Trump Questions Hillary's Health; US Jews Critical of Israel; US 17th in Economic Freedom

Sunday, 06 Oct 2013 01:26 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Approval of Congress Rose After 1990s Shutdown
2. Experts: Iranian Decree Cited by Obama 'Does Not Exist'
3. U.S. Falls to 17th in Economic Freedom
4. Trump: Hillary's Health Could Be a Question
5. 'Marriage Divide' Linked to Education
6. Half of U.S. Jews Critical of Israel
 

1. Approval of Congress Rose After 1990s Shutdown

The percentage of Americans who approved of the job Congress was doing actually rose after the federal government shut down for 21 days beginning in December 1995, according to a Gallup poll.

In a statement issued after the latest shutdown of the government took effect, Gallup observed: "Gallup's historical data surrounding a similar 1995/1996 government shutdown reveal that the current battle may have little impact on Americans' views of today's political leaders — at least through the next several months."

Republicans took control of both houses of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections, and in polling done Nov. 6-8, 1995, Congress had a job approval rating of 30 percent.

The government shut down when GOP leaders in Congress and Democratic President Bill Clinton failed to agree on a budget, with House Speaker Newt Gingrich leading the effort to put the government on the path to a balanced budget within seven years.

After the shutdown, polling done April 9-10, 1996, showed Congress' approval rating had risen to 35 percent.

Clinton's approval rating was 52 percent in the November polling and remained at 52 percent in polling done in mid-March 1996, after the shutdown.

Gingrich's approval fell only 2 percentage points from June 1995 to February 1996, according to Gallup.

Republicans went on to maintain control of Congress in the 1996 election, although Clinton won a second term.

Before the 1990s shutdown, crime was most frequently cited as America's most important problem. After the shutdown, in mid-January 1996, the federal budget was most often cited, but by May 1996, crime was again at the top of the list.

Gallup observed: "Americans already view Congress itself — and the Republicans and Democrats who are part of it — very poorly, meaning there is not much room for their perceptions of the legislative branch to worsen further."

Editor's Note:



2. Experts: Iranian Decree Cited by Obama 'Does Not Exist'

Iranian officials have occasionally cited an alleged fatwa — Islamic religious ruling — by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declaring that the use of nuclear weapons is forbidden under Islamic law.

President Barack Obama evidently believes the fatwa exists. Others disagree.

In a September 2005 letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Iranian government stated: "The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, has issued the fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic shall never acquire these weapons."

Several months later Khamenei was quoted as saying in a speech that "using nuclear weapons is against Islamic rules."

Obama seems to have bought into the fatwa claim, telling the U.N. General Assembly in September: "The supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons."

He told reporters three days later after a phone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani: "Iran's supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons."

But American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin said: "While Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's nuclear fatwa has been the stuff of diplomatic gossip for years, no one citing it has ever actually seen it. Khamenei lists all of his fatwas on his webpage, but the nuclear fatwa isn't among them."

The Middle East Media Research Institute, which translates documents from Farsi and other languages, declared: "Such a fatwa was never issued by Supreme Leader Khamenei and does not exist. The Iranian regime apparently believes that its frequent repetition of the fatwa lie will make it accepted as truth."

In referring to the fatwa, Iranian officials have given at least three different years of issue, 2004, 2005, and 2012, CNS News reported.

The fatwa cannot be found on the websites of the supreme leader, the presidency, foreign ministry, or permanent mission to the United Nations in Vienna.

The website of the permanent mission to the U.N. in New York does carry a link to a page where what it calls a fatwa appears, dated Feb. 19, 2012.

It reads in part: "The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons" and the Islamic Republic "considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin."

But "if this is the definitive fatwa," CNS News observed, "it's not clear why Iranian officials have at other times said it was issued in 2004 or 2005."

Rouhani himself said in May that the fatwa was issued in November 2004.

Tariq Alhomayed, erstwhile editor in chief of the London-based daily Asharq Al-Awsat, wrote last year that trusting Iran on the basis of a religious ruling was "truly absurd."

Editor's Note:



3. U.S. Falls to 17th in Economic Freedom

The Cato Institute has released its latest annual report on the "Economic Freedom of the World," and it shows that the United States ranks only at No. 17 among 152 nations surveyed.

According to Cato, "The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to enter and compete in markets, and protection of persons and their property from aggression by others.

"Economic freedom is present when individuals are permitted to choose for themselves and engage in voluntary transactions as long as they do not harm the person or property of others."

To compile its report, Cato assesses the economic freedom within a nation based on five areas: size of government, legal system and property rights, sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation.

From 1980 to 2000, the United States was generally rated the third freest economy, behind only Hong Kong and Singapore, and in 2000 it was ranked second. But the rating dropped to No. 8 in 2005, to No. 16 in 2010, and to No. 17 in 2011, the most recent year for which sufficient data is available.

"The United States, long considered the standard bearer for economic freedom among large industrial nations, has experienced a substantial decline in economic freedom during the past decade," Cato observed.

Hong Kong earns the top spot in the new report, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Finland, Bahrain, Canada, and Australia.

Among large economies, the United Kingdom is at No. 12, ahead of Germany (19), Japan (33), France (40), Russia (101), Brazil (102), India (111), and China (123).

