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Tags: Saudis | Honor-Cleric | Who-Calls | US-Terrorist | Kanye Wests Obama Phone Boast | GOP Millennials Want Legal Pot | US No Longer Has Top Corporate Tax Rate

Saudis Honor Cleric Who Calls US 'Terrorist'; Kanye West's Obama Phone Boast; GOP Millennials Want Legal Pot

Sunday, 08 March 2015 02:49 PM EDT

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. US No Longer Has Top Corporate Tax Rate
2. Kanye West: Obama Calls Me at Home
3. Saudis Honor Televangelist Who Called US 'Terrorist'
4. Young Republicans: Legalize Marijuana
5. Anchorage Is America's 'Hardest-Working' City
6. Rasmussen: Americans Still Favor Death Penalty

1. US No Longer Has Top Corporate Tax Rate

First the good news: The United States no longer has the world's highest corporate income tax rate.

The bad news: The U.S. didn't lower its sky-high corporate tax rate — France on Jan. 1 boosted its tax rate to surpass the rate in America.

France raised its surtax on corporate income and now imposes a 36 percent marginal effective tax rate on capital investments, while the U.S. remains at 35.3 percent.

The marginal effective tax rate takes into account for the corporate income tax including deductions and credits, sales taxes on capital purchases, and other capital-related taxes.

When the federal tax rate is combined with the average state levy, the U.S. statutory corporate tax rate is 39.1 percent, according to the Tax Foundation.

By way of comparison, the average corporate tax rate among the G-20 nations — which include many of the world's largest economies — is 26.2 percent, down 4.4 percentage points since 2005.

And the average among nations belonging to the OECD — Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a larger group of 34 major economies — is around 25 percent today, the Tax Foundation disclosed. Germany's rate, for example, is 24.2 percent.

The Foundation's 2014 International Tax Competitiveness Index Rankings are determined using corporate tax rates among OECD nations, along with consumption taxes, property taxes, individual taxes, and treatment of foreign earnings.

The No. 1 ranking goes to Estonia, due to factors including its 21 percent corporate tax rate applied only to distributed profits, a flat 21 percent tax on individual income that does not apply to dividend income, and property taxes that apply only to the value of land and not the value of real property.

Estonia is followed by New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, and Australia.

France is at the bottom at No. 34.

The United States is second from last, due largely to its high corporate tax rate, and high progressive individual income taxes that are levied on dividends and capital gains.

The only country lower-ranked than the U.S., besides France, is Portugal.

"One economic point to keep in mind is that taxes on capital are ultimately taxes on wages, as multiple economic studies have shown," The Wall Street Journal observed in an article about the Tax Foundation figures. "If President Obama were serious about 'middle-class economics,' he'd call for an immediate cut in the U.S. corporate tax rate to 25 percent."

Editor's Note:


2. Kanye West: Obama Calls Me at Home

Controversial hip-hop artist and record producer Kanye West says he exchanges phone calls with an individual who is even more controversial: President Barack Obama.

In a speech at Oxford University on Monday, West called himself a "servant, with my voice, with my ability to build relationships with amazing people, speak to amazing people, call [PayPal and Tesla Motors co-founder] Elon West, out of the blue, or call Obama out of the blue. He calls the home phone, by the way."

West also said "that idea [racism] has passed. We've had 'The Bill Cosby Show,' Obama's president, Beyonce's great. That's passed. But there's still something you're taught every day, especially in the UK, and that's division by class."

According to the Oxford Tab, the rapper, who has won 21 Grammy Awards, added that people talk about "the number of viewers the Grammys get. They need to do award shows for the Nobel Peace Prize, but I guess that doesn't sell as many MasterCard commercials."

West, who is married to reality star Kim Kardashian, has sold more than 21 million albums and over 66 million digital downloads.

Among his controversy-sparking incidents, West said at a 2005 benefit concert: "George Bush doesn't care about black people," a comment Bush later called "disgusting."

Editor's Note:


3. Saudis Honor Televangelist Who Called US 'Terrorist'

Purported U.S. ally Saudi Arabia has bestowed one of its highest honors on a Muslim televangelist who expressed support for Osama bin Laden, called the United States the "biggest terrorist," and claimed the 9/11 attacks were ordered by President George W. Bush.

Dr. Zakir Naik appeared at a ceremony at a luxury hotel in Saudi Arabia where the nation's new monarch, King Salman, gave him the King Faisal International Prize for service to Islam. The televangelist from India also received a gold medal and a cash award of nearly $200,000.

The award "highlighted the conflicted position of Saudi Arabia as an American ally that continues to back Islamists who espouse hatred of the West," The New York Times reported.

Naik was trained as a physician but is now the founder and president of the Mumbai, India-based Islamic Research Foundation and a televangelist on his TV channel, Peace TV.

His comments have frequently targeted the West and voiced support for Islamic radicalism.

Years ago he said he supported Osama bin Laden if he was fighting the United States: "If he is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist. The thing is that if he is terrorizing the terrorist, he is following Islam." He also referred to bin Laden as a "soldier of Islam."

Naik asserted that Muslims who convert from Islam and propagate another faith should be killed, and claimed that Jews control the United States.

"The Jews are less than 5 percent in America, but they are controlling the economy, they are controlling America," he said, and declared that Jews are the "strongest in enmity to Muslims."

During a lecture, Naik discussed the 9/11 attacks and said that by "the amount of ample evidence, a fool will know this is an inside job. It is a blatant, open secret that this attack on the twin towers was done by George Bush himself."

He later claimed he had been misquoted.

Naik has called for the death penalty for homosexuals, said evolution is an "unproven conjecture at best," called for Shariah law in India, and expressed support for the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas.

