Tag Archives: commentary

Happy Birthday, US of A!

cornfieldlogo

Today, the US of A celebrates its 241st birthday.

It was, like with any birth, one that was born out of travail, crying, shouts of glee, bloodshed and even death. Truly the continent was in heavy labor as the push and screams of thousands were heard around the world.

That sorrow and agony gave way, however, to jubilation as the nation emerged scathed and covered with the scars and trappings of nativity. But as difficult as that birth was, the struggle was not over.

There would be growing pains, illnesses and diseases to overcome. There would be those who would attempt to reclaim and to destroy that life which was born out of a pledge to devote honor, lives and fortunes to see this epic birth come to be and last through all time.

Through the years, as with any baby maturing to toddler to child to teen to adult, this great nation of states joined to form a “more perfect union” had to go through its share of perils, tests and trials. In each instance, in the end, the US of A emerged on the other side a better nation.

The most trying time is undisputed, which is what occurred during what I would call the teenage years, puberty, when literally brother was pitted against brother, sister against sister, sons and daughters against mothers and fathers. The greatest and most costly toll of lives and bloodshed threatened to tear the nation apart. Yet through the trauma of the Civil War, the War Between the States, a united and stronger country came of age.

Dark days still lay ahead, but it seemed the worst had passed.

Through more battles and more wars, we find ourselves today celebrating the nation we’ve become and feeling the pain of the mistakes we have made. We honor the lives who gave their all to keep this nation the home of the brave and the land of the free.

Now, we look forward to the days and years ahead.

We are traveling the rough and choppy sea of economic uncertainty, but which seems to be slowly recovering.

The ship of state must traverse the gulf as the skipper maneuvers the ship to avoid crashing on the rocks of lost hope, despair, keeping an eye on the course and the port of serenity which lies in the distance.

The tides of global unrest threaten to engulf us. We must stay resolute and strong. Together we can ride the waves and dock in safe harbor.

Many have lost hope.

Many no longer aspire to the American Dream.

Many wonder if the flag will still wave for much longer.

But we are Americans.

We will survive.

From the Cornfield, America, may she always be that shining city on a hill to which others seek to aspire.

Happy Independence Day!

7 Or 70

Days like yesterday it becomes difficult to determine if President Donald Trump is 7 or 70 years of age. After his childish tweet on Twitter, it is not easy to imagine it was sent by the Leader of the Free World.

Compounding the confusion is the National Press Corps acting like a bunch of second graders circling on the playground screaming, ‘‘Fight! Fight! Fight!”

While the folk in the Cornfield and throughout the Heartland sit back snickering and ignoring the lunacy.

We are more concerned with jobs, putting food on the table, having summer fun and our own health and concerns than the shenanigans of the Political Alter verse inside the Beltway.

Give us a break and focus on what really matters.

While I do not agree with the President in often what he tweets and the words he chooses to use, I do have an understanding of his mindset and the cultural setting for what most of us consider uncouth and un-called-for wording.

I discussed this nearly a year ago: Grandpa and Trump.

Grandpa and Trump

The White House Press Corps and others of the National Press are rightly criticized by those of us in the Heartland.

The bent of the journalists and their connection with life outside of the Coasts and the Beltway is far different from those of us in the Cornfield and the rest of the Heartland.

What matters to them, we find “too much ado about nothing.”

Time for the press to get out into the hustlings. Time for the President to put down his phone and focus on what is of importance to “we, the people.”

From the Cornfield, for a second day, we are being beset with talk about the President’s tweets and the National Press reaction and condemnation.

Time for both sides to give it a rest.

Both the President and the National Press are too defensive, too quick to throw bombs at each other and generally ready to step outside too often.

There will always be a certain amount of distrust and dislike between whoever is in the Oval Office and reporters who cover the White House, but at least the two should be able to act civilly with one another.

The Prez – A Review

Before we get started, pour yourself a tall one of This is Life, mixed not stirred, with the flavor of choice: Fox News, CNN, MSNBC or PBS. With that out of the way, let us move to the main course.

Grab a healthy slice of WWE Raw and knead with Survivor. Mix in a dallop of Big Brother and a bit of The Amazing Race. Blend until it consists of The Voice along with a tinge of American Idol. Sprinkle in The Real Life and a dash or two of Fear Factor. Garnish with The Apprentice. Bake and bank it like America’s Got Talent.

