Tuesday, February 12, 2013

News Review - Page 2 - 2.12.13 - Mike Nova's starred items

News Review - Page 2 - 2.12.13 - Mike Nova's starred items

Next Steps for Puerto Rico

via Puerto Rico Report by admin on 2/3/13
People all over the country are calling for action on the status of Puerto Rico, citing its clear mandate for statehood.
We are aware that some disagree. Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that there remains some ambiguity. The results for Question 1 are certainly not in doubt, as an article by Ricardo Rosselló Nevares in The Hill’s Congress Blog made clear:
When asked if they “agree that Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of territorial status?” an overwhelming 54 percent voted NO, thus rejecting the current territorial/colonial status. With more than 78 percent of the registered voters casting a ballot, the “NO” won by a margin of 140,000 votes, receiving thousands of votes more than any elected official. It won in all 8 senatorial districts and 39 out of the 40 representative districts.
It doesn’t seem possible to question this outcome.
What, then, are the options for Congress?
  • Congress could ignore the clearly expressed desire of the people of Puerto Rico to be released from the current territorial relationship. The United Nations already calls upon the U.S. each year to end what they consider a colonial relationship; with the people of Puerto Rico also requesting that the territorial status end, the United States would be in a awkward position if it goes this route. The U.S. would be one of the very few nations in possession of a colony against the will of its people. This would be inconsistent with our position as a leader for freedom throughout the world.
  • Congress could accept the vote in favor of statehood, which was the choice of 61% of those answering the second question, and advance legislation to make Puerto Rico a state.
  • Congress could enact legislation dictating terms of a new referendum in Puerto Rico, making it explicit that enhanced Commonwealth – which has been incorrectly referred to as an “adequate alternative” to statehood - is simply not part of the Puerto Rico status debate. The argument to pursue this route is that it would bring clarity; the argument against it is that such clarity should already exist, in the form of decades of legal documentation and official statements.
The “Enhanced Commonwealth” idea that continues to be brought up is unconstitutional and unfeasible. The most recent President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status specifically examined the possibility of a new definition of the Commonwealth relationship, and, like many preceding Task Force Reports, rejected it as impossible:
[C]onsistent with the legal conclusions reached by prior Task Force reports, one aspect of some proposals for enhanced Commonwealth remains constitutionally problematic—proposals that would establish a relationship between Puerto Rico and the Federal Government that could not be altered except by mutual consent. This was a focus of past Task Force reports. The Obama Administration has taken a fresh look at the issue of such mutual consent provisions, and it has concluded that such provisions would not be enforceable because a future Congress could choose to alter that relationship unilaterally.
As long as Puerto Rico remains a territory of the United States, Congress is theoretically free to do anything it pleases with Puerto Rico, including ceding it back to Spain. In reality, the options are more limited - ultimately bring complete democracy to Puerto Rico or ignore the will of the Puerto Rican people.

via Puerto Rico Report by admin on 2/4/13
The National Association for Uniformed Services (NAUS) has written an open letter to President Obama asking him to end the second class U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans.
The letter begins with a plea:
Please, join American Patriots [and] help get the Federal Government to end a second class US Citizenship. This complex equal rights quandary that affects millions is not only about a “Group” Vote on the status question, but, more important, it’s about protecting individual civil rights in our representative democracy-where the US citizen should be the epicenter of our Republic, not the undemocratic territorial control of the land… We must end political oppression with truth and fairness!
A reminder of the historical context follows, concluding with, “In 1917, Congress erred in imposing on Puerto Rico a statutory “second class US citizenship” (without all rights responsibilities, & benefits) that doesn’t permit loyal US citizens (including fighting US veterans) to vote in Federal elections nor have just representation in the Congress that determines their destiny.”
The letter summarizes the results of the plebescite and suggests that the United States has two honorable courses available:
  • [E]nd an undemocratic Federal Territorial Status that goes against the grain of our American democracy; start the transition process (which should not take more than 3-5 years) to admit Puerto Rico as the 51st State of our Union.”
  • [P]romptly conduct a federally sanctioned Plebiscite that is non-territorial & self-determined… truthfully define US Constitutional options… which are: 1. Statehood…(or) 2. Independence.
The letter notes that a territory of the United States cannot enter into an equal pact of any kind with the United States government. This has been confirmed repeatedly by many authorities in discussions of a possible “Enhanced Commonwealth.” NAUS points out that Puerto Rico would have to become an independent nation in order to enter into a treaty with the United States on its own behalf.
The letter continues with a discussion of the value of Puerto Rico to the United States, listing the military value, the resources, and the people of Puerto Rico:
Our Nation is formed by the union of States [each with its] own State sovereignty, identity, uniqueness, diversity. US citizens in PR, like other states, are a very complex group of people that are legally born US citizens- part of our US multi-ethnic and beautiful “Tapestry” of vibrant colors that is united and bonded together by common values and purpose for the good of all.
The letter touches on the idea that Puerto Rico is somehow too foreign or too different from other states to be incorporated successfully into the Union and rejects that claim.
“We must stop confusing the people by calling PR a ‘Commonwealth’,” the letter concludes. “Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King (who stood for a government of the People and equality) would be appalled that the US Territory of PR is still an undemocratic dinosaur of our trite colonial past!”
Finally, there is a petition for action on the question of Puerto Rico’s status, and supporting notes. See the PDF file of the letter.

