Will Iowa keep its proud tradition of fair, nonpartisan redistricting?
Iowa’s nonpartisan redistricting process has long been held up as a model for the country, even though most other states have shown little interest in adopting it. This year, Iowa’s much-heralded but little-emulated process is proceeding under two sets of unusual circumstances. The first, as has been widely reported, is the late arrival of census […]
How bans on mask mandates affect students with disabilities – 4 questions answered
As if back-to-school season weren’t stressful enough already amid a U.S. surge in the delta variant, bitter wrangling over school mask mandates has added to the fear and confusion for many students and parents. Nine states – Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah – have passed laws or issued executive […]
Where’s the American spirit against COVID that we saw after 9/11?
When the anniversary of some tragedy rolls around, we are reminded of what was lost in those events. We reflect on the lives that were taken and the upheaval those deaths brought to their loved ones, their friends and their communities. What might have been — that’s often a topic during those reflections. We saw […]
If vigilante justice spreads, who will be the next target?
Let’s set aside our views on abortion. Instead, let’s consider one aspect of the new Texas abortion law that took effect last week. All of us should be able to agree on this, whether we find abortions abominable or support a woman’s right to end her pregnancy: The enforcement mechanism created by Texas lawmakers is […]
Presidents declare more disasters during reelection years – and the decisions come faster
When torrential rains tore apart Middle Tennessee, Tropical Storm Fred hit the Gulf Coast and Henri hit the northeastern U.S. all in one week of August 2021, the scope of the deaths, injuries and damage quickly overwhelmed local resources. Federal disaster declarations came even before the storms hit, and governors in affected states have called […]
Should government be merciful as well as just?
Springfield, Ill. – Should our government temper its justice with mercy? I’ve been pondering that question for at least three decades, ever since I was a young reporter and heard a Texas prosecutor stand before a jury and say, “These aren’t halls of mercy; these are halls of justice!” Justice is rendered when people receive […]
How often do you lie? It’s probably more often than you realize
This summer, I contributed a chapter on falsehood to an influential book edited by Alex Grech, founding director of the 3CL Foundation. Alex also teaches new media at the University of Malta. The book’s title puts our global situation in perspective: “Media, Technology and Education in a Post-Truth Society: From Fake News, Datafication and Mass […]
Red Oak’s war loss both new and sadly familiar
The news out of Afghanistan last week about the terrorist bombing at the airport in Kabul brought fresh heartache — and old memories — to Iowa. A native of Red Oak, Marine Cpl. Daegan Page, 23, was among 13 members of the U.S. military who died in the blast. Page and the others were screening […]
What the hail: It’s time to pay attention to climate policy
At my house, 2021 has been the summer of the insurance claim. An ice dam on the roof that leaked into a spare bedroom started the ball rolling in February. We ended up replacing the roof, which was finished less than a week before a July storm pelted us with golf-ball-sized hail. The new roof […]
Gold Star parents, Afghanistan veteran reflect on decades of war
ROCHESTER, Ill. — As Americans fled Kabul and desperate Afghans sought to follow, Jerry and Brett Young stood in the yard of their rural Rochester home and remembered their boy who never got to see his 26th birthday. “He loved to skateboard when he was younger. And he loved all kinds of music. He especially […]
More secrecy unwise in state universities’ hiring decisions
Iowa’s three state universities made a U-turn this summer, and they now are headed down the road toward secrecy with some hiring decisions. The about-face should trouble taxpayers of this state. It also should bother members of the Legislature, who have expressed concern in recent years that the universities are out of touch with the […]
Is America experiencing a different kind of ‘civil war’?
Wars are not always fought by armed military forces with guns, bombs, stealth fighters, and sophisticated weaponry. And the enemy is not always clearly defined. Even the reasons for war often lack clarity. But the divisiveness and fighting still rage, nonetheless. At first glance, you might think characterizing the divisiveness that America is experiencing today […]