Hey guys, it has been a while since I last took up this issue but guess what there’s been yet another shooting at a school in the United States, there have been nine since the beginning of this year and let’s not forget about those other shootings not taking place at a school. Sure the politicians have offered their thoughts and prayers but that’s about it. There has been no movement on an assault weapons ban or moratorium, a strengthening of background checks or really any great ideas in general. Trump has had quite the time with this suggesting that teachers should be armed and placed the blame on just about anything but guns. Trump pointed toward the violence in video games and movies as a contributing factor and he even he floated an idea of a rating system for movies.
Yet, looking around the world you can find places like Australia, Canada and Japan where they have the same access or more to violent media (video games and movies) and they have fewer gun deaths. I mean to get a gun in Japan, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once a month, take and pass a shooting range class getting at least a 95% on it, head over to a hospital for tests (mental and drug), which you’ll file with the police. Then it’s on to a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. After you own a gun you need to provide police with documentation on the location of the gun and ammo in your home, which must be locked and stored separately. Then yearly you need to have the police inspect the gun and every three years you need to to retake the class and exam to maintain ownership. This is a bit more involved than in the US. Sure the Second Amendment declares that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” You can take this in several directions, one that anything that looks like a gun counts, or one might say a reasonable weapon like all manual weapons are fine or even one could think of it as what the Founding Father would recognize as arms so like anything that was a single shot and/or manual repeating would be fine but automatic and semi-automatics are just plain witchcraft. There as many opinions about what this right means and it seems that everyone neglects the first part of it about the militia or as it’s know as today the National Guard. We all know the saying opinions are like asshole and everyone’s got one.
The most inspiring thing about this whole incident is the students who are all making themselves heard. It seems like the #metoo movement and hopefully it will have a similar impact. These are nice example of what can happen, but we are going to have to wait and see what all happens. I know that this problem isn’t going to solve itself over night or even in a few months but it would be nice if in the next couple of years we could see and hear less about Mass Shootings in the news.
Elections: For all those out there saying that one vote doesn’t matter all you have to do is look in the Virginia 94th District elections. Now this is a close race as Shelly Simonds won by a single vote after a recount. This needs to be a reminder that voting is important but if only it were made a holiday or something where we could raise the voter turnout from among the worst in the world to some place better.
Beer in Space: This sounded interesting. In the most recent SpaceX transport mission to the ISS, they brought up some barley seeds to experiment on. This is a part of Anheuser-Busch’s plan to be the beer of space. The idea came from a comment at SXSW (South by Southwest) this past year. The experiments will focus on barley seed exposure and barley germination. After a month the seeds will return to Earth and be studied by scientist at Anheuser-Busch to try to learn about the effects of microgravity on barley. We will have to wait and see what happens.
We already knew this was going to happen at some point as the Diet passed a one time bill that would allow Akihito to abdicate in June, but the Imperial Household Council has met and picked a date for the transition. Some time last week it was announced that Emperor Akihito will be stepping down and his son Naruhito will be become the new Emperor of Japan. Thus a new era will begin for the Chrysanthemum Throne. The Heisei period will end on 30 April 2019 and on 1 May 2019 the new period will begin. Akihito will be the first Emperor to abdicate since the Emperor Kokaku in 1817, Akihito will be known as Jōkō which is short for Daijō-tennō or retired Emperor. It will be interesting since it would be the first new Emperor that I will actually remember and perhaps with all the 24 hour news channels out now we should be able to watch it. Sure, Akihito’s enthronement was televised in 1990 but I was five and it would see like something that would be a must see event I mean they’ve televised several Papal events JPII’s funeral and both Inaugurations (Ben XVI and Francis) so it seems like this is something they will be going all out in covering. It will be an interesting period.
News has come out that Syria has recently signed on to the Paris Agreement making the US the only nation in the world not a part of this agreement. Sure currently they are a part as they signed on back in 2015 and the Agreement went into effect roughly a year ago in November 2016, but Trump wants out for some reason but ironically the US can’t get out of the agreement until 2020 specifically the day after the Presidential Election on 3 November. 14 states as well as Puerto Rico have joined together in the US Climate Alliance, nine more states and DC have pledged their support to the Paris Agreement and five other states have greenhouse gas reduction laws on the books that are around what the Paris Agreement limits are. Added up this is a bit more than half of the 50 states that have signed on in some form to the agreement. I’m not sure if this late addition to the agreement which basically means the whole world, except for half of the US, is in agreement that we need to protect our planet. Will this position change with the support of the rest of the world or whenever his term is over? Since it seems like there is overwhelming support behind the idea that Climate Change is a real thing and something needs to be done about it.
If you remember Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria about a month ago and not much has been said about it. Sure Lin-Manuel Miranda has tried to make this a major issue but most politicians and Americans in general haven’t really been jumping at the bit to do much. Elon Musk from Tesla in the weeks following said that Tesla would come down and help get the power back on. The good news is the first project has been completed and the Hospital del Niño in San Juan is off of their diesel generators and running with the Tesla Solar/Storage system. This is great work from Musk and the folks at Tesla, and this could turn into a huge boom for Tesla Energy as other places might see what these solar power systems can provide and want one of their own. Let’s hope it catches on for the betterment of the world.
