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Tags: Putin | Simulates | Attack | on-NATO | Israel Sole Haven for Mideast Christians | Doctors Reject Obamacare Plans | Global Poverty Cut in Half

Putin Simulates Attack on NATO; Israel Sole Haven for Mideast Christians; Doctors Reject Obamacare Plans

By    |   Sunday, 09 November 2014 04:16 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Russia Stokes Fears of a European Invasion
2. Global Poverty Cut in Half Over Two Decades
3. Americans Think College Athletics Have Too Much Clout
4. Priest: Israel 'Only Safe Place' for Christians in Mideast
5. Doctors Opting Out of Obamacare Exchange Plans
6. CDC: Ban Smoking in Subsidized Housing, Save $500M a Year

1. Russia Stokes Fears of a European Invasion

A disclosure that Russia launched a simulated attack on NATO member Denmark is raising concerns that President Vladimir Putin could be preparing an invasion of Europe, according to a new report.

The simulated attack took place on Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic Sea, the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (DDIS) has revealed, stating that Russia sent military jets equipped with live missiles to Bornholm in June.

DDIS did not release further details but said the simulated attack was the largest Russian military exercise over the Baltic Sea since 1991.

Russia has been testing NATO defenses in recent weeks, the news website Inquisitr reported. In a period of 24 hours, Russia dispatched 19 combat aircraft to test the defenses of neighboring countries and also test-launched a ballistic missile in the Barents Sea, an arm of the Arctic Ocean.

The Inquisitr article was cited by Johnson's Russia List, a project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at The George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.

With relations strained between Russia and NATO over Russia's involvement in Ukraine, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula told the Daily Beast: "It is not farfetched that at some point within the next two years Putin makes a more aggressive move in Eastern Europe and uses a nuclear threat to deter a NATO response."

Washington Post columnist George Will recently theorized that Putin could be aiming to destroy NATO by invading one of the Baltic states, Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia, which like Ukraine have Russian-speaking minorities.

"Putin invades one of these NATO members," he wrote. "NATO invokes article 5 — an attack on any member is an attack on all — or NATO disappears and the Soviet Union, NATO's original raison d'etre, is avenged."

Editor's Note:


2. Global Poverty Cut in Half Over Two Decades

"The past 25 years have witnessed the greatest reduction in global poverty in the history of the world."

That eye-opening statement from a Dartmouth College economist comes after the World Bank reported in October that the share of the world's population living in extreme poverty — earning less than $1.25 a day — had fallen from 36 percent in 1990 to just 15 percent in 2011.

"To what should this be attributed? Let's be blunt: The credit goes to the spread of capitalism," said Douglas A. Irwin, a professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Project at Dartmouth.

"Over the past few decades, developing countries have embraced economic policy reforms that have cleared the way for private enterprise."

Irwin noted that in 1978, China began allowing private farm plots, permitted private businesses, and ended a state monopoly on foreign trade. The result has been stunning economic growth and a big decline in poverty.

According to the World Bank, 753 million people in China moved out of extreme poverty between 1981 and 2011. In East Asia as a whole, the extreme poverty rate plunged from 78 percent to 8 percent during that period.

India in 1991 relaxed policies requiring government approval to start a business, expand an enterprise, or even buy foreign goods like computers.

"When the government stopped suffocating business, the Indian economy began to flourish, with higher wages and reduced poverty," Irwin wrote in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal.

In South Asia as a whole, the share of the population living in extreme poverty dropped from 61 percent in 1981 to 25 percent in 2011.

China and India account for more than 35 percent of the world's population. But many other countries, from Colombia to Vietnam, have enacted reforms that have reduced poverty.

In South Africa, the extreme poverty rate has fallen from 34 percent to 16.5 percent in just four years after the country reformed its fiscal policies in 2010 and 2011, according to the World Bank.

"The reduction in world poverty has attracted little attention because it runs against the narrative pushed by those hostile to capitalism," Irwin observed.

"The Michael Moores of the world portray capitalism as a degrading system in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Yet thanks to growth in the developing world, worldwide income inequality — measured across countries and individual people — is falling, not rising."

