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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ballot Measure Titles and Summaries Should not be Written by Attorneys General: Fox&Hounds

By Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee
Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

A couple of months ago, at a discussion on the initiative process at a Zocalo Public Square meeting in Los Angeles, the panelists were asked what one thing they would change with the initiative process. As a panelist, my answer: Take away the power to write the initiative title and summary from the attorney general’s office.

Now come two newspaper columns that highlight the mislabeling of initiatives by the current Attorney General, Kamala Harris. John Diaz, editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle simply used the word “unfair” to describe some of the titles and summaries written by Harris. Columnist Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee argued that Harris’s titles and summaries “fixed the game” to sway political outcomes.


Click here to read the article.

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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

Key

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.
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.

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