How To Break An Onguard or Kryptonite U-Lock On Your Bicycle

Posted on by Prerna in Videos | 1 Comment

This morning, Rich and I stole a bicycle in broad daylight from Thomas Jefferson street in Georgetown. Granted, it was my own beloved Diamondback bike. Still, no one seemed to care as Rich sawed away at the U-lock for half an hour.

You fit right in as long as you act like you are doing nothing wrong or out of the ordinary.

(Or maybe no one cared because Rich is white).

The bicycle was locked to the post from Friday afternoon till Tuesday morning. I had originally lost the key, with spare keys in California. By the time I received the keys on Monday, the bicycle had endured 3 days of cold weather and the lock had jammed. None of the 4 spare keys worked.

Anyway, I’m posting this video because I know u-locks such as Onguard and Kryptonite have a tendency to jam with or without proper care. My Onguard Bulldog lock was over 2 years old and had gone through quite a rough time from the trails of California to the streets of D.C.

I know the “hammer” trick with Onguard locks but it did not work. WD40 was an epic fail. A crowbar and hammer could only take away the casing. Rich came up with the idea of freeze-on and a regular saw blade but it got us nowhere. At that point, I’d have been mightly impressed with anyone who could have taken it.

The locksmith wanted $185. Finally, we tried the District Hardware Bike store on 24th street NW who told us that a carbide edge fit on a hacksaw will do the trick. We were both quite skeptical. But it worked, and it only cost a little over $7.00.

Thank you Rich for saving my bike and me!!

This is the end of the bike saga. I’m using my DC Driving Permit from now.

Give Arizona Back to Mexico: The Sequel

Posted on by Prerna in Immigration | Leave a comment

Arizona Route Marker

Image via Wikipedia

SB 1070 was just the tip of the ice-berg. Now that other states are rushing and tripping over themselves to try to beat Arizona at anti-immigrant hate, the grand old state is defending its position as the most hateful state with a growing passion.
On the agenda:
• Not granting citizenship to children born in the US with non-citizen parents. Unconstitutional, 14th Amendment
• Preventing undocumented children from enrolling in K-12 public or private schools as well as community colleges and universities. Unconstitutional as per Plyler v. Doe
• Prohibiting undocumented immigrants from driving or buying a vehicle. Stupid.
• Denying undocumented immigrants a marriage license in Arizona. Unconstitutional due to federal pre-emption over immigration matters.

Congratulations Arizona. You are trying so hard to get rid of immigrants that your whole state is now involved in illegal activities.

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What Should Same-Sex Bi-National Couples Do Since Obama Is No Longer Defending DOMA?

Posted on by Prerna in Immigration, LGBTQ | 2 Comments

Rainbow American flag promoting equality for e...

Image via Wikipedia

So the Obama Administration is not going to defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in courts. That is the section which limits the definition of marriage as that between a man and a woman.

The lawyers and law students are rejoicing. They can see jobs for themselves less than a mile away with heightened scrutiny for LGBT individuals. Marriage equality advocates are celebrating Independence Day early and breaking out another bottle of human rights champagne. In a parallel universe, Arizona is now trying to ban even straight undocumented immigrants from getting married but more about that later.

Lets get to you. You are in a bi-national same-sex relationship. Your partner either has to travel back and forth to keep legal status in order to stay with you or your partner is undocumented (and hopefully unafraid) or your partner cannot enter the country and you’ve to travel to see her/him. What do you do?

Immigration Equality, an organization that advocates for the rights of LGBT immigrants, has forever opposed the idea of same-sex couples filing I-130 claims and adjudicating their cases in court. (Edit: But I hear that they may be reconsidering and changing their position on this in light of Obama’s decision). They have good reason to believe that federal judges will defer to DHS. For the most part, they are right since you are unlikely to win your claim and your partner may end up in removal proceedings.