via Puerto Rico Report by admin on 2/6/13
Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi announced today that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon begin a multi-faceted effort to combat drug-related violence in Puerto Rico. Details from this initiative are expected to include:
  • Increased personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement .
  • Expansion in the number of maritime and aviation operations to interdict drugs in and around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • More frequent inspections at select airports and seaports on the mainland and in Puerto Rico to curb the flow of firearms from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico.
  • Greater federal inter-agency cooperation among DHS, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Defense, to fight against drug trafficking and related violence in Puerto Rico.
The new plan is an outgrowth of recommendations from a task force created within DHS after DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano visited Puerto Rico in 2012. At the time, she made a personal commitment to develop a federal law enforcement strategy designed specifically to combat drug-related violence on the Island. DHS officials reportedly informed Pierluisi that the specific actions to be taken are based on an in-depth intelligence assessment that DHS conducted in an effort to understand exactly how drugs and guns are transported to Puerto Rico and to identify any law enforcement gaps that needed to be filled.
In response to news, Pierluisi stated:
“I am pleased to announce that this strategy is now becoming a reality, and that concrete and well-coordinated steps are being implemented to make Puerto Rico a safer place to live and raise a family. Some of these steps can and will be made public, and others must remain confidential for law enforcement purposes. But all of them are designed with a single goal in mind—to reduce the number of murders and other violent crimes on our streets and in our communities. I want to thank Secretary Napolitano for her personal commitment to this issue, for bearing in mind that residents of Puerto Rico are proud U.S. citizens, and for understanding that, as such, they deserve the same protection from their federal government as their fellow citizens in Florida, Texas, New York or any other state,” said Pierluisi.
Read more about drug related violence in Puerto Rico here.
Read more about DHS Secretary Napalitano’s visit to Puerto Rico here.
Puerto Rico is the last of the U.S. borders to receive federal assistance. Would this help have come sooner if Puerto Rico were a state? Read more here.

