Countering Violent Extremism at Home: Treating Communities as Partners, Not Targets

A superior strategy for countering of violent extremism demands an overhaul of the Federal Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) approach. The US government can better mitigate extremist violence by supporting local and communal initiatives with financing and resources, de-policing CVE strategy, and divorcing violent extremism from the notion that it’s solely a “Muslim” issue.

President Obama’s Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States argued that “protecting American communities from al-Qa’ida’s hateful ideology is not the work of government alone. Communities—especially Muslim American…are often best positioned to take the lead because they know their communities best”. Current Federal CVE strategy includes (1) enhancing federal engagement with ‘at-risk’ local communities, (2) continuing to build up government and policing expertise for preventing violent extremism, and (3) countering violent extremism propaganda while promoting our own ideals. Continue reading

Consumer Choice in Health Insurance Markets Under the Affordable Care Act

If you’ve never had to shop for health insurance, consider yourself lucky. Between searching for affordable premiums, making sense of co-pays and coinsurance, and finding a plan with your favorite doctor, choosing a good health plan can be a daunting task. As a health policy student, I tried my hand last month at choosing a plan on the North Carolina exchange. Despite being well-versed in insurance concepts, I too struggled to figure out which plan would be best for me among the many options.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been successful in its goals of increasing access to health insurance while preserving choice and competition in health insurance markets. It brought nearly 11 million people into the individual market who previously didn’t have insurance, and it offered them a variety of health insurance options to choose from. Despite achieving such historic milestones, however, it remains to be seen what the future might hold for the ACA. Until then, policymakers must continue working to make the process of buying insurance easier for the average American. Continue reading

Why Planned Parenthood funding is more important than you think

1 in 5 women has visited Planned Parenthood at least once in her life.

1 in 5 women has visited Planned Parenthood at least once in her life.

Donations to Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas tripled after Election Day. Many donors fear that a Trump presidency will strip Planned Parenthood of funding and limit the provision of reproductive health services to women. People are quick to equate Planned Parenthood with abortion, but the conversation should be much broader. Family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood provide affordable services for women that improve a wide-range of maternal health outcomes.

Maternal mortality – defined as the death of a women while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy – is an important indicator of women’s health outcomes in a country. The US is one of the few countries worldwide that experienced an increase in maternal mortality between 2000 and 2015. Because family planning clinics provide prenatal services to women that reduce the risks of pregnancy, they are important combatants of these negative trends. Continue reading

Wage Gap vs. Earnings Gap

Source: CNN Money

Source: CNN Money

There are multiple pieces online from prominent publications dispelling the “myth” of the wage gap. Articles from Forbes, The Atlantic, and the Wall Street Journal discuss the wage gap as though it’s a dubious statistic and suggest that men and women’s pay are ostensibly equal for equal work.

If they are to be believed, then it’s only taken 53 years since the passing of the Equal Pay Act to reach a point of income parity. But this premise is false, and the true state of affairs is that the wage gap is painfully real. The reality is that women’s median income for full-time positions is $40,742 while full-time jobs for men earn them a median income of $51,212. The wage gap between men and women currently sits at women earning 79.5 cents to every $1.00 earned by men.

The good news is that the wage gap has steadily decreased since 1960. While 79.5 percent is better than 56 percent, any gap at all is still unsatisfactory. But what explains this difference? Continue reading

Durham Bond Approvals Reveal National Finance Challenges

As North Carolinians anxiously await the final results of the governor’s race, Durham County residents have successfully passed four different bond referendums totaling $170 million to fund public education, library, and museum projects. Nearly $91 million will be put towards improving school buildings and security systems in Durham Public Schools, which comes after a slew of recent budget cuts to the district.

Durham County’s approach to financing these education projects mirrors the national trend of cities and counties turning to local bonds in the 2016 election as a main revenue source for education and infrastructure projects. Bonds are essentially promises that the government makes to repay over a period of time, often through increased taxes, to finance public improvements like school building projects. Continue reading

COP-22 highlights need for American leadership in combating climate change in India

The skyline of Delhi remains hidden on a November morning. Photo Credit: Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The skyline of Delhi remains hidden on a November morning.
Photo Credit: Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

New Delhi, India: My father has struggled to complete his morning run for the past few weeks. Thick and unrelenting smog has settled over New Delhi, forcing residents to wear facemasks and invest in air purifiers. “My whole family has bought facemasks and air purifiers,” says Nikhil Dugal, long-term resident of the city.

Pollution levels are on the rise in developing cities like New Delhi, as president-elect Donald Trump has threatened to cancel the Paris Accord. This frustrating dichotomy and the need for American leadership in the fight against climate change were highlighted at United Nations COP22 summit that took place earlier in November. Continue reading