breaking battlegrounds

29 Podcast: Karan Deep Singh and Carlos Martinez on India’s COVID Crisis and Protests in Cuba

Karan Deep Singh and Carlos Martinez
Breaking Battlegrounds logo
Breaking Battlegrounds Official Podcasts
29 Podcast: Karan Deep Singh and Carlos Martinez on India's COVID Crisis and Protests in Cuba
This week, Breaking Battlegrounds looks to the world stage. First, Karan Deep Singh of the New York Times joins Chuck and Sam to shed some light on the COVID crisis in India. Carlos Martinez of the Miami Herald joins the program later to explain the recent protests in Cuba. Carlos Martinez is a student of journalism at Florida International University. He grew up in Cuba and moved to the United States when he was 17. He is a reporter for the Miami Herald and the Nuevo Herald, covering Cuba and local news. Karan Deep Singh is a reporter and visual journalist at The New York Times, based in New Delhi, India. He covers economy, politics and technology in South Asia and contributes to The Times’s visual report from the region.

Listen to Breaking Battlegrounds Podcast on

Spotify Podcasts:

Apple Podcasts:

Podcast Transcripts:


Sam: Welcome to Breaking Battlegrounds with your host, Sam Stone and Chuck Warren, fantastic and packed show for you today. Our first guest from The New York Times. And thank you so much for being here. Karan Deep Singh, reporter for The New York Times, talking about Covid, the wave that is going through India right now, very underreported here in the U.S.. He’s been doing some of the best work on this subject and really an unbelievable human tragedy that’s been unfolding. Chuck, I know you want to jump in with some questions. Take it away.


Chuck: Thank you. Thank you for joining us, Karan. Question. So the Center for Global Development, Washington, D.C. research think tank estimates now that there’s an excess of three million deaths. In India, due to Covid, A: do you believe these numbers, and B, as does India have a plan to get better at this?


Karan: Well, India’s official numbers have been called into question heatedly, and this has happened over and over again. Experts have said that India itself is not reporting the true pandemic toll. And they say that the numbers don’t really add up because the tragedy that’s unfolding in India, when you have have four hundred thousand cases, the they’ve been saying that according to two to the the numbers that they have calculated for India, its population and for a virus circulating, especially with the highly transmissible variants that India has been seeing lately. They expect many more deaths. And this is something my colleagues and I have been reporting pretty much since the pandemic began at the very height of the second wave in India, we were seeing all kinds of reports of states calculating much less dads than were actually occurring. The the the funeral homes were full of dead bodies. And yet many funeral officials had to report only a certain number of deaths every day. And they would sort of mention the rest of the deaths as they would just say illness, or they would say somebody died of a heart attack, but not mention that they died because of Covid. And this is at a time when thousands of people are dying of Covid. So experts say, well, all of these other events that have probably taken place, they’ve happened because of Covid.


Chuck: Right. India. So India has about a seven percent vaccination rate, is that correct?


Karan: Less than seven percent,


Chuck: less than 7 percent. So how does India expect to hit their goal of immunization of 900 million people by the end of the year? I mean, we’re almost in August.


Karan: Well, it’s going to be it’s going to be very difficult for the government because of not just how many people are lining up each day for vaccinations, but also because their own vaccines that India has and even waves the world’s largest vaccine may at its disposal.India has not been able to vaccinate people at the speed and scale it it was really hoping to do. And that’s because India sort of miscalculated initially in the in the pandemic how many vaccine doses it really needed. You know, unlike the US and Britain, and these are, of course, much more wealthier countries than India, they signed advanced purchase agreements of millions of doses. But India waited until January to really place some of its initial orders for for vaccines. But also because there was a there was a phase in India, you know, in like early this year, in February. Cases were were plateauing. And the government felt that, you know, India had had really had the pandemic under control. They didn’t need as many vaccines. So they actually went out and they started giving out vaccines sort of as a as a gesture of goodwill. And it was really aimed at diplomacy and, you know, enhancing India’s standing in the global community as a global partner in the vaccine effort. But quickly, that that fell through because India had a steep rise in cases in March, and then India’s government had to stop exports of vaccines. But even after they stopped the vaccine exports, there’s there’s not been as much vaccination because there are only as many doses at this time.


Sam: So real quick, I want to ask one follow up to that and then go back to the previous point about maybe the undercount and what’s going on there. But is there help on the horizon from the international community? Is there any kind of brewing international effort to get more of the vaccines, to perhaps get health care workers who can administer them in those types of resources to India? Have you heard of anything like that? So.


