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Weiner's 'Hot Supermodels' Bill; America's Dirtiest City

By    |   Sunday, 19 June 2011 02:50 PM EDT

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Forbes: Hispanics Won't Bring Obama Victory in 2012
2. Weiner Sponsored Bill to Import 'Hot Supermodels'
3. America's U.N. Funding Decried as 'Out of Proportion'
4. Unneeded Rail Project Extorts State Subsidies
5. New Orleans Rated America's Dirtiest City
6. We Heard: Sarah Palin, Joe Lockhart

1. Forbes: Hispanics Won't Bring Obama Victory in 2012

Much has been made of the importance of the Hispanic vote in helping elect Democrats, which President Obama sought to solidify with his recent trip to Puerto Rico.

But Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, points to several factors that weigh against Obama and the Democrats counting on Hispanics to save them in next year's elections.

In an article for Forbes magazine headlined "Hispanics Won't Save Obama in 2012," Matthews notes that according to the 2010 Census, 16 percent of America's 308.7 million people were of Hispanic or Latino origin.

Also, more than half of the growth in the total U.S. population between 2000 and 2010 was due to the increase in the nation's Hispanic population, and 67 percent of Hispanics reportedly voted for Obama in 2008.

"The Obama campaign thinks that growth could swing important states to the president," Matthews writes, but that thinking is "wishful and deluded" for these reasons:

• Only 10 million Hispanics voted in the 2008 election, 9 percent of all voters. The Hispanic population is younger than the general population, and younger people are less likely to vote. Plus, a large percentage of Hispanics aren't old enough to vote. Matthews also points out that it's not known how many of the country's 50 million Hispanics are citizens eligible to vote, since the Census counts people, not voters.

• Hispanics live disproportionately in large-population blue states where their votes likely won't influence the outcome. California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey will probably deliver their electoral votes to the Democrat in the next presidential election with or without the Hispanic vote. Similarly, the Hispanics likely won't take Texas and Arizona out of the red column.

• Hispanics are diverse. Puerto Ricans living on the mainland tend to vote Democratic, while Cuban-Americans tend to vote Republican. The largest Puerto Rican population is in New York, a solid blue state, and in swing-state Florida, Cubans outnumber Puerto Ricans by 400,000.

• Hispanics are more affected by a bad economy. With unemployment high among Hispanics, "those Hispanics who can vote may decide that Obama has had his chance," Matthews observes.

He concludes: "There is little reason to think, both for demographic reasons and the sour economy, that Hispanics will provide Obama with a victory in 2012."

Editor's Note:

2. Weiner Sponsored Bill to Import 'Hot Supermodels'

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who got into hot water by "modeling" for sexually suggestive photos he sent to several women online, introduced legislation to make it easier for foreign fashion models to work in the United States.

The New York Democrat co-sponsored the "Establishment of New Fashion Model Nonimmigrant Classification" bill in the House in November 2005.

The legislation was designed to facilitate entry into the country by "a fashion model who is of distinguished merit and ability and who is seeking to enter the United States temporarily to perform fashion modeling services."

In 2008, when Weiner's romance with wife-to-be Huma Abedin was coming to light, the Washington Post's Reliable Source column noted that Abedin had modeled for photos in Vogue magazine the year before and said:

"Model? Vogue? That sounds familiar. Weiner's the one who introduced what we call the 'hot supermodel bill' . . . that would establish a separate classification for fashion models and make it easier for those gorgeous creatures to work in the U.S.A. — in, say, Weiner's district."

Until he bowed to pressure and resigned on Thursday, Weiner represented a congressional district in New York City, the nation's fashion capital.

Weiner wed Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in July 2010. His fashion model bill languished in committee.

Editor's Note:

3. America's U.N. Funding Decried as 'Out of Proportion'

The United States pays 22 percent of the United Nations' regular budget. America's leading economic rival China pays just 2.6 percent.

That huge discrepancy and the United States' massive share of U.N. funding are prompting calls for other nations to shoulder more of the financial responsibility.

"As the U.S. attempts to grapple with mounting deficits and debt, organizations like the U.N. should not be spared the knife when it comes to trimming budget fat," said Tom Schatz, president of the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

"The United States is still the world's largest economy, but its share of U.N. funding is entirely out of proportion. The ramping up of other members' contributions is long overdue."

Contributions from nations are supposedly assessed according to the countries' capacity to pay.

After America's funding, the next biggest "assessed" contribution to the regular budget comes from Japan, which pays 16 percent. Among the U.N.'s remaining 190 member states, Germany contributes 8.5 percent, Britain 6.6 percent, France 6.3 percent, China 2.6 percent, and Russia 1.2 percent, according to CNS News. Most countries — including oil-rich Saudi Arabia — pay under one percent.

