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September 8, 2005

I’m running out of expressions of amazement
Posted by Teresa at 11:26 PM * 57 comments

Quick, ask me who’s patrolling in New Orleans right now. Just ask.

It’s Blackwater USA: armed private commandos. If you think you’ve heard about them in connection with the war in Iraq, yes: these are the same guys.

FEMA won’t let the Red Cross into New Orleans, but they’ve had Blackwater USA running around loose there—and until I hear differently, I’m going to assume Blackwater isn’t doing it for free.

FEMA has been making decisions and sending down orders that have horrified the entire world. We may never find out who made the decisions, but we should be able to figure out who gave the orders. Consider writing to your representatives and asking them to go after that question.

UPDATE (by Patrick): Kathryn Cramer, who has blogged mercenary-related stories before, makes several good points about Blackwater operating in New Orleans.

Comments on I'm running out of expressions of amazement:
#1 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:56 PM:

And that $52 billion "aid package" rammed through congress? $50 billion goes to FEMA.

#2 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:01 AM:

Why are you surprised? It's called
privatizing public services. It's their preferred choice. First Baghdad, now New Orleans. If it works here, they'll do it again. Next hurricane, next earthquake, next big fire.

So much for the concepts of promoting the general welfare and forming a more perfect union, let alone any reference to "we, the people." Oh, and screw domestic tranquility and the "common defense", too. Professional defense is obviously only available to those who can afford it. The rest of you just better go buy a shotgun.

#3 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:13 AM:

WTF?...!

Speechless.

Just fucking speechless.

#4 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:16 AM:

I mean I've volunteered to go there.

I know, for a fact, a LOT of Calif. Guardsmen have so volunteered (and some of them losing a fiar bit of change if they get called up).

So why in the name of anything holy should they be paying a crapload more money (and I know they pay a lot more money to Blackwater, et al. then they do to my sorry ass, and that's as a Staff Sergeant over 12, so I'm not making trivial money) to Blackwater?

I know, I just don't want to think about it, becaue it will just piss me off.

Blackwater... thugs with big paychecks.

Fuck.

#5 ::: Eric T. Simonson ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:10 AM:

Welcome to the United States of Fucking El Salvador.

Pretty soon the Retard in Chief will cashier all of the active military and replace them with mercs--no Geneva Convention, no G.I. Bill, no V.A. to worry about, no honor or any of that bullshit. Its all about the short-term buck, and which Cheney's cronies it can be diverted to.

#6 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:29 AM:

Eric, El Salvador actually offered to send troops to New Orleans.

The irony, she is delicious.

#7 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:57 AM:

When I ask myself why they would prevent relief workers from entering the city, and use professional mercenaries as police instead of National Guard volunteers, I come to a distorted conclusion:

Bush's owners see New Orleans as colonial Haiti and themselves as sugar plantation owners. They may have developed a huge fantasy of a "slave revolt." If food and water entered the city, a "slave army" might have found the strength to seize the "wealth" and start an organized insurrection. Bush sought Federal control of all National Guard operations, and is now preferring mercenaries to National Guard volunteers because ordinary, decent people in uniform might be reluctant to shoot and kill civilians when ordered to protect private property. Volunteer peacekeepers, coordinated by the state of Lousiana, might be less effective in combat against the nonexistent fantasy insurrection -- which was averted by withholding relief, insuring that "rebels" who didn't leave the city would be weak and helpless.

This explanation is pretty far out. It assumes that Bush (or his invisible, policy-setting owners) may be delusionally fearful, as well as callously cruel and avaricious.

#8 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:11 AM:

Colorado Coalfield...

90-odd years ago, a miners strike, the employers weren't even obeying the minimal state laws, company towns, company shops, company cops; the whole rotten infrastructure of laissez-faire capitalism.

The Governor sent the Colorado National Guard in to protect property. The Guard "recruited" the company cops. The State ran short of money and withdrew the rest.

Company towns, remember. Refugee camps.

It ended with a camp being machine-gunned, and burned to the ground. Women and children died, trapped by bullets.


Eventually the miners went back to work, still dying in accidents that happened more often than in any other American coalfield. And Rockefeller still had his millions.

#9 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:13 AM:

Lenny: It looks as though these are being privately hired (as I poke around).

