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Tags: Romney | Set-Up | by | Stephanopoulos | Obama to Skirt UNESCO Trumps Golden Touch | Chavez Opponent Victim of Anti-Semitism | Rand Paul Calls for Cutoff of Aid to Egypt

Romney 'Set Up' by ABC's Stephanopoulos; Obama to Skirt UNESCO; Trump's Golden Touch

By    |   Sunday, 19 February 2012 03:08 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Romney's Grilling on Contraceptives Called a 'Setup'
2. Obama Seeks to Skirt Ban on UNESCO Funding
3. Chavez Opponent Victim of Anti-Semitism
4. Most Expensive ZIP Is in New Jersey
5. Rand Paul Calls for Cutoff of Aid to Egypt
6. We Heard: Donald Trump, Chris Christie

1. Romney's Grilling on Contraception Called a 'Setup'

During a Republican presidential debate in January, moderator George Stephanopoulos peppered Mitt Romney with questions about contraception that seemed totally out of the blue at the time.

But in the wake of President Barack Obama's move to mandate health insurance companies' coverage of contraception, the motivation for the ABC newsman's grilling of Romney has become clear, according to political pundit Dick Morris: It's part of a plan to convince voters that Republicans will ban contraception.

Rush Limbaugh discussed Morris' theory on his radio show on Monday.

"I want to move on to this Dick Morris business and the attack on the Catholic Church last week by Obama," Rush said. "I want to ask you, if you remember back in January there was a presidential debate, a Republican debate in Manchester. George Stephanopoulos kept hounding Romney on contraception. It had not come up, nobody had said anything about it, and we were all confused, as was Romney, what the deal was.

"Well, it is Dick Morris' theorem that that was a setup that led to what happened last week."

Stephanopoulos asked Romney: "Do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception, or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?"

Romney responded that it was an "unusual topic" to be questioned about, and said he would "completely oppose" any effort to ban contraception. Stephanopoulos repeated his question, and Romney acknowledged he didn't know if a state had a right to ban contraception but referred to the question as "silly."

Appearing on Sean Hannity's show on the Fox News Channel on Monday, Morris said: "I think that the conservatives are missing the point about this. Obama did not make a mistake in this mandate. It's a deliberately calculated move on his part. The Democrats realized that abortion is no longer a winner for them. So what they're trying to do now is replace it with contraception.

"They want to create the impression that the Republicans will ban contraception."

Limbaugh opined that Stephanopoulos — who Morris referred to as a "paid Democratic hit man" — was trying to get Romney to agree that states had the right to ban contraception, but "they failed in getting their sound bite. If Romney had said, 'Well, theoretically yeah, states could,' that would have been the ad" to use against him.

Editor's Note:

2. Obama Seeks to Skirt Ban on UNESCO Funding

The United States cut off all American funding for UNESCO in November, as required by law, after the United Nations agency voted to approve the Palestinian Authority for full membership.

Now the Obama administration is seeking to circumvent the law by requesting funds for UNESCO (U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). vIn its fiscal 2013 budget request released on Monday, the State Department included $79 million for UNESCO. vAt a briefing, the State Department's deputy secretary for management and resources, Thomas Nides, said Obama wanted waiver authority that would allow the U.S. to continue funding UNESCO in the future.

"We have put the money in the budget, realizing that we're not going to be able to spend the money unless we get the waiver — and we have made it clear to the Congress we'd like a waiver," he said.

Elsewhere in the budget request, a further $40.5 million is listed under the heading of "contingent requirements."

A footnote to that entry states, "The Department of State intends to work with Congress to seek legislation that would provide authority to waive restrictions on paying the U.S. assessed contributions to UNESCO. Should the Congress pass this legislation, this funding is sufficient to cover the FY 2013 UNESCO assessment and the balance of the FY 2012 assessment."

But Public Law 101-246, which the Democratic-controlled Congress passed in 1990, states that "no funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or any other Act shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states."

And Public Law 103-236 Title IV, passed in 1994, prohibits "voluntary or assessed contribution to any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood."

Before the United States cut off funding, UNESCO received 22 percent of its operating budget from the United States, about $80 million a year.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, castigated the administration for the budget requests.

"The Palestinian leadership's dangerous statehood scheme at the U.N. was dealt a significant blow last year after the U.S. cut off funding to UNESCO due to its admission of 'Palestine,'" she said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Resuming U.S. funding would give a green light for other U.N. bodies to follow in UNESCO's footsteps and support the Palestinian statehood push.

"Any effort to walk back this funding cutoff will pave the way for the Palestinian leadership's unilateral statehood scheme to drive on, and sends a disastrous message that the U.S. will fund U.N. bodies no matter what irresponsible decisions they make."

UNESCO is a global development agency whose missions include promoting literacy, clean water and education, and designating world heritage sites.

During the 1980s, the United States and Britain withdrew from UNESCO, accusing the agency of mismanagement and an anti-Western political agenda. Britain returned in 1997 and President George W. Bush restored the U.S. relationship in 2002, citing wide-ranging reforms.

Editor's Note:

3. Chavez Opponent Victim of Anti-Semitism

The opposition politician who will seek to unseat Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in the nation's October election faces the threat of anti-Semitism from supporters of the anti-American strongman.

Henrique Capriles Radonski's maternal grandparents were Jewish refugees from Europe who arrived in Venezuela during World War II, and while Capriles has never shied away from his Jewish ancestry, he is in fact a devout Catholic.

Still, his backers fear Chavez will seek to use his Jewish heritage against him.

"We already have seen some signs it is going to happen," Dina Siegel Vann, director of the New York-based Latino and Latin American Institute of the American Jewish Committee, told the Jerusalem Post.

"One local paper placed a Star of David on a picture of him."

