Saturday, November 30, 2019

The struggle for Native American voting rights

  November is Native American Heritage Month – a fitting time to honor the resistance and resilience of Native peoples, including their fight to be heard by and represented in the government that dispossessed them for centuries.

  The first inhabitants of this land have been expressly disenfranchised for most of U.S. history.

  Excluded from birthright citizenship, American Indians found that, unlike immigrants, there wasn’t a naturalization process for them because they were not considered “foreigners.” During Reconstruction, they were excluded from rights acknowledged by the 14th Amendment, which bolstered civil rights for formerly enslaved people.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Why do Black Friday shoppers throw punches over bargains?

  Black Friday, the most celebrated shopping day of the year, abounds with tales of fistfights over discounted televisions or even stampedes as consumers rush to get that low-priced sweater they saw in an ad.

  Many people chalk it up to bad behavior. But marketers like me have a term to describe one feeling that contributes to it: psychological ownership.

  Have you ever felt as if another driver stole your parking spot? Or were supremely miffed when someone else nabbed the last red sweater that you had your eye on? And isn’t it irritating when someone else receives credit for your idea? If so, you have experienced psychological ownership.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Joseph O. Patton: Taking back Thanksgiving!

  I am genuinely elated to report that I have survived another Thanksgiving… or rather what remains of this rapidly deteriorating national holiday. I ate, I watched football, I napped. God ordained back in the Plymouth Rock days that we adhere to this sacred ritual, right? And doing so enables me to show my Turkey Day pride, get my festive gobble-gobble swerve thang on, but mostly just suffer from indigestion as a result of all that sweet, blessed gluttony.

  But increasingly each year something else is ominously creeping into the view from my yam-tinted glasses, vulgarly tinkling on my Thanksgiving joy and ruthlessly pushing all the pilgrim imagery to the side - its name: Christmas.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Passeth the cranb'rry sauce! The medieval origins of Thanksgiving

  How and why did the dishes served at Thanksgiving dinner come to be so fixed?

  Many assume that most of them were simply eaten by the Pilgrims during the first Thanksgiving. For this reason, they continue to be eaten today. And it’s true that most of the ingredients are American in origin: the turkey, cranberries, pumpkin, sweet potatoes – even the green beans in the casserole and the pecans in the pie.

  Yet we only have one firsthand account of the “first” Thanksgiving – a brief paragraph by Edward Winslow that doesn’t mention any of these foods. And it’s been shown, time and again, that the idea of a unique culinary tradition originating from a feast between the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors is more advertising myth than historical truth.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

What the first Thanksgiving dinner actually looked like

  Most Americans probably don’t realize that we have a very limited understanding of the first Thanksgiving, which took place in 1621 in Massachusetts.

  Indeed, few of our present-day traditions resemble what happened almost 400 years ago, and there’s only one original account of the feast.

  As an anthropologist who specializes in reconstructing past diets, I can say that even though we don’t have a definitive account of the menu at the first Thanksgiving, letters and recorded oral histories give us a pretty good idea of what they probably ate. And we know for a fact that it didn’t include mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Beyond fact-checking: 5 things schools should do to foster news literacy

  When it comes to news literacy, schools often emphasize fact-checking and hoax-spotting. But as I argue in my new book, schools must go deeper with how they teach the subject if they want to help students thrive in a democratic society.

  As a new poll shows that Americans struggle to know if the information they find online is true, news literacy remains essential in student education.

  Separating fact from fiction is a vital skill for civic engagement, but students can be good fact-checkers only if they have a broader understanding of how news and information are produced and consumed in the digital age. Here are five questions students should be taught to ask.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Long wait times in ERs drive up costs, signal health care distress

  Wait times in emergency rooms are so out of control that researchers recently tested whether aromatherapy would make waiting in the ER more tolerable.

  It didn’t.

  Over a decade ago, the Institute of Medicine offered an ominous warning: “Underneath the surface, a national crisis in emergency care has been brewing and is now beginning to come into full view.”

  Now the view is quite clear. ERs are packed and wait times are growing longer each year. In fact, even if you’re having a heart attack, you may have to wait to get to the doctor.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Why saying ‘OK boomer’ at work is considered age discrimination – but millennial put-downs aren’t

  The phrase “OK boomer” has become a catch-all put-down that Generation Zers and young millennials have been using to dismiss retrograde arguments made by baby boomers, the generation of Americans who are currently 55 to 73 years old.

