CURRENT EVENTS – SUMMER, 2019 – CONTINUED

We continue our review of current events and begin with:

Mass Shootings Demand Action

Since the year 2000, 475 innocent people have been killed and hundreds more wounded.

We can’t avoid it any longer. It should be illegal for private citizens to own an AK-47 or other military style weapons.

Enough is enough!

NBA Major Player Moves and Big Changes

All the excitement in the NBA actually started in June when Magic Johnson and his elite PR image shocked everyone by resigning as President of Laker Basketball Operations. In the process, he harshly criticized the GM and everyone else he left behind.

It was very unlike Magic. It wasn’t smart, it wasn’t cool, and it was very unprofessional. You think it had some influence on Kwali Leonard and others who came to visit but didn’t stay?

Golden State Warriors (GSW) Break Up The Old Gang

After playing in the last five NBA finals (unprecedented), GSW had some major changes:

• MVP Kevin Durant left to join the Brooklyn Nets on a four-year contract and brought Kyrie Irving with him. (Hmm, wonder why?)
• Andre Iguodala goes to Memphis. Jordan Bell to Minnesota and backup point guard Shaun Livingston is released.
• D’Angelo Russell (a Laker that got away) comes in on a four-year contract.

DeMarcus Cousins, after an injury-plagued year, goes to the Lakers to join Anthony Davis, who came to Lakerland on a trade, primarily arranged by LeBron James.

After paying a courtesy call at the Lakers, Kawli Leonard joins the Clippers with his buddy Paul George. Two others the Lakers passed on; Trevor Ariza went to Sacramento Kings and Julius Randle is now a New York Knick.

Russell Westover, 1-on-1 superstar, has opted to rejoin his 1-on-1 buddy James Harden in Oklahoma City. Both brilliant players whose teams never got far in the playoffs.

Prediction in the West Coast Conference: the Lakers will be No. 1, Clippers 2 and GSW 3.

Now a couple of observations:

A.  Jerry West, outstanding Lakers GM, became a consultant for GSW and helped put their winning team together. He’s now with the Clippers. With all the turmoil in Lakerland, why didn’t they bring him back?
B. There’s a new trend emerging when superstars Kevin Durant and Kwali Leonard changed teams, they bring a buddy with them.
C. Load Management is the new “in” word among several teams with aging superstars. Last year, Kwali Leonard only played in 60 games with the Toronto Raptors.

New Laker coach Frank Vogel has indicated he will implement the concept with Davis, James and Cousins. Wonder how the season ticket holders will embrace this concept. Maybe they’re telling us the 82 games regular season schedule is a little too long.

Apparently, Busing Is Still A Controversy

In the first Democratic debate, Kamala Harris badgered good ole boy Joe Biden about his somewhat shifting view on busing 50 years ago.

For some, bussing was a lifeline, a policy that profoundly changed their future by creating more opportunity. Others have called it counterproductive, heavy-handed and an unfortunate mistake.

R. Darrell Meadows grew up in Oklahoma City. Mr. Meadows, who is of Hispanic heritage, said he was bused from a predominantly white, working-class neighborhood to attend integrated schools across town, and that he is now “keenly aware of the ways my experience of busing irrevocably and positively shaped my perspective on the world by facilitating a greater diversity of childhood friendships.”

Joe Weinmunson grew up in rural Louisiana in an area where a busing decree was enforced in the 1980s. Mr. Weinmunson, who is white, wrote that busing “was one of the best things that could have happened for me.”

Mr. Weinmunson attended Natchitoches Central High School. “I was a white city boy who moved to the country to help care for my aging grandparents and their land. My school did nothing to dispel the worst concepts of poor, rural whites: insular, conservative, friendly enough as long as you were one of them.”

One year later, he was glad when he started to attend more integrated schools. “I spent far more time on the school bus than I ever wanted to, but the people and experiences I was exposed to were worth the dreary rides.”

Frederick Alcorn, a 70-year-old veteran, wrote that he went to Overbrook High School in Philadelphia from 1963 to 1966. The experience “did very little to advance the intention of integration,” wrote Mr. Alcorn, who is African-American. “The curriculum was Eurocentric and patriotic to an unexplained history of enslavement and conquest.”

