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?
Will it crash and burn early with an impeachment to boost ratings?
Tune in tomorrow – same Bat channel, same Bat time.
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 CNNiReport 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.