  Though it originated online and primarily is fueling memes, Twitter feuds, and a flurry of commentary, it has begun migrating to real life. Earlier this month, a New Zealand lawmaker lobbed the insult at an older legislator who had dismissed her argument about climate change.

  As the term enters our everyday vocabulary, HR professionals and employment law specialists like me now face the age-old question: What happens if people start saying “OK boomer” at work?

Friday, November 22, 2019

A city in California gave land back to indigenous people. It’s a start.

  On Oct. 21, the northern California city of Eureka returned more than 200 acres of land on Duluwat Island to the Wiyot Tribe, the indigenous inhabitants of the area. The land — which represents the physical and cultural center of the universe for Wiyot peoples — was taken during a massacre of the tribe’s women, children, and elders in 1860.

  This massacre, followed by subsequent relocation to Fort Humboldt, resulted in the death of nearly one half of the pre-contact Wiyot population — estimated at close to 2,000 people. Today, the tribe has returned to near its ancestral territory after long legal fights to gain federal recognition, with close to 600 Wiyot people living locally.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Military suicides shouldn’t surprise anyone

  The title of a recent New York Times op-ed by Carol Giacomo is an attention grabber: “Suicide Has Been Deadlier Than Combat for the Military.”

  The article points out that “more than 45,000 veterans and active-duty service members have killed themselves in the past six years. That is more than 20 deaths a day — in other words, more suicides than the total American military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

  The article states: “Other than pointing to national trends, officials have offered few explanations for why military suicides are rising. Studies seeking more answers are underway.”

  Permit me to offer my explanation for this deadly phenomenon: Iraq and Afghanistan and other places where U.S. service members have been obeying orders to participate in military operations involving the wrongful killing of people.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - John McMillan, a good man as Alabama Treasurer

  Alabama is in good hands with John McMillan. A good man is in the job of state treasurer of Alabama for the third straight quadrennium.

  Young Boozer served two successive four-year terms from 2010-2018. Mr. Boozer did an excellent job as treasurer. He was perfect for the job. He had been a successful banker. He ran for and did the job for the right reason, not for political gain or prestige, but to do a good job as Alabama’s treasurer. Some folks thought Young Boozer would make a good choice for higher statewide office. However, he and his wife, Sally, opted to enjoy a relaxed life. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Foreign aid and sanctions

  Amidst all the political brouhaha regarding foreign aid, it is important that we keep in mind the nature and purposes of this particular federal program, as well as its related program, sanctions.

  Foreign aid is money that the U.S. government sends to certain foreign regimes. The purpose of the money is to secure loyalty to the U.S. Empire. That loyalty comes in the form of votes in the United Nations or support for U.S. imperialist escapades abroad.

  There is hardly ever a formal quid pro quo involved in foreign aid. That is, U.S. officials do not expressly say to a foreign leader, “If you will agree to become a loyal member of the U.S. Empire and support whatever the Empire does, we will send you hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.”

Monday, November 18, 2019

New FBI report shows increase in violent hate crime

  Although the FBI report released last week shows a minuscule decline in all hate crimes in 2018, it also shows a 12 percent rise in hate crimes involving violence.

  The overall decline was due to a decrease in hate crimes involving property, such as bias-related vandalism.

  This uptick in violent hate crimes comes on the heels of FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in July, when he said the majority of domestic terrorism investigations are connected to white supremacy.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Personal data isn’t the ‘new oil,’ it’s a way to manipulate capitalism

  My recent research increasingly focuses on how individuals can and do manipulate, or “game,” contemporary capitalism. It involves what social scientists call reflexivity and physicists call the observer effect.

  Reflexivity can be summed up as the way our knowledge claims end up changing the world and the behaviors we seek to describe and explain.

  Sometimes this is self-fulfilling. A knowledge claim — like “everyone is selfish,” for example — can change social institutions and social behaviors so that we actually end up acting more selfish, thereby enacting the original claim.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

WTF? Slurs offend young adults more than swearing

  In 1972, the comedian George Carlin performed a comedy routine in which he listed the seven words you couldn’t say on television. He opined that profanity related to sexual activities, body parts, and bodily functions wasn’t inherently good or bad. All words, he would say, are “innocent.”

