Obama Hindering US Energy Independence; Viewers Abandon Network News

Sunday, 26 Jan 2014 02:46 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. U.S. Can Be Energy Independent in a Decade
2. North Korea Again Named Worst Place to Be Christian
3. Gas Taxes, User Fees Cover Only Half of Road Spending
4. Forbes: Top-Earning Celebrity Is Deceased
5. Network News Viewership Reaches All-Time Low
 

1. U.S. Can Be Energy Independent in a Decade

The United States and Canada together have the energy resources to make America completely independent of foreign liquid fuel supplies by 2024, according to a new report commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute.

The United States is "on the cusp of energy self-sufficiency and security through reliable, affordable, and abundant supplies of domestic oil and natural gas that can sustain and empower us well into the foreseeable future," the report stated.

"In fact, the U.S. is already the global leader in oil and natural gas production and together with Canadian energy supplies could produce more than 100 percent of its liquid fuel needs by 2024."

But Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the API, cautioned: "The question before us today is whether we have the vision and wisdom to take full advantage of our vast energy resources."

The report refers to the Keystone XL pipeline, which could transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil daily from Canada and the U.S. Bakken shale formation to American refineries, but has not yet been approved by the Obama administration.

The report also points out that the number of drilling permits on federal lands declined by 36 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2012, while oil production increased 31 percent and natural gas production was up 25 percent on private and state lands.

And the wait for a federal drilling permit averaged 228 days in 2012 compared to 10 days for a state permit in North Dakota, where much of the Bakken formation is located.

According to the API, the oil and natural gas sector supports about 529,000 U.S. jobs, and the industry pays around $85 million a day to the U.S. Treasury in taxes, royalties, and other fees.

"America is experiencing an energy revival," Gerard said. "We are now defined by an abundance of energy resources, rather than a scarcity of them."

But the report observed: "To fully realize the opportunities of this new energy future, we must make the deliberate choice to take greater advantage of our oil and natural gas resources and ensure our ability to refine these resources."

Editor's Note:



2. North Korea Again Named Worst Place to Be Christian

North Korea for the 12th straight year ranks at the top of the list of countries where persecution of Christians is most severe.

The 2014 World Watch List, released on Jan. 8, is a ranking of 50 countries where persecution of Christians strictly for religious reasons is worst. It was compiled by Open Doors, an organization that works in oppressive nations encouraging Christians to "stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ's light in these dark places," according to its website.

"In no other country in the world are Christians so fiercely persecuted because of their faith than in North Korea," Open Doors declared. "For the 12th consecutive year, this is the place where Christian persecution is most extreme.

"The God-like worship of the leader Kim Jong-Un and his predecessors leaves no room for any other religion, and Christians face unimaginable pressure in every sphere of life.

"Forced to meet only in secret, they dare not share their faith even with their families, for fear of imprisonment in a labor camp. Anyone discovered engaging in secret religious activity may be subject to arrest, disappearance, torture, even public execution."

According to Open Doors, 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are currently imprisoned in North Korea.

In compiling its annual list, Open Doors assesses the degree of persecution in a nation with a set of 96 questions covering five spheres of life: private, family, community, national, and church life, measuring the intensity of persecution and the frequency of persecution, and violence against Christians.

All nine of the other nations in the list's top 10 perpetrators of "extreme persecution" of Christians are Islamic countries. They are in descending order Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran, and Yemen.

Other countries guilty of "extreme persecution" are Eritrea, Libya, and Nigeria.

Open Doors also cited 13 other nations guilty of "severe persecution" of Christians, including Colombia, the only nation on the list that is not in Asia or Africa.

The other countries on the list of 50 are charged with "moderate persecution."

Editor's Note:



3. Gas Taxes, User Fees Cover Only Half of Road Spending

User fees and gas taxes are intended to pay for state and local road spending, but in fact they account for only half of spending nationwide.

Fees and taxes can account for as little as 10.5 percent of a state's spending on road repairs and upkeep, and the rest must come from general state and local revenues and federal aid.

"The lion's share of transportation funding should come from user fees such as tolls and user taxes such as fuel and motor vehicle license taxes," the Tax Foundation said.

"When road funding comes from a mix of tolls and gasoline taxes, the people that use the roads bear a sizable portion of the cost. By contrast, funding transportation out of general revenues makes roads 'free,' and consequently, overused or congested."

