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Tags: Ex-Obama-Aid | Signals | Hillary | Support | New EPA Rules Will Have No Effect on Climate Change | Obesity Rate Still Rising | Human Rights Abusers Elected to UN Rights Panel

Obama's Campaign Manager in Talks to Lead Hillary Presidential Effort

By    |   Sunday, 17 November 2013 03:04 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Ex-Obama Aide Messina Signals Support for Hillary in '16
2. New EPA Rules Will Have 'No Effect' on Climate Change
3. Obesity Rate Still Rising in 2013
4. 'Human Rights Abusers' Elected to UN Rights Panel
5. Cuts in Beer Taxes Are Brewing
6. We Heard: Fox News, KFC Restaurants

1. Ex-Obama Aide Messina Signals Support for Hillary in '16

Jim Messina, who ran President Barack Obama's re-election campaign last year, and John Podesta, Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, are reportedly in talks to co-chair a group backing Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.

Messina and Podesta would head the board of Priorities USA, a super PAC that backed Obama's 2012 campaign, and provide "a dramatic early symbol of party unity behind the former secretary of state," BuzzFeed reported.

Messina's presence on the board would indicate that key Obama loyalists are backing Clinton "and are ready to forgo a primary," the site added.

Sources close to the group, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said talks are still in progress and plans could change. One concern is that Vice President Joe Biden, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, would view Messina's backing of a pro-Clinton group as a slight.

Priorities USA spent $79 million on television ads attacking Mitt Romney last year. It would serve as a pro-Clinton ad generator, funded by big-money donors and the PAC's biggest financial backer, Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who supported Obama in 2008.

He told the Hollywood Reporter in October that he assured Clinton that if she runs for the White House, he would support her.

Other groups have already made plans to back Clinton's campaign, including the super PACs Ready for Hillary and American Bridge, and EMILY's List, which supports female candidates.

Messina served as an adviser to several legislators and was White House deputy chief of staff for operations under Obama from 2009 to 2011. He is now chairman of Organizing for Action, a nonprofit that backs legislation supported by Obama.

Podesta has held a variety of posts in Washington and was co-chairman of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. He is now chairman of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Editor's Note:

2. New EPA Rules Will Have 'No Effect' on Climate Change

Would it be a good idea to shut down America's coal-fired energy industry to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by a mere 0.01 percent? The Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama administration apparently think so.

The EPA recently proposed new limits on carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants that would prevent new construction and gradually close older plants.

The EPA maintains the rules will help protect Americans from the ill effects of man-made climate change.

But many scientists challenge the EPA's assertion that carbon dioxide emissions are related to climate change, noted Paul Driessen, senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and author of "Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death."

Those scientists cite solar, oceanic, and other factors the EPA ignores as potential causes of climate change, and point out that human beings account for just 4 percent of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere each year.

And American coal-fired power generation is responsible for just 3 percent of humanity's carbon dioxide emissions.

"In other words, the power plants the EPA wants to shut down account for a trivial 0.01 percent of the carbon dioxide added to Earth's atmosphere annually," Driessen writes in an article for The Washington Times.

He also says that "China, India, Russia, and Brazil alone emit twice as much carbon dioxide as the United States. Therefore, even if the theory that carbon dioxide controls Earth's climate is correct, the new regulations will have no effect on climate change."

They will have an effect on the economy, however. Complying with rules set by the EPA and other federal entities is estimated to cost U.S. businesses $1.8 trillion a year.

Editor's Note:

3. Obesity Rate Still Rising in 2013

The obesity rate among American adults so far this year is 27.2 percent, up from 26.2 percent in 2012, a new Gallup-Healthways survey reveals — and it is on pace to surpass all annual average rates since the survey began in 2008.

In addition to those considered "obese," 35.5 percent of adults are said to be "overweight," while 35.3 percent are classified as "normal."

The new obesity rate is "much higher" than the 25.5 percent rate in 2008, Gallup reported.

A sizable majority of U.S. adults are now either obese or overweight — 62.7 percent.

The new statistics are based on more than 141,000 interviews conducted from Jan. 1 through Oct. 28. Gallup uses a person's height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI) scores. Individual values of 30 or above are classified as obese, 25 to 29.9 are overweight, 18.5 to 24.9 are normal, and 18.4 or less are underweight.

Obesity rates have increased so far this year among all major demographic and socioeconomic groups with the exception of those 18 to 29 years old. Their rate has remained stable.

Among age groups, Americans 45 to 64 years old have the highest obesity rate, 32.5 percent, while the rate is 26.6 percent for those age 65 and above.

The South has the highest obesity rate among regions, 29.4 percent, and the East has the lowest, 25.6 percent.

Blacks have a rate of 35.7 percent, while the rate for Hispanics is 27.9 percent and for whites, 26.1 percent.

Americans with annual income of less than $30,000 have the highest obesity rate among income groups, 31.6 percent, and those earning at least $75,000 have the lowest rate, 22.2 percent.

"If the current trend continues for the next several years, the implications for the health of Americans and the increased burden on the healthcare system could be significant," Gallup observed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the medical cost of obesity in America in one recent year was $147 billion.

Adult obesity rates vary significantly among the states, ranging from lows of 20.5 percent in Colorado and 22.9 percent in Massachusetts, to highs of 34.7 percent in Louisiana and 34.6 percent in Mississippi.

The obesity rate among children in the United States is also rising at an alarming rate, the CDC reported. Among those ages 2 to 19, 17 percent are now obese. Obesity among children and adolescents has nearly tripled since 1980.

Editor's Note:

4. 'Human Rights Abusers' Elected to UN Rights Panel

China, Russia, and Vietnam all received more votes than France or Britain for membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council — and Cuba got the most votes among Latin American countries.

