It is a time to stop, reflect and remember those military personnel who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to maintain and protect our freedom and way of life in the US of A.
The tradition of Memorial Day originally began in commemoration of those soldiers lost during the Civil War. It was known in various communities and states as Decoration Day. The date set aside was May 30. This was later changed to allow for a 3-day weekend by Congress to be the last Monday in May.
For the vast majority of Americans it is just another holiday weekend and the unofficial start to the summer vacation season. For many others it’s the weekend when millions around the world tune in to watch or listen to the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indy 500.
To too many it’s just a day to get together with family, have picnics and barbecues, go to the opening of community pools across the nation.
It’s a time to lay back and enjoy having three days off in a row with no worries.
Yet, Memorial Day symbolizes much more.
Ask any veterans’ organization or any military person in uniform or any family member who has lost a loved one in war, whether declared or undeclared, in peacetime or wartime.
Memorial Day was meant to be a day upon which a grateful nation pauses to remember those who donned a uniform and gave their lives in defense of our American way of life.
These brave men and women paid the ultimate price to make sure we could have our picnics, our barbecues, our splashing around in the pool.
The sacrifice of those who gave their lives is honored with each election where not by coup, but by ordinary Americans casting a ballot and choosing those who will lead and represent them.
The power and authority of those officials are transferred from one elected official to the next, from the precinct level to the highest office in the land, the Presidency, without the need for troops in the streets because of those who answered the call to duty, honor and service.
The ability to vote, the ability to choose, the ability to speak our minds, the ability to worship or not worship, the ability to write these words without fear, the ability to work, to succeed, to fail, to rise above our circumstances, all of this we owe to those men and women who fought and died for peace, justice and freedom.
None of our liberties came without cost and thus we owe a debt to those men and women who died in defense of our freedom.
On a personal note:
In those dark days following the sneak attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, four brothers from Nashville, Brown County, Indiana lined up at the recruiting office and joined the US Navy. These four brothers went off to save the world for democracy both in the European Theater and in the Pacific.
Three made it back home at the close of the war. The one who didn’t return was my Great-Uncle Homer. My grandfather and his other two brothers, Herman and Wesley, came home, but changed, never to be the same.
I never was afforded the pleasure of meeting my Great-Uncle Hobert Powell, a sailor who gave his life for our nation during World War II and long before I was born. The family seldom mentioned his name, but it was apparent Great-Uncle Homer was not forgotten. His picture, in uniform, hung proudly in my Great-Grandpa Ancil Powell’s living room. In silence, his memory was honored.
Today thousands still are in the fight to keep us safe. Over the past 10+ years, thousands more have shed their blood and forfeited their lives. We must never forget their sacrifice, their bravery, the lives they lived.
This is why we owe a debt of gratitude we can never repay and should never stop repaying.
This is why the deaths of veterans waiting on care from the Veterans Affairs medical facilities is such a gaping wound on the American conscious and must be addressed not after another study, but with action now.
From the Cornfield, I hope each of you will take time from the barbecuing, the playing games with family, watching reruns of yesterday’s race or enjoying the water and sun to stop – remember our heroes who gave their all so that we can live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Monday, April 24th, 2017.
1. Political Alterverse – The Wall?
Health care insurance reform?
Pressing questions as Congress returns to Washington DC today after being back home and getting an earful from their constituents.
The government will run out of money and face a partial shutdown if Congress does not send a bill to President Donald Trump to keep the machines running by midnight Friday.
But the President appears to be set on getting money to fund The Wall or no dice on signing any budget measure.
“I can’t imagine the Democrats would shut down the government over an objection to building a down payment on a wall that can end the lawlessness,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on ABC‘s This Week.
“If the President stepped out of it, we could get a budget done by Friday,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said today in a conference call with reporters, referring to Democratic and Republican budget negotiators.
That means dropping the push for The Wall seed money, for those who do not know polispeak (speaking like a politician).
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed.
Pelosi said that while Trump had promised during his campaign to build the barrier, “He did not promise that he would take food out of the mouths of babies” and cut programs for seniors, education and the environment to pay for it.
Pelosi called The Wall an “immoral, ineffective, unwise proposal.”
The Prez is also pushing to try once more to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by Saturday, his 100th day in office.
8:28 a.m.: “The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)! If,” the President tweeted.
11:31 a.m.: “….the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be! #BuildTheWall,” the Prez concluded his thought.
What happened in between?
The President was talking to astronauts aboard the International Space Station, congratulating NASA’s Peggy Whitson for making history, not only as a woman, but as spending more time in space during a single deployment than any human in history.
The conversation was also about travel to Mars.
Tuesday, President Trump, like others before him, will deliver the keynote address at a ceremony commemorating the Holocaust.
Every President since the museum opened in 1993 has done so.
Here’s hoping that the Prez does not misspeak.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived for an unannounced visit to Afghanistan today to assess the situation in the country as President Trump considers whether to send more troops to help government forces struggling to contain the Taliban insurgency.
Former President Barack Obama is off his long vacation jet setting with the beautiful people, speaking at the University of Chicago today to urge young people to get involved with community action.
What the former Prez did not do was critique his successor.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in an interview with The Associated Press that world leaders should reject President Trump’s lead on climate change.
Does the 100-day mark on Saturday in the Trump presidency matter?
Give me your thoughts.
State Politics: Two condemned Arkansas killers who admit they’re guilty but fear their poor health could lead to extreme pain during lethal injections set for tonight might become the first inmates put to death in a double execution in the US in more than 16 years.
The state conducted its first execution in over a decade last week.
New Orleans, Louisiana began removing the first of four prominent Confederate monuments early today, the latest Southern institution to sever itself from symbols viewed by many as representing racism and white supremacy.
Global Politics: French voters tossed aside the establishment in the country’s presidential election on Sunday. In the first round of voting, far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron came out on top. They will face off in the runoff vote on May 7.
The vote marked the first time no mainstream party’s candidate made it to the second run-off.
Macron, a former investment banker and political newcomer, ran on a pro-European Union platform, while Le Pen, head of the anti-immigrant National Front, ran vowing to put “France first” and pull the country out of the EU, tapping into the rising nationalist tide that propelled President Trump’s campaign and Britain’s Brexit vote.
Afghanistan’s Defense Minister Abdullah Habibi and Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim resigned in the wake of a Taliban attack on one of the country’s biggest military bases that killed at least 140 soldiers.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia over the weekend restored bonus payments for hundreds of thousands of civil servants that had been canceled in September. This came as a way to quell growing dissent in the kingdom.
The President hosted the United Nations Security Council Ambassadors for a luncheon at the White House today.
The US is the current President of the Security Council with Nikki Haley presiding. Tomorrow the Council takes up a new resolution condemning North Korea for its latest missile test.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced today sanctions on a Syrian research center in response to the use of saran gas by Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad on his own people earlier this month. Altogether an additional 154 people were sanctioned.
General John Nicholson, the head of US and international forces in Afghanistan, said today “Oh no I’m not refuting that,” about reports Russia was providing support, including weapons, to the Taliban.
2. Tower Shooting – Two people were shot in a Dallas, Texas tower today.
WFAA-TV reported that sources said the gunman shot his boss and then himself.
CBS 11 reported police responded to the possible active shooter situation at a building in the 8300 block of LBJ Freeway, near Forest Lane and Central Expressway.
The building was evacuated.
This story is still developing.
