Thursday, April 30, 2020

How to listen to your loved ones with empathy when you yourself are feeling the strain of social distancing

  COVID-19 has revealed a great many things about our world, including the vulnerabilities inherent in our economic, health care, and educational institutions. The pandemic and the resulting orders to shelter in place have also uncovered vulnerabilities in our relationships with others.

  Many of us are not just dealing with our own feelings of anxiety, anger, and sadness; we are dealing with the anxiety, anger, and sadness expressed by the people with whom we live and other loved ones with whom we’ve maintained virtual connections. How do we respond with empathy when we are feeling a host of emotions ourselves? Is it even possible?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Alabama leaders under 45 who affect the political arena

  Last week, I discussed Alabama’s outstanding leaders in the political arena. This week, allow me to share with you some of the state’s leaders under 45 who are shaping and molding our state from outside the actual pit of the political arena.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

‘Reopen’ protest movement created, boosted by fake grassroots tactics

  Many Americans have been under strict stay-at-home orders, or at least advisories, for more than a month. People are frustrated and depressed but have complied with what they’ve been asked to endure because they trust that state and local public health officials are telling the truth about the coronavirus pandemic.

  There have been passionate – and honest – arguments about how many people are likely to get sick and die under different circumstances and sets of official rules. It’s not clear how uncertain and evolving scientific findings should affect extraordinary government measures that restrict citizens’ basic freedoms.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Screens are keeping us connected now – but they’re still disruptive to in-person communication

  Digital technology has been a lifeline during the COVID-19 health crisis. Yet, its impact on human relationships remains complex. It allows for work and connection in many domains but does so in ways that are often intrusive, exhausting, and potentially corrosive to face-to-face relationships.

  The debate about technology’s effect on overall mental health rages on. Some researchers claim smartphones have destroyed a generation, while others argue screen time doesn’t predict mental health at all.

  After years of research on the topic, I have come to the conclusion that screen time can disrupt a fundamental aspect of our human experience – paying attention to one another’s eyes.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Advanced degrees bring higher starting salaries – but also higher debt

  People with a master’s degree or doctorate can bank on a much higher starting salary than those with the same major but only a bachelor’s degree. That’s according to a recent survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Friday, April 24, 2020

I asked people why they don’t vote, and this is what they told me

  At least 40% to 90% of American voters stay home during elections, evidence that low voter turnout for both national and local elections is a serious problem throughout the United States.

  With the 2020 presidential election approaching, directives for people to “get out and vote” will be firing up again.

  Some people might be indifferent or simply not care, but many who forgo voting have legitimate reasons.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Is workplace rudeness on the rise?

  You don’t have to look hard to see uncivil behavior these days, whether in political discourse, in college classrooms, or on airplanes. One study found that rudeness is even contagious like the common cold.

  The workplace, where my research is focused, is hardly immune from this so-called incivility epidemic. Past surveys suggest virtually all workers experience rude or uncivil behavior, while over half report being treated badly at least once a week. And some researchers have claimed it’s pervasive and getting worse.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Alabama has some outstanding political leaders under 45

  Many of you have lamented to me that it appears all or most of our state political leaders are older folks. At first glance, that appears to be true. But we do, however, have some extremely talented younger stars on the horizon. In fact, they are already in the ring and making a difference.

  There are a few personalities who are worth watching. Allow me to share with you a select group of Alabama’s under-45 outstanding leaders. There are two superstars already on the scene and leading the state: Alabama state Representative Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa, and Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Can the Constitution stop the government from lying to the public?

  When regular people lie, sometimes their lies are detected, sometimes they’re not. Legally speaking, sometimes they’re protected by the First Amendment – and sometimes not, like when they commit fraud or perjury.

  But what about when government officials lie?

Monday, April 20, 2020

Humans are hardwired to dismiss facts that don’t fit their worldview

  Something is rotten in the state of American political life. The U.S. (among other nations) is increasingly characterized by highly polarized, informationally insulated ideological communities occupying their own factual universes.