For dessert serve, hot or cold, The Bachelor or World of Dance (you may substitute Dancing With Stars or So, You Think You Can Dance).

What you have concocted is the hottest dish on television this year, breaking all ratings and blowing up the Nielsen boxes – the reality hit – The Prez, starring Donald J. Trump and a host of snakes and gators slithering through the swamp.

So, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

We should have seen it coming. The critics should not be surprised. But in such a relatively short period of time may have caught us all off guard.

Less than four score years ago, the first television President burst on our black and whites.  John F. Kennedy became a matinee idol to Richard Nixon’s five o’clock shadow of a villain in the making.

Bill Clinton took late night TV by storm and even rocked out MTV.

Barack Obama tapped into the new internet medium, but soon a new nerd came along to dominate social media – Trump. On our smartphones, our tables, laptops and PCs, not to mention our flatscreens, Everything’s Turning Up Trump!

The American viewing public is eating up as The Donald takes on the Main Stream Media and rubs the Dems and even his fellow GOPers noses in it.

Americans have become insatiable. More Facebook videos. More Twitter. More Youtube cinema masterpieces.

Howard Stern may be the king of all media, but Trump is the master of the medium of social networking.

America, you asked for it – you got it. Those 24-hour news networks have fed the monster and shot it up with hormones, resulting in the award winning show of our first Reality Television Presidency.

Now the national press corps complains about the Frankenstein it aided the American public in creating.

Yet in the Heartland, in the Cornfield, people tune in to catch the highlights, but go back to living their lives. Folk here tend to care more about a job, paying the bills, living life, putting food on the table. While the Coasts can’t get enough of the Beltway action.

The Heartland yawns.

From the Cornfield, how long will the show run?

Four years?

Eight years?

Will it crash and burn early with an impeachment to boost ratings?

Tune in tomorrow – same Bat channel, same Bat time.

Citizen Journalists, A Family

Over the last nearly six years, since I was infected with histoplasmosis, one group of people, of whom only one has ever met me in person, has been an emotional and financial blessing.
These are former members of the CNN iReport community.
We did not and do not always see eye-to-eye on politics or social issues, but we all have a commonality of respect and love for one another. Yet, most of us only know each other online through iReport and now on Facebook.
These individuals have been my angels.
With a word of encouragement or a surprise envelope in the mail. Sometimes with a picture or a card, sometimes with a simple “like” on a post or comment.
To express my gratitude in words pales with my thankfulness felt deep in my heart.
Their actions have often reminded me of the book written by Dale Evans, “Angels Unaware.”
For these people have truly been for me – angels.
Those that are still in contact through Facebook, I want to let you know how much I have appreciated each one of you.
My angels:
Kathi, Janie, Linda, Maria, Marie, Gretchen, Funda, Hilary, Julie, Shari, Lorena, Beth, Roberta, Melissa, Jodi
Mike, Keith, Stan, Gapper, Ted, Matt, Allen, Arturo, Nick
Each of you in your own way have meant so much to me.
Thank you! 
I am sure I probably forgot someone. But my memory is not the best these days.
Remember, when that day comes, I will cross over and wait for you on the other side of the river.

The Day America Stood Still

On Thursday, June 8, 2017, America came to a grinding halt as people across the nation were absorbed in the Super Bowl of Politics – the appearance of former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

At stake was the presidency of Donald J. Trump and the American electoral process.

While there was a lot of thunder streaming across television screens, monitors and smartphones, there were no lightning strikes, no burning timber. The smoke at times became intense, but no flames erupted. Bars and taverns hosted watch parties. The crowds reveled in watching as Comey spoke and Senators questioned.

But to their disappointment, no resolution came, no validation of either support or opposition.

Those who favored the President still favored the President.

Those who opposed the President still opposed the President.

Today we have the pundits grousing over whether anyone came out a winner in yesterday’s hearing. Some are trying to make a case for criminal obstruction of justice by the President, while others a political case for eventual impeachment.

At this point in time, all are merely words without substance. Until the Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishes his investigation, the current scandal involving the President is a political fray. All other issues await the criminal investigation determination of Mueller.

