Friday, August 18

Overplaying the Fear Card

We've all heard it before, so many times we know the refrain by heart. Come on - why don't we all just sing along...ok?

CHENEY: "If you don't vote Republican - We may get hit again".


"The Al-Qaeda Types will grow encouraged..."


J.C. Watts: "Democrats don't care about national security,"


HANNITY: "We can't give Constitutional Protections to Terrorists"


MATTHEWS: Suppose you are homeland security secretary, and you find out that there may be a suspicious group of people doing things, but you want to honor their civil rights and you don't want to tap their phones. Can you explain the deaths of thousands of people because you were honoring civil rights after the fact?

Over and over again, from not just Republicans but members of the media the dichotomy of Safety Vs Freedom is repeatedly put before us as mutually exclusive.

But has that same ole' song and dance begun to lose some of it's luster and will Republicans change their tune before it's too late? The attacks are coming fast and furious, and have been most notable against Senator Hillary Clinton in an ad placing her face along side that of Osama Bin Laden (Ah, the tried and true - Max Clelland Strategy)

Ad: Clinton "opposes the Patriot Act and the NSA program that helped stop another 9-11"

It's just too bad that Clinton doesn't oppose using wiretaps to track down terrorists, she just thinks it should and can be done in accordance with the law.

"Obviously, I support tracking down terrorists. I think that's our obligation. But I think it can be done in a lawful way," she said. "Their argument that it's rooted in the Constitution inherently is kind of strange because we have FISA and FISA operated very effectively and it wasn't that hard to get their permission."

A previous version of the same ad claimed that Hillary Clinton had opposed the Patriot Act, but the fact is - as was discussed on Olbermann - she didn't, she voted to renew the Patriot act twice. Subsequently those references were removed from the ad. But none of that has stopped people like Dick Morris - who of course is trying to sell more copies of his "Condi vs Hillary" book - from claiming on Hanity and Colmes:

"[I]t is very clear that the Brooklyn Bridge would have been destroyed if we had not been able to intercept the word 'Brooklyn Bridge.' "

During his rant, Morris also claimed "Nobody understands the NSA wiretapping program. Let me explain it to you..." He then went on to prove that one of the people that doesn't understand the program - is Dick Morris.

NSA Programs like Echelon and Carnivore do indeed track millions of calls and communications scanning for keywords, when one is identified the call is recorded. However, the long standing proceedure has been to delete that recording if one or both ends of the call originate from inside the United States. This began to change before 9-11. However that doesn't stop them from tracking foreign calls and identifying foreign suspects. Once a suspect is identified, repeated calls to the U.S. by the suspect would easily be grands to grant a FISA warrant against the recipient of the calls. They can even start the tracking and continue it for 72 hours prior to applying the warrant.

Morris claims this isn't possible, or isn't practicle.

But this is belied the FBI's own admission that most of the leads they have received from the NSA Domestic Program have mostly led to dead-ends, wasting resources, taking valuable time away from focusing or more valid suspects and increasing cynicism about the accuracy and value of such leads.

In response to the foiled British Plane Bombing Plot President Bush has repeated stated that "We need to tools to defend this nation" and has even specifically mentioned his Terrorist Surveillance Program as one of those tools

THE PRESIDENT: Any time we get a hint that there might be a terrorist cell in the United States, we move on it. And we're listening, we're looking, and one thing that's important is for us to make sure that those people who are trying to disrupt terrorist cells in the United States have the tools necessary to do so within the Constitution of the United States.

One of the things we better make sure is we better not call upon the federal government and people on the front lines of fighting terror to do their job and disrupt cells without giving people the necessary tools to disrupt terrorist plots before they strike. And that's what we're doing here in this government.

And that's why the Terrorist Surveillance Program exists, a program that some in Washington would like to dismantle. That's why we passed the Patriot Act, to give our folks the tools necessary to be able to defend America. The lessons of the past week is that there's still a war on terror going on and there's still individuals that would like to kill innocent Americans to achieve political objectives. That's the lesson. And the lesson for those of us in Washington, D.C. is to set aside politics and give our people the tools necessary to protect the American people.

No one in Washington wants to "Dismantle" the Terrorist Surveillance Program, they simply want it to comply with the law.

Despite the Presidents claims, indications are the U.S. involvement and knee-jerk desire to "disrupt the plot" in the British Plane Plot may have prompted premature arrests, which may not only deny us vital information concerning their supplies and chain of command - it might even threaten their successful conviction.

But wait it gets worse... this week a Federal Judge Declared that Bush's Domestic Tap Program is unequivocally illegal and ordered that it be shutdown immediately. From Glenn Greenwald:

In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (.pdf), the Supreme Court -- as Marty Lederman was the first to note -- rejected the Bush administration's principal defense for its violations of the Geneva Conventions not only with regard to military commissions, but generally. By holding that Common Article 3 of the Conventions applies to all detainees, and a failure to treat detainees in compliance with Common Article 3 constitutes "war crimes," the Supreme Court effectively found that Bush officials have authorized and engaged in felony violations of the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. sec. 2241), which makes it a federal crime to violate war treaties such as the Geneva Conventions. That is why the administration is busy at work trying to change that law so as to retroactively legalize their conduct -- because the Supreme Court all but branded them war criminals, and the consequences of that can be severe.

And now, a federal court in Michigan -- the first to rule on the legality of the President's NSA program -- just rejected all of the administration's defenses for eavesdropping in violation of FISA, effectively finding that the administration has been engaged in deliberate criminal acts by eavesdropping without judicial approval. And as I documented previously, Hamdan itself independently compels rejection of the administration's only defenses to its violations of FISA. Eavesdropping in violation of FISA is a federal crime, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine (50 U.S.C. 1809).

Thus, judicial decisions are starting to emerge which come close to branding the conduct of Bush officials as criminal. FISA is a criminal law. The administration has been violating that law on purpose, with no good excuse. Government officials who violate the criminal law deserve to be -- and are required to be -- held accountable just like any other citizens who violate the law. That is a basic, and critically important, principle in our system of government. These are not abstract legalistic questions being decided. They amount to rulings that our highest government officials have been systematically breaking the law -- criminal laws -- in numerous ways. And no country which lives under the rule of law can allow that to happen with impunity.