Students self-segregated outside of the classroom, except for sports,” he added. They were also academically tracked to different floors of the schools “which quietly promoted degrees of classism among black students.” The teachers were primarily white, and those students who were not considered college-bound candidates didn’t get much attention.

Across the country, many Americans have argued that busing students to integrate schools was a failure, but research shows that integration measures like busing, when fully implemented, proved an effective tool in closing the achievement gap and building understanding across lines of race and class.

Medicare Report

The 2019 Medicare Trustees Report says:

A. Medicare will be insolvent in seven years
B. $48.5 billion in improper payments in the last fiscal year

Curbing that would help the march to insolvency.

It’s been an interesting summer; and with Congress on vacation, there shouldn’t be too much more to come.

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CURRENT EVENTS – SUMMER, 2019

It’s summer! It’s usually quiet with not much going on, but this year has really been pretty active with a lot of things happening. So, let’s start with:

July 4th Celebration

Trump wanted to celebrate, so they organized a parade of military might and drew a sizable crowd (even with some rain) to the Lincoln Memorial, where he gave a somewhat patriotic speech.

The Trump haters were critical of the whole thing; called it over-the-top and a total waste. His supporters loved it and the independents kind of liked it.

That’s why his poll numbers were up the following week.

Rock and Roll Through Two Sizable Tremors

Haven’t had any for a while. I guess we were overdue. Fortunately, they were way out east in a sparsely populated area.

When Jacob Margolis felt the biggest earthquake rumbling across Southern California, he didn’t panic. Mr. Margolis thought, “Everything is going to be totally fine.” If you’re now thinking this guy knows something you don’t, you’re probably right.

Margolis, a journalist, spent months researching what to do when a major quake hits for the podcast he hosts, aptly titled “The Big One.” We asked Mr. Margolis for some advice. Here’s what he said: “Do not run to the nearest doorway when you feel it start.”

Mr. Margolis said the idea that doorways are the safest parts of buildings is a persistent myth that seems to be traceable back to the 1800s, when the doorway of an adobe home was the only thing left standing after a big quake.

But Mr. Margolis said you may instead get hit by a swinging door. Or, if you try to move while the ground is rolling below your feet, you could break a leg or an ankle.

“Just get under a table and cover your head,” he said. That’s not a myth.

Keep a pair of shoes next to your bed and move heavy art or mirrors to places where they are unlikely to fall on you. The shoes, Mr. Margolis said, could come in handy if you’re trying to get through your home without stepping on broken glass.

Get your earthquake kit together while it’s on top of your mind.

Get your plan, and your most important documents, together. Having any documents you may need for disaster recovery will be critical for getting federal aid.

Women Triumph in Soccer World Cup

A fantastic achievement! It was great to watch, and lots of people did. It was an exciting team effort!
Unfortunately, Megan Rapinoe, the team captain and MVP, turned everything she could to the Megan Rapinoe show and her political views.

Ms. Rapinoe took and manufactured every opportunity to tell us why she wouldn’t go to the White House, if invited, and why she doesn’t like Trump. Wasn’t too cool or necessary.

Bernie Goldberg, HBO sports commentator and political analyst, had this to say:

“Sports used to be the place where we went to get away from the daily barrage of politics. I grew up in the shadows of the Yankee Stadium. I grew up in the Bronx. I didn’t know Mickey Mantel’s politics. I didn’t know Yogi Berra’s politics. I didn’t know Whitey Ford’s politics. I don’t think those guys knew their own politics. But that was a long time ago. That was then and this is now. I don’t approve of what she said. I don’t approve of the way she said it or the place that she said it. I don’t approve of any of that.

I was asked by one of the people on my website, ‘Shouldn’t she have been fined or banned for life for what she said?’ I said, ‘No.’ No, that’s not what we do. That’s what the hard left does. So while I don’t agree with anything that she said or how she said it or where she said it, and while I believe that sports is the place that we need to go to get away from all of this stuff, I don’t want to see her banned or punished.

Writers and Agents Still at War

With lawsuits and vitriol flying on a weekly basis, the Writers Guild of America West and the biggest talent agencies in Hollywood have reached that stage many couples know so well: when you finally decide to go to therapy to either save the marriage or figure out the best way to end it.

Statistically, it is usually the latter. And though no doubt most writers would prefer to have their agents back, it must be said that the mass firing demanded earlier this year by the WGA when the Assn. of Talent Agents refused to accept its new code of conduct, did not, despite dire predictions, bring on the apocalypse, or even disrupt staffing season much.

