Category Archives: News

Kernels – Wednesday, December 2, 2015

cornfieldkernels

Welcome to the latest edition of Kernels From the Cornfield – No Husks, No Hulls, No Shucks!

News with a dash of commentary to spice up your fare for Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015.

1. Terrorists Attack? – At press time, San Bernardino, California is the site of what may be a terrorist attack by at least three gunmen, which has already resulted in the shooting of over 20 people.

Authorities now report at least 14 were killed and 14 wounded.

Is this the “imminent” attack that the US of A has been waiting to occur?

The mayhem took place at or near a facility which works with persons with disabilities, some severe.

The shooters apparently escaped, but left behind some mysterious packages. Reportedly, the gunmen took off in a black SUV.

This is a breaking story and still developing.

Thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families.

On a related note, earlier today the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was briefly shutdown after a report of a gunman on campus.

It turned out to be a false call.

2. Friend or Foe? – There is increasing questions as to Turkey’s true allegiance.

Is the nation a friend or foe in the fight with the Islamic State?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the government of President Recep Erdogan as facilitating the flow of money to the caliphate by buying oil from the jihadists.

The US and other NATO members, of which Turkey is a part, question why Turkey is not agreeing to a no-fly zone and safe zone along its border with Syria. There are also those who point to Turkey’s reticence in allowing the US and coalition forces to use bases in the Asia Minor country for sorties to strike terrorists in both Syria and Iraq.

3. NATO Grows – The tiny, former Yugoslavian province now nation of Montenegro was invited to be a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization today – Russia is not happy.

The organization was born at the start of the Cold War as a defense organization to respond in the event that the former Soviet Union tried to invade European countries beyond its sphere of influence.

NATO claims that the expansion to include Montenegro was purely for defensive purposes. Russia claims it was an act to goad the country because of its annexation of Crimea and ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

More on the NATO invite: http://news.yahoo.com/nato-invites-montenegro-become-29th-member-alliance-073612102.html

4. Free at Last – Some 900 hostages held by the world’s #1 most lethal terrorist group, Boko Haram, were rescued by multinational troops.

More than 100 of the terrorists holding the hostages were killed.

Those freed were being held and trained to be suicide bombers, thieves and fighters by their captors.

Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Benin forces swept in to various jihadists camps over two three days, November 27 through November 29.

More information: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AF_BOKO_HARAM

5. Breaking Records – Not only did sales break the record on Black Friday and again on Cyber Monday, the number of background checks for folk purchasing guns also broke the record.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed 185,345 background checks Friday.

This was an approximate 5% increase over the 175,754 received on Black Friday 2014,” wrote Stephen Fischer, the FBI’s chief of multimedia productions. “The previous high for receipts were the 177,170 received on 12/21/2012.

6. E.Coli Strikes Again – The pesky bacteria is now hitting across the country as the Food & Drug Administration is recalling products that may be tainted with celery hosting e.coli.

In 16 states impacted, 19 people in seven states have been sickened by the bacteria.

Affected stores include: 7-Eleven, King Soopers, Raley’s, Save Mart, Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Starbucks, Target, Walmart and Sam’s Club.

The products in which the celery was used include: sandwiches, wraps, vegetable trays, cornbread stuffing.

7. ‘Founders‘ – MTV has dubbed the upcoming generation, “The Founders“.

Per the network, the generation, more tech, mobile and computer savvy than any previous generation will rebuild society for a new age.

And what was wrong with the world before all this social media and lack of personal interaction?

8. OOPs! – Remember back in 2008 when then Senator Barack Obama promised if he were elected President of the US of A he would shut the doors on Gitmo?

Remember how even in his re-election bid, sitting President Obama promised he would, before he left office, close Guantanamo Bay?

The White House has announced now that it is impractical and impossible to close the prison where some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists have been or are being held.

Why?

It will cost too much.

9. Moon Moods – We have all heard the stories from people who work in emergency rooms about how the loonies come out when there is a full moon.

Those stories may have some basis in fact.

