Wednesday, February 8, 2023

How evangelicals moved from supporting environmental stewardship to climate skepticism

  White conservative evangelicals, who make up most of the religious right movement, largely oppose government regulation to protect the environmental initiatives, including efforts to curb human-caused climate change. Multiple social scientific studies, for example, consistently reveal that this group maintains a significant level of climate skepticism.

  Contrary to popular perception, however, this hasn’t always been the case.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

W.E.B. Du Bois, Black History Month and the importance of African American studies

  The opening days of Black History Month 2023 coincided with controversy about the teaching and broader meaning of African American studies.

  On Feb. 1, 2023, the College Board released a revised curriculum for its newly developed Advanced Placement African American studies course.

  Critics have accused the College Board of caving to political pressure stemming from conservative backlash and the decision of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to ban the course from public high schools in Florida because of what he characterized as its radical content and inclusion of topics such as critical race theory, reparations, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Monday, February 6, 2023

US is spending record amounts servicing its national debt – interest rate hikes add billions to the cost

  Consumers and businesses aren’t the only ones feeling the pain of higher borrowing costs because of Federal Reserve rate hikes. Uncle Sam is too.

  The U.S. government spent a record US$213 billion on interest payments on its debt in the fourth quarter, up $63 billion from a year earlier. Indeed, a jump of almost $30 billion on the previous quarter represents the biggest quarterly jump on record. That comes as the Fed lifted interest rates a whopping 4.25 percentage points from March through December.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Five times LGBTQ activism relied on First Amendment freedoms to create change

  For generations, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans lived in secrecy and fear. Politicians, the media, popular culture, and religious figures labeled them depraved or criminal. Though LGBTQ activism wasn’t new, it took a six-day uprising in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, an illegal gay bar in New York, to propel the grassroots movement to a new era. The Stonewall uprising inspired a new generation of activists to use their First Amendment freedoms to challenge stereotypes, work for justice and pave the way for equality.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Americans are taking more control over their work lives – because they have to

  One thing that’s become clear in the past few tumultuous – and for many, traumatic – years is that it’s easy to feel like there is no control in our lives. Control is a basic psychological need that helps people feel like they have agency, from how they live to where they work. One area where people have tried to wrestle back control is around work.

  As a Rice University business school professor and author, I’ve examined through my research, teaching, and readership the complex relationships between employees and their employers for nearly two decades. The aftermath of the pandemic is the latest iteration of a timeless negotiation between labor and management over control that took on added significance these past few years.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Tyre Nichols’ death underscores the troubled history of specialized police units

  The officers charged in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols were not your everyday uniformed patrol officers.

  Rather, they were part of an elite squad: Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION team. A rather tortured acronym for “Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods,” SCORPION is a crime suppression unit – that is, officers detailed specifically to prevent, detect, and interrupt violent crime by proactively using stops, frisks, searches, and arrests. Such specialized units are common in forces across the U.S. and tend to rely on aggressive policing tactics.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Why do groundhogs emerge on February 2 if it’s not to predict the weather?

  According to legend, if the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2nd, there will be six more weeks of winter; if not, an early spring is predicted.

  Of course groundhogs – also known as woodchucks – don’t emerge at this time just to be furry weather predictors. So what’s the real reason? Research into groundhog biology shows they have other priorities in early February than mingling with the people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Parsing which foods are healthy and which are less so isn’t always straightforward – a new rating system aims to demystify the process

  Many people aim to start the year off with healthier food choices. But how do you choose between seemingly similar foods, snacks, or beverages? How does a bagel with cream cheese compare to toast topped with avocado, for instance? Or a protein-based shake compare to a smoothie packed with fruits? Or two chicken dishes, prepared in different ways?

  As nutrition scientists who have spent our entire careers studying how different foods influence health, our team at Tufts University has created a new food rating system, the Food Compass, that could help consumers and others make informed choices about these kinds of questions.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Black police officers aren’t colorblind – they’re infected by the same anti-Black bias as American society and police in general

  Once again, Americans are left reeling from the horror of video footage showing police brutalizing an unarmed Black man who later died.

  Some details in the latest case of extreme police violence were gut-wrenchingly familiar: a police traffic stop of a Black male motorist turned violent. But, for many of us, other details were unfamiliar: The five police officers accused of using everything from pepper spray to a Taser, a police baton, and intermittent kicks and punches against the motorist were also Black.

  After pulling over 29-year-old Tyre Nichols for what they said was reckless driving, Black officers in the Memphis Police Department’s now disbanded SCORPION unit pepper-sprayed, kicked and beat Nichols, ultimately to death.

  The Conversation asked Rashad Shabazz, a geographer and scholar of African American studies at Arizona State University, to explore the societal conditions in which Black police officers could brutalize another Black man.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Florida Gov. DeSantis leads the GOP’s national charge against public education that includes lessons on race and sexual orientation

  Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ disdain for “woke ideology” is on full display.

