Sunday, May 31, 2020

Alabama law raised obstacles on his five-year journey to the ballot box but Richard Williams overcame them all

  Richard Williams had an epiphany on his birthday in February 2013.

  He was living in a house in Huntsville, Ala. with nearly a dozen men who, like him, were recovering from substance use disorder. “I turned 58. And it hit me like a ton of bricks: I am 58 years old, sleeping on a top bunk in a house with a bunch of men. Now, I thank God for that situation, because I was good,” Richard told the Southern Poverty Law Center. “But the reality is, man, I'm missing it. I'm not where I'm supposed to be. That sparked the fire into me.”

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Free trade raises standards of living

  I find it amazing that there are still people in life who favor trade restrictions and trade wars. If there is anything credible economists agree on, almost 145 years after the publication of Adam Smith’s treatise The Wealth of Nations, it is that free trade is a good thing.

Friday, May 29, 2020

A doctor shares seven steps he’ll review to decide when and where it’s safe to go out and about

  As we return to some degree of normalcy after weeks of social distancing, we all need a plan. As an immunologist, I’ve given this a lot of thought personally and professionally.

  When I venture out, I am first going to check the number of new COVID-19 infections in my community. In Virginia, for example, as of May 16, some health districts had 200 new daily cases and others fewer than 10. I am going to be less risk-averse when new cases fall to near zero.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Early Americans would have rejected the U.S. government

  Even though most Americans are obviously unhappy with the federal government, many of them don’t question the structure of the government itself. Their ire is directed toward officials, not the governmental structure that such officials manage. They are satisfied with how the federal government is structured and just want “better people” managing it.

  The irony is that if the type of federal governmental structure under which we live today had been proposed to the American people after the Constitutional Convention, there is no possibility that they would have approved it. They would have rejected the Constitution and, therefore, the federal government would never have come into existence.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Mike Hubbard conviction finally upheld

  Over the past four years during my travels and speaking events over the state, the most asked question posed to me has been, “Why in the world is Mike Hubbard not in jail?”

  It was four years ago in June 2016 that the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, Mike Hubbard, was convicted by a jury of his peers in Lee County of a dozen counts of violating the state's ethics Laws.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Skipping standardized tests in 2020 may offer a chance to find better alternatives

  The Education Department is letting states cancel standardized tests. The move is a practical one: School buildings across the nation are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic even though distance learning efforts are widespread.

  As a result, 2020 is the first year without federally mandated standardized testing in nearly two decades. Washington has required all states to use these tests to evaluate students, teachers, principals, schools, and entire school systems, first in accordance with accountability measures shaped by the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act and later under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act.

Monday, May 25, 2020

The forgotten history of Memorial Day

  In the years following the bitter Civil War, a former Union general took a holiday originated by former Confederates and helped spread it across the entire country.

  The holiday was Memorial Day, and today's commemoration marks the 152nd anniversary of its official nationwide observance. The annual commemoration was born in the former Confederate States in 1866 and adopted by the United States in 1868. It is a holiday in which the nation honors its military dead.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

States should embrace voting by mail and early voting to protect higher-risk populations from coronavirus

  The COVID-19 pandemic poses a substantial threat to U.S. elections, as described in previous reports by the Center for American Progress. Unless officials make significant changes to state election systems before November, Americans who vote or serve as election workers will be forced to put their lives at risk in order to participate in the democratic process. And it is not just voters or election personnel who have good cause for concern. Even those who cannot cast a ballot could become ill by coming into contact with a family member, caregiver, or neighbor who contracts the coronavirus through the voting process.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

As reopening begins in uncertain coronavirus times, you need emotional protective equipment, too

  As millions across the U.S. return to work – and maybe, a level of normalcy – the phrase, “We’re all in this together,” heard constantly in the media, turns out to be both true and untrue. Yes, the pandemic is a global experience. But it’s also very much an individual enterprise.

  Your race, age, socioeconomic status, where you live, and whether or not children are in the house all have a dramatic impact on how you’re responding to the pandemic. For many, aside from the isolation, life has changed little. But others have lost family, friends, a paycheck, or a business. For some of them, any sense of security has vanished.

Friday, May 22, 2020

The evil of drafting women (and men)

  In March, a federal agency named the Commission on Military, National, and Public Service issued an official report on whether America’s system of conscription should continue and, if so, whether women (along with men) should be subject to being drafted should circumstances warrant it.

