TIME LGBT

Houston’s Pastors Outraged After City Subpoenas Sermons Over Transgender Bill

Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz is surrounded by preachers as he addresses a crowd at a Houston church Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 about a legal dispute involving several pastors fighting subpoenas from Houston city attorneys. Pat Sullivan—AP

City officials have subpoenaed the sermons of five pastors who oppose the Houston's new equal rights ordinance

Houston, with its left-leaning, openly gay mayor governing an influential conservative and evangelical base, is a city politically divided. That division has been made clear in recent days after the city subpoenaed sermons of several pastors who oppose a recently passed equal rights ordinance for gay and transgender residents. The subpoenas are an attempt by city officials to determine how the preachers instructed their congregants in their push to get the law repealed.

The city’s subpoenas targeted sermons and speeches by five Houston pastors with ties to religious leaders attempting to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which bars businesses from discriminating against gay and transgender residents. The law, passed into law by Mayor Annise Parker in May, is often derided as a “bathroom bill,” because it allows transgender individuals to choose whether to use a male or female restroom.

This summer, a group of local pastors and religious leaders began gathering signatures in an attempt to get a referendum to repeal the law on this November’s ballot. But City Attorney David Feldman blocked that attempt by throwing out thousands of signatures he said didn’t meet the criteria to qualify, incensing groups opposed to the rule.

Local religious leaders claim Feldman illegally disqualified the referendum and have filed a suit against the city. Mayor Parker, meanwhile, has pledged not to enforce the ordinance until there’s a court decision. But the move by the city to subpoena Houston’s pastors, who have been vocal on the issue and have urged their congregants to support a repeal referendum, has drawn national attention. Republican Senator Ted Cruz said in a statement that the subpoenas were “shocking and shameful,” and Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has called for the city to drop them as well.

“The chilling effect of government scrutiny of our pastors is unconstitutional, and unconscionable,” Perkins said in a statement. “Mayor Parker’s use of her bully pulpit to silence pulpit freedom must be stopped in its tracks.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott also issued a letter saying the city impinged on the pastors’ First Amendment rights and called for the subpoenas’ immediate reversal. “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Abbott wrote to Feldman. “The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in their knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government.”

University of Houston law professor Peter Linzer says the city reached too far in issuing the subpoenas. One subpoena sent to Pastor Steve Riggle, for example, asks for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to [the equal rights ordinance], the petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity.” However, Linzer says it wouldn’t impinge on the pastors’ First Amendment rights if the city only asked only for sermons or speeches related to the signature drive. “Let’s assume they gave instructions to cheat,” Linzer says. “That would be relevant speech and I don’t see how they would have any First Amendment protection for that.”

Among those fighting the city’s move is the Alliance for Defending Freedom, a religious freedom advocacy non-profit whose lawyers have filed a motion trying to quash the subpoenas. “I haven’t seen any indication that the city is backing down,” says Erik Stanley, the group’s senior legal counsel. “But we’re hopeful that they will. The only thing we can figure is they were subpoenaed because they spoke out against the ordinance. And they urged people to sign the petition. They exercised their constitutional rights to speak out.”

Still, Mayor Parker and City Attorney David Feldman appeared to backtrack on the subpoenas Wednesday, saying they had only recently learned of them and that outside lawyers handled the lawsuit. They argued the city is merely looking for communications from those pastors regarding the petition drive, but that the subpoenas’ language was inappropriate.

“There’s no question the wording was overly broad,” Parker said in a news conference Wednesday. “But I also think there was some deliberate misinterpretation.” Feldman, the city attorney, called the uproar over the wording “ridiculous,” but also has argued that if a pastor is speaking about political issues from the pulpit, it’s not protected. The mayor’s office declined to comment further for this story.

On Friday, The Houston Chronicle reported that the city would remove the term “sermon” from the subpoenas. Mayor Parker, however, said that relevant sermons regarding the petition drive could still be gathered.

TIME Culture

Pot Is the New Normal

Demand for marijuana edibles is pushing several Colorado manufacturers to expand their facilities or move to larger quarters.
Steve Herin, Master Grower at Incredibles, works on repotting marijuana plants in the grow facility on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Kent Nishimura—Denver Post via Getty Images

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv.

