UA In the News — Aug. 7

  • August 7th, 2019

For many, ‘fake news’ is much ado about nothing…until crisis-mode
Knox News – Aug. 7
Not a day goes by in the current media maelstrom without encountering the term “fake news” – whether via social media; the 24/7 cable-news continuum; political chatter among friends (or foes); or President Trump’s Twitter feed voicing media-coverage dissatisfaction (constantly reported by national news outlets). Just how routinely do businesses and other organizations encounter purposeful disinformation (or inadvertent misinformation) that impacts them directly? Surprisingly, the answer is …not much. That’s according to a new study just released by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama – the “North American Communication Monitor 2018-2019” – which tracks a host of  “strategic issues, practices and roles for communication professionals in Canada and the United States.” The study’s final survey sample consisted of 765 communication professionals in the U.S. (75.0%) and 255 in Canada (25.0%).

In the dog days of an Alabama summer, don’t blame the Dog Star for the heat
Alabama News Center – Aug. 4
Sirius, though, is excessively far away to heat Earth. “The amount of heat we get from Sirius is absolutely negligible compared to the sun,” said Dr. Ron Buta, professor emeritus of astronomy at the University of Alabama. “The rising of Sirius at the same time as the sun doesn’t add any significant extra heat. It’s a myth.” Still, for astronomy lovers, this time of year can be a great time to see Sirius just before dawn, and, with a sophisticated telescope, see Sirius during the day, Buta said.

Mass shootings and misogyny: The violent ideology we can’t ignore
News-W – Aug. 7
In the past week, three separate mass shootings have led to national discussions about racism, xenophobia and white supremacy. The other violent ideology animating these attacks has gotten less attention: misogyny. Are boys broken? : Another mass shooting renews debate on toxic masculinity  According to statements from authorities and media reports from people who knew the alleged gunmen, the three mass shooters in Dayton , Ohio; El Paso , Texas; and Gilroy , California, either explicitly expressed hatred for women or embraced forms of extremism connected to a disdain for them. Masculinity does play a role in these crimes, and dangerous ideologies cannot be ignored, but access to guns cant either, said Adam Lankford, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama who studies mass shootings.
VC Star
Yahoo News
Naples Daily News

Gunman’s left-wing views thwart Democratic efforts to pin mass shootings on Trump
The Washington Times – Aug. 6
Democrats blaming President Trump for last weekend’s mass shootings saw their argument continue to unravel Tuesday as more details emerged indicating that the suspected gunmen held some avowedly left-wing views.  Connor Betts, the 24-year-old killer in the deadly shooting in Dayton, Ohio, expressed pro-antifa, pro-socialist and anti-ICE positions on a now-suspended Twitter account believed to be his, as well as support for Democratic Sens. Bernard Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Adam Lankford, University of Alabama criminology professor, said shooters are often “looking for someone to blame so they can latch onto an existing narrative,” and if one ideology falls through, “they may just keep looking.”  “For example, both the shooters from this past weekend who clearly expressed ideas on very different parts of the spectrum — if they hadn’t latched onto those specific things, they may have latched onto something else,” said Mr. Lankford, adding, “They’ll find a reason to justify it.”

Research: Evidence of extreme warfare from Classic period disputes role of violence in civilization’s decline
Tunis Daily News – Aug. 6
The Maya of Central America are thought to have been a kinder, gentler civilization, especially compared to the Aztecs of Mexico. At the peak of Mayan culture some 1,500 years ago, warfare seemed ritualistic, designed to extort ransom for captive royalty or to subjugate rival dynasties, with limited impact on the surrounding population. The puzzle lingered until 2016, when Estrada-Belli and co-author Alexandre Tokovinine, a Mayan epigrapher at The University of Alabama, discovered a key piece of evidence in the ruins of Witzna: an emblem glyph, or city seal, identifying Witzna as the ancient Mayan city Bahlam Jol.
VRT NWS (Brussels, Belgium)
New York Times
Science Magazine

Experts: Mental illness not main driver of mass shootings
WBNS (Columbus, Ohio) – Aug. 6
President Donald Trump’s focus on “mentally ill monsters” oversimplifies the role of mental illness in public mass shootings and downplays the ease with which Americans can get firearms, experts said. A country’s rate of gun ownership is a far better predictor of public mass shootings than indicators of mental illness, said Adam Lankford, a University of Alabama criminologist who published a 2016 analysis of data from 171 countries.
Yahoo News
The Guardian
CBS (Columbus, Miss.)

The El Paso shooting isn’t an anomaly. It’s American history repeating itself.
Vox – Aug. 6
The El Paso shooter is not a fluke or an anomaly. He is part of a resurgence of white nationalist violence in the United States, a wave of killings that are themselves part of a very long history of political violence by American racists and white nationalists.  In the years after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups launched a wave of killings aimed at intimidating newly freed black people and restoring the antebellum racial order. One study of 75 far-right radicals found that many of them “credit his candidacy as the start of their awakening.” In his book The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know, University of Alabama professor George Hawley writes that “Trump’s presidential campaign energized the alt-right and helped the movement reach a new audience,” adding that “had Trump never entered the GOP presidential primaries … the alt-right would not have shown much interest in the 2016 presidential election.”

Promoting Entrepreneurship with New Collaboration
Business Alabama – Aug. 6
A push by The University of Alabama to promote entrepreneurship throughout the Tuscaloosa region is increasing with a realignment of resources to better support innovators. The Bama Technology Incubator, an on-campus laboratory space, will change its name to Edge Labs, serving as a counterpart to The Edge, a 26,000-square-foot, off-campus business incubator that opened in February as a collaboration among UA, the city of Tuscaloosa and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.

Santa Rose Press-Gazette (Florida) – Aug. 2
The University of Alabama awarded 5,716 degrees during its spring commencement May 3-5. Among the recipients are: Benjamin James Barrow of Gulf Breeze, Bachelor of Arts. Kyle Austin Bryans of Pace, Bachelor of Science in Commerce & Business Administration. Matthew Ryan Cutler of Gulf Breeze, Bachelor of Science in Commerce & Business Administration. Delaney Nicole Dunn of Milton, Master of Science. Sydney Jordan Ezelle of Gulf Breeze, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.

PHOTOS: Alabama Summer Graduation
Tuscaloosa News – Aug. 3
The University of Alabama held summer commencement Saturday, August 3, 2019 in Coleman Coliseum. Happy graduates wave to family and friends during the processional. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

UA to Lead Study on Irrigation-Fed Farming Impacts in Deep South
Pickens County Herald – July 31 (print edition)

Unique research led by The University of Alabama will study whether more irrigation-fed farms in the Deep South could lead to a more robust agriculture industry, possibly becoming an even greater economic engine.

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