  After months of study and deliberation, the commission answered yes to both questions.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Here’s how to stay safe while buying groceries amid the coronavirus pandemic

  Here’s how to stay safe while buying groceries amid the coronavirus pandemic

  Wear a mask, but skip the gloves. Don’t sanitize the apples. And if you are older than 65, it’s probably best to still order your groceries online.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Speaker Sam Rayburn and Congressman Bob Jones

  The legendary Speaker of the U.S. House, Sam Rayburn, coined a famous phrase he used often and imparted to young congressmen when they would arrive on Capitol Hill full of vim and vigor. He would sit down with them and invite them to have a bourbon and branch water with him. The old gentleman, who had spent nearly half a century in Congress, after hearing their ambitions of how they were going to change the world, would look them in the eye and say, “You know here in Congress, there are 435 prima donnas and they all can’t be lead horses.” Then the Speaker in his Texas drawl would say, “If you want to get along, you have to go along.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

I ate lobster on food stamps and it was delicious

  I was a food stamp kid for a few years in the early 1990s when my mom started college. I remember the first time we went to the H-E-B grocery store on the south side of San Antonio with our stamps. We always drove to a store in the next neighborhood over to shop. My mom had worked at the closest H-E-B when she was pregnant with me. People she went to high school with shopped there and so did her former in-laws. There was no way my mom was going to walk into that store with a wad of food stamps. We felt enough shame that we needed the help without adding in other people’s judgment.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Celebrating the Freedom Riders

  On May 4, 1961, seven Black and six white civil rights activists known as the Freedom Riders boarded a Greyhound bus in Washington, D.C. to travel through the Deep South to test the 1960 Supreme Court decision in Boynton v. Virginia – a ruling that found segregation of interstate transportation, including bus terminals, was unconstitutional.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Essential US workers often lack sick leave and health care – benefits taken for granted in most other countries

  The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the degree to which we depend on the work of others. This is particularly true of essential workers like truck drivers, grocery store employees, and hospital nurses who are ensuring the rest of us stay safe and are able to get the supplies, food, and health care we need.

  The pandemic has also drawn attention to the fact that these workers, like all Americans, do not receive many of the basic workplace benefits and protections – like paid sick leave and basic health care – that workers in almost every other developed country in the world receive as a matter of course.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Coronavirus, ‘Plandemic’ and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

  The conspiracy theory video “Plandemic” recently went viral. Despite being taken down by YouTube and Facebook, it continues to get uploaded and viewed millions of times. The video is an interview with conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits, a disgraced former virology researcher who believes the COVID-19 pandemic is based on vast deception, with the purpose of profiting from selling vaccinations.

  The video is rife with misinformation and conspiracy theories. Many high-quality fact-checks and debunkings have been published by reputable outlets such as Science, Politifact, and FactCheck.

Friday, May 15, 2020

A-lop-bam-boom: Little Richard’s saucy style underpins today’s hits

  Little Richard was washing dishes at a Greyhound bus station in Macon, Georgia when he wrote Tutti Frutti, Good Golly Miss Molly, and Long Tall Sally. The singer, who died May 9 at 87, sent the songs as demos to Specialty Records.

  Soon he was having lunch with talent scout Robert “Bumps” Blackwell at a New Orleans nightclub, leaping onto the piano and belting out:

Thursday, May 14, 2020

A majority of vaccine skeptics plan to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine, a study suggests, and that could be a big problem

  The availability of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will likely play a key role in determining when Americans can return to life as usual. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on April 30 announced that a vaccine could even be available by January 2021.

  Whether a vaccine can end this pandemic successfully, however, depends on more than its effectiveness at providing immunity against the virus or how quickly it can be produced in mass quantities. Americans also must choose to receive the vaccine.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - The 1965 Special Succession Session

  The Alabama Legislature meets in regular session every year for three-and-a-half months. However, an extraordinary special session can be called by the governor if he/she deems there is a dire emergency in the state government that needs addressing. This provision in the Alabama Constitution gives the governor an inherent advantage in a special session. The official proclamation calling for a special session allows the governor to set out matters for a specific purpose(s) when calling the session and requires the legislators to address those specific issues. You saw Gov. Kay Ivey use this procedure quite effectively last year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

We call workers ‘essential’ – but is that just referring to the work, not the people?

  By this point in the coronavirus pandemic, you’ve probably heard a lot about “essential workers.” They’re the people working in hospitals and grocery stores, on farms, and in meatpacking plants. They’re keeping public transit, shipping, and utilities running.

  But is “essential” describing the workers themselves? Or only the work they do?

