Saturday, April 28, 2007

no hookers: that's the tobias promise!

in the comments, wilson notes the latest wrinkle in the tobias prostitution scandal. thinkprogress has more:

Former U.S. AID director Randall Tobias, who resigned yesterday upon admitting that he frequented a Washington escort service, oversaw a controversial policy advocated by the religious right that required any US-based group receiving anti-AIDS funds to take an anti-prostitution "loyalty oath."

we already knew tobias was a bit of a hypocrite for being an abstinence advocate and anti-condom crusader during his time at USAID. but forcing aid organizations "renounce prostitution" all while he was getting "massages" from central american prostitutes... now that is truly bush administration-level hypocrisy.

let's look deeper into the boston globe article that thinkprogress found:

USAID required groups to sign an anti-prostitution pledge despite concerns over its constitutionality. The pledge required all organizations receiving USAID money overseas to renounce prostitution, which some groups interpreted as abandoning efforts to prevent prostitutes from spreading AIDS.

The Brazilian government, which has had success in decreasing AIDS by working with prostitutes, refused to sign the pledge and lost a $40 million grant.

In an affidavit for a lawsuit over the matter, Pedro Chequer , director of Brazil's AIDS program, said his country strived to adhere to "the established principles of the scientific method and not allow theological beliefs and dogma to interfere."

A centerpiece of the religious right's agenda for USAID is a law passed by Congress and signed by Bush in 2003 that requires any US-based group receiving anti-AIDS funds to adopt a policy against prostitution.

The law says funding cannot be given to any group "that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking." Supporters said they hoped the legislation would ``eradicate" prostitution and thus curtail the spread of AIDS.

While few, if any, aid groups support prostitution, many expressed concern that the US policy was so broad -- and applied even to their private funds -- that it would obstruct their outreach to sex workers who are at high risk of transmitting the AIDS virus.

In some countries, half of all prostitutes are infected with the AIDS virus, according to congressional testimony. As a result, USAID's leaders originally were sympathetic to groups that resisted the anti-prostitution pledge.

The issue seemed to be resolved when the Justice Department advised USAID that the law was unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated free speech.

But the decision set off a firestorm of protest from the religious right and its allies in Congress, after which Bush's Justice Department reversed itself.

okay, so the policy wasn't tobias' idea, but he enforced it with bravado nonetheless. as thinkprogress also notes:

During an "Ask the White House" online chat in 2004, Tobias defended the policy, saying the U.S. was "partnering with communities" to begin "fighting sex trafficking and prostitution, while still serving victims of these activities." Tobias added that he was overseeing several "highly successful" relationship programs "aimed at men and boys to help them develop healthy relationships with women."

yup, healthy relationships with women. for example, these central american gals come over to my place, give me a "massage", and after i've ejaculated, they take my money and go home. it's a straightforward business relationship.

iu law school looking for new keynote speaker

here's the iu law school website as of last night:

and here it is as of this morning:

tobias is out for obvious reasons. so who will the new keynote speaker be? who can they get at such short notice? place your bets now.

tobias resigns over "massages" from call girls

scandal is in the air...

first we learn that a high-profile DoJ official has resigned because of possible ties to jack abramoff:

Making the situation more awkward for the embattled Department, the official, Robert E. Coughlin II, was deputy chief of staff for the criminal division, which is overseeing the Department's probe of Abramoff.

then a second high-profile resignation:

Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias submitted his resignation Friday, one day after confirming to ABC News that he had been a customer of a Washington, D.C. escort service whose owner has been charged by federal prosecutors with running a prostitution operation.

