Monday, January 30, 2017

How Syrian Refugees Were Vetted Before Trump

60 Minutes/CBS News (Aired 01/29/2017)

Coming To The U.S. As A Refugee (60 Minutes Ovetime)

"Then-Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told 60 Minutes last fall that the U.S. has a "thorough" vetting process for Syrian refugees."

If you have trouble viewing these embedded videos they can be found HERE--On CBS's 60 Minutes Website

Growing Up Syrian In Allentown

According to this video's description, "I grew up in the 6th ward ("the ward") of Allentown in the 40's and 50's as an American of Syrian descent. Seventy five percent of my neighborhood was made up of Syrians. Held together by its ethnicity, it instilled in me a strong sense of belonging and pride.

And situated within two blocks from my home was the Girls Club, which reinforced that closeness and provided a "haven" for me and my cousins throughout our growing up years. The ward and the Girls Club provide the backdrop for a wonderful childhood, a childhood to be envied.

Anna Mae Schwartz"

Video Courtesy Arthur Schwartz

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mitch McConnell Plays The Part Of Pontius Pilate
McConnell: Let The Courts Decide If Trump's Travel Ban 'Has Gone Too Far'

Hey Mitch where do you stand?
Do you bear no responsibility?

Reality Of Immigration (Video)

'Harvest of Empire'

Video Courtesy 'Snag Films'

I'm certain few will take the time to view this video so let me explain it in the most simplistic terms. People are not always what their governments represent. It's important to consider each person as a individual who has many of the same hopes and aspirations as each of us do.

Too often we tend to think anyone who does not speak our language, come from another part of the world or worship a different religion are too distinctly different to have anything in common with us. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They have their bad actors and so do we. Any immigration policy we set should be based on individuals not on our preconceived notions. Any policy that rejects such a philosophy serves to further alienate each of us from one another. As such is bad policy for both.

Immigration Issue In Hazleton Pennsylvania (Video)

VICE News Tonight on HBO (01/24/2017)

In Remembrance Of Mary Tyler Moore (Videos)

Mary Tyler Moore Show Bloopers

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Things The President Can & Can't Do (Videos)

Videos Courtesy Of: List25

Fascinating White House Facts (Video)

Video Courtesy:

Hottest Ticket On Broadway Right Now (01/28/2017)

This show has all the elements.Great story line. Great music with a super leading man-- Josh Groban.

The only issue I have is the price for tickets is out of my range.

Never the less take a peek and I think you'll agree it's a must see (if you have the loot to pay for it).

CBS Sunday Morning: Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

The most moving musical number from the show...
"Dust And Ashes" (Official Lyric Video)

The musical opened on November 14, 2016 and is currently running at 'The Imperial Theatre'-- 249 W. 45th St., New York, NY. Ticket prices range from $59-$189 (Average $170).

Click Here For The Official Website

Filmed July 2016

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Philosophical Thought Experiment Video

Mary's Room: A philosophical thought experiment- Eleanor Nelsen

I have many thoughts after watching this short video. (1) Lack Of Empathy-- Someone may comprehend why someone is upset with the loss of loved one but never can truly feel those same emotions without experiencing the same loss no matter how many words may be used to describe it.

(2) World Of The Metaphysical-- Many people near death try to describe in words a world they experienced beyond this.

(3) Political Differences-- While both may be in agreement on the facts neither can comprehend as to why the other sees things differently in words.

(4) Robotic Intelligence-- How software reacts is dependant on a given amount of available information it can experience with the sensory inputs made available to it. Pretty much like we humans find the situation we are in-- is it not?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Who Said Life's Not Like In The Movies

Monday, January 23, 2017

2016 Elections Aftermath (Freddie Mercury Videos)

I had a few days to think about how to describe the mood I'm in. Rather then trying to put it into words I've always found music has a better way of expressing my feelings.

Freddie Mercury- Time (1986)

Right now I'm not too optimistic. So much ugliness. I fear there may be many dark days ahead for some time to come. I really truly hope the better part of humankind will win out over the long run. Sorry being such a downer but at the moment I'm not feeling too inspired. Feeling somewhat defeated by the overwhelming negativity that seems to abound these days gives me pause.

Feeling somewhat exhausted I find it rather pointless trying to overcome such pessimism for the time being.

Freddie Mercury- In My Defence (1992)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

LBJ's Great Society Programs

Most of our social programs never existed before LBJ.

LBJ Documentary "The Great Society"

With the recent changes coming to Washington we all too often take for granted LBJ's programs will always remain intact. In today's political climate nothing can be assumed to remain untouchable.

