Upsetment
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Nigeria floods kill dozens, wash hippos and crocodiles into homes - CNN.com

Nigeria floods kill dozens, wash hippos and crocodiles into homes - CNN.com | Upsetment | Scoop.it

Ravaging floods killed dozens in Nigeria and displaced tens of thousands of residents as crocodiles, hippos and other water animals washed into homes.

The new children's book -- There's a hippo in the pot? Nope, this is a serious threat.

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Upsetment
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Companies Are Dumping and Others Are Sticking By The NRA: Do boycotts work? Will this one? More to the point, should we need a boycott to get reasonable changes in our gun culture and laws?

Companies Are Dumping and Others Are Sticking By The NRA: Do boycotts work? Will this one? More to the point, should we need a boycott to get reasonable changes in our gun culture and laws? | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Many brands that offered discounts to NRA members are dumping the gun group after its furious response to the Florida mass shooting.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
For my part, I don't particularly like politically motivated boycotts of firms that are doing their job properly. While I might give preference to a company that doesn't want to be part of the NRA family, I honestly doubt that I'll stop using Amazon because they offer the NRA TV App or Apple for the same reason. I'm not going to refuse to use FedEx because they give NRA members discounts, probably the same discounts they give to AARP or other groups, which means pretty much everyone. That said, sadly, this may be the only way that America is going to change our obsession with guns to something a bit more healthy. 

While I detest the NRA's PR team for the way they spin the horrors of so many events, such as the school shooting in Florida, they are right that we, the American public and our media, can't resist the energy and excitement of a good "killer" story. Hey, I'm one of the people who talks about such events on the social media. Even as we discuss the topic, do we not help to encourage the madness? Still, we can't allow our voices to be muffled or the facts to be suppressed. 

The solutions are not going to be easy. They may well include some changes in our gun laws and especially in background checks. They may well involve requiring perspective gun owners to demonstrate knowledge of safety and more. Most importantly, we need to change the way we talk about those who are obsessed with guns and those who use guns destructively. Will the media find ways to help with the change of that language? Will our movies, music, video games, and TV change to make it clear that shooting at others is not manly or adult but rather makes one look pathetic? Can we change the idiom of despair which Americans use to show how upset we are from violence to more effective means. 

As co-host of It Matters Radio, I would love to find guests who want to discuss this topic. If you're interested please contact me at our website: www.itmattersradio.com 

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Evangelist Billy Graham has died. What was his contribution to American Christianity. 

Evangelist Billy Graham has died. What was his contribution to American Christianity.  | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Doesn't he look like Elmer Gantry? 
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Billy Graham has died. I shed no tears for him or any evangelist. Rather I think he helped make this nation more disordered in its religiosity. We have too many Dispensationalists and far too many Reconstuctionist Christians for our good. Way to many American think they know god and god's will instead of living in awe of the world. As a devotee of Spinoza, I believe that god is defined by that which we do not know. As human knowledge goes, god becomes smaller. Sadly, that leaves us not with some magical safe future that frees us from responsibility for what we do in and to this world but rather with the sobering realization that we are ultimately responsible for our stewardship of the world and of our lives. Now there's a scary thought. 

While I'm sure Mr. Graham was a decent man, I don't think his counsel was always good. He was a product of his times and as such didn't appreciate the wonder of the kaleidoscope of humanity and all the varieties of our cultures and faiths. He preached his form of Christian supremacists to others who saw the world through a rather specific prism. 

I have no idea what will happen to Billy Graham's soul—assuming souls exist—but I wave him a quick goodby and thank my god that I was never one to believe in his. 
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For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals - The

For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals - The | Upsetment | Scoop.it
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Trump and his aides have escaped questions about a series of controversies. But the mayhem could return this week in Washington.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I share this story while hoping it is fake news. If it is true, I am beyond disgusted. Seriously, what could be worse than a White House that put its own comfort ahead of the lives of students and teachers shot down in cold blood. Seriously, I hope that this story will be proved untrue. If it isn't true, I, for one, would think the Washington Post has slipped into the sewer. I'd rather lose a newspaper to the swamps than have an administration this callous. Still, they are standing by the story so far. ARGH!
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Top U.S. officials tell the world to ignore Trump’s tweets - Has POTUS become irrelevant if so should he be removed? Or is he just a marketing front, in which case are we being conned? 

Top U.S. officials tell the world to ignore Trump’s tweets - Has POTUS become irrelevant if so should he be removed? Or is he just a marketing front, in which case are we being conned?  | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Amid global anxiety about the president’s approach to global affairs, U.S. officials had a message to a gathering of Europe’s foreign policy elite this weekend: Pay no attention to the man tweeting behind the curtain.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
For me this is among both the funniest and most frightening stories of the day. Seriously, I know there's a chasm between what people call the dark state and any administration, but we aren't talking about that hidden group that runs Washington, we're taking about members of the administration, we're talking about the people who are tasked with carrying out the wishes of POTUS. And they are saying to disregard their boss. Seriously, are we in a Three Stooges world? 