There is far more money to be made in television production than in representation, but doing both represents a clear conflict of interest—even in marriage counseling, the first rule is: Do not use a therapist one of you has been seeing individually.

The question is, who could sit in the big chair in the middle and either find a compromise between the WGA’s “Yes, you will” (stop packaging and working with “in-house” production companies, and go back to representing like we’re paying you to do) and the ATA’s “No, we won’t” (because we’ve been packaging for years and this is how the business works now) or figure out how to tell the kids and divide the assets.

Where’s Dr. Phil when we need him?

What is a Legitimate Boycott?

The far left loons want everyone to boycott Home Depot, because Bernie Marcus, one of the co-founders, now 15 years retired, apparently donated money to Trump’s 2016 campaign.

That just has no place in a democracy and, in my opinion, is un-American. I’ll continue to buy anything I can at Home Depot.

Colin Kapernick is the former NFL quarterback who knelt in protest during the national anthem. No NFL team has hired him for those disruptions, but Nike has put him on the payroll—as a footwear consultant. I doubt it.

I will not buy a Nike product while they support his very questionable protest at the wrong time in the wrong place.

In the same vein, I will have nothing to do with star soccer player Megan Rapinoe and her self-serving rants against President Trump and her imagined oppressions. She’s toast in my book.

Crystal Cathedral Has Re-Opened

Once the symbol of Robert Schuler’s success, the 128-foot-tall glass edifice in Garden Grove was sold to the Diocese of Orange and is now a remodeled Catholic church. Designed by Phillip Johnson, it’s the largest glass building in the world.

It’s an exciting place to visit, no matter what your religion.

Democrats: 0 Mueller: 0

The Democrats struck out with the Mueller July hearings. He gave them nothing that could help their impeachment crusade and he sometimes appeared unsure about what was in the report.

Mueller claimed not to know about the fake Fusion GPS report, funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC, as well as the fake FISA warrants, which should have been under his purview.

As I predicted in June, the special counsel proved a little more political than independent.

Schiff and Nadler will need a new hobby.

We’ll have more next week.

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THE WORLD’S MOST IMPRESSIVE LANDMARKS

If you get anywhere near one of these landmarks, don’t mis it. These are sights that will be indelible in your memory.

Great Wall, China

Built about 2,000 years ago, the Great Wall zigzags 163 miles across northern China, dotting mountains, plains, grasslands, deserts, and plateaus like the spines on a dragon’s back. Many sections are now in ruins or have completely disappeared (pieces are often carted off as a source of stone for local houses and roads), but enough exists to remain a formidable sight.

The wall began as a series of independent walls erected within different states in northern China—to protect themselves against warring factions. Great armies of soldiers, prisoners, and local people were conscripted to build the walls, with repairs and extensions carried out as needed. After China became unified under the Qin dynasty in 256 B.C., Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered that the separate walls be joined together as one defensive battlement against the Huns, invaders from the north. Ever since, the Great Wall has been a symbol of Chinese unity and architecture.

The crenellated wall averages 26-feet high and 20-feet wide. Along the wall, guardhouses and signal towers are located at regular intervals. The most accessible section is at Badaling, a two-hour trip from Beijing. If you have the time, the Mutianyu section (43-miles northeast of Beijing, is even better preserved.

Taj Mahal, India

Most travelers call the Taj Mahal the world’s most beautiful building. It has perfect symmetry, and the hue of its white marble varies from hour to hour, season to season. Two of the most sublime times to view the Taj Mahal are at sunset and during a full moon.

Shah Jahan, fifth Mughal emperor, commissioned the Taj Mahal in 1631 in memory of his second wife, a Persian princess named Mumtaz Mahal, as a tribute to his enduring love. A tree-lined reflecting pool fronts the monument, and tall minarets at the four corners of the raised terrace help complete this work of architectural and artistic genius.

Treasury at Petra, Jordan

Petra is an amazing archaeological World Heritage site in Jordan, famous for its many structures. References to the ancient Natabacan city are found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is a city of great religious significance; the nearby Ain Musa) Springs of Moses) is believed to be where Moses struck a rock with his staff to extract water. The impressive and elegant Treasury stands at the end of a narrow gorge, its facade and large square interior carved out of the sandstone. Built between the second and first century B.C., it is identified as the Treasury, but its actual function remains unknown. A temple? A royal tomb? Scholars continue to try to unravel its mysteries.

