President Trump declared a state of emergency regarding illegal immigration across our southern border. I’m not at all sure if a “national emergency” was ever really defined except to give that power to our presidents.

To my way of thinking, an emergency is when our nation is attacked, or when I accidentally cut myself and might bleed enough to pass out, or when someone tells me in the car that they must go now and there’s no bathroom in sight.

Emergencies are not usually long-term, well-known situations that, while thorny, are well understood. Which brings us back to President Trump and the budget deal that didn’t give him the cash he wanted for the border wall.

Is the emergency that several hundred thousand illegal immigrants cross the land border with Mexico, or that Congress didn’t provide the money that the president wanted to build more wall?

I’ve got an answer: Neither! These aren’t emergencies, they’re failures…of Congress.

As I recall, illegal immigration has been a point of contention for at least thirty years and resulted in the McClellan Act in the 1980s that granted amnesty and was supposed to fund border security that would end illegal immigration. Amnesty we got; border structures to stop illegal immigration, not much.

By the time we got to the end of the 1990s, we had up to a million immigrants a year jumping the border. We started building more wall and fence in the mid-2000s, and it does work.

But the real thing that dropped illegal immigration to “just” a few hundred thousand people a year was the financial crisis. When the opportunity faded, so did the desire to go through the hassle of entering the country illegally.

None of this falls under the strict definition of an emergency, except for the creation of caravans of thousands of illegals funded by wigged-out, open-border liberals.

Immigration is important, no doubt, and should be dealt with. That’s the job of Congress. Or rather, it was. Now the job is to posture until the next election while banking pay that puts them in the top 10% of wage earners and building up a pension. Awesome!

This covers both sides of the aisle.

You might not know it, but we have 31 other states of emergency already in place. They cover everything from an emergency declared on September 14, 2001 by reason of certain terrorist attacks, to Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Burundi, which was declared in 2015.

In fact, many of our current states of emergency have to do with blocking property transfers of people we don’t like in places like South Sudan, Venezuela, Libya, Somalia, and, of course, North Korea.

We even have a declared emergency against transactions with terrorists that interfere with the Middle East Peace Process. Hmm! Does that include sending aid to Hamas, the terrorist group that runs the Gaza Strip?

Again, these efforts might be important, but that hardly makes them an emergency. Just as with the border wall funding, presidents declare most of these things as emergencies because they can’t get them passed in Congress.

I feel the pain of the presidents. We can’t get much of anything passed in Congress, and they should all be fired for it. But that doesn’t mean that we should allow any one or any group to bypass the legislature and take unilateral action. That will end badly, to say the least. We definitely have a crisis, whether it’s an emergency or not is maybe somewhat academic.

Something needs to be done to start dealing with the situation. If the president can get enough barriers built to control all the illegal entries, maybe we (Congress) can start to deal realistically with the rest of the illegal immigration problem.

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As we approach President’s Day, it’s interesting to note how and why so many Americans know so little about their country. Later we’ll give you some interesting facts about our presidents.

A recent study by “Newsweek” asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take the same test that is given to foreigners who want to become American citizens. By the way, about 92 percent of citizenship applicants passed that test so immigrants do well. But we, the people, do not.

Among U.S. citizens, 29 percent could not name Vice President Mike Pence; 43 percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights; 40 percent do not know America fought Japan and Germany in World War II; 73 percent do not know communism was the main concern of the Cold War; and 67 percent of American citizens do not know that our economic system is capitalism. That’s a disaster!

So what’s going on? First, it’s quite clear that the public school system is a main culprit. It’s no longer teaching history, geography or civics in an effective way. I’m generalizing; I know there are some good schools but most public schools could not care less about instructing young Americans how their country works.

Number two: The internet has created a generation of self-absorbed, addicted, distracted and ignorant people. The powerful machines, hand-held many of them, are diverting a lot of Americans away from real life. You can now create your own world on the net devoid of reality—and millions of Americans are doing that. The result is that a very few shrewd people are now wielding enormous power.

Many Americans are voting for what they can get, not for what is best for this nation—and both the Republican and Democratic parties know it.

Next we’ll turn to a little factual history about our presidents. Although this was designed as a test, most of us won’t be able to answer elementary school questions, so we’ll just give you the answers in parenthesis after each question.

