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.