On Thursday, Tobias told ABC News he had several times called the "Pamela Martin and Associates" escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage." Tobias, who is married, said there had been "no sex," and that recently he had been using another service "with Central Americans" to provide massages.

wow, that's a big day! but it wasn't until i stopped by advance indiana that i truly acknowledged the significance of this second scandal. this is former lilly CEO randall tobias, an indianapolis institution, 2005's international citizen of the year. in local circles, tobias is a household name, and randy's son todd tobias has become a minor celebrity himself (though not enough to save his mediocre indy men's magazine, the final issue of which should hit the stands any day now).

anyway, randy tobias, like many powerful rich men, has worked hard to achieve the kind of immortality only the wealthy can. not only did he co-write a book about "leadership" with todd, but he's a noted philanthropist whose name graces the donor boards at various local museums and other institutions. and when that wasn't enough, he founded the randall l tobias foundation, and then the randall tobias center on leadership excellence at IU.

normally i wouldn't mock a man for his philanthropic activity, which is really honorable even if done for reasons of vanity, but the irony of a former abstinence-preachin' AIDS czar who founded a "center of leadership excellence" having to resign because of a hooker scandal is too rich to pass up.

and here's the cherry on top. right now, as in april 26 through april 28, the tobias center is holding a leadership forum in downtown indianapolis:

The Conference will bring together scholars and practitioners from the entire spectrum of leadership including corporate leadership, non-for-profit leadership, religious leadership, educational leadership, medical leadership, and political leadership. The Forum will explore a broad range of leadership ideas, subjects and theories including but not limited to: ethical leadership, authentic leadership, transformational leadership and charismatic leadership.

i suspect the mood at tomorrow's presentations on ethical leadership will be a bit awkward.

also, i see from a comment in the star's talkback section that tobias is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the IU law school graduation this year. i suspect a new speaker will be selected in short order... but will it be soon enough to change the programs?

(the maureen groppe story currently on the indy star site and others does not mention the "notorious dc madam" angle of tobias's resignation, but i suspect this is simply because the story was filed before that revelation came out, and that the star will have more coverage by the time i get up in the morning.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007


earlier this week, astronomers discovered kobol. (okay, it's probably just some random class M planet, but i like to think of it as being kobol.)

now archaeologists have discovered an enormous fossilized rain forest in an old illinois coal mine:

A giant fossilized rain forest has been unearthed in an Illinois coal mine, scientists announced today.

Preserved by a major ancient earthquake, the forest covers four square miles (a thousand hectares) and features an abundance of huge leaf impressions, large trunks of extinct trees, and tree-size horsetail plants, the researchers said.

The fossils reveal a 300-million-year-old forest that bears little resemblance to most wooded areas today.

Trees in the ancient forest sported few branches and were veiled with only scattered leaves, allowing plenty of sunlight to filter down from the forest canopy.

"The climate was ever wet, hot, and humid," said Scott D. Elrick, geologist with the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS).

"The modern-day equivalent would be some of the peat swamps of Indonesia."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

smooth move, mitch-lax

details are coming out about the prison riot. from the indy star:

Prisoners from Arizona have been housed here since last month under an agreement between the two states.

DOC Commissioner J. David Donahue said at a news conference at the prison that the Arizona prisoners could smoke and enjoy other "cultural differences" before moving to Indiana, and that change had caused some issues in their comfort with the operations of the Indiana prison.

He also said guards did not go faster to quell the riot because "we didn't have anybody in harm's way."

The incident began when inmates from Arizona took off their shirts in a group display of noncompliance, Donahue told WTHR-TV (Channel 13) before leaving for New Castle.

Donahue said the riot ensued after a prison employee was knocked down. That person and a second employee were treated at a hospital for scrapes and cuts.

Donna Leone Hamm, executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform, Inc. in Arizona, learned of the riot from a Star reporter but said she is not surprised.

Hamm said her organization has been contacted by inmates and their family members who said prisoners who were shipped off to Indiana with little notice, including some who said they were roused from their beds in the middle of the night and told to pack.

Arizona selected prisoners who were least likely to cause trouble, Hamm said. That meant well-behaved inmates felt they were being punished for playing by the rules.

In addition, some couldn’t bring along personal property, including televisions.

"What you basically have from the inmate population is an extremely agitated group of people who were literally plucked from the Arizona prison population, some on them in the middle of the night, and taken thousands of miles from their families. And they're not happy about it," she said.