The 10 lowest-rated countries among the 152 entities studied are Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Central African Republic, Angola, Chad, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo, Myanmar, and in last place, Venezuela.

Nations in the top quartile on economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of $36,446 in 2011, compared to $4,382 for nations in the bottom quartile, according to Cato.

Life expectancy is 79.2 years in nations in the top quartile compared to 60.2 years in the bottom quartile.

The poorest 10 percent of the population in nations in the bottom quartile had an average yearly income of just $932 in 2011.

Editor's Note:



4. Trump: Hillary's Health Could Be a Question

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has one question about Hillary Clinton's potential presidential bid in 2016: her health.

"You have a big health question. Will she be healthy?" Trump told Larry King in an interview that aired Thursday on "Politicking with Larry King" on RT America.

"I hope she's healthy now. I think she is. But you know that's a long time. You have to wait until 2014 is over."

Trump said he likes both former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton "very much," and that the Democratic nomination is hers to lose, Politico reported.

"You always have to think about health, and I think that subject to that or some crazy thing happening — and lots of crazier things can happen — she has the nomination practically wrapped up, it would seem to me."

Hillary will turn 69 in 2016.

Editor's Note:



5. 'Marriage Divide' Linked to Education

Women who graduate from college are five times less likely to give birth out of wedlock than those without a college degree.

Less than 10 percent of births to college-educated women are out of wedlock, compared to more than 50 percent of births to less-educated women. Among women who do not finish high school, nearly 70 percent of births are out of wedlock, up from 30 percent in 1990.

"Over the last two decades, a marriage divide has opened up between college-educated Americans and everyone else," says W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

"When it comes to marriage, the most educated and affluent Americans are doing well enough. The vast majority of them are or will be married, remain married, and have their children in wedlock, but the same cannot be said for their fellow citizens with less education and income,” Wilcox writes in The Atlantic.

"This marriage divide is fueling a family stability divide as well because children born to unmarried parents are much more likely to be exposed to family instability."

As the Insider Report disclosed two weeks ago, single parents have more than tripled as a share of American households since 1960, and single moms now account for one-quarter of all U.S. households.

"One central reason that marriage is in retreat and families are more fragile in poor and working-class communities is that the economic foundations of family life in these communities have been eroding," Wilcox observes, and money matters when it comes to forming and sustaining a family.

To help deal with this problem, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has proposed an additional $2,500 child tax credit that would apply to both income and payroll taxes. Because many working-class and poor families pay little or no federal income tax, the credit applied to payroll taxes would put "real money" in the hands of these families, according to Wilcox.

He asserts that such a measure is likely to increase marriage rates and marital stability among low- and moderate-income families who would benefit from the economic security such a policy would provide.

Lee's proposal, Wilcox adds, is "a step in the right direction."

Editor's Note:



6. Half of U.S. Jews Critical of Israel

A surprising 48 percent of American Jews believe the Israeli government is not making a "sincere effort" to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, a landmark new survey reveals.

The Pew Research Center conducted the first-ever independent study of American Jews, interviewing nearly 3,500 people in all 50 states.

Pew found that only 38 percent of U.S. Jews believe the Israeli government is making a "sincere effort" to come to a peace settlement, and among those ages 18 to 29, just 26 percent agree.

A majority of those polled say a two-state solution is possible and oppose Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and just 17 percent say the settlements help Israeli security, according to survey results reported by the Jewish Daily Forward.

One-quarter of Jews ages 18 to 29 believe the United States supports Israel too much, while just 5 percent of those 50 and older feel that way.

"Young Jews are increasingly likely to say that they have no religion, despite saying they are Jewish," the Forward observed. "In doing so, they are rewriting the norms of behavior of American Jews.

"These 'Jews of no religion' are far less likely to marry other Jews, raise their children Jewish, give to Jewish charities, belong to Jewish organizations, feel connected to the Jewish community, and care about Israel."

Pew estimates that there are 6.7 million American Jews, including 5.3 million adults, comprising 2.2 percent of all U.S. adults.

There are an additional 2.4 million Americans who have a Jewish parent but claim allegiance to another religion or don't consider themselves Jewish in any way.

Among the other findings of the Pew survey:

  • Since 2000, 71 percent of non-Orthodox Jews who married wed a non-Jew.
  • Jews are disproportionately wealthy compared with other Americans — 25 percent make at least $150,000 a year, compared with 8 percent for the population as a whole. But 20 percent of U.S. Jews earn less than $30,000 annually.
  • Jews are more likely than the rest of the population to believe that Muslims and blacks are discriminated against.
  • The vast majority of American Jews say homosexuality should be accepted by society.
  • 32 percent of Jews born since 1980 say they have no religion, but just 7 percent of those born between 1914 and 1927 have no religion.
  • Among Jewish parents who have no religion, 67 percent say they are not raising their children Jewish.
  • Only 48 percent of people raised as Orthodox Jews are currently Orthodox.
  • 70 percent of Jews are Democrats or lean Democratic, while 23 percent are Republicans or lean Republican. But 57 percent of Orthodox Jews are Republicans or lean Republican.

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Editor's Note:



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