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Why Jim Badasci 'Went Postal': How Bullying Bosses and Economic Devastation Are Behind America's Latest Workplace Shooting

Baldasci's shooting opens a window into Fresno, Calif.'s climate of soaring unemployment, scheming agribusiness oligarchs and Sean Hannity-inspired right-wing rage.

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Taking astroturfing to a new and darker level, in April, agribusiness interests gang-pressed a couple thousand migrant Latino farmworkers into "marching" 50 miles over four days in the scorching Central Valley sun, calling for the repeal of the Endangered Species Act and for taking out the taxpayer credit card to finance and subsidize more cheap water.

The New York Times reported that marchers were paid by their employers, something I haven't seen since Russian Vladimir Putin's PR goons would bus in thousands of workers and students for rallies that either were bribed into attending, or told they better attend.

"In reality, this is not a farmworker march," said Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers of America, the 27,000-member union founded by Cesar Chavez, which did not participate in the march. "This is a farmer march orchestrated and financed by growers."

And in July, a couple thousand Latino farmhands were pressed into marching on Fresno City Hall to demand the repeal of the Endangered Species Act, opening up more cheap water, and ultimately, building the loathed Peripheral Canal, which would cost taxpayers billions of dollars and deliver enormous amounts of cheap water from Northern California to the Central Valley, converting their farm land into much more valuable suburban tract-home development land.

At that July 1 rally, once again, some protesters said to reporters that they were either paid to protest, transported in by their bosses or told that if they wanted to keep their jobs they better show, according to the Associated Press :

On Wednesday, nearly 4,000 people carrying professionally printed signs proclaiming, "No water, no jobs, no hope, no future," marched through downtown. One man, who declined to give us name, said his Kettleman City (Kings County) employer had driven him and other workers there and were paying them for their time. Another woman said she came with 50 other employees of a Tulare agriculture contractor for free, to protect their jobs.

So basically the super-rich landowners and farming oligarchs are using the poorest and most vulnerable demographic – Latino migrant workers -- as human shields, in order to steal money from taxpayers while daring them to fire back: "What, liberal eco-terrorists, you have more compassion for a guppy than for this poor Mexican, who sleeps with his lights on out of fear of cockroaches? What sort of heartless eco-terrorist are you? Sign the $12 billion Peripheral Canal deal now, or you'll have the blood of millions of Mexicans on your hands!"

It really is that sinister. Rodriguez even bragged about it to a convention of nearly all-white right-wing Republicans in May.

Rodriguez assured them they had nothing to be worried about his group being "Latino," because he, Rodriguez, was using his less-fortunate fellow Mexicans as human shields to front for their wealthy agribusiness profits.

According to a top-notch local investigative reporter, Lloyd Carter (who has written some amazing stories on the water/race/astroturfing issues in the region), Rodriguez was invited to Bakersfield to speak to the right-wing Republican Assembly, where the former comedian went out of his way to assure his new white masters that there was nothing to be afraid of in the "Latino" name of his "Latino Water Coalition" group -- it's all a Trojan horse to advance their rich, white Republican interests!

"When I say Latino Water Coalition, a lot of you automatically say, 'Why Latino? Doesn't everyone need water, Paul? Why just you Latinos, and as a Caucasian person I take offense to that, why does everything have to be segregated?' I don't know. I don't know, but we're using this. We're using this race card in a positive manner, a cloak. You know everybody's welcome to this. The reason why we call it the Latino Water Coalition [is] because it gives them a pause. 'Better not attack these Latinos, we don't know.' If we call it the Caucasian Coalition, you bet they would already be attacking us. Because Caucasians, sadly to say, who is defending you? I am. You know, just to put that to rest, there's no division."