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I’ve Got A Thousand Million Questions

question
A line from that Moody Blues song “Question” –
“I’ve got a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war.”

And budgets and the wealth gap and the environment and health care and education and … well many more. Can I substitute for Dean Borg one week? Please?

1) Let’s start with the budget. Once again we appear to be moving to war with no talk of how we will pay for the bombs and the planes and the soldiers so on and so forth. Yet that will not stop us from going to war. However, we have bridges about to fall down, schools that are unsafe, sewer and water lines bursting around the country that are not being addressed. Why do we always have money for war, but no money for infrastructure needs?

2) An add on to the previous question, how will you pay for the next war? Please be specific on added taxes or program cuts and who will be affected.

3) Around the country we have seen corporations create major public damage to common goods like waterways, aquifers, land, health and more yet they walk away from responsibility for those damages. Tell me what you will do to relieve taxpayers of the burden of corporate irresponsibility?

4) As a country we have spent trillions to secure oil from the middle east through wars and standing armies and aid. It looks as though we will be in the middle east as long as we need oil. What are your proposals to get off the oil addiction?

5) who are you largest donors? What will they get for their investment in you?

6) When we go into war, the lives and bodies of soldiers are broken. We have been greatly negligent in repairing those broken lives and bodies. Would you favor a tax to pay for soldier maintenance throughout their lives before we send them into war?

7) Should there be a tax or cost added to products to pay for their impact on the environment?

8) Why do companies get tax breaks when they move jobs and facilities out of the US? What will you do to bring these jobs and facilities back? How will your approach work.

9) There is a new awareness of battered women in this country. What have you done in the past to address this problem and what do you propose that the government can do?

10) Finally – It has been nearly 2 years since the Sandy Hook massacre. We are killing each other as if we are in an internal war. What proposals will you advance to end this slaughter and tell us why they will work?

I could go on and I bet you could also. I really want to hear questions that affect our daily lives and see if the politicians understand what their platitudes mean.

“I’ve got a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war.”

Sunday Funday – Oops About That Harkin Steak Fry

harkin_braleyIf I am not wrong I wrote last week’s quiz as if the last Harkin Steak Fry was last week. I am a total Bozo, but I am not telling you anything you already didn’t know. If you did go to the event last week you no doubt secured an excellent seat. Hopefully you get squatter’s rights for this week.

Thirty-seven years is a long time. I think phones were still connected to the wall 37 years ago. Thank you Senator and a long life to you. By the way, I certainly hope we don’t see you as a lobbyist for any corporation.

And now: the quiz!

1) In recent years Harkin has invited 3 folks who have made noises about running for the Democratic nomination in 2016 besides Hillary. Can you name them (hint: 2008,2011, 2012)

2) Which state has had its bond rating downgraded for the seventh time and second this year under their governor who wants to be president?

3) The eyes of the world will be on what want-to-be nation next week as it votes for its independence?

4) At a Board of Supervisor’s meeting in Maquoketa, a gunman died while apparently trying to kill what county official?

5) Experimental vaccines have kept a group of macaque monkeys free from what disease for 10 months?

6) Two Minnesota senators have addressed the crowd at the Harkin steak fries over the years. Can you name them?

7) Multitudes of female Ravens fans attended Thursday night’s game wearing the jersey of what Ravens player?

8) The National Organization for Women (NOW) called for the resignation of what business leader this week?

9) On Wednesday, President Obama announced what strategy for the Middle East?

10) The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that for the first time ever fewer than half of American adults were what?

11) DNA tests revealed Aaron Kosminski as one of history’s most sought after mystery men. Who was Aaron Kominsky revealed to be?

12) Yet another major retailer announced that its credit customers may have been compromised. What retailer announced it was hacked this time?

13) What major world economy contracted at an annual rate of 7.1% in the second (April – June) quarter?

14) The Apple watch was introduced this week. The screen of the Apple watch will be made of what ultra-hard substance?

15) The sheriff of Rock Island County, Illinois resigned this week when he pled guilty to official misconduct for what actions?

It was a busy week. Bet Senator Harkin won’t miss the foofahrah all that much.

Answers:

1) 2008 – Brian Schweitzer, 2011 – Bernie Sanders and 2012 – Martin O’Malley

2) New Jersey

3) Scotland

4) the county assessor – he had a tax complaint.

