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Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Saturday, June 28, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Senior Obama administration officials privately told senators last week that “the White House did not anticipate and was not prepared for the rise of” ISIS, the terrorist group now running roughshod over Iraq. Americans should be scared to death about what else Mr. Obama has not anticipated and is not prepared for. ... The Washington Post reports that immigration reform is “effectively dead” until President Obama leaves office. Which begs this huge question: Is the president going to continue to ignore immigration laws on the books and further harm the United States and illegal aliens alike? .... A new 30-year deal between Philadelphia's mass-transit agency and the City of Philadelphia absolves SEPTA of nearly $22 million in unpaid property taxes and any future taxes on commercial property it controls. The Philadelphia Inquirer says that's despite a 2003 state Supreme Court ruling that said it must pay taxes on such properties. As we like to say, that's no way to run a railroad. ... Milk consumption might be down in the United States but butter consumption has skyrocketed to levels not seen since World War II, reports The Wall Street Journal. Evolving theories about the health effects of saturated fats (found in butter) versus trans fats (found in margarines) appear to be fueling the switch. And the explosion in gourmet cooking is cited as well. It's about time somebody validated those mashed potatoes whipped with two sticks of butter, that city chicken roasted in one stick of butter and those fresh wax beans simmered in a half stick of butter. Ahem.

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