Ken Mehlman and the RNC has had a hissy fit in response, as they use this ruling to try and drum of donations.

Today, a Democrat-appointed judge in Detroit sided with the ACLU and ordered an immediate halt to the terrorist surveillance program. This decision is a reminder of what is at stake in 2006. Will we use every tool in our arsenal to respond to emerging threats, or embrace the Democrat-ACLU position that just made it harder for our intelligence agencies to detect terrorist plots inside the United States?

Here's what the New York Times - those enemies of freedom - have to say about Judge Taylor's Ruling:

Ever since President Bush was forced to admit that he was spying on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail without warrants, his lawyers have fought to keep challenges to the program out of the courts. Yesterday, that plan failed. A federal judge in Detroit declared the eavesdropping program to be illegal and unconstitutional. She also offered a scathing condemnation of what lies behind the wiretapping -- Mr. Bush's attempt to expand his powers to the point that he can place himself beyond the reach of Congress, judges or the Constitution.

"There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution," wrote Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit.

I've said it before, I'll said it again - George W. Bush is a War Criminal. Unindited, yes - but a Criminal just the same. And his continued claims that breaking our own law, while throwing the Constitution in the garbage heap is neccesary in fighting this War on Terror - while we simultaneous proclaim that our own Democracy, Justice System and Rule of Law will be a shiny light of hope that will sweep across the middle-east - is starting to grow a little thin.

They're losing the Security Mom's.

Married women with children, the "security moms" whose concerns about terrorism made them an essential part of Republican victories in 2002 and 2004, are taking flight from GOP politicians this year in ways that appear likely to provide a major boost for Democrats in the midterm elections, according to polls and interviews.

This critical group of swing voters -- who are an especially significant factor in many of the most competitive suburban districts on which control of Congress will hinge -- is more inclined to vote Democratic than at any point since Sept. 11, 2001, according to data compiled for The Washington Post by the Pew Research Center.

Current polls indicate that while Bush's overall approval ratings are at 36%, his overall approval for his handling of the War on Terror remains at 51% (82% of Republicans Approve, 50% of Independants and 26% of Democrats). He's never really dropped below 46% on this mark, partly I suspect because the thought that our President is completely lost on how to fight terrorism effectively (IE: Invading the wrong country using cooked intelligence, refusing to recognize the needs of the mission, not sending enough troops, not providing them with armor or clean water - refusing to recognize the growing insurgency, and now the ongoing civil war - while overhyping domestic threats like Moussoui and the Liberty Seven to gigantic proportions) is just too much for many people - especially Republicans - to accept.

That the President would blatantly and repeatedly exploit terrorism purely for political gain - is not an easy pill to swallow - even for some Democrats (such as those who continue to support Joe Lieberman)

But swallow it we shall.

The Supreme Court itself has already declared that our President is a criminal for how he has treated detainees - the argument as to whether al Qaeda should be granted the protections of the Constitution is over and the Cheney/Hannity crowd have lost - badly.

The President's Criminality has been further re-iterated Judge Taylor in no uncertain terms.

The same day I received the RNC response to the Taylor ruling, I also received this courtesy of the DNC and John Kerry.

People who live in white houses shouldn't throw stones. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove should know better, but it's no surprise they don't. For almost five years now, every time they've got their backs to the wall politically, they play "the fear card." The latest example: Dick Cheney claiming that Democratic candidates who dare to challenge the Bush White House on Iraq are "emboldening terrorists." What's worse, and startling, is that in Connecticut Joe Lieberman is now echoing their intolerable rhetoric attacking the Democratic Senate nominee. It won't work. We won't let it work.

This is not and has never been a debate of Safety vs Liberty - it is question of Democracy and the Constitution itself. America is more than just it's people, it's buildings, it's structures. It is an idea and an ideal. We didn't win the Cold War by using Torture. We didn't beat the Nazi's by implementing wiretaps against our own people. We stood for something, our soldiers then and now - died for something. Were maimed for something.

Something that Bush and his cronies have pissed on ever since they came into power. Something they frequently talk about, but will never truly understand.

Freedom.

Vyan

Thursday, August 17

Rock Star : Week 7 Elimination

Finally and at last, the night I've been looking forward to has arrived.

But before I get to that, let's go in order. Tonight the band revealed a new aspect to the show - each week one of the hamsters will be performing a new Supernova song with the band, and first up was Dilana.

I have to admit to reading some spoilers before watching the show, something I normally never do - but did. I was therefore warned about this song, but when I finally saw it my feelings were mixed. It didn't bowl me over, it didn't suck. Not completely. It's got potential, but it needs to be reworked - first of all it basically stays on the same chord and riff all the way through. It doesn't have any harmonic motion. It doesn't have any chord charges or real transitions from section to section -- it just starts and keeps going. A vocalist who has a lot of dynamics and the ability to create different moods and colors in their voice could make it something special, Dilana didn't. I think Magni, Storm and probably Lukas could salvage this song. Possibly even Ryan, but nothing and noone - could salvage the bondage - er - dancing girls.

That was some ridiculous shit.

Look, I know that Motley Crue had their "Girls, Girls, Girls" phase for a awhile. Ok, their entire career. And I know that both they and GnR used backup singers eventually. Lord knows Vince and Axl needed 'em. But the Crue went so far as to have pre-recorded backing vocals.

That crap is for white-trash debutant BS like Britney Spears and neo-homo rough trade like NSuck, not Rock n Roll.

This does not bode well for the future. The question is, will any one of the hamsters have the strength of personality and conviction to tell Stupornova - "Fuck, NO" - when they come up with these cheesy suggestions? (And trust me, I've been in this exact same position - working with some fantastic musicians, but constantly having to scrape velveeta off of everything we did. It's exhuasting.) My feeling is the answer is "No". If so, the result may turn out a lot like Van Halen III where Eddie Van ran everything and poor Gary Cherone (who I actually know indirectly through his family and younger brother Markus) was just onboard to do and sing what he was told. He didn't have the clout to fight back or simply walk away like David Lee and Sammy did when things were starting to get too stupid. Neither do these guys.

