Kernels - Monday, July 21, 2014

by Mark  

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 Monday, July 21st, 2014.

1. What Happens Next? - The other day the events of the world began to encroach upon my personal space, disrupting the serenity I usually feel inside Mark's Den. Those events took over my thoughts. I had to record what was happening Inside My Mind.

It seems like all around me The World Is Burning? Those thoughts I shared prompted a follow-up article from fellow CNN iReporter, takamine69: Another day in paradise..part deux.

Today, after a weekend of bombardment of "news" about the shooting down of Malaysian Flight 17, I began to hear a faint echo of another time. This led me to wonder if this is a Lead-Up to Entanglement?

2. Higher Calling? - Was it a higher calling which inspired two young American men to leave the relative safety and security of life in the US of A to volunteer in service to the Israeli Defense Force?

If it was a higher calling, it lead to the two young men becoming martyrs for the nation they died to defend. Over the weekend these two young men lost their lives in the Israeli incursion into Gaza to halt the aggression of Hamas and stop the rockets being lobbed into the Jewish State.

3. Not Me - That appears to be what Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to convince the world concerning the brutal downing of Flight 17, which resulted in the death of 298 people.

Putin, his deputies and Russian media are doing their best to deflect any blame the Russian Federation may have in shooting down the commercial airliner.

As if taking cues from Moscow, even the rebels in alliance with Russia in eastern Ukraine are blaming the Ukrainian government in Kiev for the disaster. Grudgingly, the rebels are allowing access to the downed aircraft and recovery of the bodies of those who were killed.

A CNN/ORC poll over the weekend found that 56% of Americans believe that the rebels shot down Flight 17. Another 24% are leaning that way. But only 1 in 10 Americans want the US to respond militarily if it turns out that Russia was complicit and responsible for the crime.

In the meantime, rebel forces have agreed to allow Malaysian inspectors to recover the bodies of those killed and to turn over the "black boxes" to Malaysian authorities. According to CNN's Phil Black this is happening now.

4. Added Protection - Expanding upon two executive orders of his predecessors, President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, gender or nationality and President George W. Bush in 2002 amending the order to add exemption for religious groups, President Barack Obama today added gender identification to protected classes which may not be discriminated against in hiring practices by the federal government and government contractors.

In 1969, President Richard Nixon barred discrimination based on race, religion, gender, nationality, age or disability. President Bill Clinton added sexual orientation. Today the President added gender identity.

The order only applies to the federal government and employers contracted by the federal government.

5. Border Crisis - Tired of waiting on the federal government to act, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced today he is sending 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard to the border where nearly 60,000 children have landed on US soil primarily from Central America in recent months.

The Texas Governor, with sights set on the White House in 2016, is also calling on President Obama and Congress to hire an additional 3,000 Border Patrol agents to replace the Guardsmen down the road.

6. Keeping Pot at Home - Coloradans may have voted to allow recreational use of marijuana, but they don't want people smoking at the corner watering hole.

According to the Qunnipiac University poll, citizens of the Mile High State also don't want concert goers lighting up and puffing on a joint either.

In other words if you got 'em, don't smoke 'em unless you are at home or in members-only pot clubs.

7. That's With a 'B' - A Florida jury over the weekend awarded the plaintiff $23.6 billion in damages after successfully winning a suit in which she claimed that RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company was responsible for the death of her husband, 36, in 1996 from lung cancer.

The company has said it will appeal the award.

According to the suit, the company did not disclose that nicotine was addictive and smoking can cause lung cancer. The jury agreed.

8. Death Toll Rises - The number of dead Palestinians is fast climbing towards 600. The number of Israeli soldiers killed stands at 25. The death toll has increased after Israel launched an incursion into the Gaza Strip to halt the launching of rockets in to Israel by Hamas and to close and destroy tunnels used to launch attacks upon Israelis.

Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the Egyptians, Kuwaitis, Qataris and others in Egypt to work out a cease-fire between the warring camps.

