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By Gina Keating
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A new front opened in the U.S. "War on Terror" on Wednesday as newspaper columnist Arianna Huffington and three Hollywood pals launched a TV ad campaign to stop Americans from driving SUVs because the gas-guzzling cars inadvertently aid the country's enemies.
In two spots scheduled to begin running on Sunday, Huffington and friends, collectively known as The Detroit Project, plant the idea that driving the mammoth and hot-selling vehicles is unpatriotic.
The ads, which will appear through Friday in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington D.C., parody the government's public service campaign against drug-sponsored terrorism, and aim to kindle public demand for tougher fuel efficiency.
"The goal of the campaign is not to demonize people who drive SUVs," Huffington said. "We want to point out how our driving habits at home are fueling oil money to Saudi Arabia."
One spot features a hapless SUV driver named "George" pumping gas into his vehicle while an oil company executive steps into a limousine and a group of turban-wearing soldiers fire automatic rifles into the air.
"This is George," a child says in a sing-song voice. "This is the gas that George bought for his SUV. This is the oil company executive that sold the gas that George bought for his SUV. These are the countries where the executive bought the oil, that made the gas that George bought for his SUV. And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his SUV."
"Oil money supports some terrible things. What kind of mileage does your SUV get?" the ad concludes.
In a series of close-ups, the second ad explores the purported consequences of buying foreign oil, juxtaposed with excuses people make for buying SUVs: "I helped hijack an airplane." "I like to sit up high." "I helped blow up a nightclub." "It makes me feel safe." "I sent our soldiers off to war."
"What is your SUV doing to national security?" it asks. "Detroit, America needs hybrid cars now."
Disney-owned ABC-TV affiliates in New York and Los Angeles have refused to air the ads because they are too controversial, Huffington said. The spots appear Sunday on network stations and for the rest of the week on cable TV news channels.
Huffington planted the seeds for The Detroit Project in her column in October by fantasizing about a people's ad campaign taking the government to task for failing to pass tougher fuel efficiency standards while waging war to protect cheap oil.
Readers flooded her "in" basket with more than 5,000 letters by the next morning, asking where to send money for the mythical campaign. Within three weeks she had raised $200,000 to paid for a week of airtime and production of the ads. Huffington recruited her hiking pal Laurie David, who had convinced her to swap her 13 mpg Lincoln Navigator for a 50 mpg Toyota Prius, and film producer Lawrence Bender and talent agent Ari Emanuel to guide the spots through production.
Although they had budgeted $50,000 to produce the spots, written by "Got Milk?" creator Scott Burns, most of the costs were waived when people learned about the project, Burns said.
The Detroit Project founders said plans to expand the campaign to more cities or to make new ads must wait on the public's response -- and their money.
"Some people will thing we went too far. I personally wanted to be very confrontational," Bender said. "September 11 was very confrontational."
For more information and to see the ad spots, visit the Detroit Project site.
01/10/03: Army SmarTruck II Ready for Action
Story Filed:1/7/03 05:00 pm
A modified Chevrolet Silverado platform fitted with modules of counterterrorism equipment just might be the next big thing for homeland security.
"SmarTruck II is engineered to meet the nontraditional challenges of today's military," said Dennis Wend, executive director of the Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command's National Automotive Center (NAC). "It provides built-in flexibility and offensive capability [for a variety of situations]."
The jet black prototype SmarTruck II unveiled at the North American International Auto Show didn't much look like a Silverado pickup truck.
Rather than the usual two axles, the SmarTruck II has three, and all six wheels drive the vehicle all the time.
This is key to the SmarTruck II's appeal, Wend said. The modification gives the SmarTruck II a 5-ton payload, so it can carry a bevy of counterterrorism equipment, much of it packaged in armored, self-contained stainless steel modules. The modules can be swapped out for other non-terrorism-related modules when needed.
For example, the SmarTruck II could carry water purification systems on disaster relief missions and communication systems for surveillance missions.
The flexibility could allow many government agencies-from FEMA to the FBI to the military-to share the vehicle, Wend said. "You won't need to have unique trucks with installed equipment; you can just have the modules [stationed] around the United States [ready for use when needed]."
The SmarTruck II on the show floor was clearly armed for military duty. The vehicle was fitted with a guided missile launcher that has a two-mile range and a launcher for a remote-controlled Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV).
Other features: A night vision system, a high-power (50X) zoom video system with thermal imaging and surveillance radar, 360-degree cameras including one under the vehicle to help the driver prevent undercarriage damage when driving off road, and a 12,000-pound, straight-line hydraulic towing winch.
Tires are run-flats, and the grille is covered by a large metal brush guard that's bullet-resistant to keep small armaments from puncturing the engine block.
Wend said the SmarTruck II evolved out of SmarTruck I, which was unveiled at the auto show a year ago. Testing on the SmarTruck II will begin shortly, and NAC officials hope to find interested customers wanting to buy.
But there's a hefty price premium for this kind of Silverado. Wend said it would cost $75,000 to $100,000 just for the modified chassis with six-wheel-drive system and some kind of on-board communications system.
