Obama's $900 Million Land Grab Opposed; Saudis Say $300 Oil Coming

Sunday, 10 Apr 2011 03:07 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. GOP Fights Obama's Land Buy Plans
2. Saudi Minister: Oil Could Spike to $300 a Barrel
3. Report: Hospital Errors Affect One-Third of Patients
4. High-Speed Rail Sold With 'False Promises'
5. 'What Would Reagan Do?' Videos Launched
6. We Heard: John McCain, Egypt, Laura Ingraham
 

1. GOP Fights Obama's Land Buy Plans

President Barack Obama wants Congress to double spending, to $900 million next year, on a conservation fund used to buy property for the federal government — even though the government already owns three out of every 10 acres in the country.

But Republicans are pointing to a backlog of projects on public lands and vowing to oppose the increased spending for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

"I think we should take care of what we have before we acquire more land," said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

And Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at a recent hearing that the agencies managing public lands already have "a multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog," the Miami Herald reported.

"It begs the question of how you can place such a high priority on acquiring more land when you have to cut the very funds you need to take care of your current infrastructure in order to do it."

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was created in 1965 and is funded with fees charged to oil and gas companies for extracting resources from public lands. Since then the fund has been used to buy more than 4.5 million acres, costing $6.1 billion.

The federal government now owns 635 million acres, the largest chunk in Alaska.

Backers of the fund say Congress needs to continue contributing to it because the country loses about 3 million acres to development each year, according to the Herald.

The National Park Service has identified 1.8 million acres that it wants to buy, with a price tag of $1.9 billion.

But Hastings predicted that "the appropriations committee will not look favorably" on Obama's spending plan.

"They will probably cut that back a great deal."

Editor's Note:



2. Saudi Minister: Oil Could Spike to $300 a Barrel

Former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Zaki Yamani says oil prices could soar to at least $200 or even to $300 a barrel if Saudi Arabia suffers serious political unrest.

Following protests last month calling for political reforms in the kingdom, Yamani told Reuters that underlying discontent remains unresolved.

"If something happens in Saudi Arabia, [oil] will go to $200 to $300," he declared. "I don't expect this for the time being, but who would have expected Tunisia?

"I think there are some surprises on the horizon."

Yamani, who was responsible for Saudi oil policy from 1962 to 1986, spoke at a London conference of the Centre for Global Energy Studies, which he chairs.

In March, King Abdullah offered $93 billion in handouts to Saudis in an effort to avert the domestic turmoil seen in much of the Arab world.

But Jaafar Al Taie, managing director of Manaar Energy Consulting — which advises foreign oil firms operating in the region — said: "I don't think that what the king is doing now is sufficient to prevent an uprising. Saudi Arabia is a time bomb, but one that is constantly being reset."

A headline in The Daily Mail last week disclosed: "Oil prices hit all-time high in Britain," reaching the equivalent of $121 a barrel.

Editor's Note:



3. Report: Hospital Errors Affect One-Third of Patients

The number of "adverse events" in hospitals — injuries caused by medical error — could be 10 times greater than previously thought, a new study reveals.

Dr. David C. Classen, a medical professor at the University of Utah, and his colleagues used a new method to look for adverse events, reviewing medical records for nearly 800 patients at three major American hospitals with "well-established operational patient safety programs."

They searched through paperwork to look for "triggers" indicating problems, including a stop order on medications, an abnormal lab result, or use of an antidote. When they found a trigger, they investigated further to see if there had been an error.

"Disturbingly, the method picked up 10 times more confirmed significant adverse events than other methods — and determined that adverse events occurred in one-third of hospital admissions, even in hospitals that had instituted advanced patient safety programs," Susan Dentzer writes in the April issue of the journal Health Affairs.

"To be sure, not all of these resulted in serious injuries to patients or deaths. But try to imagine the reaction if one of three patients arriving at hospitals were notified that something bad would happen during their stay — and that, to make matters worse, they might be stuck with higher hospital copayments as a result."

The research team was affiliated with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a Cambridge, Mass., think tank.

The researchers state: "Our study suggests that despite sizable investments and aggressive promotional efforts by local hospitals, [traditional] reporting systems fail to detect most adverse effects."