9. In Case You Missed It - Climate Central is saying that the world's oceans were the hottest they have ever been since record keeping began in 1880 during the month of June. In fact the oceans were warmer than any month ever.

The average temperature of the oceans in June? 62.65 degrees.

10. Grateful Nation Salutes - Former Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts was awarded the nation's highest military honor today. Pitts, an Afghanistan veteran, was given the Medal of Honor in a ceremony today at the White House by President Obama.

Pitts, in humility, called on the nation not to remember his name, but that of his nine fallen comrades-in-arms who lost their lives in one of the most ferocious battles in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Pitts, I, along with the rest of your fellow Americans, salute you for your sacrifice and service.

That's what caught my attention for Monday, July 21st, 2014.

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

I am Mark Ivy.

Good evening!

Kernels - Friday, July 18, 2014

by Mark  

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

News with a dash of commentary to spice up your fare for Friday, July 18th, 2014.

1. Malaysia Flight 17 - There is no doubt about it. Flight 17 was shot down over southeastern Ukraine on Thursday. What is in dispute is who exactly shot the commercial airliner out of the sky.

The US of A, the United Nations, Great Britain, Germany and Australia are among those saying all the evidence points to a downing of the plane by pro-Russian separatists.

An audio recording released by the Ukrainian secret service is purported to be conversations by separatists with their Russian handlers. That recording has the alleged separatists taking credit for the shooting, but having done so thinking the flight was a Ukrainian military transport.

Russia, however, maintains that whoever shot down the plane it is the fault of the Ukrainian government for continuing to hold on to its territory in the eastern portion of the country.

One American with dual citizenship was among the dead passengers on the fatal flight. Another of the passengers had ties to the Cornfield. She was a Dutch doctoral student and former member of the Indiana University rowing team. Nearly 300 men, women and children were killed including 100 HIV/AIDS doctors and scientists heading toward a conference in Australia. The Netherlands lost the most with 100 of its citizens.

The UN has called for an international, independent committee to investigate the shooting. Accessing the final resting place of Flight 17 is complicated since the plane wreckage and the bodies fell in a separatist-controlled territory.

Questions are already being raised about how the crash site has been compromised. Conflicting reports about where the black boxes may be. Some say the Ukrainian government has them. Others say they have not been found. Some claim the boxes have been sent to Russia.

In the last downing of a commercial airliner which was done by Russia, the black boxes were hidden away for 10 years by Russia before being turned over to investigators.

The US is prodding the European Union countries for greater and more acute sanctions on Russia for the shooting.

2. Yeah, Right! - Today, as if adding insult to injury, the Internal Revenue Service informed a US District Court that the hard drive which contained the lost emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner had been destroyed three years ago.

This backs up what the IRS told a congressional committee earlier that it was presumed the hard drive had been destroyed.

The IRS claimed that the hard drive was destroyed after two technicians unsuccessfully attempted to retrieve data from the damaged drive.

Sounds like the dog ate my homework to me.

3. The New Caliphate - The UN has accused the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) of unwarranted executions, rape and forced child recruitment. ISIS was kicked out by Al Qaeda for being too extreme.

The UN also cited the Iraqi government and military for not taking steps to protect its citizens. The government was also found to be guilty of "summary executions/extrajudicial killings of prisoners and detainees." The UN report said the government may have committed war crimes.

The few and growing fewer Christians in northern Iraq under the control of ISIS have been given an ultimatum by the Caliphate - convert, pay a religion tax or death. Christians have until Saturday to comply or die.

4. FedEx Indicted - The transportation giant has been indicted by the US Justice Department with 15 counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, misbranded drugs and drug trafficking.

FedEx is proclaiming its innocence and vowing to fight the charges.

The indictment alleges that FedEx is complicit with online drug web sites in transporting the products ordered without a doctor's prescription.

