Sunday, June 4, 2023

The thinking error that makes people susceptible to climate change denial

  Cold spells often bring climate change deniers out in force on social media, with hashtags like #ClimateHoax and #ClimateScam. Former President Donald Trump often chimes in, repeatedly claiming that each cold snap disproves the existence of global warming.

  From a scientific standpoint, these claims of disproof are absurd. Fluctuations in the weather don’t refute clear long-term trends in the climate.

  Yet many people believe these claims, and the political result has been reduced willingness to take action to mitigate climate change.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

The unbearable allure of cringe

  Why can’t you stop watching TV shows, movies, or viral videos that make you cringe?

  Cringe is the feeling you get when your boss cracks a joke in a meeting and no one laughs. It’s when your kid shoots a soccer ball and it misses the net by … a lot. It’s when you watch Kendall Roy from “Succession” awkwardly rap on stage at a celebration honoring his dad’s 50 years at the helm of the family company.

Friday, June 2, 2023

More than two dozen cities and states are suing Big Oil over climate change – they just got a boost from the US Supreme Court

  Honolulu has lost more than 5 miles of its famous beaches to sea level rise and storm surges. Sunny-day flooding during high tides makes many city roads impassable, and water mains for the public drinking water system are corroding from saltwater because of sea level rise.

  The damage has left the city and county spending millions of dollars on repairs and infrastructure to try to adapt to the rising risks.

  Future costs will almost certainly be higher. More than US$19 billion in property value, at today’s dollars, is at risk by 2100 from projected sea level rise, driven by greenhouse gas emissions largely from the burning of fossil fuels. Elsewhere in Honolulu County, which covers all of Oahu, many coastal communities will be cut off or uninhabitable.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Trans joy and family bonds are big parts of the transgender experience lost in media coverage and anti-trans legislation

  Since the beginning of 2023, 49 U.S. state legislatures have introduced over 500 anti-trans bills. While mainstream media increasingly cover violence and legislative attacks against trans people, many scholars and activists worry that focusing just on violence and discrimination fails to capture the full experience of being trans.

  Drawing on the success of movements like the Black Joy Project, which uses art to promote Black healing and community-building, trans activists are challenging one-dimensional depictions of their community by highlighting the unique joys of being transgender.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Paid leave is an essential investment in retirement security

  Americans need paid leave throughout their working lives to ensure they can pay their bills when a serious health need strikes, a new child arrives, or military deployment looms. Recognizing this, states across the country are looking to start their own paid leave programs or build upon programs that already exist—even as work continues in the fight for paid leave at the federal level. Yet it is also important to recognize, particularly as some congressional Republicans such as the House Republican Study Committee discuss cuts to Medicare and Social Security, that paid leave’s positive effects on economic security go far beyond individuals’ immediate periods of need. Paid leave helps working families—and particularly women—stay on track for secure and prosperous retirements.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

One easy way to fight antibiotic resistance? Good hand hygiene

  Can washing your hands help stop the evolution of antibiotic resistance? Mathematically, it’s possible.

  Antibiotics save lives by killing bacteria that cause infections. But antibiotics don’t just kill infection-causing bacteria or stay in the area of the body where the infection is occurring. Instead, antibiotics spread across the body and inhibit or kill any sensitive bacteria they encounter.

Monday, May 29, 2023

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 155th 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.

  Gen. John A. Logan, who headed the largest Union veterans’ fraternity at that time, the Grand Army of the Republic, is usually credited as being the originator of the holiday.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Military drones are swarming the skies of Ukraine and other conflict hot spots – and anything goes when it comes to international law

  Loud explosions rock the evening sky. Streaks of light appear like comets. Missiles rain down. Below, people scramble for cover. The injured are taken on stretchers – the dead, buried.

  That is daily life in Ukraine, where pilotless vehicles known as drones litter the sky in an endless video gamelike – but actually very real – war with Russia.

  Both Russia and Ukraine are using drones in this war to remotely locate targets and drop bombs, among other purposes.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

ChatGPT-powered Wall Street: The benefits and perils of using artificial intelligence to trade stocks and other financial instruments

  Artificial Intelligence-powered tools, such as ChatGPT, have the potential to revolutionize the efficiency, effectiveness, and speed of the work humans do.

  And this is true in financial markets as much as in sectors like health care, manufacturing, and pretty much every other aspect of our lives.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Empowerment, individual strength and the many facets of love: why I fell for Tina Turner

  For singers – amateur and professional alike – the name Tina Turner evokes instant reverence: Turner is a singer’s singer and perhaps the performer’s performer.

  A highly successful songwriter, the consummate dancer and fittingly ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine, Turner was the ultimate entertainer.

  Upon hearing of her death, I was deeply saddened. I immediately recalled the intoxicating power and timbre of her voice, her mesmerizing energy, and her commanding performances.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Co-workers could bear costs of accommodating religious employees in the workplace if Supreme Court tosses out 46-year-old precedent

  The Supreme Court may soon transform the role of faith in the workplace, which could have the effect of elevating the rights of religious workers at the expense of co-workers.

  On April 18, 2023, the court heard oral arguments in Groff v. DeJoy, a case addressing an employer’s obligation to accommodate religious employees’ requests under federal law. The dispute involves a Christian postal worker who quit his job and sued the U.S. Postal Service after he was unable to find coverage for his Sunday shifts. Current law requires employers to make accommodations for workers’ religious requests only if doing so doesn’t impose more than a minimal cost on their business, known as the “de minimis” standard.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

U.S. has a long history of state lawmakers silencing elected Black officials and taking power from their constituents

  Mississippi legislators have enacted a law that would create a new judicial system covering the state’s capital city, Jackson, in place of the current county court system.

  Set to take effect July 1, 2023, the move by a Republican-dominated legislature has been criticized by opponents as creating a “separate and unequal” court system that is not answerable to the majority-Black community it would seek to govern.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

You shed DNA everywhere you go – trace samples in the water, sand and air are enough to identify who you are, raising ethical questions about privacy

  Human DNA can be sequenced from small amounts of water, sand, and air in the environment to potentially extract identifiable information like genetic lineage, gender, and health risks, according to our new research.

  Every cell of the body contains DNA. Because each person has a unique genetic code, DNA can be used to identify individual people. Typically, medical practitioners and researchers obtain human DNA through direct sampling, such as blood tests, swabs, or biopsies. However, all living things, including animals, plants, and microbes, constantly shed DNA. The water, soil, and even the air contain microscopic particles of biological material from living organisms.