The most upsetting part of this story is that evidently nobody in Europe or other countries is asking what this disconnect is about. They are just assuming that Mr. Trump is somehow strangely irrelevant. Which may be the case. If that is the case, why haven't the cabinet demanded to take action under 25th Amendment? 

Perhaps a better alternative explanation, at least one that is more comfortable, is that Mr. Trump is the marketing face of the government, that he is busy playing to the base that supports him while the actual work of government goes forward. Somehow, I don't quite buy this. However, if it were true, then he is a con-man and we certainly should want him gone. 

Meanwhile, the social media is constantly flooded with fake stories being created by those wishing to weaken our country and to drive wedges between us. That's why I always try to check my sources and sometimes wait before posting. Please, be equally careful. While you're waiting to make sure a story is true, you can enjoy some fiction. Just hop over to www.kennethweene.com to find some great reading. The best part, is even the stuff like Times To Try the Soul of Man that's based on fact is still fiction so when you share it you're helping to encourage reading not politics. I mean who's interested in stupid stories about our government? 

Okay, so I can slip in a bit of sarcasm. Anyway, please check out those books. 
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Jury Awards $38 Million to Family of Maryland Woman Shot by Police - The New York Times

Jury Awards $38 Million to Family of Maryland Woman Shot by Police - The New York Times | Upsetment | Scoop.it
After a standoff, Korryn Gaines was shot several times by a Baltimore County police officer. Her 5-year-old son, lingering nearby, was struck twice by gunfire.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I do not doubt that the police had a warrant to serve. However, they also knew there was a child in the apartment and that the mother was upset and potentially dangerous. Why didn't they call in a negotiator? Why didn't they go with some less aggressive methods? We are talking about a traffic violation. Yes, the boyfriend was also known to have a history of violence, but what kind of judgement suggests that it would be good policing to try to serve both warrants at the same time and to exacerbate the situation into a standoff? I don't know that race was involved in this tragedy, but I do think it shows some poor policing and obviously the jury thought the same thing. 

There is a growing gap between the people of urban America and the police. Not everywhere, but in way too many places. The causes are multiple. One is understaffing, which to an extent is caused by too high pensions and other benefits which make law enforcement too expensive for the tax base, especially in places where the tax base has contracted. Another is the militarization of law enforcement. Giving cops more weapons, such as the infamous little tank here in Maricopa County, Arizona, makes it all to easy for the police to resort to military actions where negotiation and planning could do a better job. Yet another problem is the tendency for every criminal situation to be confabulated with drugs. Sometimes the drugs are a real factor, but often they are more an excuse for violence than a reality, especially since drug involvement allows the police to confiscate property. Race, too, is a factor especially when there is underrepresentation of Blacks and Hispanics on a local force. Next, there is the terrible lack of mental health services which allows so many more people who should be being helped to end up facing the legal system instead. Finally, of course, there is not only the proliferation of guns but also the hyping of guns in our society. 

Sadly, in this case a hapless woman and her five-year-old son were the victims of that going gap. Hopefully, this sizable financial reward will make the Baltimore County police a bit more careful in how they approach situations. One positive change they could make is to train more negotiators and another is, of course, to use more body cameras so that the individual cops don't feel quite so empowered to act as dispensers of justice. 

By the way, while I do support the police, especially the vast majority who do their jobs with care and concern, I wonder how many Americans know that sanitation workers are far more likely to be hurt in the line of duty than police officers. Not to say that cops don't deserve our concern, but we often forget how hard working all our civil servants are. 
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In response to Florida school shooting, President of the United States gives vacuous advice. Meanwhile the questions of gun violence and mental health need to be addressed. 

In response to Florida school shooting, President of the United States gives vacuous advice. Meanwhile the questions of gun violence and mental health need to be addressed.  | Upsetment | Scoop.it
"So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!" Donald Trump
Kenneth Weene's insight:
After the 18th school shooting in this young year and one of the deadliest mass killings in American history, with 17 youngsters lying in the morgue instead of studying history, math, science, and literature, the President of the United States—using a tweet—rose to address the issue of school violence and guns. His advice, if we see somebody acting strangely, we should contact the authorities over and over. 

This seems particularly vacuous since the perpetrator in this instance was well-known to the authorities. In fact, he had been suspended from school because of his unacceptable and obviously strange behavior. Indeed, apparently he was also known to the police. So, in other words, Mr. Trump has suggested that people fart into the wind. Oh, he did suggest that we keep reporting such behavior. Right, multiple farting will work better. 

