Wednesday, November 14

National Ballot Initiative News

Greetings, democracy fans. There's no recent news on national ballot initiative progress, but last week's state initiatives show that initiatives are where most reforms start, how initiatives need to be improved, and the need for national initiatives. To convince your friends who doubt that initiatives are the way to go, the proof is in the pudding:

1. Initiatives are winding down the 75-year war on marijuana users. While Congress put an end to alcohol prohibition after 13 years of profits to the mafia and deaths by rotgut, it is now too beholden to the alcohol, prescription drug and other interests threatened by marijuana and hemp to act. Colorado's legalization Amendment 64 passed 54.9% to 45.1% as did Washington's Initiative 502 with a 55.3% to 44.7% vote. Medical marijuana also passed in Massachusetts with a stunning 63% to 37%, but Arkansas' medical marijuana and Oregon's legalization both failed. 

The Federal government will still prosecute marijuana users when they want, a demonstration of the need for national ballot initiatives like Senator Mike Gravel's project:

2. Here in Colorado, the City of Longmont banned oil and gas "fracking" in town by 60% to 40%, in spite of the oil and gas companies outspending proponents by more than ten to one, becoming the first citizens to vote on this:  Longmont is now facing off against the governor (a former petroleum geologist) the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, and the fossil corps, who have filed suit. The people who organized this initiative are so juiced, they're talking about a similar Colorado initiative, and are enthused over the prospect of national ones.

3. For the first time, same-sex marriage was legalized in states across the country using ballot initiatives rather than legislation. Maine, Maryland, and Washington all voted to allow same-sex couples the right to marry in their states. Minnesota also became the first state to have voters reject a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  This was all predicted by the prescient Nate Silver last year at

Having your personal life discussed in the media is no fun for gays, but this is how prejudice gets dispelled. I was raised in the '50s and '60s and never learned about gay people back then. My vague distaste for gays vanished in 1992 when Colorado was debating Amendment 1, which banned gay rights laws (and was overturned by all the courts including the Supreme Court.) During the debate I recalled hitch-hiking through San Francisco in 1970 at age 18 and getting rides from gay men who had their hands all over me. Once I realized where the distaste came from, and that most gays, like most straights, arent' like that, I gained many gay friends including my current Congressman Jared Polis, who happens to favor national ballot initiatives:

4. Californians, after enduring over $1 million a day of ads from major food companies, narrowly defeated Proposition 37, which would have mandated the labeling of GMO foods. The pro-GMO forces outspent the labeling advocates 5 to 1, defeating what polls show is nationwide an overwhelmingly popular idea.
This shows that voters need the kind of objective information that legislators get from public hearings, expert testimony and deliberation. This is just what Oregon's Citizen Initiative Review has provided for three election cycles:  Gravel's proposal also incorporates this, as Deliberative Committees. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, 18 state legislatures have tried and failed to label GMO foods:

San Juan County, Washington DID pass Initiative Measure No. 2012-4, making it illegal to "propagate, cultivate, raise or grow plants, animals and other organisms which have been genetically modified."

5. Two states and over 120 cities (including mine, Boulder) passed initiatives or referenda to call on Congress to over-ride the Supreme Court's notorious Citizens United decision:

To further convince people, you can show them the record of the last 20 years of initiatives in Colorado:   and some national initiative history:

You can see the World-Wide Direct Democracy Newsletter at:

The 4th Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy just concluded in Montivideo, Uruguay:

 I always say: "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can buy most of Congress (and the legislatures) most of the time."

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Thursday, November 8

Country wakes up to Climate Change! For real.

Wow,'s  Do the Math Tour to stop climate catastrophe starts with a triple bang. Here's what Bill McKibben just emailed me -Evan

Off like a rocket.I'd be lying if I said I'd expected it to start quite this well.We launched the Do the Math tour in Seattle last night -- even though we had sold the out first venue and moved to a bigger one, we still had a hell of a time squeezing in the crowd. Check out the crowd of 2000 people with their fists in the air:

The show was a nonstop high -- people on their feet again and again, pledging to cross the country to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable. If you can still get a ticket near you you're going to want one: dothemath-boulder.eventbrite.comBut here are the day's two huge unexpected stories, the things that have us grinning ear to ear as we drive south in the biodiesel bus towards Portland and tonight's show:

1) Seattle mayor Mike McGinn took the stage to tell 2000 of his constituents that the city's treasurer has begun investigating divestment options for the city's money. I had lunch with him, and knew he was taking this seriously -- but this is the kind of forthright action that defines leadership, and he won huge cheers from the crowd when he made his announcement from the stage.