Here are five ways the moon can impact your health from Prevention Magazine:

a. You toss and turn all night
b. You feel out of sorts
c. It stirs up your blood
d. It puts you into labor
e. It gives you seizures

The full skivvy: http://www.prevention.com/health/how-the-moon-may-impact-your-health

10. Rising Healthcare Costs – Last year, healthcare costs soared higher than any time over the past seven years.

One of the reasons – you guessed it, the Affordable Care Act.

Spending increased at a faster rate in 2014 than in 2013 for almost all major payers and services,” said Anne B. Martin, an economist at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

But wasn’t the Affordable Care Act (which is far from affordable) supposed to result in less costs for Americans?

Dig in here: http://www.ibtimes.com/health-care-spending-grows-its-fastest-rate-seven-years-fueled-insurance-coverage-2208488

That’s what caught my attention this Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015.

Tune in tomorrow for another edition of Kernels From The Cornfield.

I am Mark Ivy
Good day!

Kernels – Monday, November 30, 2015

cornfieldkernelsWelcome to the latest edition of Kernels From the Cornfield – No Husks, No Hulls, No Shucks!

News with a dash of commentary to spice up your fare for Monday, November 30th, 2015.

1. Terror in America – It has become a weekly, if not daily, affair where someone strikes terror into the hearts of Americans.

It is not limited to a single geographic location. It does not matter if the area is urban or rural or somewhere in between.

And no, I am not talking about jihadists bent on the destruction of the “Great Satan”, the US of A.

I am talking about the senseless killings that take place, sometimes in mass and sometimes one at a time.

So it can be said that the gunman who killed three and injured nine others in Colorado last week was a terrorist. He kept the community on edge for hours. People feared for their lives.

The same can be said on our city streets in places like Chicago, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles.

Read my thoughts: An Act of Terror

2. Special Students Concern – Here in the Cornfield, the state is raising the bar on requirements to graduate and get that much-needed diploma in today’s increasingly more technologically savvy world.

This has students with special needs concerned that lawmakers may be making a diploma out of reach for them.

Read about it here: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/11/30/457141663/in-indiana-raising-the-bar-raises-questions-about-special-education

3. It’s the Climate, Stupid – President Barack Obama and nearly another 150 world leaders are meeting in Paris to tackle one of the thorniest issues facing not just one country, but the entire world – climate change.

The Week has a nice synopsis of what the conference is all about. It answers these questions:

a. What is the goal of the conference?
b. Why didn’t nations act earlier?
c. How so?
d. Who could ruin the deal?
e. Is 2 degrees a lost cause?
f. What then?
g. Hacking our planet’s atmosphere

Get answers here: http://theweek.com/articles/590856/paris-climate-summit-brief-guide

AFP presents the key issues:

a. – Mitigation – All countries agree that greenhouse-gas emissions which drive warming must be curbed. But by how much?
b. – Fairness – The 1992 UNFCCC charter enshrines the principle that rich countries — historically responsible for warming — should do more to fix it.
c. – Money – One of the few concrete decisions to come out of the 2009 UN climate conference in Copenhagen was a pledge from rich economies to muster $100 billion (93 billion euros) a year in financial support for poor countries from 2020.
d. – Review – The proposed Paris accord will have as its backbone a roster of voluntary national pledges for reducing carbon emissions.
e. – Long-term goal – Some countries say the Paris agreement must articulate a long-term goal of decarbonising the world economy to encourage a shift in policy and investment away from fossil fuels.

4. Shutdown – The University of Illinois at Chicago closed the doors today following an online threat.

The person who posted the threat stated he would kill 16 white males.

The reason given was it was retaliation for the October, 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer. That officer is now facing a murder charge.

An arrest of a male has been made in the threat case. Details remain sketchy.

What the poster wrote: “This is my only warning. At 10AM Monday morning, I’m going to the campus quad of the University of Chicago. I will be armed with an M-4 carbine and two desert eagles, all fully loaded. I will execute approximately 16 white male students and or staff, which is the same number of time McDonald was killed.”