What do we really know this Friday?

Not much more than we already knew from the leaked stories that have circulated in the press.

What was confirmed was that at the time of the firing of Comey, the President was not personally under investigation.

A cloud of bewilderment was raised by Comey about former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her insinuated involvement with both the investigation into the private email server used by and candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her quest for the White House.

In spite of the hunger of the folk on Capitol Hill to pin blame on or exonerate the President during Thursday’s hearing, those questions remain and will remain until Mueller has concluded his investigation.

Another interesting outtake was learning that Comey was the source of some of the information being disseminated to the press.

Also of interest was the reasoning behind the leaking of information to the press was in the hopes that it would lead to an appointment of a special counsel.

From the Cornfield, those hoping to find the Trump house on fire were disappointed. Those hoping to see the phoenix rising out of the ashes were also disappointed.

Hang onto your hats, this is going to be a long and at times topsy-turvy ride before the end of the line.

Cornfield Perspective: Paris Climate Accord

The Cornfield’s own 8th District Congressman Dr. Larry Buschon provided his take on the Paris Climate Accord, from which President Donald Trump withdrew US participation in this week.

A Decision on Paris

  • President Obama entered into the Paris climate agreement on his own – he never sought the Senate’s advice and consent.
  • The agreement treats countries differently, with the U.S. cutting emissions more than Russia, China, Iran, and India.
  • The disparity puts U.S. businesses at a competitive disadvantage and raises energy costs for Americans. 

The Paris climate agreement was a vital part of President Obama’s attempts to build his legacy. The Trump administration is expected to decide the deal’s fate before the president attends the G-7 summit on May 26.

DISPARITY AMONG COUNTRIES

The United States pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent between 2015 and 2025. Meanwhile, Russia is allowed to increase its emissions up to 50 percent – and China refused to set any emissions limit at all until 2030.

After the agreement was signed, many nations indicated that they would only take action if they got a significant amount of foreign aid. Developing nations have requested at least $5.4 trillion in assistance. India requested $2.5 trillion, and South Africa asked for $909 billion. Iran made its commitments contingent on the removal of all sanctions and receiving $840 billion. President Obama transferred $1 billion from the State Department to the United Nations to implement the Paris agreement.

THE SENATE NEVER APPROVED THE AGREEMENT

President Obama knew that Congress would never approve such a flawed deal, so he refused to seek the Senate’s advice and consent. Instead, he labeled it an “executive agreement” and unilaterally pledged U.S. support. President Obama’s actions violated U.S. policy set during the Clinton administration requiring Senate approval for any international effort to set “targets and timetables” for emissions reductions.

POTENTIAL IMPACT ON AMERICAN JOBS

Many of America’s global competitors are unaffected by the Paris agreement, while the United States will incur significant implementation costs. President Obama pledged to cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 1.1 billion tons from 2015 to 2025. That’s on top of the more than 820 million tons the U.S. has already cut from annual emissions over the last decade. According to a March 2017 study by NERA Economic Consulting, the Paris agreement will cost America $3 trillion and eliminate 6.5 million jobs by 2040. Every sector of the economy will be affected, especially the U.S. industrial base.

Decline in U.S. Industrial Output Due to Paris Agreement in 2025

Source: NERA Economic Consulting

INCREASING U.S. OBLIGATIONS

The United States’ obligations under the Paris agreement increase over time. Under the agreement, the U.S. is required to update its emission-reduction targets every five years. The plain language of the agreement states that we can only pledge to do more – not less – as time goes on.

IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Despite the high costs, the agreement does not solve the environmental challenges it was meant to address. China is the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases. While U.S. emissions decline, those from developing nations like India continue to rise. That’s one reason why researchers at MIT estimate that the agreement will have a negligible impact on the environment.

 More here: https://www.rpc.senate.gov/policy-papers/a-decision-on-paris.

From the Cornfield, that is the perspective of one of its Congressional Representatives.

And what is your perspective on the President’s withdrawal from the PCA?

Thank You, Nick & Ron

A big thank you being sent to Rochester Bureau Chief Slick Nick and avid reader Ron Logston for well wishes sent my way during this time of crisis.

Appreciated the card from your church, Ron.

Hiccup

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

Good Friday, everyone!

