Friday, June 24, 2005

republicans are need to stop smoking

whatever it is they're smoking.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said a litany of comments by Democratic elected officials and their liberal allies underscored Rove's point. "It is outrageous," he said, "that the same Democratic leaders who refused to repudiate or criticize Dick Durbin's slandering of our military are now attacking Karl Rove for stating the facts. . . . Karl didn't say the Democratic Party. He said liberals."

I'm not sure how Mehlman defines facts, but I'd like to see how he proves that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove's statement "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers" is a fact. Any way you look at Rove's claim, it's an inflammatory generalization. It's like saying "all Republicans are conservatives," which is blatantly untrue. Some are liberal, some are conservative, some are moderate, and lots are crazy.

Anyway, I'd still like to know what the Bush Administration plans to do about Osama Bin Laden. Hello? It's like they all got selective amnesia: "Bin Laden who? Who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001? Huh? You mean it wasn't Iraq? You mean Hussein had nothing to do with it? Are you sure?"

I feel so safe.

anti-virus software

I have a suspicion that my anti-virus software hasn't been working since April.

Why? The date displayed for my virus definition file hasn't changed since April. Oh, sure, Symantec will periodically update new virus definitions, but the date displayed hasn't changed at all. I tried the troubleshooting instructions on the Symantec site but they didn't help at all. Thank goodness you can retrieve files from the trash.

where are our rights?

Sometimes I really wonder what the government is thinking. I think the
problem is that people do not think.

The FBI "witch-hunt" in Lodi

By Veena Dubal and Sunaina Maira

On June 7Th 2005, national and international media attention focused on the small, agricultural town of Lodi, located approximately forty miles south of Sacramento. The FBI arrested and detained two individuals, both Pakistani-Americans, who they suspected had AL-Qaeda affiliations.

The investigation was presented as a "terrorism case" by the government and news sources. The initial affidavit released to the media said that U.S.-born Hamid Hayat, had attended a terror-training camp in Pakistan along with "hundreds" of other terrorists, and returned to the US intending to "attack . . . hospitals and large food stores." This kind of detail resulted in a flood of sensationalized media coverage, portraying 23-year old Hamid as a prospective mass murder and his father, Umer Hayat, a 47-year old ice cream truck driver, as the financial supporter and mastermind of an alleged "Lodi terrorist cell".
Neither allegation, however, was in the affidavit filed with a federal court in Sacramento the same day.

The FBI retracted their affidavit alleging Hamid's plot to attack domestic targets and began downplaying the seriousness of the presumed threat the men posed. Both Hamid and Umer were ultimately charged only with lying to federal investigators about Hamid's visit to Pakistan in 2003.

Three other Muslim men from Lodi, among them two respected imams, were also detained on suspected visa violations. One of the imams had actually been the target of FBI surveillance beginning three years ago when a secret court used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to approve wiretapping of Mohammed Adil Khan.

While the Justice Department has maintained that it was not deliberately trying to precipitate an anti-Muslim witch hunt, the difference between the two affidavits - the one released to the media and the one filed in court - as well as recent FBI activity in Lodi, speak a different story. None of the five men have been charged with carrying out or planning to commit any act of violence.

The many inconsistencies in the case and the hysteria it stoked coincided very neatly with Bush's campaign to renew and expand the 2001 Patriot Act, which can only be justified if there was an ongoing "terrorist threat" and the public continues to fear that there are Muslim or Arab terrorists in their midst.

On June 14, we traveled up to Lodi to assess the impact of the arrests and surveillance of the local South Asian community, which is estimated to consist of over 2500 Pakistanis, some of whom have been living in the town for three generations. Basim Elkarra, Executive Director of the Sacramento office of CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) has been diligently organizing in response to the arrests and interrogations of local Pakistanis by FBI agents swarming into town and warned us prior to our arrival about the extent of surveillance and the fear the community felt. But no amount of warning could have prepared us for the state of near siege in the town.

As soon as we stepped out of our car in Lodi, we were made aware of the FBI's presence. Not only is the entire Muslim community being surveilled by the FBI, which had interviewed many of its members, sometimes without an attorney present, in the days following the arrest - so are the attorneys and activists who are making sure that constitutional rights are upheld. During our brief visit with Mr. Elkarra and civil rights attorneys from the ACLU, a man with a large afro-wig in a blue SUV circled us and took photos. When we tried to approach him, he fled, only to return later to take more photographs. His conspicuous appearance made us realize the extent to which the FBI harassment is not at all a secret investigation: it is an overt act of intimidation of the community at large.

One of the attorneys we spoke to noted that the community feels "terrorized." Residents believe that they are being interrogated by the FBI and placed under
automatic suspicion because they are Muslim..

Pakistanis who attended the "Know Your Rights" workshops held by CAIR in Stockton, Lodi, and Pleasanton were all subject to obvious FBI surveillance. One Muslim mother told an attorney that her young child was followed from her home to an ice cream store by an FBI car. Others complained that they were taken out of their places of employment by the FBI for questioning and then could not return because their co-workers became suspicious of them.

The most shocking of these reports was that of an incident where the FBI stormed the Hayat home, when only women and children were present, by ramming down the front door and putting a gun to a woman's head. When her eleven-year old daughter passed out, she was denied medical attention, a gross violation of human rights that outraged even the local emergency care personnel.