5) Ebola

6) Paul Wellstone and Al Franken

7) the suspended for domestic violence Ray Rice

8) NFL commissioner Roger Goodell over his handling of the Rice affair.

9) air strikes on ISIL

10) married – maybe we need more marriage equality.

11) Jack the Ripper

12) Home Depot

13) Japan

14) sapphire glass

15) cyber stalking a woman.

Americans Need To Work Together To Solve Our Nation’s Problems

together we will standLooking for a way forward, a new vision for our country calls us to step outside of our comfort zones.  How can we work together to solve our county’s problems? One of the first steps will be to properly identify problems, and their causes. Another is to let go of ideas that may have worked in our past, but aren’t working now – being willing to take pieces from our favorite “isms” and join them with others to form paths forward.

Could our national “character” use a little tweaking towards more gentleness and cooperation, and less fear and competitiveness?

Separating the ideals of how we would like government to work, from the pragmatics of what we actually have available to work with, and what is actually possible.

Can we solve the debt issue? If we (temporarily!) value the principle of low taxes less than the solving of our debt, yes we can! Through restructuring our tax systems (temporarily!) by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and changing loopholes, we can erase our enormous debt.

While doing that, we also need to discuss the deficit in our budget using sound mathematics and accounting principles rather than ideological principles. We need to be willing to reassess priorities. We need to debate respectfully how our “scope of government” and “the general welfare” might be different in this century, from the time period when our nation began.

We spend a tremendous amount of money on public assistance of various kinds. Romney’s figure of 47% will do for an example. Mathematically, is this percentage of “non-producers” in our economy sustainable? Of course not! In a perfect world, that percentage would be zero, but that is not a realistic goal. This is where accurately identifying the underlying causes of this problem comes in if we want to lower that percentage permanently.

If we are assisting people who can’t make ends meet because they are not educated enough for “good jobs,” wouldn’t investing more up front for their education be both more economically sensible and offering them more dignity as humans? If we are assisting people who can’t keep a job due to health issues, isn’t investing in supportive, early intervention health care that keeps them more productive both more logical and dignified?

The only thing keeping us from investing properly in our citizens and our future, is our fixation on the principle of “making it on our own.”  This principle needs the perspective of properly defining average versus exceptional. Our American “rags to riches” dream celebrates the success of exceptional people. We are not all exceptional people. By definition, very few of us are exceptional. Most of us are average, some of us are below average, no matter what category we discuss.

Can we solve our off-kilter political system? To perfection, no. Since so many of us are too frustrated to participate in elections, should we come up with a different form of governing? Should we limit who “qualifies” to vote, or should we pay more than lip service to educating voters?

Governing, or managing happens. In business contexts, we value the concept of managing. We seem to view managing/governing in our civil lives as evil. Either we manage our society with accountable elected officials, or we let others manage it, i.e., religious groups or business interests who are not accountable to us.

Our management needs are different now than when we began and “small government” is another principle that distracts us from improving how government does its job.

Let us admit that we cannot reach any of our desired Utopias, and work on things we can fix, together.

Laura Twing

 

 

Sunday Funday: The Last Harkin Steak Fry

Senator Tom Harkin

Senator Tom Harkin

In case you forgot today is the last annual Harkin Steak Fry. This is an annual fundraiser that helps pay a lot of bills for the Iowa Democratic Party. We can’t go this year due to previous commitments, but we do encourage all others. In case you hadn’t heard (do you live in a cave?) the headliners this year are that family from Arkansas, the Clintons.

We have been to a couple of these events. Always ran into friends from across the state. This was the main attraction for us. We did see an up and comer from Chicago name of Obama one year. I think that odd name may have held him back from going anywhere in politics.

Were you paying attention last week?

1) First the bad news. Oktoberfests in Germany are being threatened by a strike by the makers of what?

2) Jack Hatch claimed Branstad “can’t buy back his integrity.” What was Hatch referring to?

3) Eric Cantor couldn’t wait to leave his old job to get to his new job. How much will Cantor make in his first year as a Wall Street lobbyist?

4) Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager quit. This man is the central figure in the bribery conviction of what former Iowa state senator?