3. North Korean Menace – Chinese President Xi Jinping urged President Trump to show restraint as tensions rise over North Korea.
The two leaders spoke by phone today as the Hermit Kingdom prepares to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of its military on Tuesday.
Xi said he hoped “all sides exercise restraint and avoid doing things that exacerbate tensions.”
President Trump also spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who called on Pyongyang to end its “dangerously provocative actions” after it marked its last major holiday a week ago with a failed missile test.
An official North Korean website warned today that Pyongyang will “wipe out” the United States if Washington starts a war on the peninsula.
In a series of editorials the Rodong Sinmun newspaper – the official mouthpiece of the ruling Workers’ Party – said the North’s forces were undeterred and called the US strike group’s imminent arrival “undisguised military blackmail.”
“Such threat may startle a jellyfish, but can never work on the DPRK,” it said today, using the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The North’s propaganda website Uriminzokkiri today claimed that the dispatching of the USS Carl Vinson signalled a war: “It is proof that an invasion of the North is nearing day by day.”
The editorial, described as being written by an army officer, said it was a “big miscalculation” for Washington to compare the North to Syria, which did not launch an “immediate counterattack” after a US cruise missile strike earlier this month.
In the event of an attack, it said, “The world will witness how Washington’s rash nuclear aircraft carriers are turned into a huge pile of steel and buried at sea and how a country called America is wiped out from the Earth.”
4. Expired? Toss It? – With the rising cost of medicines, those on a fixed income may be tempted to reach for a bottle of expired medications.
But is it safe?
“If you are using something that was a few months or a year after the expiration date, and it had been stored well, for most drugs I don’t think you have a problem,” David Nierenberg, Chief of the Section of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, told The Huffington Post. “But the companies won’t guarantee it.”
Liquid medicine, in particular, should be avoided.
This is because the contents of the bottle are sterile until the seal is broken. But once a liquid medication is opened, it becomes very susceptible to bacterial contamination.
5. Feeding the Piggy Bank – Remember as a child how your Mama always told you when you got birthday money or your allowance to be sure and feed the piggy bank?
The idea was to teach us to save.
But why do so many of us not save for retirement or are retired and find the money never stretches from the start of the month to the last of the month?
a. They Don’t Think Saving for Retirement Is a Priority b. They Already Spent Their Retirement Savings on an Emergency c. They Don’t Have Access to a Workplace Retirement Plan d. They Don’t Think They Need Retirement Savings e. They Plan to Rely on Social Security f. They’re Still Recovering From the 2008 Crisis g. They Don’t Make Enough Money to Save for Retirement
6. Trump Economy – Global markets liked the outcome of Sunday’s first round of the French presidential election with upticks around the world.
Newcomer centrist Emmanuel Macron will face off on May 7 against right wing candidate Marine Le Pen.
“While markets had deemed a Le Pen-Macron (run-off) as the most likely outcome, there was an element of uncertainty,” said Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Adviser at Allianz. “Now that this has been lifted, there will be a relief rally, bolstered by how quickly the mainstream candidates … have endorsed Macron, the market’s favorite.”
A new report is predicting the closure of around 9,000 retail stores this year as brick-and-mortar attempt to compete with the likes of Amazon’s online marketplace.
Tidbits: The President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, Bob Ross, defended the American Airlines attendant accused of inadvertently hitting a woman as he snatched her baby stroller, narrowly missing the child she was holding as she boarded a flight from San Francisco to Dallas on Friday.
That flight attendant has been grounded pending an investigation.
Two people died after falling in separate incidents in California’s Sequoia National Park over the weekend, according to the National Park Service.
Five people, including a 2-year-old toddler and two other children, died on Sunday in a house fire in the New York City, New York borough of Queens, the city’s deadliest such blaze in two years, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
A migrant boat sank overnight in the eastern Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, leaving at least 16 people dead, including two children, Greek authorities said today.
At least 35 people were killed over the weekend in Mexico, according to local officials, amid a widespread surge in drug gang violence that has driven murders to a level not seen since 2011.
That’s what caught my attention this Monday, April 24th, 2017.
Catching you up on what has happened and what to look forward to in the week ahead, spiced with a bit of my own take on current events and the headlines.
* Political Alterverse – No worries.
President Donald Trump told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that “Dreamers,” young immigrants who were brought to America illegally as children, should not fear deportation because they are not being targeted.
Dreamers can “rest easy,” the President said, because his Administration is “not after the Dreamers; we are after the criminals.”
“We’ll be having a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform,” President Trump said Friday, claiming his plan will offer businesses and individuals “a massive tax cut” that would be “bigger, I believe, than any tax cut ever.”
“We are moving forward on comprehensive tax reform that cuts tax rates for individuals, simplifies our overly-complicated system, and creates jobs by making American businesses competitive,” a White House official said.
The Trump Administration denied ExxonMobil’s request for a waiver from US sanctions to work with Russia, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Friday.
President Trump on Friday fired Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a holdover from the Administration of former President Barack Obama.
President Trump announced in February he would skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which is scheduled for this coming Saturday.
Instead of attending the Nerd Prom, the Prez will hold a rally in Pennsylvania, the White House announced on Saturday.
President Trump continues to have record-low approval ratings with the general public, but he is maintaining his core base of supporters, finds a Washington Post/ABC News poll released today in advance of the 100-day mark of Trump’s presidency on April 29.
The big questions facing the coming week when Congress returns from being out among their individual constituents is whether:
1. a government shutdown is avoided come Friday night 2. a health care reform bill can be passed
Another pressing question is if a spending bill is passed and does not include money specifically for The Wall, will the Prez veto the bill and shutdown the government?
A revealing and troublesome response from the Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly:
“There are so many aspects to this terrorist thing,” Kelly said on CBS News’ Face the Nation today. “Obviously you got the homegrown terrorists. I don’t know how to stop that. I don’t know how to detect that. You got other terrorist threats that come across the border.”
“It is a big problem,” Kelly said. “It is – you know, depending on where you sit is where you stand on this, It is a big threat. Is it the number one threat? I think it’s the most common threat. Unfortunately there are other similar-type terrorist threats that could come from outside the border. You know, the CIA, NSA, all the great men and women of DOD are doing a great job keeping them away from the homeland.”
“The appeal I would make on the homegrown threat is if you see something, say something,” Kelly continued. “Whether you’re a parent, a sibling, an imam. And this extends frankly…to white supremacists and that kind of terrorism as well. If you see a young man or a young woman going down that path where they’re always on these kind of websites or saying things at church or in a mosque that are clearly disturbing, then tell someone about it so that we can help that kid, young man or woman, before they break the law.”
Kelly also said about the North Korea problem, “The instant they get a missile that can reach the United States and they have a weaponized atomic device, a nuclear device on it, we are at grave risk as a nation.”
The Democrats are feuding among themselves over whether you can be a Democrat and pro-life. The issue came to the forefront after a local mayoral candidate, who is pro-life and registered as a Democrat, affiliation was questioned by some fellow Democrats, who happen to be abortion-rights advocates.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has waded into the dispute.
Pelosi says that it’s absolutely possible for someone to be a member of the Democratic Party and also be against abortion.
“I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive — my family would say aggressive — position on promoting a woman’s right to choose,” told Chuck Todd on NBC‘s Meet the Press today.
DNC Chair Tom Perez and Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders received backlash this week from abortion-rights groups since they scheduled a rally with a mayoral candidate in Omaha, Nebraska, who previously supported an abortion-related ultrasound bill.
