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Tags: Americans | Receive | 2-Trillion-in | Benefits | Schools Opt Out of Lunch Program | United Rated Worst US Airline | ISIS Terrorist Barbarians Persecuting Christians

Americans Receive $2 Trillion in Benefits; Schools Opt Out of Lunch Program; United Rated Worst US Airline

By    |   Sunday, 17 August 2014 03:05 PM EDT

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Americans Received $2 Trillion in Federal Benefits in 2013
2. Schools Opting Out of Federal Lunch Program
3. Catholic League: ISIS 'Terrorist Barbarians' Persecuting Christians
4. United Rated America's Worst Airline
5. U.S. Terror Victims Suing Jordan's Bank
6. Top Prep Schools Can Cost a Family $1 Million


1. Americans Received $2 Trillion in Federal Benefits in 2013

The federal government paid out $2,007,358,200,000 in benefits and entitlements in fiscal year 2013 — accounting for well over half of all federal spending.

Data on federal spending are contained in the Bureau of the Fiscal Service's Treasury Statement, and the statement for the most recent fiscal year covers receipts and outlays from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013.

Benefits include means-tested and nonmeans-tested government programs.

Most of the benefits paid out, 69.7 percent, went to nonmeans-tested programs that provide benefits to recipients who qualify regardless of their income. These include Medicare, Social Security, railroad retirement, unemployment compensation, veterans' compensation, and workers' compensation.

In fiscal 2013, Americans received $1.399 trillion in benefits from these programs. Contributing most to the total were Social Security and Medicare, which totaled $1.252 trillion combined.

Means-tested programs that have income limits include subsidized rental housing, food stamps, Federal Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, free and reduced lunch programs, Pell grants, Medicaid, and more. These programs totaled $608 billion.

Other outlays by the federal government, which include defense, highways, public education, and government worker salaries, totaled $3.454 trillion, according to the Treasury statement. So the amount paid out in benefits accounted for 58.1 percent of all spending.

Editor's Note:


2. Schools Opting Out of Federal Lunch Program

A number of U.S. school districts are opting out of the federal school lunch program serving meals that comply with the nutritional standards championed by first lady Michelle Obama.

The reason: Students are choosing not to eat the healthier meals mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was passed in 2010.

One district opting out of the program is Fort Thomas Independent Schools in Campbell County, Ohio.

"The calorie limitation and types of foods that have to be provided have resulted in the kids just saying, 'I'm not going to eat that,'" Fort Thomas Superintendent Gene Kirchner told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

In many cases, students who are required to take fruit and vegetables with their meals are simply throwing them away.

In Kirchner's district, 166 fewer students bought lunch every day last year and instead brought lunch from home, went to nearby restaurants, or skipped lunch altogether.

That is costing school districts money. If students don't buy lunch, the district loses funds that could pay for textbooks and technology.

Nationwide, 1 million fewer students are choosing a school lunch each day that complies with the nutritional standards, and last year 47 percent of school meal programs reported that their revenues had declined.

"We've seen a lot more schools pop up," said Diane Pratt-Heavner, spokeswomen for the School Nutrition Association. "I've seen stories out of New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania."

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, considered a key in Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign to reduce childhood obesity, calls for reduced sodium and fat, and more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

"They got rid of all the good food, and it doesn't taste good," one student told an Enquirer reporter on a day when students were required to take green beans or applesauce with their chicken sandwiches.

Most of the green beans were thrown away.

As the Insider Report disclosed last week, the new standards are also having the effect of banning many of the bake sales schools have traditionally relied on to raise funds.

And some schools have banned students from selling Girl Scout cookies during the day.

Editor's Note:


3. Catholic League: ISIS 'Terrorist Barbarians' Persecuting Christians

Catholic League President Bill Donohue says the systematic slaughter of Christians in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is "far worse" than the persecution of Christians in North Korea and China.

While China is destroying churches and North Korea is killing Christians, Donohue told CNS News, "what's different about [ISIS] is that no one really believes that the Chinese anti-Christian communists are going to go across somebody else's border to bring about their messianic vision. The same is true for North Korea.

"Here we have nothing but a band of terrorist barbarians who are on the march to take over the entire Middle East, which will destroy the economy of the world while they're killing Jews and Christians, and Muslims, I might add.

"So this is a menace without borders. It's far worse than China and North Korea. The Muslim jihadists are the forces of death."

Tens of thousands of people have been driven from their homes under threats from the Sunni militants of ISIS, and the jihadists have told Christians they must convert to Islam, pay a tax, or die.

Meanwhile there are reports that Sunnis in northern Iraq have welcomed ISIS forces helping to drive out Christians.

One Iraqi Christian who fled from Mosul to Lebanon as ISIS forces approached told Lebanese LBC/LDC TV: "We left Mosul because ISIS came to the city. The [Sunni] people of Mosul embraced ISIS, and drove the Christians out of the city."

In an interview translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the unidentified refugee said his Sunni neighbors "said this was a Muslim country, not a Christian one. They said this land belongs to Islam and that Christians should not live there."