Last year, United Parcel Service (UPS) agreed to hand over $40 million in payments for also delivering goods sold by illicit online pharmacies. FedEx could face fines of at least $820 million.

5. Deadline? What Deadline? - The deadline is Sunday for a permanent solution to the nuclear issue with Iran. Doesn't look that is going to happen.

Iran is seeking an extension and more time from six world powers: the US, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. Many in Congress said months ago a permanent solution would not be found.

The six powers are attempting to curb Iran's appetite for nuclear power and the ability to develop a nuclear bomb.

Without an agreement, Iran may be subjected to harsher sanctions and an end to a let-up on sanctions already in place.

Iran continues to claim its nuclear ambitions are limited to peaceful use. The rest of the world remains skeptical.

Caving in, the six powers agreed within the last hour or so to give the talks a four-month extension until November 24.

6. At Risk - The risk of living somewhere in the US of A which may be hit by an earthquake has been increased, according to a new report from the US Geological Survey. This is the first update since 2008.

I recently reported how Oklahoma is now experiencing more tremors than California. You can see the map outlining the increased risk in a third of the nation at

7. Tanks Roll - The tanks have rolled into the Gaza Strip from Israel as Israeli soldiers seek out tunnels and destroy them. One Israeli soldier has been killed in what is being termed a short- term "incursion" rather than invasion.

The Palestinian civilian death toll continues to rise.

The tunnels are used by Hamas and other terrorist groups to sneak into Israel and plant bombs and attack. The closing and destroying of these tunnels are the focus of the Israeli military mission.

The Israelis are also hoping to locate and destroy as many rockets as possible, which continue to be launched by Hamas into Israel from Gaza.

Egypt is continuing its efforts to broker a truce between the warring factions.

8. Cornfield Pit Bull to the Rescue - A pit bull named Ace is being called a hero today after he saved his boy from an Indianapolis house fire.

A deaf 13-year-old, Nick Lamb, was at home sleeping when fire broke out in the house. Ace began licking Nick's face until he woke and got up.

At first Nick thought Ace was wanting food or to go out. He then noticed the house was filling with smoke.

Nick, who has been deaf since birth, had turned his cochlear implants off and had not heard the fire crackling or Ace barking.

Let's hear it for a one in a million stories about pit bulls. This is one time, the pit saved the day rather than being the culprit.

9. Equality March - Both sides of the issue of legal recognition for same-gender couples were thrown a bone today.

The US Supreme Court granted a stay to the State of Utah which allows it not to be forced to recognize hundreds of same-gender weddings performed at the end of last year when its ban on equality was ruled unconstitutional. The Supremes agreed the State could wait to see how the appeals play out and a final verdict is rendered on the issue of same-gender equality.

On the other side, the same Appeals Court, the 10th District, which upheld a lower court ruling that Utah's ban was unconstitutional also upheld a lower court's finding that Oklahoma's ban on equality was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court stay is not an indication how the Justices may rule when appeals reach the high court. Many believe the Supremes might take up the issue in its next term which begins in October.

10. 45 Years Ago - Has it really been that long ago since man first stepped on the moon?

I remember well that hot July Sunday night my eyes locked on the black and white television screen after church. With total awe, I watched mesmerized as Neil Armstrong's booted foot made contact with moon dust.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Skip ahead over 20 years later. I was sitting in a diner in Linton, Indiana sipping coffee, my notepad on the table in front of me. Across the table sat a man who was more than just a man, but a space traveler.

I was interviewing Neil Armstrong for a piece in the Linton Daily Citizen. Armstrong was in Linton as he did every year to participate in the Phil Harris Scholarship Golf Tournament.

And here was I talking with this true American hero!

I recall sitting down with Armstrong and asking him about that historic night. He was humble and did not dwell much on his part in making history. Rather Armstrong concentrated on praising the endeavors and work of all those involved in the project past and present. He talked about the devotion of those NASA techs and scientists who seldom were given the credit and praise for making the impossible possible. How those techs and scientists were the ones that turned science fiction into scientific fact.

