Monday, May 31, 2021

1 in 4 unvaccinated people may not comply with CDC guidelines to wear masks indoors, survey suggests

  The revised guidelines on when and when not to wear masks came as a surprise to many Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced May 13, 2021 that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely enter many indoor settings, such as grocery stores and restaurants, without wearing a mask.

  The CDC’s updated guidelines also ask that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people continue to wear a mask – even in establishments like bars and restaurants, where doing so may no longer be required.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Suit seeks to limit anti-Muslim speech on Facebook but roots of Islamophobia run far deeper

  A civil rights group is suing Facebook and its top executives in federal court over the company’s failure to crack down on hate speech against Muslims.

  Muslim Advocates, a Washington, D.C.-based organization focused on discrimination against American Muslims, alleges in the suit that Facebook has violated a series of local and federal consumer protection laws. The suit points out that the company itself, in a July 2020 internal audit, found that “Facebook has created an atmosphere where ‘Muslims feel under siege’” on the platform.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Why is paper money constitutional?

  The official money of the United States today is paper currency. But that’s clearly not what the U.S. Constitution says. It says that gold and silver coins shall be the nation’s currency. 

  How is that possible? I thought the Constitution was supposed to be the highest law of the land. I also thought that it was the responsibility of the U.S. Supreme Court to enforce the Constitution. Why then are Americans living under a paper-money monetary system rather than the system stipulated in the Constitution?

Friday, May 28, 2021

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Status of 2022 U.S. Senate race

  When Sen. Richard Shelby announced he would not run for reelection to a sixth six-year term in 2022, speculation immediately began as to who would run for our iconic senior senator’s seat. Numerous names were floated as to who might line up for the coveted seat. It is expected to be a fairly large field.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The typical child care worker in the US earns less than $12 an hour

  The American Families Plan, announced by President Joe Biden in April 2021, aims to make child care more affordable for parents. Importantly, it also seeks to ensure caregivers are paid a living wage – enough to meet basic needs given the local cost of living. If passed, all workers in child care and pre-K programs that receive federal subsidies would earn at least US$15 per hour. Preschool teachers and child care workers with similar qualifications as kindergarten teachers would be paid in line with what kindergarten teachers earn.

  Currently, child care workers who care for infants and toddlers tend to earn much less than those who care for older children.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Employees are feeling burned over broken work-from-home promises and corporate culture ‘BS’ as employers try to bring them back to the office

  As vaccinations and relaxed health guidelines make returning to the office a reality for more companies, there seems to be a disconnect between managers and their workers over remote work.

  A good example of this is a recent op-ed written by the CEO of a Washington, D.C., magazine that suggested workers could lose benefits like health care if they insist on continuing to work remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes. The staff reacted by refusing to publish for a day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Domestic violence isn’t about just physical violence – and state laws are beginning to recognize that

  Three or more U.S. women are murdered every day by their current or former intimate partner.

  That may in part be due to a failure of state laws to capture the full range of behavior that constitutes domestic abuse. The law continues to treat intimate partner violence like a bar fight – considering only what happened in a given incident and not all the prior abuse history, such as intimidation and entrapment.

  Research shows, however, that domestic abuse is not about arguments, short tempers, and violent tendencies. It’s about domination and control.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Striking a balance between fairness in competition and the rights of transgender athletes

  In a majority of U.S. states, bills aiming to restrict who can compete in women’s sports at public institutions have either been signed into law or are working their way through state legislatures.

  Caught up in this political point-scoring are real people – both trans athletes who want to participate in competitive sports and those competing against them.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Ban paternalistic government

  What is it about paternalists that prevent them from minding their own business? They are obsessed with minding everyone else’s business and, even worse, using the power of government to force people to live their lives the way paternalists want them to live them.

  Look at the war on drugs. For our entire lives, paternalists have used the force of government, at both the federal and state level, to punish people for putting substances into their mouths that haven’t been approved by our federal and state masters. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Should my child get the COVID-19 vaccine? 7 questions answered by a pediatric infectious disease expert

  The Food and Drug Administration expanded emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents 12 to 15 years of age on May 10, 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed with recommendations endorsing use in this age group after their advisory group meeting on May 12. The American Academy of Pediatrics also supports this decision.

  Dr. Debbie-Ann Shirley is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia specializing in pediatric infectious diseases. Here she addresses some of the concerns parents may have about their teen or preteen getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Here’s how much your personal information is worth to cybercriminals – and what they do with it

  Data breaches have become common and billions of records are stolen worldwide every year. Most of the media coverage of data breaches tends to focus on how the breach happened, how many records were stolen. and the financial and legal impact of the incident for organizations and individuals affected by the breach. But what happens to the data that is stolen during these incidents?

  As a cybersecurity researcher, I track data breaches and the black market in stolen data. The destination of stolen data depends on who is behind a data breach and why they’ve stolen a certain type of data. For example, when data thieves are motivated to embarrass a person or organization, expose perceived wrongdoing, or improve cybersecurity, they tend to release relevant data into the public domain.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - How will Alabama fare in Washington after Richard Shelby?