Seems as if it has been forever since I have been able to communicate what has been happening Inside My Mind.

The past couple of weeks have been a whir of active inactivity. I spent five days back in Regional Hospital and went through three visits to the Emergency Room – twice to Regional and once to Sullivan Community.

Tuesday this week I received the word from my lung doctor, Ajay Deshpande.

If the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – chronic bronchitis – continues on its current course it may run that journey within the next months.

All the repeated trips to the ER, the long-term hospital stays and constant pneumonia attacks were zapping not only my energy, but the life from my body.

The doctor said the best direction at this time was to prepare and go to hospice – at home – not a facility. My chances were better being able to stay home than repeatedly having to call 911 and run to the ER for admittance.

The risk is at an all-point high that I will continue to be afflicted by pneumonia, which is what is – to be blunt – killing me.

I have communicated with my family.

I am at peace and content, come what may. I am ready to go home.

That does not mean that it has not been depressing and a heavy weight.

On the good side, as my nurse, Tabitha, told me – instead of calling for an ambulance and running to the hospital, they, Heart to Heart Hospice, bring the hospital to me in Mark’s Den.

My sons, my daughters-in-law and my adorable three granddaughters will all be here together on Sunday, June 11, for the first get together we have had in four years. This had already been planned.

There will be good days.

There will be bad days.

When I am able, I hope to continue to share both here as well as return to my daily recap of the news, Kernels From the Cornfield, and give my opinion on whatever at From the Cornfield.

I appreciate all your thoughts and prayers.

That’s the way it is this sunny day in the Cornfield.

And how is your Friday going?

Kernels – Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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

Welcome to another 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, April 26th, 2017.

1. Political Alterverse – Tax Cuts!

President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn unveiled a broad tax proposal on today which includes a deep cut in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%.

Also proposed is a child-care tax credit and increased standard deductions for individuals.

Trump Administration officials say the tax cuts will boost the economy and employment by giving businesses and individuals more money to spend.

The plan, however, could add significantly to the deficit.

Mnuchin is calling the plan “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country.”

So what did we learn today?

a. From 7 to 3 tax brackets on personal income taxes – 10%, 25%, 35%
b. Doubling of personal standard deduction
c. Only deductions for mortgages and charities
d. End of alternative minimum tax
e. End of death tax – inheritance tax
f. 1st $24,000 earned by couples not subject to taxation
g. Increased credit for child care
h. Corporate rate reduced from 35% to 15%
i. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can file under corporate rate

No details or fleshing out as Mnuchin and Cohn said the devil was being discussed with the Republican leadership to work out.

Will fiscal, deficit hawks go for the plan when the only way expected to recap the revenue lost is expectation of economic growth?

The President owns this plan; don’t be mistaken,” said Cohn, Director of the White House National Economic Council.

President Trump is hitting back at the latest federal judge who put the thumbs down on the Administration’s plan to withhold funds from sanctuary cities, who do not cooperate with federal authorities on illegal immigrants.

The White House called the ruling an “egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.”

The threat of a government shutdown come midnight Friday eased somewhat when President Trump backed down from demanding that funding for The Wall be included in the spending bill that Congress must pass.

Now Democrats are saying they won’t vote for the bill unless money for Affordable Care Act subsidies is included.

The Prez hosted the entire Senate today at the White House to brief the world’s most exclusive club on the situation with North Korea.

The members of the House of Representatives are to be briefed later on this afternoon at the Capitol.

Today, the President signed an executive order calling for a review of lands set aside by previous Administrations as national monuments and whether there had been appropriate state input.

The order could lead to opening federal lands to energy exploration.

The legislation is not expected to go anywhere, but fulfilling one of his main campaign rallying points, Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic colleagues filed a bill to up the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Signals are being sent that the House Freedom Caucus, the ultra-conservative members of the Congress, are ready to back the latest move to repeal and replace the ACA.

House Republicans appear to have included a provision that exempts Members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan.

A draft executive order to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement is under consideration, a senior Trump administration official said today, confirming an earlier report from Politico.

State Politics: The Illinois General Assembly Retirement System’s Board of Trustees are considering whether to continue to pay disgraced and convicted former Speaker of  the House Dennis Hastert’s $28,000 annual pension for the time he served in the State General Assembly.

