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Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

The Daily Texan sent a writer and a photographer to Seattle, Wash. to cover the NCAA Women's Volleyball Final Four, in which the top-ranked Longhorns lost to No. 12 Wisconsin in the semifinals. Here are some other scenes from the city.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

SEATTLE, Wash. — At first, the crowd almost entirely University of Washington fans couldn’t believe what they saw. A scrappy, underdog Badger team dominated the top-ranked Longhorns from the start. But then something odd happened: Wisconsin never stopped.

An early 8-3 lead in Set 1 snowballed into a 2-0 match lead. At that point, Wisconsin and the crowd believed the upset was possible. Texas fought back and looked to regain control in the fourth set, but, in the critical moment, the Badgers took control

When the final point hit the ground, the fans let out huge roar. The No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers had advanced to the NCAA championship over the No. 1 Longhorns 3-1 (25-19, 25-18, 26-28, 25-23), ending Texas’ repeat national championship bid.

“We played our poorest game of the year,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We didn’t serve well. We didn’t pass well. We didn’t hit well. It’s tough to win with 43 hitting errors.”

The Longhorns started off flat in Wisconsin’s opening run. They committed four service errors, allowed three aces and failed to give their hitters an opportunity to put balls away. After cutting the lead to 20-19, the Badgers rallied for five straight points to take the first game. Despite hitting more efficiently and executing more blocks, the Longhorns weren’t able to overcome the early deficit.

“For some reason, we got on our heels off the bat,” Elliott said. “We couldn’t figure it out.”

Game 2 didn’t go any better for Texas. The Longhorns fell behind 10-3 early because of a myriad of troubles in returning the serve. They cleaned that up later in the set but failed to produce any kind of extended run and lost the set 25-18.

“We had to serve fearlessly,” Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “We kept them out of system. We have one of the best backcourts in the country, and they needed to make the digs today.”

Texas was forced moved into survival mode in Game 3 and managed to endure. After back-and-forth play all game, with both teams struggling to kill the ball, Texas found itself with two game points at 25-23. But Wisconsin, like it had all night, responded. It wasn’t enough though, as two errors extended the match to a fourth set.

But Texas couldn’t endure another late Badger run. After controlling the game the entire set, Wisconsin clawed back to take the fourth game, and the match, late.

“We are used to teams trying to serve tough,” senior setter Hannah Allison said. “That is the only way to throw us off, and they executed that well.”

In the match, both teams struggled offensively. Texas hit .156; Wisconsin .131.

The loss was the Longhorns first since non-conference play, which ended a repeat national title bid and a season that already included the first undefeated Big 12 run in school history.

“Nineteen blocks and they hit .131,” Elliott said. “If you told me that before the match I’d say we win 90 percent of the time. We managed our game poorly. It stinks that we played our poorest game of the year today.”

Read here: Five takeaways from Texas' loss to Wisconsin

Centerfielder Brejae Washington (20) takes off after laying down a bunt in a recent game. Washington holds both the Texas single-season record in stolen bases with 38 in 2011, and all-time with 65.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

As the story goes, the father of a University of Houston catcher once offered to pay his daughter if she threw out Texas speed demon Brejae Washington. The father would keep his money. 

Washington, who earned three high school track team MVP awards, also shattered a thirty-year-old San Bernardino, Calif. long jump record. As a freshman with the Longhorns, she broke the all-time single-season stolen base record, with 38. As a sophomore, she broke the all-time Longhorn career steals record, with 65.

If you can’t tell yet, she’s fast.

“[She] runs at a whole different level,” Longhorns head coach Connie Clark said after Washington signed her letter of intent to play at Texas. “She has tremendous speed. She is the fastest Longhorn we have ever had, and she will put serious pressure on the defense.”

Washington is well aware of her forte and plans her game around it.

“I have a really good plan this year,” Washington said before the season, sporting her signature wide smile. “I’m going to put the ball in the dirt and beat it out. Then I’m going to steal second. Then I’m going to steal third. Unfortunately, I can’t steal home.”