  Some of you have inquired how Alabama will fare in Washington after Senator Shelby retires at the end of 2022. The answer is that it will be nothing less than devastating for the Heart of Dixie. The amount of federal dollars that Senator Shelby has brought home is incalculable and irreplaceable. Alabama is going to be in the proverbial boat without a paddle in 20 short months. We will have negligible power in Washington, and for a state that depends on federal dollars, that is not going to be a good position to be in for Alabama.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Both Israel and Hamas are aiming to look strong instead of finding a way out of their endless war

  Israel and Hamas are locked in ever-escalating rounds of violence.

  This is not new. Every few years, large-scale violence erupts for a few days or weeks and ends with a temporary ceasefire that essentially returns the situation to the same depressing status quo: The Gaza Strip besieged and devastated and the adjacent Israeli population in constant fear of the next attack as well.

  Though this is far from a symmetric conflict – Israel has vastly more military resources than Hamas – it is traumatic on both sides.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

New US climate pledge: Cut emissions 50% this decade, but can Biden make it happen?

  President Joe Biden announced an ambitious new national climate target at the world leaders’ climate summit on April 22. He pledged to cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by the end of this decade – a drop of 50-52% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels – and aim for net zero emissions by 2050.

  The new goal is a big deal because it formally brings together the many different ideas on infrastructure, the budget, federal regulatory policy, and disparate actions in the states and industry for transforming the U.S. economy into a highly competitive, yet very green giant. It also signals to the rest of the world that “America is back” and prepared to work on climate change.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Police academies dedicate 3.21% of training hours to ethics and other public service topics – new research

  Police academies provide little training in the kinds of skills necessary to meet officers’ growing public service role, according to my research.

  Highly publicized cases of police violence – such as the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri – often raise questions about police training and whether officers are prepared to do the job that is expected of them.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

US prisons hold more than 550,000 people with intellectual disabilities – they face exploitation, harsh treatment

  Prison life in the U.S. is tough. But when you have an intellectual, developmental, or cognitive disability – as hundreds of thousands of Americans behind bars do – it can make you especially vulnerable.

  In March, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the federal agency tasked with gathering data on crime and the criminal justice system, published a report that found roughly two in five – 38% – of the 24,848 incarcerated people they surveyed across 364 prisons reported a disability of some sort. Across the entire incarcerated population, that translates to some 760,000 people with disabilities living behind bars.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Women-dominated child and home care work is critical infrastructure that has long been devalued

  A fiery debate has erupted over the definition of “infrastructure.”

  Does it mean roads, broadband, and other physical structures included in the traditional meaning of infrastructure? Or should it have a broader definition that includes other important parts of the economy, such as workers who care for children, older adults, and people with disabilities?

  President Joe Biden prefers the latter meaning and wants to use nearly one-fifth of the US$2.25 trillion of spending in his jobs and infrastructure plan to expand and strengthen child care and home-based long-term care.

Friday, May 14, 2021

States pick judges very differently from US Supreme Court appointments

  The future of the U.S. Supreme Court is politically fraught.

  The court’s partisan balance has long been a hot-button issue, and both Democrats and Republicans can correctly claim that the other party bears at least some blame for the politicization of the federal judiciary.

  In 2016, appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court became even more overtly political when conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died and the U.S. Senate’s Republican majority refused to let President Barack Obama fill the vacancy.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ban the FDA rather than menthol cigarettes

  While many states are finally re-legalizing marijuana, the Food and Drug Administration is planning to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes. The reason? Because cigarette smoking is harmful. It causes cancer. Thus, the nanny state deems it necessary to protect us from menthol cigarettes. 

  But wait a minute! If the concern is cigarette smoking and cancer, why ban only menthol cigarettes? Why not ban the sale of all cigarettes? 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Troubling trends in Russian nukes

  In the new great power competition, Russia is ready to rumble.

  Indeed, in recent years, Russia has unveiled the hypersonic vehicle-carrying Sarmat ICBM, the Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, the Tsirkon sea-launched hypersonic cruise missile, and the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic ballistic missile.

  It also has revealed the Burvestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile and the Poseidon nuclear-powered underwater drone—all posing new security challenges for the United States and its NATO allies.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Despite one good verdict in the murder of George Floyd, the Black community still ‘can’t breathe’ as police killings continue

  Nearly a week before the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd by placing a knee on his neck for over nine minutes, I, Tafeni, was conducting an interview in front of the Civil Rights Memorial Center and was asked what my expectations regarding the pending verdict would be.

  At the time, there was no verdict, and closing arguments were set to begin the following day. I paused. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it. But as I reflected on this moment, I realized my expectations weren’t high at all. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1769 - Memories are so powerful

  It was 74 years ago. I wish I had not done what I did. Every time I think about it, I squinch up inside. Even after so many years. Memories are so powerful.

