Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Daily Freep - Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Save Our Taco Trucks

Looking around the interwebs, it's clear that the vast majority of people who are aware of this new law are outraged! Unfortunately, not nearly enough people are aware yet. Help us spread the word!

1) Print out a poster. Clicking on the above picture will bring up a full-size, 8.5×11 graphic suitable for printing and posting. Hand them out to your local trucks. Put them on every lamppost, construction wall and phone booth possible (where legal). Plaster the city!

2) Write to Gloria Molina and the rest of the Supervisors. Below is a sample letter that you can use, add to or change any way you see fit. Fire it off to

Dear Supervisor Molina,

I am writing to express serious concern regarding the actions you have taken against the taco trucks in our neighborhoods. As a member of the Eastside community, I greatly value our local street vendors–for their food, service, and especially culture.
Taco trucks fill many voids left by traditional restaurants, whether it is more authentic, better food, better hours, or cheaper prices. Furthermore, taco trucks create a sense of community on the streets that enclosed, "brick-and-mortar" stores cannot.
Taco trucks are a special and unique facet of East Los Angeles, and something that I cherish about my neighborhood.

I urge you to withdraw your proposal, and instead focus on the more pressing and detrimental issues that are facing our community.

3) Read up. There are a lot of great blogs about L.A. that are taking note and also helping drive the petition. Check them out on our Links page. (And THANKS bloggers!)

4) Facebook it. Join the Facebook group created by one of our supporters. (Thanks Zane!)

5) Eat Tacos! Keep supporting our Taco Trucks every change you get. Together we'll be saving the world, one taco at a time!

6) And of course, SIGN THE PETITION!

Border Patrol "spot checks" on ferries provoke outrage in San Juan Islands
By Sara Jean Green

FRIDAY HARBOR, San Juan County The people of the San Juan Islands tend to be independent sorts, espousing a do-it-yourself, leave-me-be ethos as natural and ever-present as the tide.

But for many of the 17,000 people of this island county, the normal rhythms of small-town life have hit a dissonant chord lately.

A couple of months ago, the U.S. Border Patrol began occasional "spot checks" of every vehicle and passenger arriving in Anacortes off state ferries, the lifeline between these islands and the mainland.
For some here, it seems like a good idea or, at worst, a minor inconvenience. But for a vocal and active faction, the federal agents' aggressive questioning and demands for identification have spurred outrage.

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Border Agents Can Search Laptops Without Cause, Appeals Court Rules
By Ryan Singel

Federal agents at the border do not need any reason to search through travelers' laptops, cell phones or digital cameras for evidence of crimes, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, extending the government's power to look through belongings like suitcases at the border to electronics.

The unanimous three-judge decision reverses a lower court finding that digital devices were "an extension of our own memory" and thus too personal to allow the government to search them without cause. Instead, the earlier ruling said, Customs agents would need some reasonable and articulable suspicion a crime had occurred in order to search a traveler's laptop.

On appeal, the government argued that was too high a standard, infringing upon its right to keep the country safe and enforce laws. Civil rights groups, joined by business traveler groups, weighed in, defending the lower court ruling.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the government, finding that the so-called border exception to the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches applied not just to suitcases and papers, but also to electronics.

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Waiting For The Guards is the first of 3 films commissioned by Amnesty to highlight the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the War on Terror.

The Directors approached the making of the film in a way that has never been done before, choosing to show the reality of Stress Positions in as authentic a way as possible. They filmed a person being put into Stress Positions over a 6 hour period. There is no acting on the part of the prisoner his pain and anguish is for real.

This powerful film shows without doubt that what the US administrations say is interrogation is in reality, torture and must be stopped.

We've released the film on the Internet before going to theatrical release in independent cinemas in early 2008. We believe this film is a great introduction to what the unsubscribe movement is all about, so we ask you to get the movie out there, in any way you can.

The more people see it. The more people will be compelled to unsubscribe.

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Why did the chicken cross the road? It was running from the minister of health…
by Ethan Zuckerman

Wonder why the Zimbabwe government suddenly finds itself needing 3 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition?

The health minister needs to reload.

Chris McGreal, reporting for the Guardian, begins his story with this paragraph:

ZIMBABWE'S Health Minister armed himself with a Kalashnikov and threatened to kill opposition supporters forced to attend a political meeting unless they voted for Robert Mugabe in a second round of the presidential election, witnesses say.

And I thought campaigning in Pennsylvania had gotten rough.

McGreal's story, titled "It's Mugabe or death, voters told" focuses on a climate of rising rural violence, designed to intimidate MDC supporters in a second round of voting. Many of these attacks have occurred in Mashonaland East province, a traditional ZANU-PF stronghold, and the home of the armed and dangerous minister, David Parirenyatwa.

