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Tags: Terror | Tops | Americans | 2015-Fears | Saudis Behead 3 as Obama Visits | NKorea Calls Israel Dictatorial | Loretta Lynch

Terror Tops Americans' 2015 Fears; Saudis Behead 3 as Obama Visits; NKorea Calls Israel 'Dictatorial'

By    |   Sunday, 01 February 2015 01:55 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Terrorism Is Americans' Top Concern in 2015
2. Liberal Publication Calls Loretta Lynch a Right-Winger
3. Saudis Behead Three as Obama Visits
4. US on 'Downward Spiral' for Economic Freedom
5. North Korea: Israel Is 'Dictatorial'
6. Super Bowl Sunday: Football and Feasting

1. Terrorism Is Americans' Top Concern in 2015

For the first time in five years, Americans cite defending the United States against terrorism as the top priority in 2015, a new survey by the Pew Research Center reveals.

Seventy-six percent of respondents say terrorism is a top priority, just ahead of strengthening the nation's economy at 75 percent.

Since President Barack Obama began his second term in January 2013, the percentage of Pew respondents citing the economy as a top priority has declined 11 points, and improving the jobs situation had fallen 12 points to 67 percent, while concern over terrorism has risen 5 percentage points.

That concern is also reflected in a new survey from Rasmussen Reports, which discloses that just 23 percent of Americans think the U.S. and its allies are winning the war against terrorism, down from 39 percent a year ago.

Strengthening the military has risen sharply as a top priority, according to Pew, while global warming is near the bottom of the list of priorities.

Republicans are more concerned than Democrats about terrorism — it’s their overall top priority cited by 87 percent, compared to 74 percent of Democrats, whose overall top priority at 77 percent is improving the educational system.

Seven out of 10 Republicans cite strengthening the military as a top priority, as do just 41 percent of Democrats.

Republicans and Democrats agree regarding strengthening the nation's economy — 75 percent of both groups believe it is a top priority this year.

After terrorism and the economy, the issues most cited as a top priority are jobs (67 percent), education (67 percent), securing Social Security (66 percent), lowering the budget deficit (64 percent), reducing healthcare costs (64 percent), securing Medicare (61 percent), reducing crime (57 percent), aiding the poor and needy (55 percent), strengthening the military (52 percent), and immigration (52 percent).

Further down the list are protecting the environment (51 percent), addressing race relations (49 percent), tax reform (48 percent), energy problems (46 percent), reducing the influence of lobbyists (43 percent), improving transportation (42 percent), dealing with the role of money in politics (42 percent), supporting scientific research (41 percent), dealing with global warming (38 percent), and promoting global trade (30 percent).

The largest discrepancy between Republicans and Democrats is on the global warming issue — 54 percent of Democrats cite it, while just 15 percent of Republicans consider it a top priority.

The largest discrepancy according to age is on the issue of supporting scientific research — 53 percent of those 18 to 29 years of age cite it as a top priority, compared to just 32 percent of those 65 and over.

Editor's Note:


2. Liberal Publication Calls Loretta Lynch a Right-Winger

Loretta Lynch, President Obama's nominee to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General, isn't liberal enough for at least one left-wing publication.

The Progressive Review on Thursday ran an item under the headline "AG nominee Loretta Lynch is a right-winger on some key issues."

The publication ignored Lynch's statement during questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee that she found Obama's move to unilaterally ease the threat of deportation for millions of illegal immigrants "reasonable." Instead, it focused on Lynch's statement that she considered capital punishment "an effective penalty."

The Progressive Review also pointed to her disagreement with Obama's statements that marijuana was no more harmful than alcohol, and her assertion that the National Security Agency's collection of American phone records was "certainly constitutional, and effective."

Lynch is set to replace Holder, a hero for many liberal groups, whose Justice Department "increased prosecution of civil rights violations, embraced same-sex marriage, scaled back the war on drugs, and reduced the prison population for the first time in a generation," The New York Times observed in an article referenced by the Progressive Review.

