So Many Tabs…

Several stories for your consumption.

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The UNI biology professor pitching the resolution, Steve L. O’Kane Jr., told The Gazette he has already imposed a mask mandate for his students, lowering laboratory grades if they refuse.

“I have made it clear to the administration that I am willing to be terminated for my actions,” he said. “Of course, I would immediately sue the university and the Board of Regents if that were to come to pass.”

Faculty need more freedom to require masking as the delta variant of COVID-19 is driving another surge of the disease, O’Kane argued, estimating that only one or two out of 100 wear masks in UNI’s McCollum Science Hall, “even after their professor has pleaded with them to do so.”

“My students, not surprisingly, now all wear masks as they know there will be consequences to their grades,” he said.

The Texas state Senate is on the verge of releasing new congressional lines that could very well determine the balance of power in the House for the next decade. While the precise boundaries are still being finalized, the new map is likely to shore up all of the state’s GOP incumbents by packing Democrats together in three new deep-blue seatsin the biggest metro areas: Austin, Houston and Dallas, according to severalsources close to the redistricting process.

The United States experienced its biggest one-year increase on record in homicides in 2020, according to new figures released on Monday by the F.B.I., with some cities hitting record highs.

Although major crimes were down overall, there were an additional 4,901 homicides in 2020 compared with the year before, the largest leap since national records started in 1960. The significant rise has roughly coincided with the 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The perils of the Darien Gap
FILED UNDER: Tab Clearing, , , , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. JohnMcC says:

    In the ancient dead-tree version of Esquire magazine there used to be a sub-head or paragraph-lead that showed up in most issues (as my best memories go, true or not) and it occurred to me that it sums up the list of stories: Smiling Through the Apocalypse.

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    So, just to be clear, the Haitians at our border passed through Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico – six sovereign nations – none of which offered them a home, but instead facilitated their movement to the US. And we’re the bad guys?

  3. just nutha says:

    Under ordinary circumstances, I would say that it’s counterproductive to grade students on whether you approve of their personal habits. I’m guessing that, it being Iowa and all, he has no alternative measures available–presenting his lectures on a live projection link from his home, refusing to seat students if not masked (also probably impractical if only 1% wear them), ejecting students who remove their masks, and such–so I will simply sigh, shake my head, and walk away thankful for being retired now. (At the school that has the kids from the “good neighborhoods” today. They are less likely to keep their masks on all period and appeals to their sense of community are not as effective as they are with the “problem kids.” Hmmmm…)

  4. James Joyner says:

    @just nutha: Public universities in Virginia, including the one my (fully vaccinated) stepdaughter attends, have mask mandates. But, honestly, I don’t know where a professor would get the authority to penalize students for failure to wear a mask. It couldn’t possibly withstand academic scrutiny and, frankly, he’s likely to get fired.

  5. just nutha says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Apparently we’re not bad enough. They’re still coming. But yeah, we’re the bad guys (and it still is a sin to do good on the Sabbath).

  6. @just nutha: Without defending or criticizing the prof in question, I can say with 100% certainty that the main way to adjust student behavior is via grades.

  7. just nutha says:

    @James Joyner: I wouldn’t think so either. On the other hand, if the threat will work for the semester, then he only needs to find a new one for the next term. (Back in the dark ages, I’m pretty sure that some malcontent Cracker would have complained early enough to get the rule reversed quickly.)

  8. just nutha says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Certainly true. And I dropped a fair number of classes taught by that type of teacher. It’s a reprehensible practice in my book; only to be used as a last resort. We’re teaching people to think, not to be obedient. The second is the job of parents, religion, and society. (If I’d wanted to be a parent, I’d have had kids, and the high degree of “in loco parentis” stuff is ultimately what kept me out of elementary school teaching.)

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @just nutha:

    It’s a reprehensible practice in my book; only to be used as a last resort.

    I’m not sure we aren’t there. The prof is trying to protect his own health and that of the other students in the class. The school isn’t helping. What else can he do?

