Friday, November 20, 2015

House Majority Leader McCarthy: the measure blocking the quick acceptance of Syrian refugees was bi-partisan and picked up 47 Democratic votes

 House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "This week we officially completed months of bipartisan negotiations to give our commercial space innovators in Mojave and East Kern County the certainty they need to continue to expand our reach into space. On Monday, the House passed the SPACE Act, a bill I sponsored. And on Friday, I sat
with Speaker Paul Ryan as he signed the SPACE Act and sent it to the President’s desk for his signature. I looked forward to the President promptly signing this bill into law. Our community’s support for commercial space is strong. Upon the firm foundation of the SPACE Act --- I know they and others will lead us far --- and that our limits are only bounded by what we can imagine as we continue our journey to the stars.

 "As our reach into the cosmos saw great opportunity this week, as a nation we continue to respond to the terror that occurred in Paris, France a week ago. Beyond the tragedy of the innocent lives lost, Americans are looking to leaders in Washington to make sure our nation is secure and our citizens are safe. And in Congress that is our number one priority.

"That is why this week I led my colleagues in the House to act swiftly to ensure our government’s refugee process is guided by a simple but important principle:  if you are a terrorist or a threat to our country, you are not getting in. Period.

" And this is not a partisan belief. That is why 47 Democrats joined with Republicans and voted for our bill that adds accountability to our refugee program. The bill we voted on increases the standards to keep those who want to do us harm out. But America is not saying ‘no’ to refugees. America always stands as a beacon of hope for everyone fleeing oppression and terror. Nothing will stop us from protecting the innocent while continuing our fight against evil. Instead, this bill puts a pause on our refugee program until we are certain that nobody being allowed in poses a threat to the American people.

 #Here in the House, we will not accept half measures. We are committed to keeping America safe.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy raps Obama on the Syrian refugee question, the Padre Hotel menu gets a makeover and remembering the South Chester Drive-In

 * ... SYRIAN REFUGEES: Is there are hotter issue domestically than the question of allowing thousands of Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States? Citing humanitarian concerns, the president wants to allow some 10,000 Syrians into the country, an idea the House of
Representatives shot down Thursday by voting to halt the program. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, took the floor to remind the president that "our duty is to protect the American people," adding that is it "against our values to give terrorists the opening they are looking for" to sneak into the country. McCarthy noted the United States spends some $6.5 billion in humanitarian aid alone, and that pausing the resettlement was necessary until all refugees can be property vetted. The House measure also called for the heads of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Intelligence to personally vouch that those admitted aren't a threat.

* ... INDIGNANT: A handful of readers wrote to correct the misspelling of the word "indignant" in a recent post on student protests. It should have read like this: "The activities of students at two universities remind me of Al Capp’s name for similar students of the 1960s and 1970s in his Li’l Abner comic strip – Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything." One reader, Richard Rivera, showing a bit of indignation himself, offered this: "Try wildly indignant if you and your reader wish to mock these students who are raising legitimate concerns."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted."

 * ... FOODIE: The chef at The Padre Hotel and given its bar and restaurant menus a complete makeover, and it's worth checking out. The Brimstone bar now offers a full array of "craft burgers" along with mussels and a variety of flatbreads.

* ... BOOK SIGNING: A Highland High graduate is returning to town this weekend for a book signing for his recently released children's book, 'Baxter Bu's Epic Beach Day.' Shaun Sturz, who went on to graduate from Westmonth College and later became a "manny" for Kenny G's children, will appear at Amy's Hallmark on Oswell this Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Sturz was noted to be the top “manny’ in Beverly Hills by Los Angeles Magazine and was cast on ABC Family’s reality show "Beverly Hills Nannies,” where he was one of ten high class nannies chosen for the series. Sturz was also approached by Brooke Burke of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” to blog for her popular mommy site,, where he gave advice and shared fun stories from his perspective as a male nanny.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD SIGN: Bryan Kelly read the story about the city of Lamont refurbishing its welcome sign and had this to say: re: "What we need to do is resurrect the old BAKERSFIELD-SUN-FUN-STAY-PLAY sign, only this time make it read BAKERSFIELD-SUN-FUN-STAY-PLAY-LITTER... perhaps people traveling through at least might think we do this on purpose and we're not just a bunch of pigs."

 * ... MEMORIES: You may be a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember going to the South Chester Drive-In. Built in 1945 to hold some 600 cars, the drive-in went out of business and was torn down in the early 1980s.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

California universities admitting record number of foreign students, two new studies say fracking has no ill effect on groundwater and more on those Mizzou protests

 * ... COLLEGES: As our public colleges and universities struggle with tight budgets, they are admitting record high numbers of foreign students simply because they pay three times as much
tuition as California residents. According to The Wall Street Journal, a record 975,000 international students were enrolled at two and four year U.S. schools this year, representing a 10 percent jump over a year earlier. And now, predictably, some California families are pushing back, saying their own children are being pushed aside simply because foreigners pay a higher tuition. Here is how bad it is for California students: the UC system accepted 62 percent of in-state student applicants in 2014, compared to 84 percent just four years earlier.

