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Tags: Snowden | Leak | Solves | Assassination | Minorities Dominate 364 Counties | Honeybee Crisis a False Alarm | Poll No Deal With Iran If Congress Wont Approve

Snowden Leak Solves Assassination Mystery; Minorities Dominate 364 Counties

By    |   Sunday, 19 July 2015 03:55 PM EDT

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Minorities a Majority in 364 U.S. Counties
2. Honeybee 'Crisis' Now Seen as False Alarm
3. Snowden Leak Solves Assassination Mystery
4. Poll: No Deal With Iran If Congress Won't Approve
5. Colorado Best for Energy Costs — Connecticut Worst
6. China Fires at Tibetan Protesters Following Monk's Death

1. Minorities a Majority in 364 U.S. Counties

An analysis of 2014 Census Bureau figures discloses that as of last summer, 364 U.S. counties, independent cities and other county-level equivalents did not have non-Hispanic white majorities — 11.6 percent of the total and the most in modern history.

That's more than twice the level in 1980, when non-Hispanic whites were majorities in all but 171 out of 3,141 counties, 5.4 percent of the total, according to the analysis by the Pew Research Center.

In 1990, non-Hispanic whites comprised the majority in all but 186 counties, or 5.6 percent of the total.

Since then the Hispanic population in the U.S. has more than doubled, from 22.4 million to 55.4 million, and last year 94 counties had Hispanic majorities.

The county with the largest Hispanic majority is Miami-Dade in Florida, where 66 percent of the 2.7 million population are Hispanic.

But most Hispanic-majority counties are in the Southwest and West: 60 are in Texas, 12 are in New Mexico, and 11 are in California. There are several others in Florida, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, and Kansas.

All but two of the 93 counties with a black majority are in states of the old Confederacy, with the most in Mississippi, 25, according to Pew.

Native Americans or Alaska Natives — the two are combined into one group for census purposes — are the majority in 26 counties, most of which overlap with reservations in Arizona, New Mexico, and the Great Plains states.

Last year there were 151 counties that had no racial or ethnic majority, almost all of them in the South, Southwest, or California.

Non-Hispanic whites form less than the majority in four states, and in none of those four does a single racial or ethnic group have a majority.

In California, 38.6 percent of the population are Hispanics and 38.5 percent are non-Hispanic whites.

Non-Hispanic whites are the plurality in Texas (43.5 percent). Hispanics are the plurality in New Mexico (47.7 percent), Asians in Hawaii (36.4 percent), and blacks in the District of Columbia (47.4 percent).

Editor's Note:


2. Honeybee 'Crisis' Now Seen as False Alarm

In 2006 commercial beekeepers began reporting unusually high rates of honeybee die-offs over the winter, blaming a variety of factors for the decline.

Since then the media have warned of a "beepocalypse" threatening America's food supply. In 2013, NPR said bee declines could bring "a crisis point for crops," and a Time magazine cover looked ahead at a "world without bees" that are responsible for pollinating one-third of the crops Americans eat.

But here's the buzz now: There are more honeybee colonies in the U.S. today than in 2006. Data released in March by the Department of Agriculture showed that the number of honeybee colonies is at a 20-year high, and U.S. honey production is at a 10-year high.

"Since colony collapse disorder began in 2006, there has been virtually no detectable effect on the total number of honeybee colonies in the United States, nor has there been any significant impact on food prices or production," according to the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), a Montana-based non-profit environmental think tank, which attributes the industry's health to the "savvy" of commercial beekeepers.

The beekeepers have been actively rebuilding their colonies, often by splitting healthy colonies into multiple hives and buying new queen bees from commercial breeders.

The fees beekeepers charge farmers to provide pollination services have risen for a few crops, but the higher fees have helped beekeepers offset the cost of rebuilding their hives.

According to the USDA, the honeybee industry thrived last year, with the number of colonies rising to 2.74 million from 2.64 million in 2013. The honey yield per colony also rose, from 56.6 pounds to 65.1 pounds, and production increased from 149 million pounds to 178 million.