Monday, May 22, 2023

The U.S. military’s recruiting crisis is a positive sign

  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal demonstrates what a huge disaster conservatives are for our nation and for the rights and liberties of the American people. The article is entitled “The Military Recruitment Crisis Is a Symptom of Cultural Rot.” Co-written by a conservative veteran named David McCormick, the article laments the fact that fewer Americans are signing up to join the military. McCormack views this as a sign of “cultural rot” in America, a rot that, he suggests, entails a reduction of patriotism and love of country.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Putin may not outrun the warrant for his arrest – history shows that several leaders on the run eventually face charges in court

  The Russian government, U.S. President Joe Biden, and mainstream Western media are among the observers who all responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s arrest warrant for war crimes with a shrug.

  In March 2023, the International Criminal Court announced the warrant for Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, because they allegedly directed the abduction of Ukrainian children. The court says that these charges amount to war crimes.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

An obscure 1800s law is shaping up to be the center of the next abortion battle – legal scholars explain what’s behind the Victorian-era statute

  Anti-abortion groups are looking for new ways to wage their battle against abortion rights, eyeing the potential implications of a 150-year-old law, the Comstock Act, that could effectively lead to a nationwide abortion ban.

  Congress passed the Comstock Act in 1873, making it a crime to mail or ship any “lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile article” and anything that “is advertised or described in a manner … for producing abortion.”

Friday, May 19, 2023

Generative AI is forcing people to rethink what it means to be authentic

  It turns out that pop stars Drake and The Weeknd didn’t suddenly drop a new track that went viral on TikTok and YouTube in April 2023. The photograph that won an international photography competition that same month wasn’t a real photograph. And the image of Pope Francis sporting a Balenciaga jacket that appeared in March 2023? That was also a fake.

  All were made with the help of generative AI, the new technology that can generate humanlike text, audio, and images on demand through programs such as ChatGPT, Midjourney, and Bard, among others.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Immigration policies don’t deter migrants from coming to the US – Title 42 and the border rules replacing it only make the process longer and more difficult

  Politicians have been saying there’s an immigration crisis at the border for decades and have been trying to fix it for nearly as long. The rules have changed many times over the years – and they are changing again since the pandemic-era set of restrictions expired on May 11.

  Before the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration into the U.S. at the border with Mexico was governed by a group of federal immigration laws and regulations, collectively known as Title 8. These laws, among other things, set the terms for the rapid deportation of people who enter the country illegally or are not eligible for asylum.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Attacks on ‘segregated’ graduation ceremonies overlook the history of racism on campus

  For most college students, graduation is a one-time event. But for a growing number of students from various groups, such as students of color or LGTBQ students, there might be multiple graduation ceremonies to attend.

  These special graduation ceremonies for certain groups are known as “affinity graduations.” These ceremonies are drawing the ire of conservatives, who dismiss them as “segregated” graduations.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

On its 75th birthday, Israel still can’t agree on what it means to be a Jewish state and a democracy

  As Israel celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding, and nearly a century and a half after the first Zionists came to Palestine from Europe, the core tension behind the country’s establishment – whether a Jewish state could be a democratic state, whether Zionism could accommodate pluralism – is more obvious than ever.

  Israel today is a military powerhouse and one of 38 members of the influential Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, formed in 1961 to promote cooperation among democratic, free-market-oriented governments.

Monday, May 15, 2023

White nationalism is racism

  White nationalism is racism.

  Don’t take it from me. That’s the dictionary definition.

  “The belief, theory, or doctrine that white people are inherently superior to people from all other racial and ethnic groups, and that in order to preserve their white, European, and Christian cultural identities, they need or deserve a segregated geographical area, preferential treatment, and special legal protections,” says

  And the definition of a white nationalist?

Sunday, May 14, 2023

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 13, 2023

Alabama Pre-K thrived outside of politics. Then Kay Ivey dragged it in

  Living in Alabama means seeing our state rank high on lists we’d rather not be on. 

  Infant mortality. Heart attacks. Homicides. 

  And we’re used to seeing the state rank low on lists people value. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

What are passkeys? A cybersecurity researcher explains how you can use your phone to make passwords a thing of the past

  Passwords could soon become passé.

  Effective passwords are cumbersome, all the more so when reinforced by two-factor authentication. But the need for authentication and secure access to websites is as great as ever. Enter passkeys.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Why GOP lawmakers fear ‘divisive concepts’

  As a kid, I consumed histories and biographies like my peers read comic books. It didn’t matter what era it was. If a story was well-told, I devoured it.

  One of many convictions I’ve developed from that reading: You can’t understand the South of today without understanding the history of this place.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Ditching a friend who is not like you can deepen social inequality

  Since the 2016 presidential election, news accounts and scientific research have illustrated how defriending, a term originally associated with dropping Facebook friends, echoes in our broader, offline social lives. And what may seem like a simple decision to cut off a difficult relationship may actually deepen divisions in society.

  As social scientists who study social networks, we were keen to take a closer look at defriending beyond social media and the internet, particularly as the U.S. approaches what is likely to be another contentious presidential election.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Trump’s lawyer accuses E. Jean Carroll of lying – relying on a common and discredited myth about how women are supposed to react to rape

  Former President Donald Trump’s legal team ended its closing arguments in his rape trial on May 8, 2023, by saying Trump’s accuser – journalist E. Jean Carroll – was lying about the alleged decades-old assault.

  Following the two-week trial, a Manhattan jury is expected to soon reach a verdict about whether Trump is guilty of battery and defamation as Carroll’s lawsuit, filed in 2022, claims.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Moving in with your partner? Talking about these 3 things first can smooth the way, according to a couples therapist

  Partners who live together typically come to this significant place in their relationship in one of two ways – what some clinicians call “sliding versus deciding.” Moving in together can just kind of happen without too much thought, or it can be carefully considered and planned.

  Some couples may see living together as a test for future marriage. For others, marriage is not a goal, so living together may be the ultimate statement of their commitment.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Vinyl record sales keep spinning and spinning – with no end in sight

  Over the past decade, vinyl records have made a major comeback. People purchased US$1.2 billion of records in 2022, a 20% jump from the previous year.

  Not only did sales rise, but they also surpassed CD sales for the first time since 1988, according to a new report from the Recording Industry Association of America.

  Who saw that coming?

Saturday, May 6, 2023

AI isn’t close to becoming sentient – the real danger lies in how easily we’re prone to anthropomorphize it

  ChatGPT and similar large language models can produce compelling, humanlike answers to an endless array of questions – from queries about the best Italian restaurant in town to explaining competing theories about the nature of evil.