The United States also contributes more — some $2 billion — to U.N. peacekeeping and "voluntary contributions" to benefit the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees and other agencies. The total bill is around $6 billion.

Last month CAGW urged the U.S. to slash its contribution to the U.N. by one-quarter. The group calculated that the recommended reduction would save American taxpayers $1.6 billion a year and $7.9 billion over five years.

Republicans in the House Foreign Affairs Committee want American contributions to be linked to reforms at the world body.

The committee's chairwoman, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, is "pushing a bill designed to achieve that goal," which among other steps calls for the U.S. to withdraw from the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, CNS News Reports.

She said at a committee hearing: "We should only pay for the U.N. programs and activities that advance our interests and our values. If other countries want different things to be funded, they can pay for it themselves."

Editor's Note:

4. Unneeded Rail Project Extorts State Subsidies

The federal government is asking Iowa to provide at least $20 million in subsidies for a so-called "high-speed rail" line from Chicago to Iowa City — even though a faster, cheaper bus service is already available.

Luxury intercity bus service between the two cities, with plugs for laptop computers and free wireless high-speed Internet, takes 3 1/2 hours and costs $18. The rail service would take 5 hours and would likely cost at least $50, according to Wendell Cox, an adjunct fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

On the New Geography website, he notes: "Only in America does anyone call a train that averages 45 miles per hour 'high-speed rail.'"

Iowa would be required to provide the subsidies to match federal funding and buy trains, then spend more to operate them.

Even worse, the state funding would provide for only the first section of a planned rail line that would traverse Iowa and connect Chicago with Omaha, Neb., and in the long run this could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. The estimated cost of a similar line from Chicago to St. Louis has skyrocketed from $400 million to $4 billion.

Cox concludes: "The Federal government is again offering money it does not have to entice a state to spend money that it does not have on something it does not need."

While the Obama administration continues to focus on the need for high-speed rail, for the third year in a row intercity bus service has been the fastest growing mode of intercity travel, outpacing air and rail transportation.

New Geography observes: "The comeback of the intercity bus is noteworthy for the fact that it is taking place without government subsidies."

Editor's Note:

5. New Orleans Rated America's Dirtiest City

As if Katrina-ravaged New Orleans hasn't had enough trouble in recent years: The city has been ranked the dirtiest in America by Travel + Leisure magazine, while Salt Lake City is cited as the cleanest.

Visitors surveyed by the magazine chose Philadelphia as the second dirtiest of the 35 cities ranked, with Los Angeles, Memphis and New York City also at the bottom. Minneapolis/St. Paul and Portland, Ore., are just behind Salt Lake City as the cleanest.

The magazine also ranked the cities overall based on a variety of factors including safety, peace and quiet, weather, environmental friendliness, and people-watching.

Savannah, Ga., is top-rated overall, followed by Charleston, S.C.; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City, and Honolulu. Memphis, Tenn., is rated lowest, with Baltimore No. 34 and Los Angeles No. 33.

San Diego was cited as having the best weather, followed by Honolulu. At the bottom of the list is Minneapolis/St. Paul, along with Chicago.

For peace and quiet, visitors prefer Santa Fe, N.M., followed by Savannah. Las Vegas is last in that category, followed by New York.

One bright spot for New Orleans: The city is ranked No. 1 for people-watching. Dallas/Ft. Worth is ranked last.

Editor's Note:

6. We Heard. . .

THAT Sarah Palin's right to privacy has gotten support from one of Hollywood's most prominent couples — Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

The pair expressed disapproval of the media's voracious devouring of Palin's recently released emails from her term as Alaska governor, looking for material to skewer the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate.

"As much as I'm not a fan of Sarah Palin I find sifting through her emails repulsive and over reaching," Kutcher wrote on Twitter.

Moore tweeted: "So agree."

THAT Joe Lockhart, who served as President Bill Clinton's press secretary during his last two years in office, is joining Facebook as vice president of global communications.

Lockhart will handle corporate policy and international communications for the social networking service, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Lockhart was most recently with the communications company he founded, Glover Park Group. He will begin work at Facebook on July 15.

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Editor's Note:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Forbes: Hispanics Won't Bring Obama Victory in 2012 2. Weiner Sponsored Bill to Import 'Hot Supermodels' 3. America's U.N. Funding Decried as 'Out of Proportion' 4. Unneeded Rail Project Extorts State...
Weiners,Hot,Supermodels,Bill,New Orleans,Americas Dirtiest City,Hispanics,Obama,Rail Project,Sarah Palin,Joe Lockhart
Sunday, 19 June 2011 02:50 PM
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