Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Few bands have a sound so innovative and incendiary that it forges an entirely new genre. Atari Teenage Riot was this band. In the 1990's, ATR's hyperkinetic breakbeats, distorted guitar samples, and sonic blowtorch of feedback, defined a new phylum of electronic music: digital hardcore.
Louder than metal, but still infused with a groove, Atari Teenage Riot was where adrenaline and pheromones met, creating an aggressive, and strangely sexy sensory overload.
Composed of techpunk mastermind Alec Empire, screecher Hanin Elias, noise-artist Nic Endo and instigator MC Carl Crack, ATR could barely contain their explosive sound. In 1999, the band itself broke apart at the seams, unable to keep their own anarchy under control.
Tonight, they play at the Key Club for their first LA show in a decade. Nic Endo and Alec Empire return to the ATR fray with newcomer MC CX KiDTRONiK (Hanin's voice is unable to (sc)reach the same decibels, and Crack died in 2001).
West Coast Sound caught up with Alec Empire to discuss the resurrection of the ATR, raves in the 21st century, and the redefinition of their political manifesto.
Before Atari Teenage Riot went on hiatus at the turn of the millennium, the band was undergoing some serious challenges. Your MC, Carl Crack, had died of a drug overdose, and band seemed to be breaking apart at the seams. What made you want to put the band back together again? And why now, ten years later?
Alec Empire: When we played our last show in London in winter 1999 the band was so burnt out, we only did this huge wall of noise, no songs. The critics loved it because it was very special and especially in front of thousands of people. But many fans were not into it and ripped their ATR shirts. We always felt we owed them this one show. So last Autumn, we decided to just play one more show in London. We had run into MC CX Kidtronik who seemed to bring fresh air into the band. We surely didn't expect such amazing feedback from the press and all these younger and new fans. So we decided to keep it going. Of course we had to play Tokyo, then Berlin wanted it and so on. I am honest here: there is no masterplan. I was about to release a new solo album this September, but we moved it back. If we feel this is getting a boring routine, we'll stop.
Who is in ATR's lineup today, and what new things can fans expect?
Alec: Right now, it's new MC CX Kidtronik, who worked with Trent Reznor, Saul Williams and Kanye West, Nic Endo and me, Alec Empire. We all do vocals, we all control the machines. ATR has undergone many different line ups in the 90's, especially the US audiences have seen this. ATR is not a conventional rock band, it's more a collective like Wu Tang Clan. The UK, European and Asian fans and critics have expressed that it's the best and most powerful line up so far. Don't expect a reunion, where an older version of something that used to be good tries to recreate the past, expect a software update! More powerful, up to date and ready to blow you away.
You were at the forefront of the rave scene in the 1990's. Why do you think that audiences at electronic music events have grown so much now, despite negative coverage in the mainstream media?
Alec: We are the future, and I mean we as the electronic music community. People's minds have evolved, they expect more than the old formula. New sounds, new ways to arrange music, remixes. It's all moving forward very fast, while the mainstream tries to preserve the past--that goes for the music itself and the business models.
The music industry and the way people consume music has drastically changed since ATR's inception. How have you adapted to this change?
Alec: Yeah but we did most stuff that bands do now in the 90ties. We gave stuff away, we questioned copyright laws, because we think they hardly protect everyone equally, they were created in the interest of those with power. So for us this change didn't happen over night. We actually sold a lot of records over all the years, so we can afford to sell less records... I know it sounds arrogant, but I find this liberating to not compromise the music in order to sell more. But ATR is very different to all other bands out there. What works for us doesn't for work for everyone. We are heading into an era where the old pop formula will dissolve and not exist anymore.
Having grown up in Berlin, the city with the Wall, I know everything has an end to it, and change can always happen, especially in times when you just got used to things being the way they appear.
What have you done to keep digital hardcore on the cutting edge? Do you use the same electronics that you used in the 90's?
Alec: I was involved in more records over the past decade than in the 90ties. I think the way to go is to combine the new analogue world with the digital one... there a many small companies all over the world who build analogue modular synths which have a powerful sound! Metasonix and Malekko are two examples from the US. When combined with the advantages of the digital gear, endless storage spaces and the ability to recall settings, there are no limits anymore. Great times are ahead of us. It's almost like the human mind has to catch up with the possibilities. In ATR we use old machines like the Atari computer and the TR-909 on purpose, because those tools are a huge part of the band's sound. Part of the appeal is what we can do with a computer that has 2MB ram! It's like a riddle, like math...that's what programmers find fascinating. Like you wouldn't want Keith Richards play a Yamaha keyboard on stage.
What differences have you seen in the audiences since your last tours?