Hastert also receives a pension as a tenured teacher and as former Speaker.

Republican Ron Estes, winner of a closer-than-usual congressional election in Kansas, has been sworn in as the newest member of the House.

Global Politics: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Tuesday that President Trump’s newly imposed tariff on Canadian lumber could result in a “thickening” of the border separating Canada and the US, hurting both of the strong longtime allies and trade partners.

There are millions of good US jobs that depend on the smooth flow of goods, services, and people back and forth across our border,” Trudeau said at a news conference, noting that an auto part can cross the border six times before rolling off an assembly line in a finished car.

You cannot thicken this border without hurting people on both sides of it,” Trudeau said.

Score one for Mexico and a goose egg for the US in a case over tuna fishing.

The US charges more for Mexican tuna, claiming fishermen use methods which kill dolphins.

The World Trade Organization disagreed with the US penalty and ruled Mexico could collect a $163 million fine from the US for lost revenue on tuna.

China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier today amid rising tension over North Korea and worries about Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said The Wall is not only a “bad idea” but an “unfriendly, hostile” act.

“If the negotiation on other themes – immigration, the border, trade – isn’t satisfactory to Mexico’s interests, we will have to review our existing cooperation,” Videgaray said. “This would be especially in the security areas…and that involves the national immigration agency, the federal police and of course, the armed forces.”

France’s center-right party, seeking to rebound after the defeat of its presidential candidate, said today it could share power with Emmanuel Macron if he is elected, as pollsters predict, on May 7.

Venezuelan Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz on Tuesday denounced a wave of unrest that has killed 26 people, vowing to hold all those responsible accountable and calling on both sides of a heated political spectrum to “lower the tone of confrontation.”

Opposition lawmakers are ramping up pressure on Venezuelan Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, announcing Tuesday they would give him three days to take action on their demand that the Supreme Court Magistrates responsible for the retracted decision on Congress be removed from office.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez told state TV that she has been instructed by embattled President Nicolas Maduro to initiate Venezuela’s withdrawal from the Organization of American States if a Foreign Ministers meeting is called without his government’s backing.

2. Stay Back! – The US Navy had to fire a warning shot at an Iranian gunboat in the Persian Gulf.

The incident happened on Monday as the vessel attempted to draw closer to the USS Mahan despite the destroyer trying to turn away from it, said Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.

The “Mahan made several attempts to contact the Iranian vessel by bridge-to-bridge radio, issuing warning messages and twice sounding the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts with the ship’s whistle, as well as deploying a flare to determine the Iranian vessel’s intentions,” McConnaughey said in a statement to The Associated Press.

More: https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-navy-fires-warning-flare-iran-vessel-persian-063319791.html

3. Looming Cliff – Congress moved closer to a deal to avoid a government shutdown at the stroke of midnight on Friday, as negotiators worked to clear away remaining disputes in a massive spending bill.

We’re getting really close,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said, adding that negotiators were “getting down to the last, final” areas of disagreement.

More: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-budget-idUSKBN17S146

4. Trading Partners, Hey? – As a looming trade war seems to be brewing between the US and its northern neighbor, Canada, several states are worried about their specific economies intertwining with the country’s second largest trading partner.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said, “It has been a bad week for US-Canada trade relations.”

There are 17 states which send at least 25% of all exports to Canada.

Canada imported $3.2 billion worth of goods from North Dakota in 2016, or about 77.6% of the state’s total exports that year.

Read more: http://247wallst.com/special-report/2017/04/25/states-most-dependent-on-trade-with-canada/

5. Boosting Immunity – We all fall victims to those ads claiming the newest wonder supplement that can enhance about anything.

Miracle cures abound.

But are immune boosters really a good idea?

One doctor says if you want better immunity follow these tips:

a. Adopt a more balanced diet
b. Avoid the quick fix of supplements, unless prescribed by a doctor
c. Avoid the quick fix of supplements, unless prescribed by a doctor

Get details: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/nation-now/2017/04/24/skeptical-immune-system-boosts/100871198/

6. Trump Economy – Record territory once more for the markets as hearts are encouraged by both the tax plan being rolled out by the Trump Administration and the outcome of the first round in the French presidential election.