  The technology’s uncanny writing ability has surfaced some old questions – until recently relegated to the realm of science fiction – about the possibility of machines becoming conscious, self-aware, or sentient.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Your political rivals aren’t as bad as you think – here’s how misunderstandings amplify hostility

  U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene drew raised eyebrows when she suggested on Presidents Day that the United States pursue a “national divorce.”

  Even in an era of seemingly ever-growing political polarization – and despite Taylor Greene’s record of making controversial statements – the proposal shocked members of both political parties.

  The last thing I ever want to see in America is a civil war. Everyone I know would never want that – but it’s going that direction, and we have to do something about it,” Taylor Greene said in a follow-up interview.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Why can’t Americans agree on, well, nearly anything? Philosophy has some answers

  Does wearing a mask stop the spread of COVID-19? Is climate change driven primarily by human-made emissions? With these kinds of issues dividing the public, it sometimes feels as if Americans are losing our ability to agree about basic facts of the world. There have been widespread disagreements about matters of seemingly objective fact in the past, yet the number of recent examples can make it feel as though our shared sense of reality is shrinking.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Body dysmorphic disorder is more common than eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, yet few people are aware of its dangers

  While eating disorders have been widely publicized for decades, far less attention has been given to a related condition called body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD.

  Body dysmorphic disorder is often hidden from public view due to the shame people feel about one or more parts of their body, yet it is a devastating, debilitating psychological condition. People with the disorder suffer from obsessive thoughts and repetitive behaviors related to their appearance.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Ultra-processed foods – like cookies, chips, frozen meals and fast food – may contribute to cognitive decline

  Scientists have known for years that unhealthy diets – particularly those that are high in fat and sugar – may cause detrimental changes to the brain and lead to cognitive impairment.

  Many factors that contribute to cognitive decline are out of a person’s control, such as genetics and socioeconomic factors. But ongoing research increasingly indicates that a poor diet is a risk factor for memory impairments during normal aging and increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

  But when evaluating how some diets may erode brain health as we age, research on the effects of consuming minimally processed versus ultra-processed foods has been scant – that is, until now.

Monday, May 1, 2023

What’s effective altruism? A philosopher explains

  Effective altruism is an intellectual and charitable movement that aspires to find the best ways to help others. People dedicated to it rely on evidence and rational arguments to identify what they can do to make the most progress toward solving the world’s most pressing problems, such as reducing malnutrition and malaria while increasing access to health care.

  A group of intellectuals, including the Oxford University philosophers William MacAskill and Toby Ord, coined the term in 2011. The movement was inspired in part by the philosopher Peter Singer, who has argued for an obligation to help those in extreme poverty since the 1970s.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Yoga: Modern research shows a variety of benefits to both body and mind from the ancient practice

  The popularity of yoga has grown tremendously in the past decade. More than 10% of U.S. adults have practiced yoga at some point in their lives. Yoga practitioners on average spend on average US$90 a month, and the yoga industry is worth more than $80 billion worldwide.

  Yoga is now a mainstream activity in the U.S. and is commonly portrayed as a healthy lifestyle choice. I am a behavioral scientist who researches how physical activity – and specifically yoga – can prevent and help manage chronic diseases.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

What is racial battle fatigue? A school psychologist explains

  When William A. Smith, a scholar of education and culture, introduced the term “racial battle fatigue” in 2003, he used it to describe the cumulative effects of racial hostility that Black people – specifically faculty and graduate students – experience at predominantly white colleges and universities. In short, it takes a toll on their psychological, physical, and emotional well-being.

  Since then, the term has been applied by scholars to Hispanic undergraduates and women of color. Scholars have also applied the term to groups beyond the college campus, such as teachers of color and students of color at the K-12 level. Most of the research on racial battle fatigue deals with the matter within the context of education.

Friday, April 28, 2023

What’s a ‘gig’ job? How it’s legally defined affects workers’ rights and protections

  The “gig” economy has captured the attention of technology futurists, journalists, academics and policymakers.

  “Future of work” discussions tend toward two extremes: breathless excitement at the brave new world that provides greater flexibility, mobility, and entrepreneurial energy, or dire accounts of its immiserating impacts on the workers who labor beneath the gig economy’s yoke.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The safer you feel, the less safely you might behave – but research suggests ways to counteract this tendency

  Interventions designed to keep people safe can have hidden side effects. With an increased perception of safety, some people are more likely to take risks.

  For example, some vehicle drivers take more risks when they are buckled up in a shoulder-and-lap belt. Some construction workers step closer to the edge of the roof because they are hooked to a fall-protection rope. Some parents of young children take less care with medicine bottles that are “childproof” and thus difficult to open.

  Techniques designed to reduce harm can promote a false sense of security and increase risky behavior and unintentional injuries.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

How to unlock your creativity – even if you see yourself as a conventional thinker

  Do you think that creativity is an innate gift? Think again.

  Many people believe that creative thinking is difficult – that the ability to come up with ideas in novel and interesting ways graces only some talented individuals and not most others.

  The media often portrays creatives as those with quirky personalities and unique talent. Researchers have also identified numerous personality traits that are associated with creativity, such as openness to new experiences, ideas, and perspectives.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Social media always remembers – which makes moving on from a breakup that much harder

  Before the internet, people commonly burned Polaroids and love letters in a fire as an act of closure following a breakup.

  Nowadays, it isn’t so simple. People produce and consume massive amounts of digital stuff – 33 trillion gigabytes of online data in 2018 alone, a number that has surely grown.

Monday, April 24, 2023

That annoying ringing, buzzing and hissing in the ear – a hearing specialist offers tips to turn down the tinnitus

  Not a week goes by when I don’t see someone in my clinic complaining of a strange and constant phantom sound in one of their ears, or in both ears. The noise is loud, distracting, and scary – and it doesn’t go away.

  The kind of sound varies from patient to patient: buzzing, blowing, hissing, ringing, roaring, rumbling, whooshing, or a combination thereof. But whatever the sound, the condition is called tinnitus. And one thing tinnitus patients have in common is that the sound is not an external one. Instead, the noise is literally inside their head.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Meditation and mindfulness offer an abundance of health benefits and may be as effective as medication for treating certain conditions

  Many people look to diet trends or new exercise regimens – often with questionable benefit – to get a healthier start on the new year. But there is one strategy that’s been shown time and again to boost both mood and health: meditation.