"It's going to cause unrest," Hamm added. "Inmates are not known for being the most socially conscious or thoughtful people in the world. They will react. We're not condoning that they're doing this, but I don't think it's that much of a surprise, given to what I'm hearing about the abruptness."

Katie Decker, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Corrections, said 630 male inmates are now housed at the New Castle facility.

Arizona had been expected to send more inmates, but Decker said that "has been put on hold."

"There were some prior things leading up to this as well that we were concerned about," she said.

Decker could not say immediately what those prior concerns were.

??? i can't wait for that detail to come out. and it will, whatever it is.

prison break

there's a riot going on.

Indiana State Police have confirmed a disturbance at the New Castle Correctional Facility. Troopers have been dispatched to the scene. New Castle Mayor Tom Nipp calls the disturbance a "full scale riot."

The riot erupted around 2:30 Tuesday afternoon. Chopper 8 flew over the scene and witnessed at least three burning fires set around the facility.

"Prisoners were trying to tear down some fence," said Nipp. "The exterior fence is electrical wire. The police department has been fully mobilized."

A perimeter has been established around the facility to ensure that if anyone did manage to get over the fence, measures are being taken to ensure the public's safety.

so it would seem that none of these prisoners will actually manage to escape, as in the hit fox tv drama. but things are still going crazy over there.


Eyewitness News has received several unconfirmed reports by callers claiming that prisoners from Indiana are fighting against prisoners from Arizona. Earlier in the year, the State of Indiana agreed to house the inmates from Arizona, where overcrowding is an issue. Before that, the New Castle Facility was at half capacity. The prisoner transfer created severl jobs for the state.

apparently the arizona prisoners are pissed off at being shuttled to a prison hundreds of miles from home, in indiana. last month, governor daniels signed a deal to import all these arizona prisoners. today, he's probably regretting that decision.

p.s. tdw reports:

In case you were wondering, GEO Group, the Florida-based company that runs the New Castle facility, has given $24,300 to Republican candidates, including the Guv, over the past few cycles. Run that search here.

update: doug has more background:

The New Castle Correctional Facility which went private on January 1, 2006, has been touted by the Daniels administration as proof of its privatization model for correctional facilities. The Daniels Administration began contract negotiations to run the prison with GEO Group, Inc. in August 2005.

GEO, Inc., the private contractor was formerly known as Wackenhut, a company with a colorful history. With respect to private prisons, it has gotten in trouble in more than one state for its employees having sex with inmates. In Louisiana, the state had to take over a juvenile facility after the Department of Justice accused Wackenhut of subjecting its inmates to excessive abuse and neglect. It has been accused of diverting money for drug treatment programs and of having lax procedures for background checks. More recently, GEO, Inc. was accused of overcharging the state of Florida by $5 million. For a lot of additional accusations, the veracity of which I do not pretend to know, check out the GEO Group Rap Sheet.

i maked you a mixtaep!

dj lolcat

memories of leland...

metaphysical graffiti

bilerico's bil browning was the first to report today that the "would jesus discriminate?" billboards around town are under attack from vandals:

Two billboards were defaced. One had "LIE LIE LIE" spraypainted on it, while the other had the word "gay" excised out of "The early church welcomed a gay man. Acts 8:26-40." The second sign has already been repaired. In both cases the vandals would have had to use extension ladders to reach the billboards. Both signs are located in very populated areas.

The church is also distributing thousands of yard signs with the campaign's URL on it as the message - On at least four separate occasions, church members putting out the signs have been shadowed by individuals systematically removing the yard signs behind them in an effort to silence the church's question.

"There appears to be some kind of organized effort to suppress our message of hope," says Rev. Jeff Miner, Senior Pastor of JMCC. "But that will only reinforce our determination to go forward. For too long, religious extremists have distorted what the Bible really says about homosexuality. We're taking the Bible back, and religious extremists aren't happy about it."

but the indy star noticed, too, and about an hour after bil's post went up, robert king filed a story. the star article closes with this passage:

Several church leaders in the city say the ad campaign is built on false statements and distorted readings of scripture. But Rev. Andy Hunt of Body of Christ Community Church said vandalism is always a wrong response.