The Kremlin, Russia

This historic fortress-palace, from which the tsars ruled the expanse of Russia, is matched in size only by the Forbidden City in China. High defensive walls punctuated with a series of 17 strategic towers completely enclose the Kremlin (“citadel”), encompassing 68 acres. The 230-foot Savior Tower, built in 1941, dominates the Kremlin skyline. Inside, ornate buildings—palaces, government centers, churches—collectively make the Kremlin an architectural masterpiece. Three cathedrals, including St. Sophia, a fine example of Byzantine architecture, cluster around the Kremlin’s main square.

Standing in Red Square is more exciting and memorable than all the newsreels and TV shots of this famous place.

Mont St. Michel, France

A favored site for French royalty throughout the ages, Mont St. Michel boasts 1,200 years of history. A distant dream-scene silhouettes this island abbey and sends spirits soaring. Since the sixth century, monks have lived in this secret fortification that floats like a mirage from miles away. This was Christendom’s place to get nearer to God. From here, there were views of the sea and of beautiful Normandy. Today, the offering remains sacred to pilgrims and tourists.

Pompeii, Italy

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii lay hidden and forgotten under volcanic waste for more than 1,500 years before archaelogical excavations slowly began to unearth it. On August 24, A.D. 79, Mt. Vesuvius erupted in a cataclysm so violent that the mountain literally blew up. The explosions sent billowing columns of volcanic steam, cinders, and ash high into the sky, then showered and buried the once thriving city. Most of the 20,000 citizens escaped with their lives. However, a few thousand lingered too long and did not survive the toxic fumes. Archaeologists have revealed many of Pompeii’s streets, temples, theaters, homes, public baths, wall murals, and floor mosaics, reconstructing a fascinating history of Roman life.

Yellowstone National Park, United States

Some 600,000 years ago a massive volcanic eruption from the center of what is now Yellowstone National Park spewed an immense volume of ash over the western United States, much of the Midwest, northern Mexico, and some areas of the eastern Pacific. The eruption left a caldera, a collapsed crater 30-miles wide by 45-mileslong.

In 1872, President Ulysses Grant signed a law declaring that Yellowstone would forever be “dedicated and set apart as a public park.” It became the world’s first national park.

The park has hundreds of geysers. Old Faithful, named for its regularity, erupts approximately every hour. Other Yellowstone geothermal features include bubbling mud pools, hot springs, colorful limestone terraces, and steam-spouting fumaroles. The national park also protects a unique ecosystem that is home to a wealth of flora and fauna, including iconic Rocky Mountain wildlife such as grizzly bears, buffalo, wolves, and elk.

Stonehenge, England

Stonehenge is a prehistoric site of megaliths arranged in concentric circles—the largest being 108 feet in diameter—and horseshoe patterns. These standing stones measure up to 20 feet high and weigh as much as 110,231 pounds. Studies reveal that the stones came from faraway mountains.

The latest scientific estimates say Stonehenge was built in stages between 3000 and 1500 B.C. Why and how the stones came to be erected on Salisbury Plain remains a mystery. Some speculate Stonehenge was an astronomical calendar; others believe it was used for religious ceremonies. The once popular theory that Stonehenge was created by the Druids, the Celtic priesthood, was disproved when science found that it has been built at least a thousand years before the Druids.

The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

The question of who built the pyramids, and how, has long been debated by Egyptologists and historians. Standing at the base of the pyramids at Giza, it is hard to believe that any of these monuments could have been built in one pharaoh’s lifetime. The accounts of Herodotus, the fifth-century B.C. Greek historian, suggest that the labor force totaled more than 100,000 people. Modern Egyptologists believe the real number is closer to 20,000.

The three great pyramids—tombs for Pharaoh Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure—are massive. Each stone in the pyramids weighs more than two tons. The Sphinx, which embodies the body of a lion and the head of a pharaoh, is believed to be the head of Khafre and the guardian spirit for his entire burial complex.

The 1908 edition of Baedeker’s Egypt warns: “Travelers who are in the slightest degree predisposed to apoplectic or fainting fits, and ladies traveling alone, should not attempt to penetrate into these stifling recesses.”

Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia

The Burj Khalifa has, for the moment, claimed the oft-changing title of the “world’s largest building.” Yet the former titleholder, the Petronas Twin Towers, completed in 1997 and measuring 1,483 feet high, still retain their visually dramatic design, courtesy of U.S. architect Cesar Pelli. They can be appreciated easily from all directions. Halfway up the buildings, a 90-foot twin-tier sky bridge dramatically connects the structures on the 41st and 42nd floors.

Iguazu Falls

On the border of Argentina and Brazail, the Iguazu Falls is the largest waterfall system in the world. Two hundred plus feet high, it’s an amazing experience to view, by hiking, helicopter, or taking a boat ride.

Grand Canyon, United States

One of the natural wonders of the world. It is 277-miles long and up to 18-miles wide and an average depth of one mile. Both the north and south rims are well worth visiting. On either side, staying for 24 hours is well worth the investment. The daylight shining on the canyon walls is an ever-changing panorama of colors and hues. It’s a wow!

Rafting through the bottom of the canyon is an exhilarating experience filled with fascinating sights and a few thrills over some rocky stretches of a churning river.

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MY MOST MEMORABLE MOVIES – PART II

Here is the last half of the movies that I remember the most. Each touched a nerve and affected me emotionally in one way or another.

Surely there must have been others that were outstanding, but my memory has become a bit limited.

A few of these got an Oscar or two, but it was the impact on me that kept the memory alive, not the awards.

The Godfather – Part II (1974) – This continuation of the original parallels the young Vito Corleone’s rise with his son Michael’s spiritual fall. In the early 1900’s, young Vito flees his Sicilian village for America after the local mafia kill his family. Vito tires of trying to make a living while constantly paying off the local mafia boss. Finally, he plots and kills the boss, takes over, and becomes the godfather. The outstanding cast in this mesmerizing tale included: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton.

Rocky (1976) – A not-so-sharp amateur boxer from Philadelphia’s tough neighborhood gets a surprise shot at fighting for the heavyweight championship and at the same time finds love with the shy, reclusive girl in the pet shop. He gets the shot because no one thinks he has a chance. Stars Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young and Burgess Meredith. It’s a great underdog story moved along with terrific music.

Star Wars (1977) – George Lucas released this futuristic fable which became the biggest money maker of all time and changed the shape of the film industry. Harrison Ford led the outstanding cast. It was a great new innovation in technological film making and a true popcorn delight.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) – Steven Spielberg brought us this epic science fiction adventure about a desperate group of people who attempt to contact alien intelligence. Richard Dreyfuss is an electric lineman who witnesses an unidentified flying object (UFO). His wife and family are skeptical when he refuses to accept a logical explanation for his sighting. He is determined to find out the truth about the UFO he saw. Thoughtful and intriguing.

The Grey Fox (1982) – Here’s an eclectic, low-key tale about real life bandit Bill Miner that became a classic of Canadian cinema. Released from prison in 1901, Bill (Richard Farnsworth) finds himself living in a totally changed world. No more stagecoaches to rob, he goes to live with his sister in Washington state. He soon gets restless and tries to rob trains with a bumbling partner. As you might expect, it doesn’t work out too well. Great story! Well done!

The Right Stuff (1983) – Covering the 15-year formation of America’s space program, the film portrays the interaction of the original Mercury astronauts. The film relates the dangers and frustration facing these young tigers, their various personal crises involving their families, and the schism between their squeaky-clean public images. It stars Sam Shepherd, Ed Harris and Dennis Quaid. It was a heartwarming, patriotic, feel-good flick.

Philadelphia (1993) – At the time of its release, this was the first big budget Hollywood film to tackle the medical, political and social issues of AIDS. Tom Hanks is the young, talented lawyer at a stodgy old law firm who has to confront these issues head one. He is assisted by Denzel Washington, who reluctantly takes on his defense. What a searing portrait of a real-life drama.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) – This is the applause-driven adaptation of Queen, their music, and their extraordinary lead singer, Freddie Mercury, who defied stereotypes and shattered conventions to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic music and revolutionary sound, their near implosion as Mercury’s lifestyle spirals out of control, and their triumphant reunion on the eve of Live Aid, where Mercury, facing a life-threatening illness, leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music. Rami Malek was outstanding as the outrageous Freddie Mercury. It was touching, entertaining and a soaring musical treat.