This article from The New York Times is pretty crazy as it states that nearly half of Americans don’t know that Puerto Rico is a part of America. I thought that was something that everyone knew if we go back to West Side Story way back in 1957 where in America we hear “Nobody knows in America / Puerto Rico’s in America!”, perhaps with the lyrics change in the film version has prevented this from being as well known. This was fifty years ago and it is a still shame that so many people think it is a foreign nation, over on The Hill they are reporting that in an interview Hilary Clinton said that she isn’t sure Trump knows about the Atlantic islands that are members of the US. Sure he has made plans to visit the islands next Tuesday but that is not enough to solve any problems he has berated the island for defaulting on loans and their current debt struggle yet with the devastation that took place with Hurricane Maria it seems like this debt is just going to grow over the next decade or how ever long it takes to rebuild the island. Vox has a nice overview on all of this as well.
If Puerto Rico were a state would there have been a quicker and better response? I haven’t a clue but I know that there have been five different referendums on statehood with several of the most recent ones leaning toward statehood however the United Nations would like Puerto Rico to be it’s own nation. If you have the ability to donate your money or time to help out with the cleanup and recovery in Puerto Rico that would be the best thing that you can do right now. Sure, Texas and Florida got a telethon with all those celebrities but I hope that we can do more for Puerto Rico however that many be accomplished.
Over the past couple of week in the US there have been two huge hurricanes that have hit the mainland and there is another one that perhaps might hit soon. Sure there has been lots of talk about how generous people have been with the people in Houston and Florida but there is next to no talk about the effects that weather has had on the islands in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico and all those other islands are about to be hit again by a powerful Category 5 storm but we haven’t heard of anything about them and Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the United States along with our other islands the US Virgin Islands, how have they been dealing with the weather.
We should be showing more concern for those guys on the islands I mean I read somewhere that they basically evacuated the entire island of Barbuda since most infrastructure was destroyed. Sure it is nice to hear about how nice we can be to our own neighbors in different states by donating to the Red Cross or wherever but there are other places that need help as well. If you aren’t taxed from donating to those in Texas and Florida perhaps think about giving some to those in the Islands as well.
As I am sure you have all heard several descriptions about the Unite the Right rally that happened a couple of Saturdays ago in Charlottesville, VA where the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the alt-right and other fascists were all up in arms about the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Riots occurred accompanied by violence and the like. Then the President took several days to say that Nazis and the KKK are bad and then sort of backed down from that the next day. It’s pretty stupid that it took so long but racism is still going strong in the US. Sure there are several Confederate statues throughout the US and several of them are being taken down following these event. However does taking down all the statues really solve anything racism is still rampant in the United States and nothing really has been down about it. The Civil Rights Act did do a little to fix it but nothing has really happened since 1968. Barack Obama did win two terms as President but that didn’t solve race relations in the US. It’s a lot better than it was but just look at the Black Lives Matter movement and we can see that it hasn’t gotten that far. As Sam Cooke puts it it’s been a long time coming but I know a change is going to come.
Now the statue problem to me it seems just like the Native American team name/mascot controversy are they honoring the individual or meant to demean. Sure both the monuments and team names/mascots aren’t the greatest things that we have in the US but they exist because of the vast history and our reluctance to remember it. Like how whenever there is a mass shooting we go never again but it seems like it happens about once a year anyhow. According to Wikipedia there are at least 1500 memorials and monuments to the Confederacy in the US from Maine to California. Ten Army bases are named after Confederates and but they, at least in 2015 according to Brig. Gen. Malcolm B. Frost, won’t be renamed as they are named for soldiers who holds a place in our military history. Of the monuments on Monument Ave in Richmond five are of Confederates and there has been talk of adding more statues and/or removing them all together however one in particular that of Matthew Maury who was the first real scientist and oceanographer in the US Navy, who most Americans have never heard of needs to stay. Sure the Civil War ended 150 years ago but it doesn’t seem like it really is over with the vitriol between the political parties and the ongoing antagonism from our President about any little thing that he doesn’t like. We, in the US, need to learn our history better for as the old saying goes we are bound to repeat it. There are problems in our great nation and I am not sure we have any idea how to fix them, term limits might help as well as by getting more people involved in the political process.
This is pretty cool news as scientist in the United States have used CRISPR on a human embryo for the first time in the US. This is huge news and it’s not like designer babies are on the way. Well CRISPR is a gene editing thing it is sort of like a pair of scissors that go in and cuts a specific bad gene out and allows the other to replace it since we have a matching pair from both parents. CRISPR doesn’t actually edit or modify anything but only to correct what is wrong with existing genes. If these trials continue to yield positive results maybe eventually down the road we’d get closer to eliminating some of the bad genetic mutations that aren’t the greatest things around. Sure this is a huge eugenics issue and hopefully it won’t go all the way to the designer babies like in the film Gattaca but CRISPR can be a valuable tool for the future.
If you have been following the news lately you’ve heard of the disappointments that have bedeviled the Republican Party as they have continually failed to repeal the ACA in any form. Now Republicans have claimed for the last 7 and a half year that they needed to get rid of Obamacare but when time had come for them to do anything with it nothing happened and they had no plan to replace it. Bernie Sanders is once again pushing for a universal health plan. It is pretty crazy that so much anger has been expressed on a topic that we can all agree on everyone should have some type of health care plan so that we all can live a full and productive live. Sanders isn’t the only one who is trying to push some new sort of health care there is even a bipartisan plan for a panel to be held at which they would discuss how to stabilize and strengthen the individual insurance market. These markets are the problem part with health care and if they can figure out something to do with them it would be a step in the right direction. It would help if Democrats and Republicans could put aside their party differences and recognize that they are all citizens of the United States and we need to have better health care.