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

1.    Turkey’s presidential election is expected to seal Erdogan’s political fate. Turkey recently suffered a devastating earthquake and governmental regulation was blamed for many of the collapsed buildings. I’m guessing that the election is going to bring an end to this president’s career.

2.    Ohio Republicans OK plan to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments. To be clear, this is about amendments to the Ohio constitution. We have a system of governance that gives certain powers to the federal government, others to the state, and some to the local seat of power. Ohio is taking measures to secure their constitution.

3.    Why is it difficult to figure out how much snow will make it to the Colorado River? The news is full of different kinds of stories, and usually there is a nugget of relevance hidden within them. NPR doesn’t have the same pressure to get people to click on stories that other media outlets do, but they still must maintain relevance in a media saturated world. The hard thing for me to figure out is how so many media outlets produce so much content in a world where there is no clear business model for journalism. The relevance of this story is the fact that we have major water problems in the State of California and we seem to be utterly inept at tackling them.

4.    Avid TV watcher is selling memorabilia after plans for a museum fall through. They used to call TV the boob tube and it is amazing to remember how much influence network television had on the nation. It was such a huge part of how media worked. There were some truly great television shows, but it is almost as if it never happened, now. More people are creating content for social media and that is probably better in a lot of ways. It used to be that you had to move to NY or LA to get any kind of traction in show business, but now there are more options. I guess it still depends upon the level of success you strive to achieve, but people do well for themselves away from the centers of culture.

5.    Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed a year ago. Journalism in some parts of the world means risking your life. I’ve never had that kind of desire or a drive to do work that is likely to get you killed. That’s just not my nature. I could see it being a passion for some people, however. There are both the important needs that are unfulfilled in the world of journalism and the death wish drives that some people possess. You have to think it through and develop a plan that works for what you really want to achieve.

6.    Truman Committee became the model for scrutinizing giant public expenditures. Giant public expenditures need scrutiny to build trust in the government’s work. People are very skeptical about the government’s ability to perform work in an economically responsible way. There are accusations of corruption and inefficiency at every level. If we can do anything to keep the transparency of our budget in the light of day it will help to foster confidence in the system.

7.    Rep. George Santos of New York calls federal fraud charges a witch hunt. Santos lied to the NY public to gain his seat in Congress. It turns out that during this process he also misappropriated many funds along the way. Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy is making the case that he should be allowed to continue voting and doing his work in the House of Representatives even though he has been charged with crimes. What we do know is that Santos will lie if he thinks that he can control the narrative. He has no shame about misleading the public.

8.    End of pandemic restrictions may lead to an influx of migrants at the border. This is the topic of the day. At midnight tonight, Title 42 will expire. This measure was taken during the beginning of the pandemic by then President Trump to empower the U.S. to turn away migrants seeking asylum. Conservatives at the border are worried about an influx of migrants waiting for the lifting of Title 42. We will see what happens, but emotions are charged up, so it is likely going to be a contentious matter.

9.    Taiwan’s military trains female reservist soldiers for the first time in its history. This has two important points: one is that women are being given more equal rights in Taiwan, the second is that it may mean a fear of the need for more soldiers. Taiwan is a country that is claimed by China, but much of the free world sees them as their own independent nation.

10. Virginia hid execution files from the public. Here’s what they don’t want you to see. It is impossible to have a functioning democratic society when the State hides information about something as critical as inmate executions.

11. Phoenix is clearing people out of the city’s biggest homeless encampment. The problem of homelessness has increased around the country, and it coincides with a spike in opioid addiction and fentanyl overdoses. This is a major problem, and clearing people out of encampments is not really addressing the cause of the problem. It is a tough subject to tackle, but it is also a humanitarian crisis.

12. An EPA proposal to (almost) eliminate climate pollution from power plants. This is the kind of news that should be widely shared and promoted. No matter what you think about Climate Change, pollution is a net negative part of how we produce power. If we can create adequate energy without polluting our environment, that is a major priority.

13. 3 years later, the COVID public health emergency is drawing to a close. The pandemic was the most consequential event in all our lives. Anyone alive today would have to admit that the pandemic was the strangest and most disturbing thing that has happened in our history. We have had wars, we have had new diseases, but we have never shut down society for years to stop a virus from spreading. That was the most insane thing ever, and the consequences of it are still happening everywhere.

14. The World Video Game Hall of Fame has announced its 2023 inductees. Video games have been big business for a long time. I never got into gaming, so I’ve never taken it seriously. There are times for all things, but there are also more timeless things. Writing is not timeless. Most of human history existed without it. Writing is a technology that changed the world, and we take it for granted. Video games are also becoming such a part of our cultural fabric that we have annual inductees into a hall of fame.

15. Egyptians and others are upset a Black actress stars in Netflix’s ‘Queen Cleopatra’. People need to chill. What is this motivation to criticize the use of Black actors? It is such an insecure move to voice objection over the race of a cast. Not only is it obviously racist, but it is also just stupid.

16. Pandemic rules allowing for fast expulsions of migrants at the border are expiring. How long have these migrants been waiting to gain asylum? It has been almost three years, and that is pretty hard to believe. How have these folks survived for so long? When Title 42 expires, it is going to be an extremely charged moment, and it will likely be dangerous for a lot of people. I hope that everyone who can uses good judgment and doesn’t fall into any traps.

17. During a CNN town hall, Trump repeated false claims about the 2020 election. Trump’s lying is so commonplace that it almost falls short of being worthy of discussing. It is something we can take for granted. How he is able to gain support and to fundraise off of his lies says more about our country than anything else.

18. 4-year-old rapper, who performs under the name VanVan, receives a lot of attention. Rapping at 4 years old is a crazy idea, period. But, it is also hard to imagine that they will be able to deal with the spotlight and evolve into a good artist. Someone should be encouraging but also protecting that kid.

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