100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
Eligible Asian American voters in Texas are more politically organized than ever before and are poised to make an impact this election.
Rapid growth in this population, current government policies and the 2020 Census may have contributed to the group's active participation in this election cycle and possible continued political dialog after Nov. 3.
Texas has the third largest population of eligible Asian American voters in the U.S. with 698,000 voters. The latest Census Bureau data shows Austin's Asian community has grown, becoming the second largest in the state with more than 80,000 Asians—surpassing the Black population for the first time in history.
At least five Texan candidates of South Asian descent are running for county, state and federal office this year which is indicative of heightened political awareness within the community, The Texas Tribune reports.
"We have more Asians running for office activating our communities. Also, we have seen heinous attacks on our communities from the White House through policies around immigration, racist COVID-19 attacks, and the Muslim ban that has made our community want to stand up and fight back," said immigration attorney Pooja Sethi, District 10 Austin City Council candidate.
Asian American voters exhibit tremendous diversity in terms of national origin, geographic region, religion and English-langauge proficiency, according to Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, a national nonpartisan organization that mobilizes Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, or AAPI, in electoral and civic participation.
Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Filipino, Cambodian, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Hmong and Laotian origin voters are included in the Asian category, according to AAPI Data, a publisher of demographic data and policy research.
In many cases, Asian Americans are naturalized citizens who did not grow up with the American political system. They could not apply the same political ideology in the U.S. that they had seen in their home countries.
"It is important for Asians to be a part of the political process to have our voices heard, and work long term for a strong sustainable community through political voice and engagement," said Ahmed Moledina, chairman-elect of the Greater Austin Asian American Chamber of Commerce.
In 2016, only about half of 1.3 million Asian Americans in Texas were eligible voters.
This year, politically active organizations in the Asian community collaborated in forums, where they invited political candidates to meet the population. Zoom made it easy to attend and attendees spoke about issues that mattered to them.
WiseUp TX, a non-partisan non-profit that informs the Asian population about political issues, had over 1,500 attendees in each of its three forums this election season on Facebook. It partnered with the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce and 20 other AAPI organizations to host Democratic, Republican and Libertarian candidates for the Texas House, city of Austin and Travis and Williamson counties.
"Community attendance gives you a really great indication of how organized all Asian American and Pacific Islander, AAPI, organizations, including the South Asian community, are to make sure our community is continuously informed in all the ways that we can really make a difference this election cycle," said Azra Siddiqi, founder of WiseUp TX.
According to a 2020 Asian American Voter Survey, most in the Asian American Pacific Islander communities have concerns for health care, immigration, the environment, guns and education. A live survey conducted by Pakistani American Collaboration for Texas, or PACT, a political advocacy group, reflected the same this October.
Co-founder of PACT Imran Baqai said the organization has already started planning post-election discussions on "polarized topics" such as healthcare, immigration, gun control and police reform.
"The last four years have energized this group and forced them to wake up, get organized, and get involved in the political process," Baqai said. "The nomination of Kamala Harris has also energized the entire immigrant community," added Sabiha Rahman, co-founder of Friends of India Texas, another recently formed Asian political group. Vice presidential nominee Harris' mother is an Indian immigrant.
Additionally, the much politicized Census has encouraged community leaders to get involved with the Asian American population. The result is that members of the community are much more aware of the benefits of participating and the risks of going uncounted.
"Several community leaders took on the challenge to ensure every member of the community is counted. There is great concern about justice, polarization and political rhetoric," Ashwin Ghatalia, a member of Indian American Coalition of Texas, said.
While it is unknown if Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders can turn this particular election, the fact that many community leaders are getting involved and several diverse candidates are standing for office could indicate a coming shift in the Texan political spectrum.