"It ignites passions whenever someone brings a lie against the god you worship," Hunt said. "But we can't go down to their level."

what a jerk! hunt doesn't just say he disagrees with the JMCC's interpretations of scripture: he accuses them of bringing a lie against god and implies that putting up these billboards is no better than vandalism itself.

i have to wonder whether rev hunt has even been to, as their analysis is fairly convincing.

update: bil points out in the comments that i misread the timestamp on his post... the star story was actually posted around 13 to 14 hours after his post went up. oops.

Monday, April 23, 2007

in lawsuits we trust

the ACLU has finally filed suit regarding indiana's "in god we trust" license plates. as gary points out, rather than address the government endorsement of christianity (which is blatant, but might be a difficult suit to win), the suit addresses the preferential treatment that the state gives to IGWT plates over all other specialty plates. from the indy star:

The lawsuit filed in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis claims motorists who request the "In God We Trust" plates receive preferential treatment because they do not have to pay a $15 administrative fee that the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles collects. The administrative fees are added to other fees whose proceeds promote the causes of the other specialty plates.

The plaintiff bringing the case, Mark Studler, said he pays an additional $40 for one of the popular environmental plates depicting an eagle above the word "Environment." Of the total fee, $25 goes to a state trust to purchase land set aside for conservation or recreational purposes and the remaining $15 is for the administration fee.

The 2006 law establishing the "In God We Trust" plate waives the administrative fee.
"Therefore, those who obtain an 'In God We Trust' license plate are afforded the opportunity to make an affirmative statement through display of the plate without any additional cost while Mr. Studler must pay additional fees for his environmental license plate," the complaint said.

Studler is being represented by the Indiana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

earlier this month, a number of blogs (including this one) noted that the state actually loses around $3.69 per IGWT plate, which comes to somewhere between one-and-a-half and two million dollars lost so far subsidizing these plates... and they've only been available for a few months.

personally, i'd be happy to let the christians have their god plate, as long as they had to pay their administrative fees like everyone else, and the state also offered plates endorsing other religions (buddhism, islam, judaism, atheism) and other points of view that are widely accepted by non-fundamentalists (evolution, tolerance, etc). with this lawsuit, the former might eventually come true... but this being indiana, the latter will probably not happen in the forseeable future.

oh hi

this bag is teh comfy.

for more lolcats see i can has cheezburger

Friday, April 20, 2007

parts is parts now available

parts is parts, the new album from collage collective animals within animals, is now available for free download from!

parts is parts is 77 and a half minutes of intense noise and ridiculous sampling from the people who brought you the 2001 collage epic mono a mono. this release blends the madcap sound of AWIA's legendary live shows with mellancamp cutups and other more "traditional" style audio collage to create AWIA's hardest, craziest release ever.

this free mp3 release will be followed up by an extremely limited run of cds with handmade cover art. stay tuned for more details about that. for now, just enjoy the mp3s!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

sanjaya is love

sanjaya malakar, one of the most interesting, talked-about american idol contestants ever, got voted off tonight. i knew he couldn't last forever, but i'd hoped he would at least outlast the dreadfully boring phil and chris. alas, it wasn't meant to be. at least he made it onto the tour.

we'll miss you, sanjaya. idol promises to be a lot less compelling for the rest of the season. and what will the tv critics talk about now, if they can no longer talk about how much they hate sanjaya?

i haven't had time to blog this week, as most of my copious free time has gone toward preparing for the release of parts is parts—which will be available for free download in less than 24 hours, on or around 12:01am friday morning. i've also been working on handmade cover art for the limited cd release: i'll be personally decorating a run of 10 cds with handmade collage covers. bobby vomit also plans to do a run, and maybe some other band members will want to make their own, too. i'll have more details about these soon; they probably won't be ready by friday, but mine at least might be done by next week.

in political news: it's a bad week to be todd rokita.

