Tags: Fred Thompson | Religious Thriller | Creates | Buzz | Arab Port Bars Israeli Tourists | Georgia Is Low-Tax Haven | New Healthcare Coding System

Fred Thompson Religious Thriller Creates Buzz; Arab Port Bars Israeli Tourists; Georgia Is Low-Tax Haven

By    |   Sunday, 16 Mar 2014 03:18 PM

Insider Report from Newsmax.com

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Many Americans in 'Terrible Financial Shape' for Retirement
2. Fred Thompson Religious Thriller Creates a Stir on iTunes
3. New Healthcare Coding System: 138,000 More Codes
4. Israeli Cruise Passengers Barred From Arab Port
5. Georgia Tax Collections Lowest in US
6. Youth Unemployment Nearly Twice the National Rate
 

1. Many Americans in 'Terrible Financial Shape' for Retirement

The figures are troubling to say the least — 43 percent of boomers and Generation Xers are at risk of running out of money in their retirement.

And among the poorest 25 percent of boomers and Xers, 83 percent are at risk, according to a new study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Another report, from the Boston College Center for Retirement Research, paints an equally bleak picture.

Many people "are in terrible financial shape for their retirement," The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch reported.

"According to Boston College, based on current projections, about half the country is at risk of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement. Among low-income workers, that rises to 60 percent. But it's 40 percent even among the higher-income workers."

Another sobering statistic: An EBRI survey last year found that 60 percent of workers have saved less than $50,000 for their retirement, and 28 percent have saved less than $1,000.

Those workers with no savings will be hard-pressed to maintain their standard of living on Social Security. The average monthly benefit in January 2014 was just $1,295, according to the Social Security Administration.

Yet 23 percent of elderly retirees who are married already rely on those benefits for at least 90 percent of their income, as do 46 percent of unmarried elderly recipients.

And those workers who do have savings will have difficulty earning income from their deposits due to short-term interest rates suppressed by the Federal Reserve.

"Everybody sensible knows we are facing a looming retirement crisis," stated MarketWatch's Brett Arends. "Tens of millions of boomers are starting to retire. They are going to live in old age far longer than previous generations," but "so few people or families have saved anywhere near enough."

The SSA estimates that the number of older Americans will rise from 45.1 million to 77.4 million by 2033.

Yet the United States barely cracks the top 20 countries when it comes to retirement security, according to Natixis Global Asset Management.

The Natixis Index ranks 150 nations on 20 measures of health, wealth, quality of life, and material well-being that affect retirement security, including per capita income, healthcare costs, and longevity figures.

The United States ranks only 19th, behind such countries as South Korea and the Czech Republic. Switzerland and Norway are at the top.

Natixis CEO John Hailer said: "Individuals need to be concerned about their own retirement needs, and not just be dependent on government and corporations."

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2. Fred Thompson Religious Thriller Creates a Stir on iTunes

Former U.S. senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson has a leading role in the upcoming movie "Persecuted," which explores timely issues, including religious freedom and censorship.

Regal Entertainment has announced that the independent movie will open on May 9.

"Persecuted" is about a televangelist, played by James Remar, who is being pressured into supporting legislation that would censor religious speech. When he refuses to support the measure, he is framed for the rape and murder of a teenage girl.

Thompson plays a Catholic priest.

Despite little marketing, the movie's trailer was recently No. 1 on the iTunes "most popular" list, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie was also well received when it was screened at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 7.

Thompson, who served in the Senate from 1994 to 2003, is no stranger to acting. He has appeared in several dozen movies and television shows, including NBC's "Law & Order."

During a panel discussion at CPAC, Thompson said the movie's theme of "the government trying to dictate what Christian ministers can say is not so far-fetched today."

The film also stars Dean Stockwell and Bruce Davison, and Fox News Channel's Gretchen Carlson plays a news anchor in the movie.

"Washington and Hollywood are two interesting towns," Thompson told The Hollywood Reporter. "The film brings these two worlds together. Throw in a bit of religion and you have a recipe for a great thriller.

"I can't wait for America to watch this film. It's perfect for our time," Thompson said.

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3. New Healthcare Coding System: 138,000 More Codes

Just when you thought the U.S. healthcare system couldn't get more complicated, here comes a new healthcare coding system that borders on the absurd.

On Oct. 1, 2014, the United States will begin implementing ICD-10, a system for classifying injuries. It's the 10th version of the International Classification of Diseases promulgated by the World Health Organization, according to The Weekly Standard.

The codes are used to record diagnoses and services provided, and insurance companies use them for reimbursement, although only 10 other countries use them to determine reimbursement.

The system will affect the work of providers and payers, doctors, researchers, hospitals and clinics, the government, and the private sector.

As a result of ICD-10, the number of codes in the system will soar from 17,000 to 155,000.

A rib-tickling article by Stephen F. Hayes, a senior writer at the Standard, pointed to several of the highly unlikely fatal and nonfatal injuries represented by the codes, including:

  • Asphyxiation due to being trapped in a (discarded) refrigerator;
  • Suicide by jellyfish — toxic effect of contact with jellyfish, intentional self-harm;
  • Forced landing of a spacecraft, injuring occupant;
  • Sucked into the engine of an airplane;
  • Attack from another with frog venom;
  • Crushed between fishing boat and other watercraft or other object due to collision;
  • Death from jumping from burning water-skis;
  • Contact with nonvenomous frogs;
  • Occupant of animal-drawn vehicle injured in collision with streetcar.