  Within the conservative political blogosphere, global warming is either a hoax or so uncertain as to be unworthy of response. Within other geographic or online communities, vaccines, fluoridated water, and genetically modified foods are known to be dangerous. Right-wing media outlets paint a detailed picture of how Donald Trump is the victim of a fabricated conspiracy.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

What happens when black Americans leave their segregated hometowns

  Where someone grows up is profoundly important for their life chances. It influences things like the schools they attend, the jobs, parks and community resources they have access to, and the peers they interact with.

  Because of this comprehensive influence, one might conclude that where you grow up affects your ability to move up the residential ladder and into a better neighborhood than the one you grew up in.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The right of trial by jury

  One of the best things that our American ancestors did was to include the right of trial by jury in the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment states in part: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Craig Ford: I encourage Governor Ivey to follow the doctor's orders, not Senator Marsh's

  When a doctor prescribes a prescription, they usually tell you to take the whole thing and not to stop just because the symptoms go away. The reason is that even though the symptoms may have gone away, the illness is not necessarily dead yet.

  The same holds true for this current pandemic. Right now we are under a stay-at-home order. That is the prescription our state's medical professionals have recommended. And that prescription has gotten results!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Steve Flowers - Inside the Statehouse: Observations

  Allow me to share some more observations from the year.

  One of my favorite individuals in the world and one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known is Alabama state Representative Steve Clouse of Ozark. My relationship with Clouse falls under the category of "Alabama is one big front porch".

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Emotional support animals can endanger the public and make life harder for people like me who rely on service dogs

  In 2017, Marlin Jackson boarded a cross-country flight. When he got to his row, another passenger was already in the middle seat with an emotional support dog in his lap.

  According to Mr. Jackson’s attorney, “The approximately 50-pound dog growled at Mr. Jackson soon after he took his seat…and continued as Mr. Jackson attempted to buckle his seatbelt. The growling increased and the dog lunged for Mr. Jackson’s face…who could not escape due to his position against the plane’s window.” Facial wounds requiring 28 stitches were the result.

Monday, April 13, 2020

10 ways to spot online misinformation

  Propagandists are already working to sow disinformation and social discord in the run-up to the November elections.

  Many of their efforts have focused on social media, where people’s limited attention spans push them to share items before even reading them – in part because people react emotionally, not logically, to information they come across. That’s especially true when the topic confirms what a person already believes.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Why Easter is called Easter, and other little-known facts about the holiday

  Today, Christians are celebrating Easter, the day on which the resurrection of Jesus is said to have taken place. The date of celebration changes from year to year.

  The reason for this variation is that Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. So, in 2020, Easter is celebrated on April 12, and on April 4 in 2021.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Structural changes are needed to address coronavirus

  Responding to and properly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic will require structural reforms that fix underlying problems in America’s economy and democracy. Structural reforms are necessary to protect public health, mitigate the risks of future outbreaks, and ensure that the eventual recovery benefits most Americans.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Express gratitude – not because you will benefit from it, but others might

  The world is currently in the midst of a pandemic where the most useful thing many of us can do is stay at home and keep away from others. Schools, restaurants, office buildings, and movie theaters are closed. Many people are feeling disoriented, disconnected, and scared.

  At this time of soaring infection rates, shortages of medical supplies, and economic downturns, there are also examples of people looking for ways to express their gratitude to those on the front lines of fighting the epidemic. In many European countries, for example, people are expressing gratitude for the work of the medical staff by clapping from their balconies. Recently, this same practice has migrated to New York City.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

SPLC report is a wake-up call for LGBTQ people

  In its most recent report on hate groups in the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented a spike in the number of groups targeting LGBTQ people and promoting dangerous lies and misinformation, particularly about transgender people. Shockingly, the number of those groups rose from 49 in 2018 to 70 last year.