Speaking of Democrats, what’s up with 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton?
Hillary’s making the rounds and sounding like she is ready for another go around with the Prez, while still not admitting her own, personal shortcomings for why she did not win a majority of Electoral College votes.
Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party shares average Americans’ concerns according to a new poll:
The White House announced today that President Trump will have dinner Thursday with the US Supreme Court.
State Politics: The North Carolina State Board of Elections reported 508 cases of voter fraud during the 2016 election. The vast majority were by active felons. The fraudulent votes represented a small fraction of the 4.8 million ballots cast. The report didn’t include any evidence of coordinated fraud, and many of the voters claimed to be confused about their eligibility. This was not enough to effect the outcome of any of the races.
Faced with three deaths linked to faith healing in the county over the last four months, Idaho’s Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue has launched a campaign to change the law, and remove any religious exemptions for the legal obligation to seek medical care for children.
Global Politics: French citizens headed to the polls today in the first round of presidential elections.
No one candidate was expected to take an outright majority; rather, four candidates are in contention to make it to the second round: far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, center-right François Fillon, centrist Emmanuel Macron, and far-left populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The top two candidates will face each other for the prize on May 7.
Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen advanced today to the runoff in France, remaking the country’s political system and setting up a showdown over its participation in the European Union.
The euro spiked against the dollar on today as early results from the French election showed Le Pen and Macron advancing to the runoff.
The United States will proceed with an agreement with Australia to help resettle refugees, Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday.
“President Trump has made it clear that we’ll honor the agreement – that doesn’t mean we admire the agreement,” Pence said.
The arrangement requires the US to accept up to 1,250 refugees, many from Iran and Syria, from their present location in offshore detention centers in Australia. In return, Australia will accept refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
“Now that we possess mighty nuclear power to protect ourselves from US nuclear threat, we will respond without the slightest hesitation to full-out war with full-out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike, and we will emerge victor in the final battle with the United States,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said on Saturday in a commentary that North Korea wouldn’t hesitate to launch a preemptive strike if provoked.
“The US has now gone seriously mad. It is mulling frightening the DPRK and achieving something with nuclear strategic bombers, nuclear carriers, etc. However, the army and people of the DPRK will never be browbeaten by such bluffing,” it said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic Republic of Korea.
President Trump will host members of the United Nations Security Council at the White House tomorrow.
Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is serving this month as the President of the Security Council, a role that rotates each month among the five Permanent members: the U.S., Great Britain, France, China and Russia. There are 15 members of the group, but the others, right now including Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay are non-voting members.
* Science March – Thousands of people marched Saturday in protest in Washington, D.C., and in cities around the world in March for Science events as part of Earth Day.
The rallies were to promote popular interest in science, recognize scientific achievements, and protest the Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to research funding as well as policy-making around issues like climate change which marchers argue disregards the best available evidence.
“We have a great many lawmakers – not just here, but around the world – deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science,” Bill Nye the Science Guy told a cheering crowd at the main rally in Washington DC. “Their inclination is misguided, and in no one’s best interest.”
In reaction, the President tweeted, “I am committed to keeping our air and water clean but always remember that economic growth enhances environmental protection. Jobs matter!”
* Taliban Attack – After the assault of 10 Taliban soldiers, at least 140 people were killed in Afghanistan on Saturday.
President Ashraf Ghani declared a national day of mourning after scores of soldiers were killed by Taliban fighters disguised as fellow soldiers, in the deadliest attack of its kind on an Afghan military base.
* Ukraine Fatal for American – The American man was killed and a German woman was injured this morning, a spokesman for Austria’s Foreign Ministry confirmed.
Austria holds the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
“The #OSCE SMM can confirm that a patrol consisting of six patrol members and two armored vehicles has been involved in a serious incident while patrolling in the vicinity of the settlement of Pryshyb, an area not controlled by the Government in #Luhansk region As a result of this incident, one patrol member has died and two members have been taken to hospital for further medical examination.”
* Sign of the Times – What’s the first sign of growing old?
Hair on your knuckles.
What’s the second sign of aging?
Looking for hair on your knuckles.
But what’s the truth?
You can thank a group of tiny organs in your inner ear, called the vestibular system, for your sense of balance, motion, and spatial awareness. But you also might want to curse this system once you hit 40 – the age when vestibular function begins to deteriorate, according to a recent study published in Frontiers in Neurology.
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 Friday, April 21st, 2017.
1. Political Alterverse – Free at last!
An Egyptian-American aid worker, Aya Hijazi, and her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, along with four other humanitarian workers are out of an Egyptian prison, where they had been falsely imprisoned, today.
The Administration of President Donald Trump had made the release of the woman and her compatriots a priority.
Those efforts paid off with the prison release after she had been arrested with the others in 2014.
This morning she met with the President in the Oval Office.
There are those grumbling and questioning if human rights issues were addressed with the Egyptian government or ignored in order to secure Hijazi’s release.
White House officials are pushing a new compromise version of the Republican healthcare bill in a bid to deliver on President Trump’s promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act before his 100th day in office, which comes a week from tomorrow.
Revisions aiming to please the conservative Freedom Caucus, such as eliminating guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions, could stoke more opposition from moderate Republicans.
Facing a partial government shutdown if Congress does not act by a week from today, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said any stopgap spending bill must include $1.3 billion to start construction of The Wall.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said any inclusion of money for The Wall could be a deal-breaker and lead to a shutdown.
President Trump on Thursday ordered his Administration to expedite an investigation into whether foreign steel imports were threatening national security.
“This is not an area where we can afford to become dependent on other countries,” Trump said.
First court vote alert: Justice Neil Gorsuch, Thursday cast his first major decision – to allow an execution to move forward.
Gorsuch joined Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito to clear the way for Arkansas to execute a condemned inmate. They didn’t explain their decision.
The Prez is finding out that you can say anything on the campaign trail, but getting action from Capitol Hill is a different story.
As the President faces his first 100 days, what he promised in a contract with the country to accomplish sounded great, but reality makes mince meat of those words.
Is President Trump giving too much independence to the military to act?
The President signed a bill into law on Tuesday that will improve weather forecasting and researching capabilities across the American weather enterprise.
The House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s involvement in the 2016 US election, said today it had invited the Directors of the FBI and the National Security Agency to appear at a closed hearing on May 2.
Highlighting getting Gorsuch on the Supreme Court as a major accomplishment (which it is) in a tweet today by the President, I am reminded how his predecessor accented every speech over and over with “I got Bin Laden.”
Former President Barack Obama is stepping out of the shadows with a Monday town hall-style meeting with students at the University of Chicago will be followed by an awards ceremony in Boston; a series of public remarks as well as private paid speeches in the United States and Europe; and an appearance at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Oh no he didn’t!
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he was “amazed” a federal judge on “an island in the Pacific” had put a hold on the President’s travel ban.
The backlash was immediate especially from America’s 50th state’s two Senators.
For the top enforcer of the Constitution in the nation to so malign a state by calling it some island sitting in the ocean is pathetic to put it mildly.
Explains the following of why Americans are so low on pols in the capital of the nation.
The view by Americans is not good of Washington DC, the President, the Speaker of the House and either Democrats or Republicans.
Trust is a major concern and splits along political affiliation.
State Politics: After the Supreme Court refused to issue a stay, Arkansas carried out its first execution in more than a decade last night.