On Sunday we celebrate the 45th anniversary of that momentous occasion.

Today there is no talk about returning to the moon. The space program as we knew it has been shut down.

True during the 2012 presidential primaries, Newt Gingrich did talk about setting up a colony on the moon. The only reaction was how looney Newt sounded.

The days when children dreamed of going to space camp in the summer are from a bygone era. The days of wanting to be an astronaut when a child grows up seem long forgotten.

Armstrong is gone now, but will always live in my mind.

That's what caught my attention for Friday, July 18th, 2014.

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

I am Mark Ivy.

Good evening!

Kernels - Thursday, July 17, 2014

by Mark  

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 Thursday, July 17th, 2014.

1. Shot Out of the Sky? - The top news worldwide today is coming out of the conflict between the Ukraine and Russia. A Malaysian Airlines commercial airliner crashed near the border in eastern Ukraine.

It is not yet known if there was mechanical failure or if the Boeing 777, carrying 295 total, was shot out of the sky or by whom if that was the case.

Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon correspondent, is now saying there is evidence that the plane was shot out of the sky.

Shortly before the news broke that Malaysia had lost contact with the flight, Russian separatists in Ukraine announced they had shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane. Several military planes have allegedly been shot down by separatists in recent days.

The idea that a commercial airliner flying 32,000 feet was shot down brings a new urgency to the ongoing conflict. If so, it would indicate Russia may now be arming the separatists with more sophisticated weaponry.

It also gives more credence as to why new sanctions were placed by the US of A on Russia Wednesday.

Will this be the catalyst which draws America into a more robust support for the Ukrainian government?

Will NATO become more involved in protecting Ukraine?

Lots of questions and, at this point, very little answers.

Conspiracy theorists may have a heyday if it turns out that it wasn't a missile which brought the Malaysian flight down. What with Malaysian Flight 370 disappearing, presumed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, one could wonder if someone is targeting Malaysia Airlines.

But I think it will take more than prowess at the game of Clue to solve either mystery.

You can't jump to a conclusion that it was Colonel Mustard out for world domination.

Nor can you assume that Professor Plum has turned mad scientist.

Then again could the benign Mrs. White have multiple personalities including one which is quite malignant? I think not.

Nor can one think the unassuming Mr. Green has taken on the persona of another Unabomber.

Yes, conspiracy enthusiasts may be in hog heaven right now.

2. Deadly Shootout - A bank robbery gone sorely awry resulted in an hour-long police chase and a storm of bullets last night in California.

Three women were taken hostage. One, sadly, lost her life. Two of the three suspects also died during the confrontation.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

3. Two Other Great Ones Gone - Today we are mourning the passing of the great Johnny Winters, who was found dead in his hotel room in Switzerland. He is now gone to the biggest gig of all playing in the heavenly band and singing the blues.

We are also in mourning for the fabulous actress, Elaine Stritch. She was primarily known for her work on Broadway, but was also in a number of feature films and recurring television roles. Today she is singing and performing for the angelic host.

May both Winters and Stritch rest in peace.

4. Short-Lived - A mere two hours into a humanitarian cease-fire called for by the United Nations in the conflict between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the lull in hostilities was broken as two rockets were fired from Gaza.

So much for humanitarian ideals.

In the meantime, Egypt is stepping up its efforts to find a way out and save face for both Hamas and Israel. It was Egypt which worked out the last cease-fire a few years ago.

THIS JUST IN - Israel launches ground offensive into the Gaza Strip. Expect things to get much worse before it gets better.

We knew it was coming.

Now it is here.

5. 18,000 - That's the number of people who will be laid off work by software giant Microsoft over the next year.

Talk about economic recovery - NOT!

That amounts to around 14% of the job force for the company which employs 125,000. But most of the layoffs will be in the Nokia division which Microsoft purchased recently. Those employees work in Finland.

