Saturday, February 29, 2020

What are viruses anyway, and why do they make us so sick? 5 questions answered

  Editor’s Note: You may sometimes have felt like you “have come down with a virus,” meaning that you became sick from being exposed to something that could have been a virus. In fact, you have a virus – actually, many – all the time. Some viruses cause the common cold, and some are crucial to human survival. New viruses can also emerge, and they typically create illness in humans when they have very recently jumped from another species to humans. As world health leaders try to determine how to respond to the new coronavirus, virus expert Marilyn J. Roossinck answers a few questions.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1707 - They said it could not be done, but we continue to do it

  They said it could not be done, but we did it. It was 1964, and the Civil Rights Act had just been enacted by Congress and signed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders were thankful, but they were still pressing for legislation to ensure voting rights for Black people. Voting was the last legal right being clearly denied to Black people in the United States of America. The highest political officials and others said that no such legislation could possibly pass Congress on the heels of the most comprehensive civil rights legislation ever. They said it could not be done, but we did it.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Is hiring more black officers the key to reducing police violence?

  High-profile cases of officer brutality against black citizens in recent years have caused Americans to question the racial makeup of their police departments.

  Many advocates believe that diversifying these forces will help reduce police violence against people of color.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Primaries next week

  Folks, our primaries are next week! On the Democratic side, the presidential preference primary will be the big show and will be interesting to watch. On the right, the Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate seat will be the marquee event.

  In addition to the Senate race, we have two open Republican Congressional seats in the First and Second Districts. We also have some important statewide Supreme Court and Appellate Court races on the ballot.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1706 - They said it could not be done, but we did it

  They said it could not be done, but we did it. The United States of America is the only country in the world where laws were enacted to prohibit certain people from learning to read and write. Black people are the only people in the world who were prohibited from learning to read and write. Black people learned in spite of the legal prohibitions and other obstacles. They said it could not be done, but we did it.

Monday, February 24, 2020

The war in Iraq has cost the US nearly $2 trillion

  Editor’s note: The Costs of Wars project was started in 2011 to assess the long-term consequences of the post-9/11 wars. Project co-director Neta C. Crawford, professor and chair of political science at Boston University, explains the major implications of the Iraq War for the federal budget.

  Even if the U.S. administration decided to leave — or was evicted from — Iraq immediately, the bill of war to the U.S. to date would be an estimated US$1,922 billion in current dollars.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Joe Cain returned Mardi Gras to Mobile

  Though Mardi Gras had been celebrated for nearly a century and a half in both New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama, as with many things, the Civil War had nearly ended this celebration permanently. Though no one ever gets to know what might have been, one thing is certain, Mardi Gras was no longer being celebrated once the long and gruesome war had come to end.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Trump’s politicization of the justice system

  Since the vast majority of Republican senators failed in their constitutional duty to be a check on serious government corruption, President Donald Trump has repeatedly exhibited his willingness to abuse the power of his office. But involving himself in the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recommended sentencing of Roger Stone, a convicted federal criminal—and Trump’s close political ally—was perhaps the most flagrant display of how little respect Trump’s administration has for American democracy.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Well, impeachment didn’t work – how else can Congress keep President Trump in check?

  Donald Trump’s removal of impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the White House and intervention in his friend Roger Stone’s sentencing have prompted concern that the president’s acquittal in his recent impeachment trial may embolden him to further expand executive power while avoiding accountability.

  But the conclusion of the trial in the Senate should by no means end congressional oversight of the executive branch.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1705 - They said it could not be done, but we did it!

  They said it could not be done, but she did it. She was female. She was Black. She was Southern. She was poor. People said she could not be a mathematician. Being a physicist was so beyond the possibility that they did not bother to say she could not be one. But she overcame all odds not only to be a mathematician and physicist but to be great. She became Black History. They said it could not be done, but we did it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Open seat for the 2nd Congressional District will be decided in March

  Over the course of history, the Second Congressional District has been referred to and considered a Montgomery congressional district because the Capital City has comprised the bulk of the population. In recent years, a good many Montgomerians have migrated to the suburban counties of Autauga and Elmore. Therefore, the district has been refigured to reflect this trend. Today there are more Republican votes cast in this congressional district in these two counties than from Montgomery.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hate exercise? Small increases in physical activity can make a big difference

  A new year typically brings new resolutions. While making resolutions is easy, sticking with them is not. Exercise-related resolutions consistently make the top 10 list, but up to 80% of resolutions to be healthier, including promises to exercise more, are tossed aside by February.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Brain injuries from interventionism

  The number of U.S. soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries from the Iranian missile attack last month in Iraq has now risen to more than 100. The injuries demonstrate the sheer inanity of foreign interventionism.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Trump’s K-12 education budget: Cuts for public schools, billions for private school vouchers

  For the fourth consecutive year, the Trump administration and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have proposed substantial cuts to the U.S. Department of Education’s budget. If Congress enacts their proposed budget for the fiscal year 2021, it would reduce the department’s total funding by $5.6 billion—a cut of nearly 8 percent from last year’s funding level—while dedicating $5 billion in tax credits to the administration’s private school voucher scheme.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The history of ‘coming out,’ from secret gay code to popular political protest

  You probably know what it means to “come out” as gay. You may even have heard the expression used in relation to other kinds of identity such as being undocumented.