Somebody has to have the strength to tell Tommy Lee - ixnay on the cheap ippers-Stay!

Dilana was hotter than all of them anyway. Made them look bad.

Enough about that, on to the elimination.

As Brooke called out the names of those who were included in the bottom three at some point during the night, the list continued to grow. Sure, there were the usual suspects, Zayra, Toby and Patrice. But this time we had a couple surprises - Storm and Magni.

Dave addressed Storm over her interpretation of "I Will Survive" - saying that unlike the version by the band Cake, it lacked "irony." Ok, let me tell you something about Cake - because I had to listen to people rave about that crapass band for years when I lived in Sacramento - and about ironic music. John McCrea of Cake can't fucking sing - ok? He has to make everything seem ironic, because you can't take anything he tries to sing seriously. Ever. Second, a man singing that song is a joke by definition. That is a song about female empowerment, it's about not letting someone belittle you - it's about overcoming emotional abuse. Men don't get that. (Yes, I am a man - but I'm married to a woman whose first husband was an abusive, drugged-out rapist pedophile PRICK! I get it because I've seen and had to deal with the emotional devastation that shithead wrought)

Storm was Dead-ON with her performance of that song. It's about POWER, recognizing that you have it and taking it back. Fuck Irony. Fuck Cake.

Oh, and Fuck Dave.

Storm's response was great too - "I gave it 1000% percent. It may not be my favorite song, but it's somebodies favorite song." Heck, the way she shouted 'YEAH!" when they announced she had been among the bottom three was perfect. Not the whiny "Again?" of Zayra or the "Of course" from Jill - it was "Hell Yeah - Bring it ON - Bitch!"

That alone is why Storm deserves to win - but probably won't.

Let me put it this way, I prefer Storm version of "I Will Survive" to the Cheese and Ham fest they put Dilana through a couple minutes earlier.

Ultimately the first singer to face elimination was Zayra, who again took a chance by doing an obscure song by Blue October. One that actually rocked and was very modern, very different. Her outfit worked - this time. She sounded good - mostly. It was cool - it ROCKED - and was actually tasteful for a change.

Second up Patrice, who re-did "Celebrity Skin" the song that Lukas had fubar-ed with his back to the audience while messing up the lyrics. Patrice not only faced the audience, she ran out into them, around behind them and up onto the Supernova dias. Total showmanship. I still have issues with her over-ennuciation of things. She's like the female Scott Stapp. But it was a great performance, and made Lukey look Stupey.

Last up, was - Magni? What the fuck? Even the CheesyNova boys were floored. But hey man, the public is fickle. Feces happens, then you flush. Magni didn't whine or whimper -he just went up and kicked "Creep" directly in the balls. Now like I said, I read some spoilers - and there was a debate going back and forth about whether Magni's version was better than Lukas.

It's no contest - Magni killed him.

I read a lot of people talk about Lukas being more "emotional". This bullshit is the sad sad legacy of Kurt Cobain. Kurt had an incredibly painful stomach condition, so his looking and sounding "pained" really wasn't always a matter of his being "in the moment" and unleashing the inner angst of the song - he was in fucking pain. Also, Kurt had a tendency to try and sing things that were out of his range, like those Meat Puppets songs from his Unplugged performance. He wasn't really into it, he simply couldn't hit the notes. There's a difference.

Lukas barely got through Creep, he had to cut off some of the notes near the end because he ran out of air. He was better on the encore, but the struggle was obvious. Sometimes it's more interesting to watch people struggle - I get that. Nascar is more interesting if you think there might be a crash. Not knowing what's going to happen creates tension and anticipation. Sure, makes sense. But you have to recognize superior talent and ability when you see and hear it -- and here's something that non-singers won't get -- by laying down as he sang the high notes.... Magni did a windmilling slam-dunk in Lukas's Face.

Laying on your back you have no support. When most people breath and talk, they rely on the weigh of their ribcage to press down on their lungs and push out the air. Technically that's wrong for singing because it creates too weak a flow of air, singers have to also push upward with their diaphram muscle just above their stomach. People who sing without their diaphram can't hold their notes -- they go wobbly, they run out of air and get cut off. (Which is what happened to Lukas when he did this song - and he was standing!) When you lay down you lose the effect of gravity pushing down - you have to do everything with your diaphram muscle alone. Magni not only did it, he did it easily -- he didn't cut off the first part of the major scream the way Lukas did. He wasn't shaky or dodgy on the head-voice section.

Winner - Magni by a TKO.

Now people may disagree about whether they "felt" something from one performance or the other - that's fine. That's a matter of the listener, watchers own inferrences - not the performers actual performance. One is a matter of opinion, the other is a matter of physics.

When Elimination time came - it was obvious. Hell, it's been obvious for weeks now but finally - finally - DING DONG THE Z IS DEAD.

Yes, she's been unpredictable. Sexy. Weird. Fucking strange. But there was no possible way she was ever going to front Supernova. They were simply prolonging the inevitable. Now it's over. I know she gained a ton of fans, and if anyone is likely to salvage a decent solo career out of this - Z probably will.

Heck, if the VelveetaBoys keep going the way they are going --- she'll probably do better than them in the long run.

Vyan

Wednesday, August 16

New Perspectives on Racial and Ethnic Profiling

Generally speaking Profiling is a bad thing. It's a shortcut, a cheat. The Automatic judgement about one particular class or group of people, regardless of their own individual characterists is stereotyping - it's bigotry. Plain and simple.

Or is it that simple?

The GOP certainly seemed to be quite fond of the idea when it comes to law enforcement and terrorism, yet completely allergic to it when it applies to hiring, lending and apartment hunting.

There's even been a bill recently introduced - with bipartisan support - that would allow racial and ethnic profiling of Muslims.

On last nights Hannity and Colmes the argument was put foward without hestitation that we need to focus on who these terrorist are. "They aren't going to send a 70-year-old woman out as a Suicide Bomber?"