5. Half a Million – That’s the amount of a check deposited into a Minnesota Salvation Army bell ringer’s red kettle.

The couple who made the donation has a history of donations and prefers to remain anonymous.

Charity lives.

6. Superbug Worry – According to the Washington Post, some 23,000 people per year in the US die from drug-resistant bacteria, known as superbugs.

Worldwide that number could rise to 10 million per year by 2050.

Public health officials blame over-prescribing as the primary cause in the rise of superbugs and the growing number of deaths. Some states are more affected than other states. The states with the highest percentage of over-prescribing are in the South.

Dig into this report: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/11/30/amid-superbug-worries-these-states-have-the-highest-antibiotic-prescribing-rates/

7. ‘Imminent Attack’ – The US authorities are warning of an attack by Taliban or terrorists within the next 48 hours in the capitol of Kabul, Afghanistan.

An emergency warning posted on the US Embassy’s web site stated, “US embassy Kabul has received credible reports of an imminent attack in Kabul… within the next 48 hours.”

“The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely unstable, and the threat to all US citizens in Afghanistan remains critical.”

8. War on Terror – Germany is considering sending 1,200 troops to Syria and Iraq to fight the Islamic State.

While Turkey has rounded up some 1,300 Syrian migrants in a sweep over the weekend. No reason was given.

Turkey and Russia still are not talking. Russian President Vladimir Putin ignored Turkish President Recep Erdogan at the Paris Climate Conference. Neither side is backing down with both demanding an apology.

9. Diseases Attack – According to HealthGrove, these 14 diseases are on the rise and not slowing down:

a. Botulism (Infants) – up 58.80% in last five years
b. Obesity – up 17.10% in last five years
c. Autism – up 63.30% in last five years
d. Chlamydia – up 58.80% in last five years
e. Gonorrhea – up 17.80% in last five years
f. Syphillis – up 151.20% in last 10 years
g. E.coli (Non O157) – up 472% in last 10 years
h. The Plague (Bubonic) – up 700% in last five years
i. Skin Cancer (Melanoma) – up 18.30% in last 10 years
j. Liver Cancer – up 47.10% in last 10 years
k. Kidney Cancer – up 18.60% in last 10 years
l. Whooping Cough – up 145.80% in last 10 years
m. Dengue Fever – up 101.80% in last 10 years
n. Vibrio – up 60.70% in last 10 years

More info: http://conditions.healthgrove.com/stories/8274/diseases-rising-united-states

10. There’s an App for That – According to a report from the United Nations a growing number of Asian teenagers are contracting HIV.

The cause?

Blame it on dating apps.

Oh, and also those anti-gay laws as well.

Don’t believe me, read it for yourself: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-un-says-dating-apps-increase-hiv-a6754476.html

That’s what caught my attention this Monday, November 30th, 2015.

Tune in tomorrow for another edition of Kernels From The Cornfield.

I am Mark Ivy
Good day!

Kernels – Tuesday, December 1, 2015

cornfieldkernels

Welcome to the latest edition of Kernels From the Cornfield – No Husks, No Hulls, No Shucks!

News with a dash of commentary to spice up your fare for Tuesday, December 1st, 2015.

1. Off with His Head – Chicago, Illinois Mayor Rahm Emanuel is fighting for his political life after it took a year to charge a Windy City police officer with murder in the shooting down of a 17-year-old in October, 2014.

Protesters, who have taken to the streets and shut down the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue on Black Friday, are calling for the Mayor’s resignation along with that of the Superintendent of Police.

In reaction, today, the Mayor announced formation of a commission to review and investigate why it took so long to charge the officer and release a police dash cam of the shooting when the officer pumped 16 bullets into the slain youth.

The Mayor also accepted the resignation of the police superintendent, Gary McCarthy, over the incident, giving in on at least one demand.

The officer was charged with murder and released on $1.5 million bail bond on Monday.

Will the former Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama survive the backlash?