The Venezuelan weekly magazine Kikiriki showed a photo of Capriles with a Star of David imposed on him along with a photo of Chavez.

Venezuela's state-run media has suggested Capriles is a Zionist agent, Fox News reported.

"You have in Chavez a political leader, a head of a country, who engages in the use of political anti-Semitism, someone who engages in scapegoating and accusations against the Jewish community, particularly around issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," said Michael Salberg, director of international affairs at the Anti-Defamation League.

In 2004, Capriles was sent to prison for allegedly fomenting violence, charges that were later dropped.

In 2009, Chavez supporters ransacked his offices, spraying swastikas on the wall.

"They came here and called me, 'Nazi,'" Capriles told The Forward. "My great-grandparents were killed in a concentration camp."

According to the Post, members of the Jewish community in Venezuela "say the policies of the president known for his animosity toward the U.S. and Israel and close ties with Iran have created a noxious atmosphere for them to live in.

"Consequently, the community has shrunk from about 20,000 to fewer than 10,000 today."

Chavez stepped up his attack on Capriles on state radio and TV on Thursday, calling him a "low-life pig."

According to AFP, Chavez said of Capriles: "You have a pig's tail, a pig's ears, and you snort like a pig."

Editor's Note:

4. Most Expensive ZIP Is in New Jersey

The TV show "Beverly Hills, 90210" acquainted Americans with a truly pricey ZIP code, but you'll have to travel across the country to find the location at the top of Forbes magazine's recent list of Most Expensive ZIP Codes.

That distinction goes to 07620, Alpine, N.J., a New York City suburb on the banks of the Hudson River. The median price for a home there is $4.55 million, and the most expensive home for sale has an asking price of $53 million.

Next on the list is 94027, Atherton in California's Silicon Valley, where the median home price is $4.29 million and the priciest home is $20 million.

The third most expensive ZIP is 11962, Sagaponack, N.Y., in the Hamptons on Long Island. The median price there is $3.59 million and the most expensive home is $30 million.

Close behind is 94010, Hillsborough in the San Francisco area. Median home price: $3.49 million. Most expensive: $43.9 million.

Beverly Hills, 90210, makes its appearance at number five, with a median price of $3.46 million and a $55 million mansion as its most expensive dwelling.

Of the 100 most expensive ZIP codes, 13 are in Manhattan. And of the top 25, the only ZIPs not in California, New York or New Jersey are Greenwich, Conn., and two Colorado ZIPs: Snowmass and Aspen.

Even the ZIP at the "bottom" of the top 100 list, Bernardsville, N.J., has a median home price of $1.45 million and a most expensive home with an asking price of $14.8 million.

Editor's Note:

5. Rand Paul Calls for Cutoff of Aid to Egypt

Sen. Rand Paul has sponsored a bill to cut off all U.S. aid to Egypt unless authorities release 19 Americans being held there on what he called "trumped-up charges."

The Kentucky Republican urged the Senate to take up an amendment to a transportation bill that would "end all foreign aid to Egypt if our U.S. citizens are not released in 30 days."

But California Democrat Barbara Boxer, who co-sponsored the transportation bill, blocked Paul's amendment, CNS News reported.

Egyptian authorities have taken action against American and other non-governmental organizations and said they intend to prosecute 43 people linked to them, including 19 American citizens. They have barred some Americans — including the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — from leaving the country.

Paul said on the Senate floor: "When will we learn? You can't buy friendship and you can't convince authoritarians to love freedom with welfare checks.

"Egypt has been receiving welfare from the United States for nearly 40 years now. America has lavished over $60 billion on the government of Egypt and they react with insolence and disregard by detaining 19 of our U.S. citizens."

Paul said the president should send the Egyptian ambassador home with "a message that America will not tolerate any country holding U.S. citizens as political prisoners.

"Congress should act today to tell Egypt that we will no longer send our annual welfare check to them; that this year's $1.8 billion is not on the way.

"The president's budget this week includes the $1.8 billion for Egypt without a word of rebuke or any demand for our citizens to be released."

Rejecting the amendment, Boxer said: "Members of both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, have very strong feelings that this amendment should not be brought up at this time. We need to be smart and strategic when we have people in harm's way in another country."

Paul said: "The Senate refuses to even hold a single vote to spend 10 minutes discussing why U.S. citizens are being detained in Egypt."

Editor's Note:

6. We Heard…

THAT it's once again clear everything Donald Trump touches turns to gold — New York Knicks overnight sensation Jeremy Lin has moved into a building owned by the billionaire entrepreneur.

Lin is subletting a $3,800-a-month apartment in the Trump Towers in White Plain, N.Y., owned by former Knick David Lee. It's close to the team's practice facility, Yahoo! Sports reports.

The Harvard-educated basketball player, who averaged 27 points per game in his first five games as a starter, had been sleeping on a couch in his brother's one-bedroom Manhattan apartment.

Trump crowed on Twitter: "So @JLin7 had another game winning shot last night. Looks like the Knicks have not only found a new point guard — and he just moved into one of my buildings."

Trump has been also credited for the phenomenal success of Lady Gaga, writing that "maybe she became a star because I put her on the Miss Universe Pageant."

Trump added about the pop star's current fame: "I really believe I had at least something to do with it."

As Jezebel.com noted, Lady Gaga was a virtual nobody until 2008 when Trump slotted her to sing during the swimsuit catwalk of contestants.

"She was just a new kind of weirdly dressed pop star and not the international juggernaut she is today!" the website noted.

THAT politics were no doubt on the menu when Trump and his wife Melania dined with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife Mary at a pricey New York restaurant on Wednesday night.

A spy told the New York Post: "One person who walked past the table did such a swivelneck thing that she walked right into a chair."

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Editor's Note:

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Sunday, 19 February 2012 03:08 PM
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