Seems the company wants to focus more on the cell phone market and video games.

6. Back in the Hot Seat - GM CEO Mary Barra was back for a fourth visit in front of a congressional committee today. It wasn't pretty. Joining her on the hot seat was the company's chief lawyer, Michael Milkin.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskell questioned how he managed to keep his job.

Barra appears to be doing her best at being candid and responsive, but Congress isn't happy.

The buying public keeps putting down their money and driving away in a new Chevrolet.

And in case you missed it, BMW yesterday recalled 1.6 million cars worldwide.

7. Equality March - The State of Utah is now appealing an order from the 10th US District Court of Appeals that it must recognize same-gender couples who were licensed and solemnized during the brief period following a federal judge declaring its ban on equality unconstitutional. The state has already appealed the Appeals Court ruling upholding the unconstitutionality of its ban.

At issue is legal recognition which would allow those couples who wed to apply and receive insurance and tax benefits among other things which straight, married couples receive.

Heading south to the Sunshine State, a Florida county judge has order the Florida Keys to immediately begin providing licenses to same-gender couples. The state has a state constitutional ban in place limiting recognition to one man, one woman only.

8. More Firepower - Chicago will get added firepower from the ATF in its fight to curb gun violence in the Windy City. The city and the State of Illinois have some of the toughest gun control laws on the books.

The announcement by the Justice Department today brings the number of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to 52. This seems to be in response to the July Fourth weekend shooting spree which left dozens killed and injured.

9. Elementary, My Dear Watson - Sherlock Holmes may be appearing before the US Supreme Court. The Court is in recess, but the issue is time sensitive.

A California writer is wanting to develop a new series of stories about the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle more than a century ago. The 7th District Appeals Court gave the go ahead, but the estate of the late British author is appealing the ruling claiming copyright infringement.

This could lead to a new take on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson or could keep the legendary duo firmly ensconced in literary sainthood.

10. Focus on Now - Seems that most of the media are fixated on an election in the far off future and failing to see the election staring them in the face.

As some of you may have noticed, I am not talking about who will or will not run for president in 2016.

We still have the MidTerm Elections in four months first before even thinking about the long, drawn out affair known as presidential primaries.

Of course I have opined little on the current election myself.

The candidates are not being all that vocal in getting their message out. Most seem to be walking and not running for office.

Yes, there has been at least one race which got some attention down in Mississippi where the loser still refuses to concede.

Over all, however, there is little dust-up in the political atmosphere.

Remember in "Field of Dreams" the classic admonition, "If you build it, they will come"?

I am wondering this year if we hold an election - no one will come.

Would it not be sad if we hold an election and no one arrives to cast their ballots?

Apathy of voters in this off-presidential election year seems to me to be at an all-time high.

That's what caught my attention for Thursday, July 17th, 2014.

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

I am Mark Ivy.

Good evening!

Kernels - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

by Mark  

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

News with a dash of commentary to spice up your fare for Wednesday, July 16th, 2014.

1. Not Jobs, Not the Economy, Not Healthcare - Immigration is now the top focus of Americans according to a new poll from Gallup.

While only 17% believe that immigration is the top concern facing the nation, it was ahead of other issues and concerns.

The poll found that dissatisfaction with the government was the second worry with 16%. The economy was next with 15%. Jobs was an issue for 14%. Healthcare lagged behind with only a nod from 8%.

Where do you stand on the issues and concerns?

What is your chief worry?

2. Cold War Redux? - Russia is reportedly going to re-open a listening station or a spy base in Cuba. The former base was closed by the Russians in 2001 for economic reasons and because there had been a thaw in US-Russo relations.

With the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea, along with threats to the rest of Ukraine, the frost is once more on the pumpkin. The chill has led to tense conditions between the White House and the Kremlin.