2. Tightening the Rope – Last week I wrote about how many in Congress are less concerned about terrorists hiding among Syrian refugees and more about the liberal visa waiver program that lets in thousands with little to no security checks each year from Europe.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson is responding to calls to put in more restraints on the program.

What we want to do is work with Congress in ways that are effective to improve homeland security,” Johnson said. “The refugee program as it is currently exists is probably the most thorough, multi-layered, time-consuming way for anyone to cross our borders, to come into this country.

Read more: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/01/457994109/listen-we-have-an-obligation-to-refugees-says-homeland-security-chief

3. ISIS in the US – Members or sympathizers of the Islamic State are alive and well in the US of A.

Forget about the fear over jihadists sneaking in with Syrian refugees, American grown wannabe terrorists are in your state and maybe your town.

Reportedly, 56 people have been arrested in the US of A with ties to the Islamic State this year.

Check out this map of detained ISIS affiliates in each state:

isis-us-states-map

For more info: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/01/458003126/unprecedented-what-isis-looks-like-in-america

4. ‘Your Damn Emails‘ – Bernie Sanders may be tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton’s emails, but today, the State Department released the biggest batch of emails yet, mostly from 2012-2013.

The full database of the released emails can be found at:

https://foia.state.gov/Search/Results.aspx?collection=Clinton_Email_November_Release

The release brings the total to 2/3 of the emails being made public on a judge’s order.

Of the nearly 6,000 emails brought to light today, some 328 were retroactively upgraded to Confidential.

To learn more: http://www.npr.org/2015/12/01/457937816/clinton-emails-rolf-plus-mittens-romney-and-newt-the-grinch

5. Hostage Demand – Republican presidential candidate front runner, Donald Trump, is demanding a $5 million payment from CNN.

Trump did not like the questions nor reporting of the network of his meeting with some 100 black pastors on Monday. So, Trump reasons that he is a ratings magnet and should be paid.

That’s not the way it works, Mr. Trump.

The debates are not about the networks and ratings.

The debates are for the voting public.

6. Mission Creep? – US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told Congress that an “expeditionary force” was being sent into Iraq to assist the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in fighting the Islamic State.

Read: Boots on the Ground

Already announced was 50 special forces being put into combat in Syria. Now we have more than the “advisers” being sent to Iraq.

Are we beginning to see “mission creep“?

Is the President caving into the reality in the war on terror and defeating the caliphate’s army of jihadists?

Get the full skivvy: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/12/01/us-mideast-crisis-usa-military-idUSKBN0TK50G20151201

7. Paying More – It is an issue on the presidential campaign trail – why do Americans pay more for needed medicines that people in other countries?

It is more than just dollars and cents and what the market can bear. Part of it has to do with congressional restraints – that’s laws – on Medicare, which cannot negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma.

Delve into the details here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/12/01/us-mideast-crisis-usa-military-idUSKBN0TK50G20151201

8. Without Knowledge or Consent – Ever wonder what the FBI, the government can demand from internet service providers and other such business entities about you without your knowledge or consent?

More than you think.

Check out this release National Security Letter, ordered released by a federal judge:

a. DSL account information
b. Subscriber name and related subscriber information
c. Addresses associated with the account
d. Subscriber day/evening telephone numbers
e. Screen names or other online names associated with the account
f. Order forms
g. Records relating to merchandise orders/shipping information for the last 180 days
h. All billing related to account
i. Internet Service Provider (ISP)
j. All email addresses associated with account
k. Internet Protocol (IP address) assigned to the account
l. All website information registered to the account
m. Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address assigned to the account
n. Any other information which you consider to be electronic communication transactional record

Full unredacted NSL: http://isp.yale.edu/sites/default/files/page-attachments/merrill_v.lynch-_unredacted_attachment_to_2004_nsl.pdf

9. Rosa Parks 60 Years Later – It was 60 years ago today when a diminutive woman refused to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus.