I don't have any simple answers. I don't want to suggest that guns be banned. I do, however, have to wonder how this rather disturbed youngster was able to arm himself for his personal holocaust. He may have obtained those weapons legally. Which does support that we should have better screening for gun purchases. Can we really afford the seriously disturbed having access to weapons?

However, the far bigger issue is how could this young man have been helped. Can we offer better mental health service to such an angry youngster? Should youngsters who are unable to function within the system be placed in protective custody at least until their brains have matured. 

I have not yet read what happened to his biological parents. I do know that his adoptive parents had recently died. However, I get the impression that his problems preceded their deaths. Could the system have worked better? Should those adoptive parents been given more support? 

These are all questions that we as a nation should be struggling to answer, especially after a young person attacks a school with such violence. Somehow, a tweet about telling the authorities just doesn't cut the mustard, the cheese maybe, but not the mustard. 
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US concerns over EU defence pact cloud NATO talks which are already tense because of differences between Washington and Ankara over Syria. 

US concerns over EU defence pact cloud NATO talks which are already tense because of differences between Washington and Ankara over Syria.  | Upsetment | Scoop.it
US Secretary for Defense James Mattis joined NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for talks with NATO defence ministers
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Clearly, it makes sense for the Europeans to develop their own centralized military cooperation separate from NATO. For one thing, the US has shown that it doesn't play that well with others, tending to try to browbeat and insult them. Besides, why would the Europeans want to allow Washington the central spot in determining their defense and planning? As for Turkey, it surprises me that the Eisenhower years' connection between America and Turkey has worked this long. Realistically, it makes sense for Turkey to connect more with Russia and Iran than with America, especially now that the US has meddled in Iraq. Syria is just the icing on that cake. So, will Turkey continue to see herself as part of Europe or not? That's the key question. Which brings up Ukraine. While I think the US (and Europe with our leadership) should have made it clear that they were not going to support Ukraine's breaking out of the Russian sphere of influence, we managed to do worse by our lukewarm support of Kiev. The result is that nobody is prepared to trust the American position. 

Oh, just to make clear, bad American foreign policy is not something new to this administration. We really have accomplished more and more mistakes since Nixon. And then there were the Dulles years. Seriously, we aren't very good at the great games. 

The up side to this debacle is that maybe we can pull back from our militaristic positions and cut back on military spending. 
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Some reflections on terrorism.

Some reflections on terrorism. | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Recently I saw a social media post that raised the idea that Pakistan is the center of terrorism in the world. That got me thinking about terrorism. Here are some of my thoughts. I'd love to read your comments.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Recently I saw a social media post that raised the idea that Pakistan is the center of terrorism in the world. That got me thinking about terrorism. Here are some of my thoughts. I'd love to read your comments. 

Usually terrorism is based in historical causes for anger and having few options in today. While Islam gives a rationale for death as a martyr, it is not the cause of terrorism. Think back before World War 1 and the anarchists. Think back before World War 2 and the communists. Think back before the American Civil War and Kansas to say nothing of John Brown. 

 Now Pakistan has people who have been forced to move there either from India or Afghanistan because of the British raj and its end. So, historical anger. Then they have an economy that offers little for many. Worse, they see the opportunities they want nearby, in Kashmir for one but also in reuniting their homeland for the Pashtun.

 However, the Pakistani militants are relatively uninvolved in the terrorism of Africa. Not to say that once you have created a terrorist wave it won't spread, but most of the terrorists in Africa seem to be more home-grown, primarily relying on places like Pakistan for training and perhaps some theological support. (Just as the Jewish terrorists of 1946-8 Palestine were relying on Americans for help.) 

 Of course, the theology of terrorism, its justifications, no matter in what place or religion, has intellectual founders. For Islam, most of them have been from Saudi Arabia and Egypt with a separate stream from the Shia of Iran. So, does that make Riyadh and Cairo the Vienna and Berlin of today?  Seriously, remember that Karl Marx spent his career in the royal library. Lenin visited London, too. So maybe that was the real core of the Communist terrorism.  

Of course, today's world makes it much easier to spread your terrorism around. Easier to find supporters using mass and social media and easier to obtain weapons that will really hurt others. 

Anyway, if we stop trying to assign blame and start trying to find ways to reduce anger and provide options the world might be a better place. Again, your comments are welcome. 
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A Los Angeles teenager killed by deputies, a missing gun and community rage. Once again a Black youth dies at the hands of the police. Sorry, but Black Lives have to Matter and that means such even...