Alec: The majority of fans is around 20 years old, so they weren't there when we started. This is what's exciting and challenging about these shows, because you see how people are confronted with this type of sound and energy for the first time. People go nuts. We had 20.000 people tear down the barricades at Berlin's biggest festival Fusion a few weeks ago and storm the stage. Nobody got hurt but it was such a blast. The political lyrics matter more than ever before. I think this has a lot to do with it. We are the only band right now who is taking a stand. We don't care about record sales, we are not afraid to speak out about the corruption and lies of governments and international corporations.
We are not entertainers who put on their fake smile each night, people love that passion and honesty at our shows. It all means something. And that is powerful.
Your music has been infused with a political edge. How has your manifesto evolved over time?
Alec: Not much. We saw a lot coming. The negative side effects of globalization, goverments taking our freedoms away bit by bit, the new technologies which are made to control citizens, the fall of major record labels... What people don't understand is that we're anarchist libertarian, rather than just anarchist. The history of Germany, with Adolph Hitler and the Nazis, has made us very aware of the dangers of what can happen when you hand over all your responsibilities to politicians.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Army Reveals Afghan Biometric ID Plan; Millions Scanned, Carded by May
By Noah Shachtman September 24, 2010 | 12:03 am | Categories: Af/Pak
Scanning prisoners’ irises is just Step 1. In Afghanistan, local and NATO forces are amassing biometric dossiers on hundreds of thousands of cops, crooks, soldiers, insurgents and ordinary citizens. And now, with NATO’s backing, the Kabul government is putting together a plan to issue biometrically backed identification cards to 1.65 million Afghans by next May.
The idea is to hinder militant movement around the country, and to keep Taliban infiltrators out of the army, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan commander Lt. Gen. William Caldwell tells Danger Room. “The system allows the Afghans to thoroughly screen applicants and recruits for any potential negative past history or criminal linkages, while at the same time it provides an additional measure of security at checkpoints and major facilities to prevent possible entrance and access by malign actors in Afghanistan,” Caldwell e-mails.
It’s a high-tech upgrade to a classic counterinsurgency move — simultaneously taking a census of the population, culling security forces of double agents and cutting off guerrilla routes. (Plus, bombs and weapons can be swabbed for fingerprints to build files on insurgent suspects.) Gen. David Petraeus, now commander of the Afghan war effort, relied heavily on biometrics during his time in command of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Twenty to 25 Afghans a week are currently caught in the biometric sweep, military officials estimate. That number could grow significantly in the months to come. The “population registration division” of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior is “embarking on a program to develop, print and distribute biometrically enabled national ID cards,” e-mails Col. Craig Osbourne, the director of NATO’s Task Force Biometrics.
President Hamid Karzai has yet to sign on. But the “Afghan Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has already secured a $122 million contract for the database development and printing of cards in support of that plan,” Osbourne adds.
There are all kinds of hurdles to the plan, however. At the moment, Afghanistan’s two main biometric databases don’t talk to one another, limiting their effectiveness. The Karzai government has blocked previous efforts to extend the biometric dragnet. And in a country where the rule of law is more of a suggestion, there’s a risk that a storehouse of irises and fingerprints and faces could one day be abused.
Right now, there are two primary biometric projects underway in Afghanistan. One is run by NATO forces, and uses the fingerprint readers, iris scanners and digital cameras of the Biometric Automated Toolset (.ppt) to capture information on detainees and other “persons of interest.” The U.S. military says it has assembled 410,000 of these biometric dossiers in the past year-and-a-half.
The second project, the Afghan Automated Biometric Identification System (AABIS), run by the Afghan government, collects data on Afghan National Army and police recruits. Fingerprints, irises and faces are all scanned into Crossmatch Jump Kits. The kits are periodically brought back to Kabul, where the data is dumped into the AABIS mainframe — and cross-checked with biometric records from the Afghan National Detention Facility, Kabul Central Police Command, Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan and FBI prison enrollments from Kabul, Herat and Kandahar.
Along with a new battery of drug tests, AABIS “helps create an environment where the Afghans can hold personnel accountable for their actions,” Caldwell e-mails. “This combination of capabilities helps ensure the Afghans are able to continue providing quality recruits, while progressing towards a professionalized force capable of sustaining itself and protecting the people of Afghanistan.”
The problem is, the two systems don’t link up, one American official tells Danger Room. NATO forces could capture an insurgent — and the Afghan database would have no note of it. Which makes it an imperfect screener for militants, at best.
The Afghan system now covers 248,768 people. Hundreds of thousands more will follow them, if a plan by NATO and Afghan officials moves forward. A thousand locals are being recruited to take their countrymen’s fingerprints and scan their irises — and dump them into AABIS as the start of a national ID. The goal is to get 1.65 million enrolled by May 2011.
