Comedian takes Valley water crisis seriously
Monday, Apr. 06, 2009
By Bill McEwen / The Fresno Bee
Paul Rodriguez had done a radio interview and was outside the studio riffing on next week's march protesting the loss of water for San Joaquin Valley agriculture.
"We want everyone in blue -- no Mexican flags," said the comedian/farmer. "From the air, we'll look like a river. "Our goal is to open the pumps [in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta], and if we get arrested, that's even better."
Rodriguez understands the power of humor, symbolism and media attention. He is using them to publicize California's broken water-delivery system and staggering job losses in farm communities.
His hope is that America, finally, will pay attention to the grim conditions in towns like Mendota and Firebaugh.
It's a story made for the national media: traditionally Democratic farmworkers uniting with traditionally Republican farmers to embarrass a Democratic Party that caters to environmentalists at the expense of blue-collar jobs. Suddenly farmers are marching with farmworkers -- and Rodriguez's hero, Cesar Chavez, must be rolling over in his grave.
Click here to read the story.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
"Traditionally Democratic farmworkers uniting with traditionally Republican farmers to embarrass a Democratic Party that caters to environmentalists"
Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"
"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night.
But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.
|Death of an innocent.||Death or injury of a police officer.||Death of a nonviolent offender.|
|Raid on an innocent suspect.||Other examples of paramilitary police excess.||Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.|
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