But there is a better way to deal with this. Forget listening to advocacy organizations and lawyers. Stop sitting on your laurels. Ideally, I would like to see some 36,000 couples filing I-130 “Petition for Alien Relative” petitions with USCIS. Just imagine the mayhem that would cause. USCIS has to go through each claim. It will take them eons to reject them. You can file appeal upon appeal and backlog them further. You probably don’t even need to take to the streets or the courts.

Start talking to the media about how President Obama is keeping you apart from your partner, while he’s running a re-election campaign. Knock on the doors of your representatives and take them to task.  Under immense pressure, Congressional leaders will have to start holding hearings. Sooner or later, DOMA will be repealed in the courts or by Congress, not that it matters much. Even without that, DHS has to issue a directive or memo allowing your partner to live and work legally in the country (deferred action) and Congress has to take action and pass the Uniting American Families Act.

The system is denying you equal rights so screw with it. Give them hell. Shut them down. Go all out for reverse attrition through enforcement. It’s a whole lot more fun than sitting around doing nothing.

Anyway, that’s how you make change happen. They cannot deport us all. DREAM Act student leaders have known and exploited this for quite a while. It’s about time same-sex bi-national couples grow a pair and do the same.

P.S. I’m not your lawyer. You can’t sue me if things don’t go the way you want them to. This post, and nothing on this site, creates or implies an attorney-client relationship.

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Top-Gear, Top-Notch Racism from BBC Network

Posted on by Prerna in Moron of the Week, Racism | 2 Comments

A host of the popular show ‘Top Gear’ described a Mexican car and people as “lazy, feckless, and flatulent” on a recent show. And it is not going over well with a lot of people.

The icing on the cake is that the Top Gear hosts were confident that people would not complain. Especially the Mexican Ambassador to the UK, who they pre-supposed, would be asleep on the job. After all, Mexicans love to eat refried cheesy food and sleep against the fence with their coat hanging on a cactus, according to the hosts.

Don’t take my word for it. Watch it for yourselves while you can since BBC is in a rush to take down all videos of these offensive remarks for “copyright violations.”

I think the better question is why would anyone watch such a filthy and ignorant show?

Mexican Ambassador Medina has urged Hammond, the show presenters and the BBC, to apologize for what he says are “offensive”, “xenophobic” and “humiliating” remarks. I urge you to do the same. Tell BBC and Top Gear hosts that this type of humor is unacceptable.

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The End of An Era For Homeland Security

Posted on by Prerna in Moron of the Week | Leave a comment

Homeland Security Advisory System scale.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s about time Homeland Security got rid of the color-coded terror alerts that helped protect our freedoms and preserve our liberties. Our lives are going to be empty and boring for a little while but I’m sure we’ll find something new and entertaining soon enough.

The Obama administration plans to replace the widely mocked color-coded terror warnings with a simpler, two-tier system: “imminent threat” or “elevated threat,” with more detailed information.

“The alerts will be specific to the threat,” a senior administration official told POLITICO. “They may ask you to take certain actions, or to look for specific suspicious behavior. And they will have an end date. …. [The Department of Homeland Security] will implement this new system on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact the public, we will tell you. ”

Read more: (If you want to)

RIP: Terror Alerts

10 Reasons to Repeal BirthRight Citizenship

Posted on by Prerna in Immigration | 3 Comments

(This is satire)

1. The 14th Amendment was never intended to benefit immigrants.

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States,” says the 14th Amendment. Anti-immigrant critics, though, say this crystal-clear guarantee was meant only to apply to African Americans, not children of undocumented immigrants. Media Matters, though, has debunked this claim, showing that some of the framers of the amendment did consider giving rights to immigrant children.

2. Sure, the 14th Amendment allows corporations to be considered as people. But extending the same right to U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants? Blasphemy.

The GOP recognizes corporate personhood, even though Wall Street is responsible for putting thousands of jobless men and women on the streets. Yet children of immigrants who bolster our social security with billions and pick our fruits and vegetables apparently shouldn’t have citizenship in the United States. Go figure.