“This plan was briefed to and endorsed by the Afghan Senior Security Shura last Monday,” Osbourne says. “The population registration division has been producing ID cards for decades, and Afghans recognize and support their efforts for such a system. Coalition forces operating in the battle space will still collect biometric data on detainees and those suspected of insurgent actions or support, but otherwise all collections are voluntary.”
In a sense, the program is a turnaround for the administration of President Karzai. It wasn’t long ago that he shut down a major biometric project in Kandahar.
At the height of the Iraq insurgency, U.S. forces walled off cities like Fallujah. The only way to get in or out was to get an ID card. And the only way to get an ID card was to get an iris scan.
Earlier this summer, Afghan troops under NATO supervision briefly tried a similar approach. The system enrolled 20,000 residents of Kandahar at three checkpoints.
But the program was abruptly pulled when Karzai saw a picture of one of the biometric checkpoints in Newsweek, U.S. military officials tell Danger Room. Karzai declared the scanning to be an infringement of Afghan sovereignty, and put the kibosh on the whole thing.
NATO military officials are working with Afghan ministries to get Karzai to approve a national biometric ID. But if they succeed, it triggers another concern.
In Iraq, there are worries that the kind of information assembled in Fallujah could one day be used to target the government’s political enemies, or help contribute to sectarian conflict.
“This database,” Lt. Col. John Velliquette, an Army biometrics manager in Iraq, tells Danger Room, “becomes is a hit list if it gets in the wrong hands.” A parallel case could be made for Afghanistan.
So far, there’s been no evidence of abuse of the system — in either country. Osbourne says part of that $122 million contract for a national ID “includes provisions for information assurance under the guidance of the U.S. Agency for International Development.” But things in Afghanistan often take unexpected turns, despite the international community’s best efforts to keep them on track.
Photo: Staff Sgt. William Tremblay/U.S. Army
Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/09/afghan-biometric-dragnet-could-snag-millions/#ixzz10TI9sHxJ
Friday, September 17, 2010
Que dia tan triste el de hoy. Me tome el dia libre en la oficina despues de haber estado tanto tiempo concentrado en un proyecto que parecia infinito, lleno de frustaciones y problemas pero que al fin parece estar en calma, para visitar uno de mis lugares favoritos en el centro de San Diego ademas de ser uno de los primeros sitios que visite cuando estaba de lleno sumergido en la pintura, antes de que me contagiara el virus maligno de la arquitectura. Sobre la calle principal Broadway se encontraba una tienda de dos pisos inmensa de libro usados, casi todos muy viejos, su olor indescriptible por tener tantos libros, eran tantos que a pesar de ser un espacio caotico al no encontrar lugar donde poner los pies al caminar por haber tantos libros fuera de lugar tirados en el piso, mas sin embargo pareciera que si ocurriese un terremoto este lugar se mantendria en pie, su estructura tan fuerte eran bultos de libros tras hileras e hileras de libros. El solo pensar en visitarla me ensanchaba la naris y el cerebro se empezaba a revolucionar. Al llegar ahi encuentro el local abandonado y en completo deterioro, pregunto a los artistas vecinos, un local donde hacen tatus (como tantos que hay aqui), me contestan que el duen'o fallecio hace tiempo y el lugar cerro. Que habra pasado con tantos libros?
El pasado fin de semana fue algo surreal, me tope con mi cyber-futu/sensei: William Gibson, en un cafe en H0lLyW0od CA. Despues de haber pasado una noche sin dormir y danzando con desconocidos sobrevivientes de "buning man project" pareciamos estar dentro de la pelicula de Mad-Max.
Nose quien escribio esto pero es la neta del planeta:
¿Por qué nos enseñan a odiar lo que sale de nuestro propio cuerpo? ¿Por qué estar manchada accidentalmente con sangre es motivo de verguenza? ¿Por qué las mujeres debemos estar depiladas, perfumadas, prolijas, peinadas de manera minusciosa, maquilladas si es posible?¿Por qué nos quieren esterilizar como si fuesemos un envase? ¿Por qué debemos avergonzarnos si estamos transpirados y un poco sucios? ¿Por qué nos enseñan a tenerle asco a todos nuestros fluidos? Google translate Why teach us to hate what comes out of our own body? Why be accidentally smeared with blood is a source of shame? Why women must be shaved, perfumed, neat, combed so minusciosa, makeup if possible? Why do we want to sterilize like a container? Why be ashamed if we are sweaty and a little dirty? Why teach us to keep you disgusted with all of our fluids?