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Tags: Unfavorable | Views | of | SCOTUS | Feds Set Revenue Record But Still Run a Deficit | Native American Tribes Plan to Make Pot a Cash Crop | Sununu Obama Ignoring Ethnic Cleansing of Christians

Unfavorable Views of SCOTUS at record High, Feds Set Revenue Record But Still Run a Deficit

By    |   Sunday, 16 August 2015 03:17 PM EDT

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Unfavorable Views of Supreme Court at Record High
2. Native American Tribes Plan to Make Pot a Cash Crop
3. Sununu: Obama Ignoring 'Ethnic Cleansing' of Christians
4. Chicago's Sales Tax Now Nation's Highest
5. Ethel Rosenberg's Sons Ask Obama for Pardon
6. Feds Set Another Record for Revenue — Still Run a Deficit

1. Unfavorable Views of Supreme Court at Record High

Following recent Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and same-sex marriage, unfavorable opinions of the court have soared to their highest point since Pew Research Center began polling on SCOTUS in 1985.

Currently, 49 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the court, while 43 percent view it unfavorably — the highest level recorded since 1985, when 28 percent viewed it unfavorably and 64 percent had a favorable opinion.

And opinions about the court have never been more politically divided, the Pew survey found.

Just 33 percent of Republicans have a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court. That's down 17 percentage points since March, before the Obamacare and same-sex marriage decisions, while the share with an unfavorable opinion has risen from 40 percent to 61 percent since then.

Among Democrats, on the other hand, favorable views of the court have risen from 54 percent to 62 percent since March.

Pew also found that the share of the public who believe the current Supreme Court is liberal has increased from 26 percent to 36 percent since March, while those who say it is conservative has dropped from 28 percent in March to 18 percent today. The rest say it is middle-of-the-road.

While public opinion regarding the Supreme Court has changed significantly since the rulings earlier this year, views on the two issues that produced those rulings have been relatively steady.

In May, before the court's ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, 57 percent favored same-sex marriage and 39 percent opposed it. Currently, 54 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage and 39 percent are opposed.

Back in February, 45 percent approved of the Affordable Care Act and 53 percent disapproved. Now 48 percent approve and 49 percent disapprove.

Other findings from the Pew poll include:

  • 70 percent of Americans agree that in deciding cases, the Supreme Court justices "are often influenced by their own political views," and just 24 percent say they "generally put their political views aside."
  • 56 percent say the court should consider the views of most Americans when deciding a case, while 39 percent say they should not be influenced by public opinion.
  • A slight majority, 54 percent, say the court has the right amount of power, 36 percent think it has too much power, and 7 percent say it has too little power. Among conservatives, 49 percent say it has too much power, compared to 19 percent of liberals.

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2. Native American Tribes Plan to Make Pot a Cash Crop

Native American tribes are seeking to cash in on their reservations' unique legal status — and the spreading legalization of marijuana — by growing cannabis on their tribal lands.

Four states and Washington, D.C., already permit the recreational use of pot, with more expected to follow, and 23 other states allow marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes.

This is encouraging as many as 200 American Indian tribes to consider marijuana cultivation on their land, The Telegraph reported.

Native American reservations' legal status has enabled tribes to reap profits from lucrative casino businesses for over two decades.

The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act authorized gambling on tribal land even if it remained illegal in the surrounding state. Casinos, bingo halls, and other gambling operations on reservations had revenue of more than $25 billion in one recent year, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

The tribes' interest in marijuana cultivation was sparked by a Department of Justice memorandum released in December that effectively gave tribes the right to grow and sell marijuana on their lands as long as they follow the same federal guidelines as states that have legalized pot.

Native Nation Events, a networking organization, is holding a conference in San Diego in September to help tribes set up viable marijuana businesses. Up to 40 percent the America's 567 federally recognized tribes are expected to attend.

The businesses would be expected to generate jobs and raise taxes to be used to support social services on tribal lands.

FoxBarry, which has worked with tribes to set up casino businesses, is now prepared to become involved in pot cultivation.

"So many tribes want to do this right now," Barry Brautman, FoxBarry's CEO, told The Telegraph.