It’s interesting to note that I have a 15-year gap between 1993 and 2018 when there were no movies that touched me like the others. Wonder why?

Hope there are still more to come.

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MY MOST MEMORABLE MOVIES – PART I

One of the highlights of growing up in a suburb of NYC was to get to see a movie at the local Boulevard Theater. I got to see Disney animated features, of course, and on Saturday mornings there was the Lone Ranger and other serials.

The Boulevard was a local theater and often didn’t get first-run movies for a year or two after they opened in Times Square.

When I got a little older I remember the great comedy “The Man Who Came to Dinner” starring Monte Wooley, Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan and Jimmy Durante.

I now know that was in 1942 and I spread my wings to the bigger RKO theater on a bus ride to neighboring Flushing.

That was the first and one of the only movies I ever saw more than once.

So, here without further ado are the movies that had the most affect on me, not always the best but the ones that stirred my emotions for reasons I’m not sure I fully understood.

Maybe they’ll spark a few of your memories, too.

Lost Horizon (1937) – A thought-provoking drama that was stimulating and very entertaining. Ronald Coleman, Jane Wyatt, Edward Everett Horton and Thomas Mitchell scrambling to board the last plane out of a chaotic Chinese airfield. As the plane flies, they realize they’re going in the wrong direction. They end up flying to a new ideal location, Shangri-La. It had action, drama, mystery, suspense and fantasy. It was a truly exciting experience for a young film viewer.

Gunga Din (1939) – A Rudyard Kipling poem, Gunga Din is a fitting framework for the story of a crude cockney soldier’s tribute to a naïve Indian water boy who remains at his job even after being mortally wounded. An inspiring story capably played by Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Sam Jaffe and Joan Fontaine. Really inspiring!

Casablanca (1942) – This is the captivating story of a war-time adventure, romance and intrigue. It’s Humphrey Bogart as a world-weary freedom fighter who runs a nightclub in intriguing Casablanca and Ingrid Bergman who make the decision to leave the city of mysteries at the start of WWII. It was intense and gripping!

Laura (1944) – The film starts with the discovery that Laura (Gene Tierney) has been murdered. Tough NYC detective (Dana Andrews) methodically questions the chief suspects. It was a haunting, intriguing experience with lots of surprises.

The Third Man (1949) – Another gem from Orson Welles who arrives in post-war Vienna to visit his old friend who he discovers was killed in a street accident and wanted by the police as black marketer. Also stars one of my early favorites, Joseph Cotten.

Shane (1953) – The Wyoming range war is the focus of this western classic. Alan Ladd is a mysterious drifter who rides into a tiny homestead community and accepts the hospitality of a farm family. The farmer (Van Heflin) is impressed by the way Shane handles himself when facing down the land baron although he has trouble placing his complete trust in the stranger. Wife Marion (Jean Arthur) is attracted to Shane in spite of herself and son, Joey, flat out idolizes Shane. Also stars Jack Palance.

On The Waterfront (1954) – This classic story of mob control on the NY/NJ docks. Mob boss (Lee J. Cobb) controls the waterfront, with an iron fist. The authorities know he’s been responsible for a number of murders, but no witnesses will come forward. Washed up boxer, a young Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy is willing to keep his mouth shut until he meets Eva Marie Saint and gets the courage to speak up. Also starred Rod Steiger as a crooked union lawyer. It was electrifying.

The Graduate (1967) – “Plastics” was the cultural touchstone of the 1960’s as it seeped into the California upper-middle class. Totally adrift in the summer after college graduation, Ben (Dustin Hoffman) would rather float in the family pool than follow any adult advice about his future. He drifts along until he accepts the invitation of Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) to have an affair. Summer fun goes fine until Ben meets Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross), and then his pursuit gets really rollicking. Super entertaining!

If my memory holds out, next week we’ll tackle the last part of my list.

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CELEBRATING THE FOURTH OF JULY

A Little History

A lot of people think we celebrate the Fourth of July because it is the day we received our independence from England. Not exactly.

Way back in the 18th century the United States was not the United States. In fact, what we now call states were called colonies. The United States was actually an extension of England. People traveled from England aboard ships to settle in America, but eventually differences in life, thought, and interests began to develop which caused a rift between Britain and America.