It is said that the agreement to re-open the listening post took place during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit last week to Havana. The base was originally opened in 1964 following the Cuban missile crisis teetered the world on the head of a nuclear war.

3. CDC Perils - Sounds more like the "Perils of Pauline" in details coming out at a congressional hearing today in which Centers for Disease and Infections Director Dr. Tom Frieden testified about shortcomings in the nation's, nay world's, top health protection facility.

Some are calling it hubris. Some are saying the CDC doctors and scientists became complacent.

For such a trusted organization to shine the spotlight on its own shortcomings is both miraculous and scary.

What if one of those Ziploc bags ripped?

What if that deadly bird flu was released into the atmosphere?

4. Say It Ain't So - Archie, the classic American comic book star, was shot and killed by a would-be assassin in the latest issue of "Life With Archie".

Archie died as he lived ever true to his friends. Archie took a bullet meant for his friend, openly gay Senator Kevin Keller.

For those of us born in the 1950s and raised in the 1960s, Archie was us. We all could relate to the teen's trials navigating high school. We all had a friend like Jughead. We all had our own double trouble of Betty and Veronica. We all had a Reggie who rubbed us the wrong way and always tried to best us at everything.

But this was the adult version of Archie, years after high school. This was an alternate Archie than the one we grew up with. The Archie we all loved will go on still trapped in high school at Riverdale.

For more insights into why the writers decided to kill off Archie and what it means for the future of everybody's favorite teenager, catch the article on by iReport Team member Henry Hanks.

5. Successful Publicity Stunt? - I reported in yesterday's Kernels about undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas being detained by the Border Patrol in McAllen, Texas. Vargas was released last night after Kernels went to print.

I had asked what Vargas had expected after being so out about being illegal. Apparently Vargas got what he asked for in being detained. Rather than keep Vargas behind bars and made more of a "martyr", the US government decided to release Vargas.

But will Vargas help or hurt the immigration debate?

Vargas claims the incident and detention was not a stunt.

6. Death Penalty Unconstitutional - A federal judge ruled today that California's death penalty is unconstitutional even though there has been a moratorium on executions since 2006.

The judge said the uncertainty of not knowing if or when executions would be restarted amounted to "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Constitution.

An appeal by the state is expected.

7. Another Cease-Fire? - The United Nations has called for a cessation of hostile activity between Israel and Hamas in Gaza on humanitarian grounds.

The Israelis have agreed to pause for five hours before any more airstrikes, but Hamas has yet to acknowledge the call for a cease-fire.

If true to form, Hamas will answer by either continued lobbing of rockets into Israel or putting the brakes on the launches for a period of time.

Hamas is claiming the Israelis committed a war crime when five children were killed on the beach during an airstrike.

Meanwhile the American teen who was beaten by Israeli police during a skirmish in the West Bank will be returning home to Florida later today.

8. Sanction This - The US has hit Russia today with more sanctions over the continued threats to Ukraine. President Barack Obama is expected at any time to address the new sanctions against Russia.

The Pentagon is reporting contrary to Russian claims a couple of weeks ago of withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border, the Russians are re-enforcing those troops.

9. Stock Market Fantasia? - The stock market continues to live in the clouds and soar above the reality in most of the US of A. Today once more the Dow Industrial Average set a new record.

Stocks keep climbing while according to Gallup and Pew around 68% of Americans do not feel an uptick in the economy, but a downward or no-change in the economic climate.

10. Fox News-CNN Merger? - Even if the Time-Warner board had agreed to a buyout offer from News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch there would not be an integration of Fox News and CNN.

CNN would have been put on the auction block.

Although the board refused the deal, Murdoch is not known to give up and go home. It is expected he may attempt a hostile take-over.

In the meantime, Comcast continues its attempts to buy-out one of its main rivals, Time-Warner.

That's what caught my attention for Wednesday, July 16th, 2014.

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

I am Mark Ivy.

Good evening!

Kernels - Tuesday, July 15, 2014

by Mark  

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

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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