Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Project HEALTH

We can support innovative models like Project HEALTH, which empowers doctors to remove the social barriers that prevent people from taking the actions they need to be healthy. They literally write prescriptions for food or heating assistance for struggling families, or stable housing for a single mom that does not exacerbate her son's asthma. A dedicated team of college volunteers then helps connect vulnerable patients to local resources that can immediately benefit their health.

We can apply new public health tools at our disposal to see the potential health benefits and consequences of new projects and policies. If Denver decided to expand its light rail system, for example, it would make sense to conduct a health impact assessment, an analysis that would consider questions like, "Will people walk more in getting to and from the rail stop?" This happened in Charlotte, N.C., where people who began to regularly ride the rails lost, on average, six to seven pounds.


We need a fundamental change in how we think about health. A nationwide commitment in which each sector - transportation, business , education, housing - assesses the health effects of their plans and programs and creates ways to help people live healthier lives. The community development arm of the Federal Reserve Board is doing just that; its July conference focused squarely on the health implications of housing development.

Read more about Project HEALTH here and here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dr. Raphael - How Inequality Makes us Sick

"Why should inequality, perhaps the biggest factor affecting the health of populations,
be so bad for us? In a big gap society, those lower down the ladder experience more
chronic stress than those towards the top. We are beginning to understand how this stress
produces ill health, in large part mediated through hormones released by the adrenal

Inequality concepts relate to the quality of social and human relations produced by the
structure of society which in our era are largely determined by measures of hierarchy. We
tend to associate with people like ourselves, most of us do not have friends who are either
much richer or much poorer than we are. As a young boy, growing up in the 1950s in East
York, a part of Toronto, I lived in a working class neighbourhood and did not consider
myself disadvantaged. My father repaired shoes, and my friends’ parents were similar
workers. When I went to the University of Toronto, I became aware of hierarchy in
Canada, as my classmates came from more privileged backgrounds than mine. I began
to feel poor. Today with lifestyles of the rich and famous always in the media we don‘t
compare ourselves to just our friends anymore but to the many achievers and the wealthy
who are constantly in our face. Finding ourselves down the ladder, our sense of self-worth,
our ability to control our lives and our access to what is considered essential for health,
suffers. Not only do we not do as well, but society’s health suffers.

Modern societies, unless held in check, tend to share income and wealth unfairly.


The kinds of positive societal changes that will produce health improvements will only
come from popular pressure on the forces of wealth and power. Canadians must continue
to maintain and strengthen their unique society, one that values cultural diversity and social
justice. Many prescriptions for dealing with health problems are outlined herein, but none
of them will be given to you by your doctor. We are all affected by this dis-ease, and must
work together to take this remedy through the democratic process."

Read the entire report - Social Justice Is Good For Our Hearts

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Iceland to Democratically Review Constitution

Iceland will have elected members of its society to review and upgrade its Constitution. This is the only time any country has used this direct democracy approach to its constitution. It will be an interesting example for the world.

RIP David Nolan - Multi-Party Democracy Advocate

The November 23 edition of the New York Times has a lengthy and respectful obituary for David Nolan. The obituary is also notable for seeming to suggest that minor parties have an important influence on the free circulation of ideas, even when they are not numerically strong.

The Washington Post obituary also has some of the characteristics of the Times obituary.

From Ballot Access News

Invisibility of Poverty in Diabetes Research

Chaufan and Weitz write an important article pointing out that poverty as a cause of disease is ignored in academic research. They also point out that there is at least a 200 year tradition showing this to be the case. Poverty is ignored because it would make academics and others have to deal with how we benefit from the power dynamics that create poverty.

Dealing with these dynamics would require academics and public health workers have to face their role in the maintenance of poverty and disenfranchisement. Or, in an attempt to appear more academic researches focus on individual cause and effects which can be easily manipulated in a manageable experiment. Either way this leads to what the authors state as "business as usual."

They also point out that working for changes is one possible option. They suggest that living wages, affordable housing, and health care as a right will have greater impact than attempting to change individual behaviors. They also suggest that researchers look at the role of poverty as a cause of disease and propose structural changes to society that make the population healthier.