  In late 2022, a high-profile study made a splash when it claimed that meditation may work as well as a common drug named Lexapro for the treatment of anxiety. Over the past couple of decades, similar evidence has emerged about mindfulness and meditation’s broad array of health benefits, for purposes ranging from stress and pain reduction to depression treatments to boosting brain health and helping to manage excessive inflammation and long COVID-19.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Diversity of US workplaces is growing in terms of race, ethnicity and age – forcing more employers to be flexible

  Increased immigration, longer life expectancy, and a decline in birth rates are transforming the U.S. workforce in two important ways. The people powering this nation’s economy include far more people of color and workers over 55 than was the case four decades ago.

  And this diversity will keep growing in the years ahead economists predict.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Microbes in your food can help or hinder your body’s defenses against cancer – how diet influences the conflict between cell ‘cooperators’ and ‘cheaters’

  The microbes living in your food can affect your risk of cancer. While some help your body fight cancer, others help tumors evolve and grow.

  Gut microbes can influence your cancer risk by changing how your cells behave. Many cancer-protective microbes support normal, cooperative behavior of cells. Meanwhile, cancer-inducing microbes undermine cellular cooperation and increase your risk of cancer in the process.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Meet Bayard Rustin, often-forgotten civil rights activist, gay rights advocate, union organizer, pacifist and man of compassion for all in trouble

  As I began writing “Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer,” my biography of the 20th-century radical leader and activist, one of my colleagues cautioned me not to “fall in love.”

  This, of course, is good advice for any biographer, and I tried to follow it.

  But it wasn’t easy, because Bayard Rustin was America’s signature radical voice during the 20th century, and yes, I believe those voices includes that of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whom Rustin trained and mentored.

  His vision of nonviolence was breathtakingly broad.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Understanding mass incarceration in the US is the first step to reducing a swollen prison population

  The incarceration rate in the United States fell in 2021 to its lowest levels since 1995 – but the U.S. continues to imprison a higher percentage of its population than almost every other country.

  The U.S. incarcerates 530 people for every 100,000 in its population, making it one of the world’s biggest jailers – just below El Salvador, Rwanda, and Turkmenistan.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The women who stood with Martin Luther King Jr. and sustained a movement for social change

  Historian Vicki Crawford was one of the first scholars to focus on women’s roles in the civil rights movement. Her 1993 book, “Trailblazers and Torchbearers,” dives into the stories of female leaders whose legacies have often been overshadowed.

  Today she is the director of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection, where she oversees the archive of his sermons, speeches, writings, and other materials. Here, she explains the contributions of women who influenced King and helped to fuel some of the most significant campaigns of the civil rights era but whose contributions are not nearly as well known.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Secession is here: States, cities and the wealthy are already withdrawing from America

  Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, wants a “national divorce.” In her view, another Civil War is inevitable unless red and blue states form separate countries.

  She has plenty of company on the right, where a host of others – 52% of Trump voters, Donald Trump himself, and prominent Texas Republicans – have endorsed various forms of secession in recent years. Roughly 40% of Biden voters have fantasized about a national divorce as well. Some on the left urge a domestic breakup so that a new egalitarian nation might be, as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “brought forth on this continent.”

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Trashing their rights: Alabama town uses 'debtors' prison' for people who fall behind on garbage bills

  The stately Victorian cupola of the original Chambers County Courthouse casts a cold morning shadow over the statue of favorite son Joe Louis, the famed “Brown Bomber” boxer who hailed from rural LaFayette, Alabama. A few feet away, lumber trucks rumble through the town’s main drag, leaving the scent of pine and diesel drifting in their wake.

  Nortasha Jackson, 49, who lives in the nearby town of Valley, is inside the modern courthouse addition, waiting patiently for her name to be called. Her attorney told her that the charges against her were going to be dropped, ending a months-long ordeal that started when she fell behind on her trash bill.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Bad beliefs: Misinformation is factually wrong – but is it ethically wrong, too?

  The impact of disinformation and misinformation has become impossible to ignore. Whether it is denial about climate change, conspiracy theories about elections, or misinformation about vaccines, the pervasiveness of social media has given “alternative facts” an influence previously not possible.

  Bad information isn’t just a practical problem – it’s a philosophical one, too. For one thing, it’s about epistemology, the branch of philosophy that concerns itself with knowledge: how to discern truth, and what it means to “know” something, in the first place.

Friday, April 14, 2023

The cost of degrading low-wage workers

  “If you don’t shut up and pay attention, you’ll be flipping burgers for the rest of your life” was a frequent outburst from my elementary school teacher in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

  Teaching reluctant 10-year-olds how to do long division without a calculator probably wasn’t the focal point of that man’s career. However, today, I question why that former teacher repeatedly denigrated hourly wage workers by implying they were unintelligent, especially when he taught students whose parents worked those jobs and paid taxes that funded his salary.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Anyone can claim to be a journalist or a news organization and publish lies with almost total impunity

  Headlines in early March 2023 implied Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch had made a damning confession. He had affirmed that some of his most important journalists were reporting that the 2020 presidential election was a fraud – even though they knew they were propagating a lie.

  It was an admission during pretrial testimony in a libel lawsuit filed against Fox by a voting machine company that says it was defamed by the lie. For journalism practitioners and devotees, the admission should signal the end of the Fox News empire.

  Nope. It didn’t.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

The workforce benefits of Medicaid expansion in Alabama

  For nearly a decade, Alabama has been outside looking in on a good deal. While hundreds of thousands of Alabamians struggle without health insurance, state leaders have failed to expand Medicaid to cover adults with low incomes. A few loud voices have politicized an issue that shouldn’t be political. And our state has paid the price in lost dollars, lost jobs, and lost lives.

  Reliable access to health care keeps people healthier and empowers them to work. That’s one reason 39 states and the District of Columbia have embraced Medicaid expansion.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Voice deepfakes are calling – here’s what they are and how to avoid getting scammed

  You have just returned home after a long day at work and are about to sit down for dinner when suddenly your phone starts buzzing. On the other end is a loved one, perhaps a parent, a child, or a childhood friend, begging you to send them money immediately.

  You ask them questions, attempting to understand. There is something off about their answers, which are either vague or out of character, and sometimes there is a peculiar delay, almost as though they were thinking a little too slowly. Yet, you are certain that it is definitely your loved one speaking: That is their voice you hear, and the caller ID is showing their number. Chalking up the strangeness to their panic, you dutifully send the money to the bank account they provide you.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Racist and sexist depictions of human evolution still permeate science, education and popular culture today

  Systemic racism and sexism have permeated civilization since the rise of agriculture when people started living in one place for a long time. Early Western scientists, such as Aristotle in ancient Greece, were indoctrinated with the ethnocentric and misogynistic narratives that permeated their society. More than 2,000 years after Aristotle’s writings, English naturalist Charles Darwin also extrapolated the sexist and racist narratives he heard and read in his youth to the natural world.

