Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Police reunion tour in Sacramento

I went with my buddy Chad to see The Police this past Thursday night. Really great show. This was one band I thought I would never have the opportunity to see. They opened with Message in a Bottle.

They played many of their hits and many of my favorites. A lot of them were interesting and cool variations on the album versions, either in tempo, melody, or more completely, but all were great.

My brother saw them in Phoenix last June, and I posted some pics from that show here. Looks like the setup was very similar.

Elvis Costello and the Imposters opened up, and while we missed the beginning of their set, they were good too. Sting came out to sing on Allison.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Snuggly, the Security Bear

Following up to my post on Barack's disappointing support of retroactive telecom immunity, I found these terrific animated pieces via the EFF web site. They are done by Mark Fiore, cartoonist for SF Gate, a daily paper in San Francisco. The two cartoons nail the issues with illegal wiretapping and constitutional compromise. Your narrator and tour guide for these issues is Snuggly, the Security Bear.

Don't you feel better now?

Obama disappoints with vote for retroactive immunity for telcos

It was more than disappointing to hear on the news today that Barack Obama had voted to support the Senate's passage of HR 6304, the bill that amends the Foreign Intelligence Sureveillance Act of 1978. The provision of the bill that held up the vote until after the July 4 weekend involved the granting retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies who complied with requests from the current administration to allow eavesdropping on domestic American citizens without a warrant.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation put it best by saying that the Senate Join[ed] the House in Caving to White House Immunity Demands. There were some senators who had the backbone to stand up to the White House, and no doubt lobbyists from telecommunications companies, and oppose this bill, most visibly Sendator Biden of Delaware (D), Senator Boxer of California (D), Senator Reid of Nevada (D), Senator Clinton of New York (D) and Senator Feingold of Wisconsin (D). I'm not sure what my other California Senator, Feinstein (no mention of this on her web site today, hmmm...), was thinking by voting "Yea." Senator McCain of Arizona (R) was not much better, as he was "Not Voting."

Granting retroactive immunity in this situation will only encourage future similar abuses by the executive branch, and the continued complicity of telecommunications and other companies in activity that has plainly violated the rights of United States citizens to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures as granted under the fourth amendment.

Only one major telecommunications company, Qwest Communications, had the guts to stand up to the National Security Agency when it was approached with a request for access to its customers' private phone records. A statement put out by Herbert Stern, attorney to Quest CEO (in 2001) Joseph Nacchio puts it quite clearly:
Nacchio declined the NSA’s request because the agency did not have a warrant and that the authorities showed “a disinclination to use any legal process, including the special court which had been established to handle such matters."
What does it say about the other telecoms who agreed to comply with what was undoubtedly a similar request? Is the NSA, acting at the direction of the Bush White House such an intimidating force that companies and people are afraid to disagree? Or do those same companies and people simply not question such requests? Either way is unacceptable.

More information on the NSA's unlawful spying program is here at the EFF. Stay informed, people, and let your senators and representatives know how you feel.