Friday, April 13, 2007

hijabs in the hotel

i was taken aback by today's poll question on the indy star site: "Should Mayor Peterson encourage the management of the planned convention center hotel to allow Muslim women employees to wear traditional head coverings?"

so naturally i had to read the accompanying article:

A developer planning to build a Convention Center hotel in Downtown Indianapolis has come under fire from local Islamic advocates concerned that the company will discriminate against Muslim women here.

White Lodging Services Corp., one of the two developers of the proposed 1,000-room hotel, was recently sued in Kentucky for refusing to hire four Muslim women unless they worked without wearing a hijab, the traditional head covering for women mandated by Islamic religious teachings.

In the Louisville case, four Muslim women claimed they were denied jobs as housekeepers at a Marriott hotel because they wore a hijab.

sounds like a pretty straightforward EEOC violation to me: these women believe that god wants them to wear headscarves, so refusing to hire them because of the hijab would clearly be discrimination based on religion. i could almost understand the "dress code" argument (but not really) if these women wanted to work, say, at the front desk. but they wanted to be housekeepers. how could the hijab possibly interfere with their housekeeping work?

local muslim leaders are calling on mayor peterson to inform the developer, which is ironically called "White Lodgings", that such discriminatory crap will not be allowed in the new indy hotels. council members patrice abduallah (himself a muslim) and jackie nytes are already on board.

as i often do after reading discrimination stories in the star, i felt compelled to look at the article's talkback comments... and while i thought i knew what to expect, i was still stunned by what i found. the unmitigated hate, the constant blasphemy, the joking death threats, the accusations of terrorist... and this is moderated! this is just the stuff that slips through the star's filters. i can't even imagine what kind of comments got rejected.

i thought the LGBT talkback threads were ugly, but this... this is just appalling.

it's ironic that this article ran the same day—and in the same business section—as this:

"How does the old saying go? When you land in Indiana, set your watch back 20 years," said Jeff Smulyan, chairman and chief executive of Emmis Communications Corp., which owns radio stations around the world. "Hopefully, we can show we're more inclusive than people think."

Job recruiters and tourism officials see value in appearing inclusive, in touting diversity. They say Indiana's economic future depends on it.

They want to attract gays and lesbians, as well as women, blacks and Hispanics, as tourists and employees. But recruiters and tourism officials say they are fighting an uphill battle of negative perceptions.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

DoJ searches for, but can't find, voter fraud

today's new york times:

Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.

Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year.

Most of those charged have been Democrats, voting records show. Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show.

In Miami, an assistant United States attorney said many cases there involved what were apparently mistakes by immigrants, not fraud.

In Wisconsin, where prosecutors have lost almost twice as many cases as they won, charges were brought against voters who filled out more than one registration form and felons seemingly unaware that they were barred from voting.

One ex-convict was so unfamiliar with the rules that he provided his prison-issued identification card, stamped "Offender," when he registered just before voting.

like i said in the previous post, it's not that voter fraud doesn't exist at all; it's that, for the most part, it's only done by mistake by confused individuals. the busloads of black voters going from precinct to precinct voting repeatedly for julia carson that local right-wingers froth about don't exist: they don't exist here and they don't exist anywhere else, either.

in related news, joshua green at the atlantic highlights that telling outrageous lies about voter fraud has been part of karl rove's handbook since 1994.

josh marshall has much more. his blog as well as the sister blog tpm muckraker are both must-reads for anyone interested in this issue.

rokita chases ghosts of voter fraud

yesterday, i linked to a new york times article which revealed that the election assistance commission had altered many of its key findings in a recent report on voter fraud.

there has been a growing discussion in the media and blogosphere in the past few weeks, as it's become increasingly clear that the white house—and thus the national GOP—has become pathologically obsessed with "voter fraud"... despite the fact that most experts agree that it doesn't exist on any significant scale.

today, tdw links to rick hasen's election law blog. hasen was looking through the original draft of the EAC report and discovered that indiana secretary of state todd rokita was a member of the EAC's working group on voter fraud.

apparently todd made some "troubling" comments in the report. because the pdf of the report is not machine-searchable, i have taken the liberty of retyping the relevant passage, which appears on page 28. note that this is the entirety of the "working group concerns" section:

1. Mr. Rokita questioned whether the purpose of the present project ought to be on assessing the level of fraud on where it is, rather than on developing methods for making such measurements. He believed that the methodology should be the focus, "rather than opinions of interviewees." He was concerned that the EAC would be in a position of "adding to the universe of opinions."

