Tags: Palestinians | Target | Israeli | Soccer | China Forces 400M Abortions | Obama Condones Wind Farms Killing Eagles

Palestinians Target Israeli Soccer; China Forces 400M Abortions, Obama Condones Wind Farms Killing Eagles

By    |   Monday, 11 May 2015 12:05 AM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. 47% of Americans Save Nothing – or Less
2. China's One-Child Policy: 400 Million Abortions in 35 Years
3. Wind Turbines Kill Half a Million Birds a Year
4. Poll: Americans Cautious About Prison Reform
5. Palestinians Seeking Israel's Ouster From World Soccer
6. Posh Beverly Hills Scorched by State's Water Restrictions

 

1. 47% of Americans Save Nothing – or Less

Nearly half of American households, 47 percent, had a zero or negative savings rate in 2013, according to a new report from a Deutsche Bank economist.

A negative savings rate means that the household has more debt than savings.

Two weeks ago the Insider Report disclosed that 40 percent of baby boomers have no money whatsoever put away for their retirement, and another 21 percent have less than $100,000.

But the new report indicates that the lack of savings in the U.S. goes well beyond the boomer generation.

The 47 percent of households that have zero or negative savings was down only one percentage point from its peak in 2010, even though the recession supposedly ended in 2009.

The average American household savings balance was $3,800 as of the middle of last year, and one-quarter of households had no savings at all.

The average balance in a 401(k) at one major investment provider was around $101,000 — only about $4,000 a year if used to fund a retirement with 4 percent annual withdrawals, according to The Daily Beast.

Meanwhile the average U.S. household had $7,283 in credit card debt last year. But when looking only at the households carrying a credit card balance, the average level was $15,611, the consumer finance website NerdWallet reported.

In addition, the average mortgage debt was $155,192.

Last year the nation's total credit card debt amounted to $882 billion, mortgage debt stood at $8.14 trillion, and student loan debt was $1.13 trillion.

The Deutsche Bank report "suggests that American families would not fare well under the stress of another financial crisis or even a modest downturn and short recession," The Daily Beast observed.

Another sobering fact emerged from a survey reported by The Wall Street Journal: Only about half of those workers polled said they were certain they could come up with $2,000 if the need unexpectedly arose in the following month.

Editor's Note:

 

2. China's One-Child Policy: 400 Million Abortions in 35 Years

A Chinese civil rights activist who spent five years in prison for working to protect women against forced abortions told a congressional panel that China's one-child policy has led to as many as 400 million abortions since it was instituted.

Cheng Guangcheng fled China in 2012 and is now a senior fellow at Catholic University of America. He spoke at a hearing of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on April 30.

"Over the past 35 years, China has killed a total of 360 to 400 million young lives as a result of its inhumane and violent birth control policies," Guangcheng said.

"During a six-month period of 2005, more than 130,000 forced abortions and/or sterilizations took place in Linyi city alone.

"This brutality and these crimes against women and their families have wrought irrevocable physical, spiritual, and psychological harm."

Guangcheng told the commission that a married couple must first seek a permit from the local birth control committee before attempting to have a child. If a woman were to become pregnant without a permit, a Communist party official would force her to sign a form acknowledging that she consented to a forced abortion and sterilization.

"Of course, none of these women are willing to lose their own babies, but rather are coerced to place their fingerprint on the form against their will," Guangcheng said.

If she refuses to submit, family members and even neighbors are taken away and forced to pay fines.

Up to the sixth month of a pregnancy, "a poison shall be injected into the womb to kill the baby and birth induced to withdraw the baby from the body," he explained.

"Late in the pregnancy, at six months or beyond, birth is to be induced and the baby drowned in a water bucket. Sometimes a doctor would break the neck of a baby and throw it into a trash bin."

This brutality continues despite China's loosening controls allowing certain couples to have a second child on certain conditions, he added, saying he recently heard from a man who was disabled due to a severe beating he received from local government personnel because his sister-in-law had had an additional baby without a permit.

In addition to forced abortions for unauthorized pregnancies, the one-child policy has prompted millions of Chinese couples who want their only child to be male to abort female fetuses.

Guangcheng called on the U.S. Congress to make Communist officials accountable for their "crimes against humanity" and to ban officials from entry into the U.S.