Presidential Superlatives

Which president served the longest? a. George Washington, b. Franklin Roosevelt, c. Theodore Roosevelt, or d. Herbert Hoover (B)

Which president served the least time in office? a. James Garfield, b. Gerald Ford, c. William Henry Harrison, or d. Zachary Taylor (C)

Who was the youngest president to occupy the White House? a. Theodore Roosevelt, b. John Kennedy, c. Bill Clinton, or d. Ulysses Grant (A)

Who was the oldest president at the time he was first elected to office? a. Richard Nixon, b. William Henry Harrison, c. John Adams, or d. Ronald Reagan (D)

Who was the tallest president? a. Abraham Lincoln, b. Barack Obama, c. Lyndon Johnson, or d. Bill Clinton (A)

Who was the shortest president? a. John Adams, b. John Quincy Adams, c. Chester Arthur, or d. James Madison (D)

Presidential Nicknames

Match the president to the nickname: 1. John Adams (G), 2. William Henry Harrison (E), 3. Andrew Johnson (B), 4. Theodore Roosevelt (A), 5. Ronald Reagan (C), 6. James Buchanan (D), 7. John Quincy Adams (F)—A. The hero of San Juan Hill, B. The Tennessee tailor, C. Dutch, D. The bachelor president, E. Tippecanoe, F. Old man eloquent, G. His rotundity

Which president married a woman more than five years older than he? a. George Washington, b. Millard Fillmore, c. Warren Harding, or d. Richard Nixon (C)

Which president was divorced prior to being elected? a. Franklin Roosevelt, b. Gerald Ford, c. Chester Arthur, or d. Ronald Reagan (D)

Which president gave his wife 52 pairs of socks to darn upon their marriage: a. Richard Nixon, b. Herbert Hoover, c. Calvin Coolidge, or d. George Washington (C)

Family Matters

The father of which president wrote on his son’s Harvard application that the young scholar was “careless and lacks application”: a. John Quincy Adams, b. Zachary Taylor, or c. John Kennedy (C)

Which president said, after his unruly daughter interrupted a White House meeting, “I can be president of the United States or I can control [my daughter]. I cannot possibly do both”? a. Harry Truman, b. Theodore Roosevelt, c. Ronald Reagan, or d. Bill Clinton (B)

The mother of which president fretted that her son had no sense of time and would “delay and delay and delay,” frequently keeping people waiting? a. George Washington, b. Thomas Polk, c. William Henry Harrison, or d. Bill Clinton (D)


Which president said in an interview after leaving office: “Some of the presidents were great and some of them weren’t. I can say that because I wasn’t one of the great presidents”? a. Martin Van Buren, b. Chester Arthur, c. Harry Truman, or d. George W. Bush (C)

Which president lost the White House china in a poker game? A. Benjamin Harrison, b. Grover Cleveland, c. Chester Arthur, or d. Warren Harding (B)

Which president skinny-dipped in the Potomac? a. Abraham Lincoln, b. John Quincy Adams, c. Theodore Roosevelt, or d. Gerald Ford (B)

The younger generations must learn more about our history in order to find our values and the fabric of our economic system.

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Next Tuesday will be the 210th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. He was with us for only 56 years, but his contributions and influence have had enormous effects on our country for all the years since.

He came from the humblest of beginnings; born in a one-room log cabin, he rose to 6’4” tall and through his career as a lawyer, debater and activist to abolish slavery, he became the 16th president of the United States.

Work colleagues and friends noted that Lincoln had a capacity to defuse tense and argumentative situations, though the use of humor and his capacity to take an optimistic view of human nature. He loved to tell stories to illustrate a serious point through the use of humor and parables, he said of himself.

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

His political career appeared to suffer after one term in the House of Representatives. He returned to working as a lawyer in Illinois. The slavery question re-emerged as a prominent divisive national issue.

He gave influential speeches, which drew on the Declaration of Independence to prove the Founding Fathers had intended to stop the spread of slavery. In particular, Lincoln used a novel argument that although society was a long way from equality, America should aspire towards the lofty statement in the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are creative equal.”

In 1858, Lincoln was nominated as Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. He undertook a series of high-profile debates with the Democratic incumbent Stephen Douglass. Douglass was in favor of allowing the expansion of slavery—Lincoln was opposed. During this campaign, he gave one of his best-remembered speeches, which reflected on the divisive nature of America.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Although he lost his Senate election, his debating skills and oratory helped him to become well known within the Republican party.