Sadanand Dhume, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, argued in The Wall Street Journal that Muslims drawn to Naik's message include Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American arrested for planning suicide attacks on the New York City subway, and Rahil Sheikh, accused of involvement in a series of train bombings in India in 2006.

Police in Mumbai have barred Naik from holding conferences in recent years and Indian satellite providers have refused to broadcast his Peace TV. In 2010, Canada and Britain denied him entry for speaking engagements.

But the Saudi award is not the only honor Naik has received. In 2013, he was named the Islamic Personality of the Year by a religious association in Dubai, an honor bestowed by the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

Also in 2013, Naik received a Distinguished Personality award from Malaysia's Department of Islamic Development, presented by Malaysia's head of state.

Editor's Note:


4. Young Republicans: Legalize Marijuana

Republicans have consistently expressed opposition to the legalization of marijuana in national polls, but one group within the GOP now supports legalization: millennials.

A poll by the Pew Research Center last year found that 59 percent of Republicans across the board opposed legalization, compared to 34 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Independents, and 29 percent of Republicans favored jail for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Another poll by Gallup showed that nearly two-thirds of Republicans opposed legalization, compared to about a third of Democrats.

But now a Pew survey shows that 63 percent of Republican millennials, those born from 1981 to 1996, say marijuana use should be made legal, up from 34 percent in 2006. Among Democratic millennials, 77 percent agree.

And nearly half of Gen X Republicans born from 1965 to 1980, 47 percent, also believe that marijuana should be legalized, as do 61 percent Gen X Democrats.

Republicans born from 1946 to 1964, the Baby Boom generation, are more likely to oppose legalization — just 38 percent support it, compared to 66 percent of Democratic boomers.

And among those in the so-called Silent Generation, born from 1928 to 1945, just 17 percent of Republicans favor legalization, as do a minority of Democrats, 44 percent.

The growing support for legalization in Pew polls comes as Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia passed ballot measures legalizing marijuana use in the 2014 election, joining Colorado and Washington. But legalization in Washington, D.C., has drawn heated opposition from congressional Republicans.

"The debate over marijuana also comes ahead of the 2016 presidential election, when both political parties are fighting over the coveted millennial vote as their group of eligible voters swells in size, even if its members do not consistently show up on Election Day," Pew observed.

Misgivings about marijuana legalization remain. Most Americans, 54 percent, believe legalization would lead to use by more underage individuals. And 15 percent say marijuana is more harmful to people's health than alcohol, while 23 percent think it is more harmful to society than alcohol.

Editor's Note:


5. Anchorage Is America's 'Hardest-Working' City

A new report offers a "hardest-working" ranking of Americans in major U.S. cities based on several criteria, and places Anchorage, Alaska, at the top of the list.

WalletHub, a personal finance social network, assigned values to seven key metrics in 116 of the most populous American cities to determine their overall ranking.

The metrics were average workweek hours, commuting time, percent of the working-age population in the labor force, workers with multiple jobs, volunteer hours per resident, number of days people don't get enough sleep in a month, and leisure time spent on an average day.

WalletHub included at least one city from each state.

After Anchorage, Virginia Beach, Va., is home to the second-hardest-working Americans. Plano, Texas, is No. 3, followed by Cheyenne, Wyo.; Irving, Texas; Jersey City, N.J.; Garland, Texas; San Francisco, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; and Chesapeake, Va.

Washington, D.C., is No. 11.

Among the largest American cities, Dallas is No. 15, Houston No. 20, Chicago No. 31, New York No. 40, Phoenix No. 52, Boston No. 57, Philadelphia No. 64, and Los Angeles No. 75.

At the bottom of the list, Burlington, Vt., was deemed the least hardest-working city, followed in ascending order by Buffalo, N.Y.; Columbia, S.C.; Baton Rouge, La.; and San Bernardino, Calif.

Among the other findings of the WalletHub analysis:

  • Little Rock, Ark., experienced the largest decrease in labor force participation between 2007 and 2013, down 5.1 percent.
  • The average number of days residents don't get enough sleep in a month is twice as high in Charleston, W.Va., as in Nashville, Tenn.
  • New Yorkers spend three times as much time commuting as residents in Cheyenne, Wyo.
  • Volunteer hours per resident are two times higher in Salt Lake City than in Miami.


Editor's Note:


6. Rasmussen: Americans Still Favor Death Penalty

Despite concerns that innocent people could be executed, a majority of Americans still favor the death penalty, a new poll reveals.

The Rasmussen Reports national survey finds that 57 percent of American adults favor the death penalty, while just 26 percent oppose it. The rest are undecided.

But support for capital punishment is down from a high of 67 percent in July 2012, shortly after the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

Men are more likely than women to support capital punishment — 67 percent of men favor it, compared to 51 percent of women.

While 59 percent of whites support capital punishment, just 31 percent of blacks favor it.

Eight in 10 Republicans support the death penalty, compared to 46 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents.

Americans are divided as to whether capital punishment deters crime, Rasmussen finds — 42 percent say it does, and 41 percent disagree.

Three-quarters of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that some people could be put to death for crimes they did not commit, including 39 percent who are "very concerned." Just 23 percent are not concerned.

Surprisingly, 27 percent of respondents in the Rasmussen survey say they are not aware if their state has or has not abolished the death penalty.

Eighteen states have banned capital punishment, most recently Maryland in 2013, while 34 states have carried out executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

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Editor's Note:


Editor's Notes:

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Saudis, Honor-Cleric, Who-Calls, US-Terrorist, Kanye Wests Obama Phone Boast, GOP Millennials Want Legal Pot, US No Longer Has Top Corporate Tax Rate, Anchorage Is Americas Hardest-Working City, Rasmussen Americans Still Favor Death Penalty
Sunday, 08 March 2015 02:49 PM
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