3. America doesn’t have room for Olympic gold medal winners, astronauts and even GOP politicians.

If we were to repeal birthright citizenship, as the GOP wants to do, we’d also be stripping citizenship from Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), former GOP Senator Pete Domenici and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who all had non-citizen parents at the time of their birth. Henry Cejudo, the son of undocumented immigrants who previously won an Olympic gold medal for the U.S., would not have been able to represent the United States, either.

4. 14th Amendment reform is a matter of national security. We need to defend ourselves against terrorist babies.

Al-Qaeda members could cross the border between the United States and Mexico, “drop” babies that automatically become United States citizens and then take the babies back in order to train them to be anti-American. Years later, they could re-enter the United States without any scrutiny and cause massive havoc. It sounds like a Hollywood flick, right? But to GOP representatives such as Louie Gohmert (TX), the scenario is very real.

“It appeared that [the terrorists] would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby,” Gohmert said during a speech on the House floor. “And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists.”

Funny, it’s also a matter of national security when someone releases a public hit list containing the names, phone numbers and addresses of Latino immigrants who are allegedly undocumented. But you don’t hear the same members of the GOP bewailing that fact.

5. Rule of law is convenient only when it benefits the GOP.

Conservatives purport to stand for rule of law” and for enforcing the laws on the books. Yet when it comes to the children of immigrants, they want to dismantle parts of the U.S. Constitution. Even Lou Dobbs agrees that this time, the Republicans have gone too far. But since we’re so keen to change laws to suit our various ideologies, why not throw out the 2nd Amendment, too? It was certainly never intended to give everyone the right to own guns. Maybe we should strike away all the laws that we don’t like from the books. Extreme, but you get my point.

6. Full of white guilt and remorse, Republicans want to become a permanent minority party.

The GOP has a Latino problem. While Latino support for Obama has dropped substantially, only 15% of Hispanics identify as Republicans. By 2050, Latinos will be nearly 25% of the U.S. population. By attacking immigrants and alienating Latinos still further, the GOP is shooting itself in the foot.

7. Immigration reform is hard work. Republicans would rather score cheap political points.

Gutting the 14th Amendment won’t solve the issue of illegal immigration. Instead, it will create still more stateless and disenfranchised young people. As Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says, the issue here is 100% political. The GOP knows they won’t actually manage to eliminate birthright citizenship, but they’re race-baiting before the midterm elections anyway. Instead of trying to come up with a solution to a broken immigration system, the GOP is just using immigration s a wedge issue.

8. Anchor babies have destroyed America and the American way of life.

Or so the GOP would tell you. But what do Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson have in common? Yes, they are considered the Founding Fathers of the United States. But they were also both anchor babies: born in the U.S. to overseas immigrants. Unless you are indigenous to this county, your ancestors also had anchor babies.

9. Mexicans have a brilliant, 21 -year plan on how to get their green cards, and we have to stop them.

If an undocumented immigrant gives birth in the U.S., that still doesn’t entitle them to stay in the country. Here in the U.S., many young American citizens are deported along with their immigrant parents. So are undocumented immigrants having babies as part of nefarious plot to win their U.S. residency? Hardly. A citizen must be 21 in order to sponsor any relative for a green card. What’s more, the person being sponsored can’t be in the U.S. illegally. To be sponsored after being in the country illegally, a parent would have to return to their country of origin and face a 10-year ban before being allowed to re-enter the United States. Altogether, it would take anywhere between 21 to 31 years for an anchor baby to successfully sponsor their parents for U.S. residence.

10. We can’t allow the U.S. to become a majority-minority country.

Make no mistake: it’s all about race. The GOP isn’t scared of Canadian anchor babies. It’s scared of Mexican ones.

Elle Magazine Tries to ‘Whiten’ Indian Skin

Posted on by Prerna in Racism | Leave a comment

Aishwarya Rai at the Cannes film festival

Image via Wikipedia

I am migrating a few of my favorite blog posts over the past year to my personal blog. I apologize if this causes issues with your RSS feeds.

It looks like Elle Magazine had quite the white Christmas.