User fees and user taxes accounted for just 50.4 percent of state and local expenses on roads nationwide in a recent year. State and local governments spent $153 billion on highway, road, and street expenses but collected just $77.1 billion in user fees and user taxes — $12.7 billion in tolls and user fees, $41.2 billion in fuel taxes, and $23.2 billion in vehicle license taxes.

The remainder was funded by $30 billion in general state and local revenues and $45 billion in federal aid.

Delaware raises the largest percentage of road spending through user fees and user taxes, 78.6 percent, followed by Hawaii (77.3 percent), Florida (68.8 percent), and California (64.4 percent).

"While these states' commuters and visitors may gripe about high tolls and gasoline taxes, users are helping pay for services that they are themselves using," the Tax Foundation observed.

Alaska raises the smallest percentage of road spending through user fees and user taxes, just 10.5 percent, followed by South Dakota (21.5 percent), Wyoming (24.5 percent), and Louisiana (25.4 percent).

The Foundation concluded: "Subsidizing road spending from general revenues creates pressure to increase income or sales taxes, which can be unfair to non-users and undermine economic growth."

Editor's Note:



4. Forbes: Top-Earning Celebrity Is Deceased

Madonna topped Forbes' latest list of the 100 top-earning celebrities by raking in $125 million in a recent year, but her total was easily surpassed by a celebrity who has been dead for more than four years.

Michael Jackson brought in an estimated $160 million between June 2012 and June 2013, marking the third time in the past five years that the world's top-earning celebrity was deceased.

Jackson's money comes largely from two hugely successful Cirque du Soleil productions, one a touring show and the other a Las Vegas attraction.

Jackson, who died in 2009, is also still earning money from his music and his share of the Sony/ATV song catalog, which includes hits by the Beatles, Lady Gaga, and others.

He reclaims the top spot on the Forbes list from Elizabeth Taylor, who died in 2011 but earned an estimated $210 million in the 12 months up to October 2012, due largely to auctions of her art, jewelry, and clothing. This year her earnings fell to $25 million, much of it from her White Diamonds perfume, leaving her in fourth place on the new list of dead celebrities.

In second place on that list is Elvis Presley, who died in 1977. His estate brought in some $55 million in posthumous earnings thanks largely to his records and his Graceland estate.

"Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz is in third place for the second year in a row. He died in 2000 but earned $37 million in the one-year period.

No. 5 is reggae musician Bob Marley, who died in 1981 yet earned $18 million. In addition to his records — he has sold 75 million albums over two decades — he profits from a line of stereo speakers and Bob Marley drinks.

Others in the top 10 are Marilyn Monroe ($15 million), John Lennon ($12 million), Albert Einstein ($10 million), and pinup model Bettie Page (also $10 million). Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Hollywood star Steve McQueen tied for 10th with $9 million.

Editor's Note:




5. Network News Viewership Reaches All-Time Low

The share of Americans who say they regularly watch network nightly news has fallen to just 27 percent, down from 60 percent in 1993, the earliest year for which figures are available from the Pew Research Center.

Young people are by far the least likely to regularly watch network news — just 11 percent of those 18 to 29 years old watch, down from 46 percent in 1993. Nearly half (49 percent) say they never watch network nightly news.

Americans aged 65 and up are more likely to watch, but regular viewership in this demographic has fallen to 40 percent, down from 75 percent in 1993, according to Pew Research surveys.

"Television remains the public's top daily news source, but the audience for network TV news has steadily declined over the years as people have migrated to other places for news, namely cable TV and digital sources," Pew observed.

In total viewers, the number of Americans who watch a nightly newscast on ABC, CBS, or NBC each evening has fallen from 48 million in 1985 to 24.5 million last year, according to a Pew analysis of data from Nielsen Media Research.

In an illustration of the waning popularity of nightly network news, when Pew conducted an online survey, just 27 percent of respondents shown a photo of Brian Williams could correctly identify the anchor of the top-rated "NBC Nightly News." Three percent said he was former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, and 2 percent said he was Vice President Joe Biden.

In contrast, in a 1985 survey by Times Mirror/Gallup, 47 percent of respondents could correctly identify a photo of Dan Rather, who was then anchor of CBS' top-rated evening news program.

In the new survey, only 15 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 correctly identified Williams, compared to 41 percent who named Rather in the 1985 survey.

As the Insider Report noted in December, experts are predicting that TV's share of global advertising is likely to fall in coming years, with digital media chipping away at television's dominance

 

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Editor's Note:



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