Thursday, October 19, 2006

AG: Voter Warning Linked to GOP Campaign

California attorney general says GOP campaign linked to intimidating letter to Hispanic voters

State investigators have linked a Republican campaign to letters sent to thousands of Orange County Hispanics warning them they could go to jail or be deported if they vote next month, a spokesman for the attorney general said.

"We have identified where we believe the mailing list was obtained," said Nathan Barankin, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

He declined to identify the specific Republican campaign Wednesday, citing the ongoing investigation. The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register both reported Thursday that the investigation appeared to be focused on the campaign of Tan D. Nguyen, a Republican challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

The letter, written in Spanish, tells recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."

In fact, immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens can vote.

Complaints about the letters this week prompted state and federal investigations, and Barankin said investigators had been questioning people in Orange County.

The two newspapers reported state investigators had found the location where the letters were printed and mailed to an estimated 14,000 Democratic voters in central Orange County. The Los Angeles Times, citing an unnamed source, said authorities had interviewed Nguyen at his office.

Nguyen did not return messages left by The Associated Press or either newspaper.

Sanchez said in an interview Thursday on Univision that the sender should be punished for stating that immigrants can't vote. It would be unfortunate if the person responsible was another immigrant, she said.

"What a shame, really, that this is still happening in the United States today," Sanchez said.

The owner of Huntington Beach-based Mailing Pros, Christopher West, told The Orange County Register that he was hired to do the mailings but didn't know what they said and didn't know any laws were being broken when the mailer was sent. He said he gave investigators the name of the person who hired him.

"I'm the one that processed it, and I don't read Spanish," West said. "Until the investigator read it to me, I didn't know the content."

Scott Baugh, chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, condemned the letter as "an obnoxious, grotesque piece of work."

"Regardless of who did it _ Republican or Democrat _ if it's a crime, then whoever did it should be prosecuted," Baugh said.

A group of six Vietnamese-American political candidates running for offices in Orange County issued a joint statement saying: "The content of this mailer is offensive to the immigrant voters, regardless of their ethnicity."

The note's letterhead resembles that of an anti-illegal immigration group, California Coalition for Immigration Reform, but group leader Barbara Coe said she told investigators for the attorney general's office Wednesday that her group didn't authorize the letter and she didn't know who sent it.

"The letterhead was altered and I've never head of any Sergio Ramirez," the name signed to the letter, Coe said.

Numerous political leaders including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have denounced the letter and called for the investigations.

Friday, June 30, 2006

German Publisher Drops Legal Action Against Google Library Project

While it has no bearing on legal actions in the United States, the German decision is noteworthy nonetheless.

German book publisher WBG on Wednesday dropped its legal action against Google Inc.'s controversial project to digitize library books, the search engine giant said.

WBG dropped its petition for a preliminary injunction against the Google Books Library Project after the Copyright Chamber of the Regional Court of Hamburg told the publisher that its legal action was unlikely to succeed, Google said.

The WBG objected to Google's initiative to scan copyrighted library books and display snippets in search results. Google argues that there's no copyright infringement, since the snippets shown are no more than what's available in the usual search results. People looking for the whole work are directed to retailers.

The same project is also underway in the United States, where Google is battling lawsuits filed by writers and publishers who claim Google needs their permission to scan their books into its database. The German decision has no legal bearing on the U.S. suits.

The German court indicated that neither the short excerpts nor the scanning of the publisher's books in the United States infringed on that country's copyright law, Google said.

In announcing the decision, Google reiterated its intent to continue its controversial project.

"Google is passionate about the digitization of books, which we believe benefits everyone by making the world's knowledge more accessible," David Drummond, senior vice president and general counsel, for the Mountain View, Calif., company said in the company's blog.

In the United States, Google plans to digitize books from the collections of Stanford University, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, Oxford University and the New York Public Library. The latter two are making available only books in the public domain.

The project sparked separate lawsuits filed last year by the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild. The organizations represent 10s of thousands of writers.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Do we really need democracy ?

This question may sound weird at the times when the whole world is struggling to maintain peace and to establish democratic style of governing the countries. But the question is not perhaps whether we need it. The question is whether we can really have it. Nowadays the thing which is called democracy is actually far from being it. Whatever is implied into this meaning is not democracy itself. All over the countries which claim to be civilized, developed and prosperous it is a matter of a good taste to claim to be democratic and to give a hand to other countries with building up democracy, even in case they do not want it. And such help is realized through imposing ‘human friendly’ patterns of organizing the country (as if other peoples can’t see better what to do with their own states), through blackmailing governments to pass the laws, through investing into launching strikes, conflicts and revolutions, through bombing, putting into jail and suiting those who resist such a magnanimous thing as modern democracy. All this is the reason for me to be proud of Azerbaijan who proved to the whole world they are not going to pretend and play the fashionable game called democracy. People of Azerbaijan stated they are happy living in a country ruled in an authoritative way. All in all it makes no difference: the way of organizing the country is virtually the same. The only thing is that some people honestly admit having centralized power while others hypocritically call it democracy.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Word about Remakes and Morrison

I’m not going to dwell upon my attitude to all those mawkish remakes and remixes of Jim Morrison’s songs by all those rap and DJ freaks – no one could be interested in it anyway. I’ll just describe what I feel. At a club party heard the remix by Snoop Dogg and DJ BT. All I wanted was an intoxicant amount of drinks or something of the kind to switch off and not to hear these pieces of … remakes. And this is what I normally feel while listening to Jim himself:

The day has gone. I open my window, unlock the door and close my eyes. I merge into the shadow of the night’s wing. Darkness; complete, scaring silence. The consciousness is wondering somewhere in the floods of truth. Thirst and blood, sand and eternity. Desert. I’m looking for Him. I’m on the right way – for I’ve deserved it. Because I live, being constantly burnt; live, being born postdeathly; live between short flashes of orgasms.

“I give you my fragile mind, my immaculate sole. Where are you?”
“Is anybody here?” the voice comes from the beyond.
“Yes, my God.”
“Will you die for me?”
“My Divinity…”
“Then the ceremony is about to begin…”

Flash. A small boy living in a desert. Indians and military stations scattered around. He comes here to play with lizards and snakes. He feels safe with them. He dreams of being their king. – “Kiss the snake’s sting.”
Flash. A mad child arrives at Los Angeles. He walks along he highway. He watches people destroying one another. The lights of the huge night city surround him. Occasional meetings, intentional poems. He is a stranger. – “Faces look ugly when you are alone.”
Flash. Fame. The transformation of ego. James Douglas becomes Jim Morrison. Music rolls around. The weapons of war. People dying in Vietnam. A woman, learning to play a weeping song n the grave of her child. – “Some are born to the endless night.”
Flash. Constant unspoken inferior knowledge. He is their Lizard King. Murderous awareness of beasts. Not paranoiac but grave carelessness – feeling of violence in its eternal presence. Oedipus complex – “Kill the father, fuck the mother.”
Flash. Demonic laugh. Bosom friends. Love for sale. Rotting society. Smoke of joints. Hatshepsuet’s melancholy. – “Let me sleep all night at your soul kitchen.”
Flash. Paris. Bathroom. Heroin. Overdose. Weeping crowds at Père – Lachaise. – “This is the end, my onlyfriend, the end…”

Pain. Shaman’s hand, crumpling my soul. Music, tearing my brain apart. The breath of death. And the purifying explosion of consciousness. Done. I’m awake. Yes, I can’t get much higher.

So, can it at least somehow be compared to the effect remakes have on people? In case you say “Yeah!” you are either DJ or you can’t read…