The Alabama Legislature needs to care about the prison crisis

  Something Rep. Marcel Black said has stuck with me for years.

  We spoke a decade ago about Alabama’s endless prison crisis. It seemed as far away from resolution then as it does today. I asked Black, a longtime House Judiciary Committee chair, why it proved so intractable.

  Black gave me this example. Suppose the state builds a new prison. Is an Alabama state legislator going to use it in a campaign? Will you open your mailbox and find a flyer of your representative or senator, smiling in front of fencing and barbed wire? 

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Easter traditions around the world

  Easter, the holiday surrounding Christ's death and resurrection, is celebrated in Christian communities across the world. However, not everyone celebrates in exactly the same way. Different countries have evolved very different Easter traditions, from decorating eggs to flying kites and reading mystery books. In many countries, Easter has also become more secular, creating the traditions of Easter breaks during the school year and chocolate rabbits for children. Here are five Easter traditions from around the world.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Gender-affirming care has a long history in the US – and not just for transgender people

  In 1976, a woman from Roanoke, Virginia named Rhoda received a prescription for two drugs: estrogen and progestin. Twelve months later, a local reporter noted Rhoda’s surprisingly soft skin and visible breasts. He wrote that the drugs had made her “so completely female.”

  Indeed, that was the point. The University of Virginia Medical Center in nearby Charlottesville had a clinic specifically for women like Rhoda. In fact, doctors there had been prescribing hormones and performing surgeries – what today we would call gender-affirming care – for years.

Friday, April 7, 2023

40 years ago ‘A Nation at Risk’ warned of a ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ in US schools – has anything changed?

  The National Commission on Excellence in Education’s release of a report titled “A Nation at Risk” in 1983 was a pivotal point in the history of American education. The report used dire language, lamenting that “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”

  Using Cold War language, the report also famously stated: “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Bailing out uninsured deposits encourages bank runs

  In the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, U.S. officials decided to cover all the uninsured deposits in both banks — that is, deposits that exceeded the $250,000 insurance coverage of the FDIC. The belief was that failing to cover those uninsured deposits ran the risk that bank runs could spread to more banks. Covering those uninsured deposits was intended to calm depositors in other banks, which would thereby make more bank runs less likely.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Depression too often gets deemed ‘hard to treat’ when medication falls short

  A plumber who shows up to fix a leaking toilet with a single tool is not likely to succeed. The same is true if a mental health professional offers only one approach for a complex problem like depression.

  Sadly, the number of people struggling with depression increased dramatically at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stress – from school closures to job losses to the death of loved ones – made life more challenging and increased the risk of developing emotional difficulties. For some groups that have experienced discrimination, ongoing inequities made their mental health even worse.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Democrats aren’t going to repeal Alabama’s abortion ban this year. They should still try

  In 2012, Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist in western Ireland, became pregnant. That October, she checked into a hospital suffering acute back pains.   

  Doctors determined she was suffering a miscarriage. It was terribly painful. Early in their hospital stay, Halappanavar and her husband asked for medication to induce an abortion, which seemed inevitable.

  But doctors refused. At the time, Irish law banned abortion upon detection of a fetal heartbeat. And even as Halappanavar bled, even as she suffered nausea and vomiting and chest pains and breathing problems, the doctors did not — or could not — provide her the treatment she needed.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Public radio can help solve the local news crisis – but that would require expanding staff and coverage

  Since 2005, more than 2,500 local newspapers, most of them weeklies, have closed, with more closures on the way.

  Responses to the decline have ranged from luring billionaires to buy local dailies to encouraging digital startups. But the number of interested billionaires is limited, and many digital startups have struggled to generate the revenue and audience needed to survive.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Health care workers are frazzled – and poor sleep may turn stress into poor mental health

  Health care workers often put the health and safety of their patients first, neglecting to take care of themselves. By providing continuous services around the clock, many experience short and poor-quality sleep, risking not only their own health and safety but also increasing the risk of making errors that can affect patient safety.

  I am an occupational health researcher who studies work, sleep, and health among health care workers. My research has found that emotional labor – such as using fake smiles to hide true feelings – and work-family conflict – such as clashing demands between roles at work and at home – are both linked to depressive symptoms among health care workers. And poor sleep quality can amplify the effects of these stressors, resulting in worse mental health.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

The history of April Fools' Day

  In certain countries, the April Fools' jokes must be made before noon on April 1, otherwise, it is the prankster who becomes the April Fool.


  The origin of the customs of the day is shrouded in mystery. Some believe it is likely to be a relic of festivities held to mark the vernal equinox. These celebrations of the first days of spring began on the 25th of March and ended on the 2nd of April. Certainly there is some evidence to suggest that April 1st was observed as a general festival in pagan Britain.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Nashville attack renews calls for assault weapons ban – data shows there were fewer mass shooting deaths during an earlier 10-year prohibition

  The shooting deaths of three children and three adults inside a Nashville school has put further pressure on Congress to look at imposing a ban on so-called assault weapons. Such a prohibition would be designed to cover the types of guns that the suspect legally purchased and used during the March 27, 2023 attack.

  Speaking after the incident, President Joe Biden issued his latest plea to lawmakers to act. “Why in God’s name do we allow these weapons of war on our streets and at our schools?” he asked.

  A prohibition has been in place before. As Biden has previously noted, bipartisan support in Congress helped push through a federal assault weapons ban in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

What does ‘moral hazard’ mean? A scholar of financial regulation explains why it’s risky for the government to rescue banks

  “Moral hazard” refers to the risks that someone or something becomes more inclined to take because they have reason to believe that an insurer will cover the costs of any damages.

  The concept describes financial recklessness. It has its roots in the advent of private insurance companies about 350 years ago. Soon after they began to form, it became clear that people who bought insurance policies took risks they wouldn’t have taken without that coverage.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Separate money and the state

  The United States once had the finest monetary system in history. It was a system that the U.S. Constitution established. It was a system in which the official money of the United States consisted of gold coins and silver coins.

  We often hear that the “gold standard” was a system in which paper money was “backed by gold.” Nothing could be further from the truth. There was no paper money in the United States. That’s because the Constitution did not empower the federal government to issue paper money. It also expressly prohibited the states from issuing paper money.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

North Korea signals more provocations, tensions

  North Korea has issued a series of truculent missives warning of dire, though unspecified, military actions in an attempt to intimidate the U.S. and its allies into canceling planned military exercises.