A Republican-drawn map setting the boundaries of Texas’ statehouse districts violates the Constitution by intentionally discriminating against minority voters, a federal court ruled on Thursday – the third such ruling against the state’s voting laws in roughly a month.
Questions are swirling around why the powerful Republican Congressman from Utah, Jason Chaffetz, would give up his seat.
Chaffetz did not shed much light when he told Politico, “I don’t know exactly where these winds are going to take me. I just know that I wanted to explore those. And by making the announcement early, it helps on several fronts. I can pursue those opportunities and see what is out there.”
However, Chaffetz specifically denied any hint of scandal was in the wings causing him to decide to bow out of Congress. Many believe he may run for Governor of Utah in 2020.
Florida State Senator Frank Artiles, who used a racial slur and vulgar language in a conversation with two African-American colleagues, is resigning.
Global Politics: Yesterday’s terror attack in Paris, France has candidates for the Presidential Palace off the stump, but not off Twitter and the airwaves. Voting begins Sunday.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today that Syria had dispersed its warplanes in recent days and that it retained chemical weapons, an issue he said would have to be taken up diplomatically.
“The bottom line is, I can say authoritatively they have retained some (chemical weapons). It’s a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, and it’s going to have to be taken up diplomatically,” Mattis said.
South Korea said today it was on heightened alert ahead of another important anniversary in North Korea, with a large concentration of military hardware amassed on both sides of the border amid concerns about a new nuclear test by Pyongyang.
President Trump on Thursday praised Chinese efforts to rein in “the menace of North Korea,” after North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike.”
“Beijing has demonstrated due enthusiasm for Washington’s newfound interest in a diplomatic solution and willingness to work more closely with it,” the state-run China Daily said in an editorial.
China’s Defence Ministry today denied reports that its bomber aircraft were on a heightened state of alert amid tensions over North Korea.
French centrist Emmanuel Macron is set to come out on top in the first round of France’s presidential election on Sunday as far right leader Marine Le Pen fell further behind him in an Elabe poll published today.
Venezuelans took to the streets again on Thursday, braving tear gas, beatings and bloodshed as they try to force President Nicolas Maduro to hold elections in the crisis-riddled nation.
Testing Trump will or sending a message?
For the fourth time in as many days, Russian bombers cruised close to the US coastline and were escorted away by US fighters.
2. Sounds of Silence – Today is a Day of Silence.
The Day of Silence first started in 1996 at the University of Virginia. In a course on nonviolent protests, students Maria Pulzetti and Jesse Gilliam were assigned to design a form of nonviolent protest on an issue that needed more attention.
The two created the idea of Day of Silence to protest the silencing impact of anti-LGBTQ bias and violence.
7. Does a Body Good? – Could it be the lowly beet could have rejuvenation effects that Ponce de Leon once searched for in the Everglades of Florida?
A recent study found the bright red juice has anti-aging benefits.
“What we showed in this brief training study of hypertensive older adults was that, as compared to exercise alone, adding a beet root juice supplement to exercise resulted in brain connectivity that closely resembles what you see in younger adults,” W. Jack Rejeski, co-author of the study, told EurekAlert.
8. Religiously Religious – Maybe Americans are not as religious about religion as their talk would seem to indicate at time.
Remember when reading a verse of Scripture was a daily activity?
Those days are gone.
a. About a third of Americans (35%) say they read scripture at least once a week b. Three-quarters of Christians say they believe the Bible is the Word of God c. Christians, who make up a majority of U.S. adults (71%), are divided over how to interpret the Bible d. In 2014, about four-in-ten Christians (42%) said reading the Bible or other religious materials is an essential part of what being Christian means to them personally e. Seven-in-ten Americans (71%) know the Bible teaches that Jesus was born in Bethlehem
Tidbits: Tesla on Thursday recalled 53,000 cars — nearly two-thirds of the 84,000 vehicles it made last year – to replace potentially faulty brakes.
After first cancelling a speech by conservative Ann Coulter, where she vowed to go an speak any way, the University of California Berkley changed its mind yesterday and re-invited Coulter to speak on May 2. But Coulter says she can’t make it that day. The student group that invited her to speak is threatening to sue the school.
Volkswagen has been ordered to pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty in the United States for cheating on diesel emissions tests.
Is Fox News under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
A lawyer representing former Fox News co-host Andrea Tantaros, who’s suing former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, says the U.S. Attorney has subpoenaed one of his other clients.
At least eight Afghan soldiers were killed and 11 wounded today when Taliban gunmen dressed in uniforms talked their way past checkpoints and attacked a military headquarters in northern Afghanistan, officials said.
About 50 children were evacuated from a Caracas, Venezuela hospital Thursday which the Venezuelan government blamed on an attack by armed gangs but the opposition attributed to tear gas used to quell unrest.
Three Seattle, Washington police officers were shot and injured during an exchange of gunfire with a suspect, who later died, after a robbery at a downtown convenience store on Thursday.
The April 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill did $17.2 billion in damage to natural resources, a study published in the journal Science said.
That’s what caught my attention this Friday, April 21st, 2017.
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 Thursday, April 20th, 2017.
BREAKING NEWS: The US is prepping to arrest Wikileaks founder Julian Assange even as Ecuador readies to kick him out of its Embassy in Great Britain.
1. Political Alterverse – Resurrection?
Back on the plate when members of Congress return this coming week will be another go at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
But will it take a back seat or claim shotgun as Congress has to deal with funding the government by next Friday?
The Hoosier born-and-bred federal judge in California who presided over the Trump University fraud case has landed a routine deportation case involving a so-called Dreamer, who was deported when he presumably was immune from that action until 2018.
President Donald Trump took on Canada again today about the “dairy war” going on between the two countries as he railed against the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The President made his remarks when signing an executive order to investigate if foreign countries are involved in unfair trade practices hurting the American steel industry.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Wednesday denied that the Trump Administration misled the public last week by saying it was sending an aircraft carrier battle group to waters near North Korea to serve as a deterrent, when the ships were actually on the way to participate in joint maneuvers with Australia.
Tongues are wagging today after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said there might be a new vacancy on the Supreme Court come summer.
“I would expect a resignation this summer,” the Iowa senator said, according to the Muscatine Journal. Grassley’s comments came during a Q&A at a visit to Kent Corporation in Muscatine, Iowa.
Will it be swing Justice Anthony Kennedy?
Will it be the Court’s oldest Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
Then again, might it be Justice Stephen Breyer?
If either of the two liberal Justices, Ginsburg or Breyer, retire, it could cement a conservative bent to the Court for decades to come.
The President met today with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy.
During a news conference, the 2% of GDP, which member countries are suppose to pay to NATO was raised with Gentiloni by a reporter. The Prez said he wanted to know the Prime Minister’s response.
Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who announced he would not run again yesterday, as he mulls running for Governor, now is hinting he may not fill out his term through next year.
Chaffetz said in a text message: “My future plans are not yet finalized but I haven’t ruled out the possibility of leaving early. In the meantime I still have a job to do and I have no plans to take my foot off the gas.”
Will Democrats have a chance in the deep red, strongly conservative state?
Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has been tapped to be Ambassador to New Zealand.
State Politics: Arkansas’ effort to carry out a rush of executions before its supply of a hard-to-get lethal injection drug expires hit more setbacks on Wednesday, when the State Supreme Court granted a reprieve to inmate Stacey Johnson, who was scheduled to die today.