Recently in the news for lightening the skin of Gabourey Sidibe on the September cover, the magazine has done it again, featuring prominent Bollywood actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on the January 2011 cover looking far paler than she is in real life.

I had to do a double take when I first saw the cover page. Not only does Ms. Rai-Bachchan look far whiter than she is in real life, she also looks like a red-head. Aishwarya is reportedly in shock and plans to sue the magazine if the allegations are true.

There are those who would defend the magazine for using some kind of lighting or a Photoshop trick, or who think that this is no big deal and skin lightening is similar to tanning.

To put this into context: Indian consumers have long been inundated with ads that use prominent Bollywood actors to promote skin-lightening products. In a country that produces gorgeous women of color, it is sad that Ms. Rai-Bachchan, who is relatively light-skinned, is one of the very few with some cross-over international appeal. To see magazines like Elle further enforce the color hierarchy by making Aishwarya appear lighter-skinned is a slap in the face to thousands of young Indian women who aspire to be models and actors. It also plays into systemic racism when Indian women across the world pick up a copy of Elle Magazine and can barely recognize one of their own celebrities due to the fact that her skin tone was digitally lightened.

The question then posed is, do we have to be pale white and bleach our skins to have cross-over appeal? Indeed, the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire had a British director. Ben Kingsley, a British actor, won an award for playing the iconic Mahatma Gandhi. It’s a downward spiral and it hardly helps to bolster self-confidence in millions of young women of color across the world.

It would be over the top to accuse Elle Magazine of being racist on the basis of two  magazine covers. There is a deeper problem here: either Elle Magazine in India is outsourcing its artistic needs, or it really does not have staff that is qualified enough to work with images of women of color. In both cases, Elle Magazine owes Aishwarya Rai Bachchan an apology for doctoring her image in a manner highly offensive to people across the globe.


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TSA: Transportation Security Administration or Turban Search Authority?

Posted on by Prerna in Racism | Leave a comment (Dr) Tejdeep Singh Rattan (pictured) is a Sikh-American US army officer.

But according to a new policy of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), when he or his family members board a flight in the United States, from now on they will be subjected to a mandatory turban search, culturally akin to stripping them naked.

While Sikhs already have to pat their own turbans and have their hands swabbed by a screener, the new policy now requires them to go through an additional hand wand of the turban 100 percent of the time. With a policy specifically targetting Sikh-Americans, the agency may as well change its name to Turban Search Authority.

Sikh-Americans are often mistakenly associated with the perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks, simply because Osama Bin Laden is pictured wearing a similar headdress. This has led to widespread acts of discrimination against Sikh Americans and a litany of problems at airports. Sikhs are required by their religion to wear a turban, the most visible marker of the faith. The turban symbolizes spirituality, gender equality and honor, and Sikhs consider its removal to be a grievous insult.

The TSA holds that a turban could hide non-metallic objects. Whether or not there is truth to that claim, airport officials do not demand that priests or nuns take off their clothing in case they are hiding non-metallic objects inside. Hypocrisy and a fear of difference makes up the crux of this new discriminatory policy.

The Sikh-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) states that this new policy as a serious violation of civil rights: “Targeting turbans for additional scrutiny sends a message to other passengers that Sikhs and their articles of faith are to be viewed with suspicion by fellow travelers. The policy is a serious infringement on our civil rights and liberties.”

The new policy has drawn widespread criticism. While in India, an Indian minister told President Obama that the United States must stop frisking the turbans of Sikh passengers.  “It is a humiliating experience. For us it’s like telling us to remove our clothes,” said parliamentarian Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Obama replied that he would look closely into the matter but refused to make any commitment.

To gain back some semblance of credibility, the TSA must address concerns from passengers with special religious or cultural dress needs. Tell the TSA that doing nothing in response to the outcry over its discriminatory practices is simply unacceptable.

