Thursday, April 28, 2016

Trump’s crushing wins put him in a commanding role

Donald Trump swept all five Northeastern primaries Tuesday, cementing his position as the most likely Republican presidential nominee and giving him a big surge of delegates and energy heading into what could be a final showdown next week with Ted Cruz in Indiana.

Trump won by comfortable margins in each of the five East Coast states — Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland — and is now in a commanding role with just 10 states left to vote.

“I consider myself the presumptive nominee, absolutely,” Trump said from Trump Tower in Manhattan. “When the boxer knocks out the other boxer, you don’t have to wait around for a decision. That’s what’s happening.”

Trump has won 12 out of the last 15 primary contests, capped by his recent six-state run that started last week with New York. His sweep Tuesday was so dominant that all the races were called within 40 minutes after polls had closed. His margins were on track to be higher than they have been in previous contests, with about 60 percent of the vote in early results.

Trump — who earlier in the evening attended a gala in New York sponsored by Time magazine that honored the world’s most influential people (Trump made the list) — essentially declared himself as the winner of the race.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s over,” he said, calling for the Republican Party to unify around him. “Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich should really get out of the race. They have no pathway.”



Kansas Required Work for Food Stamps. Here’s What Happened

Abraham Lincoln once said, “No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive.”

Over the past several years, the number of Americans on food stamps has soared. In particular, since 2009, the number of “able-bodied-adults” without dependents receiving food stamps more than doubled nationally. Part of this increase is due to a federal rule that allowed states to waive food stamps’ modest work requirement. However, states such as Kansas and Maine chose to reinstate work requirements. Comparing and contrasting the two approaches provides powerful new evidence about the effectiveness of work.

According to a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability, before Kansas instituted a work requirement, 93 percent of food stamp recipients were in poverty, with 84 percent in severe poverty. Few of the food stamp recipients claimed any income. Only 21 percent were working at all, and two-fifths of those working were working fewer than 20 hours per week.

Once work requirements were established, thousands of food stamp recipients moved into the workforce, promoting income gains and a decrease in poverty. Forty percent of the individuals who left the food stamp ranks found employment within three months, and about 60 percent found employment within a year. They saw an average income increase of 127 percent. Half of those who left the rolls and are working have earnings above the poverty level. Even many of those who stayed on food stamps saw their income increase significantly.

Work programs provide opportunities such as job training and employment search services. For example, in Kansas, workfare helped one man, who was unemployed for four years and on food stamps, find employment in the publishing industry where he now earns $45,000 annually. Another Kansan who was also previously unemployed and dependent on food stamps for over three years, now has an annual income of $34,000.

Furthermore, with the implementation of the work requirement in Kansas, the caseload dropped by 75 percent. Previously, Kansas was spending $5.5 million per month on food stamp benefits for able-bodied adults; it now spends $1.2 million.

Maine is another powerful example in favor of work over dependency. Similarly to Kansas, Maine saw a major decline in its caseload after instituting a work requirement. Within the first three months after Maine’s work policy went into effect, its caseload of able-bodied adults receiving food stamps plunged by 80 percent, falling from 13,332 recipients in December 2014 to 2,678 in March 2015.

Providing assistance to help those in need does not have to be a one-way handout. According to a Heritage Foundation survey, Americans overwhelmingly agree that able-bodied adults receiving welfare should work. However, very few of the federal government’s 80 means-tested welfare programs require recipients to work for benefits.

One of the best ways to ensure that welfare does not become a trap is to initiate reform based on the principles of work and personal responsibility. As the examples of Kansas and Maine show, good public policy can help encourage individuals towards self-sufficiency and better lives.



International Chutzpah: Russia, US to trade away Israel’s Golan Heights

As part of a possible settlement of the Syrian civil war, the United States and Russia are planning to offer a return of the Golan Heights to Syria.

Wow — talk about chutzpah!  Of course neither Russia nor the US “owns” the Golan Heights. Israel does.

And that land, captured from Syria in the 1967 war, is indeed an imposing “heights” from which Israel’s enemies have attacked Israel’s people with artillery. See the map below.* In Carol’s book, you can read the history of the Golan Heights and how Israel’s enemies have used it militarily.

Small wonder Israel intends to maintain its hard-won sovereignty over this strategic piece of land.

Yet Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin have instructed John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov to offer it up, as if it were theirs to give, as part of some hoped-for settlement.

