Monday, November 30, 2020

FBI reports an increase in hate crimes in 2019: Hate-based murders more than doubled

  Continuing a trend in the Trump era, reported hate crimes across America rose by 3% in 2019 – to 7,314, the highest number recorded since 2008, according to the FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics report, released November 16.

  The report, which includes both violent attacks and nonviolent hate crimes such as vandalism, documented 51 hate crime murders. That was the most recorded since the FBI began collecting this data in 1991 and more than double the 24 recorded last year – previously the highest documented figure.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Four myths about the public option

  The idea of a public option for health insurance has become increasingly politicized. Insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, and powerful hospital systems—all groups that profit from the status quo—are attempting to stir up fears about a plan that would actually help American families. In reality, a public option would lower costs, save American families money, and allow private insurance plans to continue to compete. The public option also remains a popular path for reform with growing support: A recent survey shows that 2 in 3 voters support a public option. In this column, the Center for American Progress sets the record straight on what a public option would do and discusses four common misconceptions about the plan.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Hoarding, stockpiling, panic buying: What’s normal behavior in an abnormal time?

  Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorders have emerged or worsened for many during the pandemic. This is no surprise to clinicians and scientists, who have been increasing worldwide access to mental health information and resources.

  But what effect has the pandemic had on another common but often misunderstood problem – hoarding? The issue first received attention when people piled up paper towels, toilet tissue, and hand sanitizer in their shopping carts at the start of the pandemic, leading some people to wonder whether they or a loved one were showing signs of hoarding disorder.

Friday, November 27, 2020

What to do with those Thanksgiving leftovers? Look to the French

  It’s the day after Thanksgiving, the tryptophan has worn off, and there are towers of Tupperware filled with turkey, stuffing, and potatoes in your fridge.

  If you rely on your microwave, you might simply resign yourself to eating the same meal, over and over again, until the leftovers run out.

  But you don’t have to get stuck in a cycle of nuke and repeat. This Thanksgiving, take inspiration from the French, who saw leftovers as an outlet for creativity.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Are you as grateful as you deserve to be?

  As a physician, I have helped to care for many patients and families whose lives have been turned upside down by serious illnesses and injuries. In the throes of such catastrophes, it can be difficult to find cause for anything but lament. Yet Thanksgiving presents us with an opportunity to develop one of the healthiest, most life-affirming, and convivial of all habits – that of counting and rejoicing in our blessings.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

How advertising shaped Thanksgiving as we know it

  I have always been intrigued by Thanksgiving – the traditions, the meal, the idea of a holiday that is simply about being thankful.

  For my family, Thanksgiving is all about the food. Some foods, like turkey and mashed potatoes, may be familiar. But there are a few twists. Since I grew up in the Caribbean, I’m allowed a Caribbean dish or two. The reliability of the menu – with a little flexibility sprinkled in – seems to unite us as a family while acknowledging our different cultural backgrounds.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Why we have globalization to thank for Thanksgiving

  As Americans sit down to their Thanksgiving Day feasts, some may recall the story of the “Pilgrim Fathers” who founded one of the first English settlements in North America in 1620 at what is today the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

  The history we know is one of English settlers seeking religious freedom in a New World but instead finding “a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men.”

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The complicated legacy of the Pilgrims is finally coming to light 400 years after they landed in Plymouth

  The 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ voyage to Plymouth will be celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic with a “remembrance ceremony” with state and local officials and a museum exhibit in Plymouth, England. IBM has even outfitted a replica of the Mayflower with an AI navigating system that will allow the ship to trace the course of the original journey without any humans on board.

  Yet as a scholar of early 17th-century New England, I’ve always been puzzled by the glory heaped on the Pilgrims and their settlement in Plymouth.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Why the Pilgrims were actually able to survive

  Sometime in the autumn of 1621, a group of English Pilgrims who had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and created a colony called New Plymouth celebrated their first harvest.

  They hosted a group of about 90 Wampanoags, their Algonquian-speaking neighbors. Together, migrants and Natives feasted for three days on corn, venison, and fowl.

  In their bountiful yield, the Pilgrims likely saw a divine hand at work.

Friday, November 20, 2020

‘A New Dawn’: How four young Black activists powered a movement to remove Confederate emblem from Mississippi flag

  On the day of the demonstration, Jarrius Adams stood in front of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion in Jackson, where the state flag bearing an image of the “rebel flag” of the Confederacy flew to his left. Scores of people lined the street, eager to hear Adams speak as they marched elbow to elbow in solidarity for Black lives. Drones circled overhead, and supporters held signs, one reading “Racism is a Virus.” The demonstration would be called one of the largest in Mississippi’s history. Its success would bring historic change that had long eluded civil rights activists.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

On environmental protection, Biden’s election will mean a 180-degree turn from Trump policies

  The Trump administration has waged what I and many other legal experts view as an all-out assault on the nation’s environmental laws for the past four years. Decisions at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, and other agencies have weakened the guardrails that protect our nation’s air, water, and public lands and have sided with industry rather than advocating for public health and the environment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Once a symbol of desegregation, Ruby Bridges’ school now reflects another battle engulfing public education

  On Nov. 14, 1960, after a long summer and autumn of volleys between the Louisiana Legislature and the federal courts, Ruby Bridges, a 6-year-old Black girl, was allowed to enroll in an all-white school. Accompanied by federal marshals, Bridges entered William Frantz Public School – a small neighborhood school in New Orleans’ Upper Ninth Ward.