A Los Angeles teenager killed by deputies, a missing gun and community rage. Once again a Black youth dies at the hands of the police. Sorry, but Black Lives have to Matter and that means such even... | Upsetment | Scoop.it
An emergency meeting called after the death of 16-year-old Anthony Weber in a shooting by L.A. County sheriff's deputies did little to quell the community's anger. Deputies say they saw a gun before opening fire; it hasn't been found.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Once again, Los Angeles is in the middle of outrage over the death of a young Black man at the hands of the police. Was there a gun? We probably will never know. There were no cop cameras used. In fact, we'll never know if the dead teen was the one who threatened the person who called the cops. It's a bit hard to believe that the real perpetrator was still around by the time the cops arrived. What we do know is that there are too many times that young Black men die at the end of police weapons without clear investigation. Hopefully, the political powers in LA will get behind a full and thorough investigation and that the truth will come out. Until there is true police accountability, there will never be a solution to gang violence and Black crime in America. 

Did you know that one of the stories in Tales From the Dew Drop Inne is about police prejudice? Check the book out at https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Drop-Inne-Kenneth-Weene-ebook/dp/B0070FZBQQ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 
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Tennessee Sheriff Said 'I Love This Shit' After Ordering Deputies To Shoot Suspect: Video

Tennessee Sheriff Said 'I Love This Shit' After Ordering Deputies To Shoot Suspect: Video | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Sheriff Oddie Shoupe told officers that he would rather they use deadly force than risk damaging patrol cars, according to bodycam footage.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
This is hillbilly to the extreme. If you look at the video of what the White County cops were doing before this idiot told them to shoot Mr. Dial, it's straight out of Smokey and the Bandit. No responsible law enforcement department would have been responding that way. As for the sheriff, well we can only hope they'll lock his ass up. The only positive thing to me in this whole story is that it gives me an excuse to share this story of mine. Hope you take time to watch Dark Wantin': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0daoEy3MQQ&t=10s ;
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Donald Trump's Military Parade Likely a Logistical Nightmare Even If It is A Marketing Brainstorm. 

Donald Trump's Military Parade Likely a Logistical Nightmare Even If It is A Marketing Brainstorm.  | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Regardless of how large the parade will be, the undertaking poses a logistical challenge that will almost certainly cost millions of dollars
Kenneth Weene's insight:
While this may be a marketing event for our military manufacturers—as if they needed help marketing ways to kill others, it would be incredibly costly. Worse, since it is a celebration of militarism per se and not of success in a war, even if done on July 4th, this is a step in a direction that fear the US is all to ready to travel. We don't need to be celebrating our capacity to conquer, control, and kill but rather our capacity to heal, educate, are raise-up others. This is what we get for letting a military school cadet have sway over those who have actually fought, what we get for letting a plutocrat take the reins instead of a statesman. 

Of course, if this parade does take place, it will be well-attended. The question is, will it be successful or will there be more snafus and costs than sales and happiness created? One thing really bothers me; it would only take one terrorist incident or even a major accident—say a helicopter going down—to turn this into a national tragedy. 

I honestly think we have dumbness here, unmitigated stupidity. Then if marketing is always the goal and ratings the ultimate metric, we should end up reaching all the way down to idiocy. 
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2015 letter belies pope’s claim of ignorance on Chilean clergy abuse - The Boston Globe

2015 letter belies pope’s claim of ignorance on Chilean clergy abuse - The Boston Globe | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Francis received a victim’s letter that graphically detailed how a priest sexually abused him and how other Chilean clergy ignored it
Kenneth Weene's insight:
A papacy that seemed to offer hope for the Catholic church is foundering on sex abuse by priests. This time in Chile? It isn't so surprising that there was sexual abuse in that country. I would guess there is no place in the world where there hasn't been some abuse just as there probably is nowhere in the world where there haven't been some great priests who served their god and their church with courage and love. Rather, the surprise is that once again the Church is covering up what is known, making believe that somehow the Vatican just didn't know. 

Let me make something clear, pedophilia is to be found everywhere. While many clergy, teachers, and youth leaders would never touch a child inappropriately, there are always going to be a few who gravitate to such vocations just for the opportunity to prey on the young. Also, while there are some who historically have hidden from their homosexual impulses by seeking celibacy in the church, there are some who have used it as a place to find partners. Finally, even with those priests who have taken a vow of celibacy despite their attraction to adult women, there will be some who cannot keep that vow just as some—many—married adults cannot keep their vows. Human nature is never so simple as to preclude "sin". 