At one point in the Judiciary Committee hearing, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn asked Lynch: "You're not Eric Holder, are you?"

She replied: "No, I'm not, sir."

And she told another Texas Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz: "You've asked how I will be different from Eric Holder. I will be Loretta Lynch."

Editor's Note:


3. Saudis Behead Three as Obama Visits

A visit by President Obama did not dissuade officials in Saudi Arabia from carrying out three beheadings within hours of Obama's meeting with new Saudi King Salman.

Obama cut short a visit to India to fly to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to offer his condolences to the Saudis following the Jan. 23 death of Salman's predecessor King Abdullah, and to meet with the new king.

On that same Tuesday, the Saudis beheaded Yassir bin Hussein al-Hamza, who reportedly confessed to smuggling amphetamine pills into the kingdom.

They also beheaded Omar bin Yahya bin Ibrahim al-Barkati, who was convicted of incest, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

A third convict, Pakistani Latif Khan Nurzada, was executed for trafficking heroin into the kingdom, AFP reported.

The three beheadings brought to four the number of men beheaded since King Salman assumed the throne on Jan. 23.

The day before Obama's visit, the Saudis beheaded Moussa al-Zahrani, who had been found guilty of "luring underage girls, intoxicating them, forcing them to watch pornographic videos, and then physically and sexually assaulting them," an Interior Ministry statement disclosed.

The beheading sparked outrage on social media because the Arabic language teacher and father of six maintained his innocence and claimed he had been framed by police, the Daily Mail reported.

He claimed that one of his accusers, a neighbor, was also a police investigator in the case. His relatives maintained that a medical report showed that the neighbor's daughter had not been assaulted, and that several cases of assault against young girls were carried out while al-Zahrani was already in jail.

The four recent beheadings brought the total to 16 so far this year, according to AFP. Last year, there were 87 beheadings while King Abdullah, a U.S. ally, was on the throne.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery, and drug trafficking are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

Editor's Note:


4. US on 'Downward Spiral' for Economic Freedom

The United States comes in at only No. 12 in the latest Index of Economic Freedom, due in part to high taxes, corruption, and the regulatory burden.

The index is published annually by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, and this year's edition notes the "precipitous downward spiral in U.S. economic freedom since 2008."

The index defines economic freedom as "the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please."

Rankings are compiled by measuring 10 freedoms in four broad categories: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption), Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending), Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom), and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).

Each of the 10 freedoms is graded on a scale of 0 to 100, and a country's overall score is derived by averaging the 10 figures.

The top five nations/territories for economic freedom are Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland.

The United States at No. 12 has an overall score of 76.2, up slightly from the previous year. It scores low on government spending (51.8) and fiscal freedom (66.2), but high in labor freedom (98.5).

The index observes that "corruption in government and the political process remains a concern" in the U.S., and "the regulatory burden has been mounting. Since 2009, over 150 new major regulations have been imposed at an annual cost of more than $70 billion."

The index points to America's top individual income tax rate of 39.6 percent, plus a top corporate tax rate of 35 percent that remains among the world's highest, and adds that "public debt exceeds the value of the economy's annual production."

Top-ranked Hong Kong has an overall score of 89.6, including a perfect 100 for business freedom.

"Hong Kong, a global free port and financial hub, continues to thrive on the free flow of goods, services, and capital," the index states. "As the economic and financial gateway to China, and with an efficient regulatory framework, low and simple taxation, and sophisticated capital markets, the territory continues to offer the most convenient platform for international companies doing business on the mainland."

Other countries that place higher than the United States, beginning with No. 6, are Canada, Chile, Estonia, Ireland, Mauritius, and Denmark.

Rounding out the top 20 are the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Lithuania, Germany, the Netherlands, Bahrain, Finland, and Japan.

