Month: May 2017

For what purpose do you rise? A slice of life at the Texas State Legislature in its 85th session

Photo: Eric About three weeks into my internship at the state legislature (or “lege”), we had the senate live feed playing in our office while we worked and for the first time, I noticed a unique feature of parliamentary procedure. One of the senators asked to be recognized and in response, the president said, “For what purpose do you rise?” This phrase had a poetry that moved me, and I immediately wrote it down on a sticky note and attached it to my computer monitor, where it has remained for the rest of session. It is the first thing...

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4 Reasons Why Global Food Security is Necessary for U.S. National Security

Photo: European Commission One million children die each year from hunger. This statistic is staggering, but it is about to get much worse. Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano De Silva warns that without emergency food aid over the next 6 months, “20 million people will starve to death in South Sudan, Somalia, north-eastern Nigeria, and Yemen.” Now, more than ever, there is a need for a robust U.S foreign food aid program. Despite the crisis, the Trump administration is proposing to cut as much as 37% from the foreign assistance budget, an expense...

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Cyber Sirens: Heed the Warnings Before it is too Late

Photo: Yuri Samoilov At 11:48pm on April 7, 2017, every tornado siren in Dallas went off at the same time.  The sky was clear, but the shrieks from 156 sirens wrenched residents from their slumber. As the sirens blared on for 95 minutes, terrified callers flooded 911 phone lines, leaving people experiencing real emergencies waiting for someone to respond. The city was forced to shut down the entire emergency alarm system for days. What happened? What left city officials scrambling and Dallas citizens tired and bewildered? Hackers. A hacker managed to determine the radio code used to turn on...

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Let’s celebrate Mother’s Day by addressing Texas’ maternal mortality crisis

Photo: Dave Herholz On Mother’s Day this year, my brother and I will likely celebrate the way we usually do. We will each buy our respective cards (or he’ll sign his name to the one I bought two weeks ago), take her out to brunch, and listen to her recount the stories of how we came into the world, making her a mother. Later she’ll look at us and hint strongly about how much she’s looking forward to grandmother-hood, even though we’re both single and in school. The day I was born, my mom was checked into a hospital...

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SB 4 and the Failure of Stability Operations in Texas

Photo shows the Perkowti Valley near FOB Tillman in Paktika, Afghanistan, taken by author The guard drops Tim and Luis off ten minutes late for GED math prep at the Travis County Jail. Shuffling to our shared circular work table, they apologize for their tardiness. We dive into simple interest calculations. Tim’s got it down, but Luis struggles with mathematical logic. He stares at the paper and copies my every word. “So you give the bank $500, and that’s your principal” I say. I ask him what the principal is. He’s silent. Tim elbows Luis, and tells him how tough...

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