Some of these health improving changes are electoral, others are economic. Either way, it is important to begin to look at poverty as a structure which makes people sick. Then we can look at politics as one of many methods to make people healthier!

Register! Vote! Organize Raza Unida!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"In first-past-the-post, the electorate is divided into a number of districts, each of which selects one person to fill one seat by a plurality of the vote. First-past-the-post is not conducive to a proliferation of parties, and naturally gravitates toward a two-party system, in which only two parties have a real chance of electing their candidates to office. This gravitation is known as Duverger's law. Proportional representation, on the other hand, does not have this tendency, and allows multiple major parties to arise.

A two-party system requires voters to align themselves in large blocs, sometimes so large that they cannot agree on any overarching principles. Along this line of thought, some theories argue that this allows centrists to gain control. On the other hand, if there are multiple major parties, each with less than a majority of the vote, the parties are strongly motivated to work together to form working governments. This also promotes centrism, as well as promoting coalition-building skills while discouraging polarization." From wikipedia Multi-Party System article.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

41st and 17th Anniversaries

La Raza Unida Party will have its 41st anniversary on January 17th. That has transformed largely to el Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida. That organization is a directly descended organization of the original LRUP. The chairpersons have been from Texas, New Mexico, and California.

The Bernalillo County La Raza Unida (LRU) started on August 29, 1993 in the County's South Valley. The La Raza Unida Youth Committee was a major focus of that initial effort. The voter registration part of that effort follows under el Partido de La Raza Unida de Nuevo Mexíco. The Bernalillo County La Raza Unida (LRU) is working to build a strong voice for electoral, social, and economic justice by combining community, cultural and electoral work.

The South Valley Dia de Los Muertos Marigold Parade is one aspect of this. The voter registration aspect is another.

Register! Vote! Organize Raza Unida!

Monday, November 22, 2010

US Desires Third Party

"Given the lack of alternatives, it perhaps is no surprise that Americans' desires for a third party are as high as they've been in at least the last seven years. And while the formation of an official third party is not imminent, that desire may be manifested in voters' strong anti-incumbent sentiments this year."

While there are significant barriers to third party development put in place by corporate sponsored parties this desire cannot be denied forever. A multi-party democracy would have better voter turnout, be more representative, and would reduce much of the useless deadlock of our current system. You can register La Raza Unida by putting "LRU" in box 5 of your NM Voter Registration Form.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ricardo Flores Magón - 2010

88 years ago Ricardo Flores Magón died in Ft. Leavenworth prison. He never broke from his ideals and paid the ultimate price. Someone that truly fought for freedom and liberty for all!

The roots of many movements and organizations pass through the Partido Liberal Mexicano and the Magonistas. As their saying that was used by Zapatistas went ¡TIERRA Y LIBERTAD!

¡Recuerda Ricardo Flores Magón!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Feliz Dia de La Revolucion - 2010

100 years ago, Mexicanos stood up to fight tyranny and corruption! Let us hope we can live up to such high ideals in our own ways! Viva La Revolución!

Register! Vote! Organize Raza Unida!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Health Equity in the United States

On average, people in the United States die much younger and suffer worse health, as well as endure serious societal dysfunction, compared to people in other rich nations. The usual explanation is that we engage in too many adverse personal health behaviours and do not have access to the right medicines. Presenting the evidence that personal behaviours affect only a small fraction of our health status as a population leads to 'but....' responses. The idea that health care has limited impact on mortality measures in societies is not believable to most people, regardless of their level of education or even their experience or training in health care.

Read More on Health Equity in the United States

Thursday, November 18, 2010

If You Are Hungy Are You Free?

That's the interesting question asked on the Thom Hartmann community blog. While we talk about people having television and cell phones as measures of the quality of life we often leave out other important issues such as nourishment.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More on Keeping the Net Free

Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps spoke to hundreds of supporters about the need for net neutrality Tuesday evening at the Albuquerque Journal Theater at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Net neutrality is the principle that all content on the internet should be treated equally, and that internet service providers cannot discriminate between different types of content.