I have some thoughts on this (baronial armies of liveried men at arms comes to mind) because I don't see why they ought to get to stay behind and carry guns (since I doubt; if they are privately hired, they will readily answer to the Gov't), but can't really articulate them right now.

#10 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 03:25 AM:

As for Blackwater...

It's been my understanding that armed, uniformed, private security is a commonplace in the USA, and the history is varied; some good and a lot bad.

And people misidentify guns: not every rifle which looks like an M-16 is a full-auto military weapon.

But there are photographs out there which seem to show Blackwater "security guards" in denim shorts and tshirt, and that's what makes the alarm bells ring.

That, and the inference that private security are outside the chain of command, such as it is.

Put them in a uniform, put them under the control of the government, and you have NOLA Police or Sheriff's Department or National Guard.

Put them in a uniform, and at least you can recognise them. they're not a "gang" or an "insurgency".

And I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that they're thugs.

But "single men in barracks" and all that. Without the control, without the discipline, what will they do?

And how many pictures of guys with guns wearing tshirts will be use to back claims of lawlessness?

#11 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 03:36 AM:

Dave you have some good points in general terms. But Blackwater has a specific history. It's the difference between, say, Western political parties in general and the modern Republican party in particular, or weblogs in general and Powerline in particular.

#12 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 04:07 AM:

I've been talking about this for days.

#13 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 05:52 AM:

Lenny, Bush is delusionally fearful. I'm convinced of it.

Teresa, since you're scarce of exclamations of amazement, how about "Jesus Fucking Christ Jumped Up on a Pogo Stick!"? It's blasphemous and profane (yet just a little bit silly), but these times call for it. I reserve it for particularly dismaying and offensive news myself.

I don't think this note would've qualified, but it would've worked for "Can Michael Brown be tried for murder?" Except you had a perfectly good title there. So, uh. Stuff of that magnitude.

And if you're wondering, yeah, it came out of my mouth once about this so far, around the time I heard about the Red Cross being denied entry.

#14 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:03 AM:

I've added a paragraph, and a pertinent link, to the post on top of this thread.

#15 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:38 AM:

There's plenty of evidence that Blackwater is there as a private security firm hired by businesses and the wealthy to protect themselves.

It's not clear (yet, anyway) that FEMA has hired them. But it wouldn't surprise me if FEMA HAD hired them, given the way Bush has been privatizing the government. *sigh*

#16 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:45 AM:

You couldn't make it up.

Interesting piece this morning at Adrian Turtle's livejournal on the way it's possible the other 52% are in agreement with Bush's policies because of how they're being informed.

#17 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 09:34 AM:

My exclamation of choice these days is "Porca Polpetta Polpettina in Sugo di Pomodoro Con Calamaretti", which is not prophane* and has the added bonus that Italians thrown themselves on the floor and roll around laughing on hearing it.

Then again, it doesn't really convey what I feel.

*Come to think of it, it is sort of shocking for Pastafarians.

#18 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 10:41 AM:

The material I saw purported to be an offer from Blackwater (I'm pretty sure it was but I didn't follow up) to hire - qualified, no training required - at $200 per day and all found for Wackencop equivalent positions - I took it to be for assignments such as guarding the Wal-Marts rather than for civil policing.

Given that we know the top cover helicopter and airplanes are doing Forest Service style fire watch and vectoring responses because the fires can't be reported by a community that isn't there and doesn't have communication I'd say private security guards for high value assets makes a lot of sense.

#19 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 11:16 AM:

I assume you've already seen this?

Old-line families plot the future

When New Orleans descended into a spiral of looting and anarchy, Mr. Reiss helicoptered in an Israeli security company to guard his Audubon Place house and those of his neighbors.

and

The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."
#20 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 11:25 AM:

Dave: For all practical purposes, a civilian and a military version of the M-16 are the same. It works better in semi-auto (though the burst function on the A2 series is more controllable than the full-auto of the A1). As a weapon it has minimal recoil (the manual says to place one's nose on the charging handle, which is a piece oe metal, at right angles to the stock, so as to keep the same sight picture all the time).

And this isn't hiring a Well Fargo rent-a-cop, in a uniform with a radio and a flashlight.

These guys have a history. These are the ones who got four of their number killed in Fallujah. They were singled out by the Iraqis, and they alone in that convoy were killed. They were the ones who bodies were burnt and hung from the bridge.