  10. Crusty Dem says:

    @James Joyner:

    This university (and many others) is absolutely failing to protect the professors. In an area where COVID has been rampant, Iowa Universities have set up requirements for teachers to 1) teach in person without exceptions 2) not require any form of indoor masking 3) no vaccination mandate 4) requirement of allowing students to visit their office unmasked 5) etc etc

    Perhaps the professor should quit, I certainly wouldn’t want to teach in that atmosphere, but he’s trying to work around the issues. It is an absolute last resort.

  11. just nutha says:

    @gVOR08: That’s certainly possible. Especially if basic school/state policy and community standards resemble Floriduh more than they represent policy and standards in functional societies.

  12. Lounsbury says:

    I would like to suggest a topic and tab set for Pr Taylor as it seems to me to be more or less in the rough domain of interestexample article from, WB Doing Biz must be protected, thorn for kleptocrats…

  13. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    They likely have reasons for not stopping en route bur t going on to the US.
    An asylum seeker need to claim asylum; you can’t force it upon him.
    Similarly in Europe quite a few refugees decide not seek asylum in the first Europeans country they reach.
    UK has an ongoing row with France about that.
    Most do claim elsewhere but some are determined to come to Britain.
    Language, family, dreams of old London Town?
    For whatever reason, they decide it’s UK for them..

  14. Kingdaddy says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Most of the sovereign nations in question may not have the means to transport thousands of immigrants across the sea. And if you imprison thousands of immigrants, what then? Do you expect them to sort through the asylum claims of these immigrants, especially if their ultimate destination is another country?

  15. David S. says:

    @JohnSF: Thinking that they’re used to British norms after being occupied or colonized by them? I’d be interested in any kind of qualitative data on why asylum seekers pick a specific country.

  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    What I’m saying is that each of these governments could have opened their doors and taken in a few thousand Haitians. They chose not to. We are not the only nation with agency. Colombia is a nation of 50 million with an 800 billion GDP. Mexico is a nation of 128 million with a 2.7 trillion dollar economy. Panama: 4 million and 122 million.

    Let’s give Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala a pass because they’re scarcely less fucked than Haiti. But that’s still three countries with 180 million people and about 3.5 trillion in national incomes, and yet, despite these Haitians being asylum seekers, they’re told to keep walking. And apparently no one has a problem with that.

  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    @just nutha:

    It’s a lab course though. Following safety procedures is often part of the grading for lab courses.

  18. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Based on meetings we had early on in the Fall, I am 100% certain that I would have already been fired from my college if I had implemented and then stood firm on a policy that tied mask wearing with course grading or encouraged vaccination via extra credit.

    Students are permitted to attend class remotely on the honor system due to COVID exposure / COVID-like symptoms. We are not.

    Students are able to create 100% remote course schedule (including live Zoom lectures) if they want to limit exposure. We are not.

    As I’ve likely already mentioned, I asked my students to be courteous enough of my attempts to keep my elderly mother from getting a Delta breakthrough to wear a mask in my room for the duration of class. Only one student does so.

    That story posted here the other day about the variations in COVID severity between age group / vaccination status pairings got me all stressed out all over again.

  19. JohnSF says:

    @David S.:
    In a lot of cases. We also get a fair number from countries we never had that much to do with: Ethiopia, Syria, Libya, Iran.
    English is a very popular language, globally.

    Or they may come for our renowned cuisine and glorious weather? 🙂

  20. BugManDan says:

    @James Joyner: How is this different than taking attendance in a lecture that does not require discussion? One is for the professor’s health and the other his vanity.

  21. Crusty Dem says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    You are certainly correct, and the professor here, with 26 years experience, is now out as well:

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Good point, but different than lowering their grade because they ‘won’t do what I tell them to.’ And possibly dependent on whether the university/department will agree that wearing a mask (during lectures) is a laboratory safety procedure. (Or are you shooting for lowering only the lab grade? In the 2-years I’ve taught at, the lecture (four units) and the lab (one unit) are two different courses. In some cases not even taught by the same instructor.) But yes, that could have easily gone on my list.