"When broadcast came about the corporation said 'trust us.' When previous FCC commissions removed limits on media consolidation we were told 'trust us.' With this new medium they are saying 'trust us,'" Copps said.

Andrea Quijada, the Executive Director of the Media Literacy Project, served as the MC for the evening. She shared how an open internet is needed for the most basic of services.

"With 30 of our 33 counties being medically underserved, we know that the internet is not just about civic participation," Quijada said. "With a state poverty rate at 19 percent we know that the internet is not just about access."

Read More

New Mexico Fighting to Keep Internet Open

Residents in and around Albuquerque, N.M., will gathered yesterday for a town hall meeting to discuss the future of broadband Internet legislation. The meeting, the second such event in less than six months, comes at a difficult time in the battle over how open the Internet will remain. The FCC has largely gone silent on the issue, and prospects for regulatory legislation in next year’s Congress now appear dim.

North Carolina uses Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)

This fall North Carolina held the first statewide general election with instant runoff voting (IRV) in the nation’s history to fill federal judge Jim Wynn’s vacancy in on the Court of Appeals. Three Superior Court vacancies were also filled with instant runoff voting. The statewide vacancy election drew 13 candidates; the three Superior Court races each drew three candidates.

Before 2006, such judicial vacancies created between the primary and Labor Day of an election year were filled with a single election by plurality voting. With that system, voters cast one vote, and the candidate with the most votes won, no matter how low his or her percentage of the total vote. In 2004, a statewide vacancy to the North Carolina Supreme Court was won with 23%. IRV requires winners to demonstrate more support if they do no win a majority of first choice rankings. (See www.ncvotes123.com)

From what we know of these IRV elections, voters seemed to have handled instant runoff voting well, which is a credit to state and local elections officials. Anecdotal reports from election officials have been positive. For instance, Carteret County Board of Elections director Lindy Lewis said yesterday toward the end of Election Day: “"We haven't had a phone call from a precinct official or voter (regarding the instant runoff) which makes me feel good about that.”

Read More

Monday, November 15, 2010

Speak Your Vote NM

This is an important project that promotes youth voter participation. Speak Your Vote NM is an excellent example of youth media that promotes youth empowerment.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Same Day Voter Registration Would Reduce Polling Problems

Our Bernalillo County Clerk thinks that Same Day Voter Registration would reduce problems at the polls.

While this example relates to UNM students. The issues apply to other situations as well. And many experts agree that Same Day Voter Registration would increase voter turnout. More voter turnout is very important.

Now, it doesn't seem she is wanting it to be done as Election Day Registration. It seems she wants is as a support for early voting. That might still be helpful.

She said, "Additionally, I have lobbied extensively for same-day registration (SDR). If implemented in New Mexico, SDR, as it has been proposed and supported by me and the New Mexico County Clerks’ Affiliate, would allow voters to register and vote at the same time during the early voting period."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Voter Fraud Hysteria

Former House majority leader Dick Armey, who now heads the tea party funder Freedom Works, recently said on Fox News, without any substantiation, that Democratic voting was up during early voting — because that’s when it’s easier to commit voter fraud.

Yet law enforcement statistics, reports from elections officials and widespread research have proved that voter fraud at the polling place is virtually non-existent. The motivation for ginning up this bogeyman is often to intimidate certain groups of voters and, ultimately, make it harder for minority or disadvantaged groups to exercise their right to vote. It is no accident that these operations have repeatedly focused on minority communities.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/44478.html

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Step Voting

Voter registration practices also limited the pool of voters. Over American history, requirements for voter registration have included residency, property or income, gender and race or ethnicity. The exact set of requirements varied by location, with different political parties trying to disqualify the constituents of their opponents from the right to vote. The imposition of voter registration requirements, and the other election reforms enacted at the beginning of the 20th Century, had dramatic effects on voter participation. Hansen (2001) reports that turnout declined in the South from 64.2% in 1888 to 29.0% in 1904. Outside the South, turnout fell from 86.2% in 1888 to 67.7% in 1912. Clearly the imposition of voter registration requirements imposed an important new hurdle on voter participation in the United States.