Karan: Yes. India has been getting help from from a lot of countries. Initially, when the when the Covid second wave hit, India was getting not just vaccines, but all kinds of help in terms of oxygen generation generators, its cylinder, oxygen cylinders, oxygen plants, countries where we’re really sending all kinds of aid. And and lately, yes, there have been more vaccines that have come through international agreements, and some of that has been donated by countries. And but the the the the the struggle that India sort of finds itself in is that it’s even even with all of that help, it’s it’s sort of a drop in the ocean, and especially because because of the population, but also because in India, there was there was this phase in between when people felt that there was, you know, that the the pandemic was was sort of over


Sam: let down phase


Karan: the government. Yes. And the government gave that impression. Prime Minister Modi himself said in late January in Davos that that India had had had saved humanity from from a big disaster by containing the pandemic. India’s former health minister, who stepped down earlier this month amid anger over the government’s Covid response, had assured the public in March that the country had really reached the pandemic’s endgame. But all of those statements were quickly brought in check by the second wave that really devastated the country. And hundreds of thousands of people were turning a positive each day. Thousands of people were dying. Some people were dying outside hospitals without any care. They were really just gasping for air on the streets. And and there was no help. There was no oxygen that they could get.


Chuck: So I think most of our listeners don’t know. I think most people don’t know, period, is that, you know, there’s a central and state governments in India and they’re squabbling. How is this holding up efforts to do immunizations, care given for hospitals? How much is there really squabbling going on between the central government in the states?

Karan: Well, initially during the pandemic, the government of India was the sole buyer of all vaccines that India was administering, but quickly, that was that sort of had a reality check because there were not as many vaccines available and there was just so much need because of the second wave that everyone needed a vaccine. And India quickly realized that there was that was not going to be possible, that every other country in the world requires vaccines. And India is no different. So there was only. And as vaccine that, India could really get its hands on. So there was a there was a time in between when the state governments were asking the central government for more vaccines, and a central government really didn’t have as many vaccines. So they they asked states that if you want to go and source your vaccines, you’re free to do that. And that was that was sort of a surprising move. It’s it’s unheard of for vaccine manufacturers to deal with separate states in a country. So a lot of a lot of vaccine makers said, well, we we we won’t deal with you. We would deal with the central government. And the states reported back to the central government and said, look, we’re not able to get the doses. So this this led to heavy criticism of the government’s vaccine strategy. And over time, Prime Minister Modi’s government had to really come back to its original plan of securing all vaccines on its own.


Sam: We’ve only got a two minutes left here, but I wanted to ask one more question. India obviously does not have the medical infrastructure that people are familiar with here in the United States or in much of Europe. And with these vaccines, the storage, the transport, all these things logistically are very difficult. And I think people around the world here in the United States, everywhere else, have sort of overlooked that element of the vaccine rollout, that it know just manufacturing all these vaccines is a Herculean task. But then all the distribution network, everything else. How much is that hampering India right now and how much of a concern is that for other countries with less developed medical systems?


Karan: There was a big concern early on in the pandemic, and even now that indeed was not really using all of its resources to keep out vaccines. You know, even for a country of one point four billion people, India has a system of immunization that it has used over time and it has really used it well.It has it has immunize people against HIV, against a lot of other diseases that, you know, a lot of Western countries.


Sam: And I apologize. We’re going to have to go to break. And I have to cut you off here. I want to thank you so much for being on the show with us today. It is a pleasure to have you on here. And for those who are not following the saying in The New York Times, please do, because this is really important information. You’re not getting anywhere else. Breaking Battlegrounds coming back.


Sam: Welcome back to Breaking Battlegrounds, I’m your host, Sam Stone. Chuck Warren, my co-host in the studio with me today on the line, a reporter. We are very excited to talk to Carlos Martinez of The Miami Herald. He has been covering what’s going on in Cuba. This is really pretty historic what’s happening right now. It’s very different than perhaps past protests. And I don’t think most of the American public is really even aware of it. So, Carlos, thank you for being on the show, first of all. And then tell us what happened, what started this? What’s happening?

