Friday, January 22, 2021

5 strategies for cultivating hope this year

  The raging coronavirus pandemic, along with political turbulence and uncertainty, have overwhelmed many of us.

  From almost the start of 2020, people have been faced with bleak prospects as illness, death, isolation, and job losses became unwelcome parts of our reality. Many of us watched in horror and despair as insurgents stormed the U.S. Capitol.

  Indeed, all through these times, both the dark and bright sides of human nature were evident as many people engaged in extraordinary compassion and courage when others were committing acts of violence, self-interest, or greed.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Biden plans to fight climate change in a way no U.S. president has done before

  Joe Biden is preparing to deal with climate change in a way no U.S. president has done before – by mobilizing his entire administration to take on the challenge from every angle in a strategic, integrated way.

  The strategy is evident in the people Biden has chosen for his Cabinet and senior leadership roles: Most have track records for incorporating climate change concerns into a wide range of policies, and they have experience partnering across agencies and levels of government.

  Those skills are crucial because slowing climate change will require a comprehensive and coordinated “all hands on deck” approach.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Whether slow or fast, here’s how your metabolism influences how many calories you burn each day

  It’s a common dieter’s lament: “Ugh, my metabolism is so slow, I’m never going to lose any weight.”

  When people talk about a fast or slow metabolism, what they’re really getting at is how many calories their body burns as they go about their day. The idea is that someone with a slow metabolism just won’t use up the same amount of energy to do the same task as does someone with a fast metabolism.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

How the Biden administration can reduce the political spending of foreign-influenced U.S. corporations

  One of the foundational principles of U.S. democracy is that elections must be decided by Americans. Election law makes it illegal for foreign governments, corporations, or people to spend money to influence U.S. elections, either directly or indirectly. This bedrock principle was established by the nation’s founders, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, and reaffirmed in federal court. This principle is necessary primarily because foreign entities often have policy and political interests—regarding, for example, taxes, the environment, workers’ rights, or national security—that do not align with the best interests of the United States.

  Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court’s misguided 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission introduced a loophole that makes U.S. elections more vulnerable to foreign influence: Foreign entities are now able to influence America’s political process by investing in U.S. corporations, which in turn spend enormous amounts of money to sway the results of elections and ballot measures.

Monday, January 18, 2021

What shaped King’s prophetic vision?

  The name Martin Luther King Jr. is iconic in the United States. President Barack Obama spoke of King in both his Democratic National Convention nomination acceptance and victory speeches in 2008:

    “[King] brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln’s Memorial… to speak of his dream.”

  Indeed, much of King’s legacy lives on in such arresting oral performances. They made him a global figure.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

How many people need to get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to stop the coronavirus?

  It has been clear for a while that, at least in the U.S., the only way out of the coronavirus pandemic will be through vaccination. The rapid deployment of coronavirus vaccines is underway, but how many people need to be vaccinated in order to control this pandemic?

  I am a computational biologist who uses data and computer models to answer biological questions at the University of Connecticut. I have been tracking my state’s COVID-19 epidemic with a computer model to help forecast the number of hospitalizations at the University of Connecticut’s John Dempsey Hospital.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Trump tapped into white victimhood – leaving fertile ground for white supremacists

  Despite failed lawsuits, recounts, and formal confirmation that President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump and his supporters continue to maintain that the election was rigged and that he and the American people are victims of massive voter fraud.

  This politicization of victimhood is nothing new to the Trump presidency.

  It was there from the beginning. When Trump descended the escalator in Trump Tower to announce his presidential campaign in 2015, he stoked fears of Mexican rapists and drug traffickers attacking U.S. citizens.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Steve Flowers - Inside the Statehouse: Alabama could lose a congressional seat

  It has been speculated for several years that Alabama could lose a congressional seat after the 2020 Census. It was thought to be a foregone conclusion. However, in recent days, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates indicate that we might dodge that bullet. They say we are on the cusp and if we have had a good count, we could keep our current seven seats in congress. 

  This will be extremely beneficial for Alabama if this miracle occurs. We have a very heavy laden Republican congressional delegation. We have six Republicans and one lone Democrat. We have two freshmen Republican congressmen, Jerry Carl in the 1st District and Barry Moore in the 2nd District. Both of these men will be reliably Republican votes. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Slow down the machine police

  Suppose an intelligent machine deems you guilty of a crime. Suppose the police were to treat the machine’s judgment as evidence of your guilt. Would it matter that you are actually innocent?

  This hypothetical was once a plot device of dystopian novels and films. As law enforcement agencies increasingly rely on traffic cameras, cell phone data, and other information technologies, we should take care that fiction does not become reality.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - We lost some good ones in 2020

  As is my annual ritual, this column pays tribute to Alabama political legends who have passed away during the year. 

  Sonny Cauthen passed away in Montgomery at age 70. He was the ultimate inside man in Alabama politics. Cauthen was a lobbyist before lobbying was a business. He kept his cards close to his vest, and you never knew what he was doing. He was the ultimate optimist who knew what needed to be achieved and found like-minded allies with whom to work. When he had something to get done, he bulldozed ahead and achieved his mission. Cauthen was a yellow dog Democrat who believed in equal treatment and rewarding hard work. He was an avid outdoorsman and hunter and mentored a good many young men in Montgomery.