  Pyongyang responded strongly last year when Washington and Seoul restored large-scale military exercises and resumed deployment of nuclear-capable strategic assets after a four-year hiatus.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Federal judge rules that Alabama laws criminalizing homelessness are unconstitutional

  A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction against the enforcement of Alabama statutes that criminalize soliciting donations and begging, ruling that the laws violate the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

  “We are pleased that the court chose to permanently enjoin the state’s solicitation statutes,” said Micah West, senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Economic Justice Project. “Criminalizing people for asking for help further disenfranchises those who are already facing economic hardship. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment covers ‘charitable appeals for funds.’”

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Why it’s hard for the US to cut or even control Medicare spending

  President Joe Biden’s 2024 proposed budget includes plans to shore up the finances of Medicare, the federal health insurance program that covers Americans who are 65 and up and some younger people with disabilities.

  His administration aims to increase from 3.8% to 5% an existing Medicare tax that’s collected on the labor and investment earnings of Americans who make more than US$400,000 annually. It also aims to reap some savings from having the government negotiate prices on more prescription drugs.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Here’s what to do when you encounter people with ‘dark personality traits’ at work

  Have you ever suffered through tales of greatness from a self-absorbed “friend” who reminds you of Michael Scott from “The Office” – and not in a good way? Have you been betrayed by a colleague out of the blue, undermined on a project by the office mean girl, or had a work friendship dropped altogether without explanation?

  If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you may have been dealing with someone who has what psychologists term a “dark personality.” These people score higher on three socially undesirable traits: narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Should the US ban TikTok? Can it? A cybersecurity expert explains the risks the app poses and the challenges to blocking it

  TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23, 2023 amid a chorus of calls from members of Congress for the federal government to ban the Chinese-owned video social media app and reports that the Biden administration is pushing for the company’s sale.

  The federal government, along with many state and foreign governments and some companies, has banned TikTok on work-provided phones. This type of ban can be effective for protecting data related to government work.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Why SVB and Signature Bank failed so fast – and the US banking crisis isn’t over yet

  Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank failed with enormous speed – so quickly that they could be textbook cases of classic bank runs, in which too many depositors withdraw their funds from a bank at the same time. The failures at SVB and Signature were two of the three biggest in U.S. banking history following the collapse of Washington Mutual in 2008.

  How could this happen when the banking industry has been sitting on record levels of excess reserves – or the amount of cash held beyond what regulators require?

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

I went to CPAC to take MAGA supporters’ pulse – China and transgender people are among the top ‘demons’ they say are ruining the country

  In early March 2023, I mixed with the Make America Great Again faithful at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference – a popular meeting, often known as CPAC, for conservative activists and political figures.

  I walked, ate, and sat with the attendees at the National Harbor in Maryland over the course of four days. Many of them were dressed in MAGA and pro-Trump gear such as sequined hats and shirts that said things like “Trump won” the 2020 election. A few had tattoos of Trump’s face.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Overclassification overkill: The US government is drowning in a sea of secrets

  The U.S. faces far more threats to its national security than from spy balloons or classified documents discovered in former and current presidents’ homes.

  About 50 million more threats every year. That’s the estimated number of records annually classified as confidential, secret, or top secret by the U.S. government.

  The U.S. has an overclassification problem, which, experts say, ironically threatens the nation’s security.

Monday, March 20, 2023

School choice proposals rarely go before voters – and typically fail when they do

  Arizona lawmakers decided in late 2022 that the state will pay tuition, related education expenses, or both for children at any school parents select, including private and religious schools.

  It’s the latest step in an effort to provide public funds for private schools that in Arizona began in 2011. And that step was taken along what I have discovered to be a familiar route.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Paid leave policies must include chosen family

  The United States’ lack of any permanent, national paid leave policy makes it the sole outlier among industrialized countries and puts workers’ jobs, economic security, and health at risk—as well as the growth of the nation’s economy overall. And while these negative impacts are felt across the country, this policy gap has affected LGBTQI+ individuals, who often have less access to care from traditional family structures, in particular ways.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

I’ve spent 5 years researching the heroic life of Black musician Graham Jackson, but teaching his story could be illegal under laws in Florida and North Dakota

  The story of Graham Jackson is a timeless tale of American ingenuity, hard work, and the cream rising to the top.

  It’s also a tale of economic inequality, overt racism, and America’s Jim Crow caste system.

  As one of the first Black musicians to play on national radio, Jackson is best known for the April 13, 1945 photograph of him that was published by Life magazine, one of the leading publications of its day.

Friday, March 17, 2023

10 things to know about the real St. Patrick

  Today people around the world are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by parading in green hats, sporting images of shamrocks and leprechauns – tiny, grinning, fairy men – pinned to their lapels. Patrick’s picture will adorn greeting cards: an aged, bearded bishop in flowing robes, grasping a bishop’s staff and glaring at a coil of snakes.

  The icon refers to one of Patrick’s legendary miracles in which he is said to have prayed to banish all snakes from Ireland. However, as a historian of medieval Ireland, I can assure you that the real St. Patrick, who lived and worked in the fifth century, never saw a snake or wore a shamrock.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Republicans are trying to build a multiracial right – will it work?

  Former Republican South Carolina Governor and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley launched her bid for president recently in a video that began by describing the racial division that marked her small hometown of Bamberg, South Carolina.

  Meanwhile, another presumptive GOP candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has continued his crusade against “woke ideology,” most recently on a tour of Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois, presenting himself as a defender of law and order.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The retention problem: Women are going into tech but are also being driven out

  By 2029, there will be 3.6 million computing jobs in the U.S., but there will only be enough college graduates with computing degrees to fill 24% of these jobs. For decades, the U.S. has poured resources into improving gender representation in the tech industry. However, the numbers are not improving proportionately. Instead, they have remained stagnant, and initiatives are failing.

  Women make up 57% of the overall workforce. Comparatively, women make up only 27% of the workforce in the technology industry. Of the 27% that join the technology industry, more than 50% are likely to quit before the age of 35, and 56% are likely to quit by mid-career.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

5 tips for women to negotiate a higher salary

  Today is Equal Pay Day — March 14 — a date determined by how long into the new year American women must work to catch up to American men’s earnings the previous year. In 2022, women earned 82% of what men earned. The wage gap for Black and Hispanic women is even higher — these groups made 70% and 65%, respectively, of what white men made.

  Some of the gender pay gap can be attributed to differences in how women negotiate.

Monday, March 13, 2023

China and Russia are in relationship hell—America should make it worse

  First it was Blake and Gwen, then Meghan and Harry. Now everyone is asking: What’s up with Vlad and Jinping? The answer: It’s rough times ahead for the China-Russia bromance.