Carlos: Well, OK, guys. Well, thank you for having me here. It’s been a pleasure. So an overview of what is happening right now in Cuba. On July 11, unprecedented protest took place in Cuba. Finally, thousands of people this week and began to shout for freedom and call for a change of system. The protest started in the area of the western part of the island called San Antonio, the Spaniards. And from there, they began to spread throughout the island. People were protesting peacefully until president the president in the obvious came out. If the order to fight the protesters at that moment, the violence began, military or military retired, these people dressed in civilian clothes, undefendable again. They took the streets to be with mittens, awls, rocks and fire weapons. The people that were protesting peacefully because in Cuba, the people, they don’t have arms. They don’t have a weapon. So according to what the people from Cuba have told me so far from being, you know, beaten at the reinforcement, people 16, 17, 18 years old, which is considered in Cuba, like the military age, to take the street and fight against the protesters. So coincidentally, they didn’t. It was caught up in Cuba when the violence brought it. And Cubans were without even an access for almost three and four days, a long time for the tempers to calm down a bit. Until today, there have been people taking the streets. And at this moment, more than 500 people have been arrested for disorderly.


Sam: Wow.


Chuck: When you’re arrested, you just plain disappear in Cuba. That’s right. When you are arrested in Cuba, we have read various stories.


Carlos: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I came when I was 17 years old. I was going to study journalism in Cuba, but I came in that specific moment.


Chuck: OK, so right now, Cuba’s doing arrest. They’re taking these protesters. explain to our audience what happens once you are arrested in Cuba for protesting? What is. What happens?


Carlos: Well, the people right now are very analytical. People are getting beaten them inside those police departments. They get naked and people start telling them, like, oh, my word. They harass them sexually. You don’t have the right to defend yourself. You have the right to have a lawyer. You don’t have the right to talk to your family. And that is happening right now in Cuba. And when you get in jail right now, there are like people who their families haven’t heard from them in a week.


Sam: This is just amazing to me, because Cuba should be without this totalitarian regime in control of it. Cuba should be one of the most wonderful places on the planet. One of the most economically successful places on the planet. And this regime has really, really just oppressed its own people for generations now. And they’re rising up. They have no guns. It’s like you said, they don’t have any weapons. They don’t have anything to really fight back with. And they know that this stuff you just talked about is happening to them and they’re doing it anyway. That that’s just amazing, and I think it speaks to the character of the Cuban people. Because, you know, you see this around the world, people are not willing to take that step and put themselves at risk. It’s it’s incredibly, admiral. Admirable, but it’s incredibly sad. How is this for all the Cuban families living in Florida, knowing that many of their relatives may be at risk in this? They’re not able to communicate with them. It’s a really heartbreaking situation for everyone.


Carlos: Yeah, well, in that case, for those reason, the Cuban exile asked him Joe Biden to first the freedom for the people. Right, because in Cuba, the people they eat and it’s owned by the government so that they they can cut up they it like that. So you can be without communication with your family because the government of Cuba wants that. So that’s the first thing they’re asking from Joe Biden. The second thing they’re asking is to judge and sanction the Cuban regime. What he’s doing to the people in front of the wall. And the third method, specifically, the Cuban people on the exile, some people from Cuba they’ve been asking for is a humanitarian intervention, because I say to Cuban people, they don’t have weapons, so they don’t have like a way to fight back, that we can resume shooting at the people, you know, with a weapon. So they’re asking for humanitarian intervention right now or not a case that is what a law is called, 68, 67, that doesn’t allow boats keep on boats from Florida to go to Cuba so we can fight for our people. That’s not the point where people are asking for right now here in South Florida,


Chuck: has a Cuban government stopped remittances from family and friends in the United States to Cuba? How is that being affected right now?


Carlos: Well, what they have right now today, Joe Biden, he’s trying to find a way so people can send more remittances, Cuba or also without the government or being in the middle of a negotiation with the Cuban people. But what is happening right now, the people of Cuba, they are asking for remittances. They were asking for freedom. Right. And Congresswomen calling congressmen like Marco Rubio or Rubio so far, like you have said, that many fact that we are asking for freedom, not for remittances, because they are tired of getting remittances for another country they want to to develop by themselves.


Sam: Do you think and obviously this is this is a difficult thing to say, but do you think it is time for the U.S., the U.N., to go in and send in U.N. peacekeepers or.


Carlos: Well, go there? That I cannot tell you that, because that will be my opinion. That’s what the people are asking for. The majority of the people they are asking for, and


Sam: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you telling us what they’re asking for rather than your opinion. You’re obviously a very, very good journalist. So, you know, that is something I think. I think it’s time for us to consider that, Chuck. I think it’s time for us to look at doing something.


