You may have heard that an overnight SWAT raid in Georgia -- one with the express mission of finding drugs -- left a 20-month-old baby with a collapsed lung, a blown-off nose, and a hole in his chest after one of the SWAT raiders threw a flashbang grenade in his crib. Also, the SWAT team found no drugs in the house and made no arrests. (The baby in question, now universally known as "Baby Bou Bou," has made a remarkable recovery to date.) Police departments now conduct over 45,000 SWAT raids in America annually, which averages out to about five raids per hour -- though, of course, they're more likely to happen at night. Should America resemble a war zone? And should our SWAT officers expend their skill and energy on drug raids, rather than confronting the complex life-threatening situations for which they're trained? I mean, drug addiction is evil, but the mere presence of drugs in a house (or, in the case of this raid, in some house other than the house where the raid took place) doesn't constitute an immediate threat to anyone's life. So the ACLU can help you tell the Georgia state legislature to convene an emergency legislative session to discuss limiting SWAT use to situations where someone's life is actually in danger.
Meanwhile, Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) has offered an agriculture appropriations bill amendment that would do considerable good: it would defund USDA efforts to speed up poultry inspections and drastically reduce government inspectors at private poultry corporations -- both of which, if funded, would allow poultry corporations to do much more of their own inspections. Fewer inspectors and faster inspections would (as you can well imagine!) result in more blood, more feces, and more pus getting to your dinner table, and it's nice that someone in Congress cares about that. Also, Rep. Pingree (D-ME) has offered another amendment that would preserve USDA rules protecting contract farmers who raise feed animals for big ag corporations. Big corporations have a habit, it seems, of retaliating against contract farmers when contract farmers complain to Congress about the abuse they suffer at the hands of said big corporations -- abuse like canceling contracts and cutting payments. It's sad that we have to amend bills to prevent harm, but apparently Republicans are only the "party of small business" when it's time to cut taxes for rich people, and not when it's actually time to protect small businesses from the overarching power of big corporations. Hence the Organic Consumers Association helps you tell your Congressfolk to support healthy chicken consumption and justice for small farmers.
Finally, while we're on the subject of healthy feed animals, PennPIRG has put together a neat infographic called "What if Antibiotics Stopped Working?" And you don't have play and pause buttons to mess with -- to advance the presentation, you scroll downward on your browser, and if you're not ready to move on, you just stop scrolling. Maybe it's just me, but I think that feature's tremendous. If you've been visiting this site for any length of time, you won't be surprised at any of the information it provides, but the title, alarmist as it sounds, remains entirely apt -- our overuse of antibiotics on factory farms has only made stronger and stronger bacteria that we won't be able to kill with antibiotics one day, and if that statement doesn't chill you, look at your own hands. No, seriously. Just last week, I almost pulled a fingernail out at work lifting something heavier than I expected. A few days before that I sliced into my thumb cutting onions at home. I also cut my forearm last week, and I don't even remember how I did that. No big deal, right? But in the coming post-antibiotic world, that's three ways I could have died. Once you've finished the infographic in the above link, PennPIRG will help you tell the FDA to crack down on antibiotic abuse on factory farms much harder than they've done thus far. Then, maybe, antibiotics will reign supreme over bacteria again, like they should.