When the colonies were first settled they were allowed to pretty much develop freely without hardly any interface from Britain, but things abruptly changed in 1763. Britain decided they needed to take more control over the colonies. They decided the colonies needed to return revenue to the mother country and they needed to pay for the colonies defense, which was being provided by Britain. But the colonies did not agree with these new rules at all. They felt that since they were not represented in Parliament that they shouldn’t have to pay any kinds of taxes to the mother country, hence the saying “no taxation without representation.” When Britain continued to tax, the colonies formed the First Continental Congress to persuade the British government to recognize their rights.  When this didn’t work a war was declared, which became the American Revolution.

After the First Continental Congress failed to persuade Britain to recognize the colonies’ rights, and war was declared, things began to heat up. Many people who were both considered moderates and radicals had decided that enough was enough and that any kind of taxation without representation was considered tyranny. People such as John Adams, Samuel Adams, and Ben Franklin, as well as a group called the Sons of Liberty, decided that it was time to united all of the colonies and to stand together against Britain.

During the course of the American Revolution a second Continental Congress was formed. It is this group that adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence was drafted by John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman. After it was revised, it was sent to Congress for approval. All 13 colonies stood behind the Declaration of Independence and adopted it in full on July 4, 1776.

This is where the Fourth of July holiday comes in. The Fourth of July is known as Independence Day because that is the day the Second Continental Congress adopted the full and formal Declaration of Independence. Even though we had declared we were independent, the American Revolution was still being fought, which meant that we were still not independent. Regardless of the ongoing war the following year, people in Philadelphia celebrated a muted Fourth of July.

While celebrations on July 4th during the American Revolution were modest, after the war ended in 1783 the Fourth of July became a holiday in many places.  The celebrations included speeches, military events, parades, and fireworks. To this day the Fourth of July is the most patriotic holiday celebrated in the United States.

The Story of the Stars and Stripes

American flags have changed with the country. Each time a new state had been admitted to the union, the layout of the stars changed. During the first few years of the nation’s existence, it didn’t have one official flag. Rather a number of similar looking red, white and blue designs were used, including the circular star design attributed to Betsy Ross. Since 1818, July 4th has been used as the date on which the American flag, as we know it, was adopted.

Presidential Births and Deaths

Was it a coincidence? Three of USA’s early presidents died on the 4th of July. Founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding, July 4th, 1826. Jefferson and Adams were also the only two men to have signed the Declaration of Independence and later become presidents. Ironically enough, five years later, President James Monroe also died on the same day in 1831. Destiny ran a different course in 1872 when Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4th. To date, Coolidge is the only president to be born on Independence Day.

Two Days Late

While July 4th has been forever enshrined as the independence day of United States, American people are actually celebrating two days later. The Second Continental Congress met on July 2nd to formally approve the new nation’s independence. The Congress approved the Declaration of Independence two days later, on July 4th.

When Did Fireworks Start?

It isn’t the 4th of July without a grand fireworks show. Accounts from the Pennsylvania Evening Post in 1777 indicate that the city celebrated with gun salutes and fireworks. Philadelphia enjoyed bonfires and other events to commemorate our nation’s first official birthday. Cannon salutes were also popular, and the first Independence Day celebration included the firing of 13 cannons, reflective of our first 13 states.

Who Signed the Declaration on the 4th of July?

There is considerable debate among historians as to who, if anyone, signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th. Some scholars believe the document was signed by Congress on August 2nd, as that was the day when a clean copy was finally acquired by Timothy Matlack, who was the assistant to the secretary of Congress. In the years following 1776, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson claimed that Congress did, in fact, sign it on the 4th of July—but, again, some of the signatures were from men who were not present on that particular date. One story claims that the most famous signature of all time, John Hancock’s, was the only one to be added to the Declaration on July 4th, 1776.

The Dog Days of Summer

The 4th of July is the biggest day of the year for hotdogs. More hotdogs are eaten on this day than any other day of the year. Estimates place the number of hotdogs eaten on this date at 155 million, or enough to stretch across the American nation more than five times over. We wonder what percentage of those 155 million hotdogs are consumed during the annual hotdog eating contest usually held over the 4th of July.