This point was made by Mike Seigel at Newsmax stated:

On Sunday, June 2, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had the chutzpah to be concerned more about the so-called Constitutional rights of individuals than the safety and security of the American people. The mayor has the right intent but the wrong position.

Police agencies profile as a matter of course. It is commonly accepted that most serial killers are white males in their 30s, perhaps 40s. It would be absurd not to focus on this group when attempting to solve a series of murders by a single individual.

So, Mr. Mayor, what do we know about terrorist acts against America? These acts include the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, the attacks on the embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the prior attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, and the ultimate attack of 9-11.

What we know about these acts is that self-professed Islamic fundamentalists committed them. So does that mean we check three-year-old children, 25-year-old white and black women, blond-haired and blue-eyed Scandinavian men? Of course not!!!

Well, actually they just might do exactly that - particularly if they know were busy looking the other way. In fact, they just might have started already.

We think we know what Terrorist look like right?

Young "Military Age" Arab men. Many in the GOP would argue that we need to focus primarily on these people and leave the "innocent" alone.

We're all famiiar with the idea of profiling "Silence of the Lambs" and the TV Show "Profiler" which are based on the work of the FBI Behavioral Sciences Division, which developed the technique to help find serial killers. People who commit repeated, compulsive crimes for specific psychological reasons. Those techinques were developed to help identify a single specific suspect, and allow a guide of when someone might be a "person of interest" who needs to be looked at more closely. Rarely has the profile alone been enough to capture a suspect, and sometimes they've been completely wrong.

These of course are highly trained and educated investigators, comparing dozens and dozens of specific factors to identify that one person. Terrorism is different. We aren't looking for just one person, we're looking for thousands of them - and they aren't all the same and you'll almost never have the same type of comprehensive data that the FBI uses for identification.

Trying to do this in the context of Airport Security and Law Enforcement is more likely to create stereotyping - the use of one or two distinctive characteristic to infer others - not profiling. And the accuracy of such techniques are likely to circle to bowl just as quickly as we misapply them.

Just look at the circumstances surrounding the capture of Ahmad Russem and the thwarting of the Millenium Bomb Plot.

On December 14, 1999, Ressam drove his rental car onto the ferry from Victoria, Canada, to Port Angeles,Washington. Ressam planned to drive to Seattle and meet Meskini, with whom he would travel to Los Angeles and case LAX. They planned to detonate the bomb on or around January 1, 2000. At the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) preinspection station in Victoria, Ressam presented officials with his genuine but fraudulently obtained Canadian passport, from which he had torn the Afghanistan entry and exit stamps.The INS agent on duty ran the passport through a variety of databases but, since it was not in Ressam's name, he did not pick up the pending Canadian arrest warrants. After a cursory examination of Ressam's car, the INS agents allowed Ressam to board the ferry. Late in the afternoon of December 14, Ressam arrived in Port Angeles. He waited for all the other cars to depart the ferry, assuming (incorrectly) that the last car off would draw less scrutiny. Customs officers assigned to the port, noticing Ressam's nervousness, referred him to secondary inspection. When asked for additional identification, Ressam handed the Customs agent a Price Costco membership card in the same false name as his passport. As that agent began an initial pat-down, Ressam panicked and tried to run away.

Inspectors examining Ressam's rental car found the explosives concealed in the spare tire well, but at first they assumed the white powder and viscous liquid were drug-related--until an inspector pried apart and identified one of the four timing devices concealed within black boxes. Ressam was placed under arrest. Investigators guessed his target was in Seattle. They did not learn about the Los Angeles airport planning until they reexamined evidence seized in Montreal in 2000; they obtained further details when Ressam began cooperating in May 2001.

Ultimately, it was Ressem's specific behavior that tipped off the INS, not the fact that he was a young military-age Muslim.

Another example: How the Real 20th Hijacker who was stopped at Customs by an alert agent.

[Customs Agent] Melendez-Perez, who spoke at Monday's hearing, stopped a man identified by federal officials only as al Qahtani at Florida's Orlando International Airport in late August 2001. The agent said he became suspicious when al Qahtani provided only vague answers about what he was doing in the United States.

U.S. officials then put al Qahtani on a plane back to Saudi Arabia. He wound up in Afghanistan, where he was captured by U.S. forces. He now is being held with other captives at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"This is an example of how a well-trained and alert INS inspector performed admirably in refusing admission to the United States of an individual who should not have gained entry," said Richard Ben-Veniste, a Democratic commission member and former Watergate prosecutor.

Again, the agent was tipped off by this person behavior, his specific behavior. Melendez-Perez stated that he thought, based on the persons military bearing, look and most importantly his cold attitude that he was dealing with a contract killer. As it turned out, Muhammad Atta was downstairs waiting to pick Qhantani up and most likely mmake him part of the 9-11 team.

From the 9/11 Commision Report:


The inspector noted Kahtani's hostility from the moment he called his name through the hour and a half spent
interviewing him with the help of a Department of Justice translator. Kahtani was clean-cut with a military build. He had no return ticket and became threatening when asked
where he was going, how long he was going to stay, and who was meeting him. Although he had enough cash for a ticket home, he did not have any credit cards.
Kahtani's answers to questions kept changing. Without a return ticket and limited funds, the secondary inspector sought to exclude him as an intending immigrant. The inspector's real concern, however, was that Kahtani was up to no good. The inspector told the Commission in his written testimony:
    My first question to the subject (through the interpreter) was why he was not in possession of a return airline ticket. The subject became visibly upset and in an arrogant and threatening manner, which included pointing his finger at my face, stated that he did not know where he was going when he departed the United States. What first came to mind at this point was that this subject was a "hit man." When I was in the Recruiting Command, we received extensive training in questioning techniques. A "hit man" doesn't know where he is going because if he is caught, that way he doesn't have any information to bargain with. 188

This inspector had noted on prior occasions that Saudis coming through Orlando had a reputation for spending a lot of money at Disney World. Denying a Saudi entry was
unusual, and inspectors told us they were generally concerned about the repercussions of taking such a step. However, after Kahtani refused to answer any questions under oath, the inspector decided to seek his supervisor's approval to recommend that Kahtani be barred as an "expedited removal," meaning that he could be deported without a hearing.

