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On clueless senator, panhandling on rise, & illegal fireworks
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Kamala Harris, just another liberal California U.S. senator, was in our Valley last week. She toured Fowler Packing Company in Fresno and held an agricultural roundtable discussion. Harris said she was there "to continue the conversation with our growers to make sure ... I am in touch with the real concerns of the folks in this community."

Not one mention of building water storage which we desperately need in the Valley, so I'm pretty sure she's out of touch. Oh but boy did she push a path towards citizenship for illegal aliens. Illegal aliens becoming citizens = votes for Democrats.

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Is panhandling on the rise? Sure seems that way to me, judging by the number of panhandlers I encounter daily.

There especially seems to be hordes of younger people who are panhandling these days.

Frankly, my patience with them has grown thin.

Don't get me wrong - I have a heart for some but typically show it when I spot somebody in need first and take action on my own.

About two weeks ago I spotted a man who was in threadbare clothing and sleeping on the hard sidewalk in front of a store. His beanie was hardly enough fabric to cushion his skull against the metal base of a pay phone (yes, there are still a few around). I was moved at the sight. It didn't look like he had any meal awaiting him and I realized his hunger would be real. I had a buy-one-get-one-free coupon from Subway and I thought I'd snag one for him. I drove over to him and called out to ask if he'd like it. He heard a grunt of a "yeah" and lowered the bag into his hands. The offer of food didn't seem to rouse him out of his asleep at 7:30 a.m. (By contrast, I got up at 6:30 a.m. to get ready for work.) As I backed up my car he lifted up his head and a hand as a gesture of thanks.

I tend to help the helpless and harassed, the disheveled, dirty with weather-browned skin and emaciated. If you're like me, you can usually tell the ones in need and the ones who are just playing a scam.

My heart doesn't go out much to the lazy able-bodied young men. I am less inclined to help anyone in their 20s and able-bodied and apparently enjoying the life of a vagabond because they are too free-spirited or too good to hold down a 9-to-5 job. They want their cake and eat it too. Part of me just wants it to hurt so much they'll change their ways and get their act together. Problem is, some people will never be hired because of who they have become.

In 1979 I knew the end of high school was coming. I actually looked forward to finding a job while studying in college and working to acquire things I needed to get out on my own. My first job started the week after I graduated from high school. That job on a Foster Farms chicken ranch east of Empire was nasty but I wasn't "too good" for it. I and friend John Crawford were the only ones on the ranch who spoke English. Our job was to remove eggs from nests of rice hulls, which ended up in my mop of hair because when hens flap their wings, feathers and hulls go flying. The hens often bit my hand as it "stole" their eggs and an occasional roosters took me on. Toward the end of the season I was sliding around on hills of chicken manure caked so thick that it blanketed the wood shavings that there prominent at the beginning. The polluted air caused my acne to worsen. While weighing chickens for test pens, the birds literally crapped all over me. I held that job for a year and a half while attending college.

Imagine any male millennial doing that job a week let alone 18 months.

I had no sense of entitlement other than I was entitled to work. It didn't once occur to me that I was going to skate by, let mommy and daddy pay for everything. There was no option that included thinking, yeah, I won't work and I'll hang out in parking lots with my skateboard and smoke doobies and ask strangers to feed me. What kind of dignity is there is that lifestyle?

Fortunately I learned that despite the fact that work is tough, it has its great rewards. I saw what my grandfather acquired property by working hard on a Merced County grape and walnut ranch and saving his money. It saddens me that some young people think they are too good to work and never learn that there is identity and purpose in work. Many young men shirk work and live in their parent's home for non-stop video gaming and contributing zilch to the world but solid waste while consuming resources someone else is paying for.
Maybe they never picked up on the men-find-worth-through-work ethnic because there were no men around to teach them.

Are you shocked to know 43 percent of American children don't live with their father? Just as shocked to know that 90 percent of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes? Or that 85 percent of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes - 20 times the average? That 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes - nine times the average? And doesn't it stand to reason that kids who run away from school and home will be destined to be poor all their lives? Perhaps we can also explain the problem with poverty in black America by these statistics: 57.6 percent of black children live without their dads as opposed to 20.7 percent of white kids.

So many of our ills occur when dads decide to leave the families they create. That, to me, is one of America's biggest problems.

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There are some who obey the law and others who flaunt breaking it. That goes for red lights, speed limits and fireworks. Looks like there were far too many interested in breaking the law on the Fourth of July, despite the potential to burn down the neighbors' house or blowing off fingers - like one Modesto man did on Colorado Avenue - or shattering windows.