As always I make no claim they are perfect, but rather in need of repair with a bit of tweaking. Certainly better then the alternative--eliminating these hard won safety nets. We've come too far to return to an era when government chose to feather it's own nest over helping it's people.

Unfortunately I fear this is the direction we're headed. Once these programs are reduced it will be nearly impossible to get them back to the same levels we enjoy today.

Tuesday, January 5, 1965

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Enough With Online Hate Speech (TED Talks Video)

"Enough with online hate speech, sexual harassment and threats of violence against women and marginalized groups. It's time to take the global crisis of online abuse seriously.

Online abuse of women has spiraled out of control | Ashley Judd

Interestedly TED Talks noted-- "Comments are disabled on this video, because it's been our experience that comments on talks about online misogyny tend to tempt online misogynists to try even harder to create mindless shock."

Ain't That The Truth !
And it isn't just towards women

I Can Relate

The Huffington Post reports --"Wilbur Ross, Trump’s Commerce Pick, Fired A Undocumented Household Worker Before His Confirmation Hearing... “When I was getting ready for this hearing I wanted to recheck all our present and former employees,” Ross said, adding that all but one of about a dozen workers provided the right documentation.".

Damn it!

Looks like I'm gonna have to check my household staff now as well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mayor Ed Pawlowski Will Run For 4th Term

4 To 1 Odds
Even he's arrested by the FBI and convicted anyone wanna bet he still won't win?

Court Clerks Turn On Former Northampton County Judge

Bully judge ignored warnings about misconduct, clerk testifies
By Sarah Cassi | For (01/18/2017)
"After a meeting with Northampton County's president judge in which he was warned about cursing around his staff, then-District Judge David Tidd walked into his office and let loose a string of expletives that rhyme with the word truck, a clerk testified....

The first of what is expected to be six of Tidd's former clerks took the witness stand Wednesday morning in Tidd's trial in Harrisburg on allegations of judicial misconduct...

Tidd resigned his seat last summer. He maintains a private law practice in Berks County, where he now lives."

My Comments
Good riddance. Northampton County already has enough problems to deal with. Kudos to the clerks for standing up.

School Property Tax: Revisiting My Previous Post

Lehigh Valley Live presented an interesting piece...
No school tax means Bethlehem businesses pocket $18.2M-- "That money would all disappear under HB/SB 76 and the burden would be shifted to citizens.."

Good Point
Should property tax relief only be made available for private individuals-- not on commercial properties?

If so--what about people renting apartments? Should they pay anyway to encourage home ownership OR exonerate apartment developers as well?

Which Plan Do You Support ACA Or Obamacare?

Wyoming Might Outlaw Renewable Energy

Wyoming's Lawmakers Might Outlaw Renewable Energy
By Lorraine Chow | EcoWatch (02/18/2017)
"Republican lawmakers in Wyoming have introduced a bill that would block the use of renewable energy in the state. If passed, utilities that use wind or solar to produce power for Wyoming residents would be penalized with a costly fine of $10-per-megawatt-hour...

Wyoming is by far the nation's largest coal producer and a major producer of natural gas and crude oil... Wyoming is the only state in the country that taxes wind energy production..."

Damn good thing they aren't "the nation's largest" producers of horse buggies and muzzle loaders for the military.

China Cancels 103 Coal Plants, Mindful of Smog and Wasted Capacity (01/18/2017)
List Of 15 Countries Powered 100% By Renewable Energy, Or Close To It
U.S. and Canada falling behind China in race for renewable energy (01/06/2017)
Saudi Arabia to invest $30-50bn in renewable energy by 2032 (01/17/2017)

Monday, January 16, 2017

School Property Tax Here We Go Again

ASD proposes tax increase
By: Stephen Althouse | WFMZ
"The 2018 proposed preliminary budget presented during Thursday night's finance committee meeting features a 4.6 percent tax increase on property owners... a "wild card" could be the state's potential approval of legislation to eliminate school district funding through property taxes."

My Comments
Here we go again with what has become an annual rite of passage. We all know how this works. They start off with a 4.6% increase ending up with a somewhat lower figure. Call it painting lipstick on a pig if you will. Who's kidding who?

See here's the thing. My Social Security income for 2017 is $7.50 less a month then last year. I'm not alone. So has the hourly pay decreased over the years for most. Yet the opposite applies when it comes to funding education.

I have absolutely no idea how revenuers came up with the idea that someone's property bears any relationship to education costs what-so-ever. There comes a point in time when someone's kids who have been out of school over 30 years should be considered as having repaid their debt. All the more so for those now retired on limited incomes or never had kids.