5) Amid crises in the Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq what group met in Wales last week?

6) A federal judge in New Orleans ruled Thursday that what company was guilty of “gross negligence” in the 2010 Gulf oil spill?

7) What would be football pioneer was released by the Rams and is now a free agent?

8) What scion of a notable American political family left her job as an NBC reporter, raising speculation one of her parents would run for president?

9) Thursday marked a major job action by workers in what industry?

10) Spontaneous combustion was blamed for a fire near Sioux Center that burned a large amount of what?

11) From the governor’s mansion to the jail house. The last governor of what state is now facing decades in jail after being convicted of corruption?

12) In a major breach of privacy what were leaked and posted on the internet?

13) President Obama pledged to defend what states against a threat from Russia?

14) A judge in Chicago had a two-fer Thursday when he overturned gay marriage bans in what two states at one time?

15) What company announced the siting of its giant battery factory in Nevada after a huge multi-state competition?

As most know, Joan Rivers died last week. She was truly a unique personality.

Now for some answers:

1) Pretzels. Pretzel bakers are threatening a strike just before Oktoberfest.

2) The hush money scandal that continues to swirl around the Branstad administration.

3) $3.4 million. That is about $10,000 a day.

4) Kent Sorenson

5) NATO

6) BP. finally someone is standing up to them.

7) Michael Sam

8) Chelsea Clinton.

9) Fast food industry protesting low wages.

10) Corn, about 2.7 million bushels.

11) Virginia. Governor Bob McDonnell

12) private celebrity nude photos, apparently hacked from a cloud storage site.

13) the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia)

14) Indiana and Wisconsin

15) Tesla. The plant is expected to employ 6,500.

Should be good fall weather for the Harkin event. I hope everyone enjoys it.

Sunday Pictures

I have been collecting pictures to use in these posts for a while. Some never get posted but should.Thus, I have been toying with the idea of an occasional picture thread. Today I decided to do a short test picture thread.

what voters want

what voters want

Here's one for Bob Vander Plaats

Here’s one for Bob Vander Plaats

credit: democraticunderground.com

credit: democraticunderground.com

Still so very true

Still so very true

looks like we will be 100 years behind the rest of the world

looks like we will be 100 years behind the rest of the world

my favorite

my favorite

Sunday Funday – Wha’ Happened To August?

last day for the state fair!

last day for the state fair!


August. A quiet time before school starts. Usually filled with vacations and last minute fun before it is back to the books and studying.

Time for some last minute time at the pool or down at the the old fishing pond. August, a lazy, hazy quiet time — wait – what? The world seems to be exploding! Somebody spike the water with something really nasty? Settle down, people! It is August.

Well, at least John Boehner has it right. No work for congress in August and little more all year. That way you can’t blame Boehner, he has done nothing. Not one damn thing.

Can you keep up with it all?

1) Which Republican presidential candidate missed the Family Leader hate fest in Ames last week thus raising the ire of Bob Vander Plaats?

2) The police chief of Ferguson, Missouri said victim Michael Brown may have done what before he was gunned down by police?

3) Well-known star Robin Williams died early this week. What show did Williams make his TV debut on?

4) Lauren Bacall, another major Hollywood star from an earlier era also died last week. Bacall once said she was the dreaded ‘L’ word. What did she mean?

5) Bacall was half of a famous Hollywood marriage. Who was her long time husband?

6) The mayor of what Iowa city has been charged with 5 counts of sexual abuse of a minor?

7) Haider al-Ibadi is a name we will be hearing in the news a lot in coming months. Who is Haider al-Ibadi?

8) Iowa gubernatorial candidates debated Thursday on IPTV with what venue as the background?

9) A woman was charged with second-degree theft in Waterloo when she left a Hy-Vee with what item?

10) In Britain, medical trials are beginning on an injection of a gene into what part of the body to spur protein production that will allow this part to recover.

11) Pope Francis is visiting South Korea. North Korea says that they did not do what in response to the Pope’s visit to the South?

12) Ninety-four years ago Monday, what large group was granted the right to vote?

13) Aloha! Fifty-five years ago on August 21st, what President signed a proclamation bring Hawaii into the union?

