Monday, August 8, 2022

Confidence in the Supreme Court is declining – but there is no easy way to oversee justices and their politics

  Recent evidence showing that Virginia Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, sent at least 29 text messages to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urging him to help overturn the 2020 election has reignited a long-simmering debate about judicial ethics and the nation’s highest court.

  Fair and impartial judges are essential to the health and legitimacy of the judicial system and are a critical component of the system of government established in the U.S. Constitution.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Alabama Department of Labor overpaid unemployment recipients by more than $164 million in 2020-21

  According to recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Alabama overpaid unemployment compensation benefit recipients by more than $164 million in 2020 and 2021. Now the Alabama Department of Labor wants some of that money back, sending bills, sometimes as high as $20,000, to citizens. Governor Kay Ivey disagrees, implying that the state should absorb the loss and move on. 

  Regardless of what you think should be done in this case, shouldn’t we expect better stewardship of our taxpayer dollars?

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Nature is the world’s original pharmacy – returning to medicine’s roots could help fill drug discovery gaps

  While humans evolved over a period of approximately 6 million years, breakthroughs in modern medicine as we know it today got going only in the 19th and 20th centuries. So how did humans successfully survive through millions of years of diseases and illnesses without modern drugs and treatments?

  This was a question I came to wonder about when the COVID-19 pandemic reached my family in India in April 2020, when there was very limited access to vaccines and treatments. All of my years working as a biomedical scientist, requiring empirical evidence and formal safety testing before using a treatment, took a back seat as I scrambled for potential therapies from any sources I could find, be it scientific papers or folklore. I was ready to try any experimental or traditional medicine that might have a chance at helping my dad.

Friday, August 5, 2022

3 reasons US coal power is disappearing – and a Supreme Court ruling won’t save it

  The U.S. coal industry chalked up a couple of rare wins this summer. First the Supreme Court issued a ruling limiting the government’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Then President Joe Biden’s climate plan stalled in Congress again.

  But while some specific threats to the industry have subsided, that doesn’t mean coal-fired power plants will make a comeback.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Feeling connected enhances mental and physical health – here are 4 research-backed ways to find moments of connection with loved ones and strangers

  A woman and her fiancé joke and laugh together while playing video games after a long day.

  A college freshman interrupts verbal harassment aimed at a neighbor, who expresses gratitude as they walk home together.

  A man receives a phone call to confirm an appointment and stumbles into a deep and personal conversation about racism in America with the stranger on the other end of the line.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Most Americans today are choosing cremation – here’s why burials are becoming less common

  The National Funeral Directors Association has predicted that by 2035, nearly 80% of Americans will opt for cremation.

  When the first U.S. indoor cremation machine was opened in 1876 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the creator and operator, Francis LeMoyne, was severely criticized by the Catholic Church. The new method of disposal was viewed as dangerous because it threatened traditional religious burial and society’s sense of morality and dignity.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Court OKs coach's on-field prayer, shifting balance for religious expression

  In its decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton, the Supreme Court strengthened First Amendment protection for religious speech by government officials.


The Case

  Public high school football coach Joseph Kennedy filed a lawsuit alleging his rights to free speech and freedom of religion were violated when he was fired for praying at the 50-yard line after each game.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Self-control

  A frazzled mother with a fussy child caught the eye of a grocery store manager. He overheard her say, “Lily, you can do this. We just have to get a few things.”

  Moments later, when the child became more upset, the mother said calmly, “It’s okay, Lily. We’re almost done.”

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Surveillance is pervasive: Yes, you are being watched, even if no one is looking for you

  The U.S. has the largest number of surveillance cameras per person in the world. Cameras are omnipresent on city streets and in hotels, restaurants, malls, and offices. They’re also used to screen passengers for the Transportation Security Administration. And then there are smart doorbells and other home security cameras.

  Most Americans are aware of video surveillance of public spaces. Likewise, most people know about online tracking – and want Congress to do something about it. But as a researcher who studies digital culture and secret communications, I believe that to understand how pervasive surveillance is, it’s important to recognize how physical and digital tracking work together.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Food expiration dates don’t have much science behind them – a food safety researcher explains another way to know what’s too old to eat

  Florida’s outbreak of listeria has so far led to at least one death, 22 hospitalizations, and an ice cream recall since January. Humans get sick with listeria infections, or listeriosis, from eating soil-contaminated food, undercooked meat or dairy products that are raw, or unpasteurized. Listeria can cause convulsions, coma, miscarriage, and birth defects. And it’s the third leading cause of food poisoning deaths in the U.S.

  Avoiding unseen food hazards is the reason people often check the dates on food packaging. And printed with the month and year is often one of a dizzying array of phrases: “best by,” “use by,” “best if used before,” “best if used by,” “guaranteed fresh until,” “freeze by” and even a “born on” label applied to some beer.