7 May 2023 NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday: Jake’s Takes

Not all news is bad, but there’s plenty of problems to go around. Every problem has a positive solution waiting to be discovered or implemented. When we read the headlines, they can be overwhelming, but with some practice we can learn to be unrelentingly positive even in the face of these unfolding tragedies.

1.    Politics chat: Debt ceiling talks; January 6 and the 2024 race; Trump returns to CNN. The clock is ticking on the talks to raise the debt ceiling. More people need to understand what the debt is, and why raising the ceiling is so important. They are trying to frame it as though it is a family discussion about maxed out credit cards, but in reality, the American public are the ones who are being cheated if it isn’t raised. They are being cheated on two ends: first for all the services that will not be funded and secondly for all of the people who bought bonds and are not going to be paid back for their investments. The more we understand about this situation, the more we should care about action taken to keep our books solvent. How will the January 6 riots affect the 2024 race? I don’t really know. I would think that it would make it very easy to elect a Democrat, but this country is in a volatile and divided place. There is a lot of blame being thrown around and not that much accountability. I have my point of view, but I understand there is another side that has passionate feelings about theirs. Trump will be returning to all the major networks as he campaigns his way through court cases and other legal troubles on a path to potential presidency. The only reason that he is even a contender is because we have the oldest president in U.S. history deciding to run for another term. What is that about?

2.    1,500 service members will be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border this week. The GOP has been talking about an invasion of migrants poised on the border waiting for the end of the pandemic regulations that made immigration more difficult and it seems like the administration agrees with them to a certain extent and they are sending a considerable amount of service members to the area. I don’t think that is enough to deal with almost a million people, but it is at least an admission that something is happening at the border.

3.    Iranian journalists won an international prize amid shrinking press freedom in the country. The protests in Iran have made international news many times this year, despite the dangers of protesting and reporting. Those dangers exist anywhere and everywhere, but apparently the stakes are much higher in Iran, where dissent is dealt with more forcefully. Standing up against the abuse of power is a noble thing and should be recognized.

4.    Black immigrants reflect on navigating their identities in the American South. This is such an interesting topic because it points to the cultural complexities of a racialized culture. Race in the U.S. has been simplified to the point of caricature, and indeed that is what stereotypes and prejudices are. They are bad representations of complex peoples. Black immigrants are people of color who identify and are identified as black but are from other countries. Therefore, they don’t have the same sense of a black and white culture. When they are living in the U.S., however, they get placed within that same binary race story and it must be very confusing.

5.    A zoo in the UK is hiring people to scare the seagulls away — in an eagle costume. Can you imagine what it would take to put on that costume. What would you think about your life? How has it come to this? Or would you just think that it was a fun and silly thing to do for money? So much depends upon your attitude and you may as well have fun with it because the alternative is much worse. It is better to be in a humiliating situation and loving it than hating yourself. I think it is always better to choose fun.

6.    Hannah Gadsby on their new Netflix special ‘Something Special’. Have you ever seen a group of more insecure millionaires than within the ranks of today’s stand-up comedians? I’m anticipating the comic-on-comic violence that will ensue from Gadsby’s new special. She is likely going to do something that breaks the code of funny first, and comics will gripe and moan about someone doing something woke. The fact of the matter is that comedy is an art form and there are no rules to it. It is up to the artist and the audience to decide what is valid, not other comics.

7.    People are fleeing Sudan’s conflict for an uncertain future as refugees. One thing that is lacking in the current coverage of the conflict in Sudan is analysis of why this is happening there. Sudan is a very large country in Northern Africa. Before it split into South Sudan and Sudan, it was the largest in Africa. Still, it contains over 44 million people, half the size of the largest European country, Germany. Sudan also has an ancient history tracing back to thousands of years before Christ. Sudan had a modern history of colonization, being occupied by Egypt and the U.K. Sudan has had internal struggles since gaining independence after WWII. These struggles reached their apex with a genocide in the Darfur region led by the actions of President al Bashir. Sudan was listed as a place with State Sponsored Terrorism and was removed from that list in December of 2020. We should be paying more attention to Sudan as it struggles to move towards a democratic society. Not only is it a huge humanitarian crisis, but the people involved are the same people who were responsible for the genocide in Darfur using rape and murder as the mechanism for wiping out the local peoples.

8.    Understanding the ethics rules that Supreme Court justices have to follow. There is no code of ethical conduct for the Supreme Court. It doesn’t seem like they must follow any rules. I will listen to this story to try and learn more about any limitations placed on this important judicial body.

9.    A mass shooting at an outlet mall in Dallas left at least 9 dead and 7 injured. When you study the situation in Sudan, even our catastrophic history of mass shootings doesn’t seem as drastic. We are still in a place where we can figure out how to resolve our conflicts if we start to act and stop relying on thoughts and prayers to solve this horrific problem. People talk about a civil war being possible because of our domestic divisions, but it seems like that is already happening. Terrorism has been one of the main military strategies against the U.S. in contemporary times, and they are also being used domestically.

10. What to know about the newest COVID-19 variant. When you stop and look at all the international power shifts happening in the world right now, it is hard to see the news about COVID-19 as anything but a distraction. The fear pushed during the pandemic has resulted in widespread mental illness and the problems we are facing now have to do with how we handled the daily news and the actions taken to stop the spread of the disease.

11. California has a plan to address online tutorials that have led to rising auto theft. I hope that this plan is to invest in K-12 education and to make economically viable jobs available to all people. Otherwise, it’s a bandaid on a much bigger wound. We must start from the ground up and provide a good opportunity for people to make a living. Without a viable path to economic solvency, how can we expect people to stay away from criminal activity? We must invest in our youth, give them a solid and safe education, and create pathways to good jobs that will enable families to thrive.

12. A new Utah law led PornHub to ban access to its site for everyone in the state. This is a pretty funny developing story with horny people in Utah seeking VPNs so they can stream porn without being blocked for being in Utah. This is the digital age. There’s always a workaround. Governmental organizations need to accept that the toothpaste is out of the tube and brush their teeth instead of passing laws that will never work.

13.    Meet the scientist restoring Finland’s peatlands. This is an interesting headline, but it seems hard to believe that an individual could do something so momentous, but I hope so and look forward to learning more.

14.    This Tiger Lily is a warrior who speaks Cree. One thing that I love about the rise of the digital age is the resurfacing of tribal peoples in culture. They are reclaiming cultural legacies and sharing their stories with pride in their lineage. This aspect of social media is revolutionary.

15.    Caroline Rose on their new album ‘The Art of Forgetting’ I’ve never heard of Caroline Rose, so I’m looking forward to learning about this artist.

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