  But do you know where the term comes from? Or that its meaning has changed over time?

Friday, February 14, 2020

Drunk and bitter on Valentine's Day

  I'm not opposed to love. In fact, I love love, especially the sex part. It's not even that I hate Valentine's Day. But like every event in our society that contains even the slightest hint of sappy sentimentality, it has been done to death. (Can you say, "Titanic?")

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Trump’s newest budget would take food away from working families

  There are dozens of programs on the chopping block in the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal. Yet the administration’s most blatant attempt to gut the programs on which American families depend comes in the form of additional cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program. The proposed budget contains a devastating $182 billion cut to SNAP over the next decade, a reduction of approximately 28 percent compared with the baseline level estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Legislative priority will be resolving prison problems

  The 2020 Alabama Legislative Session, which began last week, will be the second session of Gov. Kay Ivey’s administration. For the second straight year, she and the legislature will be facing a major obstacle.

  The prison problem is the paramount issue for the year. The state must address and resolve this dilemma, or the federal authorities will take over our prisons.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

This is how ancient Rome’s republic died – a classicist sees troubling parallels at Trump’s impeachment trial

  The U.S. Senate has made its judgment in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, acquitting the president. Fifty-two of 53 senators in the Republican majority voted to acquit the president on the abuse of power charge, and all 53 Republican senators voted to acquit on the obstruction of Congress charge.

  All 47 Democratic senators voted to convict the president on both charges. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah was the only Republican voting to convict for abuse of power.

  The Republican senators’ speedy exoneration of Trump marks perhaps the most dramatic step in their capitulation to the president over the past three years.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Ignoring the Constitution

  Constitutional violations have become so commonplace in American life that when they occur, the reaction among many Americans is ho-hum.

  There are two classic examples of this phenomenon: the declaration of war requirement and gold and silver as legal tender.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Civility in politics is harder than you think

  When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up the text of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech in full public view, her supporters saw defiance of both his policies and his earlier refusal to shake her hand. But her political opponents cried foul, calling it “unbecoming” and “nasty.” This is yet another example of why U.S. citizens of all political stripes agree that politics has become unacceptably uncivil.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1704 - They said it could not be done, but we did it

  It was March 19, 1966. I and others huddled around the television screen. We were anxious. We were excited. We were scared. We were proud. The moment meant so much to us. The moment was pregnant with the overriding issue of race. They said it couldn’t be done, but we did it.

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Trump administration has made the United States less ready for infectious disease outbreaks like coronavirus

  As coronavirus continues to spread, the Trump administration has declared a public health emergency and imposed quarantines and travel restrictions. However, over the past three years, the administration has weakened the offices in charge of preparing for and preventing this kind of outbreak.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Universal coverage, single-payer, ‘Medicare for All’: What does it all mean for you?

  Collectively, health care is our biggest industry. And, health care has long been one of the most politically contested issues. Partisan wrangling over health reform has perhaps been the most acrimonious issue in Americans politics, exemplified by the failed Clinton health reform efforts in the 1990s and the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

  Most Americans are befuddled by it, and the political debate surrounding it only makes it more confusing.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Legislative session begins this week

  The 2020 Alabama Legislative Session begins this week. It will be an interesting three and a half months. There is a myriad of important issues that legislators have to address this year, as always. However, standing in the way of substantive state issues each year is the necessity to address local bills.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Mardi Gras season has arrived in the River Region

  In my youth, which was mostly expended on mindless shenanigans, I often complained about a lack of adventure, activities, and varieties of trouble to get into in the Montgomery area. 

  As I've grown older, though not in a comparable way in terms of maturity, I've come to realize that the River Region not only has a wealth of leisure activities and adventures to offer, especially in light of Montgomery's extraordinary growth downtown, but many such activities come at an affordable price, sometimes even free. Enter Mardi Gras.

Monday, February 3, 2020

What everyone should know about Reconstruction 150 years after the 15th Amendment’s ratification

  I’ll never forget a student’s response when I asked during a middle school social studies class what they knew about black history: “Martin Luther King freed the slaves.”

  Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929, more than six decades after the time of enslavement. To me, this comment underscored how closely Americans associate black history with slavery.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Must the president be a moral leader?

  The best presidents – including figures such as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington – are celebrated not only as good leaders, but as good men. They embody not simply political skill, but personal virtue.

  Why, though, should anyone expect a president to demonstrate that sort of virtue? If someone is good at the difficult job of political leadership, must they demonstrate exceptional moral character as well?

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Archaeological discoveries are happening faster than ever before, helping refine the human story

  In 1924, a 3-year-old child’s skull found in South Africa forever changed how people think about human origins.

  The Taung Child, our first encounter with an ancient group of proto-humans or hominins called australopithecines, was a turning point in the study of human evolution. This discovery shifted the focus of human origins research from Europe and Asia into Africa, setting the stage for the last century of research on the continent and into its “Cradles of Humankind.”