After a hard-fought, divisive campaign in 1860, Lincoln was elected the first Republican President of the United States. Lincoln’s support came entirely from the North and West of the country. The south strongly disagreed with Lincoln’s position on slavery.

The election of Lincoln as President sparked the South to secede from the Union. Southern independence sentiment had been growing for many years, and the election of a president opposed to slavery was the final straw. Lincoln resolutely opposed the breakaway of the South, and this led to the American civil war with Lincoln committed to preserving the Union.

Lincoln surprised many by including in his cabinet the main rivals from the 1860 Republican campaign. It demonstrated Lincoln’s willingness and ability to work with people of different political and personal approaches. This helped to keep the Republican party together.

The Civil War was much more costly than many people anticipated. Lincoln’s patient leadership, and willingness to work with unionist Democrats held the country together.

Initially, the war was primarily about the secession of southern states and the survival of the Union, but as the war progressed, Lincoln increasingly made the issue of ending slavery paramount.

In September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared the freedom of slaves within the Confederacy.

Celebrating the victory ceremony at Gettysburg in November 1863, Lincoln declared:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceive in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

After four years, the Federal forces secured the surrender of the defeated South. The union had been saved and the issue of slavery had been brought to a head.

In the aftermath of the civil war, Lincoln sought to reunited the country—offering a generous settlement to the South.


Five days after the surrender of the Confederate Army, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth while visiting Ford’s Theater. Lincoln’s death was widely mourned across the country.


Lincoln is widely regarded as one of America’s most influential and important presidents. As well as saving the Union and promoting Republican values, Lincoln was viewed as embodying the ideals of honesty and integrity.

You Must Visit the Lincoln Memorial

I believe it is the most impressive of all monuments in Washington, D.C. It stands beside the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. It is not only one of the nation’s most beloved monuments but also one of its most widely publicized, by virtue of the fact that it appears on the back of every penny and every five-dollar bill. The cornerstone of the majestic temple, built of white Colorado marble in the style of a flat-roofed Greek temple.

The thirty-six Doric columns surrounding the monument symbolize the thirty-six states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death. Inside, a colossal statue of a seated Lincoln, carved from blocks of white Georgia marble, looks east toward the Washington monument and Capitol Building. The statue by Daniel Chester French is nineteen feet high, weighing 175 tons, is the second most famous sculpture in America, after the Statue of Liberty. (Look at a penny with a magnifying glass, and you can see a tiny representation of the statue engraved.

Two of Lincoln’s most famous speeches, the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address, are inscribed on the memorial’s walls.

It’s a moving site.

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Jack McCormick is a personal trainer at Equinox. He prepared for this position by getting a master’s degree in Kinesiology and having an extensive background as a college strength and conditioning coach. He writes a blog a few times a month, offering helpful advice on improving your exercising and enjoying a better life, which we are pleased to occasionally offer here.


You may be surprised to learn that the body is typically compromised of 60% water, with vital organs having a high-water content, such as the brain and heart (73% each), the lungs (83%), and the skin (64%). In addition, water serves a variety of important functions in the body, such as transporting nutrients and dispelling waste. Most people would agree that drinking enough water and staying hydrated is important, but some research has described water as a highly neglected and underappreciated nutrient despite being among the most important. In fact, one researcher estimates that the prevalence of dehydration in adults ranges from 16-28%, depending on age. The good news is that there are many ways to help our bodies stay hydrated since many foods contain water.

Interestingly, it has been estimated that 20-30% of water intake comes from food. However, we should not rely on the water composition from the food in our diets alone. It can be challenging to know exactly how much water a person should drink because variables such as weight and activity level can make one person’s needs different than another’s. Research indicates that a normal hydration status can be achieved with a broad range of total water intake. A good rule of thumb can be to drink between ½-1 times your bodyweight in ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you can aim for 70-140 ounces of water.

Hydration Tips

From the American Council on Exercise – Equinox Fitness Training Institute

1. Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours before the start of exercise.
2. Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
3. Drink 16 to 20 ounces of fluid for each pound of body weight lost after exercise.
4. Avoid sodas and fruit drinks with no nutritional value.
5. Water and other non-caloric beverages should be your first choice.
6. Go for sports drinks only before, during, and after intense exercise.
7. Prevent weight loss of more than 2% during exercise is not recommended (for example, a 150- pound person should not lose more than 3 pounds in an exercise session).

