Mayor Bloomberg Dubbed ‘Sugar Nazi’; CNN Loses Half Its Audience

Sunday, 03 Jun 2012 11:52 PM

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama-Backed UNESCO Bashing Israel Again
2. Democrats Plead for More Money
3. End of Bush Tax Cuts Will Impact All
4. Paying Medical Bills in Cash Slashes Costs
5. Mayor Bloomberg Called 'Sugar Nazi' Over Soda Ban
6. CNN Lost Half Its Audience in Past Year
 

1. Obama-Backed UNESCO Bashing Israel Again

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) this week hosted meetings on the status of Palestine, again drawing attention to its position on an issue that forced the United States to cut off funding for the agency.

At the three days of meetings in Paris, which began Wednesday, speakers charged Israel with "systematic terrorism," "throttling the people" of Gaza, pursuing "criminal" policies and a "policy of racist violence."

They also accused Israel of "operating a torture machine" and spreading propaganda to downplay the Palestinians' plight, CNS News reported.

Last November, the U.S. government cut funding to UNESCO after it became the first U.N. agency to grant full membership to "Palestine."

A U.S. law enacted in 1990 bars funding to "the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states."

Prior to the cutoff, the organization received 22 percent of its operating budget from the U.S. — around $80 million a year.

The Obama administration wants to restore the funding and is looking for support in Congress for a waiver that would make that possible.

But Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Wednesday: "UNESCO is once again directly engaged in promoting Israel-bashing, this time by hosting and participating in this anti-Israel U.N. confab.

"This reminds us that UNESCO's admission of 'Palestine' was not a fluke, and that UNESCO is reverting to anti-Israel bias and is unworthy of U.S. funding."

UNESCO's deputy director-general, Getachew Engida, spoke at the agency's gathering on Wednesday and called the meeting "a watershed moment," noting that "seven months ago, Palestine became the 195th member of UNESCO."

Engida was followed by Palestinian Authority women's affairs minister Rabiha Diab, who hailed the role of Palestinian women in "all forms of the struggle" against Israel.

Palestinian women living in Jerusalem, she said, were "the subject of a policy of systematic terrorism that is aimed at complicating their lives and weakening them."

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, an Obama appointee, said in March that UNESCO was "essentially an anti-extremist organization" involved in "essential work, from girls' education to tsunami warning, that serves U.S. interests," adding that "it's not in our interests for these critical programs to go without 22 percent of funding."

But Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said: "Rather than trying to defend the indefensible, the Obama administration must stop spinning for UNESCO, condemn that body's anti-Israel behavior, and withdraw its request for Congress to amend U.S. law to restore funding to UNESCO."

Editor's Note:



2. Democrats Plead for More Money

Democrats are hitting the panic button in several key Senate races, with a party operative sending out an email containing a desperate plea for campaign contributions.

The email from Jason Rosenbaum, online communications director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), reads: "I just got a report with some frightening new numbers. Republican groups are outspending Democratic candidates 3-to-1 right now."

The appeal states that Senate Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio has spent $2.5 million, while GOP challenger Josh Mandel, Ohio's state treasurer, has spent $8 million.

An article in the Dayton Daily News, however, disclosed that after the first quarter of this year, Brown had raised more than $12.3 million while Mandel had brought in over $7.2 million.

The DSCC email also asserts that Democrat Tim Kaine, who is seeking the Senate seat in Virginia being vacated by Jim Webb, has spent only $385,000, compared to $1.9 million spent by Republicans. George Allen, a former senator and governor in the state, has a large lead over GOP rivals heading into the Virginia primary.

"Either stand up in support of, and contribute to, candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Tim Kaine, or let Republicans drown them out with attack ads," the DSCC appeal states.

"We can't let Democrats be forced into silence because they don't have the funds to fight back."

Editor's Note:



3. End of Bush Tax Cuts Will Impact All

President Obama and other Democrats have sought to vilify the Bush-era tax cuts as a benefit for the wealthy, but the scheduled expiration of the cuts at the end of the year would boost taxes for almost every American taxpayer.

If the cuts expire on Dec. 31, all tax brackets will rise, not just the top brackets, and taxes will increase on capital gains and dividends as well.

Taxpayers in the existing 10 percent bracket on earned income will rise to the 15 percent bracket. The 25 percent bracket will be replaced by a 28 percent bracket, the 28 percent bracket will rise to 31 percent, the 33 percent bracket will be replaced by a 36 percent bracket, and the existing 35 percent bracket will become a 39.6 percent bracket.

Currently the top rate on long-term capital gains and dividends is 15 percent. If the tax cuts expire, the top rate on long-term gains will rise to 20 percent (with a slightly lower rate for gains from assets acquired after Dec. 31, 2000 and held for more than five years), and the maximum rate on dividends will soar to the top percentage on earned income, 39.6 percent.

Long-term gains and dividends collected by taxpayers in the lowest two brackets, 10 percent and 15 percent, are not currently taxed. After Dec. 31, if the cuts expire, those taxpayers will owe 10 percent on long-term gains and at least 15 percent on dividends.