  23. keef says:

    Hey!! Doc (snicker) Taylor!

    How ’bout them covid numbers trending down in FL, GA, TX and TN? Just like I said they would, while you were running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

    I notice you haven’t posted any DeSantis propaganda lately. Who’d a thunk it.

    BTW – look at vaxxed to max Maine.

  24. inhumans99 says:


    Wow Keef, you really are desperate to try and get one over on us, and it is one of the most pathetic things I have encountered on the internet in quite some time.

    These states finally start trending down after months of being some of the worst offenders in the world (not just the U.S.) when it came to new Covid cases and deaths, months of misery for the citizens of these states nearly 2 years(!) into a pandemic with a vaccine that is free that could help so many folks in these states, and you want us to celebrate how DeSantis handled Covid in FL, just eff you dude, eff you dude…you are just a pathetic worm that would let someone drag you over a cliff if you thought it would get one over on us liberals.

    Keef, I just feel for you….your fealty to Trump and DeSantis is a sight to behold.

  25. Scott O says:

    Covid deaths per 100k average over last 7 days by state

    BTW, look at Maine. Then grow up please.

  26. Matt Bernius says:

    Seriously dude… Do we need to go through how wrong you have been over and over again–in particular on your covid predictions? And you are celebrating because, what you predicted rates would eventually go down in Florida (, again roughly at the same time they did last year… Before spiking again in the winter… when, btw, you completely disappeared from this site so your didn’t have to live with all your wrong predictions)?

    Seriously dude, why is your life so empty?

    I mean you claim to have lots of money, a sexy wife, and be almost a pro golfer… And yet you come back here and act a fool… I am sorry you existance is so miserable. No wonder you are just another angry mediocre white dude.

  27. @keef:

    How ’bout them covid numbers trending down in FL, GA, TX and TN? Just like I said they would, while you were running around like a chicken with its head cut off

    I never said that numbers would never come down.

    And if you think that pointing out that there were more ICU patients than beds for weeks on end is “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” then I don’t think you understand the metaphor or, more likely, you lack much in the way of human compassion.

    I guess you missed the post wherein more people died in Alabama in 2020 than were born (and that does not take into 2021 yet). Nor that we were leading the countries in death per capita from Covid last week (and may still be).

    But sure, post taunts.

    I have not written much this week (I think this tab-clearing post is the only thing since the weekend) so that I have not commented on some specific thing doesn’t mean a whole lot.

    Also: I love the lack of evidence (you can’t even provide a link for your position) and just a drive-by. Sigh.

  28. @Scott O: I am going to be fairer to keef than he deserves and note that the question isn’t Maine deaths now, but Maine deaths a few weeks from now.

    And, before that, the hospitalization rates adjusted for population.

    What keef is doing (after poking around a bit here) is noting that there has been an increase in Maine cases (which is true–I expect rightwing media is pointing to this sole fact as evidence of, well, something). It is also true there have been concerns about ICU beds in Maine (from a month ago). I don’t have time for a lot of research, so I am unclear about the issue as of today. One presumes there is increases pressure on beds at the moment.

    But here’s what’s interesting. Florida peaked in cases on 8/16 (and IIRC, Alabama peaked on 9/1). Maine hasn’t peaked yet, but it looks close based on patterns elsewhere. Yet, we are not seeing the same level of deaths and hospitalizations per capita like we saw in FL and AL as they approached peak.

    Gee, I wonder what major variable is different? Might it be the vaccination rate?

    Note: that even within Maine, the coastal counties with better vax rates have lower case rates.

    (and look, if I end up being wrong, then reality is reality, but I expect we are going to find that deaths per capita are going to be far worse in counties with poor vax rates versus those with good vax rates. It will ultimately be an empirical question).

    (Note: to @keef: that’s how you provide a reasoned response with reference to evidence and a link to the evidence so that the reader can look for themselves. Or, of course, one could just snicker).