  Beijing and Moscow share a common daydream of an isolated and diminished America that allows them to run amok around the world. But shared dreams alone are not a solid foundation for a long-term relationship.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Nine women who used the First Amendment to shape history

  “All men are created equal,” the Declaration of Independence claims, but since the earliest days of the United States, women and girls have been praying, speaking, publishing, gathering, and calling on the government to protect everyone’s fundamental freedoms.

  You may not know much about these First Amendment heroines, but they all embraced their rights to champion causes they cared about and, in doing so, shaped our nation’s history.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Feeling a little jet-lagged? It must be daylight savings time

  On Sunday in (most) of the United States, we again advance the time on our clocks by one hour. Shifting clocks an hour can’t be that much of a big deal, right? Actually, it is. In our sleep-deprived society, every minute counts. Losing 60 precious minutes of sleep can really hurt.

  Your mom always told you to get eight hours of sleep (and might still be nagging you about that no matter how old you are). We all know that getting enough sleep is critical to our minds and bodies. And yet despite this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey revealed that more than one-third of American adults typically sleep less than seven hours over a 24-hour period.

Friday, March 10, 2023

In rural America, right-to-repair laws are the leading edge of a pushback against growing corporate power

  As tractors became more sophisticated over the past two decades, the big manufacturers allowed farmers fewer options for repairs. Rather than hiring independent repair shops, farmers have increasingly had to wait for company-authorized dealers to arrive. Getting repairs could take days, often leading to lost time and high costs.

  A new memorandum of understanding between the country’s largest farm equipment maker, John Deere Corp., and the American Farm Bureau Federation is now raising hopes that U.S. farmers will finally regain the right to repair more of their own equipment.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Why Tennessee’s law limiting drag performances likely violates the First Amendment

  On March 2, 2023, Tennessee became the first state to enact a law restricting drag performances.

  This law is part of a larger push by Republican lawmakers in numerous states to restrict or eliminate events like drag shows and drag story hours.

  These legislative efforts have been accompanied by inflammatory rhetoric – not grounded in fact – about the need to protect children from “grooming” and sexually explicit performances.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

How Jimmy Carter integrated his evangelical Christian faith into his political work, despite mockery and misunderstanding

  “I am a farmer, an engineer, a businessman, a planner, a scientist, a governor, and a Christian,” Jimmy Carter said while introducing himself to national political reporters when he announced his campaign to be the 39th president of the United States in December 1974.

  As journalists and historians consider Carter’s legacy, this prelude to Carter’s campaign offers insight into how he wanted to be known and how he might like to be remembered.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Which state you live in matters for how well environmental laws protect your health

  Your child could go to gym class on Monday morning and play soccer on a field that was sprayed over the weekend with 2,4-D, a toxic weedkiller that has been investigated as possibly causing cancer. Alternatively, the school grounds may have been treated with a lower-toxicity weedkiller. Or maybe the grounds were managed with safe, nontoxic products and techniques.

  Which of these scenarios applies depends in large part on your state’s laws and regulations today – more so than federal regulations.

Monday, March 6, 2023

30 years later, Waco siege still resonates – especially among anti-government extremists

  Feb. 28, 2023 marked 30 years since the beginning of the Waco siege, the confrontation at a Texas compound that killed around 80 members of the Branch Davidian religious community and four federal agents.

  Part of the siege’s legacy in popular culture is tied to sensational coverage that has presented the Branch Davidians as a cult. But the tragedy is also a powerful moment in political extremist groups’ ideologies. As scholars of domestic extremism, we have repeatedly seen how what happened at the Mount Carmel Center has been used by anti-government groups from the 1990s to today.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

$1 trillion in the shade – the annual profits multinational corporations shift to tax havens continues to climb and climb

  About a decade ago, the world’s biggest economies agreed to crack down on multinational corporations’ abusive use of tax havens. This resulted in a 15-point action plan that aimed to curb practices that shielded a large chunk of corporate profits from tax authorities.

  But, according to our estimates, it hasn’t worked. Instead of reining in the use of tax havens – countries such as the Bahamas and Cayman Islands with very low or no effective tax rates – the problem has only gotten worse.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

All wars eventually end – here are 3 situations that will lead Russia and Ukraine to make peace

  It’s been a year since Russia first launched a full invasion of Ukraine, and, right now, peace seems impossible.

  Peace talks between the two countries have launched, and then faltered, multiple times.

  In February 2023, a senior Ukrainian official said that peace talks are “out of the question” – without Ukraine’s reclaiming its territory that Russia overtook 2022.

  All wars end, however, and research shows that almost half end in some type of agreement to stop the fighting. The others end in victory for one side or when, for a variety of reasons, the fighting simply peters out.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Violent extremists are not lone wolves – dispelling this myth could help reduce violence

  On Feb. 15, 2023, a judge informed Payton Gendron – a white 19-year-old who killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo Tops market in 2022 – that “You will never see the light of day as a free man ever again.”

  The week before, Patrick Crusius – a white 24-year-old who gunned down 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 – received 90 consecutive life sentences.

  The threat of domestic terrorism remains high in the United States – especially the danger posed by white power extremists, many of whom believe white people are being “replaced” by people of color.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

The GOP needs to pick a side on border security

  In 2022, Republican leadership made numerous promises about securing the border, ending the Biden border crisis, and reducing illegal immigration. A month into this new Congress, they are already breaking their commitments.

  If securing the border is the football, the GOP is Lucy. During campaign season, it’s all about securing the border “no questions asked.” Once safely elected, however, some members’ focus changes to “comprehensive immigration reform” or backroom deals that hold border security hostage to mass amnesty—and GOP leadership indulges them.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

What the First Amendment really says – 4 basic principles of free speech in the US

  Elon Musk has claimed he believes in free speech no matter what. He calls it a bulwark against tyranny in America and promises to reconstruct Twitter, which he now owns, so that its policy on free expression “matches the law.” Yet his grasp of the First Amendment – the law that governs free speech in the U.S. – appears to be quite limited. And he’s not alone.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Are Alabama’s state revenue streams too ‘wild’ to enact permanent tax cuts?

  The question of what to do with Alabama’s $3 billion revenue surplus continues as the 2023 Alabama Legislature regular session approaches.

  Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Education Committee, discussed the prospects of permanent tax cuts vs. tax rebates on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” recently.

