CNN had 920,000 primetime viewers Monday to Sunday, up a huge 80 percent in total viewers over the previous April. "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" showed the most growth of any cable news program in April, up 124 percent in total viewers.

But ratings for MSNBC were mostly flat in April. Total viewers were down 10 percent, with 682,000 total viewers in primetime.

Thanks largely to its broadcast of the Jodi Arias trial, HLN rose 52 percent in total viewers. It had 524,000 viewers in primetime and a rise of 146 percent in total viewers of daytime programming.

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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