Monday, May 11, 2020

Building automatic and long-term economic relief during the coronavirus crisis

  The economic fallout from the coronavirus response has happened quickly, but its effects will be long-lasting. As Congress reconvenes to debate the next round of funding priorities, it must employ strategies that work in tandem to get economic relief to the wide range of people who need it: the millions who have lost jobs, small businesses that have been shuttered, states and cities facing budget shortfalls, and communities that are facing disproportionate health burdens. These policy approaches should be designed to provide significant support right away; effectively address the public health crisis; mitigate the economic harm to people; and begin to build towards an eventual equitable recovery.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Psychology behind why your mom may be the mother of all heroes

  Each May, the United States celebrates Mother’s Day, and for good reason. According to surveys I’ve conducted, over 25% of Americans cite their mother as their number one hero. Fathers come in a distant second at 16%.

  Moms are indeed the mother of all heroes.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The killing of Ahmaud Arbery highlights the danger of jogging while black

  Unsteady cellphone footage follows a jogger – an apparently young, black man – as he approaches and attempts to run around a white pickup truck parked in the middle of a suburban road. Moments later he lies dead on the ground.

  The killing of Ahmaud Arbery took place on Feb. 23 after the 25-year-old was confronted by Gregory McMichael, a 64-year-old former police officer and investigator for the Brunswick, Georgia district attorney’s office, and his 34-year-old son, Travis. It took 10 weeks to gain widespread attention with the circulation of video footage on social media, prompting revulsion and calls for justice.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1717 - A stitch in time saves nine

  A stitch in time saves nine. This old folks' saying is personal to me. As a child, I was really rough on pants. I kept ripping them in the seams. Each time it was just a little rip at first, but it would keep getting bigger and bigger. My mother, who required us to sew our own seams, urged me to sew the rip as soon as it started. That way, she said, I would have to put in just a stitch or two. But if I waited, the rip would get bigger and bigger, requiring a whole lot more stitches. Sometimes I would not put in a stitch when the rip first started. I would just hope that the seam would not rip farther. It always got bigger and bigger. A stitch in time saves nine.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Five lessons from the coronavirus about inequality in America

  The coronavirus is a global threat, but the pandemic has an uneven impact across the United States. It exacerbates existing inequalities and creates new challenges.

  I think this crisis can teach several important lessons about inequality in America: how it hurts, who it hurts the most, why that’s the case, and what can be done about it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Budgets are priority for this legislative session

  The 2020 Alabama Legislative Session has resumed after a six-week hiatus due to the coronavirus shutdown of the state and the nation. The session must end by May 18. The only thing they will do is pass barebones budgets. 

  The most important - and actually the only constitutionally-mandated act that must be accomplished - is the passage of the state budgets. In our case, we have two state budgets. We have a general fund like 45 other states, and we have a second one, the Special Education Trust Fund budget. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Americans might love Cinco de Mayo, but few know what they’re celebrating

  Many Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but how many actually know the story of the holiday?

  Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo doesn’t mark Mexican Independence, which is celebrated on September 16. Instead, it’s meant to commemorate the Battle of Puebla, which was fought between the Mexican and French armies in 1862.

Monday, May 4, 2020

4 ways the Trump administration has made our air dirtier during the COVID-19 pandemic

  While the novel coronavirus has raged across the United States, infecting more than 1 million Americans, the Trump administration has failed catastrophically in its efforts to protect the public. One of these myriad failures has come in the form of continued rollbacks of critical protections for clean air across the country.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Infected with the coronavirus but not showing symptoms? A physician answers 5 questions about asymptomatic COVID-19

  Blood tests that check for exposure to the coronavirus are starting to come online, and preliminary findings suggest that many people have been infected without knowing it. Even people who do eventually experience the common symptoms of COVID-19 don’t start coughing and spiking fevers the moment they’re infected.

  William Petri is a professor of medicine and microbiology at the University of Virginia who specializes in infectious diseases. Here, he runs through what’s known and what isn’t about asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Why do people believe con artists?

  What is real can seem pretty arbitrary. It’s easy to be fooled by misinformation disguised as news and deepfake videos showing people doing things they never did or said. Inaccurate information – even deliberately wrong information – doesn’t just come from snake-oil salesmen, door-to-door hucksters, and TV shopping channels anymore.

  Even the president of the United States needs constant fact-checking. As of February, he had made an average of 15 false or misleading public claims every day of his presidency, according to a tally from the Washington Post.

Friday, May 1, 2020

As businesses reopen, a salon owner finds herself ‘on the front line’ of COVID-19

  With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, Lauren Reyes is more than a little apprehensive about reopening her hair salon, located in an Atlanta shopping mall. But she said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) April 20 decision to allow some nonessential businesses in the state to reopen leaves her no choice.

  “If we choose to stay closed for the sake of our health and our families’ health, we risk losing our clientele. If we reopen for our clients, we put ourselves at risk,” she said, explaining the dilemma she and other Georgia small-business owners face.