  But reciting those seven words in public got him arrested, and when a New York radio station aired Carlin’s performance, a man listening with his young son sued. The case led to the Supreme Court ruling six years later that broadcasting profanity can constitute a public nuisance.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Five milestones that created the internet, 50 years after the first network message

  Fifty years ago, a UCLA computer science professor and his student sent the first message over the predecessor to the internet, a network called ARPANET.

  On Oct. 29, 1969, Leonard Kleinrock and Charley Kline sent Stanford University researcher Bill Duval a two-letter message: “lo.” The intended message, the full word “login,” was truncated by a computer crash.

  Much more traffic than that travels through the internet these days, with billions of emails sent and searches conducted daily. As a scholar of how the internet is governed, I know that today’s vast communications web is a result of governments and regulators making choices that collectively built the internet as it is today.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Inequality is higher in some states like New York and Louisiana because of corporate welfare

  Income inequality made big headlines recently after the U.S. Census Bureau released new data showing that the gap between the richest and poorest Americans is at its highest level in at least half a century.

  Less reported was the significant variation among the states. New York and California had the highest inequality in 2018, while Utah and Alaska had the lowest. In addition, states as diverse as Alabama, Texas, and New Hampshire experienced large increases from the prior year.

  Why are some states more or less equal than others?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Alabama Legislature not a very good stepping stone

  Early speculation on the 2020 U.S. Senate race had Alabama state Sen. Del Marsh listed as a potential GOP aspirant. He had considered making a plunge into the Special Election contest for Jeff Sessions’ seat in 2017 but opted out.

  Most astute observers never thought he would ultimately pull the trigger then or this year. Unlike others who have run and won statewide, Marsh is essentially unknown outside of the Capitol and is known only around his Anniston senate district. His best asset was probably that he had his own money to spend rather than his state senate influence.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Criminalizing homelessness in the Heart of Dixie

  Jonathan sleeps under a bridge at night or on a friend’s porch. During the day, he holds up a “homeless” sign in the grassy area near a highway exit and asks for money.

  Some motorists are kind and give him money. Others are cruel. They accuse him of pretending to be homeless, tell him to get a job or threaten to call the police.

  Jonathan – who suffers from pancreatitis, uncontrolled diabetes, and kidney failure, making it extremely difficult for him to find a job and thus to afford housing – was in his usual spot recently, holding up a sign that read: “HOMELESS. Today it is me, tomorrow it could be you.”

Monday, November 11, 2019

Commemorating the ‘Great War,’ America’s forgotten conflict

  World War I was still a living memory for most Americans when I was growing up in the 1960s and early 1970s.

  Aging doughboys who had fought on the Western Front in 1917 and 1918 still marched on Veterans Day. These World War I enlisted men often referred to this holiday by its original name, Armistice Day.

  My mother invariably bought and wore an artificial red poppy on Veterans Day. I learned much later the poppy signified the blood and sacrifice of those who died on Flanders Field, a Belgian battle site that was the subject of the war’s most famous poem.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

It is good to honor our veterans, but it is better to take action

  The word “sacrifice” gets used a lot, but it can be difficult to truly appreciate the full meaning of that word. For one group of people, “sacrifice” takes on a special meaning.

  This weekend we honor our nation’s veterans. While Memorial Day is set aside to remember those who died in military service, Veteran’s Day was created to honor all those who currently or previously served in the military.

  And those who served certainly know a lot about sacrifice. They sacrifice time with their children and families – often longer than a year – to serve our country. Many sacrificed their bodies to injuries and wounds sustained on foreign battlefields. Some sacrificed their very lives so that we can enjoy the peace and prosperity we have today.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Democrat or Republican, Americans are angry, frustrated and overwhelmed

  As the country looks ahead to President Donald Trump’s possible impeachment proceedings, as social scientists, we anticipate that not only will the Americans’ opinions be polarized, but so will their emotions.

  Based on our research, we believe that impeachment stories will likely feel increasingly more personal, passionate, and irritating to people as the proceedings unfold. For some, this will draw them in, while others will likely turn off from the news.