via Puerto Rico Report by KG on 2/6/13
As immigration reform moves forward, what will happen to the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico?
By Howard L. Hills*
I. Redeeming the promise of equality in America
As our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico enter the twelfth decade of a quest for self-determination, a new potential setback has emerged, the irony of which would be almost as cruel as Puerto Rican soldiers fighting overseas for democratic rights that they are denied back home as residents of a U.S. possession.
It could be regarded as profoundly unfair and demoralizing if 11 million people who entered the U.S. unlawfully are given a path to full enfranchisement and equal citizenship rights, while the 4 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico remain disenfranchised in a less than equal citizenship status. How would Puerto Ricans explain that to their children? How would any other American do the same?
How will anyone explain an outcome in which millions of non-citizens who enjoy many of the blessings of our way of life without first complying with our laws are given preferential treatment over law-abiding fellow Americans in Puerto Rico in seeking equality? Who will explain how non-citizens unlawfully present in America will be fully embraced and integrated into American society before the tried, tested and true patriotic American families of Puerto Rico who have lived under the American flag lawfully for 114 years?
II. Allegiance and equality
Along with U.S. citizenship conferred in Puerto Rico by Congress in 1917 came the duty of allegiance that accompanies it. In America, equality is the quid pro quo for allegiance. The denial of equality despite Puerto Rico’s allegiance to America is the corrosive legacy the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Balzac v. Puerto Rico (1922).
In “Puerto Rico’s Status: A Time to Decide,” former U.S. Attorney General Thornburgh called o the Congress and the federal courts to repudiate the obsolete imperialistic doctrine of the 1922 Balzac case and mandate timely self-determination in the form of either statehood or independence for Puerto Rico.
Thornburg has noted that failure to do so will be inconsistent with the very human rights principles regarding universal suffrage and equal rights the U.S. holds up in criticizing undemocratic regimes around the world.
III. The missing link in legal policy on Puerto Rico status
Thornburgh’s thesis is that application of the imperialist legal and political model for territorial governance should have ended once Congress conferred U.S. citizenship in Puerto Rico back in 1917. At least that would have been the result if not for the 1922 ruling by the Supreme Court that deviated from nearly 150 years of anti-colonial American territorial law dating back to the Northwest Ordinance.
Thornburgh demonstrates that the paramount legal and historical significance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Balzac v. Puerto Rico is that the Court deviated materially from the line of earlier territorial law decisions known as the anachronistic so-called “Insular Cases.” Thornburgh argues that it perversely validates Balzac to simplistically denominate that ruling as one of the Insular Cases, thereby giving the false impression the 1922 ruling cogently and cohesively sustained the jurisprudence of those earlier territorial law cases.
To the contrary, the lead Insular Cases (DeLima v. Bidwell, Downes v. Bidwell, Dorr v. United States), each confirmed the authority of Congress under the Territorial Clause to govern non-citizens under the national protection of America and residing in overseas territories newly acquired from Spain but not incorporated into the union.
IV. A forgotten phrase is smoking gun proving Balzac case flaws
The most pronounced effect of non-incorporation is that residents of the territory are for the most part beyond the reach of the Constitution, except as provided by Congress under statutory territorial policy concocted on an ad hoc basis.
Thus, in Downes v. Bidwell the U.S. Supreme Court stated that unincorporated territory status was a temporary arrangement enabling the U.S. to govern the territory under the Territorial Clause until Congress conferred citizenship. Specifically, the court stated that, “… in the case of Porto Rico and the Philippines…the civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants . . . shall be determined by Congress. In all these cases there is an implied denial of the right of the inhabitants to American citizenship until Congress by further action shall signify its assent thereto.”
In contrast, the court’s rulings in the Rasmussen case (Alaska) and the Mankichi case (Hawaii) held that upon coming under U.S. sovereignty a territory populated by U.S. citizens is incorporated, which ushers in application of those parts of the Constitution not applicable only to states, and integrates the body politic of the territory into the nation until full equal rights and duties of citizenship are achieved through admission to statehood.
Thornburgh was the first to argue that the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1922 case of Balzac v. Puerto Rico was a radical departure from both the unincorporated territory doctrine of the Insular Cases as applied to non-citizens and the citizenship based incorporation doctrine of the Alaska and Hawaii cases.
Thus, Thornburgh was able to sustain his thesis that Balzac misappropriated the unincorporated territory doctrine of the Insular Cases, as it applied to non-citizens “until Congress…shall signify its assent” to citizenship. The Balzac court then wrongly applied that pre-naturalization doctrine of non-incorporation to Puerto Rico after Congress had naturalized the population and conferred citizenship on all persons born there in 1917.
The term “metaphysical purgatory” was recently used to describe Puerto Rico’s current status, but it is an understatement. Thornburgh has at times been more stark, calling territorial status under Balzac a “constitutional nowhere land.” But Ronald Reagan beat them both to the punch when he noted that as a territory Puerto Rico “…is neither a state nor independent, and therefore has an historically unnatural status.”
* Formerly lead Counsel for White House National Security Council on territorial political status affairs and U.N. decolonization proceedings; Former lead Counsel for political status treaty negotiations and economic development programs, U.S. Department of State. Views expressed are those of the author and no other party.