"This is a black day for human rights," declared Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group, following the vote on Tuesday.

"Despite the much-vaunted 2006 reform, which scrapped the discredited Human Rights Commission and created a new and supposedly improved council, today's election of the world's worst human rights abusers means that we are back to square one. Instead of reform, we have regression."

The HRC is supposedly "responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations," according to the U.N.

But the election of China to the council "calls into question the council's credibility," said Britain's Edward McMillan-Scott, a vice president of the European Council, in comments reported by CNS News.

"Numerous reports by the U.N. itself have highlighted degrading and inhumane treatment that is routine in China: forcible abortions, religious persecution, the oppression of minorities, etc."

Of the 14 countries elected to a three-year term on the 47-member group this year, six are designated as "not free" by Freedom Watch, a Washington-based watchdog organization that grades nations according to their record on political rights and civil liberties: Saudi Arabia and Algeria in addition to China, Russia, Vietnam, and Cuba.

A simple majority of the General Assembly's 193 members is required to win a seat, but election is limited to a set number of members from each of five regions.

Two seats on the council were available for Latin American nations. In secret balloting, Cuba got 148 votes, more than two democracies: Mexico (135) and Uruguay (93).

Vietnam got 184 votes and China and Russia each received 176, while France got 174 and Britain 171.

Next year's council will have 24 "free," 12 "partly free," and 11 "not free" member nations.

During negotiations in 2005-6 to set up the new council, the United States proposed that countries subjected to U.N. Security Council sanctions for human rights abuses or terrorism should be barred from membership. The proposal was defeated.

"The prospect of rights-violating regimes joining the HRC — and then using it to protect each other — was a major reason for the decision by the Bush administration to shun the council, a decision reversed by its successor in 2009," CNS News reported.

After Tuesday's vote, the State Department expressed "regret that some countries elected to the Human Rights Council have failed to show their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights."

In July 2013, envoys from both Syria and Iran announced that they would attempt to run for an HRC seat in 2014.

Editor's Note:

5. Cuts in Beer Taxes Are Brewing

Two bills introduced in Congress would significantly affect an 80-year-old legacy of Prohibition — the federal excise tax on beer.

In February 1933, as Prohibition was nearing an end, teetotaler John Rockefeller Jr. commissioned a study that proposed levying a high excise tax on alcoholic beverages in order to discourage their consumption.

The tax was set at $5 per barrel in 1933 and adjusted over the years until it reached its current rate of $18 per barrel in 1991, although since 1977 breweries that produce 2 million barrels or less a year are taxed only $7 a barrel for the first 60,000 barrels.

Breweries also pay income, payroll, and state and local taxes, and each state imposes its own excise tax on beer ranging from $0.59 a barrel in Wyoming to $33.17 in Alaska, according to a report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). On average, half the cost of a beer is due to taxes, which amount to $49 billion a year on about $100 billion in nationwide sales.

One of the bills before Congress, the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief (BEER) Act, was introduced in both chambers in May. It would cut the standard excise tax on beer from $18 a barrel to $9.

Small brewers that produce no more than 2 million barrels annually would pay no tax on the first 15,000 barrels they produce and $3.50 a barrel up to 60,000 barrels a year.

The bill would save an estimated $1.68 billion a year.

A second bill, the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce (Small BREW) Act now in the House and Senate, maintains the $18 per barrel tax on beer, but lowers the rate for small brewers to $3.50 per barrel for the first 60,000 barrels and levies a tax of $16 for the brewery's production up to 2 million barrels.

The Small BREW Act would save about $65 million a year.

The CEI maintains that passage of either bill would result in greater profits for businesses and their shareholders, business expansion, job growth, and possibly lower prices for consumers.

Passage of either bill appears to face an uphill climb, although the BEER Act has 63 sponsors in the House and six in the Senate, and the Small BREW Act has 110 sponsors in the House and 31 in the Senate.

"But there is a better option — full repeal of the federal excise tax," conclude the authors of the CEI report, Michelle Minton and David Scotti.

"Eliminating the federal excise tax will help produce all of the job creation and business expansion of the BEER and Small BREW Acts to an even greater degree. It will also increase personal freedom by making a significant step toward eliminating controls on alcohol consumption that have dominated the alcohol industry since Prohibition's repeal."

Editor's Note:

6. We Heard...

THAT the new prime-time lineup on the Fox News Channel nearly doubled the viewership of CNN and MSNBC combined during the first full week of November.

During the 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. time period, FNC averaged 2.1 million total viewers, while MSNBC had 716,000 and CNN had 433,000, TVNewser reported.

It was Fox's second best week of the year, behind only the week of the Boston Marathon bombing, and for the week FNC brought in the second most cable viewers behind only ESPN.

FNC revamped its prime-time schedule in October, debuting Megyn Kelly in the 9 o'clock slot and moving Sean Hannity to 10 p.m.

THAT the last of seven KFC fast-food outlets in war-torn Syria has shut its doors — for lack of chicken.

KFC first came to Syria in 2006, but poultry production there has plummeted since the civil war began in 2011. The remaining KFC franchise began importing chickens from neighboring Lebanon, but violence on the roads and skyrocketing diesel prices made that impractical, the Jewish Press reported.

Also, the value of the Syrian pound has plunged during the ongoing war, putting the cost of a KFC meal beyond the reach of many.

There are still 450 KFC restaurants in 12 countries in the Middle East, including 100 in the United Arab Emirates.

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Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Ex-Obama-Aid,Signals,Hillary,Support,New EPA Rules Will Have No Effect on Climate Change,Obesity Rate Still Rising,Human Rights Abusers Elected to UN Rights Panel,Cuts in Beer Taxes,Fox News,KFC Restaurants
Sunday, 17 November 2013 03:04 PM
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