Tags: Netanyahu | Iran | Nuclear | Weapons | Gore vs. Gorbachev | Al Jazeera | Betsy McCaughey

Netanyahu: Iran Close to Nuclear Weapons; Gore vs. Gorbachev; Al Jazeera; More

By    |   Sunday, 02 October 2011 03:05 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Gore Loses 'Green War' to Gorbachev
2. Netanyahu: Iran Close to Nuclear Weapons
3. Betsy McCaughey Gains Support for Senate Run
4. Texas Bill Targets Federal Light Bulb Ban
5. Al Jazeera Journalist Admits He Worked for Hamas
6. Sales Taxes Highest in Tennessee, Arizona

1. Gore Loses 'Green War' to Gorbachev

A consortium backed by climate change crusader Al Gore has abandoned efforts to control a major new "green" web domain, opening the door for another group backed by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

The new .eco Internet domain is one of hundreds of new domains set to be created, joining such familiar suffixes as .com and .net, following a decision by Internet regulator ICANN in June.

Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection made a pitch for management of the .eco domain, squaring off against a bid by Canadian company Big Room. That bid is supported by Gorbachev-founded charity Green Cross International. But the Guardian reports that Gore's group has quietly given up the fight due to "limited resources," according to a spokesman.

Big Room is backed by the likes of Greenpeace and the Green Belt Movement, and "aspires to use .eco as a way of making companies disclose information about their environmental performance, such as their carbon footprint, when they register a name," the Guardian reported.

Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection — now rebranded as the Climate Reality Project — was launched two years ago, and its backers include the Sierra Club.

Big Room's success in winning management of the .eco domain is not assured, and it could wind up in a potentially pricey auction battle with other domain operators.

Applications for .eco can be submitted beginning in January 2012, and the domain could be launched as early as early 2013.

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2. Netanyahu: Iran Close to Nuclear Weapons

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns that "time is short" before Iran obtains nuclear weapons and poses a direct threat to Israel and the rest of the world.

"Iran poses certainly a great danger to Israel, but it represents an enormous danger to the Middle East and to the world," Netanyahu said to PBS's Charlie Rose, during a recent visit to New York to speak at the United Nations.

"This is the premier sponsor of terrorists. I've spoken about this issue with all world leaders, and I think that it's important that everyone understand that Iran with nuclear weapons is a danger to us all.

"Iran supplies terrorists with rockets and many other things. It would give [terrorists] a nuclear umbrella or worse, actually give them nuclear weapons."

Arab leaders will applaud the imposition of tougher sanctions on Iran, according to the Israeli prime minister, but he cautioned: "Time is short and there's a lot of work to do."

Pointing to steps Iran has already taken against Israel, Netanyahu said, "We vacated [Gaza] and Iran essentially walked in with its Hamas proxy, and they're packing a lot of missiles. We walked out of Lebanon, and Iran walked in with its Hezbollah proxy, and they fired thousands of rockets into the north of Israel.

"The last thing we want is to walk away from the West Bank or pieces of the West Bank and have Iran come in and place thousands of rockets on Tel Aviv."

But Netanyahu still has hope that stricter international sanctions against Iran could bring down the Islamic Republic.

"I think this regime is a lot weaker than people think," he said.

"If you have pressures, significant economic pressures on this regime, particularly the importation of gasoline, this might force the regime to choose whether it wants to advance the nuclear program or risk its own viability. It's not been put to that test.

"And I don't believe that the Iranian people will coalesce around a regime it detests. I think the opposite will happen. I think they'll applaud this pressure, because they want to be relieved from this medieval regime, this violent theocracy that is oppressing them and threatening everyone else."

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3. Betsy McCaughey Gains Support for Senate Run

Former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey is gaining support for a bid for the U.S. Senate following a Newsmax story disclosing that her name is being floated as the Republican nominee to run against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012.

"I'm getting many encouraging responses," McCaughey said following the story published Monday, which was headlined "McCaughey Urged to Run Against Gillibrand."

McCaughey, a Newsmax blogger, served as lieutenant governor in the Empire State under Gov. George Pataki from 1995 to 1998. She is a patient advocate and founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.

She came to national attention in 1993 for her attack on the Clinton healthcare plan and was considered a major factor in the defeat of the bill. In 2009, her criticism of Obamacare inspired the expression "death panels."

McCaughey is also president of Defend Your Healthcare, a constitutional scholar, and author of two histories of the U.S. Constitution.

"My name is mentioned often, and I'm honored," she told Newsmax about the Senate talk.

"So far, I'm focused on stopping the assault on our Constitution and our healthcare."

Democrat Gillibrand was appointed in 2009 to fill the Senate seat vacated when Hillary Clinton became secretary of state. She won a special election to retain the seat in 2010, and is up for re-election next year.

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4. Texas Bill Targets Federal Light Bulb Ban

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed a bill that would effectively repeal a federal ban on incandescent light bulbs within the Lone Star State.

