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Veterans, Bitcoin, and the Art of Radio Waves: Houston Matters for Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced a plan to improve the speed of veteran care. President Obama promised military veterans at the American Legion national convention that he would fulfill his “sacred trust” to them by overhauling a system deemed “unacceptable and troubling” by an inspector general’s report highlighting a Phoenix VA hospital where there […]

This week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced a plan to improve the speed of veteran care. President Obama promised military veterans at the American Legion national convention that he would fulfill his “sacred trust” to them by overhauling a system deemed “unacceptable and troubling” by an inspector general’s report highlighting a Phoenix VA hospital where there were significant delays in care, and scheduling records were manipulated.

Since that scandal broke in late May, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned, replaced by Robert McDonald, and the VA system has been shored up at a Congressionally-approved $16 billion price tag, as many veterans have been sent to private doctors and hospitals.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we consider the impact of this nationwide turmoil on regional offices like the one here in Houston. We also discuss how we care for Houston’s veteran population. From health care services to employment and beyond, we welcome your questions for the director of the Houston Veterans Affairs office, and the Chief of Medicine at Michael E DeBakey VA Medical Center.

Also: In the current issue of Texas Monthly, Loren Steffy argues Texas is becoming the most friendly state in the country for the virtual currency known as Bitcoin. Earlier this year, the Texas Department of Banking became the first state regulator in the nation to issue guidelines for such currencies. We talk with Steffy, and discuss whether Bitcoin is really catching on in Houston and across Texas, or remains largely a virtual pipe dream.

Plus: Radio waves are passing through you right now, whether you like it or not (sorry). Some are generated by distant stars; others emanate from a nearby cell phone. And, of course, there are all those pesky radio stations. It’s an unseen yet significant part of Houston’s landscape. Capturing that landscape is the goal of a new two-part exhibition by artist and University of Houston professor Abinadi Meza, called “Air, Condition” (that’s not a typo; there’s a comma between those two words). One part of the installation is sound only – that’s at the Blaffer Art Museum on the UH campus. The other is a video installation on the side of a building downtown. We’ll learn more.

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