Today’s Morning Edition: Jake’s Takes

If we are to create a better nation, it is going to take a multitude of voices adding to the conversation. This is my attempt to educate myself better and to share my insights as a writer and artist working in Santa Cruz County, CA. Each headline is also a link to the story. Thanks!

  1. Philippines won’t cooperate in probe involving crimes against humanity allegations. Ok, this is an interesting one. I don’t know much about Philippines or its history. When it comes to one country probing another for legal reasons, it gets into dicey territory. When do we take these kinds of actions, and does that open us up to prosecution from other nations? When is prosecution warranted, and when is it used as a political tool? The Trump-supporting GOP believe that he is being charged with crimes not because he is a criminal but for political point scoring. That same logic can easily be applied to nations, whether they are correct or not. That is what we need to be careful of in this case. I suppose the law is and has always been used as a weapon in some instances. It is not as though we all have an equal chance in court. Some lawyers get paid more than others because they get different results. Philippines is an island country with around 7,500 separate land masses. Colonized by the Spanish, it was under Spanish rule for over three hundred years. The Spanish ceded Philippines to the US at the end of the Spanish American war of 1898. The U.S. controlled Philippines until the Japanese invaded during WWII. At the conclusion of the Second World War, Philippines gained independence for the first time in modern world history. As such, it is an extremely young country with a history of being colonized, so the likelihood of being completely free of corruption or crime seems very small.

2.    NYC Mayor Adams pressures the feds for more help with assistance to migrants. How can a mayor pressure the feds? First question. What tools do they have at their disposal to put pressure on a higher level of government? What is the reputation of Mayor Adams? What kind of help is he requesting? What is the status of migrants in NYC? Where are the from and what help do they require? New York City has long been a beacon of hope for people who are fleeing from oppression. That goes back into the history of slavery and the flight north towards freedom. I think that there is a lot to learn from this story, so I will listen carefully.

3.    The Pentagon may evacuate U.S. citizens from Sudan. As the situation escalates in Sudan, with hospitals closing and fighting intensifying, the U.S. government is considering exercising its power to get our people out of there? I’m assuming this means people who are working for the government, through the Foreign Service. We have an embassy in most countries around the world, and when things get too intense, we must get our people out. If we are removing our citizens, that can only mean tragic things for the Sudanese who are stuck between warring factions.

4.    1 pharmacist in Vermont provides lethal medications that hasten a patient’s death. My father had an assisted suicide. That is possible to do here in California. He had a terminal diagnosis and chose to go through with an assisted suicide rather than fight the cancer with costly and invasive treatments. What does this mean in Vermont, though? Does that mean that with a prescription a patient can commit suicide? The wording is not that clear. Hasten a death doesn’t sound that sudden. Why only one pharmacist? Is this a kind of rebellion or the cutting edge of what is to come?

5.    An Eddie Van Halen guitar sells at auction for nearly $4 million. Yesterday it was a dinosaur skeleton for $6 million, today it is a guitar for $4 million. What is wrong with these rich people? That surely must be a form of mental illness. I know that this is also the case with rare and valuable artworks. They go for the hundreds of millions sometimes. It seems like the ultra-wealthy have some acceleration of madness that results in spending astronomical amounts of money on things that sincerely do not matter. Maybe that is just my perspective as someone who has never had that kind of money, but good. I’m glad for my perspective. I haven’t forgotten that there are problems we need to solve that require money. Why does NPR cover these things? Is it a sly worship of wealth or a cheeky mockery of eccentric rich people?

6.    The Federal Reserve rolls out a plan that gives banks a new way to borrow money. The Federal Reserve has taken up a huge role in our national policy. Each month, the market responds to reports from the Federal Reserve as they raise or lower interest rates on loans to try and control the inflation rates. This is one of the most confusing topics in today’s news. The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 and has expanded its powers after the depression of the 30s and the recession of the 2000s. The Federal Reserve is the central bank and our nation is divided up into 12 different banking districts. The Reserve is designed to protect our economy against bad actors in the banking sector.

7.    After 25 years, Netflix will end its DVD-by-mail service. Netflix is a Santa Cruz story. Reed Hastings was my sister’s neighbor for the longest time. He is now a billionaire. This story has been getting some traction, but it seems like not much of a story at all. Netflix is primarily a streaming platform, and their great innovation was providing people with convenience in their movie and show watching behavior. The mail in service was the first step in that path, but streaming really became the thing that did it. This does impact people who use the service to rent classic films, and perhaps that will create a niche to be filled by another streaming platform that has a database of less popular but still relevant films from the past.

8.    Broadway legend Chita Rivera dances through her life in a new memoir. It is looking like Morning Edition likes to take it easy a bit on Fridays. That’s my impression anyways. I don’t know who Chita Rivera is, but that is part of what this project is designed to do: to learn. It turns out that Chita Rivera is one of the most accomplished actors and dancers of all time in the history of Broadway. What an amazing life and career. See, that’s why it helps to dive into the news. You can learn about people who have done amazing things and you may become inspired, yourself.