But after two stolen bases in two attempts in the Longhorns’ first game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, she didn’t run against North Texas. And she had the opportunities to do so after reaching first on two singles.

“I’m focusing on my timing for the delayed steal right now,” Washington said when asked why she wasn’t running after the game.

In her second at-bat the next game, she figured out the timing. After the pitch, the catcher nonchalantly floated the ball back to the pitcher. Before the pitcher even caught the ball, Washington was smiling, standing on second base.

As for the bunting, Washington doesn’t care how far up the corner infielders come.

“Nine times out of 10 they know I’m going to bunt,” Washington said. “It doesn’t matter where they play.”

Washington isn’t just a one-trick pony, however. If the outfield comes in too close she can burn them. With North Texas expecting bunts, the entire defense was pulled in. Washington made them pay, collecting one of the rarest offensive feats in softball, an inside-the-park home run.

Through five games, Washington is batting .500 out of the two-hole while starting each game in center field with no errors.

To compliment her speed, Washington has taken on a new role on the team as a leader.

“From a leadership stand point, Washington, I will tell you, is night and day,” Clark said. “From sophomore to junior year.  To be honest, from fall to spring.”

Clark rewarded Washington for the growth, naming her one of the team’s three captains.

So as the season gets underway, Washington has given herself some lofty goals. She wants at least 50 stolen bases, nearly doubling last year’s total, and believes she can even reach 60. 

Her response when she was asked about breaking the all-time DI steals record of 257?

“I think I can do it,” Washington said. “I’m more than capable. I just have to get on base.”

Given your reverence for the Supremacy Clause, do you consider Colorado and Washington’s recent legalization of marijuana an equally foolish and illegal exercise of states’ rights? Do you think the Michigan House of Representatives was engaging in petty political chest-thumping when it unanimously passed a bill to prohibit state cooperation with the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA? Prior to the Civil War, were Northern states foolish to reject federal laws that required states to return escaped slaves to their states of origin? I suspect your editorial reflects not your judgment of states’ rights and federal power, but your personal opinion of firearms.

Victories and personal bests highlighted the weekend in both Arkansas and Washington for the No. 14 Longhorns.

A win in the 4x400-meter relay closed out the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. as the foursome of Danielle Dowie, Briana Nelson, Kendra Chambers and Courtney Okolo clocked a 3:30.95, the fifth fastest time in school history.

Junior long jumper A’Lexus Brannon also turned heads at the Tyson Invitational by winning the long jump with a mark of 6.23 meters, 0.16 meters ahead of second place Tamara Myers from Arkansas.

In Seattle, Wash. three Longhorns registered new personal bests in their respective events Saturday. 

Redshirt freshman Connor Ward finished 12th in the mile with a time of 4:58.45, the first sub-5:00 mark of her Longhorn career in the event. Junior Brittany Marches and sophomore Jessica Harper also posted new personal records in the collegiate 3,000-meter, with Marches finishing 9:49.94 for 23rd and Ward clocking in at 10:06.80 for 38th. Mara Olson of Butler won the event with a time of 9:29:05.

The Longhorns have two weeks to prepare for the Big 12 Indoor Championships Feb. 22-23.  

When Austin police chief Art Acevedo visited The Dudley & Bob Morning Show on KLBJ in December, it seemed like an ordinary PR appearance — that is, until the last few minutes of the interview.

After the show hosts made a couple of jokes about marijuana use, Art Acevedo interrupted to say, “You know, what you do in your home and the privacy of your home is great. We could care less, as long as you’re not selling the stuff and growing it for everybody else.” He quickly added, “Just don’t drive. Don’t drive, that’s all I ask.”

The discussion about marijuana that followed was brief but full of other surprising comments: Acevedo admitted that he hoped to smoke weed before he died, then made a few digs at the Williamson County’s police department, which is known for its aggressive drug enforcement practices. “What a price to pay to get a little bit of dope,” the police chief said, “to be doing body cavity searches every time you stop somebody for a misdemeanor.”

