Thursday, July 18, 2024

Project 2025 would eliminate Head Start, severely restricting access to child care in rural America

  Head Start is a vital support for parents like Javona Brownlee, whose three children all attended Head Start programs. Javona’s two youngest children attended preschool through Head Start while the family lived in a homeless shelter after escaping from an abusive partner. Participating in Head Start allowed them to receive the developmental and academic support they needed and enabled Javona to get back on her feet and start her own cleaning business. She shared, “Those doors were able to open for me because my children had access to Head Start; it had a huge impact on my family and allowed me to become self-sufficient.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

"Sew Their Names," a locally-produced documentary, to screen at the Capri Theatre July 20

  Montgomery-based filmmaker Josh Carples, with the Montgomery
Museum of Fine Arts
, will present his latest project, "Sew Their Names," (Terrible Master Films) at 1 pm Saturday at the Capri Theatre. The film tells the story of a retired federal judge facing the reality of her family's past involvement in slavery and Black quilters from a rural Alabama community working to honor previously unrecognized individuals who fell victim to American slavery.  

  Carples viewed quilts from the Sew Their Names Project at the MMFA, leading him to create the film. The installation came from artists Wini McQueen of Macon, Ga. and Yvonne Wells of Tuscaloosa and the quilters of Mt. Willing, a rural community in Lowndes County. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Project 2025: The plan to seize power by gutting America’s system of checks and balances

  The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 is a road map for how a new far-right presidential administration can take over the country. The project contains four components: a 920-page book with far-right policy proposals, a personnel database of loyalists ready to replace tens of thousands of civil servants, a private online training center, and an unpublished plan for the first 180 days of a new administration.

  Many of the proposals in Project 2025 are sweeping and would eliminate fundamental personal freedoms while cutting the take-home pay of millions of Americans. Unsurprisingly, Project 2025’s policies to increase taxes on the middle class, allow corporations to stop paying workers overtime, implement a national abortion ban, and raise the retirement age for Social Security are wildly unpopular.

Monday, July 15, 2024

Extreme heat waves aren’t ‘just summer’: How climate change is heating up the weather, and what we can do about it

  The heat wave that left more than 100 million people sweating across the eastern U.S. in June 2024 hit so fast and was so extreme that forecasters warned a flash drought could follow across wide parts of the region.

  Prolonged high temperatures can quickly dry soils, triggering a rapid onset drought that can affect agriculture, water resources, and energy supplies. Many regions under the June heat dome quickly developed abnormally dry conditions.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Supreme Court has fully embraced an antidemocratic, right-wing agenda

  This term, extreme right-wing justices on the Supreme Court have abandoned settled law; constitutional principles; and their own institutional integrity for the purpose of advancing an antidemocratic, far-right policy agenda. The 6-3 right-wing majority on the Supreme Court engaged in an unprecedented power grab, laying the foundation for an antidemocratic, deregulatory, and corporatist agenda to thrive. They decreed in a series of cases that presidents are immune from criminal liability for actions taken in office and that both public agencies and Congress have little authority to protect the American people from powerful, monied interests. The combination of these cases lays the groundwork for an excessively powerful commander-in-chief and a judiciary equipped to thwart efforts to advance a progressive agenda. This court is paving the way for an illiberal democracy or autocracy where the “Leader”—like Victor Orban in Hungary, Recep Erdogan in Turkey, or Xi Jinping in China—controls the courts, schools, and media, and any act of defiance against the government is met with prosecution or persecution.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Tips for spotting AI-generated election disinformation and propaganda

  With less than six months to go until we elect the next U.S. president, voters must be savvy to spot disinformation. Artificial intelligence tools are making that task more difficult by allowing people to easily generate fake images and video intended to sway voters.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Why Alabama state officials might not want to appoint local police chiefs

  I can’t believe that the Alabama Legislature cares about public safety in our cities.

  No, crime is not worse than it’s ever been. It’s far off its 1980 peak. And a 2020-21 spike in violent crime, caused by the COVID pandemic, appears to be dropping.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Black economic boycotts of the civil rights era still offer lessons on how to achieve a just society

  Signed into law 60 years ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in the U.S. based on “race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.”

