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.