FoxBarry Farms, along with the Denver-based United Cannabis Corp., earlier this year signed a contract to build a giant medical marijuana growing operation on the Pinoleville Pomo Nation's ranch in Northern California.

Anthony Broadman, an attorney in Oregon specializing in Native American affairs, said: "A number of seminal Supreme Court cases have established that tribes have the right to make their own laws and be ruled by them. In many cases the land is in remote areas and tribes have specialized in industries that have been heavily taxed, such as fuel and tobacco."

Marijuana cultivation, he added, "could be the next green gold rush."

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3. Sununu: Obama Ignoring 'Ethnic Cleansing' of Christians

Former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu said President Obama "seems incapable of acknowledging" the persecution of Christians in the Middle East by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.

Sununu, who served in the George H.W. Bush administration and was also governor of New Hampshire, comes from a Greek Orthodox family with roots in the Middle East.

He told CNS News that Obama appears to be making "a deliberate effort not to give any credibility to the fact that this is a religious ethnic cleansing on the part of ISIS and the fanatics in that part of the world.

"For some reason he seems incapable of acknowledging the reality of the crisis.

"I just can't understand why the plight of the Christians in the Middle East should not be the number one human rights issue that [those in the administration] worry about today. We're talking about people's lives being lost, lives being destroyed, and it's not just a dozen or two dozen or a few hundred, it's hundreds of thousands of people that are being forced out of their homes and thousands of people that are actually being killed."

Congress passed legislation last year calling for the appointment of a special envoy to address the plight of Christians in Syria and Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations.

"Unfortunately, President Obama has not appointed that envoy," Sununu said. "The first step at this point should be to really appoint that envoy to show how serious we are about the issue."

Tens of thousands of Christians have been driven from their homes in Iraq alone since ISIS began its Islamist campaign in the region.

After ISIS militants seized control of the city of Mosul in Iraq last year, they demanded that Assyrian Christians there convert to Islam, pay tribute, or face execution. The Christians fled.

Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod of the Syriac Orthodox church said last year that the ISIS persecution of Christians had risen to the level of "genocide."

One of the most graphic examples of ISIS' anti-Christian persecution came in February with the videotaped beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. A caption in the video referred to the victims as "people of the cross."

Sununu said: "The indifference to this problem is underscored by the president's inability to utter the word 'Christian' in condemning the killing of those 21 Coptic Christians." Obama referred to them only as "Egyptians," Sununu noted.

He added: "This is a problem that not only calls for American leadership in drawing attention to the problem but American leadership in gathering some international resources to meet the plight of these immigrants, these people leaving these countries to other areas."

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4. Chicago's Sales Tax Now Nation's Highest

Commissioners in Cook County, Illinois, have voted to raise the sales tax rate to a level that makes its county seat, Chicago, the major U.S. city with the highest sales tax rate.

Commissioners approved a 1 percent increase, which on January 1, 2016, will bump the sales tax rate in Chicago from 9.25 percent to 10.25 percent, including state, county, and city sales taxes.

Currently the highest sales tax rate in major cities is 10 percent, in three Alabama cities — Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile.

The rate is 9.75 percent in Fayetteville, Ark., and 9.5 percent in Santa Monica, Calif., and Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.

Four cities in Tennessee have a rate of 9.25 percent — Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Knoxville.

Tennessee has no individual income tax — although it does tax interest and dividends — and "leans heavily on the sales tax as a source of state revenue," the Tax Foundation noted.

Portland, Ore., and Anchorage, Alaska, have no sales tax.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said the rise in the sales tax rate will generate about an additional $474 million a year to help bail out the pension system for county workers, Fortune reported.

The retirement fund has a shortfall of $6.5 billion, and that figure is growing by $360 million a year.

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5. Ethel Rosenberg's Sons Ask Obama for Pardon

The two sons of Ethel Rosenberg have written an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times asking President Obama to acknowledge that their mother was wrongly convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage in 1953.

Ethel Rosenberg and her husband Julius were accused of plotting to turn over sensitive atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union and were executed in the electric chair.

Noting that "theirs was the most sensational case of the McCarthy period," Rosenberg's sons Michael and Robert Meeropol stated in their August 10 Op-Ed: "We now call on President Obama to acknowledge that Ethel Rosenberg was wrongly convicted and executed."