You can reach Jack at

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In 2018, the N.Y. Times launched a newsletter called “Race/Related” with issues and stories about that subject. Here is a year-end roundup of the writing staff’s thinking that were the most “powerful.”

Remember, these are the opinions of the youthful members of the N.Y. Times newsletter staff. About half of the staff of 15 appear to be people of minority descent.

The deafening silence of Colin Kaepernick

This year, hardly a week passed when Colin Kaepernick’s name did not come up. The kneeling protests against racism and social injustice he ignited at the beginning of the 2016 football season continued to resonate on and off the field, even as he says very little himself. It’s easy to conclude he is being shammed; but, regardless, the debate and dialogue over race and sports carries on.

–Randy Archibold, Deputy Editor

How gardening while black almost landed this Detroit man in jail

For me, the biggest story this year was the numerous accounts of random 911 calls reporting black Americans doing everyday things, like barbecuing, swimming, sitting at Starbucks, golfing, eating at Subway, gardening, leaving a corner store or cashing a paycheck at a bank. The list goes on. Doing any of these things while black made several Americans feel threatened, so much so that they were willing to dial 911. I hope we don’t bring this habit into the new year.

–Pierre-Antoine Louis, News Assistant

Louisiana school made headlines for sending their kids to elite colleges

It’s the education beat that I can’t stop thinking about this year. In story after story—from a school desegregation debate forever unfolding in New York City to Charlottesville, Va., where the N.Y. Times and ProPublica reporters found that zoning policies led to clear racial divides; from the shattering investigation into college prep school T.M. Landry to a Harvard lawsuit about affirmative action—I continue to see systemic racism embedded deeply in the architecture of our schools.

–Sara Simon, Associate Software Engineer

Why America’s black mothers and babies are in a life-or-death crisis

I’m not pregnant, black, a mother or a doctor and went into this story thinking I was a person very much removed from the situation. By the time I finished reading it I was shaking, invested and in mourning because of the meticulous research on the effects of race and class in a for-profit medical system, and how small and irrelevant a person can be made to feel. Reproduction is one of the most primal indicators of a species, and you see here how unhealed our nation’s wounds are from deeply systemic racism.

–Tammy Tarng, News Assistant

Problems immigrants face living here

There are many important immigration stories this year, all highlighting the difficult journeys immigrants have to endure to get into the United States, but we rarely focus on the policies immigrants face once they’re here. Black and brown naturalized American citizens—those who have an accent, those from impoverished countries—still have to deal with the consequences of racist policy decisions every day, and how these decisions create an unrelenting structure of racial hierarchy.

–Isabella Grullón Paz, News Assistant

17 black women sweep to Judgeships in Texas county

The elections of progressive district attorneys, judges, and sheriffs will reverberate for years, and help reshape our criminal justice system. These progressives—many of whom are people of color—are intent on making the courts more equitable and less damaging to the people who come in contact with them. They have pledged to: focus on reducing incarceration (especially for nonviolent offenses); crack down on police misconduct; revamp a cash bail system that unfairly imprisons poor people; and to use more alternatives to prison.

–Adeel Hassan, Senior Staff Editor

For many Americans, abolishing birthright citizenship is unthinkable

This year we saw the escalation of restrictive immigration policies and dehumanizing rhetoric about immigrants. As an American-born child of immigrants, it was additionally difficult to see this exacerbated by the debate over the right to birthright citizenship. Despite legal scholarship reiterating the meaning of the 14th amendment, it added to the growing anxiety over the potential erosion of civil rights. Race has been at the center of who belongs in America since the nation’s inception, but 2018 reflected how some communities continue to struggle to be considered truly American.

–Veda Shastri, Video Journalist

You can take issue (as I do) with some of their opinions but it’s interesting to hear the position of young reporters.

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• With all the advances in nutrition, physical fitness, personalized training and specialized coaching, why are so many professional athletes in every sport getting hurt? Do they play too many games? Are they not following the prescribed regimens?

• The road to the top executive ranks rarely goes to someone who follows a career in marketing.

• I’m very surprised there are not more interceptions in football.