2. Mr. Rokita questioned whether the "opinions" accumulated in the research "is a fair sampling of what's out there." Ms. Wang responded that one of the purposes of the research was to explore whether there is a method available to actually quantify in some way how much fraud there is and where it is occurring in the electoral process. Mr. Rokita replied that "Maybe at the end of the day we stop spending taxpayer money or it's going to be too much to spend to find that kind of data. Otherwise, we will stop it here and recognize that there is a huge difference of opinion on that issue of fraud, when it occurs is obtainable, and that would possibly be a conclusion of the EAC." Ms. Sims responded that she thought it would be possible to get better statistics on fraud and there might be a way of "identifying at this point certain parts in the election process that are more vulnerable, that we should be addressing."

3. Mr. Rokita stated that, "We're not sure that fraud at the polling place doesn't exist. We can't conclude that."

4. Mr. Rokita expressed concern about working with a political scientist. He believes that the "EAC needs to be very careful in who they select, because all the time and effort and money that's been spent up to date and would be spent in the future could be invalidated by a wrong selection in the eyes of some group."

what rokita seems to be saying is that he doesn't care what all the experts say: like believing in faeries, rokita believes in polling place fraud and nobody will be able to dissuade him. this is the same type of stubborn delusion he exhibited last november when he insisted that november's election was "one of indiana's finest hours" despite the many obvious problems.

rick hasen explains why he finds rokita's position so troubling:

In my view, there's no way that the EAC can design a sound methodology for a new study of voter fraud without the help of well-trained political scientists (or other social scientists well trained in appropriate research methods). It cannot subject the selection of such a political scientist to some kind of litumus test that excludes a good political scientist whose choice offends some interest group. This is part of the EAC's new pathology generally: it is afraid to release any data that might offend some group or take a side. (Under pressure, the EAC has now released that Eagleton/Moritz study on voter id and turnout that it has disowned).

In the end, I get the sense that no amount of evidence from the most eminent political scientist would convince Sec. Rokita that voter fraud at the polling place is not a major problem. From the report: "Mr. Rokita stated that, 'We're not sure that fraud at the polling place doesn't exist. We can't conclude that.'"

of course, nobody is saying that polling place fraud doesn't exist, only that it doesn't exist on any major or significant scale, and thus draconian voter id laws do far more harm than good. in any case, the burden of proof is on rokita to establish that polling place fraud is a real problem along the lines of, say, absentee ballots or easily-hackable no-paper-trail voting machines. but he can't do that because the evidence doesn't exist.

RIP kurt vonnegut

earlier today, i saw the story in the star that vonnegut would be unable to come to indy as planned. (as i blogged back in january, 2007 was officially "year of the vonnegut" in indianapolis.) but i didn't realize quite how serious his health problems were:

Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like "Slaughterhouse-Five," "Cat's Cradle" and "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died Wednesday night in Manhattan. He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.

His death was reported by Morgan Entrekin, a longtime family friend, who said Mr. Vonnegut suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago.

year of the vonnegut will almost surely go on in indianapolis, but with an extra weight now that vonnegut himself has passed away, mere weeks before he was scheduled to come back to the town where he grew up.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

EAC altered findings on voter fraud

the election assistance commission funded a study on voter fraud, and in a storyline that's become typical with the bush administration, when the study didn't match up with what republicans wanted it to say, the EAC simply changed the findings. from the new york times:

A federal panel responsible for conducting election research played down the findings of experts who concluded last year that there was little voter fraud around the nation, according to a review of the original report obtained by The New York Times.