I understand the argument against eliminating property tax with a new state plan fully funding local schools. The argument being local districts would lose control to the state. I little doubt that--BUT we can't keep going in this direction. Yes we can deduct these on our federal taxes. But that doesn't help those like myself who are retired. Besides why should the federal government receive less income because of these ever increasing local taxes?

A Few Better Ideas(1) Increase federal funding for local schools. Currently everyone gets deductions for the number of kids they have. The more kids the less you pay--the more it cost government to educate them. That make little sense. Of course the federal government would have to make this money available w/o the many strings they have attached as they do now.

(2) Currently I'm paying almost $200 a month in school taxes. It's like paying off the government for the right to own a home. This hardly encourages homeownership especially to those who most need them to raise kids. Renters they too get stuck as part of their monthly rent whether they have kids or not. Referring to above--instead those presently working with kids would be footing a larger portion for the educational services they use.

(3) How much should the school's responsibly be? This brings into consideration daycare, free meals, extra curricular actives--which should be a definition unto itself. I'm a believer schools should give students the tools they need. Not so much a believer in them taking on the social needs outside of the scope of their original core mission. To focus on providing understandings of math, science, reading and writing almost entirely. While sports, school musicals and learning to play instruments is nice--99% of the graduates aren't going to be able to make a living off of them.

(4) School districts spend huge amounts of money on salaries for people chasing after grants, state and federal funding and on those needed to meet the compliances attached to them. This must be weighed against whether they are worth the costs. So too should federal and state legislators be held accountable for the hoops local districts have to jump through to receive them.
It's unlikely these changes will come about. Yeah I get it. Same old BS year after year with no end in sight. Mark my words-- one day the well is going to run dry.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Obama's Biggest Challenge He Now Faces

Couch Commander
Recorded April 30, 2016

Memorable Moments From The Obama Presidency

Ok gang I'm sure a lot of you can't wait to see Obama go. I'm not one of them. I can't picture the Trump White House ever coming close to being this spirited with the same kind of positivity. The job of the President is not only steer this country but also act as the top public relations person making we and other people in the world feel good towards the United States. If we cannot agree on his policies can we at least agree other nations seeing this leader and his family was an example of commonality wished for by many they could have in their own leadership?

I'm sure some will remain critical of this stuff he and his family did but these are the kind of things a lot of people throughout the world could connect to. The likes we may never see again in the coming days ahead. Still others will say we don't need no stinking celebrity. What we need is a leader. Oh ok--I guess you didn't see who just got elected.

Don't expect the same lightheartedness anytime soon like it was with Obama's administration. It's going to be all serious business from now on. Life should have it's enjoyable moments. Something I don't think Trump's administration will find itself attracted to.

Michelle Obama Carpool Karaoke

Friday, January 13, 2017

TMC's Emily Opilo Scoop--Ray O'Connell To Run For Mayor

The Morning Call-- "Allentown City Council President Ray O'Connell plans to announce his candidacy for mayor, a move that would make him the fifth candidate to enter the race.

O'Connell, 67, a Democrat, released invitations this week for a kick-off event on Jan. 22 at Jack's Slice restaurant at the Allentown Municipal Golf Course."

Couple Internet Posts I Came Across

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Closing of the Reading, Pa. Bike Hub Pump Track

Well that didn't last long.

The effort began in Spring 2016.

Apparently it won't see 2017.

The volunteers and staff of the Reading Bike Hub as they meet to discuss the closure of the newly constructed Popup Pump Track. (January 2017)

Video Courtesy Reading Magazine

Reading Bike Hub Pump Track on Twitter
Reading Bike Hub Pump Track HOMEPAGE

Like she said--it appears the City of Reading wasn't too hot on the idea since it's inception. According to WFMZ (08/30/2016)-- "A new bike pump track in Reading has revitalized a vacant lot, but it's also sparking safety concerns. "The city became aware of some safety conditions when visiting the park... "Before this was a pump track, this was an abandoned lot, not cut, not maintained, and when we cleaned the lot out there was beds, trash, needles, drug baggies, 40 bottles all over," said Jason Orth, manager of the Reading Bike Hub. Orth said he received an email from Reading City Council saying the track could possibly close."

I'm not familiar with this group but looking over some of the pictures they posted it seems to me the City Of Reading might want to reconsider a more positive attitude towards them. It seems a bit of a shame since this seems like a very sincere grassroots effort on their part.

It also seems to be another example where a city is more concerned about gentrifying then supporting those who live within. I'm not sure whether the City of Reading intends to work with this group in the future. Ignoring them won't make them go away. Community involvement is far too important an issue to disparage. Rather one which should be encouraged.

All too often it seems to me these are the people forgotten by city planners. Hopefully things will not turn out to be the case here.