• If you trespass on private property—that is to say, if you enter or attempt to enter private property—you are committing an illegal act. The property owner may shoot you or call the police and have you arrested. You will then be subject to and have to suffer the legal consequences of your action. Our borders are no different than private property. It’s just that simple. That’s the crux of the immigration problem and the solution. Open borders for “humane” or “moral” reasons are still condoning an illegal act.

• This has been the most turbulent, tumultuous and somewhat bizarre presidential administration we have ever witnessed; with all that said, the Trump presidency has accomplished a number of significant achievements, i.e., a stronger economy, better trade relations and some tax reductions.

• There is nothing government can give you that it hasn’t taken from you in the first place. –Winston Churchill

• There is too much showboating in professional football.

• When will they ever stop making us change our passwords?

• When will they ever honor the passwords we gave them?

• As great as the creation of electricity and the computer and the internet has been, I believe the greatest invention of the last two centuries has been the flush toilet.

• No incumbent president has ever lost a primary re-election.

• Why can’t they get better about predicting the weather more accurately?

• It’s very frustrating to keep getting phone calls and no one appears to be on the line.

• If you think the roads are in bad shape, try riding a scooter on the sidewalk.

• When publications use stock paper, don’t they know some of us older folks have trouble getting the pages apart?

• I don’t miss work one bit, but I sure miss having a secretary.

• With all the advancement in packaging, some products seem to be welded into their cardboard carriers.

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Each year I complain that there seems to be fewer movies to recommend. In 2018, I think we had some outstanding flics.

Overall, theater revenue was up about 6%, although attendance was down about the same.

This year I noticed, or I think I noticed, a discrepancy more often between the critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the audience’s opinion. For example:

Widows: Critics = 93% Audience = 63%
Green Book: Critics = 82% Audience = 95%
Bohemian Rhapsody: Critics 62% Audience = 90%

In case you missed my nominations for the films I most enjoyed in 2017. They’re probably still available on Netflix.

• Norman
• 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Miss.
• Darkest Hour
• Marshall
• Phantom Thread
• Rebel in the Rye
• Stronger
• The Big Sick
• Molly’s Game

So, in 2018 these are the movies I most enjoyed:

Hearts Beat Loud

Widower and aging record store hipster father wants to make music with his college-aspiring daughter who leaves in the fall for college in California. When a song they collaborate on hits big online, it complicates the plans of both. Entertaining!

Leave No Trace

Father and teenage-daughter live in the forests outside of Portland, Oregon, until their idyllic but spartan life is shattered and put into the social service system. After clashing with their new civilized surroundings, they set off to return to their uncluttered homeland. Well done!

Three Identical Strangers

Three college young men are reunited after being born identical triplets and adopted by three different families. The unbelievable feel-good story becomes a global sensation with fame and celebrity which sets in motion a series of events and discoveries. Intriguing, fascinating film with many questions.

A Star is Born

An outstanding new take on a 4th retelling of a tragic love story. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are terrific as the aging musician and the aspiring young, shy singer. As her career takes off, the relationship sadly fades. Well done entertainment!

The Old Man and the Gun

An entertaining romp from Robert Redford, who plays the gentleman rogue Forest Tucker, whose specialty is bank heists and jail escapes. The detective, Casey Affleck, and lover, Sissy Spacek, are captivated by his charm, albeit in different ways.

The Black Klansman

A gem from Spike Lee. A black cop works the phones to get his partner into the KKK using his name. It’s a great story with a satisfying sardonic ending. Well done in every way!

Bohemian Rhapsody

The critics didn’t like it, but I did. It’s a celebration of the innovative music of Queen and their fabulously famous lead singer, Freddie Mercury. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band until Mercury’s lifestyle spins out of control. It leads to a triumphant reunion and one of the greatest performances in rock history. Totally entertaining!

Green Book

A well-directed trip through the racial struggles of the early sixties in America. An Italian-American club bouncer from the Bronx is hired to drive a black concert pianist through the Midwest and the south. Worth seeing—interesting and entertaining!

The Mule

If you like Clint Eastwood, you’ll love his latest flick. It’s somewhat predictable, but he carries if off well in his own style and form. With contributions from Bradley Cooper, Andy Garcia and Diane Weiss, as well as assorted gangsters. Entertaining and well done!

Honorable Mention

Book Club – not highly rated but fun and entertaining, with four seasoned actresses who tackle Fifty Shades of Grey as their current discussion selection.

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