Most Dangerous Place in US to Drive: Washington, DC

Sunday, 01 Sep 2013 02:38 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Public School Teachers Paid More Than Most Households
2. Pakistani Dr. Afridi's Prison Sentence Is Overturned
3. Washington, D.C., Drivers Are Worst in Nation — Again
4. 50,000 Stray Dogs Roaming Detroit Streets
5. Bombshell: Venice, Italy, Bans Gondolas
6. We Heard: Rachel Maddow, Eliot Spitzer, Judicial Junkets
 

1. Public School Teachers Paid More Than Most Households

Despite the clamor about low teacher pay in America, the average teacher in a taxpayer-supported public school earns more in base salary alone — with summers off — than the median U.S. household earns in an entire year.

According to a new report from the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average base salary for a full-time public school teacher in the 2011-2012 school year was $53,100.

The Census Bureau estimated that the median household income in the United States was $50,054 in 2011, the latest year for which figures are available.

The income earned by public school teachers is also significantly higher than the base salary of the average private school teacher, $40,200 a year, according to the NCES.

Many public school teachers earn more than their base salary. For example, 41.8 percent of teachers receive additional income to work in extracurricular activities in the same school system; 4 percent earn additional compensation based on students' performance; and 7.3 percent receive income from other school-system sources, such as state supplements.

On top of that, 16.5 percent of public school teachers have another job outside the school system.

When all sources of income are included, the average public school teacher earned $55,100 in the school year studied.

Teachers at public high schools earned even more: $57,700 in 2011-2012, and teachers at schools with at least 1,000 students made $59,100.

In contrast, teachers at private elementary schools earned just $38,400 that year, and those who work in a community classified as a "town" earned only $31,200.

Footnote: The NCES figures for public school teachers do not include their often generous retirement pensions.

Editor's Note:



2. Pakistani Dr. Afridi's Prison Sentence Is Overturned

Readers of the Insider Report are familiar with the plight of Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani physician who helped America track down Osama bin Laden and was sentenced to 33 years in prison by Pakistan.

Now the good news out of Pakistan is that his sentence has been overturned on appeal and he has been granted a new trial.

A judge on Thursday ruled that the previous judge had exceeded his authority in handing down the sentence, and the new trial must be heard by a more senior official, according to the BBC.

Afridi's cousin Qamar Nadeem Afridi told the BBC that the ruling is a "great development," although Afridi will remain in prison until the retrial is concluded.

As the Insider Report disclosed most recently in mid-July, Afridi was arrested weeks after the U.S. raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, where al-Qaida leader bin Laden was living in a compound. American officials later said Afridi had helped in the hunt for the terrorist chief by conducting a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to obtain DNA evidence from the compound confirming that bin Laden was hiding there.

The raid created an uproar in Pakistan, which felt the operation was a violation of its sovereignty.

In May 2012, a court in the tribal area near the Afghan border sentenced Afridi to 33 years in prison after convicting him of providing assistance to an obscure military group in the area.

A Pakistani commission ruled in July that Afridi should be put on trial for his role in the bin Laden affair, even though it conceded that he had already been jailed on "trumped-up charges" that had "completely undermined the credibility of the country and its judicial process."

Afridi has consistently said he was unaware that the target of the vaccination operation was bin Laden.

A few months after his conviction, he spoke to Fox News from prison using a smuggled phone, and claimed he had been tortured with cigarette burns and electric shocks during his interrogation. He also said he was blindfolded for eight months and handcuffed for a year, and had to "bend down on my knees to eat with only my mouth, like a dog."

The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Congress has withheld $33 million of financial aid for Pakistan, $1 million for each year of his prison sentence.

Editor's Note:



3. Washington, D.C., Drivers Are Worst in Nation — Again

Drivers in the nation's capital are more than twice as likely to get into traffic accidents than the national average, a new report reveals — making Washington residents the worst drivers in the country.

Washington drivers go an average of just 4.8 years between accidents, according to Allstate's ninth annual "America's Best Drivers Report." The average American goes 10 years between accidents.

This is the sixth year in a row that Washington has ranked at the bottom of Allstate's report.

Allstate spokesman Adam Polak suggested that the capital's "busier lifestyle" may be largely to blame for its bad drivers, the Washington Post disclosed. Washington residents are also much more likely to have cars than residents of other large cities.

The report is based on Allstate claims and ranks America's 200 largest cities in terms of collision frequency. It defines an accident as any collision resulting in a property damage claim.

Washington suburbs Alexandria and Arlington rank 7th and 10th respectively among the most crash-prone cities, and nearby Baltimore is second behind Washington with drivers experiencing an accident every 5.4 years.

The nation's best drivers are in Fort Collins, Colo., where drivers average 13.9 years between collisions. This is the third time in the Allstate report's history that Fort Collins has held the top spot.