A much-publicized study in 1999 estimated that avoidable medical errors contributed to as many as 98,000 deaths at American hospitals each year.

The Los Angeles Times observes that based on the new study, "a dozen years later, quality of care remains a problem."

Editor's Note:



4. High-Speed Rail Sold With 'False Promises'

California voters passed a funding bill for a high-speed rail project based on lowball cost estimates and wildly inflated ridership predictions, according to a new report.

Before the 2008 election, the cost of a Los Angeles to San Francisco rail project was estimated at $33 billion, with another $7 billion for spurs to Sacramento and San Diego.

Voters narrowly approved issuing $9.95 billion in bonds, with expectations that the federal government and private investors would cover the rest. But after the election, cost estimates rose to $43 billion for the Los Angeles-San Francisco project alone.

Also, the one-way fare between the two cities was predicted to be $55, making it cheaper than flying. But after the election, ticket price estimates rose to $105, observes Adam B. Summers, a policy analyst at the Reason Foundation.

"Like most large public infrastructure projects, the California high-speed rail project was sold to the public based on false promises, exaggerated benefits and lowball cost estimates," Summers writes in an opinion piece for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

He points out that ridership estimates are projected as high as 117 million passengers per year. Yet the entire Amtrak system, which includes more than 500 destinations and 21,000 miles of track, serves just 27 million passengers a year.

Summers notes that a September 2008 study published by the Reason Foundation and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association found that the actual cost of the high-speed rail system would be at least $65 billion and perhaps as high as $81 billion, and that "the project was not viable because it was based on wildly optimistic assumptions."

Governors in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin have recently canceled plans for high-speed rail projects in their states. Summers urges that California, which is running deficits of up to $25 billion a year, "should follow their example and put a stop to this boondoggle before it becomes yet another budgetary black hole for the state."

Editor's Note:



5. 'What Would Reagan Do?' Videos Launched

Ronald Reagan's son Michael Reagan is hosting a new series of videos that explore how the 40th president of the United States would deal with today's issues — "What Would Reagan Do?"

One video focuses on the labor strife pitting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker against the state's public employees unions, and references how President Reagan handled the strike by air traffic controllers during his administration — he terminated them.

Other videos focus on the unrest in Libya, and the "Federal Pay Gap."

Michael Reagan, a former radio talk show host, is spokesman for The Reagan Nation and chairman and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation.

The "What Would Reagan Do?" videos can be found at the website rightchange.com.

The website states: "RightChange was founded with the mission of holding America's elected leaders accountable for their actions. RightChange cuts through political spin using politicians' own words and actions with simple video-based illustrations that rebut liberal ideology with common sense arguments. We provide Americans with the facts they need to develop their own conclusions."

Editor's Note:



6. We Heard...

THAT Sen. John McCain says Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is a hero in Egypt and Tunisia.

Leaders of the opposition movements that ousted those countries' longtime rulers credit Zuckerberg and Facebook with helping them get out word of demonstrations.

McCain, who recently returned from a visit to the two nations, told reporters: "I called [Zuckerberg] after I came back and told him that he's a national hero and they wanted him to come and visit."

The Arizona Republican added: "It's not an accident that the Chinese are doing everything they can to make sure that information is withheld from their people. That shows, I think, the sense of danger they feel and the appreciation of the impact of social networking."

THAT despite fears of new hostilities between Israel and post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt, the majority of Egyptians favor maintaining their nation's peace treaty with the Jewish state.

A poll by the United Nations-affiliated International Peace Institute found that about 60 percent of Egyptians support the peace treaty, as long as an independent Palestinian state is established alongside Israel.

The pollsters said "maintaining and advancing peace with Israel has far wider appeal than a rupture in relations."

THAT talk radio host Laura Ingraham has been called "the strongest voice for the Right to Life on the airwaves of America" by Rep. Mike Pence.

The Indiana Republican appeared on Ingraham's syndicated show to discuss his proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, whose services focus mainly on abortion, according to Ingraham.

Ingraham's show now airs on 325 stations nationwide, ranking as the 5th most popular nationally syndicated show with over 6 million weekly listeners.

Note: Newsmax magazine is now available on the iPad. Find us in the App Store.

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