Mass killing victims so far are simply not rich or important enough

And so we go through this once again, where somebody guns down a large number of people and Republican politicians scramble to find any reason to blame other than the one that stares them in the face and that is the easy access to high-powered weapons. What is clear is that the present system of background checks is utterly inadequate to prevent such carnages because it takes only one person with just one weapon to cause so many deaths.
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Jew or Jewish?

Last week’s episode of the excellent radio program This American Life dealt with the trouble that can arise when people say or do something that alienates their former allies. There were two main stories. One dealt with a “dyed-in-the-wool, glock-toting, blood-red Republican from Louisiana” who proposed a bill in the state legislature that would make the bringing of toy guns to school a punishable offense. She did this after the sheriff in her parish (which is what they call counties in that state) told her about finding a gun in a school that was so realistic that it took him several minutes of close examination to figure out that it was a fake. And yet, even though that could have had deadly consequence if someone else mistook it for a real gun, he could not charge the person with any offense because there was no law on the books that prohibited highly realistic toy weapons, though these are increasingly available. But even though her proposed legislation dealt purely with toys guns and said nothing about real guns, the gun-nuts went ballistic on her, accusing her of betraying the Second Amendment because she was contributing to the impression that guns are bad.
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And now for some good news

The way that children are treated in the US is a scandal. Despite all the talk of family values and Christian morality, the reality is that many children are treated poorly. One measure is that Infant mortality rates in the US are terrible given its wealth. Other indicators of concern for children are measures of pre-natal and post-natal care for mothers and children and the availability of low-cost quality day care.
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Film review: Seeing Allred (2018)

Netflix released yesterday the documentary Seeing Allred on Gloria Allred, the high-profile attorney who has been prominent in representing the women who were the victims of odious people like Bill Cosby and Donald Trump. I watched it last night and it was very good. Allred has been a lightning rod for critics, many of whom have accused her of being a publicity-seeking, ambulance-chasing, money grubbing lawyer, exploiting her clients for her own financial benefit and ego.
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Next on the White House soap opera …

More troubling questions have arisen about Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary who resigned yesterday in the wake of stories that he physically abused his two ex-wives and that they suffered bruises because of it and had photographs documenting them. Although his title of ‘staff secretary’ makes him sound like an underling who merely typed memos, did the photocopying, and made coffee, that is misleading. The job is actually a very important one because all information to the president passes through the staff secretary. As such that person has to work very closely with the president’s chief of staff. People who have held this position before Porter have subsequently gone on to other important positions.
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Just the kind of person that Trump would hire

To no one’s surprise, it appears that one of Donald Trump’s closest advisors is a serial abuser of women and both his ex-wives describe his attacks on them and have provided photos of their bruises. After initially defending him as a person of great integrity and honor and trying to retain him, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly now says that he was shocked to hear of the allegations.
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Racists meet a more powerful foe – Girl Scouts

While the furor over removing the names of racists and segregationists and Confederate leaders from public buildings and getting rid of monuments and statues erected in their honor has receded from the public eye, that doesn’t mean that those efforts have ended. For example, in Savannah Georgia there is a massive bridge that is named after a former governor Eugene Talmadge who was an out-and-out racist. There is absolutely no doubt in his case that his name belongs in the dustbin of history and not on a bridge.
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A major mystery solved

Donald Trump’s weird hair has long been a source of curious speculation. Is it a wig? If not, what? That mystery has now been apparently solved. What he does is what those in the know refer to as a ‘wraparound combover’ to hide the balding that most men of his age have. There is no shame in this except for someone as vain as him. The truth was revealed when a gust of wind blew as he was climbing into his plane without wearing his cap.
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Some background on North and South Korea in the Olympics

The Winter Olympics starts next week in South Korea and much interest has focused on the fact that North Korea is sending a squad and some events will feature the two countries fielding joint teams. Given the heightened tensions between the US and North Korea, I found this article to be helpful in providing a brief summary of the 20th century history of the two countries as well as the state of their current cultural relationship.
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