Chuck: I was listening to some I was listening to an NPR podcast this morning, and the folks in Miami are just plain asking for military action. I mean, that’s. Yeah. And let me ask you this, Carlos. Is that a widespread opinion and desire that the United States take military action with the folks protesting in Miami, Miami-Dade area?


Carlos: Well, right now, Francis Suarez, he gave his opinion about this topic and he said that Biden needs to consider ways to intervene in Cuba. So that’s a fact. I mean, people want.


Chuck: Yeah, well,


Sam: this is this is really an unprecedented situation because there have been uprisings before, but nothing at this level. And frankly, I think if you took communism or the, you know, the sort of left ideology out of it, I think we’d be intervening if this was a so-called fascist right wing regime, wouldn’t we be there right now?


Chuck: It would be interesting. We’re going to take a quick break. We’re with Carlos Martinez from Miami Herald talking about the Cuba situation. We’ll be back right after this quick break.


Sam: Welcome back to Breaking Battlegrounds with your host, Sam Stone and Chuck Warren on the line with us, Carlos Martinez of The Miami Herald. We’re talking about Cuba, some really historic happenings there. And Chuck, you were asking the question right before we went to break, how is this different than past protests or.


Carlos: Hello, Well. Every time there is a popular discontent in Cuba, the Cuban government chooses to open its borders and those those who disagree with the government to lift. The I think it was in the 80s, yeah, in the eighties, there was a great popular this country in Cuba, but the people did not take this. So they know that tango’s call like the memorial, that the way he was caught. So they take out of the country gay people, people who didn’t believe in the system, people who didn’t work. They get old school assassins from the guild that send it to the to the US. And in the 90s, which is considered the time of this special period in Cuba, after the socialist camp of the Soviet Union fell, hundreds of people took the streets in 1994. And to that, which is known as Burma, reconcile. But what protest? That those protests did not last that long. Fidel was alive at that time. And its military forces are right. And they could manage to calm down the situation, that moment


Chuck: with Carlos Martinez, reporter Miami Herald, who’s been covering the Cuba protest and what’s going on down there and in South Florida. Carlos, how has the Internet emboldened people, allowed them to grow their protest? I understand reading basically your articles, too, that the Cuban government shut down the Internet, but I’d imagine the Cuban government needs the Internet as well to do business somewhat. What’s going on with that? What role has that played and how long can the government continue to shut down the Internet?


Carlos: Well, in 2016, the people in Cuba began to have like more access to Internet, and that time to begin to enter some awful media like bolthole. Mr. Iweala, those people are very popular in the Cuban American community, and they’ve been like working and asking the people from Cuba to take all the streets and fight for the freedom. So that’s the only way you can unmass that regime, because until July and love them, the white people who still believe that Cuba is heaven and earth. So what happened when you turn up the heat in it? Well, the government in Cuba has the power of that because there’s only one night far, far away. You can get the idea. And it’s called the factor only one. There’s this guy here that you have, AT&T, T-Mobile, and you can get whatever you want in Cuba. You have only one. And when stuff like this happened, they just cut it up. And what happens when you have a country without internet? You cannot know what’s happening there. You don’t know what people are getting killed. You know, people are getting beaten. So they did that. It is going to Cuba for me.


Chuck: That’s a big problem. That’s a huge problem. Carlos, could you explain to our audience, tell us why daily life is like in Cuba? For an average family, what’s it like?


Carlos: What’s it like, well, I mean, in terms of regular Cuban family, yes. Well, you don’t have milk in the breakfast. That’s usually people, students, they go to school sometimes without having breakfast because they don’t have the like. The possibility to have that is something as simple as milk. That’s one thing people like me journalists that we don’t have the right to write whatever we want, we cannot be like independent. If you do that, you go to jail for the simple reason. Also happen in Cuba, you have. But you have to wait in lines to get some chicken. The only lines are like two blocks of length to get some chicken. There are some spores in Cuba that the only way you can buy stuff in there is with dollars, with like dollars from here, from US. How people can get that these people in Cuba don’t get paid with like you. So they have those stores in Cuba where they have a lot of food, a lot of everything. And people who have like the ability to get that food and the national stores, they don’t have anything they have like a lack of food, water. So there’s nothing.