Editor's Note:


3. Americans Think College Athletics Have Too Much Clout

Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe that athletics have too much power and influence over colleges and universities, a new survey reveals.

The Rasmussen Reports poll found that 16 percent of respondents disagree with that assertion, and the rest are not sure.

It's no surprise, then, that seven in 10 Americans think most U.S. colleges are better known for their athletic programs than their academic programs, and just 18 percent disagree.

A slight majority of adults, 52 percent, believe big-time college sports programs corrupt the process of higher education, while just 25 percent disagree.

Survey respondents who say they or someone in their immediate family played a sport in college are only slightly less likely to believe that athletic programs have too much power over colleges and corrupt the higher education process.

The poll was conducted after news broke that over an 18-year period, some 3,100 students at the taxpayer-supported University of North Carolina were encouraged to sign up for "phantom" classes that essentially required no classwork or exams and had no official professor. The classes boosted the students' GPAs so they would remain eligible for athletics.

Other findings from Rasmussen Reports include:

  • 33 percent of American adults think nearly all big-time college athletic programs break the rules on a regular bases when it comes to recruiting top players, 23 percent believe about half of major programs break the rules, and 24 percent think some but less than half do.
  • Just 15 percent of respondents believe most top-tier college athletes take serious courses and receive a good education.
  • 64 percent think colleges should be required to make sure student athletes graduate with a degree.
  • Only one in four Americans give the NCAA good or excellent marks for policing college athletics.

Editor's Note:


4. Priest: Israel 'Only Safe Place' for Christians in Middle East

A Greek Orthodox priest told a United Nations panel about the horrifying plight of Christians in the Middle East and said Israel is the only place in the region where Christians can live in safety.

"The earth of the Middle East is soaked with the blood of Christians being killed daily," Father Gabriel Naddaf, who lives in Israel, told the U.N. Human Rights Council in testimony released Wednesday by UN Watch.

"Do you know that at the start of the 20th century, Christians comprised 20 percent of the population of the Middle East? Today they comprise only 4 percent.

"Over the past years some 100,000 Christians have been killed annually. And why? Not for a crime they've committed, but only for believing in Christ. Only due to their religion.

"Christians in the Middle East are marginalized, their rights denied, their property stolen, their honor violated, their men killed, and their children displaced."

Persecution has led to a massive exodus of Christians from the region. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Christian population of Iraq had been reduced by half, CNN reported. In Syria, one-third of Christians have fled the country.

"If we look at the Middle East, we realize there's only one safe place where Christians are not persecuted. One place where they are protected, enjoying freedom of worship and expression, living in peace and not subjected to killing and genocide," Naddaf said.

"It is Israel. The Jewish state is the only safe place where the Christians of the Holy Land live in safety."

A Jewish newspaper in the United States, the Algemeiner, reported that the Christian population of Israel has more than quadrupled since its independence in 1948, from 34,000 to 158,000 in 2012, and it is still growing.

The priest told the U.N. panel in Geneva: "Many in the international community have chosen to criticize Israel. This in my mind is a double crime, because by doing so, the international community helps those striving to annihilate the Jews, the Christians, the Druze, and the Yazidis for political ends."

Naddaf's testimony was released one day after the latest in a long series of atrocities carried out by zealous Muslims against Christians and other minorities accused of blasphemy.

On Tuesday, a mob in Pakistan beat a Christian couple to death and burned their bodies for allegedly desecrating a Koran.

Shama Masih, a pregnant mother of three, reportedly burned some papers belonging to her deceased father-in-law, and a Muslim co-worker claimed to have found burnt remnants of pages from a Koran. A cleric in their Pakistani village told his community through loudspeakers to punish Shama and her husband Shehzad.

The mob dragged the couple out of their home and beat them to death before burning their bodies in a kiln, Reuters reported. But eyewitness accounts cited by CNS News asserted that the couple were beaten and then burned alive in the kiln.

Police claimed they arrested 44 people following the incident.

Christians make up about 4 percent of the population in Pakistan.

Editor's Note:


5. Doctors Opting Out of Obamacare Exchange Plans

As many as 214,500 doctors will not participate in any Affordable Care Act exchange plans in the coming year, according to a medical practice trade group.