On top of (the French election result) we have had a very decent set of corporate earnings in the U.S. and that helped push the market further along the same direction,” said Investec economist Philip Shaw.

More on the markets: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/stocks-advance-as-wall-street-awaits-trumps-tax-plan/ar-BBAoRSo

7. Faux High End? – The latest big thing is turning out to be a bust on social media.

Nordstrom now wants to help you look like “you’re not afraid to get down and dirty” by selling you a unique pair of jeans.

The store is offering jeans which come with a “caked-on muddy coating,” according to the item’s description.

This is true “Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action,” Nordstrom writes.

The price tag?

$425!

Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/nation-now/2017/04/26/nordstrom-selling-425-jeans-covered-fake-mud-mike-rowe-calls-them-out/100921914/

8. Best High Schools – Unhappy with the high school your child is attending?

Not only for the weather, but it seems education is another reason to move to Arizona, home to many of the nation’s top schools.

The Cornfield landed with Signature School in Evansville, Indiana scoring #33 in the rankings.

Here is a list of the Best High Schools in America: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/national-rankings

9. Pet Friendly? – United Airline has had one PR nightmare after another.

Add one more headache.

A giant rabbit flying from England to Chicago, Illinois died in flight.

A veterinarian checked Simon, a 10-month-old, 3-foot-long continental rabbit, shortly before the animal was put on the flight.

Simon was found dead on arrival.

The safety and wellbeing of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team,” United said in a statement.

More: http://www.newsweek.com/united-airlines-giant-rabbit-589924

10. Looking Ahead – Who is ready for summer?

Get forecast: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/2017-us-summer-forecast-early-storms-to-hold-back-heat-in-northeast-wildfires-to-rage-in-california/70001459

Tidbits: Wells Fargo shareholders expressed their unhappiness with the bank’s board Tuesday. The shareholders withheld what normally would be overwhelming support for the slate of directors in a vote at the end of the company’s annual meeting.

We recognize there is still a great deal of work to do to rebuild the trust of stockholders, customers, and employees,” Wells Fargo Board of Directors Stephen Sanger said, alluding to the scandal over fake accounts charged to customers that has rocked the company the past couple of years.

The woes at Fox News are not getting better as emergence of new allegations of racial discrimination at the company hit on Tuesday. Add this to the charges of sexual harassment and no one is breathing easy at the network.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter plans to speak at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza on Thursday, campus officials said, prompting the university and the city to scramble to prepare for what they fear could be another violent showdown between fans and opponents of President Trump.

A fiery collision Tuesday involving two big trucks and several smaller vehicles killed one person and injured 10 others while triggering a massive traffic jam on Interstate 5 in Los Angeles, California.

That’s what caught my attention this Wednesday, April 26th, 2017.

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

I am Mark Ivy
Good day!

Kernels – Tuesday, April 25, 2017

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

Welcome to another 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, April 25th, 2017.

1. Political Alterverse – Blocked!

A federal judge in California put a halt to a threat made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to cut funds from sanctuary cities if not assisting federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials rounding up illegal aliens.

District Judge William Orrick issued the preliminary injunction in two lawsuits – one brought by the City of San Francisco, the other by Santa Clara County – against an executive order targeting communities that protect immigrants from deportation.

Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves,” Judge Orrick ruled.

Orrick sided with San Francisco and Santa Clara, saying the order “by its plain language, attempts to reach all federal grants, not merely the three mentioned at the hearing.”

And if there was doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments,” the Judge said.

Backing down.

President Donald Trump is reportedly backing off on his insistence that money to start building The Wall be included in a spending bill by Friday to keep the government open for business.

Rather than Republicans or the President being blamed for a shutdown, the White House is saying it can wait on specific targeting of funds for The Wall if there is an increase in money for border security and in order to keep the government functioning.

15% – that’s the tax rate the White House is proposing the corporate rate be slashed to from 35%, the current rate.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says that the lost revenue in taxes of more than $2 trillion over the next decade would be made up by increased productivity and jobs created by the tax cut.

Not everyone agrees on Capitol Hill – and not just Democrats. Republicans are not so sure either.

Experts say such a cut would be likely to increase the national debt, but Treasury Secretary said that the tax cuts, which Trump has promised will be the biggest in US history, would not hurt the federal government’s bottom line.

