MSNBC's 'Horrendous' Bias Cited; Iran Radiation Leak Rumored; Al Gore Tried to Dodge Taxes on TV Sale

Sunday, 06 Jan 2013 02:59 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. 'Most Horrendous' Media Bias of 2012 Cited
2. Gore Sought to Skirt Taxes on TV Sale Profits
3. Iran Evacuates City Amid Talk of Radioactive Leak
4. Warren Buffett Tops List of Charity Givers for 2012
5. FDA Launches Probe of Energy Drinks
6. Statue of Liberty Still Closed After Sandy
 

1. 'Most Horrendous' Media Bias of 2012 Cited

The envelopes, please.

The "Damn Those Conservatives Award" goes to two Newsweek/Daily Beast staffers who discussed former Vice President Dick Cheney's heart transplant in March. Senior writer Ramin Setoodeh said, "I would never give my heart to Dick Cheney. It would freeze over." Assignment editor Allison Yarrow chimed in: "He may be one of the most evil people in the world."

The "Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste Award" went to ABC's Brian Ross and his coverage of the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre by accused shooter James Holmes in July. Ross proclaimed that James Holmes of Aurora had joined the tea party a year earlier, only to admit later that the tea party member was a different James Holmes.

NewsBusters gave its "Audacity of Dopes Award" to CNN's Piers Morgan for fawning over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In September Morgan asked him, "How many times in your life have you been properly in love?" Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, responded, "I'm in love with all humanity. I love all human beings." To which Morgan commented: "That might be the best answer I've ever heard to that question."

But the "Quote of the Year" citation for 2012 went to MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry and what she called her "footnote for the Fourth of July."

She stated: "The land on which [the Founders] formed the Union was stolen. The hands with which they built this nation were enslaved. The women who birthed the citizens of the nation are second class.

"This is the imperfect fabric of our nation. . . It's ours, all of it. The imperialism, the genocide, the slavery."

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2. Gore Sought to Skirt Taxes on TV Sale Profits

Al Gore's sale of his cable channel Current TV to Al Jazeera has an intriguing footnote: The former vice president sought to close the sale before Jan. 1 to avoid higher taxes in the new year.

Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab news giant financed by the government of Qatar, reportedly paid $500 million for Gore's low-rated channel, meaning Gore stands to gain $100 million for his 20 percent stake in Current.

"Mr. Gore and his partners were eager to complete the deal by Dec. 31, lest it be subject to higher tax rates that took effect on Jan. 1, according to several people who insisted on anonymity," The New York Times reported.

But the deal was not signed until Wednesday, Jan. 2.

Gore said in an interview in November that the "most fortunate" in America should pay their "fair share" in taxes.

Fox talk show host Greta Van Susteren said on Thursday: "Apparently he doesn't want to apply that rule to himself, or he has a different idea of what his fair share is."

Gore and his business partners founded Current TV seven years ago. Al Jazeera now plans to rebrand Current, which is available in more than 40 million U.S. homes.

Current TV co-founder Joel Hyatt said he and Gore would join the advisory board of the new channel.

Observers may also find irony in the fact, noted by Politico, that "Current, which was co-founded by climate change advocate Al Gore, agreed to be bought out by a broadcaster owned by the Qatari government, and therefore funded by oil."

Conservative commentator Glenn Beck's media company The Blaze approached Current about a sale last year, The Wall Street Journal reported, but was told that "the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view."

Al Jazeera ran an op-ed in July 2011 comparing Beck to a terrorist, saying he and several prominent terrorists "share the same core afflictions" and are "insecure, violently inclined, and illiberal."

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3. Iran Evacuates City Amid Talk of Radioactive Leak

Iranian officials have ordered residents of its third largest city to evacuate, raising new concerns about a potential leakage of radioactive material from a nuclear facility.

An edict issued on Wednesday told residents in Isfahan, a provincial capital of 1.5 million people 340 miles south of Tehran, to leave the city "because pollution has now reached emergency levels," the BBC reported.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq and former editor of the Middle East Quarterly, said: "Pollution in Isfahan is a problem but in the past, Iranian authorities [responded] by closing schools and the government to keep people at home and let the pollution dissipate. Mass evacuations suggest a far more serious problem."

Rubin added that a "radiation leak" is a possibility, the Washington Free Beacon reported, noting that the evacuation order may corroborate previous reports of radioactive leakage.

The Uranium Conversion Facility in Isfahan converts yellowcake into uranium oxide, uranium metal, and uranium hexafluoride. The plant sits on an active fault line, and Isfahan has been heavily damaged six times by earthquakes, according to the Free Beacon.