via Puerto Rico Report by admin on 2/10/13
National Public Radio has featured two stories on the migration of Puerto Ricans to the mainland recently: “Don’t Give Up on Us: Puerto Ricans Wrestle with High Crime” details the crime rate in Puerto Rico, which is higher than any state of the Union; “One Way Ticket to Florida: Puerto Ricans Escape Island Woes” shares the stories of Floridians who came to the state from Puerto Rico in the face of economic troubles.
For Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens and can travel freely from Puerto Rico to the mainland and back, an escape to the mainland can seem like the best solution to economic or social problems. It may indeed be a solution for an individual, but the loss of population is not a solution for Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has lost half a million residents in the past decade, leaving it with a net loss in population. (Michigan is the only state which has suffered such a loss in this century.)
The majority of those who leave Puerto Rico for the mainland are employed, often in professional positions. The crime rate is cited by many as the reason for leaving, but the unemployment rate is also the highest in the country. Puerto Rico has an educated population, with 20% of Puerto Ricans holding college degrees. Companies from the U. S. mainland, struggling to find qualified nurses and engineers in their home states, come to Puerto Rico to recruit new grads.
So Puerto Rico loses qualified workers and young professionals, and the economy suffers further.
For the mainland United States, Puerto Rico may be a good source of workers to close the skills gap, but is in the country’s best interests for Puerto Ricans to see escape from the island as the best solution to problems of violent crime, drug trafficking, and economic struggles?
The history of other territories that have become states makes it clear that becoming a state tends to improve a territory’s economic position. Equal federal support, full representation in government, and complete citizenship rights allow new states to use their resources to their fullest potential. Perhaps statehood would allow Puerto Rico to be a place other Americans will choose to move to, rather than a place to escape.

via FOX News on 2/11/13
As tempting as it might to continue the string of electing non-Italian popes, there will be a powerful wind in the chamber pushing cardinals back toward a safe, noncontroversial choice.

via FOX News on 2/11/13
Latinos shouldn't expect to see any significant health care coverage changes from the Affordable Care Act until 2014.

via Latest News by VOXXI on 2/11/13
President Barack Obama is expected to outline education plans for his next term in tomorrow evening’s State of the Union address. In the Latino community, there is plenty of hope regarding education reform.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Executive Director Brent Wilkes is optimistic the President’s education reform moves forward with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
No Child Left Behind has gotten really old and the successor to that, ESEA, has been waiting for years to get reauthorized by Congress,” Wilkes told VOXXI. “That really has to be done because we learned a lot from No Child Left Behind, which was an experiment. That’s over and we have to go back and refine the tool to make it more effective. So we in essence kind of need Congress to break its log jam and take up the ESEA.”
Wilkes said the recent finance debate din out of Washington has drowned out any discussion about ESEA, which he characterizes as a bi-partisan effort. Not only does he feel it has a good shot at being reauthorized this year, but he’s hoping LULAC plays an important role in its implementation.
The LULAC National Educational Service Centers (NESC) offers counseling services to more than 18,000 Hispanic students per year at fifteen regional centers, as well as more than half a million dollars in scholarships to Latino students annually.
“We want to make sure we take the lessons learned from No Child Left Behind in our communities and alter the language so the tool is more refined and we have a better success rate,” Wilkes said.
Hopes for a comprehensive education reform
Wilkes feels No Child Left Behind upped the education ante in the country with high accountability standards. More so, it required schools to disaggregate Latino and African-American scores. The fact that individual ethnicities were part of the discussion meant no minority would be left behind.
As far as adding to ESEA, Wilkes hopes as part of the education reform, the Obama Administration will implement extended-day learning and wrap around services. The latter is a defined planning process used to build constructive relationships and support networks among students and youth with emotional or behavioral disabilities.
There is also a feeling in the education community that the Common Core Standard movement will crystallize. While not a federal issue, the initiative hopes to align the standards in various states so there’s basically a national test with very little variance.
“There are a lot of the benefits that can be realized, and I think that’s where you’re going to see a lot of action this year,” Wilkes said. “From our perspective, we’re saying don’t forget about the limited English proficient students because a lot of the states have been pining for years to try to say, ‘We shouldn’t test them because they’re not going to know the subject matter. So they should be exempted from testing.’
“We’re arguing, ‘No. Let’s create separate assessments.’ But I think the concern is if you exempt, then you’ll take the pressure off the schools to perform with that group of students and they’ll focus of course on the group of students they are being assessed on. So that’s really a major area where a lot of education reform groups, including us, are focused.”
Finally, Wilkes is optimistic President Obama’s next term will find his administration revisiting the Race to the Top program, which sought education reforms in adopting standards, measuring student growth, rewarding effective teachers and principals and turning around our lowest-achieving schools.
“I encourage them to perhaps unveil another Race to the Top style education initiative during the State of the Union,” Wilkes said. “They need something new along those lines but I haven’t heard anything about announcing that. We’ll see on Tuesday whether that transpires.”
Originally published on VOXXI as Latino community optimistic about what’s next in education reform