14) President Obama accepted a hug from what recent critic of his at a private party Wednesday night?

15) The dumbest man in politics Thursday claimed that “undocumented Democrats” were bringing Ebola into the US from Central America. Can you identify this dumbest man in politics?

There was so much more that happened last week that it may take me a week to recover. May be time for a movie or something. I hear “Boyhood” is quite the movie.

Here are the answers:

1) Rand Paul.

2) stolen cigars from a convenience store. Paid quite a price if he did.

3) revival of Laugh-in in 1977

4) she was a Liberal!

5) Humphrey Bogart

6) Oelwein

7) the new prime minister of Iraq

8) The state fair

9) one of their motorized shopping carts. She claimed an employee said she could take it home as she had no ride.

10) into the heart.

11) Shoot three missiles from their coast just before the Pope’s arrival.

12) Women! August 18th, 1920

13) Eisenhower

14) Hillary Clinton

15) no, it is not Steve King. There is one even dumber, Louie Gohmert

Sounds like just in time for school to start, it will get plenty warm. Of course it will.

Hemp Fibers ‘Better Than Graphene’

marijuana gavel
I read this article concerning a new potentially breakthrough use for hemp with interest Wednesday. When I read this I hearkened back to an article I had read on a building material called hempcrete. This is a light weight material that has some very desirable properties that many builders would love to offer clients. Our daughter and son-in-law have been talking about building their own house so we frequently talk about what kinds of amenities they would like in that house.

You may notice a common thread (no pun intended) in the two materials is hemp. Like many others, I have to wonder how much longer the United States can continue to deny its citizens access to one of the most versatile plants on the earth. Unfounded fear drives some insane policies concerning hemp. Fears that grew out of myths and propaganda from the 1860s to the 1930s when the infamous Harry Anslinger used the ‘devil weed’ to cement his job in the Narcotics Bureau.

So for a couple of generations we have missed out on opportunities to develop so many uses for this plant. From clothing to building materials to construction to medicines, the hemp plant could be a major boost to our economy. Hemp could also be a major aid as a cash crop on Iowa farms that are currently so tied in to the monocultures of corn and beans.

Just like several legislatures throughout the country, including Iowa, did last year when hemp oil was irrefutably shown to be a elixir for epilepsy, America needs to grow up and accept that hemp is not the evil weed it is portrayed as. It is a plant that could bring in major revenue and be a large economic boost.

Take a look here to see just a short list of uses for hemp. Industrialist Henry Ford saw hemp as a great material for building his cars. Hemp also has great properties for regenerating soil that has been worn out and grows in areas usually unsuited for other plants. This would be especially good in Iowa.

In case you haven’t noticed, the attempted prohibition has failed. It is way past time America takes advantage of what hemp has to offer.

But wait, hemp does have some powerful enemies who buy a lot of influence. What is odd is that the list of interests lined up against hemp seem only to be concerned about possibly losing some business and nothing to do with any of hemp’s perceived problems. Here is a short list of those working hard to keep hemp bottled up:

1) Police unions
2) Privatized Prison Companies
3) Alcohol and Beer companies
4) Pharmaceutical companies
5) Prison unions.

Read the article for the whys of the opposition. I think it is fairly clear. Each of these groups has a major financial interest in keeping hemp illegal, especially marijuana.

I would love it if my kids could build a house out of an extra strong, lightweight, water-proof, well insulated and breathable material. A guy can dream can’t he?

Governor Hosts Hate Fest In Ames At 9AM Today

hosts hate group meeting in Ames today

hosts hate group meeting in Ames today

Our illustrious governor, in his new found quest to turn Iowa into a right wing haven, today acts as the host for the gathering of a group that has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Today up in Ames, the Family Research Council (FRC) will be holding a day long hate fest with the target – and I do believe that target is a very appropriate word here – being those in the LGBT community. Today Terry Branstad welcomes into our state the likes of the Benham Brothers who lost a chance at a network cable show over their vociferous gay hatred, and lesser lights such as Ken Cucinelli, former Virginia attorney General, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry. This is only a partial line up.

