March 9, 2016

People are saying . . .

Nancy Reagan, beloved wife of former President Ronald Reagan, died on Sunday at the age of 94. A star in Hollywood in the 1940s, she married Ronald Reagan in 1952. She was a strong behind-the-scenes influence on President Reagan. She encouraged her husband to form a personal relationship with the Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and her disagreement with Reagan’s Chief of Staff, Donald Regan, led to his being sacked. “Just say no” was her advice on the use of illicit drugs.

PeoplearesayingAmerican voters will be glad to know that Donald Trump has a big salami (other news sources are not so discrete). In the last debate, Marco Rubio apparently criticized the size of Donald Trump’s hands. Trump responded, “He referred to my hands, if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you.” You can’t make this stuff up.

And then there were four. . . . Baltimore surgeon, Ben Carson has ended his campaign for the Presidency, leaving only Trump, Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich.  It is now increasingly difficult for anyone other than Trump to win the 1237 delegates necessary to win the nomination. Although Ted Cruz had a strong showing over the weekend, it looks like the Republicans’ last hope to stop Trump might be in a brokered convention. If Trump fails to win the nomination at the Convention in Cleveland in July, there will be an awful lot of angry and unhappy people who voted for Trump who will feel like the “establishment” has stolen the nomination from them. What will they do? What will party leaders do? Is the Republican Party about to drive over a cliff?

The case of the missing murder weapon: What happened to the knife used in the murder of O.J. Simpson’s wife and her boyfriend in 1994? One possibility: a construction worker found it while he was demolishing OJ’s house in 1998, and gave it to a policeman, who had it framed and hung on the wall of his home. Police are now analyzing it to see if it really might be the murder weapon. Skeptics think it is part of a P.R. stunt to drive up viewers of the TV mini-series on the Simpson murders on the FX network.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will decide this spring if you, your girlfriend, mother or sister can get an abortion. The evenly-split Court must decide on a Texas law that requires that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, and that their clinics must meet requirements of “ambulatory surgical centers.” Supporters of the law say that these restrictions are necessary to protect the health of women. Opponents say the law is designed to limit abortions, and making it more difficult to get an abortion puts women’s health in danger. Texas had 44 clinics that provided abortions when the law was passed in 2013. It has half that number now, and, if Kennedy decides to uphold the Texas law, will have only six. Does the Court’s blocking of a similar law in Louisiana last week indicate how they will vote on the Texas law?

The French philosopher Denis Diderot published his Encyclopedie during the Enlightenment.

Bad news: The Zika virus is worse than originally thought, causing birth defects including microcephaly, miscarriages, and early infant deaths. One of the possible consequences of global warming, it is transmitted by mosquitoes and by sexual contact. It is spreading rapidly throughout the Americas.

Good news: The American economy continues to improve after the “Great Recession” of 2008. The worst unemployment rate was 10 percent, and is now 5 percent. Over 12 million jobs have been created over the past five years. Home values have increased. The poverty rate has decreased. The rise in health care costs has slowed, and over ten million more people now have health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Bad news: Many of the new jobs pay less than the older jobs that were lost, and the benefits of the improving economy have not been evenly distributed.

“People are Talking…” welcomes comments. What do you think? (Respond to aboulton@stevenson.edu)

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