The U.K. lets its girl groups' beta members release loud, busy and killer summer singles (that'd be Nicola Roberts' "Beat of My Drum," for those of you not acquainted.) Now the States are joining in, with "Sweet Vendetta" by former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton.

"Sweet Vendetta" has more in common than "Beat of My Drum" than its convenient-for-writers timing. They're both fast; they're both fun, an although Thornton draws her excitement from the past, as opposed to Nicola's super-futuristic vibe, the effect's the same. Both Nicola and Melody have quavery belts working slightly above their capacities. Both sound as if they've indiscriminately collaged a bunch of pop songs--in this case, the pre-chorus settles into a "Rolling in the Deep" pulse, the backing vocals huddle among near-silence like those of "Like a Prayer," and there's even what we can't help but hear as a "fight for this love" shoutout for those who didn't immediately make the Girls Aloud leap. Both are slightly nonsensical if you think so hard--"vendetta" does not mean what Melody thinks it means, but why let that stop you from singing along?

And then there's the obvious: both "Sweet Vendetta" and "Beat of My Drum" are great pop songs that try just about everything but probably won't trouble the charts nearly as much as the blogs. Or maybe we're wrong, and "Sweet Vendetta" will displace every summer song of 2011. Nicole Scherzinger still hasn't quite done that, despite dozens of PR pushes and some equally busy singles, so we highly doubt that'll happen. But why let that keep you from a pretty quality song?


Ashcroft Announces Major Changes at Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News November 15, 2001 By Kevin Murphy and Lenny Savino, Knight Ridder Washington Bureau Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News Nov. 15--WASHINGTON--Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a major reshaping of the Immigration and Naturalization Service Wednesday, creating separate bureaus for law enforcement and immigrant services.

The move comes a week after Ashcroft ordered a reorganization of the FBI to focus on preventing terrorism and two months after terrorist attacks exposed widespread problems with the INS ability to track immigrants. "The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 underscored in the most painful way for Americans that we need better control over individuals coming to our shores from other nations," Ashcroft said Wednesday. "We remain a nation committed to welcoming America's friends from abroad, but we have a new determination not to see our welcome abused by America's enemies." Of 19 hijackers identified in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, 13 had entered the United States legally. There are no entry records for the other six.

Ashcroft said the INS, whose performance has long been criticized by Congress and immigration lawyers, lacks "clear lines of authority." He promised lawmakers more details on the proposal Thursday when a House Judiciary subcommittee takes it up. The reorganization's principal change is a new Bureau of Immigration Enforcement to oversee issues involving intelligence, investigations and foreigners here illegally. "The Immigration and Naturalization Service has struggled to perform two often-competing missions," Ashcroft said. One is to welcome immigrants and the other is to enforce laws, he said. website immigration and naturalization

The INS regulates the admission of foreign-born visitors to the United States by issuing visas, granting residence documents and naturalizing as Americans people born abroad. It also curbs illegal immigration, mainly at borders. Last year, the INS and its Border Patrol processed about 550 million border crossings. Of those, about 330 million who crossed were non-Americans.

The new INS Bureau of Immigration Services, Ashcroft said, will focus on helping immigrants navigate an often-confusing array of rules, laws, applications, forms and programs.

The INS will remain under control of one commissioner because there will always be an overlap between laws and services, Commissioner James W. Ziglar said. But administrative separation is warranted, he said, and not unexpected.

"This concept has been on the table for a very long time," Ziglar said The restructuring will start immediately and be completed in about two years. Legislation is not necessary, although Congress approves the INS budget and Ashcroft promised that the Justice Department "will be working with the Congress" on the changes.

Sen. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, criticized the restructuring as inadequate.

"Quite simply, it does not go far enough for the rescue mission that is needed -- both on the enforcement side and immigration services side," he said. "We must remember that the current INS is the direct product of previous INS administrative restructuring efforts." Ashcroft also defended an executive order signed late Tuesday by President Bush that would permit the possible use of military tribunals to try non-U.S. citizen terrorists in the United States and abroad. The system last was used during World War II.

"The United States is in the state of war, and I think it's important to give the president the maximum flexibility consistent with his constitutional authority," Ashcroft said.

Reorganization of the INS comes as the Justice Department attempts to interview about 5,000 immigrants who might know something about terrorist plots against the United States. Civil rights advocates criticized that sweeping plan Tuesday and again Wednesday. here immigration and naturalization

According to Ashcroft, the Justice Department has compiled a list of 5,000 men between the ages of 18 and 33 who entered the United States from countries where terrorism is sponsored or organized. Justice divided the 5,000 according to the geography of the 94 U.S. Attorney's offices nationwide. Their personnel are expected to interview their portion of the 5,000 within 30 days.

Although no one can be forced to give an interview and Ashcroft said "these individuals were not selected in order to single out a particular ethnic or religious group," the plan drew sharp criticism Wednesday from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, based in Washington.

In a press release, the group said that using age, gender and national origin as a basis for the interviews "smacks of racial profiling and is open to serious abuse if civil liberties are not respected." The American Civil Liberties Union, based in New York, called the plan "a dragnet approach" that comes on the heels of other alleged Justice Department abuses of immigrant rights, such as a refusal to release details on hundreds of people now detained. The premise of their arrest was that they could be linked to terrorism.

"The government should be encouraging those with information to come forward rather than alienating the very people whose cooperation is the key to this important investigation," said Lee Guttentag, director of the ACLU's Immigrant Rights Project.

Steve Cobb, a Nashville immigration lawyer who represents mostly foreign doctors and other professionals seeking to become U.S. citizens, hoped the reorganization would speed up their processing.

"The quality and timeliness of service by the INS in the last three years has been abysmal," said Cobb. How much the shift helps his clients, he added, will depend on how much money goes to keeping better track of visitors and how much goes to improve INS services.