Uncle Sam Gives You the Day Off

For most American people, the 4th of July is a beautiful summer day off from work, but it wasn’t always that way. It wasn’t until 1785 that Congress made Independence Day an official unpaid holiday. In 1938 that was changed to a paid holiday.

All American – Not Quite

Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, eight were born in England. The liberty bell, which is a symbol of our independence, was cast in a British foundry.

Have a wonderful 4th of July!

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TOO MANY LAWS, TOO MANY COSTS

The following is an interesting article by David Boaz, Exec. V.P. of the Cato Institute, a leading libertarian think tank.

“As 2018 drew to a close, the mainstream media were full of laments about the ‘least productive Congress.’ Or more precisely that the just-concluded Congress was the second least productive Congress ever, second only to the 2011-2012 Congress. But what’s the definition of a ‘productive Congress’? One that passes laws, of course, lots of laws. Congress passed only 297 laws in the past two years, exceeded in slackerdom only by the 284 laws passed in the previous two years of divided government.

“All this productivity analysis assumes that passing laws is good, and passing more laws is better. But as the year ended, we also saw plenty of indications that many, perhaps most, laws—that is, most mandates, bans, regulations, taxes, subsidies, boondoggles, and transfer programs—do more harm than good.

“Two articles in the Washington Post last December reminded me that too many laws impede enterprise, charity, innovation, and growth.

“Brian Levy is vice president of a company that works to develop and fund energy efficiency and renewable-energy projects. Inspired by the `micro-houses’ movement, he decided to build his own tiny house in the expensive District of Columbia. For $77,000 he built a house that’s 11 feet wide and 22 feet long, with 210 square feet of living space. It has a galley kitchen and a full-size bed, the Post reports—although he can’t sleep overnight there because of a provision in District law. A 210-square-foot house wouldn’t be my cup of tea. But it’s his house, and it won an Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architects. Why can’t he live there? Because, the Post reports, `the alley next to his lot is not 30 feet wide and does not connect to a public street.’ So much for encouraging innovation and the green economy.

“Another story the same day reported that the Charles Darwin Research Station on the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, supports itself by operating a small store—‘selling mostly clothing with the Foundation’s logo. But then it added swimsuits, sunglasses, Ecuadoran chocolate and artwork, and the local traders cried foul. A local mayor agreed and shut down the store.’ The Research Station is also hampered by a U.S. tax provision that prevents the Galapagos Conservancy from fully funding it. So U.S. tax law and local cronyism may combine to shut down ‘the oldest and most prominent research organization in the famed archipelago that inspired Darwin’s masterwork, On the Origin of Species.’

“Far worse than those unfortunate outcomes was the fate of Eric Garner, who died in a police chokehold after he resisted the attempt to arrest him for selling individual cigarettes—‘loosies’—on the street. Why do people sell cigarettes on the street? Because New York has the country’s highest cigarette taxes, and cigarettes smuggled in from low-tax states such as Virginia can be sold much more cheaply. Garner had been arrested more than 30 times, most often for selling cigarettes on the street.

“Yale law professor Stephen Carter wrote in the days after Garner’s death:

“`It’s not just cigarette tax laws that can lead to the death of those the police seek to arrest. It’s every law Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they’re right. I often tell my students that there will never be a perfect technology of law enforcement, and therefore it is unavoidable that there will be situations where police err on the side of too much violence rather than too little. Better training won’t lead to perfection. But fewer laws would mean fewer opportunities for official violence to get out of hand.’

“In his book Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law, Douglas Husak of Rutgers points out that federal law now includes more than 3,000 crimes, and there may be 300,000 or more federal regulations enforceable through criminal punishment at the discretion of an administrative agency. Which is why criminal defense attorney and Cato adjunct scholar Harvey Silverglate titled his book Three Felonies a Day.

“As I wrote at USAToday.com, ‘the more laws we pass, the more chances there are for people to run afoul of the police. Especially when we outlaw peaceful activities, such as smoking marijuana, selling untaxed cigarettes or feeding the homeless.’

“If Congress wants to be really productive, it should repeal laws. It could start by reviewing the laws that create 3,000 federal crimes. And federal, state, and local governments should consider whether it’s really a good idea to use armed agents to enforce laws and regulations about selling orchids or raw milk, letting your child play in the park, or writing a school story about killing a dinosaur with a gun.”

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