Tags: Most | Oppose | Gays | Scouting | State Dept Cowardly on Pakistan Doctor Study Money Buys Happiness | Fertility Rates | Texas Cities Strong in Job Growth

Most Oppose Gays in Scouting; State Dept. 'Cowardly' on Pakistan Doctor; Study: Money Buys Happiness

By    |   Sunday, 12 May 2013 04:20 PM

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Rep. Rohrabacher: U.S. Acting 'Cowardly' on Dr. Afridi
2. Texas Cities Strong in Job Growth
3. Most Still Oppose Allowing Gays in the Boy Scouts
4. Fertility Rates Leading to 'Demographic Crisis'
5. Feds Blow $400,000 on Smoker-Monitoring Underwear
6. Researchers: Money CAN Buy Happiness

1. Rep. Rohrabacher: U.S. Acting 'Cowardly' on Dr. Afridi

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher charges that the U.S. government has been acting "cowardly" in not pressing Pakistan to release the doctor who helped America track down Osama bin Laden.

Dr. Shakil Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in prison in May 2012.

"We should take this opportunity to initiate a forceful strategy to save this hero rather than the quiet diplomacy the U.S. State Department has been insisting on and the Republican leadership of the House has acquiesced to," Rohrabacher, a California Republican, said in the statement released on Monday.

"The U.S. Ambassador should be recalled and legislation should be passed to withhold foreign aid to Pakistan as long as they are doing the bidding of terrorists and persecuting the likes of Dr. Afridi.

"He was bold enough to help the U.S. bring justice to the mass murderer Osama bin Laden but unfortunately the actions of the American government have been cowardly in comparison."

Afridi was arrested weeks after the American raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, where al-Qaida leader bin Laden was living in a compound. U.S. officials later confirmed that Afridi had helped in the hunt for the terrorist chief by conducting a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to obtain DNA evidence from the compound to confirm that bin Laden was hiding there.

He was accused of being a "national criminal" who should be tried for "conspiracy against the State of Pakistan and high treason."

Rohrabacher's statement was released after news broke that Afridi was on a hunger strike in jail to protest his harsh treatment, and that his appeal hearing, scheduled for May, has once again been postponed.

In June 2012, Rohrabacher urged the government to intervene more forcefully in Afridi's case, saying it "doesn't appear that other people are taking this case seriously."

Then in July, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told Newsmax TV that he was pushing for a vote in Congress to end all aid to Pakistan until Afridi is freed.

Paul reiterated his threat to freeze aid to Pakistan in September after Afridi told Fox News how he was brutally tortured by Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence.

The Obama administration requested $1.4 billion in aid to Pakistan in its fiscal 2014 State Department budget proposal.

Editor's Note:

2. Texas Cities Strong in Job Growth

All five of Texas' largest metropolitan areas are near the top of the list in the 2013 edition of "The Best Cities for Job Growth."

The ranking of large cities was compiled by NewGeography.com and is based on short-, medium-, and long-term employment performance, taking into account growth and momentum — whether growth is slowing or accelerating.

The strongest performances in job growth among large metro areas — those with a current nonfarm employment base of at least 450,000 jobs — are in those urban areas that are adding high-wage jobs, largely in technology and energy.

Since momentum is a key consideration, the San Francisco area tops the list of 66 metros, having made a strong comeback from deep job losses a decade ago following the collapse of the dot-com bubble.

Employment in San Francisco has expanded by 4.1 percent in the last year alone, and jobs in the information sector have expanded more than 21 percent since 2009.

The San Jose, Calif., metro area has also shown strong job growth, finishing at No. 7 on the list. But California's biggest city, Los Angeles, has lost about 120,000 jobs since 2001 and finished at No. 49.

"In contrast, the Texas juggernaut rolls on," observe report authors Joel Kotkin, executive editor of NewGeography.com, and Michael Shires, a professor at Pepperdine University.

Fort Worth at No. 4; Houston at No. 5; Dallas at No. 6; and Austin at No. 10 are all in the top 10, and San Antonio is close behind at No. 12.

Also, three other Texas cities are at the top of NewGeography.com's list of all 398 metro areas, large and small: Midland at No. 1, followed by Odessa at No. 2, and Corpus Christi at No. 4.

Other cities in the top 10 on the list of the 66 large metros are Nashville, Tenn.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Charlotte, N.C.; and Denver, Colo.

The metro areas that have fared poorly in job growth are mostly old industrial cities, with Newark, N.J., at the very bottom, according to the NewGeography.com article, which first appeared on Forbes.com.

Others in the bottom five include St. Louis, Mo.; Cleveland, Ohio; Providence, R.I.; and Kansas City, Mo.

Among the largest American metros, New York is at No. 18 for job growth, and Chicago is at No. 52.

The authors add: "Even Washington, D.C., the nation's prime beneficiary of crony capitalism and fiscal bloat, has lost steam, falling 10 places to No. 26.

"We are usually loath to celebrate declines, but Washington's loss, reflecting a slowdown in government growth, may be evidence that some equilibrium between the public and private sectors is slowly being restored."

Editor's Note:

3. Most Still Oppose Allowing Gays in the Boy Scouts

A massive survey conducted by the Boy Scouts of America reveals that a majority of its members want to retain the current policy barring gays from joining or leading the organization.

Current policy states: "While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA."

On April 19, 2013, the BSA announced a proposal to no longer deny membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation, while maintaining its ban on openly gay adult leaders.

A resolution states what would be the new policy: "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

Representatives of all local BSA councils will vote on the proposal on May 23.