Furthermore:


Mohamed al Kahtani, a Saudi, the only operative other than Mihdhar who appears to have attempted a solo entry, arrived on August 4, 2001 at Orlando, Florida. He was also the only operative to be refused entry to the United States. 184

Records indicate that Atta was waiting for him at Orlando International while Kahtani was in secondary immigration inspection. Atta did not leave the Orlando airport until after it was clear that Kahtani was going back home.

Again the fact that Khatani was a Muslim, didn't even enter into the equation, but his is being a Saudi actually aided in his ability to enter the U.S. since the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are "allies". All of the 9-11 hijackers were either Saudi or from the United Arab Emerites. They were specifically chosen and recruited because they wouldn't be profiled as being terrorist since they weren't from Palestine or Iran. There is every reason to believe that for attacks against the U.S., future recruits will be "far from the beaten path".

Yesterday's Diary. on former captive Jill Carrol's comments about her kidnappers are very illustrative. Where a five year-old boy talked proudly of becoming a "Holy Warrior" and one man's pregnant wife looked forward to the day when she too could become a suicide bomber.

In 2004 two Russian Airliners were destroyed by Suicide Bombers - both of them were women. In fact, Suicide Bombers have become increasing Female.

As a spate of suicide bombings around the world in recent years has shown, the face of terror is increasingly female. In 1991 a female Sri Lankan separatist killed herself and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Since then similar bombings have occurred in Turkey, Pakistan, Israel, Uzbekistan, and Iraq.

Racial Profiling has been looked at for quite some time, and the simple truth is that it doesn't work. As I wrote last year.

Racial profiling, where black's are more frequently targeted for arrest among our Police agencies, remains a serious problem of bias. Following up a previous study in New Jersey, the ACLU found in a study conducted in Rhode Island that:

● As was true in the first study, minority drivers were more than twice as likely as whites to be searched or frisked by police. Statewide, for those vehicles stopped, 7% of black drivers and 6.2% of Hispanic drivers were searched compared to 2.9% of white drivers.

● Despite the proportionally greater number of searches of minority drivers, white drivers - just as in 2001-2002 - were still more likely than racial minorities to be found with contraband when searched.So minorities are searched more, arrested more - but they do not have higher occurances of possesing drugs or other contraband.

If we carry this failed policy into terrorism, we're likely to actually decrease our ability to detect and capture terrorists - we're more likely to put ourselves at risk.

But that hasn't stopped the right-wing from arguing that we need to profile from the highest hills.

Before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on New York and Washington D.C., the illegal practice of racial profiling by the police and others was morally distasteful. This practice involved detaining persons of a particular race or ethnicity based solely on the biased belief that they were more likely to be wanted criminals or in the process of committing a criminal act. The illegal practice had little to do with legitimate police investigative techniques. America is the process of condemning the illegal form of racial profiling as an investigative tool and identifying those persons guilty of the practice.
Investigative Tool

Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks have caused us to revisit the acceptability for racial profiling based on a specific circumstance. To date, our government investigation has indicated that the terrorists who launched the attack against the United States were all of similar ethnic origin and belonging to a particular secular religious group.

The truly interesting thing about this is if you asked the self-same people about Affirmative Action, just what response would you get?

Update:How about what GOP Darling Ward Connerly would say?

Ward Connerly has an idea. It is simple yet revolutionary. And it needs to be debated seriously. It is this: The government has no business asking individuals to report their race or ethnicity on official forms. Connerly, you may remember, was a driving force behind Proposition 209, the ballot initiative that sought to ban race and gender preferences in government employment, programs, and contracting. The measure was approved handily by the voters in 1996.

But Connerly grew frustrated as he watched government officials ignore or seek to thwart the intent of that initiative.

As a follow-up, he has proposed a more radical measure. The only way to prevent the government from using racial preferences, he figures, is to prevent the state from recording the race of the people with whom it deals. This idea has the added lure of fulfilling an original dream of the civil rights movement, to create a color-blind society, or at least a color-blind government.

The interesting to note about Connerly's proposed "Racial Privacy Initialive" (which was ultimately defeated in 2004) is that it banned the governments ability to track a persons race, yet it had a large exception for the race of persons applying for housing. It seems that Connerly recognized that "there remains a large problem with discrimination" in this area and we needed to retain the tools to track and fight this discrimination. One of those tools, Connerly admited was identifying a persons race and then tracking if they were being unfairly denied access.

Oh, really? And how did we ever know we have discrimination problems in this industry?

Because we we're tracking it. And we need to continue tracking it. The fact that these hijackers were radical muslims is important, but that isn't the only issue.

Race and Ethnicity is something we should pay attention to, we shouldn't completley ignore it - but neither should we allow it to become a deciding factor in our decision making either about hiring or in law enforcement. It can be part of a larger picture of who an individual is, it can provide prospective, but it's not a magic bullet - it is not a be-all-end-all answer to the primary question we all face each and everyday.

Who are we?

Vyan

Rock Star Supernova : Week 7 Performance

Ok, that was a big steaming bowl of bogus. But before I get into the nastiness, lets address the pleasantries.

Zayra's song was really good. Really. Honest.

Her outfit was still funky as all get-out with the parachute pantaloons and a bikini top - but her song wasn't bad at all if you're really into the stylings of the invitro love-child of Celine Dion, Bjork and Selena. In 1999 it was Ricky Martin who had his coming out party on the Grammies and launched his english language career into the stratosphere, and I think Zayra just did the near impossible - first she topped Ricky, and second she may have just guaranteed herself a major recording and performing career at the center of the Latin Pop Exploitation II after she finally gets her boney ass kicked off this show.

As usual, her song and performance choice was completely ballsy. This gal doesn't do anything half-way, and always throws caution - not to mention common sense - to the wind. But let;s think rationally for a second, she's auditioning to be a member of a bluesy hard rock band, what part of that picture screams Vegas Pop Diva?

And it seemed like she'd just used a stun-ray from beneath her billowing skirt to dull the minds of the Suave Porn guys - because they seemed like they were under a spell. Only Gilby briefly escaped it by asking the 50,000 Jager shot question - "What part of that performance, had anything to do with us?"