  If that building’s walls could talk, they certainly would tell the well-known story of its desegregation. But those same walls could tell another story, too. That story is about continued racism as well as efforts to dismantle and privatize public education in America over the past six decades.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Matrix is already here: Social media promised to connect us, but left us isolated, scared and tribal

  About a year ago, I began to follow my interest in health and fitness on Instagram. Soon I began to see more and more fitness-related accounts, groups, posts, and ads. I kept clicking and following, and eventually, my Instagram became all about fit people, fitness and motivational material, and advertisements. Does this sound familiar?

  While the algorithms and my brain kept me scrolling on the endless feeds, I was reminded of what digital marketers like to say: “Money is in the list.” That is, the more customized your group, people, and page follows, the less time and money is needed to sell you related ideas. Instead, brand ambassadors will do the work, spreading products, ideas, and ideologies with passion and free of charge.

Monday, November 16, 2020

60 years after JFK, Biden as second Catholic president offers a refresh in church’s political role

  Running to become the first Catholic president of the United States in 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy told an audience of wary Protestant ministers that “if the time should come … when my office would require me to violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office.”

  Sixty years later, Joe Biden has become the second Roman Catholic to win the White House, and some prominent Catholics and bishops now appear to believe that the only way a Catholic should hold office is if putting conscience before what the law says about culture war issues like abortion. Five decades of abortion politics have taken a toll.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Jim Martin, father of the modern Republican Party in Alabama

  Three years ago, Jim Martin passed away in Gadsden at 99 years old. His beloved wife of 60 years, Pat, was by his side. He was a true Christian gentleman. Martin was one of the fathers of the modern Republican Party in the south.

  In 1962, John Kennedy was president. Camelot was in full bloom. The Congress was controlled by Democrats only because the south was solidly Democratic. The southern bloc of senators and congressmen were all Democrats. Because of their enormous seniority, they controlled both houses of Congress. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

How to host a safe holiday meal during coronavirus – an epidemiologist explains her personal plans

  Like many people in this unusual year, I am adjusting my family’s holiday plans so that we can all be safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

  I am an epidemiologist and mother of four with a large extended family. Given the serious nationwide resurgence of COVID-19 infections, gatherings of family and friends over the upcoming holidays have the potential to amplify the spread of the virus. Several recent studies have further confirmed that indoor socializing at home carries a significantly higher risk of viral transmission than outdoor activities. Health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have warned that much of the transmission this fall is happening across all age groups at small indoor gatherings.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Why Republicans and others concerned about the economy have reason to celebrate Biden in the White House

  On day one, a newly inaugurated President Joe Biden will have to address a devastated economy – much like he and former President Barack Obama did a decade ago.

  What can the country expect?

  Forecasting how the economy will perform under a new president is generally a fool’s errand. How much or how little credit the person in the White House deserves for the health of the economy is a matter of debate, and no economist can confidently predict how the president’s policies will play out – if they even go into effect – or what challenges might emerge.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Conservatives backed the ideas behind Obamacare, so how did they come to hate it?

  The Affordable Care Act is back before the U.S. Supreme Court in the latest of dozens of attacks against the law by conservatives fighting what they now perceive to be a government takeover of health care.

  Yet, in an odd twist of history, it was Newt Gingrich, one of the most conservative speakers of the House, who laid out the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act as early as 1993. In an interview on “Meet the Press,” Gingrich argued for individuals’ being “required to have health insurance” as a matter of social responsibility.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

What is moral injury in veterans?

  On Nov. 11 each year, Americans honor military veterans who have transitioned to civilian status from active duty.

  The cultural transition back to civilian life goes smoothly for some, but for others, it is a challenging and sometimes lengthy process. Those who have deployed overseas or spent a substantial amount of time in the military may even deal with “reverse culture shock” – that is, upon return, their home culture can feel distant and disorienting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

7 tips for staying safe as COVID-19 cases rise and colder weather heightens the risk

  As temperatures fall, people are spending more time indoors. That heightens the risk of the coronavirus spreading, but there are some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and everyone around you.

  It’s easy to get tired of wearing masks and practicing social distancing. There has even been some talk from the White House about herd immunity – the idea that if enough people get infected, the virus won’t be able to spread.

