Home Sweet Home

IMG_1470While I loved Italy and Sicily, I did long to return to my hikes on my favorite trails in Maryland and Virginia. I did my usual dawn hike this morning on Billy Goat trail and it was glorious with the leaves changing and the crisp autumn wind.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

no-surrender-mc-logomedian-empire-fighters-kurdish Dutch and German 1%er Motorcycle clubs have joined the fight against ISIS in the besieged Syrian city of Kobane.

The Dutch club “No Surrender” and Germany’s “Median Empire” are reportedly participating in combat roles against ISIS.

Median Empire, which comprises some members of the Kurdish diaspora, has been in the Kurdistan region since at least April of 2014 offering humanitarian aid and support for the ethnic minorities under persecution of ISIS.

No Surrender is a large club in The Netherlands having approximately equal members as that of the Dutch chapter of the Hells Angels.

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IMG_1068We returned home from Italy with an array gifts and a mountain of memories. Here are a few pictures that include some of of the more unexpected sightings in Italy and Sicily.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Blogger

Author’s Note: Grace Under Pressure is an ongoing series of posts honoring everyday people who courageously make positive differences in their own lives and consequently in the lives of others. It is my own personal affirmation that unexpected heroes live among us and that their service is quiet but unshakable proof that virtue really is its own reward  – and ours, too. You can read all of the Grace Under Pressure series by going to the blog search box and typing in the word “grace.” 

Rachel Kohnen was afraid her baby would be born in the car.

Rachel Kohnen was afraid her baby would be born in the car.

The contractions were coming fast and furious when eight and a half-months-pregnant, Rachel Kohnen, summoned her husband to get the SUV started at around 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday.  No novice to child-birth or false labor – Rachel has three kids already — she told him the pain was very different. It felt like the baby was coming and now was “go time.” True to his uxorious duties, husband Ben revved up the engine and the couple sped along an Iowa highway towards a hospital always too far away when you need one.  As speeds approached 85 miles per hour, the vehicle attracted the attention of the  Ft. Dodge (IA)  highway patrol. Rachel tried to call 911 to explain her situation as her husband managed to keep the SUV between the white lines but the dispatcher couldn’t understand the frantic words because of the incessant shouts from waves of pain.

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Freundel-e1413317892667The Washington Jewish community has been rocked by allegations against leading Rabbi Barry Freundel of the Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown. Freundel is accused of using a secret camera to film Jewish woman engaged in the ritual bath known as a Mikva.

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IMG_1425IMG_1387We returned to Rome from Sicily for a final day in this great city. Every day seems to top the last in Italy and this was no exception. It was the perfect way to finish our long visit in Italy and Sicily. While the days have been quite warm (though still better than summer months), this was a cool day with intermittent clouds. Perfect for one last day of walking around Rome. This was the day that I would satisfy another long-standing desire: to visit the Castel Sant’Angelo. It would again surpass all of my expectations.

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220px-Modern_British_LED_Traffic_LightHaving just been in Chicago, one of the most prevalent subject of conversation (despite the football season of course) is the ever-rising number of tickets being given to drivers. The Daley administration first made Chicago the most expensive parking city in the country with a corrupt deal that bordered on the criminal. The city was also accused of corrupt dealings with the company handling red-light ticking. However, none of this has curtailed the city contractors and officials clipping motorists for revenue in the form of endless ticketing. The latest outrage was the city reducing the time of yellow lights — a small tweak of a second that resulted in nearly $8 million in new tickets. Drivers are being treated as sources for revenue and hit with the equivalent of speed traps and short lights to generate more and more tickets.

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