- Voting guide: local mobility propositions on the November ballot ... ›
- 20 candidates will vie for five Austin City Council seats this November ›
- Experts share how 'nanoinfluencers' influence 2020 election - austonia ›
- Early voting: Alison Alter leads in crowded race for Austin City Council District 10 - austonia ›
- Leslie Pool leads in Austin City Council District 7 election race - austonia ›
- Jimmy Flannigan leads in the Austin City Council District 6 race - austonia ›
- Greg Casar leads in Austin City Council District 4 race - austonia ›
- EARLY VOTING: Vanessa Fuentes leads race for Austin City Council District 2 seat - austonia ›
- Austin immigration advocates hope for Biden policy changes - austonia ›
- SXSW: George W. Bush confirms the election wasn't stolen - austonia ›
- Texas will gain two congressional seats after 2020 census - austonia ›
- 2020 Census marks 10 years of most rapid growth for Austin - austonia ›
- Austin leads Heartland metros in immigration, economic growth - austonia ›
- 5 takeaways for Austin from the 2020 census - austonia ›
17 years and three medals later, Osterman's last ride with USA softball is over. What's next for Cat?
Nearly two decades after her debut with the University of Texas and 17 years after her first Olympic gold, softball icon Cat Osterman stepped off the Olympic pitcher's mound for the last time with a silver medal to take back home.
Osterman, a three-time Olympian who has been called the "Michael Jordan of softball," will officially retire from the international realm at 38 after a decorated career that included Olympic golds, years of retirement and plenty of adversity—from a worldwide pandemic to dashed gold-medal dreams.
Osterman and her crew left Tokyo on a bittersweet note on Tuesday with a silver medal in hand.
Osterman with Team USA in 2008. (Antoni Majewski/Twitter)
Osterman in the final in 2021. (Antoni Majewski/Twitter)
After a year of sparse in-person training and over a decadelong hiatus, Team USA and Osterman flew to the finals. In five games, the team beat Italy (2-0), Canada (1-0), Mexico (2-0), Australia (2-1), and Japan (2-1).
Deja vu struck in the final match. On one side, Osterman and fellow 2008 Olympic teammate Monica Abbott took the mound; on the other was the 39-year-old Yukiko Ueno, a familiar foe who helped the team beat Team USA last go-round.
"Just like 13 years ago," Ueno said in a press conference, "we were facing each other in the final."
Ueno, who had lost hopes at gold to Osterman in '04, outpitched her longtime opponent with six scoreless innings as Team USA was held to just three hits. The same team that squandered their gold-medal hopes 13 years before had done it once again.
Your Tokyo 2020 Olympic Silver Medalists 🇺🇸#TokyoOlympics | @TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/MOMNOedHUd
— USA Softball Women's National Team 🇺🇸 (@USASoftballWNT) July 27, 2021
"There's a little bit of disappointment in not bringing home the gold since that's the eye on the prize when you go over there and you know you have a shot at it," Osterman told Austonia. "But more than anything, I'm very proud of the way our team handled everything that was part of this journey and not just the six games."
It's that very loss at the 2008 Olympics that partially motivated Osterman to get back on the mound. She officially put down the glove in 2015 after six seasons with the USSSA Pride, took time with family and began coaching at Texas State University.
Osterman helped ace Randi Rupp to greatness while a coach at Texas State University. (Active Voice Health/Twitter)
She thought her Olympic endeavors were well over—until talks of reinstating softball into the Games reentered the conversation.
"It wasn't until 2016 or 2017, that it ever crossed my mind to possibly put the USA uniform on again," Osterman said. "After the World Championships in 2010, I walked away, and I thought that my career on the international stage was done. So this was a pleasant kind of new opportunity."
Three years after facing any competition, Osterman was on the field once more with world-class athletes. Some, like Osterman and Abbott, had been playing together long enough to form a formidable "Fire and Ice" duo on the mound. Others had just graduated college.
Osterman said playing with a younger generation of athletes was one of the most rewarding aspects of this year's Games.
"It can be very different when you have 24- and 38-year-olds on the same field," Osterman said. "The adversity put us in some challenging positions and we came through with flying colors. And this group will forever be special just because what we had to go through is so different."
While on the mound, Osterman's job was to give the team a calm start. Off of the field, she felt her role had much of the same effect: she knew that new Olympic feeling, and she served as a deep breath to her first-time teammates.