The nonchalant comments came soon after Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use and, closer to home, Texas state Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, filed HB 184. The bill seeks to make possession of marijuana, one ounce or less, a class C misdemeanor, the equivalent of a traffic ticket, rather than a class B misdemeanor, the equivalent of a DWI. Two months later in early January, Texas state Rep. Elliott Naishtat (a Democrat who represents many students living near UT’s campus) and Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, filed HB 594, a bill to allow doctors to legally recommend marijuana as a medical treatment and to legalize marijuana possession by those patients. Although the purchase and distribution of the drug would still be illegal, the bill would allow individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease, cancer or MS to avoid jail time for eating pot brownies at their physician’s suggestion.

Revisions to both state and federal drug laws are long overdue: Prisons are overflowing with nonviolent offenders, more police departments are refusing to make possession arrests and almost half of the United States have legalized or decriminalized clinical use of marijuana. Harsh penalties for smoking weed put otherwise employable Texas citizens in expensive prisons for victimless, nonviolent crimes. The effects of jail time are far-reaching: Former inmates have a harder time finding well-paying jobs after a drug charge, which translates into more families in poverty and relying on social services.

The conversation on drug policies is changing. HB 184 and HB 594 offer Texas the a chance to be a part of that change, but the opportunity for bipartisan collaboration on reforming dated, expensive policies could easily be wasted. Both Rep. Dutton and Rep. Naishtat have introduced similar bills in prior legislative sessions, but if history bears out, neither HB 184 nor HB 594 will make it out of committee.

Although Gov. Rick Perry supports states’ rights to determine the legality of marijuana, he ignores Texas citizens’ demands to fix a broken system. The 2011 Texas Lyceum Poll — administered before Washington’s and Colorado’s drug laws passed — revealed that one-third of Texas voters supported legalizing marijuana, a measure far more controversial than decriminalization. If we can’t have immediate reform, we at least deserve a serious, well-informed discussion on the social, economic and psychological consequences of criminalizing a plant.

Buckley Rue, president of the UT chapter of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, helps organize students to fight against restrictive laws on controlled substances. The religious studies senior said, “I think [the bills] are a powerful steps in the right direction. The bills don’t even need to get passed. Persistence is what’s going to win in the end.”

Persistence worked for Washington and Colorado, and hopefully persistence will work for decriminalization here. Until then, federal, state and local governments will continue to pour billions of dollars annually into a war against our own citizens that cannot be won. I hope our legislators will realize, as our police chief does, what Texas law sacrifices in the name of a little bit of dope.

San Luis is a Plan II, Women’s and Gender Studies and English senior from Buda.

SEATTLE — Legal marijuana possession becomes a reality in Washington state Thursday, and some people plan to celebrate the new law by breaking it.

Voters in Washington and Colorado last month made those the first states to decriminalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana.

Washington’s law takes effect Thursday and allows adults to have up to an ounce of pot — but it bans public use of marijuana, which is punishable by a fine, just like drinking in public.

Nevertheless, some people plan to gather at 12 a.m. Thursday to smoke up beneath Seattle’s Space Needle. Others plan to party outside Hempfest headquarters in Seattle.

Seattle Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb doesn’t expect officers to write many tickets. Thanks to a 2003 law, marijuana enforcement remains the department’s lowest priority.

Hump Day

In the quest for equal rights and sex education in America, some significant strides were made last week, regardless of how we all may feel about the results of the election.

After the announcement of President Barack Obama’s win, he made history by acknowledging LGBTQ rights in his victory speech.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try,” Obama said.

As Obama stepped into four more years as president, news broke that Maine, Maryland and Washington all voted to legally recognize same-sex marriages. In addition, Minnesota voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriages as being only between a man and a woman.