There are also codes for being "bitten" by a crocodile, "struck" by a crocodile, and "crushed" by a crocodile.

"Virtually everyone agrees that the transition [to the new coding system] will mean decreased productivity and lost revenue, at least for a time," Hayes observed. "Some experts are predicting widespread chaos in a sector of the economy that can little afford it."

Editor's Note:



4. Israeli Cruise Passengers Barred From Arab Port

Israeli tourists on a cruise ship owned by a U.S.-based cruise line were barred from disembarking in the port of Tunis and were forced to remain on board while other passengers — including non-Israeli Jews — were allowed off.

A Canadian Jew on the Norwegian Jade cruise ship told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that there were about 20 Israelis on the ship and that at first, no one knew they were being denied entry because "the ship kept it a secret."

"We met with the captain twice and his story was that he was waiting for instructions from the head office in Miami," the passenger said. "We told him he was making a political statement by not allowing the Israelis to leave the ship and he said it was out of his hands."

According to a report in The Algemeiner Journal, B'nai Brith Canada issued a statement criticizing the ship's owner, Norwegian Cruise Line, for failing to inform Israeli passengers ahead of time that they were barred from disembarking by the Tunisian government.

B'nai Brith said the cruise line is not only responsible for advising passengers of such a "discriminatory policy" before boarding, but also should seek to avoid ports with such policies altogether.

Yaacov Zacharia, one of the Israelis aboard, said he was "extremely offended" when told he could not leave the ship in Tunis.

He told Haaretz that he and his wife had decided to take the cruise in the belief that the stop in Tunis was part of their itinerary.

"It was one of the reasons we chose it — the experience of visiting Tunisia," he said.

The cruise line did offer compensation for the experience, Zacharia said.

Relations between Israel and Tunisia have not improved since the turmoil of the Arab Spring.

In October 2011, the Ennahda Movement, an Islamist political party, won a plurality of seats in Tunisia's Constituent Assembly.

In November 2011, the party's general secretary held a joint rally with a parliamentary deputy of the Palestinian Hamas party and reportedly said "the liberation of Tunisia will, God willing, bring about the liberation of Jerusalem."

Norwegian Cruise Line is headquartered in Florida and controls an estimated 8 percent of the cruise market.

Editor's Note:



5. Georgia Tax Collections Lowest in US

Nothing may be certain except death and taxes, but how much tax is collected from U.S. residents and in what form can vary greatly from state to state, a new report shows.

The report, published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, looks at four sources of revenue the states have at their disposal: individual income taxes, general sales taxes, state property taxes, and corporate income taxes.

New York collected the highest amount of individual income taxes per capita in 2011, a year for which full figures are available: $1,864. Connecticut was next at $1,808, followed by Massachusetts at $1,765.

Other states collecting more than $1,000 in individual income taxes per capita are Oregon, Minnesota, California, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, and North Carolina.

But seven states have no individual income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

State general sales tax collections are highest in Hawaii, $1,823 per capita, followed by Washington ($1,559) and Wyoming ($1,523). But five states have no sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

Eighteen states do not collect a state property tax. Among those that do, the highest per capita amount is in Vermont, $1,525, followed by Wyoming ($500) and Arkansas ($327), according to the report by Justin M. Ross, an assistant professor of public finance and economics at the School of Public & Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

Alaska collects the most in corporate income tax per capita, $1,003, followed by New Hampshire, far behind at $443. Four states have no corporate income tax: Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

But states also collect revenue from a variety of other taxes, including liquor and tobacco, gaming, licenses, hotels and motels, and utilities, and some have severance taxes on the extraction of oil, natural gas, coal, timber, and uranium.

When all taxes are considered, Alaska collects the most taxes per capita, $7,708. But much of that is derived from the taxation of oil production and the income tax on oil companies.

Oil and gas-rich North Dakota is next at $5,627, followed by Wyoming ($4,347) and Vermont ($4,293).

Total tax collections in Georgia amount to just $1,639 per capita, the lowest in the nation, followed by South Carolina ($1,650), South Dakota and Arizona ($1,682), and Missouri ($1,684).

Editor's Note:



6. Youth Unemployment Nearly Twice the National Rate

The official U.S. unemployment rate in February was 6.7 percent, according to a Labor Department report issued on March 7 — but the rate was nearly twice as high for Americans ages 18 to 29.

The rate for young Americans was 11.4 percent last month, according to Generation Opportunity, a national youth advocacy organization.

But the effective (U-6) rate, which includes those who have given up looking for work, was 15.6 percent.

For African-Americans ages 18 to 29, the official rate was 19.3 and the U-6 rate was a sky-high 23.6 percent.

And for young Hispanics, the unemployment rate was 12.5 percent and the U-6 rate was 16.6 percent.

"Youth unemployment has been way too high for way too long and politicians seem like they don't even care about this mess that they created themselves," said Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg.

"Instead of working to create opportunities for my generation, the administration is busy dreaming up new big government schemes that rob us of our prosperity and threaten our future well-being."

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Editor's Note:



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Sunday, 16 Mar 2014 03:18 PM
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