Month: February 2019

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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She may be radical, but AOC has not gone far enough on taxes

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a lightning rod for news coverage. She was recently featured on “60 Minutes,” an opportunity that has eluded some of her more seasoned peers in the House. Ocasio-Cortez spoke on a range of topics during the interview, including inequality, climate change, and immigration. But one subject generated a truly surprising amount of attention: the marginal tax system. By explaining how the system works and floating the idea that the top marginal tax rate should be between 60 and 70%, Ocasio-Cortez generated intense debate on the topic. In the interview, Ocasio-Cortez used $10 million in annual...

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