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05/04/2003 Archived Entry: "Take the CAPPS II Test"

The ACLU of Northern California has filed a federal lawsuit challenging secret "no fly" and other transportation watch lists. At least 339 passengers have been stopped and questioned at San Francisco International Airport since September 2001. The lawsuit follows two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act requests filed in the last five months. The ACLU filed the FOIA and Privacy Act requests on behalf of itself and peace activists Jan Adams and Rebecca Gordon. Last year, both women were told by airline agents at San Francisco International Airport that their names appeared on a secret "no fly" list and they were briefly detained by San Francisco Police while their names were checked against a "master" list. The ACLU lawsuit is a response to the government’s refusal to confirm the existence of any protocols, procedures or guidelines as to how the "no fly" lists were created. The government has also refused to detail how the lists are being maintained or corrected and, importantly, how people who are mistakenly included on the list may have their names removed. The ACLU's legal complaint in this case is online. Could your name end up on a secret government "no-fly" list? You might be surprised. Take the new ACLU quiz about CAPPS II, "no-fly" lists and your right to travel freely.

Read of the day -- Yes! It was always about oil.

I had a wonderful experience last night. Brad and I attended the 25th anniversary party of a local ham and his wife with the intention of spending an hour, offering congratulations, and defecting to have a late dinner in a nice restaurant. Instead, I met a woman. And had a conversation. Like me, she felt like an outsider at the party...

...which was a nice gathering -- a decent singer reprised all of Hank Williams' (original not Jr) hits, people who had loved each other for decades went onto the dance floor, small children ran from room to room playing tag, cheap but tasty snacks abounded on every tabletop, family members who hadn't seen each other for months reconnected. There were grandmothers with waddle-arms playing cards with pink-and-spikey-haired grandchildren. A recommitment to marriage was (badly) read from the stage to honor the couple of the hour. High-school friends dropped by to heckle them about the "old days." A man who teaches automotive design at a local college sat in a corner with his boisterous 3-yr-old daughter, playing, chasing, tickling, reading to her...so that his wife could talk to someone. Me.

The lady in question is a Serb who came to Canada 10 years ago on a vacation. Soon afterward, her nation, Yugoslavia, was plunged into war and she decided to stay. Good for her. Good for Canada. A smart, decent, industrious, well-educated woman was able to find sanctuary. And, yet...like me, she feels like an outsider in society. We talked and talked -- over loud music, despite constant interruptions, and some language problems. She knew Russian literature...better yet, Russian poetry, a passion of mine. I was fascinated by her perspective. E.g. on the Iraqi war she said, without rancor, that the US press was identical to the coverage of news under communism... There was no news. There was only what the government wished you to see, wished you to hear.

Can this be a new friendship? I contemplate such possibilities in much the same manner as I used to ponder new romances. My romantic life is a settled and wonderful resolution with Brad being the key that both opens and locks away all possibilities. But I long for good friendships with wonderful women. I long to be an outsider with a wide circle of similar "others".

Best to all,

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