 * ... FRACKING: Two more major studies have been released that conclude that hydraulic fracturing does not pollute groundwater supplies. The latest studies, by Yale University and the other by Colorado State, dealt with fracking operations and groundwater in northeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Colorado. According to the Denver Post, "The Yale-led study — the largest of its kind, according to a university press release — found "no evidence that trace contamination of organic compounds in drinking water wells near the Marcellus Shale" resulted from underground migration of the chemicals. The Colorado State study reached a similar conclusion. Of course, for many the debate over fracking is not based on science, but rather on emotion and the dream of a world without fossil fuels, so no doubt these latest studies will have little effect on the civic dialogue.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back."

 * ... MIZZOU: Jon Crawford weighed in on the student protect activity at the University of Missouri and Yale with this missive: "The activities of students at two universities remind me of Al Capp’s name for similar students of the 1960s and 1970s in his Li’l Abner comic strip – Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything."

* ... ALIENS: Have you seen the Facebook thread about aliens falling from the sky? That's right, someone posted a picture of what looks like an animal fetus and claimed that it was an alien that had fallen from the sky in the San Jose area. Hundreds chimed in buying into the theory that the government was covering up an alien invasion. Said one post: "We see what it looks like, we know there are other life forms being generated... (but) our government works for the devil and is able to create life forms of whatever. .. God sees all and when he wants his children to know the truth it will all be revealed." Okey doke.

 * .... LOCAL HERO: Hats off to 19-year-old Abby Harwell who was shopping at Walmart near East Hills Mall when she performed CPR on a woman who had collapsed. Said her aunt Linda Daniels: "Our niece Abby Harwell works two part time jobs and takes classes at BC in the medical field... She jumped into action and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. The lady was breathing when they arrived. I think she needs a shout out for stepping in while others stood by. We are very proud of her."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek sends $10,000 to Taft College to fund a scholarship, downtown Bakersfield gets some love from a travel writer and the Bakersfield Californian Foundation gives out $275,000 in grants

 * ... TREBEK: Alex Trebek, the popular host of the long-running game show Jeopardy!, has developed a love affair of sorts with Taft College. Trebek has long had a fascination with oil and gas production, and in October he showed up as the emcee of the West Kern Petroleum Summit
sponsored by the Taft College Foundation. Trebek politely declined to be paid for his appearance, and instead foundation director Sheri Horn Bunk promised to create an engineering scholarship in his name. What happened next? Bunk said Trebek sent a check for $10,000 to help fund the scholarship, which Bunk called totally unexpected. "His letter to me asked if I found a good text book on drilling for oil please send that to him," she said. "The gift was unsolicited and this is one I will always remember." What's next? Trebek told Bunk he planned to return to Taft, this time to take up skydiving.

 * ... VALENTINE: A travel writer from the Sacramento Bee spent some time in Bakersfield recently, and his story cast us in a pretty good light. The piece was devoted to downtown and some of our iconic buildings and businesses: the Fox Theater, the Kress Building, the Woolworth building, the antique malls and the Padre Hotel. Said the writer: "Yet there is an undeniable charm to downtown Bakersfield’s fossilized, late-1950s feel. If you want modern conveniences – an Applebee’s and an Apple store; a Chipotle and a Nordstrom – alight to the 150-square-mile sprawl of the city’s outer, strip-mall-saturated regions. Downtown Bakersfield clings to the past with buttons and buckles, not Velcro. Sure, there’s a fancy arena and a few chain hotels anchored on Truxton Avenue. But on the grid, streets numbered and lettered with straightforward humility, the past isn’t even the past, as Faulkner wrote. This is a good thing. This is downtown Bakersfield’s charm." (photo courtesy of the Sacramento Bee)

* ... GRANTS: The Bakersfield Californian (family) Foundation awarded its Fall grants last week, handing out $275,000 to deserving non-profits. The Community Action Partnership of Kern was awarded $100,000 for a food bank solar energy improvement project, the Children First Campaign was awarded $50,000 (with an additional $50,000 in matching funds available) for a family zone pocket park, the Bakersfield SPCA was given $50,000, and the Independent Living Center of Kern $25,000. Lastly, the Lamont Women's Club was awarded $25,000 to restore the city welcome sign and the Youth 2 Leaders Education Foundation won $25,000 for a technology readiness project.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The sole purpose of a child’s middle name, is so he can tell when he’s really in trouble."

 * ... DRILLERS: Elaine Conley added this note about the old days at Bakersfield High School. "My husband, Larry Conley, enjoyed your column  about the pep band playing 'Sweet Georgia Brown' when the basketball team warmed up. Larry was captain of the pep band in 1960-61 and remembers this very well. He said the basketball coaches didn't like it because the players started twirling the ball and acting like the Globetrotters, but nothing was ever done because it was THE Driller Band!"

 ... GOOD FORM: This note, signed simply Dee and Jean, showed up in my mailbox and is worth sharing. "This morning my gentleman friend and I went to have breakfast out at our favorite restaurant - Mel's Cafe on Knudsen and Olive. It was one of those chilly mornings where pumpkin pancakes for me and ham and eggs for my friend seemed fit.  Since we are just a little old senior couple, it was a big order. Soon our waitress came over and said our check had been paid for.  It was such a great surprise.  Made our day! We want to please say thank you to the man and his little boy for turning our day into a happy day. Sir, if you are reading this, we thank you and God bless you!"