Physicians are opting out for two main reasons: concern over low reimbursement rates, and worries that in a significant number of cases they won't be paid for their services, a new survey by the Medical Group Management Association reveals.

Exchange plans, or health insurance marketplaces, facilitate the purchase of health insurance in each state in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges provide a set of government-regulated and standardized healthcare plans from which individuals may purchase health insurance policies eligible for federal subsidies.

In March 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services set forth the procedures to be followed if patients with an exchange plan stop paying their premiums.

In the private healthcare market, an individual loses coverage after failing to pay a premium. But exchange plans must provide their members with a 90-day "grace period" to pay their premiums, Brittany La Couture of the American Action Forum points out in a report on the survey.

The insurer is required to continue coverage for 30 days. After that, any medical care given a patient will be covered by the insurer if the overdue premium is paid by the end of the 90-day period.

If the patient does not pay up, the healthcare provider will have to recover any charges incurred between the 31st and 90th day of the grace period directly from the patient.

If the patient doesn't pay, the provider won't be compensated.

A patient could conceivably join an exchange plan, stop paying the premium, receive extensive medical care, and escape paying completely.

"This is the number one reason for providers deciding not to participate in exchange plans," said La Couture, who notes that nearly 1 million individuals enrolled in exchange plans have not paid their premiums to date.

The other major reason for doctors opting out of the exchanges is their low reimbursement rates.

Compared to each dollar a private plan pays providers for a service, it’s estimated that Medicare pays $0.80 and Obamacare exchanges pay about $0.60.

The thought was that insurers would compete by lowering payments to providers, and the providers would make up the difference with an increased patient load.

"Primary care providers, however, are already overburdened and have too many patients as it is, so the increase in volume will do nothing to offset their losses," La Couture observes.

She concludes: "This reduction in payment rates has caused many physicians and hospitals to decline to accept insurance plans issued through the exchanges, thereby negating the intended effect of providing individuals with affordable care by virtue of eliminating their access to care.

"The stated goals of the law fly in the face of the actual results that it produces."

Editor's Note:


6. CDC: Ban Smoking in Subsidized Housing, Save $500M a Year

Banning smoking in all government-subsidized housing, including public housing, would save nearly $500 million a year in healthcare and housing-related costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 7 million multi-unit housing residents in America live in government-subsidized housing. A CDC study published in Preventing Chronic Disease estimated that prohibiting smoking in those residences would save about $310 million in secondhand smoke-related healthcare annually, plus $134 million in renovation expenses, and $53 million in fire losses attributed to smoking.

Of the 7 million in subsidized housing, 2 million live in public housing. According to the study, the first of its kind to estimate the savings, banning smoking in public housing alone would save $153 million a year, including $94 million in secondhand smoke-related healthcare.

"Multi-unit housing residents are susceptible to secondhand smoke exposure because studies have shown that secondhand smoke gets through ventilation systems and windows and spreads into units where no smoking occurs," the CDC stated in a release.

"The potential for secondhand smoke exposure in public or subsidized housing is especially concerning because a large number of residents in these units are particularly vulnerable to the impact of secondhand smoke, including children, the elderly, and the disabled."

The study estimated the cost savings in each state, and those savings range from $580,000 in Wyoming to $125 million in New York.

Matthew Ammon, acting director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, said: "Already, over 500 public housing agencies have adopted some form of a smoke-free policy, protecting approximately 200,000 families."

The CDC stated that since January 2012, the number of smoke-free public housing agencies has more than doubled.

Editor's Note:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Russia Stokes Fears of a European Invasion 2. Global Poverty Cut in Half Over Two Decades 3. Americans Think College Athletics Have Too Much Clout 4. Priest: Israel 'Only Safe Place' for Christians in Mideast 5....
Putin, Simulates, Attack, on-NATO, Israel Sole Haven for Mideast Christians, Doctors Reject Obamacare Plans, Global Poverty Cut in Half, CDC Ban Smoking in Subsidized Housing
Sunday, 09 November 2014 04:16 PM
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