What’d I Miss?: World News Update 8/13-8/19

Here’s a quick round up of the world’s news for the past week…

EUROPE:

- Members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, jailed in February for performing an anti-Putin song at the Russian Orthodox church, were given 2 year sentences for “hooliganism”, despite the call of top clerics to “show mercy” on the band.

Masked members of the band.  Photo Courtesy of The Blaze

MIDDLE EAST:

- Ex-Prime Minister of Syria, Riad Hijab, who recently defected to Jordan, has stated that he is joining the rebels, and that the Assad regime is crumbling.

- Israel has announced that they are ready and willing for a short war with nuclear Iran.

AFRICA:

- In South Africa, week of national mourning began for striking miners killed when police opened fire on them.

South Africans in mourning.  Photo Courtesy of BBC World News

ASIA:

- Armed gunmen stormed a Pakistani military base earlier this week; the Pakistani Taliban are now claiming responsibility for the attack.

LATIN AMERICA & CARIBBEAN:

- In a statement made from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been granted asylum, Julian Assange urged the United States to ” renounce its witch hunt” against Wikileaks, and to free Bradley Manning.

Julian Assange, founder and editor-in-cheif of Wikileaks.  Photo Courtesy of BBC World News

U.S. & CANADA:

- The U.S. formally launched President Obama’s immigration reform plan this week. The plan, which in its “Dream Act” form failed to get through the congress several times, will make it possible for 1.7 million undocumented people to be exempt from deportation.

Stay informed!

Paul Ryan As VP Pick: Why Both the Left and the Right are Cheering

One cannot underestimate the value of a vice presidential nominee during election season.  With a shrewd vice presidential pick, a candidate can effectively mask his or her flaws and fill crucial gaps in public opinion.  And with the Republican nominee still eliciting a lukewarm response from his own base, his VP pick couldn’t be more important.

Mitt Romney with Rep. Ryan.  Photo Courtesy: Christian Science Monitor

Paul Ryan has been in the spotlight long before his name was floated around in conjunction with Romney’s.  Elected as a to the House at age 28, he represents conservative politics in every respect–from abortion to foreign policy, from the size of government to alternative energy.  His consistent voting record helps mask that of Romney, often noted as contradictory and “flip-flopping” on the most black-and-white issues, like access to abortion.  In addition to Ryan’s voting record, his image and rhetoric are those of a conservative with no doubts of his views.  With these, he gives Romney the respect, and possibly the votes, of more hard-core conservatives.  Representative Ryan also counters Romney’s image of a profit-driven businessman with his own resume: a lifetime of public service, whether working behind the scenes for others or holding public office himself.  He is seen as a generally honest man who strives to better his country in ways he deems necessary.  Another voting constituency Romney has had trouble with, the conservative base, appreciates these attributes, and will likely judge Romney in a more forgiving way with Ryan on the ticket next to him.

But one would be foolish to disregard the numerous faults of Mr. Ryan.  It takes an electorally ignorant person to view Ryan’s plan to privatize social security as a plus; one of the most historically significant swing-states, Florida, also has the highest number of residents who are seniors.  And in a country where 79% of voters believe that “social security has been good for the country” and 84% of seniors believe that calling social security “a failure” is inaccurate, this poses a major problem1.  While Ryan’s image as a clear conservative is helpful in some respects, it sets Romney back in others.  By choosing Ryan as his running mate, Romney has made a conscious decision to try to win over conservatives, rather than independents, who tend to have more liberal views on social issues especially2.  Representative Ryan is unlikely to aid Romney in winning votes in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin because Wisconsin has historically voted for Democrats in presidential elections, and with the recent reawakening of the labor fight there, Ryan’s 7% rating by the AFL-CIO does not give him the working class support Romney desperately needs.  Finally, on a superficial yet relevant note, Mr. Ryan’s Roman Catholic faith only widens the gap between Mormon Romney and evangelical voters.

Paul Ryan is a divisive character.  In choosing him as his running mate, Romney has certainly isolated some voting blocs, while improving his image with typical conservative ones.

So while both sides claim this pick as a victory, one should keep an eye on the opinions of those who truly matter–the voters.

 

 

Sources

  1. http://www.pollingreport.com/social.htm
  2. http://www.pollwatchdaily.com/2011/05/07/305/

What’d I Miss: World News Update 7/23-7/29

Here’s a quick round up of the world’s news for the past week…

EUROPE:

- The London Olympics kicked off this Friday, bringing with it worldwide attention and a boost to the UK’s economy.