Chuck: And what about the medical situation regarding Covid? You know, that’s initially what the Cuban officials said. This is because of Covid. Other people who were giving tacit endorsement of Cuban government were saying the same thing. What is the situation with Covid in Cuba?


Carlos: Oh well, the US. I think the goal for Cuba is a program that is called Covac. The program was supposed to give vaccines in countries like Cuba, and they denied because they were working the robaxin, which I know vaccines are used like a. Like it’s not a regular vaccine. It’s like working on it. And what is happening right now? They have like a spike on the Covid cases. They don’t have enough like personnel in the hospitals because probably the most of the time they’re out of the country working in other countries.


Sam: Carlos, I apologize. I have to cut you off. We are about to go to break right here, but I want to thank you so much for being on the program. Carlos Martinez of the Miami Herald talking Cuba Breaking Battlegrounds coming right back.


Sam: Welcome back to Breaking Battlegrounds, airing Saturday, three p.m., 960 KK and T, The Patriot in Phoenix. You can catch us on Sub Stack. You can catch us on Spotify. You can catch us on Apple Podcasts. On the line with us, Carlos Martinez, The Miami Herald. Carlos, before we let you go today, and thank you so much for being on the show, telling our audience what is going on in Cuba. What is what is your message that you see. that needs to get out there right now to the American public?


Carlos: Well, guys, I just want to thank you first. And then I went on. I wanted to share the message with you. Please, every time you see something regarding Cuba, please share that message, because there are people dying in Cuba. There are people dying because they don’t have food. They don’t have vaccines. And the first thing that we need in Cuba is freedom. So please share a message you have in hashtags. S.O.S, Cuba. Please help us share this message. Thank you.


Sam: Thank you so much. Carlos Martinez of the Miami Herald. Fantastic to have you on the program today. And it’s just a really sad time for the people of Cuba.


Chuck: Carlos We’ll hope you’ll join us again here next month. And hopefully things have gotten better. There’s been some movement, but we appreciate your time today.


Carlos: Okay, well, appreciate it.


Chuck: Thank you, Carlos. Appreciate you.


Sam: Well, some heavy, heavy stuff on the program today.


Chuck: The thing about is, you know, a lot of people in America just like to moan and groan about America and they just really don’t know what’s going on.


Sam: No


Chuck: I mean, you know, I mean, so we’re talking about Cuba. That’s not only dealing with Cuba, it’s probably it’s like India. It’s been underreported. Let’s be blunt about it. They’re not being honest about, you know,


Sam: absolutely.


Chuck: We have a government that doesn’t want to take help from people that can actually give it help.


Sam: Right.


Chuck: Right. You know, if Venezuela was anything it was 10 years ago, they’d probably been there. But they’re they’re a mess. Right.


Sam: It’s certainly putting a lie to a lot of the stuff that you hear about how great Cuba’s medical system.


Chuck: Yeah, because that’s where you I mean, look, everybody you know, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, they had the best health care system in the world. They had the best education system in the world. You know, the thing I’m always told about socialism is you get food, good health care and good education. And they have struck out. And that’s probably an analogy they love in Cuba. They love baseball. They are striking out, you know, so we have that. And then we have all our yahoos here moaning and groaning about America. And in India, they probably have got three and a half million people who have died of Covid. That number, when we have our guest back on in September, is going to be four million plus, at least probably five million by December. Folks. Stop moaning, groaning about America.


Sam: Yeah,


Chuck: stop moaning and groaning about your state. If you have a complaint, get involved,


Sam: get your vaccine.


Chuck: Whenever I hear people complain about America, I was like, yeah, you haven’t traveled much, have you?


Sam: No, no. That’s absolutely true, because what’s going on in Cuba is as absolutely astounding. And folks, I think I mentioned on the program, I’ve really come to love YouTube reactions. I love seeing people’s first reaction to stuff. And I am really encourage you to go out, look up Cuban reacts to Costco first visit to Costco, this channel, Youghal and Marri. He is Cuban. She’s American managed to I assume, to basically smuggle him over here. I’m not sure exactly how we got here, but she’s been taking him around and introducing him to America. And and it’s really heartwarming. But it’s heartbreaking because, yes, he goes in there and in the first time, he goes into a grocery store. This guy is literally in tears because he’s he knows what his family, his mother is dealing with, like no food in and, you know, no access to any of this stuff. And, you know, this is a this is Disneyland is your average U.S. supermarket is Disneyland to a Cuban.