The commission's chairman, Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., said in a statement: "In his testimony, Chen gets it right. He calls China's coercive population planning policies 'genocide.' He calls for an international tribunal to investigate these crimes against humanity and calls on the administration to enforce existing U.S. law and bar Chinese officials from the U.S."

A bill signed into law in 1999 says in part that the secretary of state is not to issue visas and the attorney general is not to allow entry into the country for any foreign national who the secretary finds has been directly involved in forced abortions or forced sterilizations.

"To the best of my knowledge, under President Obama almost no one has been rendered inadmissible," Rep. Smith said. "It has been a gross failure of the Obama administration not to enforce existing law, particularly on those in China who so brutally violate women's rights."

Editor's Note:

 

3. Wind Turbines Kill Half a Million Birds a Year

Each year about 573,000 birds, including 83,000 eagles and other birds of prey, and 880,000 bats are killed by wind turbines, according to a study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin.

But an Obama administration measure allows wind energy companies to kill eagles, a protected bird, without prosecution.

The yearly kill figure is 30 percent higher than the federal government had estimated in 2009, due largely to the nation's increased wind power capacity in the last few years.

And it is likely an underestimate because the Bulletin's figure is based on data from 2012 when there were fewer wind turbines.

Since 2012, the United States has added more than 14,000 megawatts of additional wind capacity, bringing the total at the end of last year to 65,879 megawatts, the Institute for Energy Research reported.

The wind power companies have been encouraged by federal and state incentives such as the Production Tax Credit that provides firms with 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour of wind-generated power over the first 10 years of a facility's operation.

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, was estimated to have killed 800,000 birds. BP was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds due to the spill, part of its $4.5 billion in fines and other payments to the government.

In comparison, America's wind turbines have killed about 2.9 million birds over the past five years, but only two utilities have been penalized.

Duke Energy paid a $1 million fine for killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two wind farms in Wyoming from 2009 to 2013, and PacifiCorp was fined $2.5 million for killing 38 golden eagles and 336 other protected birds since 2009 at its Wyoming wind projects. (Yet PacifiCorp, which also operates coal plants, had to pay more than four times as much — $10.5 million — for the electrocution of 232 eagles on substation power lines.)

Another form of green energy, solar power, also kills birds.

The Ivanpah solar power plant in California's Mojave Desert, built with the aid of a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, uses a massive array of mirrors to focus sunlight on 45-story power towers, boiling a liquid that turns turbines to produce electricity. Heat from the focused sunlight scorches birds in midair.

The facility killed an estimated 3,500 birds from 83 different species during its first year in operation.

To date, no solar facility has been fined for killing birds.

The death of an eagle or other protected birds is a violation of federal law, unless a company has a federal permit. The Obama administration in December 2013 finalized a regulation that allows wind energy companies and others to obtain 30-year permits to kill eagles without prosecution by the federal government.

The Institute for Energy Research concludes: "Despite bird and bat deaths at wind and solar farms, few have been fined for violating the law while oil and electric generating companies have paid heavily for such violations."

Editor's Note:

 

4. Poll: Americans Cautious About Prison Reform

Americans remain cautious regarding calls by Hillary Clinton and others to reduce the number of people in prison, a new poll reveals.

The survey by Rasmussen Reports found that a minority, 45 percent, believe there are too many Americans in prison today, a percentage essentially unchanged from last July. Thirty-two percent say there are not too many prisoners, and 23 percent are not sure.

Among Democrats, 59 percent believe there are too many people incarcerated in the U.S., compared to 34 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of those not affiliated with either party.

According to a report released late last year by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 1.57 million Americans in prison at the end of 2013. But some estimates place the number of Americans who were incarcerated at some point during that year at around 2.4 million.

The United States has 4.4 percent of the world's population, but 22 percent of all prisoners.

Asked by Rasmussen if they favor the use of alternative drug treatment programs instead of jail time for those convicted of non-violent drug-related crimes, 63 percent said they favor treatment programs, 19 percent oppose them, and the rest are not sure.

Just 3 percent of Americans think the United States is winning the war on drugs, Rasmussen found.

An equal number of poll respondents agree and disagree with the use of strict mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes — 43 percent in each case; 14 percent are not sure.