- Ivica Dacic, former spokesperson for Slobodan Milosevic, has been sworn in as Prime Minister of Serbia in a new nationalist-led coalition government.

Ivica Dacic.  Photo Courtesy: Voice of America

MIDDLE EAST:

- Violence rages on in Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city, as Assad’s government promises to crush the rebels in that city.

AFRICA:

- On July 24th, Ghanian President John Atta Mills died of throat cancer.  His Vice President, John Dramani Mahama has taken over the position.

Former Ghanaian president, Professor John Atta Mills.  Photo Courtesy of The African Star Magazine.

- 20,000 Ethiopians have fled to Kenya, according to the Red Cross, because of a spike in clashes between the Borana and Garri communities.  The government has intervened, but people are continuing to flee.

ASIA:

- In the Farah province of Afghanistan, 14 police officers, one commander and 13 junior officials, have defected to the Taliban.  According to the BBC, “Farah is one of the most insecure areas in the relatively peaceful west [of Afghanistan] .”

LATIN AMERICA & CARIBBEAN:

- In a Revolution Day ceremony, Cuban President Raul Castro announced that he is willing to hold talks with the U.S., provided that the discussion would be “a conversation between equals”.

Raul Castro speaking.  Photo Courtesy: BBC News

U.S. & CANADA:

- A few days into his world trip, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has certainly left his mark on both Britain and Israel.  In Britain, Romney’s aide criticized Obama for not understanding the shared “Anglo-Saxon heritage” of the U.S. and Britain, a comment some are calling racist; in a speech in Israel, the former governor stated that the U.S. has a “moral imperative” to stop nuclear Iran.

Stay informed!

The State of Syria

Often situations escalate so quickly that many of us are left wondering what exactly is going on.  Couple that with the tendency that the American media has to ignore world news for the sake of covering U.S.-related stories, and many are left in a state of ignorance.  This article serves to inform by answering questions concerning the crisis in Syria.

What is happening in Syria?

Syria is experiencing the end of a period of random terror and violence, and the beginning of a full-fledged civil war.  The rebels, still a divided group, are fighting the Assad regime, which has been in power in Syria since 1971 by way of the Ba’ath party, a party whose political views are shaped by nationalism, Islam, and socialism.  President Bashar al-Assad, who initially offered political reform, has fought the rebels bitterly, sending in troops and tanks in addition to torturing people who denied any connection to the Free Syria Army.  Two weeks ago, after evaluating the level and type of persistent violence in Syria, the International Red Cross declared the situation a civil war.

Why is this happening?

Last year anti-government protests in Tunisia sparked a surge of protests throughout the Arab world.  Syrian opposition, like that of so many other countries, did not pass up the opportunity to overthrow a government they view as harsh and unfair.  The government, unlike that of Egypt or Libya, has not given in, and continues to crack down on the rebels.  While some Syrians have fled their country because of the rampant violence, many remain either for fear or a lack of resources preventing them from fleeing, or because they are fully invested in this fight.  Embittered by the harsh crackdowns by the government, the rebels are now fighting for a full overthrow of the government in favor of a democratic one, and will not be content with the sort of reforms Assad initially proposed.

Source: The Economist, 2011

What, if anything, is being done to stop the fighting?

The UN has been arguing about resolutions for Syria since the conflict began and has imposed some minor sanctions on Syria.  The UN Security counsel recently proposed further sanctions on the country, but the measure was vetoed by China and Russia, a move the UK’s Foreign Secretary called “inexcusable and indefensible”.  Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said that he did not object to the sanctions themselves, but rather the part of the UN charter by which they would be allowable.  According to Churkin, use of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter could lead to “external military involvement in Syrian domestic affairs”; military involvement would certainly test Russia, who as of now is an ally of Syria’s.  As of now no military resolutions have been proposed besides 300 military observers who have just returned from the country.  Today, the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, visited the site of the worst European massacre since World War II: Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovinia.  Later he advised UN members to keep in mind the atrocities of the Bosnian War, lest they be repeated in Syria.  His message conveyed dedication to finding a meaningful resolution to stop the violence as soon as possible and reminded the world that superfluous debate and lack of quick action can be disastrous; 100,000 people were murdered before UN troops set foot in Bosnia.  The death tally for the Syrian uprising is now at 18,0001.

