Month: March 2016

Black Lives Matter In Austin Too: Progressivism and its Shortcomings in the Texas Capital

On Monday, February 8, 2016, 17 year old David Joseph was shot and killed by a police officer in Northeast Austin.  Police say the unarmed teen was naked and acted in an aggressive manner when he charged at Officer Geoffrey Freeman. Austin previously encountered police violence against communities of color in the 2013 shooting death of  32 year old Larry Jackson, Jr. After he was questioned about a bank robbery he was shot and killed by a police officer. My synopsis of these events does not do justice to these men’s stories; you should look up their names and...

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Zika in Texas: Not Just a Women’s Issue

Photo: StraitsTimes/AFP Cases of the virus associated with fetal microcephaly have been detected in Dallas and Travis County. The state’s first response should be increasing access to family planning and resources for disabled children.   At this point, you’ve probably heard about the Zika virus. In pregnant women, the virus has been associated with fetal microcephaly, which can result in severe disability or death.¹ The CDC recently released a statement finding causality more and more likely.2,3 While a microcephaly diagnosis can include conditions ranging from a slightly smaller than normal head to a complete lack of brain development, cases related to Zika appear to be severe.4...

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Smart Diplomacy: Reflections From a Career Ambassador

Before he was whisked away from our interview to moderate a conflict resolution exercise, I had a conversation with Ambassador Thomas Pickering. As a diplomat, he has served in a host of countries as well as in the United Nations. Even though he has technically retired from his career as an ambassador, he is still active in foreign relations. We talked about modern trends in approaches to diplomacy and present-day foreign policy issues with North Korea. The Ambassador’s career has provided him with many anecdotes. For instance, while he was serving as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador in the...

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Criminal Justice Reform Panel

On Monday, February 22, as part of the 2016 Barbara Jordan Forum, Citizens for Local and State Service (CLASS) sponsored a panel of elected officials representing city, county, and state government who addressed the topic of “Criminal Justice Reform in Central Texas.” The panel consisted of Kathie Tovo, Austin City Council member for District 9; state representative Joe Moody of El Paso, and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt. Judge Eckhardt proposed that we have criminalized social and public health issues – everything from drugs and alcohol to the dissolution of families and the inability to care for children. She...

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What a Crisis Taught me About Diplomacy

A few weeks ago I took part in a policy simulation and learned as much about international relations in forty-two hours as I did in an entire semester of studying.  Political theory is an important basis for understanding international relations, but it is incomplete without including the complex levels of diplomacy as well. During my first year as a Global Policy Studies student at the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs, I read thousands upon thousands of pages of political theory.  I closely watched news coverage of 2015 Iran Nuclear deal and tried to apply what I had...

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