a better world
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  1. Obama: NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly “Well-Qualified” to lead Homeland Security

    July 19, 2013

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    President Obama has said he’s eying New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to replace Janet Napolitano as the head of Homeland Security.

    “Ray Kelly’s obviously done an extraordinary job in New York,” Obama told reporters. “I think Ray Kelly is one of the best there is. He’s been an outstanding leader in New York. Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is, but if he’s not I’d want to know about it, because obviously he’d be very well qualified for the job.”

    During his tenure as the NYPD Commissioner, Kelly has consistently been under fire for overseeing the notorious stop-and-frisk program.  According to data released by the NYPD (which has to be made public as part of a lawsuit), there have been over 5 million stop-and-frisks in New York City. Nine out of every ten people stopped are completely innocent. Over 80% of those stopped are Black and Latino.

    Not only does the data reveal clear racial discrimination, but Kelly defends it.  “About 70 to 75 percent of the people described as committing violent crimes,” Kelly told reporters last March. “So really, African-Americans are being understopped in relation to the percentage of people being described as being the perpetrators of violent crime. The stark reality is that a crime happens in communities of color.”

    These aren’t just casual stop and chats, but often are very violent, and laden with overt racism.  Watch below:

    The choice of Kelly is not only disturbing, but perplexing.  As Colorlines points out, “Kelly’s stop-and-frisk policy is being challenged in federal court by the Center for Constitutional Rights right now. Obama’s own Justice Department may be sending in a federal monitor to ensure that NYPD stops racial profiling.”

    Last month, Colorlines editor Kai Wright drew out the connection between the growing surveillance state and stop-and-frisk, writing:

    “The logic used to defend secretly collecting the communications data of people not accused of any crime is the same logic used to defend NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program and Homeland Security’s deportation apparatus. The logic of “national security” was developed and honed by law enforcement practices inside communities of color. It is one of the more striking examples of a basic truth: racial injustice is cancerous; it eats the national body from the inside out.”

    So is this what we can expect from a DHS headed by Commissioner Kelly? The implications are truly disturbing.

    Alongside stop-and-frisk, Ray Kelly’s tenure as NYPD commissioner has also been marked by the revelation that the department used explicitly Islamophobic films as part of police training, created a program targeting Muslims for surveillance, and a startling rise in police brutality against Blacks and Latinos–including the murders of Ramarley Graham, Kimani Gray, and Shantel Davis.  In 2011 two NYPD officers were charged in the sexual assault of a woman who asked the police to escort her home because she was too intoxicated to walk home alone. They were acquitted, even though one of the officers admitted on tape to having sex with her with a condom on.

    Obama’s choice of Ray Kelly falls in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal.  The murder of Trayvon Martin has sparked a nationwide debate on racism and the ongoing criminalization of young Black men in America.  An official White House statement issued following the acquittal  completely ignored that debate, however, calling instead for people to remain calm and respect “law-and-order.” The ignorance and dismissal of the crisis facing Black communities in Americans is consistent throughout Obama’s administration, reflecting the real priorities of his administration.

  2. Audio from Socialism 2013 presentation: Be the Change You Want to See?

    July 11, 2013

    The audio from my talk at the 2013 Socialism Conference is up. You can check it out in the widget below, or at We Are Many.

  3. Petroleum coke on the Detroit River: An eco-catastrophe waiting to happen

    July 10, 2013

    1001061_495785647167782_974856080_nMy latest for Socialist Worker, an article on the storage of petroleum coke (tar sands waste) on the Detroit River, went up yesterday.  I’ve posted a brief excerpt below.  If you want to find out more about petroleum coke, what’s being done to fight it, and what socialists have to say about the fight against the capitalist war on the environment, come check out the International Socialist Organization and Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands meeting on July 17th at the Anchor Bar at 450 W. Fort in Detroit.

    IF YOU visited the Detroit riverfront just east of the Ambassador Bridge before, you wouldn’t see much more than Windsor, Ontario, and a handful of people killing time with some beers and a fishing rod. Since last March, however, something has suddenly interrupted the relatively serene atmosphere: three-story-tall mountains of toxic black dust.

    Petroleum coke (or petcoke)–sometimes called “the dirtiest of dirty fuels”–is a waste byproduct of tar-sands oil often used as an inexpensive substitute for coal. It is being stored by the tons on the Detroit riverfront. Left uncovered, virtually any wind stronger than a breeze can carry the fine powder into the homes of nearby residents.

    You can read the rest here.