All those nations and others are rated "Free." The remaining countries are rated "Mostly Free," "Moderately Free," "Mostly Unfree," and "Repressed."

China and Russia are both designated as "Mostly Unfree."

The lowest overall score, 1.3, goes to North Korea, which ranks No. 178, just below Venezuela and Cuba. The tightly controlled nation scored a 0.0 in every category except property rights (5.0) and freedom from corruption (8.0).

Eight nations were not ranked, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

Editor's Note:


5. North Korea: Israel Is 'Dictatorial'

In what might be called a foray into the absurd, the police state of North Korea has accused the Israeli democracy of "representing dictatorial forces."

North Korea was responding to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments to the Japanese premier during his recent visit to Israel. Netanyahu said that both Israel and Japan face "formidable threats from nearby rogue states" — Israel from Iran and Japan from North Korea, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Iran "cannot be allowed to travel the road taken by North Korea," Netanyahu said, citing an agreement with North Korea in 1994 that "was widely celebrated as a historic breakthrough for nonproliferation, but in the end, that deal failed to prevent the dangerous proliferation that threatens all of East Asia today."

The prime minister went on to say: "Both Iran and North Korea are governed by ruthless and extreme dictatorships, states that seek to bully and intimidate their neighbors.

"Iran and North Korea have aggressive military nuclear programs and they are both developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, ballistic missiles."

North Korea — officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) — issued a statement through the Korean Central News Agency castigating Netanyahu for "provocative remarks hurting the DPRK's dignity and social system," according to the Post.

The Kim Jong Un regime said Netanyahu's criticism amounted to "rubbish," and accused Israel of "representing dictatorial forces for aggression that trample down the legitimate right of the Palestinian people."

The North Korean statement also said: "Israel recently went the lengths of hurting the DPRK's dignified social system. The people-centered Korean-style socialist system is the most advantageous system under which the people became masters of everything, and the DPRK's nuclear weapons are powerful deterrents to protect its social system."

Editor's Note:


6. Super Bowl Sunday: Football and Feasting

Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day in American sports, and it's also a big day for the consumption of everything from pizza to popcorn to pretzels — and of course, beer.

The typical Super Bowl watcher consumes around 1,200 calories of snacks during the big game, twice the daily average.

That adds up to some 33 million pounds of snacks, including 14,500 tons of chips, 4,000 tons of popcorn, 4,000 tons of pretzels, and 2,500 tons of nuts, according to figures culled from various sites including msn.com.

Americans will also consume 8 million pounds of guacamole to go along with their chips. They'll eat 14 billion hamburgers during Super Bowl weekend, and 5,000 pounds of hot dogs during the game, not to mention about a billion chicken wings.

As for pizza, Domino's alone with sell 9 million slices on game day, and its delivery people will log 4 million miles bringing pies to Super Bowl watchers.

Americans swig 50 million cases of beer on a typical Super Bowl Sunday. Bud Light, Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller Lite, and Natural Light account for 94 percent of all beer consumed.

It's not surprising, then, that sales of antacids rise 20 percent on the Monday after the game, a day when 7 million Americans will call in sick to work — and another 7 million will arrive late.

FOOTNOTE: The 2014 Super Bowl was the most-watched TV program in American history. It averaged 111.5 million viewers, enough to surpass the previous record holder — the 2012 Super Bowl, which drew 111.3 million.

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Editor's Note:


Editor's Notes:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Terrorism Is Americans' Top Concern in 2015 2. Liberal Publication Calls Loretta Lynch a Right-Winger 3. Saudis Behead Three as Obama Visits 4. US on 'Downward Spiral' for Economic Freedom 5. North Korea: Israel...
Terror, Tops, Americans, 2015-Fears, Saudis Behead 3 as Obama Visits, NKorea Calls Israel Dictatorial, Loretta Lynch, US on Downward Spiral for Economic Freedom
Sunday, 01 February 2015 01:55 PM
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