Friday, November 8, 2019

HHS proposal puts millions of Americans at risk of discrimination when accessing federally funded services

  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is tasked with ensuring the health and well-being of all Americans, developing strategies to address public health crises, and conducting research and designing treatment interventions to end deadly chronic diseases. It accounts for more than one-fourth of all federal spending and is made up of 11 operating divisions. Under the Trump administration, however, the agency’s mission has been upended by the harmful political agendas of individuals such as Vice President Mike Pence and Office for Civil Rights Director Roger Severino. Under their leadership, it has reallocated significant resources away from civil rights and patient privacy in order to expand religious exemptions, promulgate rules that severely restrict access to reproductive health care, and undermine strong nondiscrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

DeVos’ formula for success: Trash public schools and push privatization

  When U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos discussed the results from the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, she described them as “devastating” and part of a worsening crisis in education.

  The results showed a slight decline in reading scores and a flattening in math scores.

  She noted that two out of three of the nation’s children aren’t proficient in reading. She also decried as ineffective the US$1 trillion in federal spending on education over the past 40 years, saying it has done nothing to stop the widening gap between the highest- and lowest-performing students.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - The story of Dr. David Bronner, RSA, and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Courses

  Dr. David Bronner has marked his place in Alabama political and governmental history. He has headed the revered Retirement Systems of Alabama Pension Funds for 45 years. When Bronner took his present job with RSA, the Retirement Systems had approximately $500 million of funds. Today RSA has approximately $40 billion in investments, making our RSA the 50th largest public pension fund in the world.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

‘No rehabilitation,’ just oppression, behind bars in Alabama

  Frances Everson was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. The home she now lives in, previously rented by her mother, was always a family affair. She’s visited frequently by her family – her three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren included. Today, her mother lives right next door.

  Frances was the middle child of five. The youngest sibling was stillborn. Her second oldest brother was hit by a car and killed in 1971 when Frances was just 8. Her sister, only a year younger than she was, was shot and killed in 1981.

  That’s when all of the trauma really started to set in.

Monday, November 4, 2019

State laws can punish parents living in abusive households

  One in four women in the United States will experience some form of intimate partner violence in her lifetime. For men, that number is one in nine. And 90 percent of kids affected by domestic violence will view the abuse firsthand, often by one parent against another.

  These numbers are staggering. When you consider the impact of childhood trauma — which tells us that kids who experience or witness abuse are more likely to develop a slew of physical and mental illnesses as adults — those numbers are infuriating. And baffling. Domestic violence can be hard to escape, especially for those who have been in the mire of it for years, but once kids become involved, shouldn’t that be enough motivation to leave?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1689 - The Second Amendment does not apply to Black folk

  The Second Amendment does not apply to Black folk. I knew that a long time ago. Alabama, where I live, is a strong Second Amendment state. It is an open-carry state. It has some of the most rigorous pro-gun laws in these United States. But I know that the Second Amendment does not apply to Black folk.

  I know that from current manifestations. I know that from recent history. I know that from the long history stretching way back beyond the founding of the country.

  I am convinced, and I stand to be corrected, that I cannot safely carry an open weapon in Alabama in spite of the law. I am a Black man who turned 77 last week. However, if I took a rifle or a pistol and walked into a Walmart or any other store, I would likely be shot. I don’t have to wave the gun or say anything; I just have to have it and for other people know it.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Christians should protect freedom of expression for all people

  It’s an idea that we Evangelicals like because we usually hear it discussed in the vein of protecting our particular right to express and live out a Christian worldview. But do we really know what our constitutional right to religious liberty is rooted in, and what protecting it for the long haul will require of us?

  This tension was clear in the substance of a recent debate between fellow conservatives David French and Sohrab Ahmari. Both men are Christians but have markedly different views on how people of faith should counter pressures from the secular left to protect religious freedom and foster human flourishing.

Friday, November 1, 2019

After another death, will ICE finally atone for its actions?

  Roylan Hernandez-Diaz, an asylum-seeker from Cuba, was found dead in his cell on Oct. 16 at Richwood Correctional Center in Louisiana.

  He had been trapped in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody since May while his immigration case was pending.

  He is now the second person to die in ICE custody during the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. Last year, eight people died in ICE detention, including a man who hanged himself after being taken off suicide watch. Under President Trump’s watch, 24 people have died.