However, of all sins, the worst is to close one's eyes and then say I cannot see the world. 
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Outspoken Nazi Set to Win Republican Nomination in Illinois Congressional Race

Outspoken Nazi Set to Win Republican Nomination in Illinois Congressional Race | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Arthur Jones is running to oppose “organized world Jewry.”
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Once again the Grand Old Party is doing itself proud. While the Democratic party may be lacking in ethics and still being led by the same old-same old; at least they are not the party of hate and concentration camps. I'm sure Ike, Ford, and even Nixon are turning over in their graves. As for George W. Bush, who bravely served in World War 2, I hope this doesn't piece of shit doesn't give the man a stroke. For my part, I wonder how long it will take before the American people wise up, or are we doomed to finding our way to the bottom before we can start turning things around? Sadness overwhelms me. Years ago I met Ike and Barry Goldwater, two great Republicans. I started my political life a Republican. Now, that party is frequently making me sick. So sad.  
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Trump: Pay teachers bonuses to carry guns.

Trump: Pay teachers bonuses to carry guns. | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Seriously!
Kenneth Weene's insight:
While I'm already doubtful about arming teachers in general, this Trump proposal truly blows my mind. Quite simply, do we want to induce people to agree to be armed? Is it reasonable to think that would provide proper screening to prevent those who might be less useful in a situation to take on a roll for which they would never be suitable? We already know that in Florida, where members of the school staff were sacrificing their lives to protect the students, the one person paid to carry a gun stayed outside and well out of danger. (He is now on leave from the sheriff's department.) 

It may be one thing to arm those few teachers who have a history of facing risk, especially those who have served in the military, I seriously question the wisdom of paying anyone whose job does not carry clear obligation to be armed to carry a weapon. This is just an invitation to bad decisions. 

However, I am certainly willing to listen to those who think otherwise. 
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Army awards medals to students killed in school shooting. There is much more to be done. 

Army awards medals to students killed in school shooting. There is much more to be done.  | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The US Army is awarding medals for heroism to three students killed in last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
While only one of the three, Peter Wang took direct action during the horror of the school shooting, the Army has honored all three ROTC cadets who were killed. Another cadet, while not harmed, also took action and I hope that the military will also honor Colton Haab, who shield 60-70 people. While I am not a big supporter of high school ROTC—I think it a bit young to be indoctrinated into military thinking—clearly these youngsters deserve our recognition. And, all the victims deserve our remembrance, which is why the attached story includes a video of Anderson Cooper reading their names and telling us a little about those who died. Quite simply, these were the best of kids and the best of educators mowed down not only by the sickness of one youngster but also by the sickness of our times. 

In psychology one of my favorite concepts is the idiom of despair. It refers to the way symptoms are chosen to speak our pain. Sadly, for way too many Americans the idiom that speak has become violence and particularly gun violence. We need to address that societal contribution not by simple gun laws—although I do support some better rules for background checks and for training and taking responsibility before exercising the right to own guns—but also by changing the way in which talk about guns, the way we identify those who resort to violence, and the way we portray violence in our media and in our games. I have no simple prescriptions for how to do this, but I do know that until we have created an atmosphere in which the mentally ill are given better treatment and in which there is support for those who are least able to take care of and especially to control themselves, we risk more and more of these horrendous shootings.

Perhaps the saddest thing about this whole story is not the loss of precious lives but that it will be so easy for everyone to decide that the easiest way to protect the kids in schools is to reduce their freedoms, to make the schools more controlled situations, and to arm more people. While these may be short-term solutions to provide greater safety, they do not enhance our way of life. Indeed, I fear they will make such gun violence an even more attractive idiom of despair for those who cannot function adequately for whatever reason. 
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What would gun control look like. A friend asked on Facebook what his followers would recommend by way of tighter gun control. How we would stop the mentally ill from obtaining guns. Here's my answ...

What would gun control look like. A friend asked on Facebook what his followers would recommend by way of tighter gun control. How we would stop the mentally ill from obtaining guns. Here's my answ... | Upsetment | Scoop.it
If we don't start discussing how to address guns, nothing will happen. So here are some of my ideas. Please share yours and feel free to give feedback on mine. 
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Personally, I would require gun purchasers to show at least as much knowledge of gun safety as is required about driving to obtain a driver's license. I would require them to have appropriate insurance to cover damages and losses caused by their gun. I would also require a reasonable check of criminal background and especially crimes involving a weapon and involving battery against others, especially those involving domestic abuse. Finally, I would require a reasonable screening for mental illness just as we require reasonable screening for vision for those cars. Would this stop every potential misuse or every potential criminal or crazy person? Of course not. Would it help reduce the numbers of gun related crimes? Possibly. Would it help reduce the number of gun related assaults, especially within families, businesses, and schools. Again, possibly. Would it show that we as Americans are determined to stop the abuse of guns? I think so. That might in turn change the culture. Just as, for example, we have gone from the muscle-car gas guzzlers to today's interest in Teslas and hybrids. From reliance on private automobile ownership to use of Uber, public transportation and even bicycles.

