2 May 2023 NPR’s Morning Edition: Jake’s Takes

1.    Germany aims to revive its solar power industry which was booming a decade ago. One thing I simply cannot understand is the global lack of action when it comes to climate change. We know that burning fossil fuels has had a negative impact on our environment. We also know that there is money to be made in finding an alternative energy or using the alternative energies that already exist. What is the sticking point in this process? Why have we not already accelerated the rate of progress? Germany’s solar industry was booming a decade ago? It should be finished by now. The only factor that can explain this failure is politics.

2.    Hundreds of officers in Texas search for shooting suspect accused of killing 5 people. This is one of the saddest stories I have heard in a long time. It is unthinkably traumatic and tragic. A family in rural Texas was murdered by their neighbor presumably in an incident of rage provoked by them asking him to stop firing rounds so that their baby could sleep. It is so hard to raise kids as it is without guns. Getting your kids to sleep, especially a baby, is a big task every day. Being interrupted by gunfire is beyond annoying. It should be illegal. Then, when they ask him to stop, he storms over to their home and shoots up the room killing five. Two of the women who were killed were sheltering kids. Those poor kids witnessed their family being murdered and their loved ones were shields that protected them. Everyone who survived that incident is going to suffer from PTSD for a long time if not forever. The gunman is still on the loose and hundreds of officers are searching for him.

3.    More communities are deciding to fight the expansion of dollar stores. Cheaply priced crap is killing our culture. It’s the downfall of our system. People who are struggling financially rightfully want to stretch their dollar, so a store that offers affordable things will always have some traction. The problem is, that cheap price comes with consequences. Bad labor practices, poor health ordinances and more plague the business practices of these discount stores. Good for people who have chosen to stand up to them.

4.    South Korean art student eats banana that was part of an art installation. Call it performance art. The art world has lots of jokers who like to stretch the limits of what we will call art. There is a practical reason to do so. The area within which artists can legitimately work is always worth expanding, but the exercise of creative freedom is always also going to come with some comical moments. It is funny how mad it makes some people, and they declare the entire art world a joke because of this one installation they find to be absurd. That tells you more about their mindset than it does about the art world. Absurd installations are in some ways a litmus test for tolerance. If you can’t accept an idea that you don’t understand, then more exposure to the art world is exactly what you need.

5.    Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian folk legend, dies at 84. RIP to a great artist. I don’t know Lightfoot, but to achieve international acclaim with a guitar and a notebook is an accomplishment I can recognize. Bravo Mr. Lightfoot, may your songs always be played and your spirit remembered.

6.    Author Jason Reynolds on book bans, racism and Spiderman. If we are going to stay obsessed with superheroes, then it is only right that different authors will find ways to make it interesting and groundbreaking in one way or another. This is a country that is founded on the ideals of freedom, especially the freedom of speech, but there is an incessant attempt to ban books. Make it make sense. It doesn’t, but it is a contradiction that we have become used to seeing. Artists and writers have to continually fight back against this racially and politically motivated censorship.

7.    The U.S. could run out of cash to pay its bills by June 1, Yellen warns Congress. This must be one of the most important national stories, and it is widely discussed, but I don’t often hear an explanation of how the debt works. Who owns the debt? Why are we spending more than we are collecting? What can be done besides cutting programs designed to help the poor to regain some balance in our budget. It turns out that out of the $31 trillion we have in debt $24 trillion is held by the public. That happens in the form of treasuries issued by the government that are investment tools and will be paid off upon maturity for a gain to the investor. The remaining $7 trillion is owned by foreign governments, with Japan owning the most and China the second most. Raising the debt ceiling is not a good time to negotiate budget cuts, but it is a good time to educate the public about how the national debt works and what will need to be done during budget negotiations to improve the balance.

8.    Advocates for addiction treatment say Narcan should be made available everywhere. This is just common sense. The only reason that this wouldn’t happen is because of the stigma of drug addiction. The problem is, the prejudices against opioid abuse do not match the reality. So many people are caught up in this addiction epidemic and they are not all homeless and nodding off in public beneath a bridge. Even if that were the case, we should want to provide them with lifesaving Narcan, but it is such a wide swath of the public. It is one of the fastest rising causes of death in our culture.

9.    Would you live next to co-workers for the right price? This company is betting yes. This entirely depends upon the nature of the work, the kind of people who are your coworkers, and the quality of the housing. The price is just one factor out of many that would make this a good idea or sheer hell.

10. Senators hear testimony on Supreme Court ethics. This is such a big problem in an era where blatant bribery is the daily special and the Supreme Court is actively taking rights away from people. In no way can this type of behavior stand when the court is acting against the popular opinion. They do not represent the people, and their lack of ethics is the main reason.

11. How a wayward duck changed a Kansas City homeless man’s life. Unless this is a story about a real-life Howard Duck, I don’t know what to say. Homelessness is a serious issue in our country, and it is at an all-time high. The cost of living and the access to work with a living wage is so out of balance homelessness has become normal. I wish that we had more stories analyzing the root cause of this problem.

12. The band Fall Out Boy is giving new meaning to the term ’emo music’. I think that the disrupting power of the internet is going to change so many things about the music industry, including genre definitions. Without the same need to go through music labels to reach an audience, there will be less of a need to follow the style guide of genres. This will eventually be very good for creative freedom and will likely result in innovative music becoming popular.

13. NBA playoffs enter round 2 with no clear favorite. In the past, there was some logic to what gained national attention. Television stations battled over the right to air the programming that would gain them the most views. In our decentered digital age, the national attention is scattered. As such, the basketball playoffs mean something different than they did in the past.

14. Writers Guild of America goes on strike. Well, it looks like the writers did not come to an agreement, so strike is the necessary outcome. This is going to cause a lot of financial pain for many people, but it may result in more stability for writers in the future. You would think that Hollywood would want to take care of its writers, but they don’t make many good movies anymore, so what is the need?

15. Has JPMorgan Chase grown too large? A former White House economic adviser weighs in. Apparently, JPMorgan Chase had to get approval to buy the failed bank over the weekend. What are the consequences of having a bank become so large? Does that increase the risk to the public? Is it making it hard for other banks to remain competitive? Will we have to enact other regulations to balance this new shift in power? Lots to learn here.

16. Flooding was the downside to California’s heavy rain. The upside: gold. It’s amazing to think that there is still undiscovered gold in California, but if anything was going to uncover it, it would be those torrents of water that washed hillsides away. It is raining again today and not just a light rain. It actually is coming down again. You know what they say, May showers—oh wait, that’s not it. Er, uh, oh boy. The weather patterns are alarming.

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