Ban Ki-Moon placing flowers at a Srebrenica gravesite. “Never Srebrenica.  Nowhere, to nobody.”  Photo Courtesy: ahram online

The state of Syria is horrifying, unsettling, and subject to much change in the coming weeks.  Stay informed.

 

UPDATE: 7/29, 5:43pm:

As of this morning, a major battle has broken out in Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city.   The government has launched a land and air attack on all of the city, parts of which are under rebel control.  Guardian News correspondent Luke Harding reported that “tens of thousands of civilians have fled”.  French President Francios Hollande has called on the UN to get involved in Syria “as quickly as possible”.  This weekend is expected to be especially tumultuous in Aleppo and other Syrian cities.

 

 

1. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/26/us-syria-crisis-un-bosnia-idUSBRE86P0QB20120726

What’d I Miss?: World News Update 7/16-7/22

Here’s a quick round up of the world’s news for the past week…

EUROPE:

- In Bulgaria, a bomb exploded on an Israeli tour bus.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying, “All the signs lead to Iran, Israel will respond forcefully to Iranian terror.”

Photo Courtesy: mydailynews.com

MIDDLE EAST:

- Last week, the Red Cross declared a civil war in Syria.  This week, Janine di Giovanni of the New York Times painted a picture of it.

- Also in Syria, rebels have succeeded in taking control of Turkish and Iraqi border posts.

AFRICA:

- The U.S. has cut military aid to Rwanda because of concerns that it is backing rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

- A Nigerian man by the name of Saheed Adepoju has invented the Inye, a relatively low-cost tablet ($350) to be sold in Nigeria, particularly to students.

The Inye, Photo Courtesy: BBC News

ASIA:

- Pranab Mukherjee of the Congress Party has won the Indian presidency, a position that the BBC calls “largely ceremonial”.

- At a summit in Beijing, China pledged $20 billion to Africa over the next three years, a move designed to strengthen trade between African nations and China.

South African President Jacob Zuma shaking hands with China’s Ho Jintao, Photo Courtesy: Business Report.

LATIN AMERICA:

- Venezuelan security forces have ended a prison riot on its 20th day.

- After a spike in complaints about sex abuse in Santiago schools, Chile has pledged to investigate.

U.S. & CANADA:

- A shooting in a Colorado movie theater at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people and injuring 59.  The explosion has prompted national grieving and the closure of other premieres.

- After three separate shootings in Toronto, Canadian politicians are debating what to do about the rising levels of gun violence in that city.

Happy Sunday.

Gun Control: A Fight Worth Resurrecting

In the wake of the brutal shooting of 71 people in a Colorado movie theater, many are experiencing feelings of shock and disbelief.  But upon examination of gun laws in this country, that feeling of disbelief may start to melt away.

James Holmes, the alleged shooter, bought both his guns and ammunition legally.

In most parts of the United States, it is relatively easy to buy both a gun and ammunition. Who could forget that scene in Bowling For Columbine, where Michael Moore opens up a bank account and with it, receives a free gun?  Scenes like this are often put down as being ridiculous and specific to that one instance, rather than being representative of a nation in which gun violence is rampant.  In Colorado, where this brutal shooting took place, the only requirements for buying a legal firearm are being at least 18 years of age and not being a criminal.  Owners are not required to register guns, there are no limitations on assault weapons and magazines, safety training is not required, and there are no consumer safety standards on guns1.  Finally, besides some restrictions set by the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, there are no state restrictions on legal gun owners carrying firearms in school zones.  If nothing else does, this last item should catch your attention–13 years after the Columbine Massacre, there are no state regulations on firearms in Colorado schools.

Supporters of gun control, however, are wary of trying to create and pass stricter gun control laws because of the obvious political repercussions.  From slogans like “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” to the successful lobby of the NRA, it is clear that the 2nd Amendment freedom movement, as some call it, is incredibly strong.  And the most frequently used argument by the movement is just that: the 2nd amendment.  By restricting gun possession and usage, one is restricting the civil liberties of the American citizen.  The fascinating part of this argument is the fact that most Americans don’t make a fuss about other civil liberties restrictions the way they make a fuss about gun rights.