  Like other lawmakers weighing in on the issue, Garrett thinks lawmakers will eventually “do a rebate of some size.” But he also cautioned about the pushback over implementing a rebate versus putting all the money back into state government.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Anti-LGBTQ+ groups have ties to International Religious Freedom Summit

  The International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit that ended earlier this month in Washington, D.C., has been praised for bringing together a diverse, seemingly incompatible group of politicians, activists, and dignitaries in furtherance of a common goal: the promotion of international religious freedom, a concept deeply embedded in our nation’s ideals and a sign of a healthy and open democracy.

  But make no mistake: The presence and deep influence of virulently anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups and other far-right extremists – some of whom have used religious rhetoric to advocate for the criminalization of and even the death penalty for LGBTQ+ people – cannot be ignored.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Is it time for teachers to get a raise?

  In his 2023 State of the Union address, President Joe Biden called for public school teachers to get a raise but offered no specifics on how that could be done. Here, Michael Addonizio, an education policy expert at Wayne State University, provides insight on the current state of teacher salaries, whether a collective raise is in order, and how one might be achieved.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Our Congressional delegation has garnered good committee assignments

  For the past several decades, Alabama’s power has been centered around the U.S. Senate – primarily because of Richard Shelby’s immense power and influence. During Senator Shelby’s 36-year tenure, he chaired the Intelligence, Banking, and Rules Committees. However, he became immensely powerful his last six years as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. 

  Shelby practically moved Washington to Alabama when it came to bringing home earmarked funds to the Heart of Dixie. We received more federal funding than any state in America. National publications labeled Shelby the Greatest Pork King in federal history, surpassing the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Less we forget, Shelby also had a very respected and tenured wingman in Sen. Jeff Sessions, who served with distinction for 20 years in the U.S. Senate. They were a great team.

Friday, February 24, 2023

CBD is not a cure-all – here’s what science says about its real health benefits

  Over the last five years, an often forgotten piece of U.S. federal legislation – the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill – has ushered in an explosion of interest in the medical potential of cannabis-derived cannabidiol, or CBD.

  After decades of debate, the bill made it legal for farmers to grow industrial hemp, a plant rich in CBD. Hemp itself has tremendous value as a cash crop; it’s used to produce biofuel, textiles, and animal feed. But the CBD extracted from the hemp plant also has numerous medicinal properties with the potential to benefit millions through the treatment of seizure disorders, pain, or anxiety.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Five years after Parkland, school shootings haven’t stopped, and kill more people

  In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018, many Americans hoped that, finally, something would be done to address the problem of gun violence in the nation’s schools.

  Despite the outpouring of grief and calls for action that followed the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, school shootings continue to occur with alarming frequency. While progress has been made in some areas, such as increased funding for school security and mental health resources, there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety and well-being of students and educators in schools across the country.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Millions of Americans are problem gamblers – so why do so few people ever seek treatment?

  The opportunity to gamble has moved from a trip to Vegas, to a drive to a local casino, to the phone in your pocket. And if you’re a sports fan, nudges to place bets have become nearly impossible to ignore, with sports gambling ads and promos routinely appearing on TV, social media, sports radio, and in arenas.

  The stunning expansion of sports wagering following decades of casino expansion certainly gives any rational person reason to pause.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The story of Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, America’s first black pop star

  In 1851, a concert soprano named Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield embarked on a national tour that upended America’s music scene.

  In antebellum America, operatic and concert songs were very popular forms of entertainment. European concert sopranos, such as Jenny Lind and Catherine Hayes, drew huge crowds and rave reviews during their U.S. tours. Lind was so popular that baby cribs still bear her name, and you can now visit an unincorporated community called Jenny Lind, California.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

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.

  To set the stage for what was occurring in the Deep South at the end of this period of history, one must realize that what had been a thriving, jubilant society had come to a sudden and final death. The society of southern planters was in mourning for their fathers, sons, and husbands, and life as they had known it had been irrevocably altered. The south was occupied by the Union army and reflected this occupation in every facet of life.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

How some enslaved Black people stayed in Southern slaveholding states – and found freedom

  For generations, the Underground Railroad has been the quintessential story of resistance against oppression.

  Yet, the story is incomplete.

  What is far less known is that the majority of enslaved people who fled Southern slavery before the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation never crossed the Mason-Dixon line to freedom in the Northern states.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Diversity and moderation over tradition – why Democrats moved South Carolina to the start of the 2024 presidential campaign

  The Democratic National Committee approved a proposal on Feb. 4, 2023 that puts South Carolina first on the party’s presidential nominating calendar, upending 50 years of tradition. For the first time, voters of color, moderates, hourly workers – and Southerners – will have the first say in choosing the party’s nominee.

  President Biden weighed in on changes to the nominating calendar in a Dec. 1, 2022 letter to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. He wrote that early nominating states should reflect the diversity of the party and nation and that time-consuming caucuses, like those held in Iowa, should no longer be a part of the process because they disadvantage hourly workers and others who can’t take the required time away from work.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Alabama making strides in broadband expansion

  If you took a nighttime plane ride across much of the rural South in the early 1900s, you would see nothing but darkness on the ground below because electricity at the time was centered mainly around highly populated areas.

  But through federal, state, and private sector partnerships, electricity was brought to rural America to light up homes and power the products many of us today take for granted. Life without access to electricity is tough for most of us to even imagine, but there was a time not too long ago when many simply did not have it. The same is true today of high-speed internet access.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Civil rights legislation sparked powerful backlash that’s still shaping American politics

  For nearly 60 years, conservatives have been trying to gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. As a scholar of American voting rights, I believe their long game is finally bearing fruit.

  The 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder seemed to be the death knell for the Voting Rights Act.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The ‘real’ St. Valentine was no patron of love

  Sweethearts of all ages will exchange cards, flowers, candy, and more lavish gifts in the name of St. Valentine today. But as a historian of Christianity, I can tell you that at the root of our modern holiday is a beautiful fiction. St. Valentine was no lover or patron of love.

  Valentine’s Day, in fact, originated as a liturgical feast to celebrate the decapitation of a third-century Christian martyr, or perhaps two. So, how did we get from beheading to betrothing on Valentine’s Day?

Monday, February 13, 2023

The ethical dilemmas behind plans for involuntary treatment to target homelessness, mental illness and addiction

  Over the past year, cities across the United States have unveiled new policy plans to address homelessness amid rising concerns about health and crime – for homeless people themselves as well as for surrounding communities. Notably, several proposals include civil commitment, also referred to as involuntary treatment, for people with severe mental illness or substance use disorders.

  In November 2022, for example, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced a plan to use mental health laws to facilitate involuntary treatment when people are unable to care for themselves or when their actions endanger others.