  At a January 2023 inaugural event, the governor boasted that “Florida is where woke goes to die.”

  This is more than political bluster.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Tax cuts would benefit Alabama more than a one-time rebate

  Tax cuts would benefit the state more than one-time rebate checks, Mississippi Center for Public Policy President and CEO Douglas Carswell recently explained. This call for permanent tax cuts rather than rebates comes despite the Mississippi Legislature’s 2022 passage of the largest tax cut in state history.

  Alabama’s government finds itself in a similar situation to Mississippi. Mississippi lawmakers expect to have about $3.9 billion in surplus funds available this year. Alabama, meanwhile, has the largest revenue surplus in state history—more than $3 billion between the Education Trust Fund and State General Fund budgets.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

How Edgar Allan Poe became the darling of the maligned and misunderstood

  Edgar Allan Poe, who would have turned 214 years old on Jan. 19, 2023, remains one of the world’s most recognizable and popular literary figures.

  His face – with its sunken eyes, enormous forehead, and disheveled black hair – adorns tote bags, coffee mugs, T-shirts, and lunch boxes. He appears as a meme, either sporting a popped collar and aviator shades as Edgar Allan Bro, or riffing on “Bohemian Rhapsody” by muttering, “I’m just Poe boy, nobody loves me” as a raven on his shoulder adds, “He’s just a Poe boy from a Poe family.”

Friday, January 27, 2023

The weaponization of the federal government has a long history

  Now that House Republicans have created a “Select Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government,” let’s revisit a classic of that power-abusing genre, featuring its greatest star, Richard M. Nixon.

  The subcommittee’s express purpose is investigating federal investigators for alleged “illegal or improper, unconstitutional, or unethical activities,” at which Nixon was an acknowledged master. I’ve been listening to Nixon abuse power on the secret White House tapes for two decades with the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. I’ve written about his decisions to sabotage Vietnam peace talks to damage the Democrats’ 1968 presidential campaign, to time his withdrawal from Vietnam to help his 1972 reelection campaign, and to spring former Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa from prison in return for the union’s political support.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Combating antisemitism today: Holocaust education in the era of Twitter and TikTok

  In the era of social media, antisemitism and Holocaust denial are no longer hidden in the margins, spewed by fringe hate groups. From Ye – formerly known as Kanye West – and NBA player Kyrie Irving to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, well-recognized personalities have echoed antisemitic ideas, often online.

  Beyond high-profile figures, there are clear signs that antisemitism is becoming more mainstream. In 2021, using the most recent data available, the Anti-Defamation League reported that antisemitic incidents in the U.S. reached an all-time high. Eighty-five percent of Americans believe at least one anti-Jewish trope, according to another ADL survey, and about 20% believe six or more tropes – a sharp increase from just four years before. In addition, Jewish college students increasingly report feeling unsafe, ostracized, or harassed on campus.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Kicking off the new year by cleansing your body with a detox diet? A dietitian unpacks the science behind these fads

  Detox diets are often touted as a way to cleanse the body after the excess food and drinks that come with the holidays. These diets promise quick results and can particularly entice people around the new year when there tends to be a renewed focus on health and lifestyle habits.

  There are a few different types of detox diets: fasting, juice cleanses, eating only certain foods, using dietary commercial detox supplements, or “cleansing” the colon with enemas or laxatives.

  Most of these diets have a few things in common: They are short-term and aim to eliminate allegedly toxic substances from the body. Typically, these diets include a period of fasting followed by an extremely restrictive diet for a number of days.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Bringing manufacturing back to the US requires political will, but success hinges on training American workers

  Supply chain disruptions during COVID-19 brought to light how interdependent nations are when it comes to manufacturing. The inability of the U.S. to produce such needed goods as test kits and personal protective equipment during the pandemic revealed our vulnerabilities as a nation. China’s rise as a global production superpower has further underscored the weaknesses of American manufacturing.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Marriage provides health benefits – and here’s why

  The new year is traditionally a time when many people feel a renewed commitment to create healthy habits, such as exercising regularly, drinking more water, or eating more healthfully.

  It turns out that when it comes to health, married people have an edge, especially married men. But surely the act of walking down the aisle is not what provides this health advantage.

  So what exactly is at play?

Sunday, January 22, 2023

5 types of threat – how those who want to divide us use language to stoke violence

  Events like the riots in Brazil, the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection two years before it, and the mass shooting at the Colorado LGBTQ nightclub each occurred after certain groups repeatedly directed dangerous rhetoric against others. It’s the reason elected officials in the U.S. have begun examining the role language plays in provoking violence.

