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    Posted July 15, 2014 by
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    Kernels - Tuesday, July 15, 2014

     

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

    News with a dash of commentary to spice up your fare for Tuesday, July 15th, 2014.

    1. They Walk Among Us - They are family, close friends, neighbors,  stand in the pulpit, in the classroom, conduct Bible studies, in daycare  centers, work carnivals and for amusement parks.

    They are child predators.

    While we are concerned with the humanitarian crisis of children  flooding our southern border, we have a crisis affecting our own  children subjected to abuse by the perversion of adults.

    Law  enforcement and companies say more tools are needed with legislation  from Congress to aid in defending children from predators being hired in  industries in which children are a mainstay.

    Famous parks such  as Disney, Universal and Sea World have hired people who have been  arrested and convicted of preying on children - though not during the  course of employment.

    Will Congress react to this crisis quicker and more effectively than what it is doing with the children from Central America?

    Read the extensive coverage of this problem at CNN.com.

    2. 'We'd rather fight' - That is what Hamas said with rockets being  fired into Israel overnight after Israel agreed to an Egyptian proposed  cease-fire. Now the Israeli Cabinet is debating a ground invasion of the  Gaza Strip to root out the terrorist group Hamas.

    3. Activist  Detained - Should have seen it coming. After being vocal about being an  undocumented immigrant, even making a CNN documentary about his status,  Pulitzer-winning author Jose Antonio Vargas was detained at an airport  in McAllen, Texas today.

    Vargas in his public battle for  immigration reform and to get the US government to provide a way for  illegal aliens to obtain legal residence seemed to be taunting the  Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and Border Guards to arrest  him.

    What did he think would happen?

    4. Why Do Today  What You Can Do in May? - There is a movement in Congress to postpone  solving the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund until May of 2015.  Forget about the fact that the fund will run out of money in August.

    As I reported recently, money for the fund comes from the  18.4-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline that has not been raised since  1993. Since that time, motorists are driving less and buying more  fuel-efficient vehicles.

    The fund provides around 25% of the money for states to repair roads and bridges.

    But Congress is not completely heartless. The legislators are looking  at borrowing money from a fund for dealing with leaking underground  storage tanks, new fees from US Custom facilities and something called  "pension smoothing".

    "Pension smoothing" allows companies to  delay contributions to pension plans. This allows the government to  collect more in taxes from those companies since the pension  contributions are tax deductible.

    With less that 12 workdays left to act before the summer recess and the fund going broke in August, will Congress act?

    This just in: The US House of Representatives voted a short while ago  to provide temporary funding for the Highway Trust Fund. A similar bill  is waiting action in the Senate.

    5. Cornfield Marriage Law Shot  Down - The 7th District US Court of Appeals has struck down an Indiana  law that barred secular humanists from officiating at weddings.

    The 3-judge panel that heard the appeal ruled that the Hoosier law  favored certain religions over other religions, such as Buddhists, and  those with no religion, such as secular humanists. The panel noted that  while Buddhism which has no clergy were out-of-luck in having a person  of their religion officiating a wedding, a priestess of the Church of  Satan could preside over a wedding.

    The state tried to convince  the judges that secular humanists could get ordained by the Universal  Life Church and then be allowed to be marriage celebrants. The Court  found the state's defense laughable to require those without religion to  lie and pretend to be religious to meet the requirement of the state  law.

    This is a win for the 1st Amendment and freedom of religion and "making no law" which places one belief above another.

    6. Remember the Peace Corps? - I can well recall when President John F.  Kennedy rolled out a program he hoped would foster peace and goodwill  for the US with the people throughout the world. That program was the  Peace Corps.

    I recall later during the mid to late 1960s how  many opposed to the US war in Viet Nam turned to the Peace Corps to keep  from being drafted and sent to the rice paddies.

    In recent  years, the Peace Corps has waned in popularity and in its ability to  attract young people to go into impoverished countries to spread  goodwill and share knowledge with the people to help them become  self-sufficient.

    The Corps is currently at its lowest level in  over a decade. To counter the downturn in applicants, the Peace Corps  has announced it is streamlining the application process.

    Applicants have had to put their lives on hold for over a year waiting  for a decision on whether they have been selected to be one of America's  goodwill ambassadors. The new process will hopefully take no more than  six months.

    The Corps is also going to beef up security and  provide greater assistance to protect women from being subjected to  abuse in the countries where they serve.

    Another great program which seems to have mired in the bureaucratic swamp of red tape.

    7. Equality March - The Badger State, Wisconsin, and the Hoosier State,  Indiana, will have appeals by federal judges who struck down their  states' ban on legal recognition of long-term, same- gender couples  combined and heard by the 7th District Court of Appeals on August 13.

    The cases were combined and put on a fast track for hearing on Friday. A  request by Wisconsin for an additional five days to put its argument  together to overturn the federal judge's ruling was denied.

    Rather than having a 3-judge panel hear the appeals, the states have  requested that the entire 10-member court listen to the arguments.

    It is expected if the ruling goes against the states, the states will join Utah in appealing to the US Supreme Court.

    In light of today's ruling that Indiana is picking favorites among  religions allowed to officiate weddings, it will be interesting to hear  how the Court comes down on the issue of same-gender equality.

    8. Missing Deadline - Remember all the ballyhoo from Secretary of State  John Kerry about reaching a deal with Iran to halt or at least delay the  Persian nation's nuclear ambitions?

    Seems Iran won't meet a  critical deadline hammered out in the deal. This was something members  of Congress warned would happen months ago. That is why the Congress  passed contingency sanctions if Iran did not hold up its end of the  bargain.

    The deadline is a short five days away on July 20.

    Kerry admitted today that there are some "very real gaps" between where  Iran is at and the US at this point in time. These "gaps" may be too  wide to bridge within the time allotted for a permanent solution to curb  the possibility of Iran building a nuclear weapon.

    9. 106% -  That's the percentage of the Gross National Product that the nonpartisan  Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the federal budget will claim  within 25 years. That's even with shrinking deficits and government  spending dropping to the lowest in over 70 years.

    The CBO cites  the culprits primarily to be increases in needed payouts by Medicare  and Medicaid. The CBO says the government will not be able to take in  enough to offset the added burdens from the two government-run health  care programs.

    By the way, this is in addition to what the government keeps borrowing and will owe back to the Social Security Trust Fund.

    10. Priority Skewed? - There are some who are saying that we are more  focused on the children at the border than our own American children.  Some are pointing out the violence children in Chicago or Indianapolis  are facing every day - yet receives no national outcry.

    The old saying is that "charity begins at home."

    Are American political leaders putting their sights on the children  from Central America while ignoring the plight of our own children  primarily in metropolitan areas of the nation?

    Are we straining at camels when we should be swatting at gnats?

    Or is there a balance we can find where we take care of our own and  give the proper due to meeting their needs while be a good neighbor and  helping those from outside our borders?

    Just a few questions to ponder as we sit at our computers or our televisions or play on our smartphones this evening.

    That's what caught my attention for Tuesday, July 15th, 2014.

    Tune in tomorrow for another episode of Kernels From the Cornfield.

    I am Mark Ivy.

    Good evening!

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