Our Facebook page ran the gamut of opinions posted to the article about Ceres police citing 28 persons for possessing illegal fireworks. Many noted that illegal fireworks are banned for a safety reasons, citing fires and loss of digits. Others compared it to booze during Prohibition and at least one called police party-poopers. Barbara Sawicki suggested banning all fireworks in Ceres. Tony Liston, a former Californian who moved to Utah, said this: "California sucks. ‘Illegal fireworks' are just as safe as the crappy ones you all have. Lit off 40 aerial fireworks yesterday. Zero houses and fields caught on fire. It's about the dumb a---s using them. Just like the morons that catch the houses on fire deep frying a turkey. Should we ban turkeys too?"

Well, maybe if he had stuck around he would have learned that illegal fireworks were to blame for roof fires at a home in Ceres, one on Shaker Heights Way in south Modesto and one on Bristlecone Way in west Modesto.

To those who think it should be government hands-off with illegal fireworks, an 8-year-old San Bernardino boy had his hand blown off by one and a 200-acre grass fire was started in the Lake Mathews area. A 115-year-old house in Corona was damaged by fire. A Jurupa Valley barn burned, killing dozens of chickens and lambs and two dogs. A 25-year-old man in Kentucky died when an illegal firework went off early, hitting him in the chest. And in Ceres 26 face $1,000 fines.

The Sunday before the Fourth, my pastor happened to speak on Romans 13, dealing with submitting to authorities: "The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended."

Great advice.

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Ceres teenager Gary Condit (grandson of the former congressman) made some bold claims in his recent letter to the editor about the need for a crosswalk on Fifth Street. Condit didn't like City Manager Toby Wells assertion that safer pedestrian movement comes about not from crosswalks but that more attentive pedestrians. Condit wrote: "This is nothing more than Mr. Wells' opinion not based on fact or research. If in fact crosswalks provide only a ‘false sense of security' why have them at all? Of course we all know that would be unacceptable, unsafe, and most likely a violation of many traffic safety codes."

That's contrary to research. The city of Pittsburg, Calif., says painted crosswalks are more dangerous than unmarked crosswalks. San Diego looked at 400 uncontrolled intersections for five years that had a marked crosswalk on one side and an unmarked crosswalk on the other. About 2.5 times as many pedestrians used the marked crosswalk, but about six times as many accidents were reported in the marked crosswalks!

Long Beach studied pedestrian safety for three years and found eight times as many reported pedestrian accidents at intersections with marked crosswalks than at those without. Why? One explanation of this apparent contradiction of common sense is the false sense of security pedestrians feel in the marked crosswalk. Two painted lines do not provide protection against an oncoming vehicle and the real burden of safety has to be on the pedestrian to be alert and cautious crossing any street.

According to the Washington State Dept. of Transportation "there is evidence that many pedestrians feel overly secure when using a marked crosswalk. Feeling safe, they may aggressively enter crosswalks without proper consideration of approaching traffic in the mistaken belief that the motor vehicle can - and will - stop for them. By contrast, a pedestrian using an unmarked crosswalk generally feels less secure and exercises more caution in waiting for safe gaps in traffic before crossing."

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This occurred just 132 miles from Ceres, in Hanford. Did you hear about Jelinajane Bedrijo Almario, the 17-year-old girl who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for pimping and trafficking girls who were 14 and 15. Not only that, she sent threatening emails to a mother of one of the girls and making terrorist threats. Almario would post pictures of the girls on different websites for prostitution and then take them to motels to have sex. The girls were befriended through friends and acquaintances on social media.

Jelinajane looks innocent enough in her mugshot, far from a predator. Beware, looks can be deceiving, can't they?

Men, guard your morals. If men did the right thing and did not create a "meat market" by paying for sex, these kinds of crimes would not be happening.

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Did you hear about Kori Doty of British Columbia, Canada? Doty, who sports facial hair including a mustache, gave birth to a daughter and wants the state to strike her gender from the birth certificate. Doty is a confused individual and obviously made attempts to look like a man, such as taking male hormones. But one cannot ignore some basic truths: She gave birth; that means she has a uterus and is female. It's pretty basic biology. She thinks calling her daughter a girl is wrong.

"When I was born, doctors looked at my genitals and made assumptions about who I would be, and those assignments followed me and followed my identification throughout my life," said Doty.

These are interesting times, folks, but if you've been reading the Good Book, you knew they were coming.
Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at He will read it, promise.