There's a growing body of photographic evidence to support reports that opposition supporters are being detained and beaten. Sokwanele, a Zimbabwean activist group based in Bulawayo, is maintaining one of the world's most disturbing photo albums, a collection of photos of citizens hospitalized for injuries they received in beatings. The most recent photos are of a 38-year old man, beaten with chains and fan belts to punish him for driving citizens to MDC rallies before the election. (The previous two links lead to graphic and disturbing images.)

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Interview With Bob Feldman
By Thomas Good

NEW YORK In March 1967 a Columbia University SDS activist named Bob Feldman discovered documents revealing Columbia's formal relationship with the Institute for Defense Analyses, a Department of Defense think tank. This discovery, along with the University's encroachment into Harlem - the attempt to build a gymnasium on public park land - triggered a series of protests that culminated in the 1968 Columbia Strike. The strike, violently put down by the NYPD, was ultimately successful in attaining two of its goals: Columbia's disaffiliation from the IDA and the scrapping of the plan to build a gym in Morningside Park. The victory prompted Tom Hayden to urge, Two, three, many Columbia's in a 1968 Ramparts article.

On April 23, 1968, Columbia University SDS rallied to protest the university's relation to the Institute for Defense Analysis, the schools encroachment into Harlem and Columbia's placing the IDA Six - SDS members who had peacefully protested in the Low Library on March 27 - on probation. The rally eventually escalated into the takeover of Hamilton Hall by SDS and the Student Afro Society. Shortly afterwards SDS vacated Hamilton Hall - at the request of SAS - and took over Low Library. On the morning of April 30, 1968, the NYPD violently cleared the library, injuring 150 students and arresting over 700 protesters. In an ironic twist, Police Officer John Brower - husband of current MDS activist Elaine Brower - stood on the opposite side of the barricade from SDS in 1968.

Mark Rudd with Elaine Brower in 2007(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

After Columbia, Feldman went on to co-found the Richmond College chapter of SDS on Staten Island - in October 1968. Since that time he has continued to agitate - and educate - for peace and progress. A believer in intergenerational organizing, he is supportive of the new Students for a Democratic Society - and the new Movement for a Democratic Society as well. Feldman maintains a blog that chronicles the Columbia University strike and has autobiographical sections that provide a glimpse into the Sixties from the perspective of someone who experienced the turmoil and remains a committed radical.

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Anti-war Tax Day Action
By Thomas Good

NEW YORK — War resisters - and war tax resisters, those who refuse to pay what they call "war taxes" - protested at the midtown office of the IRS this tax day. After the protest, demonstrators marched to the General Post Office on 8th Avenue where they held a press conference.

Protesters gathered at the IRS office on West 44th Street at 4 P.M. on tax day. Banners, pie charts graphically depicting how tax monies are spent and hand painted "bibs" that read "1 day of the Iraq War = 1 Yr Salaries For 12,478 teachers" delivered the demonstrators' message as they leafleted outside at the IRS. Overhead an electronic sign gave the current figures for the national debt - some 9 trillion dollars - and each family's share, over $78,000. Officers of the Federal Protective Services division of the Department of Homeland Security looked on but did not interfere with the protest.

Shortly after 5 P.M. the protesters marched west on 44th, accompanied by members of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. Carrying large banners that read "Whose $" and "What For?", the column wound its way past the Times Square recruiting center as it headed south on Broadway. The march ended at the General Post Office on 8th Avenue and 33rd Street. Marchers were met there by the Raging Grannies and members of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.

About 45 protesters held signs and banners on the steps of the post office while the Rude Mechanical Orchestra played music and danced.

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The Incorrigible Congressman
by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, and Benjamin Armbruster

Last Thursday, "in a highly unusual move," the Senate voted to direct the Justice Department to investigate the inclusion of an earmark in a 2005 transportation bill. The reinstatement of the $10 million earmark which had been rejected by the Senate directly benefited a key fundraiser for Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the former chairman of the House Transportation Committee. This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced she would ask the House to accept the call for a DOJ investigation, while also continuing to press for an internal inquiry by the House ethics committee. Young is "perhaps best known as the architect of the 'bridge to nowhere,' a project in a massive 2005 transportation bill that he named after his wife, Lu, and 'stuffed like a turkey,' as he put it when the $286 billion bill was done." Young's ethics troubles -- which hardly begin with the mysterious 2005 earmark -- have forced him to spend more than $1 million in legal fees, doling out $238,000 on lawyers in 2008 alone. The New York Times editorial board said of Young's latest earmark battle, "He remains incorrigible."

As chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Young visited Florida, where he "received $40,000 in campaign donations from land developers during his visit. He requited by tailoring an earmark in the 2005 transportation bill for their pet project: a cross-wetlands connection to the interstate, known as the Coconut Road Interchange, that would boost development values while abusing the environment." The interchange was "a low priority" for county officials, but it was vitally important to Young donor Daniel Aronoff because it would have increased the value of his property. In fact, "local officials ultimately refused the money and asked Congress to let them use it for its original purpose." The 2005 bill approved by Congress included a $10 million earmark for "widening and improvements for I-75 in Collier and Lee County" Florida. However, the bill President Bush signed redirected that $10 million for "Coconut Road interchange I-75/Lee County." Young's office "admitted that it may have been a staff member who altered the bill after the vote, but not to finagle it -- only to somehow 'correct' it." The congressman defended the earmark last week, saying, "I think it's the right thing for the state of Florida, and you know, right now, they're supportive of it."

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Charlie Rose Interviews Himself

Fringe GOP candidate spends Hitler's birthday with neo-Nazis
by Nick Juliano

An outlandish long-shot seeking the Republican nomination for an Indiana congressional seat spent Sunday at a neo-Nazi gathering celebrating the birth of Adolf Hitler.

Tony Zirkle is running for the 2nd District GOP nomination, but he has no support from local party officials, and the front-running candidate there refused to even participate in a recent debate with Zirkle, for fear of legitimizing his candidacy.

Zirkle said he would speak to any group that invites him, and that he admired the American National Socialist Workers Party's concern about "prostitution of young white women," according to WSBT-TV., a Web site associated with the "white advocacy" organization, reported that Zirkle "spoke on his history as a states attorney in Indiana, prosecuting Jewish and Zionist criminal gangs involved in trafficking prostitutes and pornography from Russia and the Zionist entity."

The comments were forcefully denounced by other local Republicans, the station reports.

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GOP Rep. calls workers illiterate peasants

Colorado State Representative Douglas Bruce was no longer recognized to speak in the Colorado legislature after he called Mexican workers illiterate peasants. Bruce was previously reprimanded for kicking a photographer.

The Denver Post reports:

We don't need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in the state of Colorado, Bruce, R-Colorado Springs, said during debate on a bill to speed up a temporary seasonal worker program.

Audible gasps and cries of no filled the House chamber before Gunnison Democrat Rep. Kathleen Curry, in charge while the speaker handled other business, took the unusual step of banning Bruce from further comment on the bill.

How dare you? Curry asked him.

Bruce stood by his statement afterward, saying his colleagues are offended by the truth and contending the term was technically accurate. He said he'd been planning the bill-related speech at least two pages, single-spaced for about a week.

I was trying to make illegal immigration an issue for the House, Bruce said. They just don't want anybody to disagree with a bill that they like.

Premeditated bigotry is what Rep. Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, called it. He said that, as a descendant of illiterate slaves, he believes that Bruce's comment warrants ethics hearings that could result in reprimand, censure or expulsion from the legislature.

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Comcast: Worst. Company. Ever.
By Craig Aaron

Inspired by March Madness, the folks at the Consumerist blog recently set up brackets to determine Americas worst company. The tournament was still going on as this column went to press, but I'm not afraid to predict the winner.

It will be Comcast in a rout.

Sure, you skeptics are thinking, What about Wal-Mart? Exxon? Halliburton? Ill admit that we cant (yet) connect Comcast to child labor, environmental destruction or Dick Cheney (although clearly you've never sat for seven hours on a Saturday waiting for a new DVR). But I'm not alone in my seething rage for the nations largest cable company.

The Internet is filled with sites like, and dedicated to the company. Comcast customer Brian Finkelstein's video of one of its technicians sleeping on his couch has been watched more than 1 million times on YouTube.

Then there's Mona Shaw. This once mild-mannered retired nurse from northern Virginia (a square-dancing Unitarian, no less) got so fed up with Comcast's lousy customer service that she went down to the local office armed with a claw hammer. Here's the play-by-by from a Washington Post profile of Shaw:

Shaw storms in the company's office. BAM! She whacks the keyboard of the customer service rep. BAM! Down goes the monitor. BAM! She totals the telephone. People scatter, scream, cops show up and what does she do? POW! A parting shot to the phone!

Shaw was arrested and earned a $345 fine, along with the admiration of millions.

Awful customer service is one thing. But what's truly frightening are Comcast's plans to turn the freewheeling, open Internet into something that looks like, well, cable TV.

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