  As a social psychologist who studies dangerous speech and disinformation, I think it’s important for citizens, legislators, and law enforcement alike to understand that language can provoke violence between groups. In fact, there are different types of threats in rhetoric that in-groups – people we identify as “us” – use to trigger violence, against out-groups – people we perceive as “them.”

Saturday, January 21, 2023

3 reasons local climate activism is more powerful than people realize

  Global warming has increased the number of extreme weather events around the world by 400% since the 1980s. Countries know how to stop the damage from worsening: stop burning fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy, electrify transportation and industry, and reduce the carbon intensity of agriculture.

  But none of this is happening fast enough to avoid warming on a catastrophic scale.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Thursday, January 19, 2023

How the Inflation Reduction Act will save households money in 2023

  On January 1, 2023, a slate of new tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act—also known as the climate bill—became available to U.S. households aiming to transition to cleaner energy consumption. Making these opportunities known to consumers and leveraging them to transform the country’s energy landscape will be critical to tackling climate change. Taking advantage of these credits will also yield significant cost savings for millions of Americans; create new high-paying jobs; and ensure a more secure and stable economy and environment.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

FTC prepares to ban ‘noncompete agreements’ – what they are and why low-wage workers are increasingly required to sign them

  Most American workers are hired “at will:” Employers owe their employees nothing in the relationship except earned wages, and employees are at liberty to quit at their option. As the rule is generally stated, either party may terminate the arrangement at any time for a good or bad reason or none at all.

  In keeping with that no-strings-attached spirit, employees may move on as they see fit – as record numbers have done during the “great resignation” – unless, that is, they happen to be among the tens of millions of workers bound by a contract that explicitly forbids getting hired by a competitor. These “noncompete clauses” may make sense for CEOs and other top executives who possess trade secrets but may seem nonsensical when they are applied to low-wage workers such as draftsmen in the construction industry. A 2019 business survey found that 29% of companies paying an average wage of less than US$13 an hour required all their employees to sign noncompete agreements.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Making sweat feel spiritual didn’t start with SoulCycle – a religion scholar explains

  Each January, Americans collectively atone for yet another celebratory season of indulgence. Some proclaim sobriety for “Dry January.” Others use the dawn of a new year to focus on other forms of self-improvement, like taking up meditation or a new skin care routine. But adopting a new fitness plan is the most popular vow.

  Fitness experts insist that the best kind of exercise is the one you will do regularly – the one you can view as a joy, not a chore. And as more and more bespoke boutique fitness programs pop up, some devotees seem to take this advice even further. The notion that fitness is a religion – a place where people find community, ritual, and an ecstatic experience – has become a common refrain.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Lessons for today From MLK

  "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

  We so often think of Martin Luther King as a leader and speaker that we often forget he was a preacher and writer. His wife Coretta said that Strength To Love (1963) was the book "...that people consistently tell me has changed their lives." The messages in that work are just as relevant today as they were over a half-century ago.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Congressional hearing examines threat of white Christian nationalism

  The House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held its seventh and last hearing on the threat of white nationalism last month.

  One principal focus was white Christian nationalism, which has driven anti-democracy extremism in recent years. The hearing was welcome as the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project has monitored this threat with growing concern.

 As Amanda Tyler, co-organizer of Christians Against Christian Nationalism, testified during the hearing: “Christian nationalism seeks to manipulate religious devotion into giving unquestioning moral support for its political goals.”

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Teddy Roosevelt’s failed Bull Moose campaign may portend the future of the GOP and Donald Trump

  What happens when a former president decides he wants his old job back, regardless of what stands in his way?

  As Donald Trump launches his third run for the White House, it is useful to look back at another ex-president, Theodore Roosevelt, whose campaign to regain the office from his successor, William Howard Taft, divided the Republican Party and ensured the victory of Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the presidential election of 1912.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Why is 13 considered unlucky? Explaining the power of its bad reputation

  Would you think it weird if I refused to travel on Sundays that fall on the 22nd day of the month?

  How about if I lobbied the homeowner association in my high-rise condo to skip the 22nd floor, jumping from the 21st to 23rd?

  It’s highly unusual to fear 22 – so, yes, it would be appropriate to see me as a bit odd. But what if, in just my country alone, more than 40 million people shared the same baseless aversion?

  That’s how many Americans admit it would bother them to stay on one particular floor in high-rise hotels: the 13th.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

LGBTQ Americans are 9 times more likely to be victimized by a hate crime

  In our recent analysis of the National Crime Victimization Survey, we found that the odds of being a violent hate crime victim for LGBTQ people was nine times greater than it was for cisgender and straight people from 2017 to 2019.

  There were an average annual 6.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 LGBTQ people during this three year period.

  In contrast, there were 0.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 cisgender and straight people.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

What’s a polycule? An expert on polyamory explains

  After the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, the media shined a spotlight on the personal lives of founder Sam Bankman-Fried and his inner circle.