Face it: marijuana is legal, crime is down, traffic fatalities are declining and fewer teens are lighting up

If you want to know just how crazy marijuana makes some people, look no further than the race for governor of Colorado, where Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper is neck and neck with Republican challenger Bob Beauprez. They’re high-profile examples of a growing backlash against pot, even as none of the scare stories about legal weed are coming true. Drug-addled addicts embarking on crime sprees? Not in Denver. Stupefied teens flunking tests in record numbers? Uh-uh. Highway fatalities soaring? Nope.

About the worst you can say so far is that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wigged out while high. But she does that from time to time when she’s sober as a judge too.

Neither Hickenlooper nor Beauprez has cracked 50% with voters, which makes sense since neither candidate can stomach the fact that 55% of Coloradans voted to legalize recreational pot in 2012. “I’ll say it was reckless” to legalize pot, averred Hickenlooper at a recent debate. Beauprez goes further still. When asked if it’s time to recriminalize marijuana, he said, “Yes, I think we’re at that point … where the consequences that we’ve already discovered from this may be far greater than the liberty … citizens thought they were embracing.”

In fact, sales and tax revenues from legal pot continue to climb, and more people now buy recreational pot than medical marijuana, even though the former is taxed at much higher rates. Pot has kicked about $45 million into tax coffers since it became legal this year and is projected to come in between $60 million and $70 million by year’s end. Murders in the Denver area, where most pot sales take place, are down 42% (so is violent crime overall, though at a lower rate) and property crime is down 11.5%.

There’s more bad news for alarmists: Pot use by teenagers in Colorado declined from 2001, when the state legalized medical marijuana, to 2013, the last full year for which data are available. When medical marijuana was introduced, critics worried that any form of legalized pot would increase usage among kids, but the reverse happened. It remains to be seen if that trend continues in the face of legal recreational pot, but Colorado teens already use dope at lower rates than the national average. So much for the Rocky Mountain High state.

Yet Colorado pols are in good company in harshing on legal weed. The recovering addict and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy heads Safe Alternatives to Marijuana (SAM) and categorically argues, “we cannot promote a comprehensive system of mental-health treatment and marijuana legalization.”

Researchers who find that regular marijuana use among teenagers correlates with mental problems, academic failure and other bad outcomes get plenty of ink, even though such studies fail to show causation. Underperforming students and kids with problems abuse alcohol and smoke cigarettes at higher rates, after all. In any case, even advocates of legalization argue that teens shouldn’t be smoking pot any more than they should be drinking. Given the drug’s pariah status for decades, it’s not surprising that the science is both unsettled and highly politicized.

Will legalizing pot increase access to a drug that law-enforcement officials concede has long been readily available to high schoolers? “Criminalizing cannabis for adults has little if any impact on reducing teens’ access or consumption of the plant,” argues the pro-legalization group NORML, a claim supported by declining teen use during Colorado’s experience with medical marijuana. Certainly pot merchants who are registered with and regulated by the state are more likely to check IDs than your friendly neighborhood black-market dealer.

At least this much seems certain: In a world where adults can openly buy real pot, you’re also less likely to read stories headlined “More People Hospitalized by Bad Batch of Synthetic Marijuana.” And support for legalization isn’t fading. The market-research firm Civic Science finds that 58% of Americans support laws that “would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

That figure obviously doesn’t include either candidate for governor of Colorado. But just like the rest of the country, whoever wins that race will have to learn to live with pot being legal, crime being down, traffic fatalities declining and fewer teens lighting up.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME 2014 Election

On the Road with Rand Paul

Can he fix what ails the GOP?

The tattooed and pierced longhairs never showed up to see Senator Rand Paul speak with students at the University of South Carolina in Columbia last month. Those in attendance drew instead from the preppy set, with brushed bangs, blue blazers and proper hemlines, some wearing sunglasses on neck straps like jock jewelry. They mostly hailed from college Republican circles, and the room where they gathered, a wood-stained memorial to the state’s old power structure, was named for the politician who led the fight to protect school segregation in the 1960s.

You could call them activists, even rebels in their way. But this was not a gathering of losers and outcasts. Paul knew this. And that was the whole point…

Read the full story here.

TIME politics

We Should Treat Gun Violence the Way We Do Cancer and Heart Disease

YouTube / Elliot Rodger

Khawar Siddique, MD, MBA, is a spine surgeon and neurosurgeon.