Here are 10 facts you may not know about Ms. Parks:

a. Parks didn’t sit in a whites-only section
b. Parks was forced to leave Montgomery soon after the boycott
c. Her act of civil disobedience was not premeditated
d. Parks was not the first African-American woman to be arrested for refusing leave her seat
e. Parks was the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol
f. Parks was a civil rights activist before her arrest
g. Parks had a prior encounter with James Blake, the bus driver who demanded she vacate her seat
h. Parks did not refuse to leave her seat because her feet were tired
i. Weeks after her arrest, Parks was jailed a second time for her role in the boycott
j. Bus seats were left empty to honor Parks on the 50th anniversary of her arrest

The rest of the story: http://www.ibtimes.com/rosa-parks-bus-boycott-arrest-anniversary-facts-60-years-have-passed-historic-2194226

10. ‘Most Significant Threat’ – While the world’s attention is centered on Iraq and Syria, the forgotten debacle and mess that has resulted since the US-led ousting of Mohamar Qadaffi in Libya,

the Islamic State is quickly turning the failed state into a nest of jihadists bent on bombing the world back to the Dark Ages.

Libya is probably right now the most significant threat to becoming a full-blown sanctuary” for the Islamic State, said Patrick Johnston, a counter terrorism analyst at RAND Corp.

Read this troubling article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/11/30/libya-isil-stronghold/76572148/

That’s what caught my attention this Tuesday, December 1st, 2015.

Tune in tomorrow for another edition of Kernels From The Cornfield.

I am Mark Ivy
Good day!

Kernels – Friday, November 27, 2015

Daily recap of headlines & current events with a bit of opinion
Daily recap of headlines & current events with a bit of opinion

Welcome to the latest edition of Kernels From the Cornfield – No Husks, No Hulls, No Shucks!

News with a dash of commentary to spice up your fare for Friday, November 27th, 2015.

1. On Edge – The city of Chicago remains on edge this Black Friday.

Protesters are marching up Michigan Avenue from the south side, disrupting bargain hunters. Activists say that retailers need to take some responsibility for the violence in the city.

The protesters are marching to complain about the killing of a 17-year-old last year by a police officer, who has been charged with murder.

Also the killing of a 9-year-old boy lured into an alley where he was gunned down an apparent victim of a gang war is feeding the unrest and dissatisfaction with the police department.

Two men are now in police custody for the killing as of today. The shooting happened last month.

Compared to last year when violence erupted in Ferguson, Missouri and later in Baltimore, Maryland, the Windy City continues to remain relatively calm.

2. Cornfield Madness – Last year, Indiana legislators had to back down after attempting to pass a religious restoration bill as written which would, according to opponents, have legalized discrimination in the state – targeting the gay community.

Now the state Senate is pushing legislation, described as “civil rights” protections, in another attempt to once more relegate the gay community to second class citizenship.

Read the sad details here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/27/civil-rights-means-anti-gay-for-some-republicans.html

3. Power Grid Jeopardy – In all the hype over cyber attacks on the Office of Personnel Management and on private companies, protection of the nation’s power grid has been on the back burner.

Yet the grid remains grossly unprotected. Security expects are warning the grid is exposed to hackers.

The Hill reports:

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Michael Rogers acknowledged in a congressional hearing that China and likely “one or two” other countries are currently sitting on the grid, with the ability to literally turn out the lights if they wanted to.

Rogers said these states, which likely include Russia and possibly Iran, “are deterred only by the fear of U.S. retaliation.”

But, he added, “We can’t count on the fact that less rational actors might also gain access to those critical systems.”

To read more: http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/261310-congress-struggles-to-secure-power-grid

4. Political Insanity – Political season tends to bring out the loonies.

The 2016 Presidential Election seems to be upping the ante on the ridiculous to a level unprecedented.