Iowans should care deeply what their governor is doing in their name and on our payroll. Acting as host for a hate group goes beyond the pale in my opinion. Would he act as host for the Ku Klux Klan? Would he act as a host for the White Citizen’s Council? I would certainly hope not. Why then play host for a group that is in the same league, but does have the cover of religion to give this hate fest a patina of legitimacy? This so reminds me of the old Southern governors who proudly joined the Klan during the civil rights days. The FRC is hell bent on taking rights away from a specific class of citizens. Does that sound familiar? Are LGBT not citizens just like non-whites? Why then does Branstad endorse their cause?

Just last month Branstad cozied up to Bob Vander Plaats’ group, the Family Leader, by first endorsing and then participating in Vander Plaats’ phonied up “Day of Prayer and Fasting.” In case you are wondering, the Family Leader is a subsidiary of the Family Research Council and as such is also a hate group. Thus our governor has twice given this hate group cover. Can we deduct a little from his pay? Can we take away his double dip on his retirement?

As if endorsement of a hate group isn’t bad enough, Branstad seems to take real pride in mixing government with politics. One would think that a person whose job is to run an organization would at least have a vague idea what the very basic beliefs of that organization were. In the case of Branstad he heads up a governmental organization. As such that organization has as one of its basic tenets the separation of church and state. Thus he is violating the very underpinnings of his organization. Were he the CEO of say Kelloggs and hosted a meeting for General Mills, I would like to think his ass would be out the door in a minute.

Maybe to make amends, he should host a meeting of Muslims in Iowa, and perhaps a meeting of Atheists. I see the Atheists just had a meeting last month. Where was the coveted Branstad endorsement for that?

Why, then, would Branstad host a group that is labeled a hate group and at the same time violate standards of the organization he heads? One can only guess and that is exactly what I will do.

– First, despite spending big bucks to bury Jack Hatch early, Branstad is still having problems with his re-election. His scandals, his lack of leadership and his cozying up to the very right wing of his party has not gone unnoticed by Iowans. Thus Branstad is having to once more come begging on his knees to the extremist wing of his party for their votes. Branstad has never been trusted by those folks and now he must supplicate himself.

– Second, I think Branstad wants to curry favor with potential Republican presidential hopefuls, thus they may remember him when they become president, maybe rewarding him with a nice cabinet job. And he could leave Iowa in the hands of his Lieutenant Governor, the awful Kim Reynolds.

Iowans need to reject this endorsement of a hate group and the mixing of church and state. Of course the best way to show your disapproval is at the polls this November. And bring a friend!

Newton Daily News Editor Fired For “Being Christian”

The first amendment

The first amendment


Ran across this story Thursday. A portion is reprinted here. The whole story plus other links are at the link.This story has a lot of twists and looks to me like one that may well wend its way to the Supreme Court. With the makeup of the current Court, that is a real concern.

An Iowa newspaper editor who was fired after posting an anti-LGBT blog post is irate over the firing and claims that his religious freedom was violated.

Media critic Jim Romenesko reported on his blog Wednesday that Bob Eschliman, former editor of Newton Daily News, filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that he was fired for being a Christian.

Eschliman — who refers to himself on his Facebook page as an “Evil Conservative” — is being represented by an attorney from the Liberty Institute, a Christian law practice dedicated to injecting faith into public policy and to fighting efforts by the courts to separate matters of church and state.

The former editor was fired in May after publishing an anti-LGBT rant on his personal blog, in which he railed against “the LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo,” claiming that LGBT people of faith are attempting to rewrite the Bible to “to make their sinful nature ‘right with God.’”

Eschliman expressed an opinion publicly although not while he was working. Can he not express his personal opinions, especially religious ones, publicly without fearing loss of job and benefits? On the other hand, people in management positions can be fired without cause. Does the owner of the business not have the right(?) to pick employees at the highest levels.

Just a few weeks ago the SCOTUS told us that corporations had a right to impose their religious beliefs as part of the employment contract. Does it not also have a right to remove employees whose religious beliefs come in conflict with business practices? The guarantee of religious freedom is that the government will not interfere with a person’s freedom or create a state religion. It says nothing about private businesses. During my working days our company decided we would be a 7 day a week, 24 hour a day operation. When one man objected saying Sunday was a sacred day for him, the boss told him “Well., I guess you have a decision to make then.”