"Congratulations to Fort Collins for continuing to demonstrate excellence in safe driving," said Mike Roche, senior vice president of claims for Allstate.

Rounding out the best five are Boise, Idaho, at No. 2, followed by Sioux Falls, S.D.; Brownsville, Texas; and Madison, Wis.

Among cities with more than 1 million people, drivers in Phoenix, Ariz., are tops, with a collision every 9.8 years. Philadelphia ranks No. 189 with an accident every six years.

Allstate found that 70 percent of vehicles involved in auto claims are considered drivable, indicating that most claims are the result of low-speed collisions.

Allstate's auto policies account for about 10 percent of all U.S. policies, the company stated, "making this report a realistic snapshot of what's happening on America's roadways."

Editor's Note:



4. 50,000 Stray Dogs Roaming Detroit Streets

Up to 50,000 stray dogs roam the streets and vacant properties of bankrupt Detroit, menacing the dwindling human population and taxing the city's ability to deal with the growing problem.

"The suffering of animals goes hand in hand with the suffering of people," Amanda Arrington of the Humane Society told Bloomberg.

She said pet owners who move out of Detroit often leave their dogs behind. Other owners abandon pets they can't afford to keep. These dogs take to the streets and reproduce.

Adding to the problem, Detroit has some 70,000 vacant buildings that provide shelter for dogs. Packs of as many as 20 dogs have been found in boarded-up homes.

Harry Ward, head of animal control in the city, said Detroit's three shelters take in 15,000 animals a year. More than 70 percent are euthanized.

Detroit declared bankruptcy on July 18, with more than $18 billion in long-term debt, and the shortage of funds has led to cutbacks in dog control. Ward has only four officers, 11 fewer than when he took his post in 2008, and only one dog-bite investigator.

Pit bulls and breeds mixed with them are the most numerous among Detroit's stray dog population.

The U.S. Postal Service has had to temporarily halt mail delivery in some areas due to packs of aggressive dogs. Earlier this year a woman sitting on her porch was attacked by two strays that tore off her scalp, Ward said.

He told Bloomberg that there were 903 dog bites in Detroit last year, although most go unreported to police.

He added: "With these large open expanses with vacant homes, it's as if you designed a situation that causes dog problems."

Editor's Note:



5. Bombshell: Venice, Italy, Bans Gondolas

Two things are forever intertwined in the minds of people the world over — Venice, Italy, and gondolas.

So it comes as startling news that authorities in the city will ban gondolas from the Grand Canal during busy times of the day.

The move comes in response to an Aug. 17 collision between a gondola and a motorized vaporetto water bus that resulted in the death of German tourist Joachim Vogel, the Daily Mail reported.

Vogel, a 50-year-old university professor, was thrown from the gondola into the water, along with his wife and three children, near the picturesque Rialto Bridge. Vogel was crushed between the gondola and another vessel, and one of his children suffered a head injury.

Venice Mayor Giorgio Orsoni said: "We have to think of the Grand Canal as a street, a main street like that of all cities, with particularly heavy traffic. We need some discipline."

The gondolier of the vessel Vogel was riding in reportedly tested positive for cocaine use, prompting authorities to propose new regulations on substance abuse, including routine drug and alcohol tests for gondoliers.

That follows the announcement from the gondoliers' association of a crackdown on drunkenness after a series of complaints about unruly behavior by gondoliers.

A group of gondoliers issued a statement saying "gondoliers represent our city in the world and must therefore respect historical and traditional values, as well as human dignity."

Editor's Note:



6. We Heard...

THAT "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC posted all-time ratings lows in August — down a huge 43 percent in total viewers compared to August 2012.

The prime-time program was also down 47 percent in the key 25-54 age demographic, Business Insider reported.

Overall, MSNBC's ratings were down 36 percent in prime time, while Fox News won the cable news ratings war for the 140th consecutive month.

THAT former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's double-digit lead has vanished less than two weeks before the Democratic primary for the comptroller post in New York City.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll of likely Democratic voters has Spitzer tied with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, with both garnering 46 percent of the vote.

Two weeks ago Spitzer had a 56-to-37 percent lead in a Quinnipiac poll, ABC News reported. Since then Stringer has won endorsements from The New York Times, the Daily News, and the New York Post.

Spitzer resigned from his governor's post in 2008 in the aftermath of a prostitution scandal.

THAT federal judges gathered this week for a judicial conference at a posh Colorado resort that features three golf courses — in spite of the sequester spending cuts the judges deplore.

The last time the Tenth Circuit conference was held at the resort, the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, in 2010, the 99 judges' travel and lodging expenses amounted to $191,000, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said: "Government officials, including judges, can't publicly claim small sequester cuts are devastating while continuing to attend posh junkets on the taxpayer's dime."

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

Editor's Note:



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