I wrote seriously about how ridiculous the race has become earlier today:

Wake Up Republican Base

The Week has some more lighthearted examples of how silly this process is:

a. Ben Carson made a rap ad
b. Ted Cruz posed shirtless
c. Hillary Clinton tried to start a conversation about college debt — in emojis
d. John Kasich made a bacon Snapchat geofilter
e. Jeb Bush tweeted about Star Wars
f. Rand Paul made a photo app
g. John Kasich and Martin O’Malley promoted Uber and kittens
h. Rick Perry released a country-rap song and a music video
i. Bernie Sanders danced for Ellen Degeneres
j. Ted Cruz impersonated Homer Simpson
k. Hillary Clinton took a Snapchat of herself ‘just chillin’

See it all: http://theweek.com/articles/589208/11-humiliatingly-lame-ways-2016-candidates-are-trying-appeal-young-voters

5. Fence Jumper – A man with an American flag cape disrupted the First Family as they celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday by jumping over the fence.

The man was captured almost immediately by the Secret Service.

The First Family was never in danger, but the People’s House was placed on lockdown for several hours.

The man was able to climb the fence even though spikes had been placed on the top of the fence to dissuade or prevent anyone from trying.

6. No Let Up in Terror War – At least 21 Shia Muslims in Nigeria died after a suicide bomber detonated his device.

It appears the world’s deadliest terror group, Boko Haram, may have struck again.

In Bangladesh, a Shiite mosque was hit by Islamic State affiliates. At least five jihadists fired machine guns on people as they prayed. The 70-something-year-old prayer leader was killed.

Neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Turkish President Recep Erdogan are backing down as they continue to prove who has the bigger ones. NATO remains tense.

The Kremlin said that the US-led coalition targeting the caliphate are not ready to join with Russia in fighting ISIS. This is because of the insistence of the US of A that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad must go to end the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Russia keeps sending fighter jets to strike rebel forces, far removed from ISIS targets in Syria, claiming to be attacking terrorists.

France continues its airstrikes on caliphate positions in Syria.

Belgium continues to hunt down terrorists.

Authorities say the guns used in the Paris attacks were bought in Germany.

7. VTech Hacked – In time for the toy binge known as Christmas shopping season, it was revealed today that 200,000 children and some 4.8 million parents may have had their information stolen when the toy company’s, VTech, cyber security was breached.

The company says it has already repaired the flaw which allowed a hacker or hackers to get into the company’s consumer database.

What is known: http://www.theverge.com/2015/11/27/9807330/vtek-data-breach-password-email-address

8. Active Shooter – As if there is not enough pushing, shoving and gouging on Black Friday, an active shooter is on the loose on Centennial Boulevard in Colorado Springs, Colorado near the Planned Parenthood officer.

At this moment, police officers have cordon off the area and trying to contain to contain the shooter.

At this moment it is not known if any hostages have been taken.

CSPD PIO (public information officer) responding to call (of) active shooter in Centennial BI. The area is NOT secure. Media do not stage in the area,” the police department said in a tweet.

This is a breaking story.

9. Best Tech Picks – On Thursday, I reported on one writer’s take on the 11 tech turkeys of 2015. Today we have another writer’s pick of the best of 2015.

a. iPhone 6S/6S Plus
b. Google Nexus 6P
c. Windows 10
d. Surface Book
e. Google OnHub
f. Periscope
g. DxO One
h. Amazon Echo
i. Samsung Gear VR
j. One Smart Piano
k. Apple Watch

The full skivvy: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/baig/2015/11/25/baigs-best-picks-tech-stood-out-2015/76311496/

10. Lighter Note – With all the hustle and bustle and the alarming events in the world, sometimes it is good to just step back, relax and have fun.

Here are two links that are geared for giving you the chance to escape over the weekend:

Favorite Thanksgiving moments in pop culture history: https://www.yahoo.com/food/favorite-thanksgiving-moments-in-pop-culture-221407104.html

Top Christmas Tree Trends: https://www.yahoo.com/makers/the-top-christmas-tree-trends-1308199173374006/photo-frosty-the-christmas-tree-1448575758542.html

That’s what caught my attention this Friday, November 27th, 2015.

Tune in Monday for another edition of Kernels From The Cornfield.

I am Mark Ivy
Good day!