Nothing. But it was sure purtee.

Magni was up second, and did his usual stellar job with David Bowie's "Starman". Knocked it out of the park. Problem is - he was also dull as a doornail - and it might be because he's almost "too good". His vocals are so polished there like plastic, they just slide right off of you. All the character and personality's been beaten out of his voice with a sledgehammer making it very generic sounding. Bowie doing this song would have been very distinctive, and I don't think Bowie's vocal technique it actually as good as Magni's - but in Rock that doesn't matter all that much. This performance just left me cold. He sounded great, and looked great- but Ho hum and Bah Humbug, I wasn't moved. I still have same problem with Magni that I've had for a long time; He's this seasons Mig, a truly great singer - probably the best voice among the men on the show - but does he have the force of personality and mental toughness it's going to take to keep up with Tommy Lee and Jason Newsted? I doubt it. (It's also interesting to note that last weeks reality episode didn't reveal what Magni did with the original song or how the SN boys reacted to it)

His bit about "In the old country - they sing" was excellent though.

Even though she really didn't do that much with the arrangement I really like Patrice's version of "Message in a bottle" much more than Magni's song. She has the some overtraining issues as Magni's, and usually doesn't rise above them but did this time. I especially like how they modified the harmonies and melody lines during chorus - that was cool. I only wish they'd let the song simmer down at that point, dropping most of the instrumenation - especially the strings - and let us just hear the voices. And her outfit with the bicycle shorts was certainly much more "Rock" than Vegas.

Lukas - the J.D. of this season - had his own Seal moment and managed not to crash and burn on it. (Yes, I know this song was written by Nickleback - but they clearly stole their melody from Seal's "Kiss from a Rose". Their song was used on the Spiderman soundtrack, Seal's was from George Clooney's final Batman film. Go ahead, listen to them back-to-back, different words - same song.) Anyway, Lukas did a great job and pretty much killed it - even sitting down. Like Tommy I think the sit down thing is so "Not Rock" - but the Luke-man managed to pull it off. I still think this contest is basically his to lose, after both songwriting challenges everyone else is milse behind him. Plus, unlike Magni and soem fo the others - his voice has TONS of character and personality. He's got one in a million tone - one in a billion, even. The only complaint they have is his tendency to close up his throat, and that can be fixed. Also you have to factor in the intesity of the Lukatics. Looking rather unscientifically at the average number of posts on each singers individual forum on RockBand.com and other sites -- Lukas is waaay ahead of everyone else.

Let's be realistic. Certainly the band is going to make the final choice, but they aren't going to do it without input from management and their label. This contest allows for a label - which I strongly suspect is CBS - to prescreen the appeal of all these performers and to Market Test them thoroughly. By the time this is done, they'll know whose going to sell records and who isn't.

Lukas is going to sell records. Big time.

Checking both the RIAA and allmusic.com, INXS's "Switch" has topped out at #17 on the Billboard Top 200 and "Pretty Vegas" has gone Gold as a single. The fact that the full album hasn't gone gold indicates the record may not have "legs" to sustain sales, but if the band remains out on tour long enough that may change and this record will eventually be certified Gold and then Platinum. The Rock Star show gave them an impressive boost that I don't the final record has really lived up to, but they haven't done badly. Not at all. And I admit that despite the fact I loathe J.D. with the intestify of a - supernova.

All Lukas has to do is avoid doing something really terminally stupid, and he's got the job. His Rooster do comes close - but not close enough.

Ok, now we've arrived at the wrong-zone. I haven't read how any of the other fans are reacting yet, but Storm was Fucking Awesome on "I Will Survive". I could see the SN boys not loving it, but the crowd was not wrong - that was totally killer. She had been struggling with what she was going to do with that song (as shown in the reality segment) and went through several different iterations of arrangements - but what she finally did was All Storm. Completely Storm-ified. Tender and vulnerable one moment, tough and scary the next. That was easily her best and most polished vocal performance - plus it really displayed a lot of the unique character of her voice. She was wise not to try and out gospel Gloria Gayner, she instead took it in an entirely different direction added a touch of Jazz and Lounge Singer (which is also part of her background) and then ending with that acapella great vocal riff. I love what she did with the melody, shifting it around and modified the time - just as she had shown us previously on "We are the Champions" she has a great melodic sense.

She made that song into her own and it was awesome to behold.

Now, I would agree with the assessment that it probably wasn't a Supernova styled performance but let's be honest. NOTHING that was performed tonight was appropriate for Supernova. Nothing. You think Magni Leasure Suit was "Rock"? Not even a little.

Now I'm not one to give in to conspiracy theories - (ok, yes I am) - but I think the reaction by the SN boys was too extreme. I think they're full of male bovine feces. It seemed planned to me. They've never had anything negative to say about any of Storm's performances, and they just may have picked this one -- knowing that she was struggling with it in a way she never had before -- to deliberately slam the crap out of her just to see how she handles it. (If I recall correctly, INXS did the same thing to Mig at one point - essentially panning one of his performances just to see if it created a meltdown and crisis of confidence.) In the real world of rock- you're going to get panned. It's absolutely guaranteed, and don't let a poncy little asshole like Michael Mustow of the Village Voice be the one to do it - he's verbally slice you into cutlets.

You gotta be tough as steel.

But I already know Storm is tough, in fact I doubt this little blip will even phase her and she'll "pass" their little test. And the likelyhood of her going to be bottom 3 over it, is slim and nil. Lukas may be the most popular among posters and likely voters, but Storm is second. This contest is honestly only between the two of them. It's even possible that the extremely uncalled for comments by Supernova will cause a fan revolt of voting for Storm - to which I wouldn't be surprised. Dave and Supernova were the ones "Sauted in Wrong-sauce" this time.

I wasn't much impressed with Toby's performance of "Salsbury Hill". He sang it fine, even handling the odd timing. The bongos were a nice touch, but - Bah, humbug. Lick Magni, it left me cold.