Separately, an Arkansas County Court judge blocked the state from using the drug vecuronium bromide, one of the three drugs in the state’s lethal-injection cocktail, putting all of the planned executions in limbo.
Democrats today launched a wave of attack ads against Jon Ossoff’s GOP opponent, Karen Handel, in the special election for the Georgia 6th House seat set for June, according to a new report.
Keep a watch what happens when Alabama conducts its special election for Senator with an August primary and December general to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Global Politics: General Motors said today that it had halted operations in Venezuela after the government seized its plant in the South American country. GM called the seizure of its local subsidiary, General Motors Venezolana, “illegal,” and vowed to “vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights.”
ExxonMobil is seeking a waiver from US sanctions on Russia to pave the way for a joint venture with the Russian state oil company, Rosneft, to drill in the Black Sea, The New York Times reported.
A Moscow, Russia-based think tank, the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, is reported to have drawn up the plan to influence the US presidential election to throw the election to candidate Trump.
The Institute circulated the strategy papers in June and October, recommending that the Kremlin start a propaganda campaign to get US voters to elect a President who would be softer on Russia than the Administration of former President Barack Obama had been, and pushing voter fraud claims if Hillary Clinton beat Trump to undermine her power.
At least three people were killed, according to human rights groups, during the “Mother of All Marches” in Venezuela on Wednesday, bringing the death toll from recent protests to seven.
How long before Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is forced from office by the people?
North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear program.
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, did not mince its words. “In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes,” it said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a visit to London, England the military option must be part of the pressure brought to bear on North Korea. “Allowing this dictator to have that kind of power is not something that civilized nations can allow to happen,” he said in reference to Kim Jung Un, the North’s dictator.
The United Nations Security Council today condemned North Korea’s latest failed missile test and demanded Pyongyang not conduct any more nuclear tests, in a statement that had been delayed as the United States and Russia sparred over language.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said today the United States should meet its own obligations agreed in a landmark nuclear deal in 2015 rather than making accusations against the Islamic Republic.
Russia’s Supreme Court has banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating in the country, accepting a request from the Justice Ministry that the religious organization be considered an extremist group.
Iranian state TV says the clerical body charged with vetting candidates has disqualified former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from running in next month’s presidential election.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court today ruled there was insufficient evidence to order Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s removal from office over corruption allegations leveled by the opposition, but it ordered further investigations.
2. High Alert – China today put its military on “high alert” over the threat of North Korea’s uncertainty.
China has already suspended all flights in and out of North Korea by Chinese airliners. Now its fighters are on an added sense of security.
What comes next?
Meanwhile, Max Thunder, the joint-military drill of the US and South Korea, is playing out on the Korean Peninsula to the dismay of both the North and China.
“We are conducting a practical and more intensive exercise than ever,” South Korean pilot Colonel Lee Bum-chul told reporters. “Through this exercise, I am sure we can deter war and remove our enemy’s intention to provoke us.”
3. Who Leaked? – Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency are on the hunt for who may have leaked information to Wikileaks.
An insider working within the hallowed halls of Langley is suspected.
The CIA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation into one of the worst security breaches in CIA history, which exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smart phones, smart televisions and computer systems.
6. Trump Economy – The chief banking regulator, the Comptroller of the Currency, faulted itself for failing to act on “red flags” to stop the Wells Fargo fake account scandal years ago.
The report called oversight of the bank “untimely and ineffective,” saying federal examiners missed numerous chances to uncover the core problems behind the creation of millions of fake bank and credit card accounts by employees trying to meet aggressive sales targets.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait said today that consensus is growing among major oil producers that they should extend an agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers to cut oil supplies.
Hopes were buoyed today over tax reform boosting the markets.
7. Rise in Disease – A very painful disease is on a surge in Hawaii.
The clinical description of the symptoms of rat lungworm illness – “severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, seizures, and neurologic abnormalities” – lets this particular affliction off the hook.
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 19th, 2017.
1. Political Alterverse – Debunked dossier.
That dossier released in the waning days of the 2016 election, prepared by an ex-British spy, was part of the basis for getting a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor communications of former foreign policy adviser to the campaign of Donald Trump and ties to Russian officials.
The dossier had been widely panned as unreliable and much of the information unconfirmable, even by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey.
The Trump Administration notified Congress last night that Iran is complying with the deal reached by former President Barack Obama on its nuclear program.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, however, in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that the Administration is reviewing the deal, which President Trump strongly criticized during his campaign, to determine whether it “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”
President Trump said Tuesday that his push for tax reform was “in very good shape.”
“It’s going to make it much harder to pass tax reform with the president not releasing his tax returns because everything he proposes, people will say, I wonder if he’s doing it for the public, or for himself,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The Prez signed veterans healthcare legislation.
The bill expands the choice options for veterans to seek care from the doctor they choose and not be restricted to having to travel a distance or wait a long time to be seen by a Veterans Administration doctor in a VA medical center.
A new Harvard-Harris poll found that 57% of the public view the Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders favorably, making him the most liked politician in the country.
The next two most popular politicians among the public are Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump – each with 44% viewing them favorably.
White House Political Strategist Stephen Bannon, received the lowest favorability rating with only 16% viewing him that way.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not have a single US Attorney in place to lead his tough-on-crime efforts across the country.
Last month, Sessions abruptly told the dozens of remaining Obama Administration US Attorneys to submit their resignations immediately – and none of them, or the 47 who had already left, have been replaced.
Sessions is also without the heads of his top units, including the Civil Rights, Criminal and National Security Divisions, as he tries to reshape the Justice Department.
What’s the hold up?
President Trump on Tuesday said, “You always have to be concerned” about nuclear war when dealing with North Korea.
The Prez told CNN‘s Wisconsin affiliate WTMJ. “You don’t know exactly who you’re dealing with.”
Trump was talking about dictator Kim Jung Un of North Korea.
“Now I’m put in a position where he actually has nuclear and we’re going to have to do something about it,” Trump added. “It’s a very, very tricky situation. Hopefully he wants peace and we want peace and that’s going to be the end determination, but we’re going to see what happens.”
“The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready,” Vice President Mike Pence told 2,500 sailors dressed in blue fatigues and Naval baseball caps on a sunny, windy morning aboard a carrier at the U.S. Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay, Japan today.
The Environmental Protection Agency said today it would reconsider a rule on emissions from oil and gas operations and delay its implementation, marking the Trump Administration’s latest effort to dismantle Obama-era environmental regulations.
The man who gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money in getting the Democratic nomination for President in 2016, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders had this to say as he sat next to the Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, “No, I’m an Independent,” when asked by MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes whether he now identifies as a Democrat.
“If the Democratic Party is going to succeed – and I want to see it succeed – it’s gonna have to open its door to Independents,” Sanders continued. “There are probably more Independents in this country than Democrats or Republicans. It’s got to open its doors to working people and to young people, create a grassroots party. That’s what we need.”
Wonder what Perez was thinking?
The Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots visited the White House today, but some boycotted the event, including star quarterback Tom Brady. But one of those footballers who did come to the White House, Rob Gronkowski, crashed today’s press briefing.
My distant cousin, former President George H.W. Bush is back in the hospital recovering from pneumonia, but reportedly in good condition.
State Politics: Democrat Jon Ossoff came up short to win the 6th Congressional District of Georgia on Tuesday and will face a run-off with his nearest Republican contender, Karen Handel, in a runoff in June. Although Ossoff garnered 48.1% of the vote, he is expected to lose to Handel, a former Georgia Secretary of State, come June.