The hurdle of voter registration stands higher for certain groups of voters. The seminal work by Rosenstone and Wolfinger (1980), using the 1972 Current Population Survey’s Voter Supplement (CPS-VS), demonstrated that voter registration practices --- in particular practices like the extent to which election offices were open in evenings and during weekends, absentee voting, and the length of the pre-election closing period, all had some effect on voter turnout because they made it more difficult and costly for voters to participate. But the registration closing deadline had by far the greatest impact on turnout in the Rosenstone and Wolfinger study; residents of states with 30-day closing deadlines were anywhere from 3 to 9 percent less likely to turnout than residents of states with election day voter registration. And the impact of the registration closing deadline was greater for voters with lower levels of educational attainment, and those who were generally less able to navigate the voter registration process in their state.


In this paper we review the literature on the linkage between voter registration and turnout, with a particular emphasis on how election day registration works and how it impacts voter turnout. We then present our analysis of the 2000 CPS-VS, in which we estimate the potential national impact of election day registration in the United States. Using a novel counterfactual analysis, we examine not only the question about how much voter registration and turnout would increase if every state used election day registration, we also estimate the impact of this change on the composition of the American electorate. We find that the very groups who would be expected to find election day registration an easier process, those who are younger, more residentially mobile, lower on the socioeconomic ladder, nonwhite, and newly naturalized citizens of the US, would benefit in important ways from election day registration.

Read more on One Step Voting from the Voting Technology Project

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From an Ally 11/9/10

RE: Election Day Registration (aka Same Day Voter Registration)

It was defeated in the NM Legislature last session. And it would have been only during early voting, where you would be connected to the voter registration computers.
The League of Women Voters is in favor of it. They are also against requiring more voter ID. Having a Republican Sec. of State and Gov. will make this worse, too.

Michelle Meaders

Youth Food Action Project

This youth oriented project is important because access to healthy food has been interrupted by corporate food production. In order to build healthy communities we all need access to quality calories. Many of us only have empty calories or calories without nutrition because of our budgets. Check this project out - the Youth Food Action Project.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to access healthy food. With the growth of corporate, mass-produced food we will need to gain the skills to grow our own. We have a couple of members who are great growers and we will report on their home food production.

Election Day Registration

Election Day Registration or Same Day Voter Registration would be a great way to improve our turnout and registration levels.

There are several bills being worked on for this. Vermont's S124 is one example.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Obama introduced Instant Runoff Voting legislation in 2002

As a state Senator in Illinois during the 2002 session, Barack Obama introduced SB 1789 which would have adopted instant runoff voting (IRV) for congressional and state primary elections in Illinois and authorized IRV for local elections.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Instant Runoff Voting would eliminate the "Spoiler Effect"

Instant Runoff Voting would eliminate the "Spoiler Effect" and provide real choice for voters!

In several races this past Tuesday the two-party system (duopoly) worked to give voters a minority view. If the vote is split between two similar candidates who have more than 50% and someone with less than 50% wins because of it then the duopoly system works against democracy and does not represent voter choice!

IRV would eliminate wasted votes, increase voter turnout, and increase voter choice!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vermont Governor Supports Instant Runoff Voting

The new Vermont Governor supports Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).

Peter Shumlin will be the next Governor of Vermont. See this story. While he was a state legislator, he was a co-sponsor of the bill to establish Instant Runoff Voting for congressional races (S.108 in 2007), a bill that passed, but which was vetoed by then-Governor Jim Douglas. The new Vermont Secretary of State has also been a supporter of IRV.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Don't despair! It is time to declare: TIME TO TAKE DEMOCRACY BACK!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Our way of life is one where all children are all our children; where we want everyone to have enough; and where we are willing to take a stand for each other. Vote, organize, and live THOSE values and we'll be better off!

We need to outvote the extremists! Go vote today!