Tags: China | Steps-Up | Christian | Targeting | Israel Snubs Jimmy Carter Visit | EPA Rules to Kill 300 | 000 Jobs

China Steps Up Christian Targeting; Israel Snubs Jimmy Carter Visit; EPA Rules to Kill 300,000 Jobs

By    |   Sunday, 26 Apr 2015 05:22 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. 40 Percent of Boomers Have No Retirement Savings
2. Identity Thieves Stealing IRS Refunds
3. Israeli Leaders Snub Jimmy Carter Visit
4. New EPA Rules Could Cost Nearly 300,000 Jobs
5. Argentina Prosecutor Dismisses Iran Cover-Up Case
6. China Steps Up Persecution of Christians

 

1. 40 Percent of Boomers Have No Retirement Savings

Many members of the baby-boom generation are postponing their retirement, given that a troubling 40 percent have no money whatsoever put away for their post-employment years.

Another 21 percent have less than $100,000 in retirement savings.

Those are sobering facts from the latest annual survey by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), which monitors the retirement income industry, measuring the retirement preparedness of the boomer generation.

The survey found that 13 percent of boomers have put away between $100,000 and $250,000, 19 percent have $250,000 or more, and 7 percent aren't sure how much they have.

Among boomers who are still working, only 69 percent have saved for retirement.

Overall economic satisfaction has plunged in 2015, from 76 percent in 2011 and 65 percent in 2014 to 48 percent today. The decline is more pronounced among boomers who have retired — dropping from 72 percent last year to 45 percent in 2015.

Among all boomers, just 27 percent now believe they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years, 28 percent think they will have enough money to take care of medical expenses, and 19 percent believe they will have enough money to pay for long-term care such as at a nursing home.

More evidence from the IRI survey that boomers are facing economic hardships: Nearly one-quarter of boomers reported that they have had difficulty paying their mortgage or rent in the past year, and 19 percent of working boomers stopped contributing to a retirement account such as an IRA in the past 12 months.

This year 28 percent of boomers expect to retire at age 70 or beyond, 15 percent at ages 65 to 69, 13 percent at 65, and 26 percent before 65. The rest are not sure.

Half of all boomers cite Social Security as their major source of income during retirement, although the average monthly payout this year is just $1,328, while 23 percent cite an employee-funded retirement plan such as a 401(k), and 25 percent are relying on an employer-provided pension.

Four out of 10 boomers with less than $250,000 saved for retirement and no private pension believe they will be able to pay for their basic needs and medical expenses in retirement with at least some money left over for travel and other leisure activities. But the IRI notes that "this may be unrealistic for those who are unable to reduce expenses or who experience significant medical costs."

Editor's Note:

 

2. Identity Thieves Stealing IRS Refunds

With the April 15 income tax filing deadline having just passed, many Americans in the coming weeks are apt to find that when it comes to their expected IRS tax refunds, the check is not in the mail.

That is due to tax-related identity theft, a real and growing problem. The IRS said it assisted more than 800,000 suspected victims of this type of theft last year alone.

According to the latest figures available, the IRS lost an estimated $8.5 billion to fraudulent refunds in 2013 and stopped another $24.2 billion in false refunds from being paid.

In fiscal 2014, the IRS initiated 1,063 identity theft-related investigations, resulting in 748 prison sentences with an average length of 43 months.

Taxpayers expecting a refund can be surprised to receive notice that a tax return for them already has been submitted by someone other than the taxpayer.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone steals a Social Security number and uses it to file a tax return claiming a false refund, the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) explained.

These bogus filings report false wage and tax withholding information, and are typically made early in the year before employers are required to provide data to the IRS that the agency could use to reconcile the reported numbers and identify a false claim.

Taxpayers usually don't find out that they have become victims until they attempt to file a return, and resolving the problem with the IRS and receiving a refund can take the better part of a year.

Victims should contact the IRS immediately, and the NCPA also recommends that if you find yourself a victim of this identity theft, "you'll have to file a report with law enforcement, contact the Federal Trade Commission, contact the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert, contact your financial institutions, and check with the Social Security Administration."

To reduce the risk of having your Social Security number compromised, the IRS advises Americans not to carry their Social Security card or any document with their SSN on it, and not to give a business a SSN just because they ask for it — provide it only when absolutely necessary.

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3. Israeli Leaders Snub Jimmy Carter Visit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin have rejected a request from former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to meet with him during his upcoming visit to Israel.

A senior official in Jerusalem told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the leaders rejected Carter's invitation after consulting with the Foreign Ministry and the National Security Council.

The official said the Foreign Ministry recommended the snub because of Carter's "anti-Israel stance" in recent years, in particular during the war in Gaza last summer, when Carter expressed strong criticism of Israel and called for the U.S. State Department to remove Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations.

Ironically, Carter negotiated the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt during his single term in the White House.

But his 2006 book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" outraged Israelis and sparked criticism from Jewish leaders in the United States.

In the book Carter argued that Israel's continued control of Palestinian land has been the primary obstacle to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East.

Carter said in an interview with Israel Radio that Israeli policy in the West Bank represented instances of apartheid worse than those once in place in South Africa.

Israeli leaders also snubbed Carter during a visit to Israel in 2008 because of his plans to meet Hamas' top leader in Syria, and Israel's secret service declined to assist U.S. agents guarding him during his visit.