via Latino Voices on HuffingtonPost.com by NBC Latino on 2/11/13
What do Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons all have in common? And no, this is not the beginning of a joke.
The growth of all three faiths is being fueled by the Latino population. Latinos are not just the fastest growing population but as a group they are more religious. Latinos are the fastest growing segments of the Evangelical movement, the Catholic Church, and the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). Coincidentally, these religious groups are also supportive of a more open immigration policy.

via Latino Voices on HuffingtonPost.com by VOXXI on 2/11/13
Poor health literacy among Latinos, especially in the realm of antibiotic therapy, may be linked to an increase in antimicrobial resistance among their population and poorer decision making regarding important health matters.
According to research from Columbia University School of Nursing, 1 in 3 Latino study participants had what was considered to be low health literacy, and having such, were more likely to misuse antibiotics and use them without a prescription. Misusing antibiotics – like taking them without really needing them – increases resistance, which can lead to antibiotics having no or low effect on an individual when they are indeed needed.
“Health literacy is the ability to understand health information and then act based on this understanding,” study author Ann-Margaret Dunn-Navarra, PhD, CPNP-BC, told VOXXI. “An individual’s health literacy level may be described as a dynamic process that includes the association of demographic, psychosocial and cultural variables that shape and guide health-related beliefs, behaviors and access to health care.”
Without proper health literacy, Latinos are often unaware, for example, of the dangers that accompany the nonprescription use of medications.
Dunn-Navarra explains health literacy is complex because although it is impacted by certain cognitive skills including literacy skills, it is not limited to such factors. Individual heath literacy levels are influenced by individual and cultural beliefs, family and friends, health status, and experience with the health care system. Health related information via the internet also influences individual health literacy and health choices.
Latinos in the United States are particularly influenced by their level of health literacy due to language and cultural barriers which result in a self-treating mentality among the population. The issue is further complicated by the presence of unregulated health “bodegas” in many large cities where Latinos can have access to an often unlimited supply of inexpensive antibiotics.
Health literacy influences decision making
Not only does the indiscriminate use of antibiotics raise the risk for antimicrobial resistance among Latinos—and the U.S. population in general—it indicates a lack of understanding regarding health risks and medication usage. This, explain the researchers, is why health literacy is so important to proper medical care and access to quality care.
“Improved health literacy levels among Latinos may certainly increase their access to medical care,” Dunn-Navarra told VOXXI.
“Knowledge and beliefs are factors involved in health related decision making and behaviors, and access to medical care is a health related choice. Therefore if knowledge is increased on the importance of regular medical care and misconceptions are corrected, the health outcome of improved access to medical care is more likely to occur.”
She added, it is also equally important for healthcare providers to recognize cultural and language barriers may preclude access to medical care among Latinos, and culturally sensitive care is important to promote access to medical care and optimal health literacy.
“Health literacy is important to the Latino community and essentially to any community. Optimal health literacy is empowering for an individual because it entails active involvement in health care decision making,” stated Dunn-Navarra.
According to Navarra, the current health care system demands a high level of participation for any patient seeking care. Latinos with higher health literacy skills could be likened to individuals with more tools in their tool box to improve self-health and contribute to community health.
Originally published in VOXXI as Poor health literacy among Latinos puts them at increased risks

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