The so-called “gun violence restraining order” recently passed in California is a commonsense policy that balances the need for public health and doesn't tread on the rights of gun owners

As a neurosurgeon and spine surgeon, I have had a front row seat to gun violence. Whether shot by someone else or self-inflicted, a bullet traveling through the brain and spine can cause extraordinary damage. You can’t put a brain back together. If we do succeed at preserving a life, the victim of gun violence is often left with tragic neurologic deficits such as paralysis, speech problems and cognitive issues.

Prevention is the key to improving health outcomes for gun injury victims. We’ve made great strides in diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes by investing in preventative medicine. Our health care system and our citizens have benefited as a result. Gun violence is no different. We need tools to help prevent gun violence and gun suicide.

Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will do just that. The so-called “gun violence restraining order” is a commonsense policy that balances the need for public health and safeguards the rights of gun owners. It answers a basic question we ask ourselves after horrific instances of mass violence or suicide: What could we have done to stop this?

AB-1014, now law, is modeled on the concept of domestic violence protection orders. Just as a woman can seek protection from her abuser in the courts, the law allows family members and key members of the community, like law enforcement, to petition a judge to provide temporary firearms prohibitions for those deemed to be in crisis. Whether protecting against suicide or mass violence, it will save lives.

This problem is not theoretical. There are far too many instances where individuals show signs of impending violence but there are no means to prevent them access to firearms. The recent shooting in Isla Vista is an example where limiting access to guns could have saved lives. Now, with the signing of this law, family members and police officers have legal means to prevent a potentially dangerous person from accessing firearms or ammunition.

Gun violence restraining order laws are wholly consistent with the Second Amendment. As a gun owner myself, I know the worst thing that can happen to our rights is to see irresponsible individuals use them to commit crimes. In the case of these new laws, there must be sufficient evidence for a judge to believe that an individual poses a danger to others or oneself before the gun violence restraining order can be issued. In California, the law would penalize anyone who files a petition with false information or uses a gun violence restraining order to harass another person.

You can pass this commonsense law in your state, too. Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention group headed by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, has toolkits for state legislators and advocates telling you exactly how to get it done. Gun violence restraining orders will help keep guns out of the hands of individuals proven to be a threat to the community or themselves while ensuring due process for all involved. As a physician, a citizen and a gun-owner, I encourage the legislatures and governors from across this great nation to act boldly and with common sense.

Khawar Siddique, MD, MBA, is a spine surgeon and neurosurgeon who resides in Los Angeles.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME 2014 Election

America Needs More Crazy Debates Like In Vermont

C-Span

Vermont's gubernatorial debate was a sure cure for the nation's political blues

Most televised political debate in the United States is a lifeless, platitude-laden sideshow with virtually no value except as a grim form of entertainment, like watching democracy itself fed to the lions at the Coliseum. That is why Vermont’s recent gubernatorial debate, in which every candidate on the ballot was invited to participate, was such a breath of fresh air.

Vermont’s Democratic incumbent governor Peter Shumlin has a virtual lock on the election, with a double-digit lead over Republican challenger Scott Milne. Fortunately, the five other candidates on the ballot made for a lively discussion October 9.

In a world where political campaigning has been largely reduced to platitudes and soundbites, Vermonter and revolutionary socialist Pete Diamondstone called for the overthrow of the entire capitalist system and the outlawing of private enterprise. His solution for the problem of illegal drug use is to legalize everything and make the government the national drug dealer. One need not pass judgement on the quality of his program, but if suggesting that Uncle Sam start slinging smack isn’t thinking outside the box, pretty much nothing is. Plus the whole time, he appeared to be wearing jorts with suspenders and tall white socks, which counts for something as long as we’re going to fight about whether or not the president is allowed to wear a tan suit.