These are the guys the Vanity Fair(?) article described as swooping into gas stations, cutting in line and makingit work because they were willing to shoot anyone who disagreed. Who handed the reporter travelling with them an AK-47, so he could help cover the deal.

His musings on what that meant (which is to say he realised by taking it, he was deciding to defend himself, with deadly force, so they could get gasoline in a hurry, rather than wait in line).

These people have been hired in a neighborhood where looting (to use the popular phrase) a Whole Foods for gourmet salami is written about as though it were a civlised activity, and the guy who did that was wearing what all fashionable white guys in the rich parts of town were now sporting, a pistol on his hip.

These guys don't believe in accountability.

I called them thugs, because from what I know, (second and third hand) they are cowboys. They left the Army, or the Corps, or signed up with Blackwater first because they like running around with power in lawless places.

They are cowboys, and I don't want them in my country.

#21 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 11:40 AM:

The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."

I'm assuming Reiss's skin color is closer to milk than coffee. I'd also assume he wants 'live-in' help to maintain his estate, and doesn't want to pay any more in wages than required by law. (And that being called 'master' or 'lord' would probably make him feel really, really good.) Somehow, this doesn't not invoke a great deal of pity in my heart. (Cue the sad violin music, please.)

#22 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 11:50 AM:

In August of 1955, Hurricane Connie passed through the Delaware Valley, followed shortly by the remnants of Hurricane Diane. This resulted in the Great Flood of 1955. As the late science fiction literary agent Virginia Kidd (at the time of the flood, Mrs. James Blish) told the story, the flood waters rose up to the window sills of the main floor of the house (to a depth of about 4 ft on one side of the house, and much deeper on the other side, as Arrowhead has a daylight basement). The waters stayed for two weeks. Meanwhile, Virginia and her family stayed at Judy Merrill's house, on much higher ground, 3 doors down from the Milford stoplight (for those who've been there). As I recall, Virginia said they spent the whole time playing cards, waiting for the waters to recede. Much of the contents of the house had to be discarded because the flooded houses all had septic systems and the septic systems had been destroyed. But the Blish family still had their house.

But not for long. The US government took most ofthe houses in the flood zone by eminient domain and tore many of them down. There was a plan for a vast flood management program involving making the whole area a lake. The plan was never enacted.

When I worked for Virginia in the late 1980s, we were still sweeping the Delaware River mud out of the floor boards.

Virginia was allowed to rent the family house back from the government for the rest of her life, and it is where she founded and ran the Virginia Kidd Literary Agency. And when she died a few years ago, the agency was allowed to continue opperating in the house, and there they are still.

Why is Blackwater in New Orleans? Two words: Eminent Domain. Think about it.

#23 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 11:56 AM:

Two words: Eminent Domain.

I have been thinking this, too. The Keno decision was quite timely for this: they can seize drowned New Orleans by eminent domain, and turn it over to a private commercial interest.

#24 ::: marrije ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:02 PM:

Alex and Kathryn, could you explain to me what 'Eminent Domain' is?

#25 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:17 PM:

Eminent Domain is how the government takes your property for a public purpose, whether you chose to sell it to them or not, at a price they specify. In Kelo vs. New London, the supreme court vastly expanded the powers of government to take property in situations where it was arguably for a private, not a public, purpose. The American Bar Association outlines it thusly:

The exercise of eminent domain has a central role in urban redevelopment, smart growth, water quality improvements, wild land preservation and restoration, and a host of environmental and energy infrastructure projects.

The Fifth Amendment enjoins: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." This Quick Teleconference will examine the Supreme Court's recently decided 5th Amendment cases Kelo v. New London, No. 04-108 (June 23, 2005) and Lingle v. Chevron, 125 S. Ct. 2074 (May 23, 2005). In Kelo, the Court by a 5-4 majority upheld the City of New London, Connecticut's condemnation of 15 homes in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood for the sole purpose of furthering economic redevelopment around a planned pharmaceutical research facility. The QT will discuss the extent to which the decision allows governmental officials to condemn private property for the purpose of increasing tax revenues and promoting development.

In Lingle, the Court held in another 5-4 opinion that the 5th Amendment does not engender inquiry into whether the regulation "substantially advances" legitimate state interests, as it would with an issue under the Due Process Clause. Instead, how the amendment applies is a function of the extent and duration of the governmental action.