The survey shows that of the 200,000 adult members who responded, 61 percent favor keeping the current policy, while 34 percent oppose it and would like to see the policy changed.

The survey also disclosed:

  • 61 percent of Boy Scout parents and 50 percent of Cub Scout parents support the current policy barring gays.
  • 62 percent of unit leaders support the current policy.
  • 64 percent of council and district volunteers support it.
  • 72 percent of chartered organizations support the current policy.

But an executive summary from the BSA obtained by CNS News notes that "while a majority of adults in the Scouting community support the BSA's current policy of excluding open and avowed homosexuals, younger parents and teens tend to oppose the policy."

It goes on to say: "Scouting's review confirmed that this remains among the most complex and challenging issue facing the BSA and society today. Even with the wide range of input, it is extremely difficult to accurately quantify the potential impact of maintaining or changing the current policy."

The BSA currently has 2.7 million youth members and more than 1 million adult volunteers.

In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale that Boy Scouts, and all private organizations, have the constitutionally protected right under the First Amendment of freedom of association to set membership standards.

Editor's Note:

4. Fertility Rates Leading to 'Demographic Crisis'

Overpopulation and unsustainable pressure on food supplies and natural resources have long been the overriding fears of demographers, but the concern now is increasingly the opposite — declining populations.

As recently as 1968, demographer and biologist Paul Ehrlich predicted that in the next decade hundreds of millions of people would starve to death because of the "population bomb."

But an article in the Hoover Institution journal Defining Ideas, headlined "The Coming Demographic Crisis," warns that low fertility rates will lead to smaller, older populations even in the developing world.

The article is based largely on a new book by Jonathan Last, "What to Expect When No One's Expecting," which points out that throughout human history "declining populations have always been followed by Very Bad Things."

Women need to average a total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.1 children each for populations to remain stable.

But all First World countries are already below the 2.1 mark, and rates of decline in Third World nations are in most cases even steeper than in the First World.

Italy and Japan have a 1.4 TFR and their populations will decline by 50 percent in 45 years. Germany has a TFR of 1.36. The European Union as a whole has an average rate of 1.5. In Russia the TFR is 1.3; in Singapore, 1.1.

Latin America had an average fertility rate of six children in the 1960s. By 2005, it had dropped to 2.5.

The United States has a TFR of 2.0. But the number is largely dependent on the fertility rate of Hispanic women, 2.35. If Hispanic fertility rates decline as expected, America's TFR will "take a nosedive," according to Last.

The reasons cited for declining fertility rates include better nutrition and healthcare, which in the case of the United States have reduced infant mortality from about 300 babies dying out of 1,000 live births to about six today.

Easier divorce, reliable birth control, the population shift from farms to cities, and more women entering the workforce also have contributed.

The article points out the dire economic and social effects of declining birthrates: "A country with fewer children becomes, on average, increasingly older. Cities and towns begin to empty, while the cost of caring for retirees and elderly sick people skyrockets. Old people spend and invest less, shrinking capital pools for the new businesses that create jobs."

Most importantly, a shrinking labor force leads to fewer workers contributing the payroll taxes that finance old-age care.

In 1940, there were 160 U.S. workers for each retiree. By 2010, there were only 2.9, and when all baby boomers retire the number will fall to 2.1.

The article adds that "solving such a complex problem as declining fertility is not going to be easy."

Editor's Note:

5. Feds Blow $400,000 on Smoker-Monitoring Underwear

In spite of a burgeoning federal budget deficit, the National Institutes of Health awarded more than $400,000 of taxpayers' money to researchers to develop underwear that can monitor a person's smoking.

The NIH — part of the Department of Health and Human Services — gave the University of Alabama two grants totaling $402,721 for the three-year project, which began in 2010.

The Personal Automatic Cigarette Tracker would measure how often people smoke and how deeply they inhale. A bracelet worn on the arm is intended to monitor a smoker's hand-to-mouth motion, and the underwear would monitor breathing.

The information obtained "can be used to inform behavioral strategies in smoking cessation programs," according to a description of the project from the NIH.

It also states: "The object of this project is to develop a noninvasive system that is completely transparent to the end user and does not require any conscience (sic) effort to achieve reliable monitoring of smoking behavior.

"Miniature sensors integrated into the clothing will monitor the breathing and activity patterns of individuals." The aim is to "develop a wearable sensor system comprised of a breathing sensor integrated into conventional underwear."

So far the researchers have created only an early prototype that fits like a vest and has several straps and wires.

Editor's Note:

6. Researchers: Money CAN Buy Happiness

Research over the past few decades has indicated that after a person's basic needs are met, increasing income does not lead to a higher state of well-being.

New research refutes that assertion.

Economist Richard Easterlin claimed in 1974 that higher income is not associated with average well-being. The claim, known as the Easterlin Paradox, was followed by other research that supported that view.

But now researchers with the Brookings Institution, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, have released a report stating: "Many scholars have argued that once 'basic needs' have been met, higher income is no longer associated with higher subjective well-being. We assess the validity of this claim in comparisons of both rich and poor countries, and also of rich and poor people within a country.

"We find no support for this claim. The relationship between well-being and income is roughly linear and does not diminish as income rises."

They say the results of their research are consistent when the statistics are varied over time, and subjective well-being is measured in various ways.

They conclude: "While the idea that there is some critical level of income beyond which income no longer impacts well-being is intuitively appealing, it is at odds with the data. There is no major well-being data-set that supports this commonly made claim."

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Editor's Note:

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Sunday, 12 May 2013 04:20 PM
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