In July, grand jury testimony from Ethel's brother David Greenglass, who died last year, was made public.

"The newly released transcript demonstrates conclusively that our mother was prosecuted primarily for refusing to turn on our father," the brothers wrote.

Greenglass was an army machinist working at the weapons installation in Los Alamos, N.M., and a committed communist. He testified at the Rosenbergs' trial that his sister had been present at meetings where he shared nuclear intelligence with Julius Rosenberg and that Ethel typed up Greenglass' handwritten notes containing nuclear secrets.

But Greenglass' earlier grand jury testimony, the transcript shows, made no mention of any such meeting with Ethel.

Greenglass, who served 10 years in prison as a co-conspirator, later told a journalist that he had lied about his sister in an effort to protect his wife Ruth, who "many suspect was actually the typist," the Jewish Telegraphic Service disclosed.

The Meeropol brothers noted in their Op-Ed that KGB records of contacts with the Rosenbergs indicated that while Julius had a code name, Liberal, Ethel did not.

The Rosenbergs' sons were six and 10 years old when they were orphaned and they were later adopted by Abel and Anne Meeropol.

"Our mother was not a spy," they wrote. "The government held her life hostage to coerce our father to talk, and when that failed, it extracted false statements to secure her wrongful execution.

"The apparent rationale for such action — that national security demanded it during a time of international crisis — has disturbing implications in post 9/11 America. It is never too late to correct an egregious injustice. We call on the government to formally exonerate Ethel Rosenberg."

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6. Feds Set Another Record for Revenue — Still Run a Deficit

The Insider Report disclosed in May that federal tax revenues hit an all-time record of $1.891 trillion in the first seven months of the fiscal year.

Now the Treasury Department reports that revenue has also set a record for the first 10 months of this fiscal year — but the federal government still managed to run a deficit.

Each month the Treasury Department publishes the government's "total receipts," including revenue from individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, social insurance, and retirement taxes including Social Security and Medicare taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, excise taxes, estate and gift taxes, customs duties, and "miscellaneous receipts."

From Oct. 1, 2014, through the end of July, the federal government took in $2.672 trillion. That is an increase, in constant 2015 dollars, of about $183.3 billion from the revenue Treasury raked in during the first 10 months of fiscal 2014.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, seasonally adjusted employment in the U.S., including both full-time and part-time workers, was 148,840,000. That means federal tax revenues collected so far in this fiscal year equal $17,955 for every person in the country with a job.

In 2012, President Obama and Congress enacted legislation that increased taxes — raising the top tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, boosting the top tax rate on dividends and capital gains and phasing out personal exemptions and deductions for high earners.

Nevertheless, the federal government's tax collections in the 10 months fell short of its spending. The government spent $3.137 trillion during those months, thereby running up a deficit of $465.53 billion in that period.

The largest share of revenue came from individual income taxes, $1.27 trillion, followed by "Social Insurance and Retirement Receipts," $845 billion.

The largest outlay was for the Department of Health and Human Services, $874.7 billion, including $308.4 billion for the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund (Medicare) and $295 billion in grants to states for Medicaid.

Other large outlays included $789.7 billion for the Social Security Administration and $471.9 billion for the Department of Defense.

Interest on Treasury Debt Securities amounted to $350.6 billion over the 10 months, and it is projected to cost $431.5 billion for the full fiscal year. That is greater than the total costs of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, and Labor, plus the Environmental Protection Agency — combined.

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Insider Report from Newsmax.comHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories): 1. Unfavorable Views of Supreme Court at Record High 2. Native American Tribes Plan to Make Pot a Cash Crop 3. Sununu: Obama Ignoring 'Ethnic Cleansing' of Christians 4. Chicago's Sales Tax Now...
Unfavorable, Views, of, SCOTUS, Feds Set Revenue Record But Still Run a Deficit, Native American Tribes Plan to Make Pot a Cash Crop, Sununu Obama Ignoring Ethnic Cleansing of Christians, Chicagos Sales Tax Now Nations Highest, Ethel Rosenbergs Sons Ask Obama for Pardon
Sunday, 16 August 2015 03:17 PM
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