Monday, June 17, 2024

School boards, long locally focused and nonpartisan, get dragged into the national political culture wars

  In more than 90% of U.S. public school districts, school board elections are nonpartisan and have been for centuries. But that long tradition may well be changing – and putting at risk the quality of the country’s education system by introducing divisive national political issues into the process by which a local community governs itself.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

A Father’s Day reminder from science: Your kids aren’t really growing up quickly

  I am one of those men for whom it is impossible to find Father’s Day gifts.

  I don’t wear ties. My socks are all the same, in the interest of efficiency. I enjoy cooking, which would seem to open up some possibilities. But I have an annoying habit of buying useful gadgets as I need them, leaving my relatives to purchase paper bags specially designed for storing cheese, say, or devices that carve vegetables into the shape of noodles.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Trump’s lawyers in lawsuits claiming he won in 2020 are getting punished for abusing courts and making unsupported claims and false statements

  Over the past four years, U.S. courts and state bar associations have taken action to protect the integrity of the U.S. judicial system by penalizing attorneys who filed meritless lawsuits claiming – without evidence – that the 2020 presidential election results were invalid.

  Despite aggressive litigation by attorneys denying wrongdoing, over time, the U.S. legal community has exercised the oversight needed to hold most of them accountable for misusing U.S. courts.

  Most lawsuits challenging the 2020 presidential election results were filed in federal courts. Federal judges not only dismissed the claims for lack of evidence, but some also penalized the attorneys who filed them.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Life on the US-Mexico border is chaotic. An immigration scholar explains why − and it’s not for the reasons that some GOP lawmakers claim

  As debate over U.S. immigration policy heats up during the 2024 presidential campaign, separating fact from fiction on the U.S.-Mexico border becomes increasingly difficult.

  In May 2023, shortly after the end of a public health restriction that allowed U.S. officials to immediately expel asylum-seekers, a team of academic and humanitarian aide colleagues and I went to the Mexican city of Matamoros, just across the Rio Grande from the banks of Brownsville, Texas.

  At the time, we didn’t encounter the “invasion at the border” that conservative lawmakers such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott predicted would happen once the COVID-19 restrictions – officially known as Title 42  – expired.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

How DEI rollbacks at colleges and universities set back learning

  Just four years ago, following the murder of George Floyd, almost every college and university in the U.S. had at least one diversity, equity, and inclusion – or DEI – program. Many had existed long before. These programs ranged from DEI-related degrees and professional training to resources for culturally, linguistically, and neurologically diverse students. But in the last year and a half in almost every state, 159 institutions have reduced or eliminated these programs.

  New legislation in states like Texas and Florida have banned DEI programs outright. In other states, institutions are shuttering programs preemptively to avoid political pressure. This will have lasting effects.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The good news that Gov. Kay Ivey didn’t share

  Gov. Kay Ivey did something good last year. And as far as I can tell, she never told anyone about it.

  As Alander Rocha recently reported, the governor’s office used a plan submitted to the federal government to increase the monthly benefit paid to recipients of Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) in Alabama from $215 a month to $344.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Trump’s rhetoric after his felony conviction is designed to distract, stoke fear and ease the way for an anti-democratic strongman

  After a jury convicted Donald Trump of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up a politically damaging relationship, he responded by warning viewers of his post-verdict news conference: “If they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone.”

  That statement simultaneously invokes the ideal of an independent judiciary and attempts to delegitimize it.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Fixing toxic relationships

  Are there people in your life who regularly cause you to feel bad about yourself?

  Most of us care what others think of us, so knowing that someone doesn’t like or approve of the judgments we’ve made or how we look can be hurtful. And when we’re judged by someone whose approval we crave, such as a parent, spouse, teacher or boss, the criticism can cause intense distress and damage self-esteem.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Lung cancer is the deadliest of all cancers, and screening could save many lives − if more people could access it

  Many medical organizations have been recommending lung cancer screening for decades for those at high risk of developing the disease.

  But in 2022, less than 6% of people in the U.S. eligible for screening actually got screened. Compared with other common cancer screenings, lung cancer screening rates fall terribly behind. For comparison, the screening rate in 2021 for colon cancer was 72%, and the rate for breast cancer was 76%. Why are lung cancer screening rates so poor?

Saturday, June 8, 2024

How I survived nine minutes of Dick Cheney

Monday, July 22, 2002

3:07 pm:

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

Friday, June 7, 2024

Mary McLeod Bethune, known as the ‘First Lady of Negro America,’ also sought to unify the African diaspora

  When I first landed an internship as an archives technician at the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House-National Historic Site – the D.C. home of the woman who founded Bethune-Cookman University – I didn’t see a strong connection between the college founder’s life and the rest of the African diaspora.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

The hollow malevolence of Jefferson Davis

  Even Jim Crow Alabama couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for Jefferson Davis.

  When an Alabama House representative filed a bill in 1900 to make his birthday a holiday, the Birmingham Post-Herald called it “an event which the general public does not remember and has no wish to be reminded of.”

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Voting in unconstitutional districts: US Supreme Court upended decades of precedent in 2022 by allowing voters to vote with gerrymandered maps instead of fixing the congressional districts first

  For the 2022 midterm elections, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Alabama to use congressional districts that violated the law and diluted the voting power of Black citizens.

  A 5-4 vote by the Supreme Court in February 2022 let Alabama use these illegal districts during the election while the court heard the state’s appeal on the case known as Allen v. Milligan. In that case, voters had sued Alabama, arguing that its new congressional district map violated the Voting Rights Act by unfairly reducing Black voting power. Only one of seven congressional districts on Alabama’s new map had a majority Black population despite Black residents making up a quarter of the state’s population.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Neediest areas are being shortchanged on government funds − even with programs designed to benefit poor communities

  If you live in one of the most economically deprived neighborhoods in your city, you might think the government is directing a smaller share of public funds to your community. And you would typically be right.

  This is the case even with programs that have been specifically designed to benefit low-income communities. Over the long run, federal funds tend to flow toward areas that are relatively better off.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Removing PFAS from public water will cost billions and take time – here are ways to filter out some harmful ‘forever chemicals’ at home

  Chemists invented PFAS in the 1930s to make life easier: Nonstick pans, waterproof clothing, grease-resistant food packaging, and stain-resistant carpet were all made possible by PFAS. But in recent years, the growing number of health risks found to be connected to these chemicals has become increasingly alarming.

  PFAS – perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances – are now either suspected or known to contribute to thyroid disease, elevated cholesterol, liver damage, and cancer, among other health issues.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

5 thoughts for new college grads seeking to find the right balance between meaningful work and making money

  The Class of 2024 had a college experience like no other, starting its first year during peak pandemic and graduating amid protests of the war in Gaza. Many of its graduates will be joining a working world that holds their future in its hands and that was transformed by technological advancements and changing attitudes about work while they were in school. What can they expect from the world of work today?

  As a philosopher and a psychologist who began our careers in management consulting – and now teach ethics and leadership and study why people work – we have five thoughts for new college graduates to consider as they head out into the “real world.”

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Getting out of jury duty

  Last week, I dyed my hair orange - not red, not the subtle hue of a delicate tiger lily bloom, but bright, shiny traffic cone orange. This is actually not an unusual occurrence. I've dyed my hair various less-than-conservative shades on the color wheel, and invariably I have received contrasting responses that have ranged from "Hey, cool!" to genuine concern from those who believe that I am yet another victim of the devil's crack rock.