Chuck: Well, to not only Cuban, but probably at least 50 percent of the world, right, at a minimum. So we’re with our great associate producers, Jamie and the irrepressible Kip today. And so Sam called me this morning. I was busy and I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. But Sam had a gripe this morning. And we’re going to look and sort of open this time for Sam’s Phenix Gripe. We need a hashtag for that hashtag Phenix. Can we get that in the future? Hashtag Phenix Gripe. Sam, what what were you grumpy about this morning?


Sam: You know, so yesterday I got a call from somebody and I’m going to leave their name out of it because they were already taking some flak. Good. But we got a call about some camping activity in the canals where, you know, Phoenix has spent a ton of money, folks like almost every city. We’ve spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars trying to upgrade our recreational opportunities. And so we put in these white, you know, multiuse paths for walking, biking, running and all this kind of stuff, along with all our canals. And, you know, it’s a really great opportunity to get a little bit out out of the city while you’re still inside of it to be able to enjoy these things. But the fact is, a lot of our residents are not comfortable using them for that purpose. In fact, what we’ve done is spend hundreds of millions of dollars creating really lousy camping areas for our homeless population. And we’re basically throwing that investment away. We’re getting calls. You know, pretty regularly in our offices about incidents around these canals where you’ve got a woman jogging down the thing and a guy comes out of the bushes. You know,


Chuck: How often do you get reports like that.


Sam: Pretty regularly. They happen every week. Well, I mean, others get more of them and a lot of them I know just go unreported because


Chuck: would you let your significant other or your daughter or your sister run those canals?


Sam: Not alone. Not alone. Absolutely not. And for years, for years, we have been told at the City of Phoenix that there’s absolutely nothing we can do about that. That’s federal land. And camping is allowed on federal land. And so we can’t take any steps. What I learned is that, no, that’s a lie. I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. This is a lie. The City of Phoenix staff has told us, because basically all they have to do is fill out some paperwork with the Bureau of Reclamation. To designate that as a no camping area. And by the way, we are spending tens of millions of dollars right now on expanding our homeless services like, you know, our homeless service campus, we’re putting up hotels to put them in. We’re doing all sorts of stuff. If there’s ever a time we don’t want to just wipe this problem under the rug, it’s right now. And yet that’s what city staff was doing. They didn’t even come to council and tell us this. And they’ve hidden all the problems throughout this thing. They’re not even telling us. I mean, the only reason we know is we get calls from our constituents. They’re not telling us about this, they knew they knew about the solution and they refused to bring it up. Now, this is a purely political decision. I know for a fact that council offices were not informed. I do not know if the mayor was aware or not. Frankly, I think that’s a good question. But at the end of the day, folks, this homelessness problem is out of control and we continue. There is this liberal philosophy in government that says we just need to leave them alone and let them do their thing. But that is inhumane.


Chuck: So what can the citizens of Phoenix do to stop this immediately?


Sam: Well, the citizens of Phenix need to get on the horn and start calling their council members and tell them to fix this. Now, all we have to do is sign a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation, and we can designate these no camping areas. We can clean them up. We can get them out of the canals and look around. Phoenix last night got the first really heavy monsoon rain we’ve had in a couple of years. So I think we’re all like the dog coming out of the pond today, shaking the water off, happy, as happy as can be, right. But what else you’re going to see is a massive explosion in homelessness all across the valley or what appears to be a massive explosion. And homelessness in the reason is really simple. We hide the problem in our canals and irrigation ways almost all the time. And then when something like this happens, obviously the water starts flowing. They have to get out of there. People are going to drown. Yeah, but you also mean talk about the environmental damage, because you have all sorts of these camps. You have feces, urine, you have all sorts of I mean, you know, chemical stuff. They’re bringing, you know, oil cans down in there. I mean, there’s all sorts of stuff.


Chuck: So what the citizens of Phoenix need to do to clean this up, to not only make it safe, but also when you have monsoon season, this is a dangerous place for these homeless folks to be


Sam: Oh it’s incredibly dangerous. We get flash floods.