NRA

Every once in a while, the local news channel will run a story about the TSA’s new policies, perhaps noting that they could be construed as “invasive”.  But, to be frank, most discussions about airport security infringing on Americans’ civil liberties end up with a few recycled jokes, not an office on K Street.  A much more serious test of civil liberties’ restrictions, Bush’s Patriot Act, certainly had its share of protesters, but now is largely out of the spotlight; in 2011, President Obama extended three key parts of the act, including wiretapping and searching business records, without creating much of a stir.  So why do Americans so readily give up so many of their civil liberties and cling to just this one?  Perhaps the need to own a gun is linked to fear or weakness.  Perhaps it is solely out of an interest in weapons.  One thing is clear: the culture in the United States is one that is both celebratory of guns and gun ownership, and one that is prone to gun violence at levels up to 12 times that of other Western nations­2.  It is possible to have gun ownership without such violence, but more stringent gun laws must be enacted in order for this to occur.

Banning certain guns, magazines, and ammunition, like the extended magazine clip used by Jared Loughner, the man who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords among others in the Tucson shooting, has been proven effective in eliminating the banned items from use.  More extensive background checks that include criminal records and mental health records have also been proven effective in lowering gun violence3.  If a prospective gun owner does not have a criminal record or records indicating poor mental health, then he or she should not feel distress over such laws, as they would not restrict his or her access to legal firearms.  Politicians and lobbyists are forced to compromise on most issues and this can no longer reamin an exception.

Representative Giffords before and after the Tucson shooting.

American citizens need to weight the costs of stringent gun laws against the benefits.  Are we as a country willing to accept the astonishing amount of gun violence that terrorizes our communities so that we can take our gun with us on an evening walk?

So that we can take it to the movies?

 

 

Sources:

1. http://www.coloradoceasefire.org/Col-state.htm

http://www.rmgo.org/images/stories/Gun_1-Pager.wpd.pdf

2. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6166

http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2012/jan/27/jim-moran/rep-jim-moran-says-us-gun-homicide-rate-20-times-h/

3. http://www.thecommunityguide.org/violence/viol-AJPM-evrev-firearms-law.pdf

What’d I Miss?: World News Update 7/9-7/15

Here’s a round up of the world’s news for the past week…

EUROPE:

- In a plan that aims to save 65 billion euros (roughly $80 billion), Spain’s Prime Minister has introduced drastic new austerity measures.  These measures include an increase in sales tax and a decrease in industry subsidies (which instigated a large rally and clashes with police), among other things.

Courtesy of BBC

MIDDLE EAST

- In Syria a former senior political official and recent defector from that country has confirmed that the Assad regime will not hesitate to use chemical weapons if it finds it necessary.  He also mentioned that the Assad regime had collaborated with Al Qaeda in the past.

- The Red Cross has declared that violence in Syria is so rampant that the situation is now effectively a civil war.

AFRICA:

- For the first time since South Sudan’s secession, the presidents of both Sudan and South Sudan sat down in a meeting; the UN deadline for the two countries to redress their grievances is August 2nd.

South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit.

- What positive effects could social media have in containing conflicts in Africa and other developing regions?  A CNN article addressed just that.

ASIA:

- A Taliban-imposed ban will prevent nearly 250,000 children in mostly rural areas from receiving polio vaccines in Pakistan.  The BBC reports that Pakistan is one of three countries in the world where polio still presents a substantial problem.

- A new vice marshal (army chief), Hyon Yong-Chol, was appointed in North Korea after the former one, Ri Yong Ho, was supposedly “relieved of his duties due to illness”.  Many are skeptical as to whether it is actually true, considering the strict censorship customary of the North Korean press.

LATIN AMERICA:

- A U.S. ship carrying medical supplies and food arrived on the shores of Havana, marking the first time in 50 years an American cargo ship has docked in Cuba.

- Marcos Yules, an indigenous Colombian leader, has pressed Farc, the largest Colombian rebel group, and the Colombian government to take their ongoing fight elsewhere, citing the damage the fight has done to the community.

NORTH AMERICA:

 - It has been a tough week on the campaign trail for Mitt Romney, as he was met with boos at an NAACP speech, was attacked by conservatives telling him to release his tax returns, and became the focus of incumbent Barack Obama’s harsh new campaign ad.

Stay informed!

Con Edison Shuts Out Workers

Saturday July 14th, 2012 NY, NY

On July 1st­­ 2012, after yet another fruitless negotiation session between Consolidated Edison and union representatives, the company decided to lock out all 8,500 union workers.  Two weeks later, the workers are still locked out and 5,000 managers with little training have temporarily replaced them.  The battle began over the 4-year union contract, which was up for renewal.  Con Edison wanted to make changes to the contract that the union was not fond of; reducing medical care and changing pensions to a cash balance plan are the two that seemed to have the most workers up in arms.

