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Tags: Russia-to | Seize | Arctic | Energy | NY Times | Media Ignores Pro-life Majority | Rush Limbaugh

Russia Moving to Seize Arctic Energy; NY Times: Media Ignores Pro-life Majority

By    |   Monday, 13 February 2012 12:26 AM EST

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Michele Bachmann Loses Another Staffer
2. NY Times' Douthat: Americans Still Pro-life
3. Arctic Is Next 'Battleground' for Energy Resources
4. Tax Foundation: New Jersey, New York Worst for Business
5. We Heard: Rush Limbaugh, Egypt, Oprah

1. Michele Bachmann Loses Another Staffer

Rep. Michele Bachmann's former chief of staff Andy Parrish is the latest official to leave the Minnesota congresswoman's team as she prepares to campaign for a fourth term in the House.

Parrish served as Bachmann's chief of staff before moving to her presidential campaign, Minnesota Public Radio reported. He then rejoined her staff as a special projects coordinator as she withdrew from the White House race.

Bachmann is no stranger to staff turnover. She was tied for the fourth-highest turnover in the House over a two-year period, according to a study from the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation.

In the third quarter of 2009, Bachmann had 17 aides on her House office payroll. Two years later, only five remained. In comparison, 64 percent of House aides remained with the same office during the two-year period, Politico reported.

In September, Bachmann's presidential campaign manager Ed Rollins stepped down from that role shortly after her victory in Iowa's straw poll, and deputy campaign manager David Polyansky left the campaign entirely.

Then in the days leading up to the Iowa caucus, Bachmann's state chairman Kent Sorenson suddenly announced he was quitting her campaign to join Ron Paul's team.

Bachmann now faces a tough campaign to retain her House seat. Her congressional district is being redrawn following the 2010 census, and poll results released a day before her Jan. 25 announcement that she is seeking a new House term showed she is now viewed unfavorably by 57 percent of her state's voters.

In terms of staff upheaval, only three House members had higher turnover on their staff than Bachmann. The highest was in the office of Rep. Betty Sutton, an Ohio Democrat who lost 17 of the 21 staffers who worked for her in the third quarter of 2009.

Editor's Note:

2. NY Times' Douthat: Americans Still Pro-life

A majority of Americans remain opposed to almost all abortions despite the mainstream media's insistence on a pro-choice bias.

That's the thrust of an opinion piece by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat written amid the controversy over the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation's decision — later rescinded — to defund Planned Parenthood.

In a column headlined "The Media's Abortion Blinders," Douthat points out that in a recent poll, 58 percent of Americans stated that abortion should either be "illegal in all circumstances" or "legal in only a few circumstances."

He also states that the first Gallup poll to show a pro-life majority was conducted back in May 2009.

"But if you followed the media frenzy" surrounding the Komen foundation's move, "you would think all these millions of anti-abortion Americans simply do not exist," Douthat writes.

"Conservative complaints about media bias are sometimes overdrawn. But on the abortion issue, the press's prejudices are often absolute, its biases blatant and its blinders impenetrable.

"Millions of Americans — including, yes, millions of American women — do oppose Planned Parenthood. They oppose the 300,000-plus abortions it performs every year, and they oppose its tireless opposition to even modest limits on abortion."

Douthat notes that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $250,000 to Planned Parenthood following the Komen foundation's decision to defund — which it has now rescinded.

"That's obviously his right," Douthat observes. "But reporters have different obligations. Even if some forms of partiality are inevitable, journalists betray their calling when they simply ignore self-evident truths about a story."

Editor's Note:

3. Arctic Is Next 'Battleground' for Energy Resources

The Middle East remains the world's focus for energy supplies, but the next "battleground" in the search for oil and gas resources could well be the frozen wastes of the Arctic.

And Russia appears determined to seize a huge portion of the region's vast untapped reserves.

The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that the Arctic could hold 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — 30 percent of the world's undiscovered gas.

The region also contains some 90 billion barrels of oil, an amount equal to 13 percent of the world's undiscovered reserves.

Rising energy prices, meanwhile, are making the extraction of those reserves increasingly cost efficient, at a time when daily world oil consumption is expected to climb 20 percent by 2030.

"Given the Arctic's vast supply of energy resources and the world's growing energy demands, it's neither surprising nor alarming that Arctic nations are beginning to stake their respective claims," writes Alan Dowd, contributing editor at The American Legion Magazine.

"What is alarming is how one Arctic nation is going about this."