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Most Racist Political Campaign Ads 2010

Posted on by Prerna in Immigration, Racism | 4 Comments

This list is in no particular order:

Once considered a maverick, John McCain is now a shadowy and shriveling figure who completely abandoned all his principles for re-election. As the ad says below, he is “one of us” as opposed to “one of them” people who want to hurt Americans by doing their jobs at next to no pay and intentionally causing accidents on the road. Right.

Speak English only. And then there was GOP candidate for Governor Tim James whose biggest concern is that driver’s licenses are in 12 different exams even though eliminating that would most likely lead to a loss of funds from the federal government for the state of Alabama:

This spoof video on Tim James in response is a must-watch.

When gays, immigrants and Muslims are not enough to scare people into voting GOP, lets turn to China! There’s some ads floating around but the most strikingly racial one is from Spike Maynard,  hoping to unseat Rep Nick Rahall in West Virgina. His ad uses stereotypical Chinese music and images of the “made in China” label on clothes and toys to denote how the Chinese are taking over.

Sharron Angle almost wins with some really vivid and stark portrayals of white people as good and brown people as bad.
First anti-immigrant ad:

Notice how the people suffering due to “illegal immigration” are all white while the alleged “illegal aliens” are all brown people sneaking alongside a fence, denoting the porous border. Nice angle.

The next one gets worse with Angle running a high Willie Horton fever:

Yes, we get it, brown people are scary especially when standing around in trios. But now the children of undocumented immigrants are demonized and treated as a threat to white college graduates. The “stock photo” used comes from a David Vitter campaign and it is actually a picture of Mexican nationals who are not even undocumented.

And of course, David Vitter is not giving up on his attacks on immigrants anytime soon even though his opponent and him practically share the same views on illegal immigration.

And the winner is … (drumroll please)

I don’t know Dan Fanelli. Most of us are more terrorized by white guys in ties. Do you need to see the ads again?

Mapping Juan Crow Cities

Posted on by Prerna in Racism | Leave a comment

I am migrating a few of my favorite blog posts over the past year to my personal blog. I apologize if this causes issues with your RSS feeds.

Do you really live in a racially diverse city in the United States? New mapping using old data might make us re-think the relative segregation of our environment.

Maps don’t just reveal territorial boundaries and physical terrains. They can also be used as a device for capturing political stereotypes, and in the case of mapping segregation, revealing rampant residential segregation, especially amongst foreign-born populations settling in the United States.

Inspired by Bill Rankin’s map of Chicago’s racial and ethnic divides, Eric Fisher has drawn similar maps of other cities with data obtained from the 2000 Census. More cities are charted here. Each dot represents 25 people with white people represented by a red dot, black people by a blue dot, Asians by green, and Hispanics by orange.

It looks like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco were some of the most diverse cities, but racial and ethnic minorities did cluster around the same neighborhoods, especially in Los Angeles and New York. The Los Angeles map also interestingly reveals that Hispanics live in the lowest income neighborhoods.

What does this macro-structural study of residential patterns tell us? Minorities are still substantially segregated in metropolitan cities. Census 2000 data shows that black-white segregation declined modestly on a national level while Hispanic and Asian segregation rose in most metropolitan areas. The increased inclination of Hispanic and Asian immigrants to coalesce around the same areas can be attributed to recent immigration, and maybe redlining or predatory lending. Due to relatively lower incomes of new immigrants, they are also more likely to live near work sites instead of commuting longer distances.

These racially segregated archipelagos pose a major problem for immigrant integration into mainstream society, if that is indeed, the desired result. But maybe this is not as gloomy as it looks. Immigrants clustering around their own communities can provide children and adults alike a sense of belonging and necessary empowerment to succeed in a new country. At the same time, it can also denote a community growing in relative isolation, lacking basic social services. Some have referred to parts of Los Angeles as an import of “Third World” ghettos, but that may just be the beauty of the United States.

It would be nice to compare this mapping with more recent data from the Census in 2010. More than 55 years after ending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and even with a black President and black Attorney General, are we still going to be display vast amount of residential segregation?

Photo Credit: Eric Fisher