2) Unity College in Maine just announced that they're divesting from fossil fuels -- the first college in the country! On the night this campaign begins! Here's what president Stephen Mulkey said at our press conference this morning: "I know from speaking with other presidents that many more colleges in America are already grappling with this." They won't all move this boldly and proudly -- but we're in business, folks. This is happening: dothemath-boulder.eventbrite.comOn to Oregon!Bill

Monday, May 21

Cure Intestinal Parasies Naturally

How to cure amoebic dysentery, giardia and worms with Quassia
People traveling in 3rd world countries are often afraid of intestinal parasites, but, having lived for 3 years in poorer areas of Mexico and 2 in Guatemala, I learned there are easy solutions. I picked up amoebic dysentery several times while on long bicycle trips, and knowing how to deal with them, I was able to continue with no problems. This method is for healthy people only!
Here's how I do it: If my gut hurts, I wait two days. If it's just a bacterial infection, you should start to feel better. Coconut milk is very soothing. Definitely avoid alcohol and sweets, which bacteria and other parasites love.

If after 2 days, you feel as bad or worse, you should start treatment with a “full-spectrum antibiotic” -or the herb Quassia, which is used in much the same way -especially if there is mucus in your feces and sulphur in the gas you pass. In most of Latin America, just go to a Pharmacia and ask for Flagyl (or the generic Metronidazole), the cheap drug available everywhere, or say “tengo amebas” (“I have amoebas”) and they'll almost certainly give you Flagyl. In the U.S. you need a prescription, so DON'T WAIT until you return or you'll have to pay for expensive tests to get treatment -while the amoebas are eating your lunch, dinner and breakfast and you are getting weaker. If you have a weak liver from drinking, etc.  -or from continuing untreated parasites- they can get inside, and you need a doctor, quick.

Quassia won't make you feel as bad as Flagyl, but neither is fun. Both are killing everything in your gut, so you need to replenish the beneficial bacteria with probiotics, like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, etc., after the treatment.
Often people with amoebas will wait longer until they're really sick and go to a doctor for a stool test. If they don't find the amoebas with a microscope the first time (not a fun job), and you wait, it will take weeks or more to recover your strength after you take the treatment. That's why I assume I have them if I don't feel better in 2 days. Neither treatment is pleasant, but you'll function fine, which is nearly impossible with amoebas.

Quassia is available at herb and health food shops. It will be either shredded or chopped. Take a large handful on your trip, which should cost a few bucks.


With either Flagyl or Quassia, take it 3 times a day about an hour before meals for 10 days. If you're traveling for an extended time in an area with poor sanitation, where re-infection is likely, consider taking the treatment for only 2 days -to control rather than eliminate the amoebas. They will grow back in 20-24 days -and you will know it. Take the treatment another 2 days and so forth, until you get back home -or to civilization. Then take the full 10 day treatment to eliminate all the amoebas.

With Flagyl you just pop a pill. With Quassia you make tea. If the herb is shredded, just put a small palmful -about ½ ounce- in about a pint of cold water, and wait 20 minutes. If it's coarsely chopped, you'll have to boil it a bit -a minute should do it. Either way, it will taste quite bitter. Drink it down. That will kill most of them, so when you eat your meal, you will get most of the food, not them. The few that are left will recover somewhat, but after 30 doses, they will all be gone.
Add more water to the same wad of Quassia and drink it before the next meal, and so forth, until the tea becomes weak after about 3 days; then toss that wad and start another. So it will take about 3 wads or 1 ½ ounces for a complete 10-day treatment.

Enough Quassia for 3 days treatment. This grind will make tea in cold water.

Worms & Giardia

Once when I was taking Quassia on a bike trip in Guatemala, I found a 9” long white worm in my stool -I believe it was the common Ascaria worm, which probably infects 25% of the world and 2% of Americans. I was scared enough to also take Flagyl when I got to town, but nothing further came out. So the Quassia killed that too.
Flagyl and Quassia will also kill Giardia. Doctors say to take only 1/3 the dose of Flagyl for Giardia as for Amoebas, and for only 5 days, so you could reduce the Quassia treatment accordingly. If you don't take enough, you will know 20-24 days later, and can try again. I guess it was overkill to treat my only case of Giardia the same as I did amoebas. 

Quassia is on the FDA's Generally Regarded as Safe list, but probably should not be used during pregnancy. It is said to also be effective against malaria, pinworms and even lice. It contains the phytochemical quassin, the bitterest substance found in nature. To understand the seriousness of amoebas and their treatment I recommend you read at least this about Flagyl. If you've had amoebas for awhile they may lodge in your liver and treatment is harder.

I am not a doctor and do not know your condition! Please discuss this treatment with your doctor before you go!