  It was the first day of school. I was supposed to go into the primer classroom. My oldest brother, Sam Arthur Sanders, had been to primer and was now going on to the first grade. I did him very wrong. I know before I share this experience that most will not see the wrong. However, I remember the wrong I did and squinch up inside more than seven decades later. Memories are so powerful.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

The rise of female UFC fighters obscures profound exploitation, inequality

  The mixed martial arts pay-per-view event UFC 261 features two bouts that would have been unheard of just 10 years ago.

  Russian-born Valentina Shevchenko will fight Jessica Andrade, a Brazilian and an out lesbian, for the women’s flyweight title on April 24, 2021. That same night, Rose Namajunas, an American of Lithuanian descent, will square off against Zhang Weili, who has caused the popularity of the UFC to surge in her native China, for the women’s strawweight title.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Anti-transgender bills are latest version of conservatives’ longtime strategy to rally their base

  On April 6, 2021, despite Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto, Arkansas became the first state to prohibit physicians from providing gender-affirming medical care like hormone treatments designed to delay puberty in transgender youth. So-called “puberty blockers” are used to delay the physical changes associated with puberty and provide time for transgender young people to consider their options.

  Arkansas physicians now face criminal penalties if they prescribe puberty blockers or other forms of cross-gender health care to transgender youth. Twenty other states are considering similar bills. Some would classify puberty blockers and other gender-affirming medical treatments as child abuse or would revoke the medical licenses of physicians prescribing these therapies.

Friday, May 7, 2021

How Biden’s paid leave proposal would benefit workers, their families and their employers too

  The Biden administration is proposing a massive expansion of federal benefits through a 10-year US$1.8 trillion package that includes new spending on child care, the continuation of the expanded child tax credit, and more robust nutrition programs. Notably, it would introduce a new federal paid family leave benefit costing an estimated $225 billion over the next decade. If it is fully phased in as proposed, workers could get up to $4,000 a month for a total of 12 weeks in paid leave to care for a newborn, another loved one or themselves.

  The Conversation U.S. asked Joya Misra, a sociologist who studies how public policies influence inequality, four questions about paid leave in the U.S.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Clean slate is critical for a healthy democracy

  Widespread civic engagement is the bedrock of a healthy democracy. Yet Americans with criminal records face severe consequences that dramatically limit their ability to fully participate in their communities. These restrictions not only harm those with records but also weaken the strength of American democracy writ large, as critical perspectives are left out of community engagement and advocacy. To improve this state of affairs, the United States must embrace policies for those with past criminal records that encourage both a culture of rights restoration and participation. As a baseline, this effort must involve the widespread adoption of policies that ensure the automatic expungement of eligible criminal records.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The managed economy destroys the First Amendment

  The First Amendment guarantees people the right of free speech. It is a restriction on the power of the federal government to punish people for criticizing federal officials or for saying things that the government doesn’t like. 

  Why did our ancestors want the Constitution amended in that way? Because they were certain that the federal government would end up attracting people who would have the desire and the inclination to do bad things to people who criticized them or said things that public officials didn’t like. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Biden administration is fulfilling its conservation promises in the first 100 Days

  With the passage of a massive economic rescue bill, more than 200 million vaccines distributed, a historically diverse Cabinet in place, and a pledge to cut carbon emissions upward of 50 percent, it’s clear that the Biden administration has wasted no time during its first 100 days. As part of its effort to take a whole-of-government approach to solving the overlapping health, economic, racial justice, and climate crises, the administration has also been rapidly fulfilling its conservation commitments to the American public.

Monday, May 3, 2021

How exercise keeps your brain healthy and protects it against depression and anxiety

  As with many other physicians, recommending physical activity to patients was just a doctor chore for me – until a few years ago. That was because I myself was not very active. Over the years, as I picked up boxing and became more active, I got firsthand experience of positive impacts on my mind. I also started researching the effects of dance and movement therapies on trauma and anxiety in refugee children, and I learned a lot more about the neurobiology of exercise.

  I am a psychiatrist and neuroscientist researching the neurobiology of anxiety and how our interventions change the brain. I have begun to think of prescribing exercise as telling patients to take their “exercise pills.” Now knowing the importance of exercising, almost all my patients commit to some level of exercise, and I have seen how it benefits several areas of their life and livelihood.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

5 ways parents can help kids avoid gender stereotypes

  In the last century, significant progress has been made in advancing gender equity in the United States. Women gained the right to vote, fathers have become more involved parents, and more people and institutions recognize gender identities beyond the binary categories of male and female.

  However, persistent gaps remain. Women hold only a quarter of U.S. congressional seats, only a handful of states mandate paid paternity leave, and state legislatures are introducing bills that discriminate against transgender people.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

How I survived nine minutes of Dick Cheney

  Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the August 2002 edition of the Capital City Free Press.

Monday, July 22, 2002

3:07 pm

  I tried to get out of it. Given that my employer, The Montgomery Independent, had published a lengthy prelude to this event last week, I don't see why I am baking in the mid-summer Alabama heat waiting for the man they call Dick Cheney. I've been told this man runs the great nation we live in but still only gets second billing for it. Poor guy.