Yet the Obama administration last year announced the formation of a task force to develop a "federal strategy" to promote honeybees and other pollinators. Last month the task force disclosed a plan aimed at reducing honeybee-colony losses to "sustainable" levels. It calls for more than $82 million in federal funding to promote pollinator health.

PERC observed: "Somehow, without a national strategy to help them, beekeepers have maintained their colonies and continued to provide the pollination services our modern agricultural system demands.

"With U.S. honeybee colonies now at a 20-year high, you have to wonder: Is our national pollination strategy a solution in search of a crisis?"

Editor's Note:


3. Snowden Leak Solves Assassination Mystery

A National Security Agency document leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden finally reveals who was responsible for the 2008 assassination of a top Syrian general, Muhammad Suleiman.

According to the NSA document, Israeli naval commandos infiltrated the waters near the Syrian coastal city of Tartus on Aug. 1, 2008, while Suleiman was entertaining guests at a dinner party at his seaside villa.

Members of Israel's elite amphibious special force Shayetet 13 killed Suleiman with shots to the head and neck.

"If true, the leak puts to rest seven years of speculation that abounded with theories, including postulations that implicated competing figures within the Syrian government," the Jerusalem Post reported.

Sources for The Intercept, a site created by journalist Glenn Greenwald to report on Snowden's leaks, claimed that the U.S. has long been able to obtain information from within Israel's espionage circles.

Israel had several potential reasons for targeting Suleiman, a close aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The brigadier general was reportedly charged with the development and security of Syria's Al Kibar nuclear facility, which was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in September 2007.

The more likely reason was Suleiman's apparent role in the arming and training of Lebanon's Hezbollah by Iran.

According to another leaked document, this one from the U.S. State Department, the Syrian government discovered some $80 million stashed in the general's home after his death.

Assad "was said to be devastated by the discovery," according to the document. The Syrian president, wary of Suleiman's treachery, then "redirected the investigation from solving his murder to finding out how the general had acquired so much money."

It remains unclear if Suleiman had embezzled the money for personal use, or if it was related to Tehran's funding of the Lebanese Shiite militia.

But Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah told journalists last year that the assassination was "linked" to Suleiman's role in the 2006 conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, the Post reported.

"For [the Israelis] it’s not only payback, but mitigates future operations," one retired U.S. intelligence officer who worked with Israeli officials, possibly at NSA headquarters in Maryland, told the Post. "They will take a target of opportunity if it presents itself."

Editor's Note:


4. Poll: No Deal With Iran If Congress Won't Approve

Americans overwhelmingly agree that the deal negotiated by the U.S. and several other countries regarding Iran's nuclear program needs to be approved by Congress — and one-third say Iran is "not at all likely" to uphold the deal, a new poll reveals.

Many in Congress have expressed opposition to the deal, and President Obama has vowed to use his veto power if necessary to gain its approval.

But when respondents in a Rasmussen Reports survey were asked if any agreement the Obama administration makes with Iran requires the approval of Congress, 65 percent said it does, while just 18 percent said it does not and 17 percent were not sure.

Among Republicans, 78 percent believe the deal requires the approval of Congress, compared to 50 percent of Democrats.

Overall, more Americans oppose the deal than support it.

Rasmussen asked 1,000 likely voters: "The United States has reached an agreement with Iran that ends some economic sanctions on that country in exchange for verifiable cutbacks in Iran's nuclear weapons program. Do you favor or oppose such a deal?"

The result: 42 percent oppose the deal, 39 percent favor it, and the rest are not sure.

Six in 10 Democrats favor the deal and 23 percent oppose it. Among Republicans, just 20 percent favor it and 59 percent oppose it.

Asked how likely it is that Iran will uphold its end of the deal, 33 percent said "not at all likely" and 27 percent said "not very likely," while 27 percent said "somewhat likely and just 7 percent said "very likely."

Respondents were also asked if the deal would make the Middle East safer or put it more at risk. Only 22 percent think it will make the Middle East safer, 42 percent think it will put it more at risk, and 24 percent believe it will have no impact on the safety and security of the region.