The current Israeli government did approve Carter's request to visit Gaza during his upcoming trip to Israel.

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4. New EPA Rules Could Cost Nearly 300,000 Jobs

The Environmental Protection Agency's proposed regulations for power plants could result in the closing of dozens of coal-fired plants and a tremendous job loss in the energy industry, according to the EPA's own estimates.

Those estimates say the regulations on existing coal and natural gas power plants could eliminate one-fifth of all existing coal-powered plants and 80,000 energy jobs. But a report by the American Action Forum (AAF) asserts that the potential job losses will be much higher.

The AAF calculated the nation's least efficient power plants — as measured by their CO2 emitted per megawatt hour of energy generated and several other factors — and identified 93 plants, one-fifth of the U.S. total, that are likely to be shuttered by the EPA regulations.

Pennsylvania is home to the greatest number of plants threatened with closing, 13, while Michigan would lose seven and Colorado and Illinois would each lose six.

While the EPA puts the number of lost jobs at power plants and coal mines at 80,000, a study cited by the AAF found that one energy job supports 3.7 additional jobs, so the actual number of jobs that would be lost, using the 3.7 multiplier, is about 296,000.

That means that by 2030, the U.S. economy could lose $27.7 billion in wages.

Texas would suffer the most job losses, 36,500, West Virginia would lose 35,600 and Pennsylvania 18,000.

The new EPA regulations are set for final publication this summer.

The AAF report concludes: "EPA might tout the benefits of its proposal, but the significant job losses are just as noteworthy."

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5. Argentina Prosecutor Dismisses Iran Cover-Up Case

A prosecutor in Argentina has dismissed charges that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner tried to squelch a probe into Iran's links to the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

Prosecutor Javier De Luca was assigned the case after it had already been rejected by a lower court in February, a decision upheld by a lower appeals court due to "lack of evidence."

"There has been no crime," De Luca told Reuters.

Allegations of wrongdoing by Kirchner were originally brought by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in his home with a bullet wound to the head on Jan. 18, the day before he was scheduled to testify about the allegations in front of parliament.

As the Insider Report disclosed in March, a magazine in Brazil reported that Iran helped finance the 2007 campaign of presidential candidate Kirchner in an effort to secure Argentina's help in its nuclear weapons development program.

Iran also wanted Argentina to cover up Iran's link to the 1994 bombing that killed 85 and injured hundreds, Nisman maintained.

Nisman's death spawned conspiracy theories in Argentina, some of them involving Kirchner.

Now her government is seeking to discredit Nisman, charging that he received kickbacks from the IT specialist who had been working with him on his probe of the bombing.

According to Kirchner's cabinet chief, Nisman spent the embezzled money on champagne, women, and expensive vacations.

Nisman's family said in March that independent tests indicated he was murdered and did not commit suicide, the BBC reported.

Among the points made in a report from Nisman's family is that no gunpowder residue was found on his hands, he had been shot in the back of the head, and his body had been moved to the bathroom after he was shot.

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6. China Steps Up Persecution of Christians

Chinese Christians last year suffered the harshest persecution in more than a decade in the communist government’s "response to the growth of Christianity in China," according to a report from the Christian human rights group China Aid.

The report documented 572 cases of persecution in 2014, involving 17,884 individuals, a 300 percent increase from 2013. Of those persecution victims, at least 1,592 were church leaders, China Aid found.

"In 2014, Christians and practitioners of other faiths in China experienced the harshest persecution seen in over a decade, including draconian measures taken by Xi Jinping's administration to eliminate all religious, political, and social dissent," the report disclosed.

Charges brought against Christians ranged from "gathering a crowd to disrupt public order" to "fraud."

Some were accused of "cult" activities, and "anti-cult" trials were often conducted in secret.

"Noting an inherent hostility toward religion and the fact that the [Communist Party of China] endorses atheism as the official doctrine of the Chinese state, its attempt to define any particular religion as a cult is biased, at the very least," China Aid maintained.

While China sanctions two "patriotic" Christian organizations, one Protestant and one Catholic, millions of Chinese worship in unregistered house churches or belong to unapproved Catholic congregations loyal to the Pope rather than Beijing-appointed leadership.

The Pew Research Center estimated in 2012 that these independent believers number around 48 million, CNS News disclosed in a report on China Aid's allegations.

China Aid said it received reports from Christian leaders in one Chinese province, where Protestant missionaries worked a century ago, asserting that more than 30 churches were demolished last year, 422 crosses were removed, more than 300 believers detained, and 10 church leaders arrested, adding that the actual figures are believed to be much higher.

Chinese authorities have also increased persecution of Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims, according to a 2014 report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

China has been designated by the U.S. State Department as one of nine "countries of particular concern" for violations of religious freedom, along with North Korea, Burma, Iran, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

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China, Steps-Up, Christian, Targeting, Israel Snubs Jimmy Carter Visit, EPA Rules to Kill 300, 000 Jobs, 40 Percent of Boomers Have No Retirement Savings, Identity Thieves Stealing IRS Refunds, Argentina Prosecutor Dismisses Iran Cover-Up Case
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Sunday, 26 Apr 2015 05:22 PM
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