After handing out "Know Your Rights" fliers to community members who have been repeatedly questioned, we went to visit the Lodi mosque that is under FBI scrutiny. The mosque is a small, humble structure - a former Jehovah's Witness church - next to the cannery where Pakistani men have worked as fruit packers, in some cases for more than thirty years. South Asian and Latino children were
playing basketball together across from the mosque while older South Asian men sat on the grass, presumably relaxing after a long day's work.

Most of the Muslims who attend this mosque speak Pashtu and are from the Northwest Frontier area of Pakistan. Some have family that had been in the area since as early as 1908, working on the railroads. They told us that the FBI began coming to Lodi immediately after September 11Th, making "friends" with mosque members. The men all seemed undaunted by the FBI siege. However, it was clear within minutes that beneath the welcoming, calm exterior, was a harassed, interrogated, and scared community.

One man described to us, without looking around, exactly where each federal agent's car was parked; we saw the three large, black-tinted SUVs just yards from the mosque and the courts where the young boys were playing. Another middle-aged man said calmly, "Let them come ask us questions; we have nothing to hide." While this resilience was encouraging, we were reminded by another Pakistani man who had already been questioned several times that while he did not mind speaking to the FBI, it was frightening for his wife and children. In addition, this has led to a racist backlash by some Lodi residents agitated by the lurid media reports about Islamic terrorists and sleeper cells.

The government's investigation in Lodi has been conducted in a way that does not respect the legal rights and dignity of the Muslim community: individuals have been systematically discouraged from exercising their right to an attorney and have been disallowed access to attorneys; there has been at least one detention of an individual who was not read his Miranda warnings; and women and children have been intimidated and denied medical care. Perhaps equally disturbing, however, is that the general public has been given new reason to fear South Asians and Muslims as presumed terrorists. A community that has made this area home for over one hundred years has been investigated, intimidated, and cast under a shroud of suspicion, all within days.

Veena Dubal is a JD/PhD student at the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall, and Sunaina Maira is an Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California at Davis. Both are volunteers with the SF Bay Area organization, ASATA - Alliance of South Asians Taking Action.

I should start volunteering.

First, donations to J4NA and the ACLU.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


When talking to people, especially when giving instructions, it is wise to remember that people are not mind-readers.

Anticipating any questions that people may have and answering them in advance would be useful. Of course, there is the possibility of being verbose, but I would rather say too much than say too little. Since communication is tricky, we should avoid misunderstandings whenever possible.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

yay for blocking bolton

And I don't mean Michael Bolton. Whatever happened to him?

Glad to see that the Democrats are building a spine and blocking
Bolton's appointment. Now, if they can only continue to block
all of Bush's bad nominations.

3 years left is it?

Friday, June 17, 2005

tech support review

Found on slashdot, there's a very interesting review of laptop tech support.

Toshiba was the only company to rate an A.

Also funny was an article on the comments inside the OpenSolaris code.

Friday, June 10, 2005

stevie wonder's new video

His new song is pretty good! It's really nice to hear new stuff from him. The video is interesting. In a subtle way it's a little disturbing though. It was great to see the background singers! It took me a couple minutes to recognize them.

I didn't even notice the guitarist. I have to watch the video again.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

wasabi rush

For those who really enjoy immediate but not lingering pain, try Kameda's
salt wasabi rice crackers. The proper name is 亀田のつ~んと効く塩わさび, with 塩わさび in big green letters.

Feel the burn. haha.

I gotta go buy some.

Japanese post: new vocab

不具合追跡システム   :Bug Tracking System

Laf. Work vocabulary.

専門用語   :technical term; specialized terminology.

Friday, June 03, 2005

technology and anime

I scanned Joi Ito's blog (following a link from slashdot) and surfed over to his sister Mizuko Ito's site later.

Intellectuals. She has a book coming out from MIT Press. A fitting publisher for the topic. Their blogs have inspired me to write something a bit more analytical than normal. Now, if I could only communicate the following properly in Japanese.

Joi Ito has an entry on the popular anime Naruto and how BitTorrent (peer-to-peer file sharing software) has helped expand the fandom. I think it's safe to say that BitTorrent and other file-sharing applications like mIRC are helping spread fandoms and generate customers. A friend of mine was remarking that there are all sorts of random manga which have rabid followings in the U.S. although the manga aren't that well known in Japan. I guess it's a matter of individuals picking the stuff that they run across, and propagating it to other fans who basically take what they can get. I'm pretty sure that niche manga genres are thriving in the U.S. and other countries because of this.

It's pretty cool in a way. Fans (and creators) are a bit less dependent on corporate distributors and have more freedom to pick what they want. It would be nice if I could order any movie online and watch it, as opposed to having to wait for some American distributor to decide it would be profitable to bring the movie to the U.S., and hope it shows up in my local theatre or video store. Frankly, it's no fun to be dependent on the perceived taste of the average American consumer. I still can't believe who won the election.

Ito mentions how niche fans are willing to spend thousands of dollars on a particular title or show. I am probably one of those niche otaku. Although I'm not sure you'd call SlamDunk niche, would you? It's mainstream, really.

It's funny that anime and manga are pervasive in Japanese society, yet being an anime fan is being not quite normal.


Surfing looks like fun. There are a couple new books on surfing targeted at girls.