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

1.    As the pandemic winds down, anti-vaccine activists are building a legal network. The pandemic was a shock to many people, if not most of us. The responses were varied, and it is understandable that there was a lot of distrust and fear. People politicized the problem making matters worse. If anyone was skeptical about the safety or efficacy of a vaccine made so quickly, they were labeled as anti-vax. Now that the pandemic is no longer officially a health emergency, people will begin to mobilize to take legal action. This is a good thing as it will help to clarify some of the confusing issues that were hidden by the fog of emergency.

2.    The FDA considers first birth control pill without a prescription. Reproductive rights have never been more firmly in the center of our national discussion than they are right now. With the changing and confusing status of abortion, it is hard to keep track of the various attempts to control the way we reproduce. Birth control is a vital piece of the puzzle. If we want to avoid the abortion topic, the best way to do that is with effective and accessible birth control.

3.    A single mother and her son are 2 of the hundreds of thousands fleeing Sudan. The people involved in this conflict were also part of the genocide in Darfur. The acts of atrocity that were committed in the western region of Sudan against the ethnic Darfur people were heinous and without humanity. They were truly crimes against humanity and President as Bashir was convicted of those crimes. Fleeing is a difficult and frightening proposition, but if you have any understanding of their capability, it is by far the safest thing to do.

4.    The USS Enterprise, of ‘Star Trek’ fame, is now available for virtual tours. It’s just amazing how so many different things can be happening at the same time. It’s how life is. There are tragedies alongside fun and innocent adventures. Some people are having the worst time imaginable while other people are having a fun day. Life is strange and varied. Star Trek was a show that had powerful messages about diversity, exploration, and what it means to be human. This is pretty cool.

5.    Back pain shouldn’t stop you from cooking at home. Here’s how to adapt. Home cooked meals are good for you. It’s the best way to control your nutrition and to make good choices for your health. Adaptive strategies to make it easier are smart. There are many obstacles to cooking at home, pain being one of them. Meal planning is a good fundamental way to build strength and health.

6.    Tom Hanks has starred in dozens of movies. Now he’s written a novel too. What would possess a man who has had so much success to try his hand at a novel? I suppose he must have had a story to tell. It is really the only plausible explanation. That’s why people write. Let’s see what this is about before rushing to judgment.

7.    The White House hosts a debt ceiling meeting to try to avert financial default. The two sides of this story are that we should not use the occasion of needing to raise the debt ceiling to negotiate spending cuts and that raising the limit while failing to discuss budgetary imbalances is irresponsible. The simple solution to both problems is to tax the billionaire class and corporations that have managed to keep from being taxed due to loopholes and lawyers. We have a large national deficit, but we have an enormous economy. Our debt to GDP ratio is not good, but it is still much better than most nations with large economies. Our problem is allowing the wealthiest to hoard their wealth instead of using it for the public good.

8.    He followed strict rules as a judge, and wants Supreme Court justices to do the same. Supreme Court justices are supposed to be separate from the normal pressures on politicians so they can remain disinterested in their judgments. They are deliberately placed above the reach of politics for the sake of impartiality. This has its problems, however. The recent revelations about large gifts given to Clarence Thomas by a GOP billionaire lobbyist have the entire nation paying attention to this missing code of ethics. How can you accept so much money and wealth without being influenced to rule in their favor?

9.    Here are the winners of the 2023 Pulitzer Prizes. I will be curious to see who won this year in journalism and literature. Kingsolver won for Demon Copperhead.

10. What should bystanders do during a mass shooting? The fact that we have best practices for this type of event says so much. It is a travesty that we have not changed this fundamental aspect of our society. The blame game that gets played every single time is disgusting and unproductive. This is among the most shameful of our problems. Innocent people are dying by the most gruesome manner, and it is creating a climate of terror.

11. Giant blobs of seaweed are hitting Florida. That’s when the real problem begins. We have enough problems to contend with just from the natural course of things. If we could get out of our own way, we could focus our resources on the problems that are going to arrive no matter what we believe politically. Our common future depends upon our ability to work together and get things done without fighting.

12. Psychologists issue health advisory for teens and social media. Minors should not be allowed to use social media. It is the same as tobacco or alcohol in my opinion. The health risks are too high and developing minds should be focused on other things.

13. Since Dominion settlement, criticism swirls around leaders of Fox’s parent company. Fox News specializes in fear mongering and click baiting. They are not a reputable source of news, but people feel like they are important because they represent issues that are important to the Right. They do so in a highly irresponsible manner and should be criticized until they change their ways.

14. Rugby game in France had an exciting opener when a bull escaped onto the field. Why? What kind of story is this? It’s just a strange thing to have happened, but not really an important one.

15. Focus is on the southern border as a pandemic-era public health law winds down. Title 42 is set to expire and the tensions at the border are growing by the minute. The GOP are declaring the occasion as the beginning of an invasion. They ask who will pay for these people’s living. The reality is most migrants end up doing the work that most U.S. citizens won’t do for less money. It’s one of the strangest contradictions in our culture.

16. Russia marks Victory Day — although celebrations are scaled back. Victory Day is the anniversary of the defeat of the Nazi party. The Russians were one of the main forces who fought the Nazis, and they incurred heavy losses doing so. That was the last time that the U.S. and Russia were allies.

17. Top congressional leaders will meet with Biden to talk about the debt limit. Hopefully, we can move forward on this matter as it is taking up a lot of attention that could be used to work on other problems.

18. Texas driver who hit a group of asylum-seekers is charged with manslaughter. This is the second of two mass murders that occurred over the weekend in Texas. This was not a case of manslaughter, it was murder. There’s no chance in hell that was an accident.

19. Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is arrested in Islamabad. I don’t know any of the details of this case, but I am interested to learn more. Pakistan is a huge and interesting country, and I want to understand the regional conflicts more.

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