That nation is Russia.

In 2001, Russia claimed almost half of the Arctic Circle, basing its claim on "a dubious interpretation of an underwater ridge linking to the Russian landmass," Dowd reports. A Russian expedition planted the nation's flag under the North Pole in 2007.

In 2009, Russia announced plans to build a string of military bases along its northern tier, and in 2011 announced plans to deploy two army brigades — 10,000 troops — to defend its Arctic claims.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has boasted: "Russia intends without a doubt to expand its presence in the Arctic."

The United States has also expressed its determination to secure its rights in the Arctic, issuing a statement at the end of the George W. Bush administration that the U.S. "has broad and fundamental national security interests in the Arctic and is prepared to operate either independently or in conjunction with other states to safeguard these interests."

The Obama administration has issued a similar statement.

Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland are also taking steps to assert their claims to a portion of the Arctic, with Norway and Sweden both conducting Arctic war games in recent years.

Some observers say the United States can help secure its Arctic claims, and limit Russia's, by joining the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which has already been ratified by other Arctic nations, according to Dowd, a senior fellow at Canada's Fraser Institute.

Protecting American claims could prove to be a problem, he adds. The United States currently has only three polar icebreakers, and two of them have exceeded their projected 30-year lifespan.

Russian can deploy 20 icebreakers.

Editor's Note:

4. Tax Foundation: New Jersey, New York Worst for Business

The Tax Foundation has published its 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index, an analysis of tax climates across the country — and Wyoming tops the list as the state with the best tax environment for corporations.

The foundation compiles its index by considering five forms of taxation in the states: individual income tax, sales tax, corporate tax, property tax, and unemployment insurance tax, with income tax by far the largest consideration.

"It is true that taxes are but one factor in business decision-making," the foundation observes. "Other concerns, such as raw materials or infrastructure or a skilled labor pool, matter, but a simple, sensible tax system can positively or negatively impact business operations with regard to these very resources.

"Furthermore, unlike changes to a state's healthcare, transportation, or education system — which can take decades to implement — changes to the tax code can quickly improve a state's business climate."

Wyoming has no individual income tax or corporate tax, and a low sales tax. It is followed on the list of best states by Nevada and South Dakota, which also have no income tax or corporate tax; Alaska, which has no income tax or state-level sales tax; Florida, with no income tax; and New Hampshire, Washington, Montana, Texas, and Utah.

At the bottom of the list is New Jersey, with the third-worst income tax, the fifth-worst sales tax, second-worst property tax, and the 13th-worst corporate tax.

ew York is close behind with the second-worst income tax after California, followed by California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Minnesota, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Iowa.

"The lesson is simple: a state that raises sufficient revenue without one of the major taxes will, all things being equal, have an advantage over those states that levy every tax in the state tax collector's arsenal," the foundation notes in its report.

"It is important to remember that even in our global economy, states' stiffest and most direct competition often comes from other states.

"This means that state lawmakers must be aware of how their states' business climates match up to their immediate neighbors and to other states within their region."

Editor's Note:

5. We Heard…

THAT Rush Limbaugh told radio listeners that Donald Trump's endorsement of Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination "is all about getting me and [Sarah] Palin and Herman Cain to sign on to Romney, 'cause we're big on Trump."

"That's the theory."

Limbaugh also said on his show that "we're playing sound bites here just to show you how influential, important, and necessary to the news cycle your host is. Where would the news cycle be without your host?"

THAT more than half of Americans now believe that the United States should discontinue its $1.5 billion annual foreign aid payments to Egypt, a new poll reveals.

Following the uprising that threatens to install the Muslim Brotherhood as the most powerful force in the Egyptian government, 53 percent of Americans in a Rasmussen Reports survey oppose aid to Egypt, while just 15 percent favor it and 32 percent are not sure.

The poll also found that just 18 percent of respondents view Egypt as an American ally, down from 34 percent in October, and 12 percent regard Egypt as an enemy.

THAT glossy magazines did not fare well in the second half of 2011, with 21 of the nation's top 25 posting newsstand sales declines — and Oprah Winfrey's magazine suffered the steepest plunge of them all.

O, the Oprah Magazine posted a newsstand sales drop of 413,363 copies, down 32 percent from the same period a year ago when it sold 608,212 copies, the New York Post reported.

Overall, newsstand sales fell almost 10 percent to 28.9 million copies in the period, capping the third consecutive year of declines.

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Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Monday, 13 February 2012 12:26 AM
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