A proposed tax reform plan is expected to be rolled out tomorrow.

Campaign promise fulfilled?

A tariff has been slapped on…

No, not China or Mexico, but our second largest trading partner and long-time ally, Canada.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said a tariff of 3-24% is being levied on lumber coming in from our northern neighbor because the Canadian government is subsidizing the country’s lumber industry, which makes unfair competition for America’s lumberjacks.

Canada called the accusation “baseless and unfounded” and said it will take legal action against the “unfair and punitive duty.”

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will be the first to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in its investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 election and of ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

The White House said “No” to a request for documents on former National Security Adviser retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn today.

The request was from the House Oversight Committee.

Questions are swirling whether Flynn may be guilty of a felony or two by not getting permission from the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Army before traveling to Russia.

Also were laws broken when Flynn accepted money from the Russian government?

Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said there was “no indication” that Flynn complied with the laws on the books.

The President spoke at the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Holocaust Museum today and did not disappoint.

The Prez said that Holocaust deniers are “accomplices” to the evil that was perpetrated by the Nazis during the dark days of World War II.

The President and Republicans in Congress may be refocusing on the pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but the American public at-large does not agree:

First Daughter Ivanka Trump made her world stage debut at a women’s conference in Germany today, thanks to an invite from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Ivanka pledged to push for “incremental, positive change” for women in the US economy. She told the attendees at the conference that she’s still “rather unfamiliar” with her role as First Daughter and adviser to President Trump.

Scattered groans and hisses came from the crowd as Ivanka described her father as “a tremendous champion of supporting families.”

Rod Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Attorney General, making the federal prosecutor the new face of the U.S. investigation into Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election and whether anyone associated with President Trump played a role.

The White House announced retired Marine Corps General Randolph D. Alles, acting Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, will lead the Secret Service.

The proposed dinner with members of the Supreme Court at the White House set for Thursday has been postponed due to a scheduling conflict.

Does the 100-day mark on Saturday in the Trump presidency matter?

Give me your thoughts.

State Politics: The State of Arkansas conducted the first back-to-back executions since 2000 last night.

At least 18 states are considering bills that would make it harder for demonstrators to protest. Civil liberties groups are most alarmed by bills in Tennessee and Florida that would let drivers off the hook for hitting demonstrators who are blocking roads.

Global Politics: Hacking is now the latest in a series of frightening similarities between the French election and last year’s US election.

A Japanese cybersecurity firm says centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign was targeted by hackers employing methods similar to the ones used against the Democratic National Committee. Macron’s camp hasn’t said if it was indeed hacked.

North Korea conducted a major live-fire artillery drill today to celebrate the founding of its military as tensions continued to rise over its missile and nuclear weapons program.

Iran and major powers met today in Vienna, Austria to review adherence to their 2015 nuclear deal as uncertainty grows about the landmark accord’s future under President Trump.

French far-right veteran Jean-Marie Le Pen said today his daughter Marine, who faces centrist Emmanuel Macron in a May 7 French presidential runoff, should have campaigned more aggressively for Sunday’s first round, following the example of President Trump.

The Province of Ontario, Canada has launched a pilot program to provide a guaranteed basic income to a few thousand people to test its effects on recipients and public finances, the Province announced Monday.

The US military has started moving parts of the controversial THAAD anti-missile defense system into a planned deployment site in South Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported today, amid high tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

This afternoon a US Navy submarine armed with nuclear weapons and guided missiles also arrived off the coast of the Korean Peninsula.

The USS Michigan, which is designed to carry ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, came as a US aircraft carrier strike group steamed towards Korean waters in an effort to deter North Korea from a sixth nuclear test or more missile launches in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

There is no limit to the strike power of the People’s Army armed with our style of cutting-edge military equipment, including various precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a front-page editorial.

2. Incredible Shrinking Middle Class – If you are feeling the pinch, it is not your imagination.

A new study has found that over the past two decades the Middle Class has been contracting.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/24/business/economy/middle-class-united-states-europe-pew.html

3. Rising Tides – In the Arctic, ice is melting.

In Florida, the sea is rising.