A report in November claimed a radioactive leak might have poisoned several workers at the plant. The head of Iran's Medical Emergency Agency told reporters at the time that staffers at the facility "have observed some symptoms and are receiving treatment."

In December, Tehran denied reports of a radioactive leak, and accused the West of fabricating the story, the Jerusalem Post reported.

According to Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency, Deputy Governor-General of Isfahan Province for Political and Security Affairs Mohammad Mehdi Esmayeeli said "some Western media are just seeking to create tumult in the society through such moves."

But Rubin added that given the threat of earthquakes in Iran, "a devastating nuclear accident is only a matter of time."

Iran insists its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes, but the Islamic Republic is widely thought to be seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

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4. Warren Buffett Tops List Charity Givers for 2012

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has released its list of the 10 largest charitable gifts by individuals last year, and billionaire investor Warren Buffett takes the top spot — and the second, and the third.

Buffett marked his 82nd birthday in August by pledging a $1.03 billion gift to each of three foundations created by his children.

The 10 largest gifts cited by the Chronicle — the trade publication for nonprofit organizations — totaled nearly $5.1 billion last year. But without Buffett's three pledges, large gifts would have totaled $2 billion, less than 2011's $2.6 billion, Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer points out.

Forbes magazine calculates that Buffett already has donated at least $9.5 billion in shares of his Berkshire Hathaway company to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in addition to the three gifts he gave his children in 2012.

The second largest charitable gift last year came from Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, who donated $498.8 million in stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for education and health.

The Chronicle's Top 10 List does not take into consideration gifts of artwork or other noncash gifts.

Others on the list of big givers include Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen , who pledged $300 million to the Allen Institute for Brain Science; publisher and real estate executive Mortimer Zuckerman, who gave $200 million to Columbia University's Mind Brain Behavior Institute; Hollywood mogul David Geffen, who gave $100 million to the medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles; and Koch Industries executive David Koch, who gave $60 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

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5. FDA Launches Probe of Energy Drinks

The Food and Drug Administration has launched a probe of energy drinks in response to reports of deaths and serious injuries that may be linked to their high caffeine levels.

Energy drinks are the fastest-growing segment of the beverage industry, with U.S. sales topping $10 billion last year.

But the FDA has received 92 reports over four years that cite illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths after consumption of one brand of energy drink, and has also received reports that cited another brand in five deaths and one nonfatal heart attack.

But in addition to health concerns, questions are being raised about the beverage makers' claims that the drinks provide a mental and physical edge. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., has asked the government to investigate the industry's marketing claims.

"One thing is clear: Interviews with researchers and a review of scientific studies show the energy drink industry is based on a brew of ingredients that, apart from caffeine, have little if any benefit for consumers," The New York Times reported.

Energy drinks, including Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, and Monster Energy, have been disparagingly called "caffeine delivery systems." But they also contain a variety of other ingredients of questionable value.

One common ingredient is taurine, an amino acid-like substance produced inside the body. The few studies involving taurine show little if any benefit, The Times observed.

Another ingredient in some energy drinks is glucuronolactone, which is also produced inside the body. No human studies have been conducted to weigh its benefits as an additive.

The Times concludes: "Claims of energy-giving formulas [are] backed up by little clinical evidence."

As for the claim by 5-Hour Energy that unlike its competitors, it produces "No Crash Later," the product's label explains in fine print that "no crash means no sugar crash."

That is not surprising, because 5-Hour Energy does not contain sugar.

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6. Statue of Liberty Still Closed After Sandy

The Statue of Liberty reopened on Oct. 28 after a year-long closure for renovations. The very next day, Superstorm Sandy blew through New York City, closing the National Monument — and no one is sure when it will reopen.

Estimates of the repair costs for Liberty Island, where the statue stands, and neighboring Ellis Island are as high as $59 million.

The storm did little or no damage to the statue itself and its pedestal, but significantly damaged the infrastructure of the island. Electricity was lost, the basement of a building housing the gift shop and cafeteria was flooded, and the dock used by ferries that take visitors to and from the monument was rendered unusable.

One official with the National Park Service, which manages the Statue of Liberty National Monument, told NPR in December that some parts of the island could reopen by the summer. But Liberty National Monument Parks Superintendent Dave Luchsinger won't confirm that projection, according to Forward.com.

Statue Cruises, which provides the ferry service, has laid off 130 full-time and part-time employees.

Ellis Island, the historic point of arrival for more than 12 million European immigrants, suffered extensive flooding in the immigration museum's basement, which disabled the heating, electrical, and sewage systems. Some 1.7 million documents and artifacts from the archives are being temporarily moved to a site in Maryland to prevent damage they could suffer due to a lack of climate control.

Ellis Island closed as an entry center in 1954 and reopened as an immigration museum in 1990.

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