Shifting attitudes regarding LGBTQ rights in the electorate also were evident as Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay politician elected into the U.S. Senate, Sean Patrick Maloney became the first openly gay politician to represent New York in Congress and Stacie Laughton was elected the first transgender legislator in New Hampshire.

In light of the overall election results, The Washington Post published a thought-provoking article about the photo of the President embracing Michelle Obama that went viral after the election. The author makes a case that the photo symbolizes a future of gender equality and “we may be parsing the broader cultural implications of this election for a long time to come.”

Not only does Obama’s re-election provide a hopeful future for gender and LGBTQ equality, it also has implications for the future of sex education.

Most people will engage in some form of sexual activity at some point in their life. Comprehensive sex education does not promote or encourage sexual activity but rather prepares us to be able to make educated decisions, free of coercion, when it comes to our sexual health. Comprehensive sex education teaches us about contraception, pregnancy, the importance of consent and how to avoid being peer pressured into sexual activity. Abstinence-only education, on the other hand, is often ridden with gender stereotypes, religious morals, scare tactics and inaccurate medical information.

President Obama’s re-election is good news for sex education, but opposition and challenges lie ahead. In 2009, the Obama administration cut funding from abstinence-only sex education and shifted to an evidence-based approach to address teen pregnancy rates and reduce sexually transmitted infections. The funding for abstinence-only education, however, was reinstated as social conservatives scored a whopping $250 million to be distributed over five years as an add-on to the Affordable Care Act.  

While it may take time for Texas to join the states of Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and two Native American tribal jurisdictions to support equal marriage, the tides are slowly turning state by state. After all, in September the Austin City Council became the first group of city leaders in the state of Texas to endorse marriage equality. And although Austinites wish to “Keep Austin Weird,” perhaps soon same-sex marriage won’t be a token of our weirdness, but simply a statewide affirmation of equal rights for all couples. Perhaps we can live in a future free of “legitimate rape” comments where sex education is as common sense as teaching math, biology and English.

Printed on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 as: Strides toward equality taken in 2012 election

Betty Aldworth, center, a director of the Yes on 64 campaign responds to questions about the legalization of marijuana at a news conference at Civic Center Park in Denver on Wednesday. Co-directors Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert listen
Photo Credit: The Associated Press

DENVER — First came marijuana as medicine. Now comes legal pot for the people.

Those who have argued for decades that legalizing and taxing weed would be better than a costly, failed U.S. drug war have their chance to prove it, as Colorado and Washington became the first states to allow pot for recreational use.

While the measures earned support from broad swaths of the electorate in both states Tuesday, they are likely to face resistance from federal drug warriors. As of Wednesday, authorities did not say whether they would challenge the new laws.

Pot advocates say a fight is exactly what they want.

“I think we are at a tipping point on marijuana policy,” Brian Vicente, co-author of Colorado’s marijuana measure said. “We are going to see whether marijuana prohibition survives, or whether we should try a new and more sensible approach.”

Soon after the measures passed, cheering people poured out of bars in Denver, the tangy scent of pot filling the air, and others in Seattle lit up in celebration.

Authorities in Colorado, however, urged caution. “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly,” Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed the measure said.

As the initial celebration dies down and the process to implement the laws progresses over the next year, other states and countries will be watching to see if the measures can both help reduce money going to drug cartels and raise it for governments.

Governments in Latin America where drugs are produced for the U.S. market were largely quiet about the measures, but the main adviser to Mexico’s president-elect said the new laws will force the U.S. and his country to reassess how they fight cross-border pot smuggling.

Analysts said that there would likely be an impact on cartels in Mexico that send pot to the U.S., but differed on how soon and how much.
Both measures call for the drug to be heavily taxed, with the profits headed to state coffers. Colorado would devote the potential tax revenue first to school construction, while Washington’s sends pot taxes to an array of health programs.

Estimates vary widely on how much they would raise. Colorado officials anticipate somewhere between $5 million and $22 million a year. Washington analysts estimated legal pot could produce nearly $2 billion over five years.