John Kerry Plays Courier for Rossin Painting; Immigrants Gain US Jobs at Natives' Expense

Sunday, 21 Jul 2013 11:44 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Immigrants Gain Jobs, Natives Lose Them
2. John Kerry Plays Courier for Rossin Gandhi Painting
3. New Israeli Ambassador a 'Conservative Ideologue'
4. U.N. Council Candidacies Called 'Recipe for Disaster'
5. Cigarette Smuggling Soaring in High-Tax States
 

1. Immigrants Gain Jobs, Natives Lose Them

All of the net gain in employment over the last 13 years has gone to immigrants, both legal and illegal, according to a new analysis of government data.

From the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of this year, the number of natives working fell by 1.3 million while the overall size of the working-age (16 to 65) native population increased by 16.4 million.

Over the same period, the number of legal and illegal immigrants working rose by 5.3 million, while the total number of working-age immigrants rose by 8.8 million, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reports in an analysis based on the Current Population Survey, the nation's primary source of information on the labor market.

"One of the main justifications for the large increase in permanent immigration and guest workers in the Schumer-Rubio [immigration reform] bill is that the nation does not have enough workers," the CIS states. "But the data do not support this conclusion.

"A second argument for the bill is that immigration always creates jobs for natives. But the last 13 years make it clear that large-scale immigration can go hand in hand with weak job growth and persistently high rates of joblessness among the native-born."

The Current Population Survey defines "immigrants" as those who are not U.S. citizens at birth, and they include naturalized citizens, temporary workers, Lawful Permanent Residents, foreign students, and illegal immigrants.

The CIS analysis finds that the decline in employment rates for working-age natives has impacted Americans of nearly all ages — teenagers and those in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. The decline has also affected natives of every race, gender, and education level.

Even before the recession, when the economy was expanding (2000 to 2007), 60 percent of the net increase in employment among those of working age went to immigrants, although they accounted for only 38 percent of the population growth among the working-age population.

The CIS concludes: "The dramatic decline in work among natives, and the enormous increase in the number not working, even before the recession, is strong evidence that labor is not in short supply in the United States."

Editor's Note:



2. John Kerry Plays Courier for Rossin Gandhi Painting

Secretary of State John Kerry doubled as a courier during his recent 13-day diplomatic mission through Asia and the Middle East, delivering a work by an artist well-known to Newsmax magazine readers.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., asked for his former Senate colleague’s help in presenting a gift to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Kerry offered to deliver it himself.

The gift turned out to be a life-size oil painting of Gandhi by famed artist Ross Rossin, commissioned by Atlanta businessman R.K. Sehgal, the Washington Post reported.

The 6-by-6-foot canvas was so large it had to be rolled up and stored in Kerry's personal cabin on his plane. Kerry delivered the painting to Singh during a stop in New Delhi.

Rossin has been commissioned for numerous portraits of business and political luminaries. Among his works are paintings of Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush for the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Texas, President Theodore Roosevelt for the Theodore Roosevelt Association, and Hank Aaron for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rossin has also painted the works that appeared on the covers of two issues of Newsmax magazine. His portrait of Abraham Lincoln appeared on the February 2009 issue, and his painting of Ronald Reagan was on the February 2011 issue.

The Reagan issue commemorated the 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth. Rossin completed the 6-by-5-foot work in his Atlanta studio.

Rossin was 16 and living behind the Iron Curtain in Bulgaria when Reagan was elected president. He came to the United States in 2001 and is now an American citizen.

Editor's Note:



3. New Israeli Ambassador a 'Conservative Ideologue'

U.S.-born Ron Dermer will assume the post of Israel's ambassador to the United States this fall — and he faces significant challenges.

Among them is establishing healthy relations with the Obama administration and maintaining support for Israel in Congress, according to Alan Elsner, vice president for communications for J Street.

"Dermer must overcome his reputation as a conservative ideologue if he wants to forge good working relations with a Democratic administration," Elsner writes in an op-ed piece for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"The same is true in Congress where the new ambassador will be welcomed with open arms by Republicans but may face initial suspicion from some on the Democratic side of the aisle.

"Israel needs all the supporters it can get from both parties — so leaning one way or the other, or even appearing to lean, is not only inappropriate but a recipe for disaster."

J Street describes itself as a pro-Israel advocacy group whose stated aim is to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.

Dermer must also nurture the crucial relationship between Israel and the Jewish community in America, Elsner posits.

He writes: "Any Israeli ambassador must accept the American Jewish community as it is: predominantly progressive on economic and social issues and dovish on foreign policy."

Dermer was born and raised in Miami Beach, Fla., where his father served as mayor in the late 1960s. He moved to Israel in 1996, and in 2005 became economic envoy at the Israeli embassy in Washington, which required him to give up his U.S. citizenship.

He went on to become a close adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and on July 9 it was announced that he would become the new Israeli ambassador, replacing Michael Oren.