I'd love to see your ideas and your criticisms of my proposals. At least we could start a discussion. 
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Macron's crusade for French language bolsters imperialism – Congo novelist | World news | The Guardian

Macron's crusade for French language bolsters imperialism – Congo novelist | World news | The Guardian | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Club of French-speaking countries needs total overhaul, says novelist Alain Mabanckou
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Are we writers relevant today? When I grew up the works of authors like Steinbeck, Dos Pasos, and even Rand helped to shape my understanding of the world. Today, of course, books are not so important as movies, television, and even social media. Still, they do make us aware. At least, I as an author hope that when you read my books they make you think about the issues I am wrestling with. 

Were I an African writer, I would want my work to help the people of my homeland and home-continent to think about not only the history of colonialism but also the possibilities of a future of freedom and the struggles needed to move forward. As to which language should be used, that's a different question. Yes, French, Spanish, and English have all been used as a means of domination and have been the language used by many dictators. However, I'm not sure that means efforts to expand those languages use should be an issue. On the other hand, were I to be classed as a foreign writer in England or Canada or wherever the English language is used, I would be angry. And, were the words and expressions I coined rejected not because they were lacking but because they didn't come from the mother country, I would be furious. A revival of la Francophonie will require the traditional snobbishness of L' Académie française be replaced with a more accepting attitude.

Finally, a note about the diaspora of Africans. I'm not speaking here of Blacks whose ancestors were taken into slavery or who otherwise found their way out of that continent. I am speaking of the Africans from many countries who have left their homelands to find more lucrative and comfortable lives in places like California. One of the things that my friend Deng, whose memoir I helped write, is constantly thinking about is the connection between his life and his homeland in South Sudan. How can my friend or Alain Mabanckou have lives in one continent and have something meaningful to say about another? I have no answers to this question. Indeed, I respect them both for trying to do something that will matter in both worlds. 

One of the things I have learned from Deng is that it isn't easy growing up speaking one's native language and then trying to learn another world language such as French or English. Yet, these men have learned not one but two of the major languages of the world. Clearly Mr. Mabanckou speaks French and English and Deng speaks English and Arabic. So, when they say that language is more than just using words, I tend to think they know what they're talking about. 


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Focus on Dreamers breeds resentment from other immigrants here illegally

Focus on Dreamers breeds resentment from other immigrants here illegally | Upsetment | Scoop.it
For months the immigration debate has focused on DACA recipients—arguably seen as the most deserving and sympathetic of immigrants. At the same time, there are millions left out of the conversation. Many feel largely forgotten as the Trump administration has characterized them as criminals.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
While I believe that worker visas should be open to any who are prepared to work and contribute—even those who have come here illegally—I don't believe that citizenship should be grandfathered in for everyone. The Dreamers didn't have a choice. They didn't know they were breaking the law. In most cases, they grew up thinking they were Americans. To force them to leave would be cruel. Indeed, to not consider them as one with us would be, IMO, wrong. 

I think that anyone who tries to equate the Dreamers and those who came here on their own and knowing that it was illegal is trying to distort the facts. Such conflating of issues makes it all the harder to find good solutions to problems. 

Similarly, the future of the Dreamers has nothing to do with chain immigration, a wall, or changing quotas. Each of those issues should be dealt with in turn, as should issues around granting sanctuary, temporary or permanent and the issue of citizenship for babies born in this country, an issue which really has its roots in slavery and the Civil War. If congress were to address more issues separately and clearly, it could accomplish a lot more. Even more importantly, we the voters could have clearer notions of what our representatives stand for. 

Of course, one problem is that we don't get enough opportunity to make our wishes clear, especially when our individual donations are dwarfed by those from businesses. Ah, but that brings up a whole new area of needed change. Have I mentioned that I want a new, a third party, that will represent the common sense and insight of the great majority of Americans? 
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Trump’s Lawyer Says He Paid Stormy Daniels Out Of His Own Pocket – The American Burlesque continues.

Trump’s Lawyer Says He Paid Stormy Daniels Out Of His Own Pocket – The American Burlesque continues. | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Michael Cohen, the longtime lawyer for President Donald Trump, said on Tuesday that he paid $130,000 to porn sta
Kenneth Weene's insight:
So for undisclosed reasons he paid out $130K to a porn star who then changed her story. Nothing to see here folks, except maybe some bare-assed crappola. In this burlesque, the banana republic of Amerika slips on its peel and the rest of the world peals with laughter. 