Had Ossoff reached 50% in yesterday’s plebiscite, he would be the first Democratic Representative from the 6th in almost four decades.
California will get to choose a new Congressman next year. Republican Chairman of the powerful Government Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz announced today he would not run for re-election in 2018.
Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske wrote in a letter Friday to DMV Director Terri Albertson that DMV workers had been accepting voting applications from non-citizens and forwarding them to the Secretary of State’s office. Cegavske said she had evidence non-citizens voted in the presidential election, but didn’t elaborate.
Florida Senate President Joe Negron said Miami-area Republican Senator Frank Artiles had asked to apologize on the Senate floor to Senator Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville. The Miami Herald reported that Artiles used a variation of the “n-word” during a private conversation at Tallahassee’s Governor’s Club with Democratic Senators Gibson and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale on Monday night.
Global Politics: Venezuelans have taken to the street in the capital of Caracas in protest of the socialist policies and lack of food, basic necessities, under President Nicolas Maduro. The protest is being described as the “Mother of All Marches.”
“We’re scared but we’ve got to do this,” said Carmen Medina, a 55-year-old Venezuelan social worker in the middle-class district of El Paraiso, where demonstrators were beginning to gather. “We’re marching for the freedom of our country.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May won Parliament’s backing for an early election today, a vote she said would strengthen her hand in divorce talks with the European Union and help heal divisions in Britain.
India’s top court has ruled that senior figures in the governing BJP will be tried for criminal conspiracy over the destruction of a 16th Century mosque.
Turkey’s President Tayyip Recep Erdogan will meet President Trump in May ahead of a meeting of the NATO alliance, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said today.
North Korea seemingly sent a message to the United States by displaying parts of America in flames during a military celebration.
2. Fresno Shooting – Three people were shot and killed within two minutes of each other last night in downtown Fresno, California.
The suspect, in custody, had expressed on social media his dislike of white people.
The gunman fired 16 rounds in less than 90 seconds, killing three white men. The victims were apparently picked at random.
7. Most Polluted – That would be California as six of its cities rank in the top 10 most polluted communities in the nation.
Bakersfield, California again holds the dubious distinction of having the US of A’s most days of highly polluted air, based on data from 2013-2015, the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report released today found.
Not the hamburger chain, but Fox host Bill O’Reilly. Word is discussions are underway to end his top-rated cable show, the O’Reilly Factor, over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Around 2:30 this afternoon the announcement came from Fox News that O’Reilly would not return from his vacation to host his show.
Out it is.
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said Tuesday that none of the company’s employees, himself included, would be fired over the treatment of a passenger, Dr. David Dao, who was dragged bleeding off of plane leaving Chicago to make room for crew members from a partner airline on a fully booked flight.
A former store clerk, was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison on Tuesday for the 1979 murder of first-grader Etan Patz.
French authorities said Tuesday that they had arrested two men in the southern port city of Marseille on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack aiming to disrupt the first round of France’s presidential election, scheduled for Sunday.
Investigators have confirmed an additional 17 mass graves in central Congo, bringing the number to 40 discovered since clashes between soldiers and a local militia intensified in August, the United Nations human rights office said today, adding that Congolese soldiers reportedly killed at least 114 people, including 41 children.
Supreme Court Justices today appeared sympathetic to a church that sued Missouri for denying it state taxpayer funds for a playground project in a closely watched religious rights case involving public money going to religious entities.
At least a dozen students were hospitalized after their school bus rolled over on a rural Idaho highway on Tuesday, police said.
At least 11 people are dead after intense rains provoked several landslides in a mountainous, coffee-growing part of Colombia today.
A bus fell off a mountain road in a northern Indian state and plunged into a river today, killing 44 people, officials said.
Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed several mummies, colourful wooden sarcophagi and more than 1,000 funerary statues in a 3,500-year-old tomb near the city of Luxor, Egypt hailing an “important discovery.”
Emirates, the Middle East’s biggest airline, said today that it is cutting flights to the United States because of a drop in demand caused by heightened US security measures and Trump Administration attempts to ban travelers from Muslim-majority nations.
That’s what caught my attention this Wednesday, April 19th, 2017.
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 18th, 2017.
1. Political Alterverse – Tax Day in America.
Democrats are making hay with today being the deadline for filing income tax returns to try and pressure President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.
Protests took place around the country Saturday.
Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton was shouted down and booed by constituents at a town hall meeting yesterday for defending the President not releasing those tax returns.
Will it force the President’s hand?
The Prez in the meantime flew to Kenosha, Wisconsin today to speak to workers at the headquarters of tool maker Snap-On and push his Buy American, Hire American policy.
While there, the Prez signed an executive order urging federal entities to do their best to both buy American goods and hire American workers for government products.
The order also aims to curb what the Administration says are hiring abuses in a visa program used by technology companies
Speaking in Wisconsin, the President set sights on Canada and vowing to solve the dairy “war” with our northern neighbor.
At issue is cheaper Canadian milk coming into the Cheese State to make the product for which Wisconsin is known to the detriment of local dairy farmers, who are selling off cows and getting out the industry.
The President refused to confirm or deny that US cyber capabilities were responsible for the failed North Korean ballistic missile test over the weekend.
The State Department raised concerns about the referendum over the weekend which changed Turkey’s governance from a parliamentarian to a presidential system.
The President called and congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the win and being a strong leader.
In Japan today, Vice President Mike Pence said the US would stand by Japan “100 percent” and keep pushing until North Korea curbs its missile and nuclear weapons programs.
President Trump “is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region and with China to achieve a peaceable resolution and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Pence said.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly today bluntly challenged members of Congress critical of the Trump Administration’s aggressive approach to immigration enforcement to either change the laws or “shut up.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is now saying his August deadline for a budget was too optimistic and will not happen.
Less than a third of people in the US approve of the way House Speaker Paul Ryan is handling his leadership role in Congress, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Monday.
The poll found that 29% approve of his job and a majority, 54%, disapprove of his job.
The White House is considering eliminating the popular petitions site We the People.
State Politics: The Supreme Court stayed two executions in Arkansas after an Appeals Court overturned a federal judge’s stay of all eight executions set within the next 11 days.
In Georgia, voters are turning out to vote for which Democrat and/or Republican will fill the vacancy in Congress when Dr. Tom Price became Health and Human Services Secretary.
Jon Ossoff is expected to be the Democrat to get the nod.
The Republican field is crowded with no clear front-runner.
If no one gets at least 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff election in June between Republican and Democratic candidate.
President Trump got into the fray urging Republicans to turn out and specifically to defeat Ossoff.
Turns out that Ossoff does not live in the congressional district is hoping to represent.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey today moved up the election to fill the Senate seat vacated by now-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to December because she said the original plan to hold it in late 2018 was not soon enough to meet state law. The primary election will now be held on August 15 and the general vote will be December 12, Ivey’s office said.
A South Dakota lawmaker frustrated with what he views as inaction over a secretive polygamous sect’s outpost in his district wants legislators to look into the compound, including why no South Dakota birth or death records have been filed from there over the last decade.
Global Politics: Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s Deputy United Nations Ambassador, said the US focus on the North Korean nuclear program reflected a “gangster-like logic” that’s turning the Korean Peninsula into “the world’s biggest hotspot,” creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment.”
Turkey’s main opposition party on Monday called for election officials to nullify the results of a landmark referendum granting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers.