  It turns out that Bankman-Fried, his on-and-off girlfriend, Caroline Ellison, who served as CEO of FTX subsidiary Alameda, and others involved in the company have dabbled in polyamory. Polyamorous relationships are a form of consensual non-monogamy in which partners seek out multiple romantic or sexual relationships.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Record low water levels on the Mississippi River in 2022 show how climate change is altering large rivers

  Rivers are critical corridors that connect cities and ecosystems alike. When drought develops, water levels fall, making river navigation harder and more expensive.

  In 2022, water levels in some of the world’s largest rivers, including the Rhine in Europe and the Yangtze in China, fell to historically low levels. The Mississippi River fell so low in Memphis, Tennessee in mid-October that barges were unable to float, requiring dredging and special water releases from upstream reservoirs to keep channels navigable.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Good karma

  I get lots of emails containing words of wisdom. I appreciate every one of them, but one time I got a real keeper. Here are 17 incredibly powerful observations attributed to the Dalai Lama worth posting on your bathroom mirror. Learn them and live them. They will improve your life.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

People can have food sensitivities without noticeable symptoms – long-term consumption of food allergens may lead to behavior and mood changes

  The prevalence of food allergies is increasing worldwide, approaching an epidemic level in some regions. In the U.S. alone, approximately 10% of children and adults suffer from food allergies, with allergies to cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts being the most common. Some patients have mild symptoms that might not need medical attention, leaving these cases unreported.

  Food allergies, or food hypersensitivities, result from the overreaction of the immune system to typically harmless proteins in food. They can manifest as a spectrum of symptoms, ranging from itching, redness and swelling for milder reactions, to vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and other potentially life-threatening symptoms for severe reactions.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Darknet markets generate millions in revenue selling stolen personal data, supply chain study finds

  It is common to hear news reports about large data breaches, but what happens once your personal data is stolen? Our research shows that, like most legal commodities, stolen data products flow through a supply chain consisting of producers, wholesalers, and consumers. But this supply chain involves the interconnection of multiple criminal organizations operating in illicit underground marketplaces.

Friday, January 6, 2023

From atheist churches to finding healing in the ‘sacred flower of cannabis,’ spiritual but not religious Americans are finding new ways of pursuing meaning

  According to a recent Pew Center report, American Christianity remains in a nearly three-decade decline. Responding as “none” or “unaffiliated” on religious surveys, people increasingly identify as humanists, atheists, agnostics, or simply spiritual. If current trends continue, by 2070, Christianity may no longer be the dominant expression of American religion.

  As a scholar who studies alternative spirituality and new religious movements in the United States, I believe the reality of America’s diverse religious and spiritual landscape is more complex than often presented.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Shorter days affect the mood of millions of Americans – a nutritional neuroscientist offers tips on how to avoid the winter blues

  The annual pattern of winter depression and melancholy – better known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD – suggests a strong link between your mood and the amount of light you get during the day.

  To put it simply: The less light exposure one has, the more one’s mood may decline.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Healthy democracy requires trust – these 3 things could start to restore voters’ declining faith in US elections

  The 2022 U.S. midterm elections ran relatively smoothly and faced few consequential accusations of fraud or mismanagement. Yet many Americans don’t trust this essential element of a democracy.

  It’s dangerous for peace and stability when the public doubts democratic elections. Disastrous events like the insurrection by supporters of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021 make that clear.

  But there are subtler effects of such doubt. Trump isn’t the only instigator of this distrust, which he sowed with his false assertions that the 2020 presidential vote was “rigged” and that he was the legitimate winner of the election.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Y'all, that most Southern of Southernisms, is going mainstream – and it’s about time

  Southern Living magazine once described “y’all” as “the quintessential Southern pronoun.” It’s as iconically Southern as sweet tea and grits.

  While “y’all” is considered slang, it’s a useful word nonetheless. The English language doesn’t have a good second-person plural pronoun; “you” can be both singular and plural, but it’s sometimes awkward to use as a plural. It’s almost like there’s a pronoun missing. “Y’all” fills that second-person plural slot – as does “you guys,” “youse,” “you-uns” and a few others.

Monday, January 2, 2023

New study seeks to explain the ‘Mandela Effect’ – the bizarre phenomenon of shared false memories

  Imagine the Monopoly Man.

  Is he wearing a monocle or not?

  If you pictured the character from the popular board game wearing one, you’d be wrong. In fact, he has never worn one.

  If you’re surprised by this, you’re not alone. Many people possess the same false memory of this character. This phenomenon takes place for other characters, logos, and quotes, too. For example, Pikachu from Pokémon is often thought to have a black tip on his tail, which he doesn’t have. And many people are convinced that the Fruit of the Loom logo includes a cornucopia. It doesn’t.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Top 20 New Years quotations

  "Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold." -Anonymous


  "People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas." -Anonymous