At any rate, is that the face of a shyster or a concerned citizen? LOL.
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White House says Trump 'shocked' by allegations of abuse against aides. 

White House says Trump 'shocked' by allegations of abuse against aides.  | Upsetment | Scoop.it
White House advisor Kellyanne Conway, pictured as Donald Trump met reporters in the Oval Office on February 9, 2018, said the president was "shocked" by abuse allegations against two aides
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I keep wondering what is wrong with this White House. Who is vetting the staff appointments? Hey, this isn't tryouts for the Apprentice its the nerve center of our country. Seriously, if the Obama White House had had a similar stream of ineptitude and crassness, who among us would not have been screaming our outrage? There is something rotten in the state of Trump and it's time we were all demanding a proper housecleaning. 

Meanwhile, while I understand that Mr. Trump doesn't want to appear disloyal to his staff, it is past time for him to make it clear that he won't tolerate abusers in his administration. I mean he could at least tweet about it instead of saying that it's unfair to those who are identified as abusive. While the allegations of the ex-wife of David Sorenson are uncorroborated, there is little doubt that Rob Porter was physically abusive of both his ex-wives. And, let's be clear, that wasn't so hard to find out. 
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Israel warns Iran, Syria 'playing with fire' as fighter jet crashes during airstrikes

Israel warns Iran, Syria 'playing with fire' as fighter jet crashes during airstrikes | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The Israeli military said the pilots likely ejected from their F-16 aircraft due to Syrian anti-aircraft missiles but said it was unclear whether their war plane was hit.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
This is worrisome because the last thing the people of Syria need is another conflict raging within the borders of their country. Of course, much of Iranian intention has less to do with Israel, which is capable of wreaking horrible destruction on Iran in case of open war—a war that would end up in mutual destruction—then it has to do with Iran's ongoing efforts to find common cause with those Sunni Muslims who are willing to break from Saudi Arabia's religious influence, which most notably means the Palestinians, some of the Sunni in Libya, and perhaps in North Africa. Of course the Iranian presence in Syria also reflects Tehran's desire to get a better relationship with both Turkey and Russia. 

How should the US and her allies respond to this? Obviously, the answer has to lie in diplomacy not in military threats. The alliance with Israel is already pretty strong and Tel Aviv doesn't want American planes stationed there, especially not those with nuclear bombs. Better to have them held at the ready far away. So, can we find ways to reach out to Iran, Turkey, and maybe even Russia to make them aware that Iran's endgame in the Muslim world is potentially self-defeating? Maybe if we push on Saudi Arabia to hold out an olive branch and to rein in its own extremists. 

In the end, the best we can all hope for is the extreme Islam will be reduced in influence by growing economic opportunities, the love of self-expression and political freedom, and the desire to see a world at peace. 

Hey, I can hope. 
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Ugandans suspended over 'refugee scam'. Consider the sheer size of the refugee problem in the world today. What are we to do?

Ugandans suspended over 'refugee scam'. Consider the sheer size of the refugee problem in the world today. What are we to do? | Upsetment | Scoop.it
In 2016, Uganda registered more refugees than any other country, mostly coming from South Sudan.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
As you probably know, I recently worked on the memoir of a friend from South Sudan. One of the things I learned was that over-counting of refugees was one of the ways that rebel organizations can raise money for arms and supplies. So, I am not surprised to hear that this is taking place in Uganda. I just wonder who the beneficiaries are and why the whistle was blown. 

Meanwhile the estimates are over 1.4 million refugees in that country, which is an enormous number, equal to about 3% of the countries population. 

Here are some of the key and very disturbing figures about refugees around the world. 

2.4 million South Sudan refugees and asylum seekers have fled the country since  2013 

5.5 million Syrian refugees are currently registered - the UN began tracking their numbers in 2012 

More than 647,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from Myanmar (Burma) to Bangladesh since August 2017 In 2016 and 2017, 

486,140 migrants crossed the Mediterranean sea to enter Europe, and 6,989 died in the attempt.

And, of course, we have to add those fleeing Venezuela and the Central American counties. 

The sheer humanity of the problem overwhelms those of us with a conscience. What kind of animals have we humans become? So many people feeling that they have no choice but to flee their homes.  

Meanwhile, here is a good recap of America's role in giving a home to those fleeing war and persecution. 

Clearly, we cannot give a home to all in need, but what are we to do? Perhaps the world needs to find new ways to force governments to treat their peoples decently. Perhaps instead of selling arms and fostering wars, the US should be using our might to help other countries develop and to find better solutions. Ah, if only we lived in a perfect world. 
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Bakersfield, California baker who turned away lesbian couple wins court ruling. Are wedding cakes art or commerce?

