Month: February 2019

Why Vietnam is the Perfect Location for the Trump-Kim Summit

Hanoi, the colorful and charming Vietnamese capital, will draw the world’s attention this week as the U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands and poses for photographs with the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. Surrounded by picturesque old French yellow villas, tree-lined boulevards, and lakes, both leaders couldn’t have picked better hosts or location for this meeting.   Vietnam is still ruled by a single Communist party and therefore has strong diplomatic ties with China, Cuba, and North Korea. Its economic opening and reforms have, however, increased its trade and investment links with South Korea, Japan, the U.S.,...

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Rearming A Forbidden Military: Japan’s Self-Defense Force & Constitutional Revisions

With a record $47bn defense budget, a total order of 150 F-35s coupled with the first aircraft carriers since 1945, and a House of Counsillors election in July, 2019 will be a busy year for Prime Minister Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). These enhancements to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF), a military organization not directly permitted by the Japanese Constitution, accompany shifting power dynamics in Asia. For the past seven years, though, the LDP has sought constitutional amendments to the war-renouncing Article 9. These revisions cannot be treated separately from Japan’s military buildup of recent years; together...

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One year after the Parkland, FL school shooting, reforms are still unfinished.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in which 17 students and teachers lost their lives. Yet, one year later, there are few reforms to show for a recurring problem that repeatedly puts our country’s children at risk. While some measures have resulted in reform, such as a bump stock ban and, at least in Florida, a three-day waiting period, we cannot wait for future school shootings to make the reforms to stop these tragedies. Fatalities resulting from a school shooting. Source: K-12 School Shooting Database.   Last year alone, there were 97...

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Voter Turnout Is Dismal: Is Mandatory Voting The Solution?

In the 2018 midterm elections, voter turnout repeatedly surfaced as a defining issue for several races. Compared to previous years, Texas saw high voter turnout, despite a meager 53% of Texans showing up to the polls. Beto O’Rourke highlighted this issue as he often referred to Texas as a “non-voting state” rather than a red state. In Georgia, Brian Kemp purged thousands of voters in the state’s gubernatorial race between himself and Stacey Abrams. Abrams has cited this purge as a key reason why she lost the race and is backing an effort to reform Georgia’s electoral system. This...

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Changing a system of segregation requires more than single-member districts

Minority underrepresentation on Texas school boards is failing thousands of school children each year, as reported in the Texas Tribune’s investigative reporting on school dis-integration. Districts, such as the Richardson ISD, while representing a significant proportion of students of color, have just one person of color serving on the school board. In January, proponents for change made progress, moving from seven at-large seats to five single-member districts, with two of those districts having a minority-majority makeup. While this is progress, Richardson ISD has, instead of restructuring a powerful underlying system, further entrenched segregation into their electorate. The five single-member...

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