Instead, the panel, the Election Assistance Commission, issued a report that said the pervasiveness of fraud was open to debate.

Though the original report said that among experts "there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud," the final version of the report released to the public concluded in its executive summary that "there is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud."

The original report on fraud cites "evidence of some continued outright intimidation and suppression" of voters by local officials, especially in some American Indian communities, while the final report says only that voter "intimidation is also a topic of some debate because there is little agreement concerning what constitutes actionable voter intimidation."

The original report said most experts believe that "false registration forms have not resulted in polling place fraud," but the final report cites "registration drives by nongovernmental groups as a source of fraud."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sunday, April 08, 2007

parts is parts: april 20

i'm pleased to announce that parts is parts, the new full-length release by animals within animals, will be officially released to the public as a free download at 12:01a.m. EDT (or shortly after) on friday, april 20, 2007, exclusively from

this "midnight" release means that those who live in the pacific time zone will be lucky enough to download it as early as 9:01p.m thursday night, while those who are cursed to live in europe or asia will have to wait as long as mid-morning or even friday afternoon before they get the chance. new zealand will be particularly screwed, as they won't get to download it until around 5p.m. friday evening. sucks to be them.

for the hardcore fans, the new album, AWIA's first full-length release since 2001's mono a mono, will also be released in an extremely limited run of CDRs with handmade cover art, as well as extra goodies.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

all of this has happened before...

anyone who thinks this is a good idea...

Oasis, The Killers and Razorlight are to cover songs from The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to mark the album's 40th anniversary.

James Morrison, The Fratellis, Travis and the Kaiser Chiefs are among the other acts taking part in the special recording sessions for BBC Radio 2.

The engineer in charge of the original 1967 sessions will use the same equipment to record the new versions.

The results will be aired on Radio 2 on 2 June, a day after the anniversary.

probably hasn't seen this:

Music-biz impresario Robert Stigwood, head of the now-defunct, mostly-disco label RSO, produced several glitzy or garish movie musicals in the 1970's, this one being by far the worst. Half-hearted attempt to turn music by the Beatles (including the songs and bizarre-mod look of their album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band") into some kind of screen story ranks right up there with the very worst ideas to leak from Hollywood. A highly out-of-place George Burns turns up as the Mayor of Heartland, narrating this "plot" about a resident rock group and their struggles with fame and fortune. Bringing together the Bee Gees with Peter Frampton may have seemed like a good idea when this was in pre-production; truth is, 1978 saw a decline in both acts' popularity, and the movie was pretty much dead on arrival (the soundtrack sold better, but wasn't the blockbuster expected). Not showcasing the Bee Gees' best attributes (doing their sultry mix of disco and soul, and performing it live) and instead trying to make the three of them actors almost killed their career. A few stray engaging moments, but mostly just embarrassing. A wash-out.

virago & i sat down to watch this movie a few months back, and i dusted it off again today to take some screenshots... and it's a pretty dreadful affair. personally, i enjoyed the scenes with the villanous "mean mr mustard" and his black vinyl fembots, steve martin's thoroughly bizarre performance of "maxwell's silver hammer", and of course the atrociously ill-conceived george burns musical number ("digging a hole"). but i liked these for their camp or outsider value, not because they ever should have been committed to film. aside from that and the scenes with alice cooper and aerosmith, the movie is virtually unwatchable. no, scratch that—aside from the songs by alice cooper and aerosmith—their scenes were as bad as everything else.

all of this has happened before, and will happen again. in the '70s, they tried to re-create sgt pepper using the bee gees, peter frampton, and steve martin. 30 years later, they're trying again with oasis, the killers, and the kaiser chiefs. i'm not sure it's possible for this new tribute to go as awry as the first one did, but it seems headed on a similar path.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

in god we trust, or the high cost of "free"

over at her new digs at shakesville (formerly known as shakespeare's sister), melissa has noted a troubling fact about indiana's new "in god we trust" license plates, which have been flooding the streets.