  But the U.S. isn’t anywhere close to herd immunity for SARS-CoV-2, estimated to be reached when about 60% to 70% of the population has been infected – likely more than 200 million people. Without a vaccine, hospitals would be overwhelmed by the illnesses and hundreds of thousands more people would die. We also don’t know how long immunity lasts.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Studies link COVID-19 deaths to air pollution, raising questions about EPA’s ‘acceptable risk’

  The pandemic is putting America’s air pollution standards to the test as the COVID-19 death toll rises.

  The U.S. government sets limits on hazardous air pollutants to try to protect public health, but it can be difficult to determine where to draw the line for what is considered “acceptable risk.” Power plants, factories, and other pollution sources release hundreds of million pounds of hazardous pollutants into the air every year.

  As the coronavirus spreads, the pattern of deaths suggests there are serious weaknesses in the current public safeguards.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Poor U.S. pandemic response will reverberate in health care politics for years, health scholars warn

  Much has been written about the U.S. coronavirus response. Media accounts frequently turn to experts for their insights – commonly, epidemiologists or physicians. Countless surveys have also queried Americans and individuals from around the world about how the pandemic has affected them and their attitudes and opinions.

  Yet little is known about the views of a group of people particularly well qualified to render judgment on the U.S.‘s response and offer policy solutions: academic health policy and politics researchers. These researchers, like the two of us, come from a diverse set of disciplines, including public health and public policy. Their research focuses on the intricate linkages between politics, the U.S. health system, and health policy. They are trained to combine applied and academic knowledge, take broader views, and be fluent across multiple disciplines.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

On screen and on stage, disability continues to be depicted in outdated, cliched ways

  The #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements have forced Hollywood and other artists and filmmakers to rethink their subject matter and casting practices. However, despite an increased sensitivity to gender and race representation in popular culture, disabled Americans are still awaiting their national (and international) movement.

  “Disability drag” – casting able-bodied actors in the roles of characters with disabilities – has been hard to dislodge from its Oscar-worthy appeal. Since 1947, out of 59 nominations for disabled characters, 27 won an Academy Award – about a 50% win rate.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Why gender reveals have spiraled out of control

  Over Labor Day weekend, two expectant parents didn’t get the viral hit they had hoped for.

  During a gender reveal party in Southern California, a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” was supposed to simply reveal a color – pink for a girl, blue for a boy – before a crowd of onlookers.

  Instead, it sparked a wildfire that has scorched more than 10,000 acres of land.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Arctic hasn’t been this warm for 3 million years – and that foreshadows big changes for the rest of the planet

  Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year, it measures just 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers) – the second-lowest value in the 42 years since satellites began taking measurements. The ice today covers only 50% of the area it covered 40 years ago in late summer.

  As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has shown, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher than at any time in human history. The last time that atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached today’s level – about 412 parts per million – was 3 million years ago, during the Pliocene Epoch.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Feeling disoriented by the election, pandemic and everything else? It’s called ‘zozobra,’ and Mexican philosophers have some advice

  Ever had the feeling that you can’t make sense of what’s happening? One moment everything seems normal, then suddenly the frame shifts to reveal a world on fire, struggling with the pandemic, recession, climate change, and political upheaval.

  That’s “zozobra,” the peculiar form of anxiety that comes from being unable to settle into a single point of view, leaving you with questions like: Is it a lovely autumn day, or an alarming moment of converging historical catastrophes?

  It is a condition that many Americans may be experiencing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Americans aren’t worried about white nationalism in the military – because they don’t know it’s there

  White nationalist groups, who make up some of the most serious terror threats in the country, find new members and support in the U.S. military. These groups believe that white people are under attack in America.

  In their effort to create an all-white country where nonwhites do not have civil rights protections, these groups often instigate violent confrontations that target racial and religious minorities. Since 2018, white supremacists have conducted more lethal attacks in the United States than any other domestic extremist movement.

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Trump administration treats seniors as expendable

  Amid a pandemic in which seniors have been disproportionately infected and killed, the Trump administration and its allies continue to fail at protecting seniors’ health care access. By downplaying the COVID-19 pandemic and failing to act, and discounting the impact of the coronavirus on seniors with preexisting conditions, the Trump administration and its allies are letting down older adults and those who love them. Meanwhile, the administration continues to push for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would cause seniors’ out-of-pocket premiums and prescription drug costs to soar, and to punt on prescription drug pricing reform. In the middle of a historic health crisis, the Trump administration has left seniors behind.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Refugees don’t undermine the US economy – they energize it

  The Trump administration announced in September plans to cut the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States to the lowest level in 40 years. This year’s cap of 18,000 admissions is well below the average annual limit of about 95,000 refugees in the years before the Trump administration.

  This drastic cut typifies the Trump administration’s overall anti-immigration stance, reflected in a series of executive orders aimed at reducing undocumented and legal migration channels in the past four years.