Federal legislation enacted in 2007, the Energy and Security Act, orders the phase-out of the familiar incandescent bulb beginning with the 100-watt bulb in 2012 and ending with the 40-watt light in 2014, because these bulbs cannot meet efficiency requirements dictated by law.

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are the least expensive alternative. They use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last far longer, but they cost significantly more, take longer to turn on, can flicker, and contain small amounts of highly toxic mercury. This creates problems when they break or need to be disposed of after they burn out.

An effort at the federal level to repeal the 2007 act failed. But a bill in Texas — which would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, the same day that the ban on 100-watt bulbs goes into effect — would allow Texans to continue to buy incandescents.

The bill states: "An incandescent light bulb that is manufactured in this state and remains in this state is not subject to federal law or federal regulation under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce."

But a report by Ryan Brannan of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a nonpartisan research institute, pointed out that the Texas bill will have to survive judicial scrutiny to determine if the interstate commerce clause does apply. There is precedent supporting both sides of the argument, he noted.

Also, it is uncertain if Texas can attract the requisite manufacturer of incandescent bulbs. General Electric has closed its incandescent bulb factories in the United States, firing hundreds of workers.

The manufacture of CFLs, by the way, is too labor intensive to be practical in the U.S., and CFLs will likely be made in China.

"The light bulb ban represents a microcosm of the larger problem with energy efficiency measures, which are promulgated with ever increasing upfront costs to consumers yet with only speculative long-run returns," Brannan observes.

"The fact is, the incandescent light bulb should be allowed to compete with CFLs, LEDs, halogens, candles, and other current and future technologies. If the incandescent survives, then the market will have made its decision for the betterment of the American consumer and the better bulb would have own."

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5. Al Jazeera Journalist Admits He Worked for Hamas

A prominent journalist with the Mideast media group Al Jazeera has admitted to Israelis that he served as an operative for the Hamas terrorist organization.

Palestinian Samer Allawi, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Afghanistan, was arrested in the West Bank in August and released from an Israeli prison last week after reaching a plea deal under which he confessed his association with Hamas, the Jerusalem Post reported.

He said he was recruited into Hamas in 1993 and served until 2004 on a committee overseeing Hamas operations and helping to raise funds for the group, which controls Gaza and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and other nations.

According to Israel's Shin Bet security agency, Allawi said he met with a senior Hamas operative in Dubai in 2000 and expressed his willingness to take part in military operations for Hamas.

In 2006, he met with Al Jazeera reporters in Qatar and discussed the possibility of using their positions to criticize American military operations in Afghanistan.

Under the plea bargain, Allawi will receive a suspended sentence of three years.

Despite his confession, Allawi told Reuters after his release: "There was no evidence against me. The whole episode was a charade aimed at extorting Al Jazeera."

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6. Sales Taxes Highest in Tennessee, Arizona

"High tax" state New York has a sales tax rate of just 4 percent, second lowest among all states that do impose a statewide sales tax, but residents of the Empire State actually pay an average of 8.48 percent, one of the highest rates in the nation.

That's because the average local (city or county) sales tax rate is 4.48, highest of all states except Colorado, at 4.58 percent.

The highest sales tax rate in the United States — including the state tax rate and the average local tax rate — is 9.43 percent in Tennessee.

But residents of four states pay no sales tax at all — Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

Alaska also has no state sales tax, but local rates average 1.74 percent.

While most Americans "have at least some idea of the sales tax in their state," nearly three-quarters of states have some local sales taxes "that may be less known to residents, with rates varying from county to county," the Tax Foundation observed.

The highest state tax rate is in California, 7.25 percent, including a mandatory statewide local add-on sales tax, and five states have the second-highest rate of 7 percent: Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

But when average local taxes are factored in, the highest sales tax rates after Tennessee are in Arizona (9.12 percent), Louisiana (8.84 percent), (Washington (8.79 percent), and Oklahoma (8.66 percent).

While Colorado has a 4.58 percent average local rate, Colorado residents enjoy a state tax rate of just 2.9 percent, lowest in the nation among non-zero states. Six other states in addition to New York follow with 4 percent: Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Wyoming, according to a Tax Foundation analysis.

The five states with the lowest average combined rates are Hawaii (4.35 percent), Maine (5 percent), Virginia (5 percent), Wyoming (5.34 percent), and Wisconsin (5.43 percent).

The highest total sales tax in the U.S. is in Tuba City, Ariz., 13.725 percent, according to Vertex Inc., a leading provider of tax software. That includes a 6.6 percent state tax, a 1.125 percent county tax, and an additional 6 percent tribal tax levied by the local government.

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Gore Loses 'Green War' to Gorbachev 2. Netanyahu: Iran Close to Nuclear Weapons 3. Betsy McCaughey Gains Support for Senate Run 4. Texas Bill Targets Federal Light Bulb Ban 5. Al Jazeera Journalist Admits He...
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Sunday, 02 October 2011 03:05 PM
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