hoosiers will already know that the IGWT plate, unlike the dozens of other specialty plates offered, is available at no extra charge, in what would seem to be a state endorsement of christianity (especially if the rumors of bmv employees giving out the plates without even asking are true). typically, specialty plates cost $15-40 or more extra, with a few bucks going to the bmv to pay for extra costs, and the rest going to a specially designated charity—so if you get an IU plate, some money goes to indiana university; if you get a "kids first" plate, some money goes to children's charities.

as melissa notes, because indiana doesn't charge even one penny extra for the IGWT plates, the state actually loses money on every IGWT plate it issues. as originally reported by the gary post-tribune:

The "In God We Trust" plate doesn't carry an extra fee -- not even the processing fee the BMV usually receives when it issues the other speciality plates.

In fact, BMV is absorbing the $3.69 cost of producing each plate. The money comes out of the Motor Vehicle Highway Fund, Cook said.

It's the same fund which pays for the state police and helps fund road repairs at the local, county and state level. The biggest contributor is the state tax on gasoline, according to state budget.

the paper of montgomery county reports that already 389,575 IGWT plates have been issued since january. that means that, as of april 3, the state of indiana had already "absorbed" $1,437,531.75 in extra costs due to the IGWT plates.

that's almost one and a half million dollars that could be paying for much-needed road repairs. and the plates have only been available for three months. if we extrapolate those numbers through the rest of the year, we're looking at $4–5 million dollars for 2007 alone. that might not be a large portion of the state's budget, but you could buy a hell of a lot of jesus fish magnets for that kind of scratch. for $3.69 per person, we could give each christian a free jesus fish magnet and a yellow support our troops magnet and still have 69 cents left over!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

death of an amendment

i wasn't really online for much of the day, as i spent the rainy day afternoon watching old episodes of battlestar galactica on dvd until it was time for virago to come home, and then we began watching mtv jams. then it occurred to me... what about the amendment? SJR-7 was supposed to be up for committee vote today.

fortunately, one of the perks of political blogging is that once you start getting noticed, you start getting press releases in the mail. i'm sure this grows to be a real curse for big-name bloggers, but me, i just get 'em every once in awhile.

so a little while ago, i received this in an email from mark st john:

Indiana Equality announced today that the Indiana House of Representative's Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee voted five to five on Senate Joint Resolution 7 (SJR-7). As a result, the amendment will not be brought for a vote by the full House of Representatives and will not be voted upon by the Indiana General Assembly.

"We applaud the members of the Committee who voted against SJR-7 for their courageous action, and for standing up for the countless Hoosiers and their families who would have faced needless discrimination," said Jon Keep, president of Indiana Equality. "For the last two years, Indiana Equality and our coalition partners have worked to build an alliance representing a number of diverse interests to join us in our opposition to SJR-7. Today, we are seeing the impact this alliance has made for greater equality in our state."

On March 22, the Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee took testimony from SJR-7's proponents and opponents. During the hearing, legislators heard from top Indiana companies, like Cummins Inc. and WellPoint, Inc., regarding their concerns that SJR-7 would have a negative impact on recruiting and retaining top talent to work in Indiana's thriving economy. In addition to the economic development perspective, Indiana Equality also recruited constitutional scholars, religious leaders, academic professionals, and domestic violence advocates to speak out against the amendment.

"We also want to thank the many businesses, organizations, and individuals who stood with us in opposing SJR-7," Keep continued. "They were instrumental in making the case that an amendment defining marriage had no business jeopardizing economic development, threatening the security of domestic violence victims, and stripping our citizens of important rights."

i can't stress what a major victory this was. i wasn't sure this was possible, even after the state's five largest employers came out against the amendment. i feared that, at best, we could get that second sentence out of there before it passed the house. but no, we really won this one. the wingnuts are sure to be furious.

as i suspected, advance indiana, bilerico, and TDW all have posts up, as i suspect will many others soon, throughout indiana and beyond.