Chuck: Well, and you’re having it all weekend. I mean, yeah. So this will not be surprising some time. By Sunday night, we have somebody who’s been swept away by the water or so forth. So what they need to do is contact their council people. We’ll have Jamie. Let’s put that on Breaking Battlegrounds website and social media. Contact them and tell them to send this letter. You know, for all the. For all the angst the former president caused, I am sure there’s something of a letter being sent to his Bureau of Reclamation that this probably would have been taken care of rather



Sam: it would have been taken care of instantaneously without any question. And I mean, look, folks, this goes to the approach. It’s time we are doing a lot for our homeless population, but a lot of what we’re doing is enabling. We’re allowing them to continue to use drugs and have their uncompensated mental illness and live on the street. And frankly, here in Phoenix, that is inhumane. It’s 100 plus degrees all the time. The weather here. And it’s not the environment for that. You have to stand up. This is the time you have to stand up to these policies that have said, let’s just let them be. Because right now they have the homeless populations having a massive, massive impact on the broader population.


Chuck: So, Sam, in case people don’t know, what are the tactics, the strategy that the City of Phoenix, the money they’re spending on the homeless to try to you know, a lot of these folks need help.


Sam: Right.


Chuck:It is what it is. Right. So let’s we’re not going to be callous about it. Now, we also need to keep people safe. We also need to put them on a trajectory where they’re successful.


Sam: Yes.


Chuck: Where they feel purpose. What are some of the things the City of Phenix is doing for the homeless population of beings that most people don’t realize?

Sam: Well, for one thing, we are massively expanding our shelter capacity. We’re adding in a no barrier shelter. We have supported a number of outside organizations across the valley to increase their capacity. We are coordinating with other valley cities to get them in the fight for the first time. And so there are a lot of resources being poured into this. There’s resources for mental health. There’s resources for drug addiction treatment. We’re doing everything but the one thing we need to be doing. Which is enforcing the law, and when the homeless population violates that law, you give them a choice to go into treatment or face the criminal justice system. And that’s what we need to be doing. That is the solution. And by the way, the countries in Europe that deal with homelessness, well, that’s what they do.


Chuck: Let’s talk about our guests a little bit today. I really liked both of them. I thought they were actual journalists.


Sam: They are. Both of them are actually.


Chuck: Carlos Martinez. Martinez is obviously with this. Yes. We were not able to get into the fact that I’m sure he has a handful or two of relatives still over there. He said he came here 17. Was that correct?


Sam: Yeah, 17. I would like to have both of them on for a full program, because I think it’d be very interesting.


Chuck: Well, it’s funny when when Kip was arranging them, they were both they both undersold what they wanted to say, you know. And, you know, it’s funny. They’re both very knowledgeable. And I don’t think we know and we want knowledge here. But I thought it was really interesting. And again, we need more journalism like that.




Chuck: And we need more people reading journalism like that instead of going to these alternative left and right blogs all the time. I mean, there’s some real you know, as much as I give as much as The New York Times has become, especially on the opinion page a a liberal wag, their international reporting is excellent. And folks take the time to read it.


Sam: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I really appreciate them coming on. And particularly, you know, look for a reporter from The New York Times. You’re coming on a program with two guys who are pretty conservative in our own personal beliefs. But if you look at our guests, we have had a really broad array of guests from, you know, The New York Times today, obviously Washington Post, a lot of other outlets that would be considered on the left, as well as ones on the right. And I think that’s really brought better conversations here than you’re getting in many other places. And I think it’s the big thing that’s missing in our media landscape. Balance balancing act vallet


Chuck: balance is important. Who is the best reporter covering Phenix City Council meetings? Is there one?


Sam: No, no. They’re pretty terrible. Christina Estes of the KJZZ, the local PBS station, is probably the best just because she’s been on it for the longest.


Chuck: She knows where all the bodies are,


Sam: But she has to cover a million other things, too. The Arizona Republic just keeps assigning us kids who who don’t know anything. You know, the best reporter in town, literally the best reporter in town, I think, is Ray Stern with The Phoenix New Times, which is the most left paper here. He’s an old school journalist and he tries to stick to the facts and he’s fair.


Chuck: Well, who do we have on our show next week?


Sam: Next week, we got Ben Leshner from the Phenix Police, Lieutenant Sergeants and Lieutenants Association, SLA, and a lady named Rachel Lassman, who founded a program called Coins for Cops. We’re going all in for law enforcement next week.


Chuck: Breaking Battlegrounds. Join us next week about Breaking Battlegrounds, Adobe boat, or find us on Spotify, iTunes, Facebook, upstack, Instagram, LinkedIn, whatever will be there. Have a great week.


Signup for our Monthly Newsletter

breaking battlegrounds logo

Thank You !

You will start receiving updates right here in your inbox.