Bakersfield, California baker who turned away lesbian couple wins court ruling. Are wedding cakes art or commerce? | Upsetment | Scoop.it
As the U.S. Supreme Court ponders a baker's refusal to prepare a wedding cake for a gay couple, a California judge has ruled that the owner of a Bakersfield bakery had a free-speech right to turn away a lesbian couple who wanted a cake to celebrate their marriage.

A wedding cake, even one without an inscription, "is an artistic expression by the person making it," Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe said Monday in a ruling denying a state agency's request to require the bakery owner, Cathy Miller, to comply with California's antidiscrimination law.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Now we may get to some fancy legal arguments about what is and is not artistic expression. If I ask a baker to create a new cake design, that I can see is artistic expression. If, however, I pick a design from their book, would that be protected as artistic or is it now a piece of merchandise? Did the lesbian couple ask the baker to create something or simply reproduce an established design? If the latter, then are cake designs the property of the baker? How does that design become property? What happens if the same lesbian couple gets a design from another baker and orders it from this one? Meanwhile, if you live in Bakersfield, California, please take time to not shop in Cathy Miller's bakery. Please take time to tell her that America is not about bigotry, not even if it's supposedly based on God's will. 

For my part, I would never shop at any store that refused service to anyone based on race, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, religion, or the like. And, no, that doesn't mean that restaurants have to stop serving bacon or other similar rules. Customers have the right to not shop in a store, but the store doesn't have to right to refuse service. It isn't the same thing. 

By the way, I would probably not go to the wedding of anybody who had the bad taste to serve a cake that looked like the one accompanying this story. Seriously over-decorated and chintzy. Life's too short to eat bad cake or to read bad books. 

Speaking of books, and I try to do that often, have you checked out this great website? http://www.kennethweene.com 
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Pentagon mistakenly labels Taiwan as part of China in nuclear report. Also makes mistakes with Korea and Russia. New ways for the military to waste our money.

Pentagon mistakenly labels Taiwan as part of China in nuclear report. Also makes mistakes with Korea and Russia. New ways for the military to waste our money. | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The US Defense Department was forced to correct several mistakes in its Nuclear Posture Review after an initial version of the report released last week labeled Taiwan as part of China and included the disputed Kuril islands in a chart depicting Russia.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
While these three mistakes may be called innocent errors, the simple fact is they speak to the incompetence of the Pentagon. We aren't talking about minor errors but errors about major policy topics. For example, who at the Pentagon doesn't know that North Korea and South Korea aren't just different governments but that we oppose the one and support the other? Seriously, is this what we are paying for in Washington? And Taiwan? Ike and Nixon must be rolling over in their graves. 

I am not going to blame Mr. Trump of Secretary Mattis for this screw-up. Clearly, this was a mistake at a lower level. Still, we do have to wonder about how the Pentagon is being mis-managed. 
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Donald Trump Attacks Democrats Not Clapping At State Of The Union As 'Treasonous'

Donald Trump Attacks Democrats Not Clapping At State Of The Union As 'Treasonous' | Upsetment | Scoop.it
At a jobs event in Ohio, Trump went full campaign mode, delivering a speech aimed directly at his base.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I am sure that Mr. Trump was at least to some degree going tongue-in-cheek here. However, the very thought that we Americans might be expected to applaud (salute) a supreme leader or be considered traitors sends shivers down my back. Our history has always honored the right to oppose. I came of mature political age during Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement. I revere those who fought against the system for the well-being of us all and of our nation. While I abhor the thought of a member of congress shouting "Liar" or the like at any POTUS delivering their State of the Union, I certainly don't expect the opposition party to applaud that POTUS or those policies and positions with which they disagree. 

As for kneeling for that song, well I've made my position known many times. One question I would love to have in a survey of veterans, "Do you think it an insult to your service in the military for somebody to kneel during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner?" I think we'd find that many, perhaps a majority, veterans don't care or support such protest. If you are a veteran, please tell me your thoughts. 

By the way, for full disclosure: I didn't serve. 4-F.  I will freely admit that I opposed the war in Vietnam and did take part in some protesting of it. I also was against nuclear weapons development and for civil rights. Not a big rabble rouser, but I tried to do my part. Since that time, I honestly think that the U.S. military has done more harm in the world than good. However, I would have been willing to serve in the Balkans to help stop that ugly war. And, I think the military has done some wonderful things to help in times of crisis around the world. On the other hand, we have Afghanistan, Grenada, Iraq (twice) and you get the idea. 

Which brings us to a second question: Obviously, we can't pick and choose which laws we want to obey. However, should people have the option of not taking part in a war with which they disagree? If the lesson of Vietnam is to be learned, the answer is clearly yes. Again, I wonder what my friends who are veterans think about that one.
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