Emily Peyton
Emily Peyton

So much is taken for granted when our politicians get together to argue. Not so in Vermont last week, when self-described “lightworker” and most-chill candidate ever Emily Peyton answered a question about healthcare by suggesting we start by alleviating poverty. With poverty a major player in our obesity epidemic, her point may be too often left aside in our debates on healthcare. Peyton’s comment that money spent on healthcare “ought to go to the healers” may be a little rich in New Age lingo but her point is worth considering, with administrative costs a major driver of the increase on the pricetag of going to the doctor.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 5.05.13 PM
Bernard Peters

And it’s not just the refreshing willingness of dark horse candidates to state the obvious that endears one to this debate, but the humble honesty on display. To a question about how to lower the cost of college in Vermont, Bernard Peters—who is either a Duck Dynasty fanboy, a very dedicated hipster or just extremely legit—said, more or less, that he had no idea. Later the Libertarian candidate Dan Feliciano was asked about the incumbent governor’s program to get drug offenders into recovery rather than behind bars. He said, without equivocation, that he’d do literally nothing different. Good luck finding a mainstream candidate who would publicly take that position.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 6.06.40 PM
Cris Ericson

There’s the pure entertainment factor too (which was in no short display at Idaho’s similarly bizarre debate earlier this year). Through it all Cris Ericson and her extraordinary hat were fighting the good fight for highway rest area enthusiasts, chemtrail conspiracy theorists and food stamp recipients, who, she noted for reasons unknown to the rest of us, might be using food stamps to buy lottery tickets to get rich to be able to afford fruits and vegetables. So there’s also that, whatever that is.

Two of the candidates said one of the most important things they’d do if given the power is ensure that debates are open to every candidate on the ballot. Until Game of Thrones comes back there’s no better entertainment out there and with the dark horses thrown into the mix we might actually have some useful discussion.

You can watch the entire debate here.

TIME politics

Michelle Obama: ‘Turnip for What?’

Michelle Obama
First Lady Michelle Obama is joined by school children as they harvest peanuts in the annual fall harvest at the White House on Oct. 14, 2014 Susan Walsh—AP

The First Lady films a hilarious vine about veggie consumption

First Lady Michelle Obama has brought her fresh-produce campaign to the most appropriately named venue yet: the six-second video app Vine.

The advocate of healthy eating — known for her White House garden — poses with a turnip in her brief video clip, before asking “Turnip for what?” It’s a fun play on DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s summer hit “Turn Down for What,” a song that’s had a longer-than-expected life as a voter-registration anthem. It was the perfect response to an Obama impersonator using Vine to ask the First Lady how many calories she burns when she “turns up.”

Perhaps this is the easiest and most cost-effective way to remind a generally disaffected young voter base of the appeals of the Obama presidency leading into the midterm elections. Or maybe the First Lady really just wanted to boogie with a root vegetable. Either way, this is perhaps the most unscripted Michelle Obama we’ve seen yet — willing to expend far more energy on TV appearances from The Biggest Loser to Parks and Recreation, none of which has caught the public’s imagination quite so vividly. We look forward to whatever may be her next veggie-themed song parody (good luck, as no veggie names spring to mind as rhymes for “All About That Bass” or “Shake It Off”) — or just the next time she has fun advocating roughage consumption.

Read next: Michelle Obama Thinks Pencils Are a Crummy Halloween Gift

TIME politics

This Girl Cannot Believe She’s Actually Meeting Hillary Clinton

Macy Friday, Hillary Clinton, Mark Udall
Ten-year-old Macy Friday, front left, reacts as she looks back at her family after meeting Hillary Clinton, front right, as she campaigns for U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., back, during a stop in Denver on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. David Zalubowski—AP

"DAD LOOOOOOKKKKKKKKKKKK"

Ten-year-old Colorado resident Macy Friday got to briefly rub elbows Hillary Clinton this week, and from the looks of it, this meeting was not a let-down.

Clinton was in Denver to support Sen. Mark Udall’s bid for re-election. We’re sure Udall appreciated that Hillary stopped by, but clearly, nobody enjoyed it more than Friday.

TIME 2014 Election

Paul Ryan Says Humans May Not Cause Climate Change

Paul Ryan
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., is interviewed by Maria Bartiromo during her "Opening Bell With Maria Bartiromo" program on the Fox Business Network, in New York City on Sept. 29, 2014. Richard Drew—AP

"We've had climate change forever"

The jury is still out on whether humans cause climate change, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan said at a debate Monday.

“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Ryan said, in response to a question about whether humans are responsible for the warming of the planet. “I don’t think science does, either.” His remarks were reported by the Associated Press.

Ryan, who is running for reelection in southern Wisconsin against Democrat Rob Zerban, argued that “we’ve had climate change forever” and that proposals to stem climate change are expensive and will not guarantee results. Zerban said humans are to blame for climate change and need to address the issue.