Ryan has really learned to Bring The Drama, and really remains probably the top male contender after Lukas. I wouldn't have said that a couple weeks ago, but he's been hitting it out of the park each and very time. He did about as a good a job with Phil Collin's "In the Air Tonight" as anyone could do - except for Phil. He's really been showing just how powerful his vocals are to good effect - I'm not sure anyone one else, except Dilana or Storm could have done this song justice.

Lastly we had Dilana herself, and although she thinks "she's the one" -- as Zathrus from Babylon 5 would say... she's "not the one.... not the one". She did a good job with "Cats in the Craddle" but I still think the rock version by Ugly Kid Joe ten years ago was better. She did fine, but it wasn't anything special.

Even though she pulled Tommy aside during the Vegas party and made her play, saying "Just send the other seven home" I think she completely missreads just how much she flamed out on the song-writing challenge. She's completely clueless that the band thought her lyrics were "cornball". If there's a challenge that you absolutely have to nail - it's that one, and she blew it. I don't think you come back from that. She's done. It's only a matter of time. Yes, she's a fabulous performer, but if she can't write - she's practically useless to them. And like I said, she's not the most popular person on the show -- not even close.

Vyan

Monday, August 14

Rock Star Supernova : Week 7 Reality

This week the hamsters finally escaped the cage - only to move to one with much better gilding in Las Vegas. The Suave Porn guys took them to the Hard Rock Hotel and introduced them to the stage of The Joint where Supernova will be having it's very first live performance on New Years Eve.

The remaining Eight Rockers were blown away, and all felt the intesity to WIN this contest grow two or three-fold. Actually standing there on the stage, and imagining the room filled with "sweaty people" really got them off.

Ok, don't be gross - you know what I mean.

They had a chance to live the "ROCK STAR"(TM) Lifestyle, with a private jet, Champange and Jager, a penthouse suite at the Hard Rock with it's own bowling alley. Living Large and partying hard.

But just remember, the watchful eye of the Suave Porn is always upon ye.

Both of the two Rocker Boys, Lukas and Toby, drank themselves into a comatose stupor by 10pm! My grandmom is still up at 10pm - said Ryan. Jason commented that letting yourself look stupid at a party isn't exactly what they're looking for ... (this coming from a card-carrying of Alco-holica! - but then again, maybe that's bitter experience talking)


Once the party was over, where reality and the hangovers began to set in - the rockers were back in L.A. and facing another fun and exciting round of Song Selection Musical Chairs.

Only this time, the empty chair was for an Original Song, and Ryan butt was aimed straight for it. Only Zayra's boney ass was in the way. The tusselled, they struggled and eventually the stronger man won.

Zayra.


Ryan, prodded by Toby decided to do "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins. But wait, the cat fights weren't over yet as Toby had his own battle with Dilana over who would perform a Peter Gabriel song "Salsbury Hill" with the chance to play - yet again - with Gilby Clarke. Since the House band is going "Unplugged" this week, this should turn out very interesting. In order to choose which one of them would get the song, Dilana asked Toby to streak around the pool naked -- which, he did. One full lap, with a cannon ball in the middle and some rather strategically placed hands.

But the one person who started having the most difficulty during reheasals was surprising. Storm. She found trying to Rock out Gloria Gayner's "I Will Survive" in an acoustic setting to be a bit of a bitch. But if anyone can pull it off - Storm can, and she definately will survive - even if she has to ride Magni to do it.

Vyan

Sunday, August 13

The Other Inconvenient Truth - We could have ended Climate Change and Didn't

They think we're stupid. I mean, flat out meat-with-eyes dumb.

And maybe they're right.

Why is it with all of our technical know how and engineering ability, America is still wedded at the hip to the gasoline engine? For years we've been hearing that alternative fuels and electric vehicles are the stuff of Buck Rogers fantasies and Disneyland Rides.

But that's a load of crap.

The truth is that the Future has been here for quite some time - it was yesterday and it's already passed us by.

In the early 90's after years of stage 4 smog alerts in Los Angeles, the California Air Resources Board required all auto manufacturers in the state to provide zero emission vehicles as an option on 4% of their vehicles by 1998, and 10% by 2003. Electric Cars began appearing at dealerships and on the streets in 1996. These far more than mere than golf-carts, these were cars with full amenities and crash test rated. The General Motors EV1 had a range of 200 miles and top speed of over 130mph (when run without a governor which would normally limit the top speed to 70mph). Toyota made their popular mini-suv the RAV4 available with an EV option as did Ford with the Ranger, and Nissan with it's Altra EV. Even Chrysler Epic minivans were available. The cars could be leased but not bought (except for the Rav4 which for a few weeks was sold and bought by about 80 people), meanwhile the car companies and oil industry began a quiet campaign to have the ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mandate lifted.

A few years later there wish as magically granted, the mandate was reversed and the cars started to disappear from the road the leases expired. Nearly every car was reclaimed and then taken to Arizona where they were destroyed as shown in the new documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?".

Several Electric Car owners have fought back to keep their cars from being crushed.
Currently myself and a few others lease Ford Ranger Electric Trucks from Ford. However, Ford is refusing to sell us the vehicles. They want to take them back and crush them. We have had our Electric Vehicle (EV) Ranger 3 ½ years with no major issues, no breakdowns, and no maintenance. It is a standard Ford Ranger pickup body, able to haul 1200 lbs and attain freeway speeds. (e-controlled to 78 mph). Its range is from 60 miles in the hills to 80 miles in flat areas. This is more than enough to go to town from my ranch and back, plus have plenty left over to use around the ranch. After its use, I just plug it in, and in the morning there is a full charge! It uses NO gas or oil – just electricity. In fact, because we have solar panels and sell power back, it costs us ZERO dollars to run our truck!

The film "Who killed the Electric Car" looks at the situation as a murder mystery. It's clear and obvious why the oil industry would oppose electric cars, but why would car manufacters? Why would politicians in Sacramento? The answer may lie in the comment made above by the Ranger-Ev owner.

"We have had our Electric Vehicle (EV) Ranger 3 ½ years with no major issues, no breakdowns, and no maintenance."