Elsner adds: "American Jews do care about Israel, but an overwhelming majority believes that reaching peace with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution is vital if Israel is to remain democratic and a homeland for the Jewish people.

"We look forward to a fruitful and constructive relationship with Ambassador Dermer."

Editor's Note:



4. U.N. Council Candidacies Called 'Recipe for Disaster'

Nine nations judged "not free" are seeking seats on the United Nations' top human rights body — including Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China.

The four nations were obligated to leave the 47-member Human Rights Council last year after serving the maximum of two consecutive three-year terms.

But regulations require an absence of just one year before a nation can return to the Geneva-based body, and all four have indicated they plan to seek reinstatement when the General Assembly meets in November to fill 14 seats for the 2014-2017 period.

"The makeup of the council is significant because the fewer democracies it includes, the greater the likelihood it will focus on initiatives opposed by the U.S., like the Cuba-promoted 'right to peace' and the Islamic bloc's 'religious defamation' drive," CNS News observed.

The council has also disproportionately focused on Israel.

Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China have all been designated "not free" by Freedom House, a Washington-based watchdog organization that assesses political rights and civil liberties around the world.

Yet the council asserts on its website that it is "responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe."

Other "not free" countries that will seek seats on the council are Algeria, Chad, South Sudan, Jordan, and Vietnam, according to Geneva-based U.N. Watch.

If all nine "not free" candidates are voted onto the council, it will include 15 "not free" members in 2014 — the most since the HRC was established in 2006.

U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer called the candidacies "a recipe for disaster. Candidates like Algeria, China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia have one thing in common: They systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens and they have consistently voted the wrong way on U.N. initiatives to protect the human rights of others."

There is also speculation that Iran and Syria might seek council seats in November.

Nations assessed as "not free" by Freedom House that are already on the council and whose terms will not expire next year include Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, and the United Arab Emirates.

Voting takes place by secret ballot, and a simple majority of the General Assembly's 193 members is required to win a seat.

Editor's Note:



5. Cigarette Smuggling Soaring in High-Tax States

Between 2006 and 2011, New York State boosted its cigarette tax rate by 190 percent. One result: 60.9 percent of the cigarettes consumed in the state in 2011 were smuggled, up from 35 percent in 2006.

The tax on cigarettes in the Empire State is now a lofty $4.35 per pack, and in New York City smokers are hit with an additional $1.50 tax.

"Public policies often have unintended consequences that outweigh their benefits," the Tax Foundation observes.

"One consequence of high state cigarette tax rates has been increased smuggling, as criminals procure discounted packs from low-tax states to sell in high-tax states. Growing cigarette tax differentials have made cigarette bootlegging both a national problem and a lucrative criminal enterprise."

The Tax Foundation cites data from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which every two years issues an estimate of smuggling rates for each state. The most recent report uses 2011 data.

Smuggling includes the use of counterfeit tax stamps, counterfeit versions of legitimate brands, and hijacked trucks.

The second highest smuggling rate in the report is in Arizona, 54.4 percent, up from 32 percent in 2006. The tax rate has risen by 69 percent during that period. One of Arizona's neighbors, California, has a tax of just 87 cents.

In Wisconsin, the tax rate has soared by 227 percent during the period, and the smuggling rate has gone from 13 percent to 36 percent.

Other states with high tax rates and high smuggling rates include New Mexico (53 percent smuggling rate), Washington (48.5 percent), and Rhode Island (39.8 percent).

Some states have a negative smuggling rate, meaning that a percentage of the cigarettes sold there are sent out of state to be resold elsewhere.

In New Hampshire, for example, 26 percent of the cigarettes are sold elsewhere. The state has a tax of $1.68 a pack, lower than its neighbors Massachusetts ($2.51), Vermont ($2.24), and Maine ($2).

The lowest tax is in Missouri, 17 cents. Not surprisingly, 12.3 percent of the cigarettes sold there leave the state.

In Virginia, where the tax is just 30 cents, 24.7 of the cigarettes sold there leave the state.

North Carolina has a tax of just 45 cents, but the report does not include smuggling rates for North Carolina, Alaska, or Hawaii.

Iowa has increased the tax rate the most from 2006 to 2011, 278 percent. In the latter year, 21.3 percent of cigarettes consumed there were smuggled.

The Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah has used cigarette smuggling to raise money in the United States. During the 1990s, Hezbollah operatives bought cigarettes in North Carolina and resold them in Michigan without paying that state's much higher cigarette taxes. The leader of the smuggling ring, Mohamad Youssef Hammoud, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on a number of charges.

More recently, in May of this year, 16 Palestinian men were indicted for allegedly running a cigarette-smuggling operation on the East Coast. Some of them reportedly have known ties to convicted terrorists, and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said probes of similar scams have found that the profits were often sent to terrorist groups, including Hezbollah.

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