Expiration will also impact the so-called marriage penalty in several ways, raising taxes for married couples. For one thing, the standard deduction for married couples filing jointly is double the amount for singles. After the expiration, their deduction will drop to about 167 percent of the amount for singles, according to the SmartMoney website.

Former President George W. Bush said in April that the tax cuts he implemented in 2001 and 2003 helped lessen the effect of the Great Recession and should be continued.

"I think that keeping taxes low did help buffer a difficult economic situation," Bush said. "And I think raising taxes is going to take capital out of the hands of those creating jobs."

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Budget Committee, recently told Newsmax that he believes Congress will ultimately extend the Bush tax cuts, but not before the presidential election in November.

"It looks like there will not be a vote until after the election, but I can't say that for certain. It certainly looks like that," predicted the Alabama lawmaker.

"That's not healthy because we need certainty in our tax rate. There's far too much uncertainty in our financial condition in America today."

Editor's Note:



4. Paying Medical Bills in Cash Slashes Costs

Most Americans are unaware that many hospitals and doctors offer deep discounts for patients who pay in cash — as long as they don't use their health insurance.

One hospital in California lists the price of a CT scan of the abdomen on its website at $4,423. Blue Shield of California says it negotiated a rate at the hospital of about $2,400 for patients with coverage.

But when the Los Angeles Times asked for the cash price, the hospital said it was $250.

The newspaper cited the case of a woman who was charged $6,707 for a CT scan of her abdomen. Blue Shield said she needed to pay just $2,336. She later discovered that if she had not gone through her insurance plan and paid cash, the cost would have been $1,054.

David Belk, an internist in Alameda, Calif., who launched a website about medical costs, pointed to the vast differences in costs for routine blood work. He said a local hospital charged a patient $782, and her insurer said she owed $414.

"She could have gotten it for $95 in cash," Belk said. "How does that make sense? The last thing the insurance companies want you to know is how inexpensive this stuff really is."

Hospitals have been trying to increase revenue by encouraging patients to pay upfront so the hospital can avoid an uncertain collections process, the Times reported.

"Cash prices — typically available for hundreds of common outpatient services and tests — have a real appeal to millions of consumers who are on the hook for a growing share of their medical costs as employers and insurers cut back on coverage and push more high-deductible plans," the paper observed.

The California Hospital Association asserted that discounted cash prices are intended for patients without insurance, not those with coverage, but added that most hospitals offer a different discount to insured patients who are willing to pay their bill upfront.

Editor's Note:



5. Mayor Bloomberg Called 'Sugar Nazi' Over Soda Ban

A leading financial website has published a blistering attack on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg over his proposal to ban large servings of soda and other sugary drinks at restaurants, delis, sports arenas, and movie theaters.

The headline on the editorial from Investor's Business Daily (IBD): "New York City's Sugar Nazi Mayor Strikes Again."

Last year, the city prohibited smoking in all parks, beaches, swimming pools, and pedestrian plazas. A few years earlier, Mayor Bloomberg banned smoking in restaurants, bars, and workplaces.

The IBD article asks: "Is there anything the Ego That Ate New York won't make illegal for New Yorkers to consume?"

In 2006, New York ordered restaurants to remove "trans-fat" from their meals, even though "trans-fat amounts to a fraction of total fat consumption," the editorial points out.

"The real solution to obesity and heart disease, of course, is knowledge and responsibility. Americans actually have a pretty good record on making responsible use of their freedoms — when government butts out.

IBD quotes American Council on Science and Health President Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, who warned that Bloomberg was bringing the nation "one step closer to endorsing the principle that government should determine what we eat and how we should live."

Bloomberg, called an "out-of-touch, big-government billionaire bully" by IBD, sought to counter criticism by declaring: "We're not taking away anybody's right to do things. We're simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup."

But the Daily Beast website also took a shot at Bloomberg: "Mayor Bloomberg's crackdown on large sodas makes him a walking advertisement for libertarianism."

Editor's Note:



6. CNN Lost Half Its Audience in Past Year

CNN in May suffered its worst month for ratings in nearly 20 years, according to Nielsen figures, and has lost 50 percent of its audience in the past 12 months.

The cable network pioneered 24-hour news in the 1980s and for years was the top-rated news channel, but it has lost audience to Fox News and MSNBC in recent years and now lags both competitors in attracting viewers.

CNN's average audience in May fell to 388,000, with only 113,000 in the 25-54 age bracket that advertisers covet. Fox's average was 1.65 million, and MSNBC's was 658,000.

"It's really a bloodletting — there's no other way to describe it," said Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University.

"They are trying to stick to old-fashioned, unbiased news broadcasting when their rivals have worked out that to draw an audience when there aren't major stories breaking you need to do the opposite."

Piers Morgan, who was hired 18 months ago for the 9 p.m. hour, drew an average of 417,000 viewers in May, the worst ratings for that slot since the early 1990s, according to The Independent, a London-based website. When he took over in early 2011, his predecessor in that slot, Larry King, was averaging around 600,000 viewers.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has lost a quarter of his viewers in the past 12 months, and ratings for Wolf Blitzer's two-hour "Situation Room" are down by more than half.

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Editor's Note:



Editor's Notes:

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