"There's no words to explain how nervous and excited you get knowing that the whole world can be watching," Osterman. "I think using those emotions and figuring out how to get all our butterflies lined up and going in the right direction, so that way we were all moving together, was kind of my role outside of pitching."
We've heard her retire once before, but this time Osterman said she's gone for good—even from coaching. After her final time with Team USA on Sept. 27, she plans on returning to Austin, where she'll look to work for a nonprofit.
A gold and two silvers will have to do for one of the most decorated athletes in U.S. softball history.
"To be able to say you're a three-time Olympic medalist is a pretty special deal, right?" Osterman. "I played for a long time. But those are the pinnacle, in my mind, and kind of what elicits the dream to keep playing."
- Week 1 roundup: One gold, two silvers and more to come for ... ›
- Going for gold: 27 athletes with Austin ties heading to the '21 Tokyo ... ›
- Week 1 roundup: One gold, two silvers and more to come for ... ›
- Former UT diver Alison Gibson competing at Tokyo Olympics ... ›
- 21 athletes with Austin ties are heading to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics ... ›
- An Austinite's guide to the Olympics: how to watch, who to cheer on ... ›
- UT to host first sporting event at 100% capacity tonight - austonia ›
- Texas State notebook: London signs, Osterman departs - Austin, TX ›
- The Statesman Interview: Cat Osterman - Sports - Austin American ... ›
- Olympian Cat Osterman to coach Round Rock Express softball ... ›
- Charity softball event again brings together Osterman, Ricky ... ›
- Team USA Softball player Cat Osterman comes out of retirement for ... ›
Hospitals are facing a "significant" increase in admissions of pregnant women due to COVID-19 complications, Austin-Travis County health officials say, revealing what could be a long-term side effect of the virus.
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes met with three maternal medicine specialists on Monday morning to warn of yet another COVID-19 Delta variant concern: severe cases of the disease affecting unvaccinated mothers-to-be.
The doctors said unvaccinated pregnant women face an increased risk of preterm births, long-term effects, preeclampsia, ICU stays, stillbirths, being put on life support and even death if they are unvaccinated.
"We are really concerned that we are not getting that population of folks to hear this message of the safety of vaccines, so today we're assembled, one and all to say, wear a mask and please get vaccinated," Walkes said. "Vaccinations are the way to prevent severe disease and hospitalizations and death."
Medical Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at St. David's Women's Center of Texas Dr. Kimberly DeStefano said 95% of pregnant women admitted with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, stressing that all pregnant and lactating women should get the vaccine not only to protect themselves but to protect their babies from infection, which can be passed through breastmilk or birth.
"We know that the earlier in pregnancy you are vaccinated, the more antibodies are present at the time of birth for the infant," DeStefano said. "This is something that's very important, both during the pregnancy and postpartum."
Catching COVID-19 while pregnant can cause adverse effects on the baby, particularly because it increases the risk of preterm births. Baylor Scott & White Maternal Obstetrics Chief of Maternal Medicine Dr. Jessica Ehrig, said that preterm births are one of the "biggest impacts" on childhood development.
"We know that (preterm births) can have long-term effects depending on how early a baby's born," Ehrig said. "It increases the risk for long term respiratory issues, for blindness sometimes (and) for neurologic development delays."
Since mid-July, COVID-19 hospitalizations have been on a steep rise that sent the city back to recommending Stage 4 guidelines. As the seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations surpassed 50 admissions, Stage 5 guidelines could be on the horizon. The city reported 54 new admissions and 546 total new cases on Friday.
Delta is more contagious than chickenpox, Walkes said, and even vaccinated individuals can catch and spread the virus without symptoms. The group of doctors asked everyone, especially pregnant women, to mask while in public as local hospitals pass the Stage 5 threshold.
- Should Texans be concerned about the delta variant? - austonia ›
- Here's where you can get vaccinated and avoid Delta today - austonia ›
- The Delta variant is spreading—Here's what you need to know ... ›
- Delta variant, unvaccinated fuel rise of Austin COVID cases - austonia ›