Or was it intentional?
On the same day that the world nervously watched North Korea stage a massive military parade to celebrate the birthday of the nation’s founder Kim Il Sung, and the press speculated about a pre-emptive U.S. strike, the US Navy put the the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, together with its escort of two guided-missile destroyers and a cruiser, more than 3,000 miles southwest of the Korean peninsula, which was more than 500 miles southeast of Singapore.
It definitely fooled the world and North Korea. The psychological effect was striking.
The number of people applying for asylum in Mexico has soared by more than 150% since Trump was elected President, according to Mexican data, as more Central American migrants seek to stay rather than take their chances in the United States.
France is apparently now being targeted for meddling by Russia in its presidential election in May as both Sputnik and RT are coming out with “news stories” in support of one of the candidates, which are in reality fake.
2. Fatal Finale – The man accused of shooting a random great-grandfather on the street and killing him in Cleveland, Ohio Easter Sunday, then posting it to Facebook, turned the gun on himself near Erie, Pennsylvania today as police closed in.
The nationwide manhunt ended after a tip came in that the suspect was seen at a local McDonald’s.
3. Snap Election – In a surprise, British Prime Minister Theresa May is putting it all on the line, calling for an vote-of-confidence election on June 8 to solidify her actions in following the voters in pursuing Brexit – the divorce of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
“I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I have to make,” May said.
5. Do More – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke publicly for the first time this afternoon about the Cleveland murder video that stayed up on Facebook for nearly two hours before it was removed.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr., and we have a lot of work — and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening,” Zuckerberg said.
“We disabled the suspect’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the murder video, and two hours after receiving a report of any kind,” FB Vice President of Global Operations Justin Osofsky said. “But we know we need to do better.”
Tidbits: Boeing plans to lay off hundreds of engineers as its aircraft sales slow, the company said Monday. Boeing announced that it was laying off another 1,800 mechanics and engineers earlier in 2017.
The American Chamber of Commerce in China, called on the Trump Administration to “use every arrow” it has to help level the commercial playing field in China.
Thousands of Palestinians protested in the West Bank and Gaza as more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons began a hunger strike demanding better conditions and an end to detentions without trial.
A gunman opened fire in downtown Fresno, California today, killing three people before he was taken into custody, local media reported, citing police. The suspect, who was not immediately identified by authorities, was also wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of a security guard at a Fresno Motel on Sunday, the Fresno Bee newspaper reported.
The man who was leading the movement for California to break away and become an independent country told his supporters Monday he was seeking permanent residence in Russia because of his “frustration, disappointment and disillusionment with the United States.”
The Army has charged a retired general with raping a minor in the 1980s, reports CBS affiliate WNCN in Raleigh, North Carolina.
That’s what caught my attention this Tuesday, April 18th, 2017.
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 Monday, April 17th, 2017.
1. Political Alterverse – Ready…
The Administration of President Donald Trump warned North Korea not to test American resolve.
The Chinese warned North Korea not to launch a missile.
Kim Jung Un, Young Leader of North Korea, ignored all.
A missile fired.
Five seconds after launch it blew up.
Did US cyber wonks have something to do with the explosion?
At the DMZ (demilitarized zone) in South Korea, Vice President Mike Pence warned the North Koreans the “era of strategic patience is over” and the US will stop any attack that might come from the North.
“Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new President in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” the Vice President said after delivering a statement to the media alongside Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korea’s Acting President.
“North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region,” Pence said.
Citing unprecedented declines of up to 70% in illegal crossings in some areas during the past two months, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said the government’s focus on the border – from a deportation crackdown in the interior to the preparations for the construction of a wall – has altered traditional traffic flows.
Texas Republican Congressman Mike Conaway, who is heading up the House Intelligence Committee look into the Russian interference in last year’s election and possible collusion by members of the Trump campaign, has flown to Cyprus to see and obtain information that may be pertinent to the Committee’s investigation.
The Prez is going to Wisconsin tomorrow to speak at a local factory in Kenosha. The President will visit the headquarters of Snap-On, a tool manufacturer.
A Gallup poll out early today finds only 45% of Americans think the President keeps his promises, down from 62% in a poll taken in February.
President Trump and First Lady Melania hosted their first annual White House Easter Egg Roll today, continuing a 150-year Washington tradition.
Did I say that?
One Congressman must be asking himself.
A Wisconsin Congressman told a town hall attendee who was concerned about the elimination of online privacy protections that using the Internet is a choice – a statement that has since drawn criticism on social media.
The question posed dealt with recent action that allows internet service providers to sell personal information of internet users. Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner answered this way:
“Nobody’s got to use the Internet. … And the thing is that if you start regulating the Internet like a utility, if we did that right at the beginning, we would have no Internet. Internet companies have invested an awful lot of money in having almost universal service now. The fact is is that, you know, I don’t think it’s my job to tell you that you cannot get advertising for your information being sold. My job, I think, is to tell you that you have the opportunity to do it, and then you take it upon yourself to make that choice. That’s what the law has been, and I think we ought to have more choices rather than fewer choices with the government controlling our everyday lives.”
State Politics: A federal judge put a hold on Arkansas carrying out eight executions this week.
The judge said the prisoners will probably succeed in proving the state’s proposed method of execution, lethal injection, is unconstitutional.
The state says it wants to execute the inmates before its supply of lethal injection drugs expires.
Leaders of America First Policies, a nonprofit that supports President Trump, told The Washington Post on Sunday that their group is launching a $3 million ad campaign to support a dozen Republican House members who backed the Republican healthcare plan.
Georgians in and around Atlanta, Georgia go to the polls tomorrow to fill the vacancy in Congress left when Dr. Tom Price became Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Democratic challenger is mounting a strong run for the office which has been in Republican hands for decades.
The President this morning weighed in on the Georgia contest, tweeting, “The super Liberal Democrat in the Georgia Congressional race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!”
The primary includes 18 candidates – Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Republicans hope to force a June runoff with the GOP’s top candidate by keeping Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff below 50% of the vote.
Global Politics: Turkey has a new way of governing after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a close victory in a referendum to change the nation from a parliamentary to presidential system.
Turkey’s main opposition party today urged the country’s electoral board to cancel the results of a landmark referendum that granted sweeping new powers to the nation’s President, citing what it called substantial voting irregularities.
International observers who monitored the voting also found irregularities, saying the conduct of Sunday’s referendum “fell short” of international standards. It specifically criticized a decision Sunday by Turkey’s electoral board to accept ballots that did not have official stamps, saying that undermined safeguards against fraud.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel today urged Turkey’s President Erdogan to seek “respectful dialogue” within the country after his narrow win in a referendum extending his powers.
“The (German) government expects that the Turkish government will now seek respectful dialogue with all political and social forces in the country, after this tough election campaign,” Merkel said in a statement issued jointly with Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.
Ex-South Korean President Park Geun-hye was indicted this morning on abuse of power and bribery charges.
Javier Duarte, the fugitive former Governor of Mexico’s Veracruz State, has been arrested in Guatemala after a six-month international manhunt, Mexican authorities said Sunday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang voiced China’s opposition to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system at a regular briefing in Beijing, and also urged all parties to work together to maintain peace and stability in the region.
South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn and Vice President Pence today reaffirmed their plans to go ahead with the deployment of the system.