9.    President Biden plans to sign a new executive order on environmental justice. With the upcoming election season, politicians are starting to get active and are making moves to gain national attention. What will this executive order entail? Will it lead to climate action? This could be a very important moment for the outcome of the next election, but more importantly for the safeguarding of our imperiled environment.

10. Why SpaceX staff cheered when the Starship rocket exploded. Yesterday, SpaceX tested its largest rocket to date, Starship. The ship was without a flight crew, as the mission of this launch was merely to see if it could get off the launch pad. It did, which is why the crew cheered. The fact that it became unstable and exploded a few minutes later did not dampen their spirits, because that was not a part of the mission’s parameters. This is a step-by-step process of learning how to overcome the various obstacles to launching a rocket with the capacity to visit other planets.

11. Think you’re tired? This animal goes for months with only two hours of sleep a day. I am always interested in learning more about our animal friends. This story will profile a peculiar lifestyle of a mystery animal and it sounds awful. I need my sleep.

12. You’re less likely to get long COVID after a second infection than a first. The pandemic was a waking nightmare for many people, but probably those who suffered from long COVID had it worse than most. Some people are still suffering from symptoms associated with the disease. Even after all this time, we still do not have adequate explanations for the origin of the disease or how it really works in the body. With that said, it seems to have gone away as a national emergency at least. This is relatively good news, I suppose. At least it is not the doom and gloom that we were facing for the first two years of this decade.

13. ‘I’m going to die in these shoes.’ Ga. woman loves shoes — despite polio’s effects. I’ve never been to the South, but part of me is curious as to what culture is like there. It seems wild in some ways. This would be one of those examples. I am not here to Yick anyone’s Yum, so if she likes the shoes, good for her. I did criticize the millionaires for buying a dinosaur and a guitar, but that’s a different story. I’m not against their affinity for those objects, just the use of that much money for something that isn’t helping anyone when we have so many problems to solve. Why don’t people want the glory of being a hero anymore? Have we become so insulated that we don’t feel what is happening around us?

14. Uncertainty over mifepristone is a concern — even in states where abortion is legal. The battle over abortion is an example of the rising tendency of authoritarian control in our culture. We are afraid to do the inner work of introspection and instead do everything we can to control other people. Someone drives mistakenly onto your property, shoot them. Someone knocks on the wrong door, shoot them. Now, they want to take away women’s rights to end a pregnancy even though there is also a simultaneous movement to cut funding for programs designed to help people who are struggling. How does this make sense? It is jingoism at its finest, an ideology run rampant.

15. BuzzFeed News is shutting down as part of companywide layoffs. This is an interesting story because it is an ongoing study of the status of journalism and the new digital economy. BuzzFeed News received many prestigious journalism awards, and broke national level stories. What is the source of this sudden decline and dissolution? Is it due to internal problems or external pressures? More to learn on this one, for sure.

16. A Canadian woman watches a bear in her car drinking her sodas. This is a cute and yet horrifying story. The most ferocious animal on four legs drinking a soda reminds one of Yogi the Bear and the cute image of the Teddy Bear, but in reality the bear is a murdering machine and she must have been filled with a mixture of emotions. This just after the release of Cocaine Bear a movie about a bear that accidentally ingests a large quantity of cocaine. Perhaps this was the Coke Bear?

17. When you realize your favorite new song was written and performed by … AI. Another installment in the ongoing saga of art created by Artificial Intelligence tools. We must remember that it is still people programming AI to come up with these results. Some musicians are excited by this development, while others are horrified. What do you think? Will AI be good for the future of culture, or will it replace too many human artists? What will be the net result?

18. Supreme Court ruling on mifepristone causes uncertainty for advocates. We are seeing one of the effects that a president can have on a culture. Trump was able to pack the Supreme Court with conservative judges despite their shady pasts, like Kavanaugh. 3 of the 9 justices were appointed by Trump. Only one has been appointed by Biden. It is not that often that a president can appoint a Supreme Court Justice as this is one of the only offices that has no limits. They can serve until they decide to step down from office.

19. U.S. officials say they’re poised to deal a ‘crushing blow’ to fentanyl traffickers. This is at least a hopeful headline. Anything that can be done to slow down or stop the trafficking of these deadly drugs is good. It’s so sad that we live in a culture where drugs are such a prominent part of people’s lives.

20. Wildflowers are popping up across the Western United States. Ending the week on a bright note, this is the kind of story that people love because it is the positive result of all that rain that caused us so many problems. Who doesn’t love wildflowers? Here in Santa Cruz County, we have an amazing crop in bloom right now.

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