One issue that must loom large in the background is the effect of Mr. Eschliman’s now known religious conservatism may have on the business. Were I a subscriber, I would most likely drop the paper because I would think that the editor would be putting his slant into news stories. Beyond that there may be an effect on advertiser orders. Advertisers simply quit advertising in that paper fearing that they may be considered guilty by association for supporting this paper with its business.

Once upon a time in America (settle back, it’s story time) printing presses were in great supply. If a person had an opinion, they could buy a printing press and publish and distribute it. Nowadays our comparable technology would be the internet. As of today the internet remains open and neutral. If Mr. Eschliman has an opinion that he feels he must share with others, he can pay a small fee and grab a chunk of internet real estate to sound off.

If net neutrality is squashed by the FCC (and that is what I expect) then outlets for dissenting voices may well be choked by “the market.”

While I may disagree with Mr. Eschliman’s views – and I certainly do – to me it is much more important that he and any others who feel they need to express themselves in public have an outlet on the internet.

Sunday Funday – Rummage In The Ramp Time.

whoops make that 2014

whoops make that 2014

One of my favorite events of the year is on once more. The giant garage sale known as “Rummage in the Ramp” started Friday and continues until next Sunday, August 3rd. If you are unfamiliar with this event, it is something unique to Iowa City. Apartment leases in Iowa City go from August one year through July of the next year. As students and others move out, they often leave behind some pretty decent furniture.

A few years back someone had the brilliant idea to sell the stuff rather than bury it in a landfill. Over the years the City has expanded to taking donations of usable items from anyone. And thus you have the makings of a giant garage sale. New stuff is added daily, so if you have an item in mind you may want to chck back daily. Under the Chauncey Swan parking ramp by the City rec center. More info here:

Were you paying attention?

1) They can’t do anything, but Texas Governor Rick Perry is sending who to the border?

2) A Florida jury last week leveled tobacco company RJ Reynolds with a judgment worth how much in damages for a tobacco related death?

3) Deaths last week included this usually unflappable hero of TV series and movies. Who was this solid lifelong liberal, best known as Maverick?

4) The FDA issued a warning that the powdered form of what common substance – even a teaspoon – could be fatal following the death of an Ohio teenager?

5) Two big annual events in Iowa had their culmination yesterday, one in Davenport and one in Guttenburg. What are these two events?

6) In the crazy middle East, Israel shelled what thought to be safe building, killing 4 and wounding 16?

7) This June joined May as a record setter for what?

8) Once more acting because Republicans in Congress refuse to do their jobs, President Obama signed an executive order banning discrimination by federal contractors against what group?

9) Jack Hatch blasted Governor Brandstad last week for turning down what?

10) According to LULAC spokesman Joe Henry, how many Central American refugee kids have come to Iowa (+-25)?

11) In northeast China the largest microraptor dinosaur fossil, Changyuraptor, was found. It had what unusual feature?

12) Tuesday two federal courts issued conflicting rulings about an hour apart on the legality of what?

13) The Johnson County, Iowa Board of Supervisors passed resolution Thursday to encourage the testing of what concept car in Johnson County?

14) History you never hear in school department. In 1919, the worst of the “Red Summer” race riots begins in what midwest city on July 27, 1919?

15) Republicans came unglued when the FAA banned American airline companies from landing in what airport due to danger from war?

And these are just a few of the happenings this week. Sixty-one years ago, the Korean War ended, but just 11 years later President Johnson sent 5,000 more “advisors” into Viet Nam signalling the involvement buildup yet to come. Oy Vey!

Answers:

1) National Guard troops.

2) $23.6 billion

3) James Garner

4) caffeine

5) In Davenport, the annual Bix Biederbeck celebration. In Guttenburg RAGBRAI ended.

6) a hospital

7) global temperature.
The average temperature over global surfaces for June 2014 was 1.3 degrees above the 20th-century average of 59.9 degrees. In May, the Earth’s temperature was 1.33 degrees above the average of 58.6 degrees.

8) LGBT

9) $1 million grant to study solar applications in Iowa

10) 139 (114 – 154 range)

11) Four wings (and feathers)

12) ACA exchanges

13) driverless cars

14) Chicago – much of our labor and race history is seldom taught

15) Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

August next week which means (here it comes) back to school time!