  Yet, as a historian who studies social movements and political change, I think the law’s most important lesson for today’s movements is not its content but rather how it was achieved.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Squatlow and the Cuban Missile Crisis

  Fall is my favorite time of year, and October is my favorite month. The pristine air, glorious foliage, and football season are enthralling. Every October, I think of a traumatic experience for our nation. It was 62 years ago this month that the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. I remember it like it was yesterday. It appeared imminent that we were headed for a nuclear holocaust.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

In the age of cancel culture, shaming can be healthy for online communities – a political scientist explains when and how

 “Cancel culture” has a bad reputation. There is growing anxiety over this practice of publicly shaming people online for violating social norms ranging from inappropriate jokes to controversial business practices.

  Online shaming can be a wildly disproportionate response that violates the privacy of the shamed while offering them no good way to defend themselves. These consequences lead some critics to claim that online shaming creates a “hate storm” that destroys lives and reputations, leaves targets with “permanent digital baggage”, and threatens the fundamental right to publicly express yourself in a democracy. As a result, some scholars have declared that online shaming is a “moral wrong and social ill.”

Monday, July 8, 2024

Modern-day outlaws, ‘sovereign citizens’ threaten the rule of law

  In May 2024, an Oklahoma man was arrested and charged with kidnapping and murdering two women, becoming the fifth member of an anti-government group called “God’s Misfits” to face such charges.

  With the investigation still underway, details about God’s Misfits remain scarce. The group’s members may be part of the so-called “sovereign citizen” movement – people who believe they owe no allegiance to any government and are not required to obey laws.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Boost your immune system with this centuries-old health hack: Vaccines

  There are a dizzying number of tips, hacks, and recommendations on how to stay healthy, from dietary supplements to what color of clothes promotes optimal wellness. Some of these tips are helpful and based on good evidence, while others are not.

  However, one of the easiest, most effective, and safest ways to stay healthy is rarely mentioned: vaccination.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Making art is a uniquely human act, and one that provides a wellspring of health benefits

  When you think about the word “art,” what comes to mind? A child’s artwork pinned to the fridge? A favorite artist whose work always inspires? Abstract art that is hard to understand?

  Each of these assumes that making art is something that other people do, such as children or “those with talent.”

Friday, July 5, 2024

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Fobbed again

  When Guy Hunt won the governor’s race over Bill Baxley in 1986, it was well publicized that he was a part-time Primitive Baptist preacher. He was also billed as a part-time Amway salesman. These common man vocations appealed to the average Alabama voter. It was Hunt’s calling as a Baptist preacher that resonated warmly with his constituency. Alabamians are very religious and very Baptist.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Celebrating moral courage on Independence Day

  We call this patriotic holiday Independence Day, the Birthday of America, or simply the 4th of July. It celebrates a political act by 56 men who literally risked their lives and fortunes and pledged their sacred honor in issuing one of the greatest documents in human history: The Declaration of Independence.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Freedom isn’t free

  You can’t understand the scope of 122,000 names until you see them on a wall.

  Stand at the foot of the National Monument to Freedom, recently dedicated by the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, and you’ll see all of them, soaring three or four stories above your head.

  Each name, taken from the 1870 census, belonged to a former enslaved person. These are surnames. Family names. Combined, they represent about 4 million people who emerged from bondage.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Populism can degrade democracy but is on the rise − here’s what causes this political movement and how it can be weakened

  There’s a widespread view that populism is on the rise, from the United States and Turkey to India and Hungary.

  What is fueling this movement?

  Populism is a political ideology that positions “the people” as a morally just, good group in society, in contrast with other people who are elitist and out of touch with society. Politicians such as former President Donald Trump have used this general approach to help propel their rise to power – and maintain their popularity among their supporters.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Descendants of last slave ship arriving in U.S. share history with students

  Earlier this spring, a group of college students from Auburn University, Chicago’s Governors State University, and members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Auburn traveled by boat to a narrow stretch of the Mobile River, just north of the Mobile Bay Delta in Alabama. Along with them were a journalism professor and a handful of people whose ancestors had traveled the same route in 1860.

  Fifty-two years after the U.S. banned the trafficking of African people to this country for the purpose of slave labor, 110 people who had been kidnapped from present-day Benin arrived in Mobile in anguish, hands bound. After the Clotilda was unloaded, the captain sank it upstream from the port city to conceal his crime. It was the last known ship engaged in trafficking enslaved African people to the U.S.