Editor's Note:


5. Colorado Best for Energy Costs — Connecticut Worst

About 7.3 percent of the average consumer's total annual income goes to energy costs, but those costs range from $244 a month in Colorado to $410 in Connecticut, according to an analysis by WalletHub.

The personal finance website used data from several sources, including the EPA and U.S. Energy Information Administration, to compile the rankings using eight key metrics: the average consumption and price of electricity, of natural gas, motor fuel, and home heating oil.

Consumption and price differ because residents in some states use far more energy than in others.

Colorado is No. 5 (fifth lowest) in monthly electricity costs, No. 38 in natural gas costs, No. 6 in motor fuel costs, and No. 13 in monthly home heating oil costs.

While Colorado has the lowest monthly energy costs among the 50 states at $244, the District of Columbia actually has a lower total, $223.

After Colorado, Washington is No. 2 at $245 a month, followed by Oregon ($261), Arizona ($268), and New Mexico ($274).

Connecticut has the highest monthly energy costs, $410, while other high-cost states include Wyoming ($355), Massachusetts ($352), Alaska ($349), and Rhode Island ($346).

Illinois has the lowest monthly electricity costs, $87, and Hawaii has the highest, $179. But the price of electricity is lowest in Washington.

Florida has the lowest average monthly natural gas costs, just $3, while the highest is in Michigan, $66. The lowest natural gas price is in North Dakota.

For monthly motor fuel costs, Rhode Island is lowest at $95 and Wyoming highest at $203. The price of motor fuel is lowest in South Carolina.

Texas has the lowest average monthly costs of home heating oil, less than one penny, and Connecticut has the highest, $110. Heating oil prices are lowest in Nebraska.

Editor's Note:


6. China Fires at Tibetan Protesters Following Monk's Death

Police in China fired at a large group of Tibetan protesters after revered Buddhist monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died in prison.

The protesters had gathered outside government offices in Delek's home county in Sichuan province, and about 20 were injured, according to the British-based Free Tibet group.

A report from The Independent asserted that the police fired "into the air, beat protesters, and used tear gas."

The U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia also reported that the police fired on the protesters, who were angry at a government decision to cremate Delek's remains rather than give him a traditional Tibetan burial.

Other protests erupted in Sichuan's capital, Chengdu, where Delek was jailed before his death on July 12 at age 65, AFP reported.

Delek was arrested in April 2002 and accused of being involved in a bomb attack in Chengdu's central square. He was sentenced to death in December 2002, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2005 and later reduced to 20 years.

Delek and his supporters insisted he was innocent. The United States, European Union, and international rights groups had called for his release, and 40,000 supporters had signed a petition in 2009 demanding a retrial.

The cause of Delek's death was unclear, but a rights group had said he was suffering from a heart condition.

"The fact that he was not even allowed medical parole and the last wish of followers to see him reflects continuing hardline policies of the Chinese government," said Lobsang Sangay, head of the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile, the Central Tibetan Administration.

New York-based Students for a Free Tibet attributed his medical condition to "over 13 years of unjust imprisonment and torture," ABC News reported.

Delek's family was last allowed to visit him in prison in November 2013. Several days before his death, officials told relatives they would finally be allowed to visit him, and two sisters traveled to Chengdu to see him, The New York Times reported.

But their appointment was repeatedly postponed. On Sunday, they were informed that he had died.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951 and has been accused of trying to eradicate its Buddhist-based culture through political and religious repression and large-scale immigration by Han Chinese.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled Tibet after an uprising in 1959 and has been living in exile in India.

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Editor's Note:


Editor's Notes:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Minorities a Majority in 364 U.S. Counties 2. Honeybee 'Crisis' Now Seen as False Alarm 3. Snowden Leak Solves Assassination Mystery 4. Poll: No Deal With Iran If Congress Won't Approve 5. Colorado Best for...
Snowden, Leak, Solves, Assassination, Minorities Dominate 364 Counties, Honeybee Crisis a False Alarm, Poll No Deal With Iran If Congress Wont Approve, Colorado Best for Energy Costs -- Connecticut Worst, China Fires at Tibetan Protesters Following Monks Death
Sunday, 19 July 2015 03:55 PM
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