Based on new evidence, the Arctic Council – a cooperative effort among eight nations to monitor climate change – concluded that the Arctic warmed faster between 2011 and 2015 than any time on record, with glaciers and sea ice melting faster than expected.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article146511584.html

4. Hep Crisis – An estimated 325 million people are living with hepatitis B or C and few are aware of their condition, with death tolls from the viruses rising, the United Nations said last Friday.

The World Health Organization’s latest hepatitis report identifies the condition as a grave public health threat that needs an “urgent response.”

More: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-04-cases-hepatitis-million.html

5. Come Back – Measels, once nearly eradicated, are making a come back.

But why?

Find out: http://www.popsci.com/why-are-measles-coming-back

6. Trump Economy – The week started with a rally among the markets, which is expected to continue.

Today the markets opened with a robust continuation of yesterday’s surge.

The Nasdaq jumped 0.7%, sending the index above 6,000 for this first time. The Dow rose nearly 250 points, with Caterpillar contributing the most gains. The S&P 500 advanced 0.65%, with financials and materials rising more than 1% to lead advancers.

Earnings thus far have been good,” said Peter Cardillo, Chief Market Economist at First Standard Financial. “That’s a good sign that Corporate America is on a renewed path toward growth.”

More: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/25/us-markets.html

7. Back to the Future – Flying cars are becoming a reality.

Google co-founder Larry Page’s aviation startup, Kitty Hawk, unveiled the prototype of its long-rumored “flying car” project, an “ultralight” multi-rotor aircraft that can lift off and land vertically.

Read all about it: http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/24/technology/larry-page-flying-car/

8. Busted! – A ring that was illegally trading in protected eagles was busted.

Federal officials in South Dakota have indicted 15 peopled for illegally trafficking eagles and other migratory birds after a two-year undercover operation potentially involving hundreds of birds.

Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/eagle-trafficking-case-busted-undercover-operation-15-indicted-n750551

9. Wasting Money – We are bombarded by emails, snail mail and ads on television and radio for this insurance product or that one.

But are they worth it?

Take a look at 14 products that are deemed a “waste of money“: https://www.moneytalksnews.com/10-dumb-insurance-buys-that-waste-your-money/

10. Cool Down Coming – After starting the week with summerlike temperatures, a cold front will be moving into the Heartland.

Midweek and the weekend promises late night severe storms as well.

Get forecast: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-blogs/en/central-us-violent-storms-flash-flooding-may-threaten-people-as-they-sleep-this-weekend/70001492

Tidbits: Incidents of anti-Semitism are on the rise:

Maoist rebels in India killed at least 25 security officers in an attack on a police patrol on Monday. Another seven officers, members of the Central Reserve Police Force, were wounded.

A United Airlines plane had a “terrifying” emergency landing after one of its engines overheated over the ocean, according to a reporter who was on board the plane. United Flight 1516 bound for Houston, Texas, from Liberia, Costa Rica, because of the engine problem on the Boeing 737-800.

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, announced plans for a crowd-funded news website offering stories by journalists and volunteers working together, an initiative he hopes will counter the spread of fake news.

The Coast Guard said in a statement that the Captain of the Tamar, a 623-foot Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier, reported an explosion in the forward storeroom Monday morning. Two crew members were killed and at least three others were injured in the blast.

A 4-year-old girl fell through the open back door of a moving church bus onto an Arkansas state highway, but was rescued from the road by a volunteer firefighter who happened to be driving behind.

A major earthquake of magnitude 7.1 struck off the west coast of Chile on Monday, rocking the capital Santiago and briefly causing alarm along the Pacific Coast but not producing any serious damage.

Waymo, the autonomous car company owned by Alphabet, parent company of Google, has begun offering free rides to the public in Arizona in a new fleet of self-driving minivans.

Coca-Cola plans to slash 1,200 jobs after a challenging first quarter this year.

Three Islamic State militants setting up an ambush in a bitterly contested area of northern Iraq were killed by a herd of stampeding boars, local leaders say.

A school bus crash in southeast Kentucky has injured 15 people after the driver swerved off the road to avoid hitting a deer.

That’s what caught my attention this Tuesday, April 25th, 2017.

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

Catch up on all of last week’s shenanigans in the Alterverse with Politics Roundup!

Politics Roundup: April 17 – 23, 2017

I am Mark Ivy
Good day!