The exchange was a heated moment in a wide-ranging debate that included foreign affairs and the economy. Ryan is widely expected to hold his seat in the GOP-leaning district.

[AP]

TIME politics

How Indigenous Peoples Day Came to Be

Berkeley, Calif., adopted the holiday 22 years before Seattle and Minneapolis did in 2014

Updated 10:47 a.m. EST

Earlier this month, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as an alternative to Columbus Day, following in the footsteps of Minneapolis, which made the same decision in April of this year. But both cities were late to the game compared to Berkeley, Calif., which in 1992 became the first city in the country to formally recognize a new holiday challenging the idea that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America with his 1492 voyage.

Back in 1992, then-Mayor of Berkeley Loni Hancock told TIME Magazine that Columbus Day celebrations have been “Eurocentric and [have] ignored the brutal realities of the colonization of indigenous peoples.”

Now a California State Senator, Hancock says she’s pleased so many other cities are catching on to Indigenous Peoples Day. (Different cities have made different choices about where to put the apostrophe after peoples, or whether to have one at all, but the idea is the same.) “Berkeley was just a little bit in front,” she says, noting that Berkeley was also the first city to ban Styrofoam carry-out containers and install curb cuts to assist the disabled. “As often happens, things happen in Berkeley first and then other places pick them up.”

Talk of an alternative to Columbus Day dates back to the 1970s, but the idea came to Berkeley after the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador, in 1990. That led to another conference among Northern Californian Native American groups, Hancock says; some attendees, along with other locals interested in Native American history, brought their concerns to the Berkeley City Council. The council appointed a task force to investigate the ideas and Columbus’ historical legacy, and in 1992 they unanimously approved the task force’s recommendation for an Indigenous Peoples Day. (Other alternatives exist in the U.S., such as Native American Day—South Dakota has recognized that holiday since 1990.)

“[Columbus] was one of the first Europeans to get to the American continent, but there was a lot of history that came after that in terms of the wiping out of native people,” Hancock says. “It just didn’t seem appropriate. It seemed like a reemphasizing of history and recognizing that to be very ethnocentric really diminishes us all.”

In addition to being an official holiday, Indigenous Peoples Day in Berkeley is celebrated with an Indian market and pow-wow that attracts Native Americans from all over the state as well as the country. “Any holiday like that says, ‘This is an important factor in our history,’ whether it’s Martin Luther King’s birthday or President’s Day,” Hancock says. “I think that it impacts the way the young people of Berkeley look at the world.”

While cities like Seattle now observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day in addition to Columbus Day, the city of Berkeley replaced Columbus Day altogether. Hancock says there was vocal opposition to change but notes that most of it came from outside of the Berkeley community. As was also the case in Seattle, some members of the Italian-American community argued that Columbus Day was an important celebration of Italian pride and heritage, and that changing the celebration was disrespectful.

“We just had to keep reiterating that that was not the purpose — the purpose was to really affirm the incredible legacy of the indigenous people who were in the North American continent long before Columbus,” Hancock says. “But I’d also suggest that most of the Italian-Americans really came to this country looking for safety and economic opportunity, and I’m sure we could find some of the Italian-Americans who stood up for that and helped make that happen. Maybe we should look into that. The Berkeley City Council, as you know, will consider many things!”

Read next: Bummed About Having to Work on Columbus Day? Read This

TIME Bolivia

Quick Count: Bolivia’s Morales Coasts to 3rd Term

BOLIVIA-ELECTION-MORALES
Bolivian President and candidate for re-election Evo Morales votes in Villa 14, Chapare, Bolivia, on Oct. 12, 2014 Aizar Raldes—AFP/Getty Images

Morales has capitalized on his everyman image while his Movement Toward Socialism party has consolidated control over state institutions

(LA PAZ, Bolivia) — Evo Morales easily won an unprecedented third term as Bolivia’s president Sunday on the strength of the economic and political stability brought by his government, according to an unofficial quick count of the vote.

Morales, a native Aymara from Bolivia’s poor, wind-swept Andean plateau, received 59.5 percent of the vote against 25.3 percent for cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina, the top vote-getter among four challengers, according to a quick count of 84 percent of the voting booths by the Ipsos company for ATB television.

If confirmed by partial official results expected after midnight local time Sunday (0400 GMT), it would give Morales an outright victory without the need for a second round of voting.

As the unofficial results were announced, Morales’ supporters ran out into the streets to celebrate the win.