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said that leaders should listen to protesters who have taken to the streets demanding that President Jacob Zuma resign or be removed after a Cabinet reshuffle triggered damaging credit downgrades.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged North Korea today to refrain from taking further provocative actions, comply with United Nations resolutions and abandon its nuclear missile development.
2. Social Media Killer – A killer is on the run after sharing his grisly murder and a “live” explanation of why and how he committed the grisly killing on Facebook.
The suspect is accused of killing a 74-year-old man outside of Cleveland, Ohio on Sunday. Reportedly he told his mother he was shooting people randomly because he and his girlfriend were arguing.
US stock futures edged lower after softer-than-expected results.
Data released Friday showed that retail sales fell by more than expected in March, and core inflation slowed to 2% from 2.2% in February.
China reported Monday that its economy, the world’s second largest behind the US, had grown by 6.9% in the first quarter, marking a slight improvement after five straight quarters of 6.7% or 6.8% growth.
It was the second consecutive quarter of accelerating growth for China. The first time that has happened in seven years.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Builder Sentiment Index released today slipped to 68 this month. That’s down three points from 71 in March, when it jumped to the highest level since June 2005.
8. Brain Freeze – No gray matter or brain cells damaged here.
While the cause “hasn’t been completely nailed down…brain freeze is a misnomer,” Neuroscientist Dwayne Godwin, Ph.D., told the Daily News. “Rather than actually freezing your brain it appears to be the change in temperature in the arteries that pass near the soft palate and enter the brain that may be the culprit.”
Tidbits: United Airlines will stop letting employees bump ticketed passengers off of overbooked flights, a spokeswoman for the carrier said Sunday.
“We issued an updated policy to make sure crews traveling on our aircraft are booked at least 60 minutes prior to departure,” the spokeswoman, Maggie Schmerin, wrote in an email. “This is one of our initial steps in a review of our policies.”
Pakistan says it has detained a teenage woman recruited by the Islamic State group to carry out a suicide attack against a church on Easter.
Twelve people were injured when a corrosive substance was thrown inside a packed London, England nightclub today, police and fire services said, amid a sharp rise in acid attacks in the British capital.
That’s what caught my attention this Monday, April 17th, 2017.
Catching you up on what has happened and what to look forward to in the week ahead, spiced with a bit of my own take on current events and the headlines.
* Political Alterverse – Cooler heads seem to be prevailing on this Easter Sunday.
North Korean Young Leader Kim Jung Un did attempt to test fire a ballistic missile early today, but it exploded within five seconds of launch.
So far President Donald Trump has not ordered any type of retaliatory action for Un defying his warning and that of Un’s only real ally, China.
National Security Adviser General H.R. McMasters flew to Afghanistan to meet with Afghan officials today.
McMaster met President Ashraf Ghani and other senior Afghan officials to discuss security, counter-terrorism, reforms, and development, according to a statement on the palace’s Twitter account.
“The stakes are high,” said McMaster. “This is really the modern-day frontier between barbarism and civilization.”
McMaster said, “It’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.”
President Trump asserted today that China was working with the United States on “the North Korea problem.”
“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!” Trump tweeted.
Vice President Mike Pence, in South Korea today, told American and South Korea service members that North Korea’s latest “provocation,” a failed missile launch shortly before his arrival in Seoul, laid bare the risks they face.
“Your willingness to step forward, to serve, to stand firm without fear, inspires the nation and inspires the world,” Pence told the troops.
Lamenting the election of President Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders had this to say today about the Democratic Party and the voter turnout in 2016:
“So many of our people are giving up on the political process. It is very frightening. In the last presidential election, when Trump won, we had the lowest voter turnout over – in 20 years. And in the previous two years before that, in the midterm election, we had the lowest voter turnout in 70 years,” Sanders continued. “We’re going to be fighting to see that the Democratic Party becomes a 50-state party. You can’t just be a West Coast party and an East Coast party.”
Keep your eyes on Presidential Adviser Gary Cohn, former Goldman Sachs CEO and registered Democrat.
Tomorrow the traditional Easter Egg Roll will take place on the lawn of the White House.
President Trump and the Republican National Committee together raised $42.6 million toward the 2020 race in the first quarter of 2017, Federal Election Commission reports reveal.
State Politics: Republicans kept a Kansas seat in the House of Representatives this week and former Democratic presidential contender and independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders is not so happy.
Sanders said today that Democrats should’ve done more to support the party’s candidate, James Thompson, during the special House election in Kansas last week.
“It is true that the Democratic Party should have put more resources into that election,” Sanders told host Jake Tapper on CNN‘s State of the Union. “But it is also true that he ran 20 points better than the Democratic candidate for president did in Kansas.”
This Tuesday, Democrats are trying to pick up a seat held by Republicans for decades in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
Global Politics: Turks go to the polls today to approve or disapprove of granting the presidency more power, moving Turkey from a dominant parliamentary system to a strong presidential system of governance.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing the measure which would ensure he remains in office for at least another decade.
Under the new proposal, the President would be able to dissolve the legislature, rule by executive order, and gain new authority over administrative and judicial appointments.
Erdogan celebrated what he said was a clear result in the referendum to grant him sweeping new powers, but opponents said they would challenge the vote count which gave a narrow 51.3% lead to Erdogan’s supporters.
China is seeking Russia’s help to cool surging tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, the country’s Foreign Minister has told his Moscow counterpart, after Beijing warned of possible conflict over North Korea.
The European Union is set to inflict a double humiliation on British Prime Minister Theresa May, stripping Britain of its European agencies within weeks, while formally rejecting the Prime Minister’s calls for early trade talks.
Odebrecht SA, the Brazilian engineering company at the center of a historic corruption scandal in that country, paid out a total of about $3.3 billion in bribes in the nine years through 2014, according to testimony cited by local media on Saturday.
A yellow fever outbreak is tearing through Brazil leaving thousands dead in its wake – thousands of monkeys, that is.
* Test Bust – North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile early today, which exploded shortly after launch.
There is speculation that the US may have sabotaged the test.
The test took place in Sinpo, a coastal city from which it did another test back in April into the Sea of Japan.
“This morning’s provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world,” Vice President Mike Pence said while speaking to U.S. troops stationed in South Korea today.
* First Case – Newly sworn-in Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch will be on the bench Monday to hear his first case before the high court, which involves separation of church and state.
At issue is a Missouri program that offers funding to resurface playgrounds with recycled tires. The Missouri state constitution explicitly prohibits giving any public money to religious organizations.
Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, which wants to resurface its playground, says the prohibition is discriminatory.
* Kim Jung Un – So what do we really know about the irrational dictator of North Korea?
1. There’s some debate about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s age. 2. Of his father’s seven children, four daughters and three sons, he is the third-youngest son. 3. His oldest half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, assassinated in Malaysia earlier this year, was originally planned to be their father’s successor. 4. Kim Jong Un attended Liebefeld-Steinhölzli Schule, a Swiss state school, as a teenager for two years. 5. While at school in Switzerland, he received failing grades in natural sciences and received good grades in music and technical studies. 6. He reportedly has a love for cheese and heavy smoking, which have likely led to his health and weight problems. 7. He has a passion for American basketball and when was younger, was a fan of Michael Jordan. 8. He has two degrees, one in physics from Kim il Sung University and another as an Army officer obtained from the Kim Il Sung Military University. 9. He married Ri Sol Ju in 2009 and in 2012 the couple had a daughter named Ju Ae. 10. He has reportedly executed more than 300 people, including at least 140 senior officials, since he came to power in 2011.