Editor's Note:


4. United Rated America's Worst Airline

Based on overall performance in the past year, United Airlines is rated as the worst major airline in the United States, while Delta is rated No. 1.

AirfareWatchdog.com ranked airlines based on their performance in five key areas — canceled flights, on-time arrivals, mishandled bags, denied boardings, and customer satisfaction.

"Delta is this year's unsung hero," the website noted. "For the past two years, Delta has been stuck on the wrong side of the rankings, but this year the airline moved from sixth up to the top spot."

Of the eight airlines rated in the website's survey, Virgin America finished second overall behind Delta, followed by Alaska, JetBlue, Frontier, Southwest (including AirTran), American (including US Airways), and United.

Delta also finished at the top in the canceled flights category, with just 0.11 percent of its flights canceled. Alaska was close behind at 0.13 percent. JetBlue was worst, with 2.42 percent canceled. United placed sixth in the category.

For on-time arrivals, Alaska was tops — 89.7 percent of its flights arrived on time. Southwest was worst, with just 72.68 percent arriving on time. United was sixth again.

Virgin America had the fewest mishandled bags, 1.04 per 1,000 passengers. Southwest was worst with 3.89 mishandled bags.

In the denied boardings category, JetBlue was best, with only 3.58 denied boardings per 1 million passengers. United was worst by far with 245 denied boardings per 1 million.

Based on 2014 American Customer Satisfaction Index scores, JetBlue finished No. 1 in customer satisfaction, followed by Southwest, Delta, Alaska, Frontier, Virgin America, and American. United was last again.

Delta carried more total passengers than any other U.S. airline in 2013 — 120.3 million enplaned passengers, according to the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

United carried the most international passengers to and from the United States last year, 24.9 million, ahead of Delta, which had 22 million.

Editor's Note:


5. U.S. Terror Victims Suing Jordan's Bank

American victims of terror attacks during the second intifada in Israel are suing a Jordanian bank for facilitating the attacks by transferring funds to Hamas leaders, institutions, and suicide bombers.

In the trial that began this week in Brooklyn, 140 plaintiffs injured in two dozen terror attacks from 2001 to 2004 allege that Jordan's Arab Bank funneled the money from a Saudi fund to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Jewish Daily Forward reported.

The families of other victims who were killed are also involved in the suit.

Five thousand dollars from the fund was to go to the family of any terrorist who died attacking Israel.

The plaintiffs assert that Arab Bank facilitated the transfer of funds via Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah's al-Shahid Foundation, according to the Jerusalem Post. They charge that Arab Bank knew that the funds were destined to go to terrorists and terror groups.

The plaintiffs claim that the money transfers violate the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows terror victims to seek compensation.

Arab Bank "is one of the most powerful banks in the Middle East and essentially Jordan's sovereign bank to the extent that the Jordanian government implied that if the bank loses, its economy and the entire counter-terror cooperation with the U.S. could fall apart," the Post reported.

The bank claims that it did not know it was transferring money to terrorists.

The lawsuit was first filed in 2004 and has survived several challenges, including Arab Bank's refusal to turn over records.

Editor's Note:


6. Top Prep Schools Can Cost a Family $1 Million

Sending two children to a top-rated prep school from elementary through high school could cost a family more than $1 million.

Tuition at top-rated prep schools — those awarded the highest grades by the national nonprofit GreatSchools — averages about $40,000 a year, MarketWatch reports.

"You could be talking about $1 million for families with more than one child for the best prep schools," said Mark Hamrick, Washington, D.C., bureau chief with Bankrate.com.

Private prep schools in general average $11,000 in costs per year. Those expenses range from $7,000 for Catholic schools, $9,000 for other religious schools, and $22,000 for nonsectarian private schools.

States with the highest private school enrollment — more than 15 percent of students in grades 1-12 — are Louisiana, Delaware, and Hawaii.

Among cities, New Orleans has the highest private school enrollment, 25 percent, followed by Honolulu (21 percent), San Francisco (20 percent), and Baton Rouge, La. (19 percent).

Not surprisingly, families with higher incomes are far more likely to send their children to private schools. In households with more than $200,000 in annual income, 26 percent of children attend private school, according to MarketWatch. In families earning less than $50,000, just 6 percent of children go to private schools.

Attending a good public school can be costly as well because parents are likely to spend more on housing in areas with good schools. According to the real estate website Trulia, housing costs — not including property taxes — are 32 percent higher than average in areas with the highest-rated public schools, and 41 percent lower than average in areas with the lowest-rated schools.

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Editor's Notes:

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Americans, Receive, 2-Trillion-in, Benefits, Schools Opt Out of Lunch Program, United Rated Worst US Airline, ISIS Terrorist Barbarians Persecuting Christians, U.S. Terror Victims Suing Jordans Bank, Top Prep Schools Can Cost a Family 1 Million
Sunday, 17 August 2014 03:05 PM
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