Iran Re-Arrests Christian Pastor; NY Condo Bans Smoking for Owners; Social Security Tally at Record High

Sunday, 30 Dec 2012 03:46 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Social Security Recipients Tally Hits New High
2. Connecticut Millionaires Pay 40 Percent of Taxes
3. Iran Re-Arrests Christian Pastor
4. World Bank Reveals Shocking 'Poverty' Rates
5. Cigarette Ban Hits Home in NY
 

1. Social Security Recipients Tally Hits New High

The baby boom generation only recently began retiring, but already there is one American receiving Social Security benefits for every 1.67 full-time workers in the private sector.

The Social Security program ran a $48 billion deficit in fiscal 2012, bringing in $725 billion and paying out $773 billion for benefits and overhead expenses, according to official data from the Social Security Administration.

The overall number of Social Security beneficiaries — including retired workers, dependent family members and survivors, and disabled workers and their dependent family members — hit a record in December, 56,758,185, up from 56,658,978 in November.

The SSA has also disclosed that the number of workers collecting disability benefits hit a record 8,827,795 in December.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was an average of 112.5 million full-time workers in the United States in 2011, including 17.8 million who worked full-time for local, state or federal government. That left an average of only 94.7 million full-time private sector workers in the country.

That translates to 1.67 Americans working full-time in the private sector in 2011 for each person collecting benefits from the Social Security Administration.

The Social Security program has not run a "net cash flow" surplus since fiscal 2009, when revenues exceeded benefit and overhead payments by $19.3 billion.

When the Social Security program runs a net cash flow deficit, as it has in the last three fiscal years, the Treasury needs to "borrow" cash from the federal government. As of Dec. 21, the federal government's debt was $16.336 trillion.

Editor's Note:



2. Connecticut Millionaires Pay 40 Percent of Taxes

Plans by President Obama and the Democrats to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for upper-income Americans will impact some states far more than others — with Connecticut at the top of the hard-hit list.

Connecticut has the highest percentage of federal income tax returns reporting adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 a year, 5.46 percent, and those taxpayers account for 66 percent of all income tax paid by Connecticut residents.

Also in Connecticut, .52 percent of returns report an AGI of more than $1 million, and those taxpayers account for 37.3 percent of all income tax paid.

In New Jersey, 5.26 percent of returns report an AGI of more than $200,000, and those taxpayers account for 57 percent of all income taxes. New Jersey millionaires pay 22 percent of all taxes, and New York millionaires account for 34 percent.

Fittingly, Washington, D.C.-area taxpayers would be hard hit — 5.66 percent of returns in the District of Columbia report income over $200,000, as do 4.45 percent in Maryland and 4.39 percent in Virginia.

At the other end of the scale, just 1.42 percent of Mississippi returns show an AGI of more than $200,000, yet millionaires account for 22 percent of all taxes paid.

Other states with a low percentage of $200,000-plus filers include West Virginia (1.46 percent), Idaho (1.7 percent), and Arkansas (1.76 percent).

Editor's Note:



3. Iran Re-Arrests Christian Pastor

Iranian authorities have re-arrested a Christian pastor who was freed from prison and acquitted two months ago on charges he converted from Islam to Christianity.

Youcef Nadarkhani was taken back into custody on Christmas Day, according to the British group Christian Solidarity Worldwide and the American Center for Law and Justice.

The two organizations had led the global effort to free Nadarkhani, who was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to death on charges of apostasy for converting to Christianity. He spent more than 1,000 days in jail — some of that time in solitary confinement — before being freed in September by an Iranian court.

Nadarkhani has been re-arrested to serve the remainder of a three-year sentence he had received for helping Muslims convert to Christianity, CNS News reported. He was originally told he could serve the remainder of his sentence on probation.

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, stated: "We are disappointed to hear Pastor Nadarkhani has been returned to prison in such an irregular manner. The timing is insensitive and especially sad for his wife and sons, who must have been looking forward to celebrating Christmas with him for the first time in three years."

For good measure, the Iranian regime has sentenced Nadarkhani's attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, to nine years in prison for working to free the pastor.

Iran had earlier sentenced Nadarkhani's wife to life in prison, but her sentence and conviction were later overturned.

Editor's Note:



4. World Bank Reveals Shocking 'Poverty' Rates

Despite the oft-touted economic strides made by China in recent decades, nearly all people living in China and other "developing" countries in East Asia would be living below the poverty line in the United States.

The World Bank database used the 2008 poverty line for a family of four in the United States, which was $13.50 daily per capita, and compared it to incomes in developing countries in six world regions.

In the East Asia and Pacific region, which includes China, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, 96.6 percent of the population lives below the U.S. poverty line, according to 2008 figures.

That compares to 15 percent of Americans last year, even as the country struggled through high unemployment and other economic travails.

In the South Asia region, which includes India and its super-heated economy as well as Bangladesh and Pakistan, a shocking 99.7 percent of the population lives below the American poverty line.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 98.6 percent live below the line; in the Middle East and North Africa, 95.3 percent; in Latin America and the Caribbean, 79.7 percent.

Even in the Europe and Central Asia region, which includes only its "developing" nations — low-income and middle-income countries — 72.1 percent of the population lives below the American line.

In the entire developing world, a total of 1.8 billion people, 94 percent of the population, are below the American threshold.

The World Bank also compiles data on those living below the "extreme poverty" line, which is $1.25 daily per capita.

Nearly half the population in Sub-Saharan Africa, 47.5 percent, lives below that line, as do 36 percent in South Asia and 14.3 percent in East Asia and the Pacific.

The good news is that the figure for all developing nations, 22.4 percent, is down substantially from 52.2 percent as recently as 1981.

But even in China, 13 percent of the population was considered to be living in extreme poverty in 2008.

"The bad news is that, for all the progress, the standards of living for the overwhelming majority of people remain far below first-world poverty levels," Wendell Cox, a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in Paris, observes on the New Geography website.

"It can only be hoped that the natural aspiration of the world's billions for much better lives will be achieved."

Editor's Note:



5. Cigarette Ban Hits Home in NY

In what one critic called an "Orwellian attempt" to control people, a pricey condominium in New York City has banned smoking throughout the building — including inside residents' apartments.

The Insider Report disclosed in November that 18 cities and counties in California have gone the "nanny state" route and banned residents from smoking in their own apartments and condominiums.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a law requiring residential buildings in the city to adopt anti-smoking policies and disclose them to prospective buyers and tenants, the New York Post reported.

Now the board of a condo building in Brooklyn designed by famed architect Richard Meier has issued orders banning residents already living in the building from smoking in their homes.

One resident who doesn't smoke said she "can certainly understand how someone who bought an apartment three years ago could feel like it's an unfair restriction that they didn't know about when they purchased the apartment."
 

Smoking will be permitted only on private terraces. Note: Newsmax magazine is now available on the iPad. Find us in the App Store.

Editor's Note:



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