Americans are also evenly divided over whether all states should raise the minimum age at which someone can be tried as an adult to 18 — 41 percent favor the move and 42 percent oppose it.

The Rasmussen survey, which was conducted at the end of April, after the Baltimore riots, also showed that 70 percent of Americans think police officers should be required to wear uniform cameras while on duty.

Editor's Note:

 

5. Palestinians Seeking Israel's Ouster From World Soccer

Palestinians have called on the international governing body of association football (soccer) to suspend Israel from world competition.

The Palestinian proposal will be voted on by members of the Zurich-based International Federation of Soccer, known by its French acronym FIFA, on May 29. For the proposal to pass, it needs the approval of 75 percent of FIFA's 209 member associations.

A suspension would bar all of Israel's teams and clubs from competing in international events, including World Cup qualifications. In the past, FIFA has suspended nations mainly when a government has intervened in its soccer association's affairs.

Israel is currently competing in the Euro 2016 qualifying events and its clubs are scheduled to join European cup tournaments in July. Israel is also set to host the European women's under-19 championships, and suspension would force the event to be relocated.

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) claims that Israel hampers its activities, restricting the movement of players between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Daily Forward reports.

Israel cites security concerns for the restrictions.

In a letter to all FIFA members, the chairman of Israel's Football Association, Ofer Eini, urged members to reject PFA chief Jibril Rajoub's proposal, calling it "a flagrant move that seeks to mix politics with sport — something that is completely contrary to FIFA's vision."

Eini also urged FIFA President Sepp Blatter to strike the Palestinian proposal from the FIFA Congress agenda.

Blatter indicated on Wednesday that Israel won't be suspended, although in 2013 he threatened to suspend Israel for excessive government interference in soccer.

In addition to restrictions on movement, the PFA also cites curbs Israel places on sports equipment imported into the Palestinian territories, and visits by foreign teams.

Rajoub told Reuters that Israel was "persecuting Palestine footballers, athletes, and the movement of sporting equipment."

One Israeli soccer club has refused to employ Arab players, but all other top clubs regularly employ Arabs, and Arabs have played on Israel's national team for decades.

Yet Rajoub has complained about racism against Arabs in Israeli soccer, an assertion an Israeli soccer official called "ridiculous and cantankerous."

Editor's Note:

 

6. Posh Beverly Hills Scorched by State's Water Restrictions

Water use restrictions imposed in response to California's four-year drought have led some residents of ritzy Beverly Hills to do the unthinkable — rip out their lush water-guzzling lawns.

Beverly Hills has been cited by state officials as one of California's biggest urban water users and ordered to cut its consumption by 36 percent or face fines.

The city has stopped watering its grassy roadway medians, restricted lawn watering to two days a week, and banned draining and refilling swimming pools under penalty of a fine of up to $1,000.

The city also has removed 80 percent of the grass in front of City Hall and replaced the grass with drought-tolerant plants, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Some Beverly Hills homeowners have done the same. Others in Beverly Hills and expensive cities in the Palm Springs area have gone so far as to replace their grass with artificial turf.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order on April 1 mandating a 25 percent reduction in urban water use over the next nine months.

The rules will require localities to cut consumption from 8 percent to 36 percent compared to 2013 levels, the Los Angeles Times reported. Low-consuming cities like San Francisco must cut water use by 8 percent while highest-use cities like Beverly Hills must slash use by 36 percent.

Per capita daily water use in San Francisco was 45.4 gallons between July and September last year, compared to 416 gallons in Palm Springs.

The State Water Resources Control Board has determined that 85 of about 400 cities and water districts must make the 36 percent cuts.

Cutting urban water use in the state by 25 percent could cost California $1 billion to $1.3 billion, including up to $600 million in lost revenue for water suppliers, according to a consulting firm cited by the Times.

Stephanie Bartron, a landscape architect who specializes in lawn conversions, told the Journal that when she spoke recently at a women's club luncheon in Beverly Hills, "some people were on the verge of tears. They're worried this will change the nature of the neighborhood."

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Editor's Note:

 

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Palestinians, Target, Israeli, Soccer, China Forces 400M Abortions, Obama Condones Wind Farms Killing Eagles
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2015-05-11
Monday, 11 May 2015 12:05 AM
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