Many news outlets have omitted this story from the news cycle completely, and those that do cover it do not do so in any meaningful detail.  If only out of my own curiosity, I went down to talk to some of the union members on “picket duty” in New York yesterday and learned a great deal.

Image

The immediate concern of the union at this point is that a deal on the contract be reached that does not compromise the beliefs of the union and the needs of its members.  This would preferably be done soon, as they are not being paid at the moment.  Many members have already applied for part-time jobs because of this.  The two main problems with the contract that the union has are the cutbacks in health care and the change in the pension plan.  The reason why a Con Ed worker would need solid health care became even more apparent through explanations of the incredibly heavy uniforms that must be worn in the summer, which often lead to “sweat pouring out of the rubber gloves”, and the lack of insulation these uniforms offer in the winter.  And, of course, the job of a Con Ed field worker can be dangerous.  Said one man, “Everything we work on is live–this way, we don’t need to take a whole block out [of power] to do a small repair”.  While this certainly provides convenience for Con Edison customers, it does increase the risk of electrocution for the workers.  Concerning the pensions, the previous contract had a traditional pension plan that Con Ed now wanted to change to a cash balance pension plan.  The difference between the two is described as such by the United States Department of Labor:

Traditional defined benefit plans define an employee’s benefit as a series of monthly payments for life to begin at retirement, but cash balance plans define the benefit in terms of a stated account balance. These accounts are often referred to as “hypothetical accounts” because they do not reflect actual contributions to an account or actual gains and losses allocable to the account.

(For more information on cash balance plans, here is the link to the Department of Labor’s FAQ page: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/FAQs/faq_consumer_cashbalanceplans.html )

As to any animosity towards the company, one man said, “I don’t blame them [Con Ed].  This is a business making business decisions.”  He went on to say that he did not think the decision to cut health care was one made out of malice, but rather frugality.  However, he noted “the company has been bragging about $11 million profits*…and we want to be fairly compensated for our work.  It’d be nice if we could get reasonable compensation [for such] a dangerous job.”  And speaking of a dangerous job, how are 5,000 management workers going to do the work of 8,500 union employees?  Not very well, the same man said.  “First of all, if these guys ever had any training at all, it was years ago.  Con Ed has management, many of whom are older, doing 6-day shifts.  [Their being out of practice] will significantly impede their ability to perform.”  He described in detail the amount of time and work it takes to train one union employee to work in the field.  In most cases, the training process takes years and is done through a graduated system.  But the training Con Edison has given to these 5,000 management workers?  “It’s a crash course, for the most part.”  Taking a step back from his explanation, the man looked up.  “The company is playing it a little on the dangerous side regarding management.”

When it came to updates on the story, one worker said, “we’re as much in the dark as the public is” (the union’s website did note that as of today, Saturday the 14th, Con Edison has agreed to reinstate health insurance retroactive to July 1st, when the workers were first locked out).  Because of the lack of media coverage on the shut out, the union does want to make one thing clear: this is a shut out by Con Edison, not a union-led strike.  And as much fun as the 16 hours a week on “picket duty” may seem to those who are not part of the Local 1-2 Utility Worker’s Union, that same man summed up his own feelings nicely: “I just hate being here.  We’re not getting paid.”

Despite its obvious importance to New Yorkers in the days before an incoming heat wave, this story also has significance in the politics of modern labor.  In 2011 only 6.9%1 of private-sector unions were unionized, as opposed to 35% in the mid 1950s2.  And while public-sector unionization has increased, one cannot ignore the recent increase in political support for Right to Work laws (laws that make it very difficult for unions to exist), like Scott Walker’s infamous SB 11 in Wisconsin.

Image

States with Right To Work Laws in effect (either by way of legislation or the state constitution)

Where does this comparatively small labor fight fit in?  The main take-away from this shut out is lack of media attention to the issue.  Surprisingly, even local news has not been investigating much into the matter, although many New Yorkers may find themselves out of power as the heat rises.  Lack of coverage of small disputes like this one helps to keep unions hidden from the public view.   And in a country where labor is not on the mind of the everyday American, bills like Wisconsin’s SB 11 are much more easily developed, passed, and set into motion.