Why doesn’t Obama throw in the Brooklyn Bridge while he’s at it?



No 9/11 for China

TWO men who allegedly tried to hijack a plane in China were beaten to death by passengers and crew. The Global Times newspaper reported that two of the suspects died in hospital from injuries they suffered during the ensuing fight with passengers and crew on board.

The men were part of a six-strong gang involved in the foiled hijack of a Tianjin Airlines flight bound for the regional capital of Urumqi last Friday.

Just minutes after the flight took off from Hetian, southwest Xinjiang, the men, all aged between 20 and 36, stood up and announced their plans to terrified passengers. The gang reportedly broke a pair of aluminium crutches and used them to attack passengers while attempting to break into the cockpit, Hou Hanmin, a regional government spokeswoman said.

They were tackled by police and passengers who tied them up with belts before the plane, carrying 101 people, returned to the airport safely just 22 minutes later.

Hanmin added that police were still testing materials they had been carrying, thought to be explosives.

The men were reported to be Uighurs, the local Muslim ethnic minority. There have been clashes between authorities and Uighurs resentful of government controls over their religion and culture.



Nearly half of Britons pay no income tax as burden on rich increases

Proportion now similar to the USA.  "Fair"?

Almost half of Britons pay no income tax while the richest are now shouldering the biggest burden on record, a new analysis has found.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the proportion of working-age adults who do not pay income tax has risen from 34.3 per cent to 43.8 per cent, equivalent to 30million people.

Over the same period the amount of income tax paid by the richest 1 per cent has risen from 24.4 per cent to 27.5 per cent, meaning that 300,000 people pay more than a quarter of the nation's income tax.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the change has been driven by George Osborne's policies of tax cuts for low earners and hikes for those who earn the most.

Mr Osborne has repeatedly highlighted the fact that the richest pay more while those on lower incomes pay less as part of his bid to rebrand the Conservatives as the "worker's party".

Under Mr Osborne the personal allowance has risen from £6,475 to £10,600, lifting millions of people out of the basic rate of income tax entirely.

Over the same period 1.6million people have been dragged into paying the higher rate of income tax after the Chancellor repeatedly froze the threshold for the 40p rate.

Labour introduced the 50p rate of income tax for higher earners, which Mr Osborne cut to 45p, while pensions tax relief has also been cut significantly.

The IFS said: "The recent increase in the share of tax coming from the top 1% of taxpayers was driven by a series of policy changes.

"Some, notably the large increase in the personal tax allowance, took many low earners out of tax while also reducing payments for lower to middle taxpayers.

"While the personal allowance was increased, the higher-rate threshold was cut.

"Meanwhile, those on the highest incomes did not gain at all from the increase in the personal allowance, since a new policy introduced in 2010 means that it is gradually withdrawn once incomes rise above £100,000.

"In addition, big cuts in pension tax relief and the increase in the tax rate for those earning over £150,000 will have raised more revenue from the highest earners."

The IFS said that the increased burden on the rich is unlikely to "unwind" in future as the Conservatives have pledged to increase the personal allowance to £12,500.

It said that Mr Osborne's pledge to raise the threshold for the higher rate of tax to £50,000 will only "hold constant" the number of people paying the 40p rate.



Judge Okays North Carolina Voter ID

If Democrats can gain an advantage at the ballot box by supporting a certain voting policy, they will, whether it be illegal, unconstitutional or ethically shady. On Monday, a federal judge on Monday dealt a blow to proponents of voter fraud by declaring the changes to the voting law that North Carolina enacted in 2013 did not violate the civil rights of minority citizens in the state.

The Left had argued that minority voters would be disproportionately disadvantaged by a law requiring voters to show one of eight acceptable kinds of ID before filling out a ballot, eliminating same-day voter registration and reducing early voting periods. But these are simply common-sense verifications that preserve the integrity of elections. North Carolina is a contested state, with the state leaning Democrat by the thinnest of margins, so they need all the help from illegitimate voters they can get. But Judge Thomas Schroeder wrote that North Carolina’s law was not unusual compared to other states' voting laws and “North Carolina has provided legitimate state interests for its voter ID requirement and electoral system.”

Because it’s a presidential election year and because of North Carolina’s contested nature, this case is almost certain to head to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which is based in Richmond, Virginia. Speaking of Virginia, the commonwealth’s Democrat governor unilaterally granted voting rights to 200,000 former felons through an executive order. Again, whatever it takes for votes, Democrats will do it.



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