While known internationally for his anti-imperialist and socialist rhetoric, the 55-year-old coca growers’ union leader is widely popular at home for a pragmatic economic stewardship that spread Bolivia’s natural gas and mineral wealth among the masses.

A boom in commodities prices increased export revenues nine-fold and the country has accumulated $15.5 billion in international reserves. Economic growth has averaged 5 percent annually, well above the regional average.

A half a million people have put poverty behind them since Bolivia’s first indigenous president first took office in 2006, with per capital gross national income up from $1,000 that year to $2,550 in 2013, according to the World Bank.

Public works projects abound, including a satellite designed to deliver Internet to rural schools, a fertilizer plant and La Paz’s gleaming new cable car system. His newest promise: to light up La Paz with nuclear power.

“I voted for Evo Morales because he doesn’t forget the elderly,” said Maria Virginia Velasquez, a 70-year-old widow. Universal old-age pensions — Velasquez gets $36 a month — are among the benefits instituted by Morales that have boosted his popularity.

Morales had sought Sunday to improve on his previous best showing — 64 percent in 2009 — and to maintain a two-thirds control of Bolivia’s Senate and assembly. That would let him change the constitution, which restricts presidents to two 5-year terms, so he can run again.

He has not said whether he would seek a fourth term, only that he would “respect the constitution.” He did say in a TV interview last week, however, that he didn’t believe people over the age of 60 should be president.

A court ruled last year that Morales could run for a third term because his first preceded a constitutional rewrite. All seats are up for grabs in the 36-member Senate and 130-member lower house.

Morales’ critics say he spent tens of millions in government money on his campaign, giving him an unfair advantage. And press freedom advocates accuse him of gradually silencing critical media by letting government allies buy them out, a formula also employed by the ruling heirs in Venezuela of the late Hugo Chavez.

Morales didn’t attend the campaign’s lone presidential debate and state TV didn’t broadcast it.

“There is no functional opposition, left, right or otherwise,” said Jim Shultz, executive director of the left-leaning Democracy Center based in Bolivia and San Francisco.

Morales has capitalized on his everyman image while his Movement Toward Socialism party has consolidated control over state institutions. He long ago crushed and splintered the opposition, nationalized key utilities and renegotiating natural gas contracts to give the government a bigger share of profits.

His image-makers have built a cult of personality around him. Stadiums, markets, schools, state enterprises and even a village bear Morales’ name. In the center of the capital, crews are building a second presidential palace, a 20-story center complete with a heliport.

Yet Morales has alienated environmentalists and many former indigenous allies by promoting mining and a planned jungle highway through an indigenous reserve.

And despite Bolivia’s economic advancements, it is still among South America’s poorest countries. Nearly one in five Bolivians lives on less than a dollar a day.

Many analysts think Bolivia depends too much on natural resources and is especially susceptible to the current easing in commodities demand from China.

“Evo’s balancing act will be increasingly tough to maintain,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue think tank. “Although Evo has proven to be a resourceful and resilient politician, who knows his country well, it would be surprising if the next five years go as swimmingly as the last five.”

Morales’ dreams of converting its lithium reserves into battery factories have yet to be realized, as are plans to create a major iron foundry.

The underground cocaine economy gets credit for part of the economic boom. Peru’s former drug czar, Ricardo Soberon, estimates its annual revenues at $2.3 billion, equal to about 7 percent of gross domestic product.

Morales promotes coca’s traditional uses and claims zero tolerance for cocaine.

The United States deems Bolivia uncooperative in the war on drugs and has halted trade preferences and cut all counter-narcotics aid. Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008, accusing them of inciting the opposition.

Last year he threw out the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Ronald Velasquez, a 38-year-old computer specialist, said he voted for Morales because he didn’t trust any of the other candidates. He said he trusts Morales but the president “is surrounded by bad associates.”

“He has had a lot of problems in his government with corruption and influence-peddling,” Velasquez said.

Macario Chambi, a 54-year-old street vendor, said he would not vote for Morales, whose ruling clique he believes is getting rich off the economic bonanza without instituting the type of reforms that will actually create wealth.

“He thinks we’re all sheep, that we don’t realize that they want to buy us with cheap sweets.”

___

Associated Press writers Paola Flores contributed from La Paz and Frank Bajak from Lima, Peru.

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