News media have a responsibility to inform the public on information that affects them, and with the modern implications that disputes like this have, I strongly suggest they start investigating.

Sources:

1. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

2. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/opinion/a-civil-right-to-unionize.html

*The following sources reference a $1-1.1 billion profit for Consolidated Edison (2011):

http://mycrains.crainsnewyork.com/blogs/greg-david-on-ny/2012/07/is-con-eds-1b-profit-a-sign-of-greed-no-way/

http://www.lohud.com/article/20120704/NEWS/307040055/Con-Ed-workers-call-bosses-greedy-1-200-without-power-Armonk

What’d I Miss?: World News Update 7/2-7/8

Here’s a quick round up of the world’s news for this past week…

EUROPE:

- Romania’s left-leaning parliament has impeached authoritarian President Basescu, which means he is suspended from his job.  On July 29th, the Romanian people will decide in a referendum whether Basescu will permanently lose his position.  This is a major gain for Prime Minister Ponta, whose Social-Liberal Union has a majority in the parliament.

- In France, 40 graves of German WWI veterans were defiled on the 50th anniversary of peace between the two nations (not that the peace lasted for long…).

Smashed grave of a German WWI veteran.  Photo Courtesy: BBC

MIDDLE EAST:

- A major Syrian general, Manaf Tlas, has defected to Paris, and in doing so, severely harmed the Syrian regime.

- Brand-new Egyptian President Mursi reversed the dissolution of parliament by the military by ordering that it reconvene.  Jon Leyne (BBC) said that “Mr Mursi’s decision may put him on a collision course with military leaders.”

AFRICA:

- Rebel forces have taken the town of Rutshuru in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

ASIA:

- Japan has promised $16 billion in aid to Afghanistan in the next four years.  The money should help ease the transition of NATO troops leaving the country.

LATIN AMERICA:

- Enrique Pena Nieto, of Mexico’s PRI party, has won the presidency in that country.  However, protests have erupted in Mexico over the legality of the election; many are accusing Pena Nieto and the PRI of buying votes.

President Enrique Pena Nieto (PRI)

NORTH AMERICA:

- The Canadian unemployment rate has dropped from 7.3% to 7.2% in the month of June, with the public sector rising by 45,800 in May and June.

- The long-standing U.S. blood ban on gay and bisexual  men (MSMs–men who have sex with men) donating blood, is being reevaluated by the American Red Cross because of recent drops in donations.  The ban was instituted in the 1980s towards the beginning of the AIDS crisis.  A similar ban was also put on Haitians, but was repealed in the early ’90s due to available and reliable testing for HIV/AIDS.

Happy Sunday!

Stop-and-Frisk

On Father’s Day thousands marched silently in New York City to protest the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk policy.  This police strategy allows officers to stop and frisk, as its name indicates, anyone who looks criminal or suspicious.  The idea, to stop criminals before they commit a crime, is certainly commendable.  However, the reality of this policy is that is relies on profiling.  The June 17th march protested this reality.  For example, although Blacks and Hispanics make up only 53.6% of the New York City population*, 87% of reported stops by police were for black or Hispanic people.  A minister at Riverside Church, Rev. Stephen Phelps, said “I don’t know a single black or Latino male who doesn’t say he is basically afraid to be out on the streets.”

The silent march

Among those who attended the march were all major candidates in the New York City mayoral race, Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, and the SEIU.  An unlikely partnership evolved out of distrust for the policy–the NAACP and local LGBT rights groups.  One of the main issues for LGBT people seems to be the profiling of trans women as sex workers.  After the devastation of the AIDS crisis, both the black and gay communities specifically have done much work to try to promote safer sex practices.  This includes encouraging sexually active individuals to carry condoms with them.  However, another policy of the NYPD allows officers to arrest any person carrying more than one condom under the suspicion that this person is a sex worker.

Photo Courtesy: Melissa Kleckner

On the two Sundays leading up to the march, Mayor Bloomberg visited two separate predominantly black churches, speaking on behalf of the Stop-and-Frisk policy.  At one of his visits he said, “Policy Commissioner Kelly and I both believe we can do a better job in this area…[but] to borrow a phrase from President Clinton…the practice should be mended, not ended.”  However, with a combination of public distrust with the policy and all major mayoral candidates stating their own dissatisfaction, the future of Stop-and-Frisk looks bleak.

* According to Census 2010

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