Friday, April 20

The Grinch who tried to steal 4/20

from the Cannabis Therapy Institute:
 (Phil DiStefano is CU-Boulder's Chancellor, a repeat DUI offender who leads today's attempt to stop CU's famous 4/20 cannabis smoke-in/prohibition protest. They're posting hundreds of cops to stop anyone without a CU ID from coming on campus, and spreading smelly fish fertilizer where the celebration occurs. -Evan)

Here's video from 2009:
The Grinch who tried to steal 4/20

"Pooh-Pooh to the Stoners!" Phil was grinch-ish-ly humming. "They're finding out now that no 4/20 is coming!"

"They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!"

"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two. Then the Stoners down in Boulder will all cry Boo-Hoo!"

"That's a noise," grinned Phil, "That I simply MUST hear!" So he paused. And DiStefano put his hand to his ear. And he did hear a sound rising over the snow. It started real low. Then it started to grow...

But the sound wasn't sad! Why, this sound sounded merry! It couldn't be so! But boy was it merry!

He stared down at Boulder! Out popped Phil's eyes! Then he shook: what he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Stoner in Boulder, the tall and the small, Was singing and smoking! With no permits at all!

He HADN'T stopped 4/20 from coming! IT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And DiStefano, with his feet ice-cold in the fish fertilizer, stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?" "It came without permits! It came without speeches!" "It came without Frisbees, or costumes or bleachers!" And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then DiStefano thought of something he hadn't before!

"Maybe 4/20," he thought,"doesn't come from a permit." "Maybe 4/20...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

And what happened then...? Boulder they say, DiStefano fired up a fatty and had a very nice day!

YOU CAN'T STOP 4/20 from Coming!

HAPPY 4/20!

Sunday, January 1

The case for ballot initiatives, and improving them

I challenge anyone to find a State legislature  whose record compares to what Coloradans have done with ballot initiatives, a form of direct democracy:

In 2000 Colorado voters passed Amendment 20, legalizing medical marijuana, Amendment 22, closing the gun-show loophole and Amendment 23, raising K-12 spending. In 2002 we passed Initiative 27, one of the country's strongest campaign finance limits. In 2004 we passed Initiative 37, the country's first renewable energy mandate for utilities. In 2006 we passed Amendment 41,  the country's strongest Ethics in Government law, and Initiative 42, raising the minimum wage. In 2008 we passed Amendment 54,  which prohibits government contractors from making campaign donations. In 2012 we passed Amendment 64,  the country's first legal marijuana AND hemp, and we voted 3 to 1 for Amendment 65, asking  our Congressional Representatives  to  work  to reverse Citizens United. (Only 1 of 7 did anything,  showing how poorly they represent us.) And in 2016 we passed Amendment 70 for a $12/hr. minimum wage, Proposition 106, Medical Assistance in Dying for the terminally ill and Proposition 107, for Open Presidential Primaries. (You can find details of each at Just search for "Colorado Amendment [or Initiative or Proposition] X")

During a similar time the Colorado legislature has done little but prevent local communities from solving their own problems with preemptive laws, such as against local minimum wages, rent control, gun control, and banning fracking.  

The downside of initiatives is far less harmful than legislation as well. Contrast a few ballot initiatives impeding gay rights and abortion with all 50 state legislatures criminalizing sodomy and abortion and jailing people for decades. Not to mention interning Japanese during World War II, persecuting communists,  socialists and friends during the McCarthy era and imprisoning millions of marijuana smokers over the last 80 years. 

Media, not just in Colorado, have focused on the few problematic ballot initiatives like Colorado's 1992 Taxpayer Bill of Rights Amendment 1, which voters gave a 5 year time out in 2005, by voting for Referendum C. Rather than act to finally fix TABOR, the Colorado Legislature keeps trying to make the initiative process harder, including with 2008's defeated Referendum O. The same forces finally succeeded with 2016's Amendment 71, by going the initiative route, to make it appear to be a grassroots effort. 71 makes the process much more expensive for regular people, without inconveniencing wealthy users of the ballot initiative process.

Oregon has instead improved its ballot initiative process with Citizen Initiative Review. By having randomly-selected "citizen juries" deliberate each initiative, problems like TABOR's "racheting down provision," hidden in its back pages unnoticed, would have been exposed before we voted on it. 

Citizens in both Oregon and California have tried, using ballot initiatives, to get their Secretaries of State to allow signing ballot initiative petitions on the SOS website. This would open the process to groups without huge funds, save the SOS the expense of comparing physical signatures (ID would be by driver's license, etc., as with online registration in over half the states), reduce misrepresentation and harassment for signatures, get more voters to read more of the initiative texts before signing, and save gas, time and money.

I list four other improvements to the process in my article Why Bernie Sanders should put Direct Democracy at the top of our Agenda

The initiative and referendum process is the origin of most US reforms, from women's suffrage to sunshine laws to medical marijuana to term limits. See initiatives for references and more examples.

"On most major issues we've dealt with in the past 50 years, the public was more likely to be right...based on the judgment of history...than the legislatures or Congress." -George Gallup, Sr.