12/29/02: WWW.FUCKTHEWAR.COM WEBSITE LAUNCHED
December 21, 2002
WWW.FUCKTHEWAR.COM WEBSITE LAUNCHED, OFFERING FREE EMAIL TO ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS
A new website offering free email addresses ending in "fuckthewar.com" has been officially launched, its organizers say.
According to the site's creators, the intent of www.fuckthewar.com is to offer a rallying point for people opposed to the United States' likely offensive against Iraq, and a highly visible means for individuals opposed to the war to communicate their discontent.
"We feel that the United States is about to embark on a foolish, costly campaign against a paper-tiger dictator," says fuckthewar.com spokesman David Livingstone. "In our opinion, this war amounts to nothing more than a neo-colonialist gambit by George W. Bush. There seems to be no length he will not go to in order to distract people from the disastrous social effects of his domestic policy and to secure the free flow of petroleum dollars into the pockets of his energy industry pals.
"We believe that a great many Americans oppose this unilateral action against Iraq, not to mention people the world over. To this point, the media have largely gone along with the administration, but if enough of us are visible, both the media and the government will have to take notice."
The site is created by OrwellMedia, Livingstone's public relations and communications firm.
Media representatives desiring further information are invited to contact the site's organizers at (313) 320 2820, or via email at www.orwellmedia.com.
12/28/02: Air Force to pay up for dummy bomb drop on home
Source: CNN.com Saturday, December 28, 2002 Posted: 9:55 AM EST (1455 GMT)
EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- The Air Force said it will pay about $12,000 in
damages to a woman whose house was hit by a dummy bomb.
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police said on Monday they had
confiscated a T-shirt showing President Bush (news - web sites) and
al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) engaged in a
sexual act and were investigating whether it broke a 1931 obscenity
12/23/02: R.I.P. Joe Strummer
We just learned that Joe Strummer has died at the age of 50 of an apparent heart attack. Our condolences go out to all who loved him.
12/17/02: WESLEY WILLIS UNDERGOING TREATMENT FOR LEUKEMIA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
We are deeply saddened to report that one of our artists, Wesley Willis has recently been diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). This form of Leukemia is treatable. Wesley is currently undergoing care, and his doctors are very hopeful that the treatment will be successful.
For more information on this type of Leukemia, you can visit http://leukemia-lymphoma.org and we will have updates of his condition on our website: http://www.alternativetentacles.com.
Rock over London!!
12/14/02: Jello on NPR/PRI's "Fair Game"
National Public Radio/Public Radio International's new show Fair Game will air a piece featuring an interview with Jello and his take on current events. The episode will debut tonight, but will run through the weekend on various NPR stations. It will also be available online. For more information on the show and to hear the mp3 (available starting 11/15), please visit the Fair Game website. To find out what stations air the show, go here.
12/13/02: Secret Service Agents Question Student About Anti-Bush Shirt
(from) WHIO-TV, NEWSCENTER 7
Secret Service Agents question a Bellbrook High School student for wearing a controversial t-shirt.
The shirt has a picture of President Bush on it and the words, "not my president." The picture also showed cross-hairs on the Bush's forehead.
Because this issue is so sensitive, even we don't know the students name.
But we can tell you this whole thing was brought to the attention of school administrators after two students came forward and complained.
According to the Assistant Principal, the student had worn it before and the shirt didn't cause any problems until cross hairs appeared on the President's forehead.
The Assistant Principal confiscated the shirt, called the FBI and agents then called the secret service.
From that point, the Secret Service took over the investigation and met with the student and essentially treated the situation as a potential threat on the president.
There are more than 800 students at Bellbrook High School and the Assistant Principal says they're all good kids, but he's especially proud of two of them.
The Assistant Principal states that he is proud of the two students who brought the issue to the attention of the school administration.
12/12/02: FACEPULLER release Habanero Hot Sauce
In a move that has puzzled music fans and food freaks alike, Canada's noise rock band Facepuller have released their own brand of Hot Sauce. "Facepuller Habanero Hot Sauce - Sauce Piquante" is supposedly now available. We have been promised a few free "promo" bottles.
As you may recall, we released an LP and CD by them in 1996 :
To see their nifty taco sauce label, check out:
11/27/02: German Brewery Invents Beer Bath, Gulp!
BERLIN (Reuters) - There are days when you feel like a bath full of beer, not just a glass.
Now you can have both -- thanks to a German brewery which has developed a beer you can wash down your food with or wash down your body.
Jad Fair's project Strobe Talbot will be featured in a story on Public Radio International show "The World" today. The segment includes an interview with the band as well as the real Strobe Talbott, the diplomat.
If you miss the actual broadcast of the show, worry not! It will be archived on "The World" website in the Global Hits section.
Since the world needs information provided by AK Press & Alternative Tentacles artists' MORE NOW THAN EVER, we thought we would highlight these IMPORTANT releases and put some of them on sale for the next few weeks. There have been quite a few great new releases on AK Press/Alternative Tentacles in the past 6 months, so please check them out.
11/19/02: Articles of Faith contest at Flex Your Head Online!
Between November 17 and 24, you can enter the contest here on the FYH website. Good luck!
Listen for your favorite AT bands on the Flex Your Head radio show every Tuesday from 6 - 8 pm (Pacific time) on CiTR 101.9fm .