Nearly 40 percent of automanufacters profits come from repairs and mantenance - but with electric vehicles this type of wear and tear is virtually non-existent. Yeah, sure - you have to change and rotate the tires, but there's no transmission, no radiator, no spark plugs, no head gasket to blow when you've been running without oil for too long. That's a major hit in the pocketbock for Ford, GM and Toyota. Major.

Still there are new companies such as Telsa Motors which are releasing brand new types of electric cars even without a government mandate. They offer an electric sportscar that can challenge a Ferrari, with an acceleration rate of 0-60 in 4 seconds and a range of 250 miles per charge. Newer Electric Car models from Mitsubishi

Although these car wouldn't be suitable for long distance trips, and in some cases the battery packs are subseptible to damage from extreme temperatures and conditions which would make them usable in either Alaska or Las Vegas - they still meet the needs of nearly 80% of the general public for day to day driving. Even if part of the electricity being used is being generated by coal fired plants the overall Co2 emission are significantly reduced.

Even though most of the original vehicles have been recalled, the electric car battle continues on today between the city of Pasadena and Nissan as the car company attempts to recall all of Pasadena's Hypermini fleet which had been used by the city for parking enforcement and other tasks. The city was actually forced into creating a blockade to keep the Nissan tow-trucks at bay.

From the Pasadena Star News.

PASADENA - Quick maneuvering by City Hall and two Pasadena Water and Power vehicles thwarted automaker Nissan from reclaiming its electric cars Tuesday from city yards.

Under a high-noon sun, two flatbed trucks sent to remove the zero-emission Hyperminis were met with little cooperation from the city, which said the unannounced move created logistical difficulties.

"We have a process for everything, and there is a process for this," city spokesowman Ann Erdman said.

John Hoffner, PWP's public benefits manager, said the city's mechanics are able to maintain the cars and have required little support from Nissan.

Lawrence said the cars would be taken to an Anaheim facility where a large "paddle-wheel" device would grind them down to component pieces for recycling.

"We won this round, now we go to round two," said Paul Scott, co-founder of Plug In America, which has campaigned for automakers to leave their electric cars on the road.

Auto manufacturers have been claiming that these cars are a marketing disaster, "Nobody wanted them", yet hundreds of former EV owners have been coming forward to contest these claims. While the cars were available for lease many manufacturers found that each and every car found an owner, and more were placed on waiting lists. Depending on price, many would certain have been willing to purchase the cars if they had been allowed to do so.

The importance of this Zero Emmision Vehicles to our economy, national security and even the future of the planet can not be understated. Although these vehicles were intially mandates to alleviate air pollution concerns, the Co2 emmisions have been a far graver concern.

The recent Discovery Channel Primer on Global Warming covers a great deal of the subject in depth.

In 2005, scientists announced major discoveries about Earth’s climate. Multiple Greenland glaciers suddenly leaped into retreat, spilling larger and larger amounts of ice into the sea. A similar pattern has been seen on the Antarctic Peninsula. Studies of the past 50 years of hurricanes were made public and revealed the storms have been steadily getting more intense and destructive. Hurricane Katrina brought that point home to the U.S. by nearly wiping New Orleans off the map. Scientists also announced the record retreat in Arctic sea ice, and a measurable slowing of the thermohaline circulation in the Atlantic – the deep ocean current that drives the Gulf Stream, moderates temperatures worldwide, and keeps Europe from having a climate like that of Alaska.
All of these changes are modifying our weather in a variety of ways, larges swaths of former farmland in China have turned into desert. But most frighteningly, the Amazon Rainforest appears to be in extremely grave danger after suffering the worst drought in decades. After years of extensive deforestation - and stealth logging - the shifting patterns of precipitation have left much of the forest in drought for the past two years. Some studies indicate that a majority of this forest would be able to survive much more of this.

Amazon rainforest could become a desert

And that could speed up global warming with 'incalculable consequences', says alarming new research. Studies by the blue-chip Woods Hole Research Centre, carried out in Amazonia, have concluded that the forest cannot withstand more than two consecutive years of drought without breaking down. And that process, which would be irreversible, could begin as early as next year.
Next year begins the third consecutive year of drought in the Amazon. Tests run by some concerned scientist have shown that during the second year of drought, the tree dig deep roots in search of moisture - this has already occured in much of the forest -- in the third year - the trees begin to die.
By the end of the year the trees had released more than two-thirds of the carbon dioxide they have stored during their lives, helping to act as a break on global warming. Instead they began accelerating the climate change.

... the Amazon now appears to be entering its second successive year of drought, raising the possibility that it could start dying next year. The immense forest contains 90 billion tons of carbon, enough in itself to increase the rate of global warming by 50 per cent.
If the rainforest begins to die, it could arguaby begin an irreversable cascade effect which would dramatically accelerate the current rate of climate change to a catastrophic degree. All of the negative effects we've already seen, from flooding to wildfires and increasing powerful oceans storms would grow worse and more deadly.

This is serious people, deadly serious.

The car manufacturers, oil companies and politicians have failed us. They've protected their profits and their own asses while leading us directly to the brink of global disaster. Brazil has already managed to completely convert away from oil burning vehicles, yet most of us are still completely unaware of what decades old technology has already made available.

It might already be too late to avert slidding past the tipping point, but I think while we still have breath we have life and we should fight for every inch of it.

And make sure those making the key decisions in our society, from the automakers to the politicians know exactly how hard we can punch. Here's some tips on who to contact from PluginAmerica.com

Toyota (800) 331-4331

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. 19001 South Western Ave. Dept. WC11, Torrance, CA 90501

Ford (800) 392-FORD
Ford Motor Company, Customer Relationship Center, PO Box 6248, Dearborn, Michigan 48126

GM / Saturn (800) 553-6000
Customer Assistance Center , 100 Saturn Parkway, MD-371-999-S24, Spring Hill, TN 37174

Read more about what you can say to the Automakers

You can also contact The California Air Resources Board
Headquarters Building
1001 "I" Street
P.O. Box 2815
Sacramento, CA 95812

Phone: (800) 242-4450 or (916) 322-2990| FAX: (916) 445-5025

The Congressional Switchboard can be reached at : (888) 355-3588. The operator will forward your call to the Office of any House Member or Senator.

Vyan