  Across the country, LGBTQ advocates have become alarmed by the Trump administration’s increasingly aggressive attempts to enshrine their anti-LGBTQ bigotry in federal law. Even as our country and the world struggle in the face of an unprecedented pandemic, LGBTQ people in the U.S. must confront another brutal reality: Our own government is seeking to harm us.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Some observations

  Allow me to share some observations from the year thus far. First of all, I have never seen anything like the coronavirus shutdown of the country. Hopefully, it is a once in a lifetime disaster. 

  Gov. Kay Ivey remains popular. Even though some people consider the defeat of Amendment One a personal rejection, it was not. Alabamians just like to vote to elect their political, and in this case, education leaders.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

'Be nice' is not needed during crisis — but a free press is

  “Be nice” — two words not found anywhere among the 45 words of the First Amendment.

  Also not found: “positive,” or “get ya” or “trust.”

  All of those words are out of place in a brief statement leading off the Bill of Rights at the start of our Constitution, the document that empowers all of us to express ourselves as we wish, regardless of whether others agree with or like what we have to say or write.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Four ways companies can support their workers during the coronavirus crisis

  The coronavirus pandemic has forced tens of millions of employees across the U.S. to work from home. While this will save lives by limiting the transmission of COVID-19, it also poses significant challenges for employees’ well-being.

  How can companies support the health of their employees – many of whom have never before worked from home for a significant amount of time?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Craig Ford: Slush fund for congressmen included in coronavirus relief bill

  Having served in the Alabama House of Representatives as opposed to the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., I usually limit my editorials to state politics rather than national politics. But I can't stay silent about the most recent piece of legislation to come out of the Congress.

  Most of what’s in that bill is good. There’s a lot of help for families that are struggling to get by during these difficult times; help that is essential for those who get paid by the hour.

  But hidden within that $2 trillion bill is a $25 million line item for Congress. No, it’s not a pay raise for congressman. But it’s almost just as bad.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Feeling overwhelmed? Approach coronavirus as a challenge to be met, not a threat to be feared

  You have a choice to make when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

  Do you treat this time as an insurmountable threat that pits you against everyone else? This option entails making decisions based solely on protecting yourself and your loved ones: stockpiling supplies regardless of what that leaves for others; continuing to host small gatherings because you’re personally at lower risk; or taking no precautions because the effort seems futile.

Friday, April 3, 2020

How the Trump administration’s deregulation agenda has worsened the coronavirus pandemic

  In 2015, Donald Trump promised: “Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” Yet, long before news of the COVID-19 outbreak reached the United States, the Trump administration had been dismantling policies and proposing new ones that have vastly exacerbated the coronavirus pandemic.

  As the United States braces to combat a public health crisis and a severe economic downturn, it is important to note that the Trump administration’s policies have contributed to this crisis. Three years of deregulation under the Trump presidency and a botched response to the COVID-19 pandemic have in part spurred what may be one of the costliest public health crises in American history—both financially and in terms of human life. This column breaks down four of the Trump administration’s deregulatory actions that have worsened the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is fueling fear and hate across America

  Since the first report of COVID-19 on American soil, Asian Americans, especially Chinese Americans, have endured physical and economic abuse at the hands of their classmates, neighbors, and fellow citizens. Last month, in New York City, a woman was physically assaulted while walking to the subway. For weeks, hate groups and elected officials at the highest levels of government have used racist scapegoating language to stoke fear, bias, and blame. These actions have produced a rash of hate incidents and xenophobia targeting Asian Americans. If left unaddressed, hate, like any virus, will continue to spread. Lawmakers must act now to combat misinformation, mitigate hysteria, and protect vulnerable communities.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - The 1964 Goldwater landslide was the beginning of Republican dominance of the South

  Our primary runoffs have been postponed until July 14, 2020. It was a wise and prudent decision by Secretary of State John Merrill and Gov. Kay Ivey. Most voters are older, and the State of Alabama was asking them to come out and vote and at the same time stay home.

  The main event will be the GOP runoff for the U.S. Senate. The two combatants - Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville - will now square off in the middle of a hot Alabama summer. The winner will be heavily favored to go to Washington. We are a very reliably Republican state, especially in a presidential election year.