Translation: in situations like Katrina, Kelo vastly expands the opportunities for corporate looting.

#26 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:18 PM:

eminent domain, short form: The government (local, state, federal), says, "Hey, we need this peice of land for a school (highway, offices, prison, etc), here's a check, call the movers." Or words to that effect. It's more complicated than that, but usually the landowner gets paid the offical assessed value, which is generally less than full market value. If the project doesn't get built on schedule, they can rent it out and make money on it.

#27 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:18 PM:

Marrije, here's a definition:

The power to take private property for public use by the state and municipalities.
www.utcourts.gov/resources/glossary.htm

I have been thinking the same thing; and I'd dismissed it because I spend my days surrounded by lawyers, and it can make you a bit paranoid. But...It would be a great "opportunity" to do it "better".
I can just hear the sales pitch.

#28 ::: sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:35 PM:

I saw this on another board and it killed me.

From the WSJ:

Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge is overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

#29 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:36 PM:

Now that the citizens of New Orleans are enjoying their fine Dachauesqe accomodations, FEMA can Dresdenize the residential areas and start fresh.

#30 ::: marrije ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:40 PM:

Thank you, Kathryn, PJ, Emma, for those explanations of eminent domain. That's just terrible, but it's good to be informed.

#31 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:15 PM:

Usually the landowner gets offered the official assessed value, but in at least some States the landowner has the right to force the government into court to allow a jury to decide the value.

Since property is often the most expensive component of any project, engineers go to great lengths to minimize the amount of property that must be taken. I've seen State government resort to eminent domain to acquire a ten-foot-wide strip of road frontage on someone's property.

I've also seen engineers and reporters combine forces to stymie developers who tried to wrench a road widening around to allow a similar misuse of eminent domain to what's being discussed here.

#32 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:27 PM:

In Kelo vs. New London, the supreme court vastly expanded the powers of government to take property...

Just in time to welcome the proposed new Chief Justice, who has fought the [good] fight for corporate interests for most of his career.

The general take on Roberts has been, as far as I can tell, "He could be worse...he seems decent and smart...." But I fear the long-term captulation of the third branch of government to those same interests.

#33 ::: rb ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:57 PM:

you got it almost right ...

but it was the STATE government that did not let the Red Cross in.

Here is the official Red Cross link:


http://www.redcross.org/faq/0,1096,0_682_4524,00.html

and the news story:

http://www.radioblogger.com/#000970

#34 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 03:04 PM:

I'm not one to doubt the ridiculous lengths and depths that the government has gone to and will go to, but from my understanding, the Blackwater guys are privately hired. Also, the military members I've spoken with who are in NO currently haven't seen the Blackwater guys, so it seems they are concentrated in a particular area, not throughout the city.

#35 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 06:58 PM:

The question isn't whether the Blackwater guys are carrying M-16s or AR-15s, or whether they're in uniform or in shorts and tennis shoes: The question is why this particular bunch of civilians has been allowed into the city when other civilians (firefighters, Red Cross) weren't.

#36 ::: David McNamara, Ph.D. ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 05:45 AM:

As Joe Hill said (paraphrased): "Don't fucking whine! Organize. . ."

#37 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 05:53 AM:

The question is why this particular bunch of civilians has been allowed into the city when other civilians (firefighters, Red Cross) weren't.

And why ordinary citizens are being stripped of their (legally) held weapons and/or kicked out of their unflooded houses, while the rich and corporations are being allowed to remain and to hire weapons-carrying mercenaries.

#38 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 08:50 AM:

It's clear to me that I didn't know enough about Blackwater.

As for the differences between an M-16 and an AR-15, there is one that would be significant. The M-16 is, under Federal Firearms Law, a "machingun". Which means all sorts of extra complications for Blackwater and their employees, or some really major corruption.

#39 ::: Debashis Sinha ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 09:34 AM:

wow.
i am checking out all this from my basement apt in toronto and i can and can't believe what i am seeing. i feel angry and outraged and, shamefully, smug---thinking that this wouldn't happen here....but it might.
no red cross, you can't come in.
yes blackwater, you can come in.
put those niggers in detention, they're savages...
i can and can't believe it.
my best to all of you.
deb

#40 ::: Making Dark ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 01:14 PM:

Mercenaries are very problematic, but would we be happier if the wealthy were sucking up public money and public personnel to protect (only) their particular private property? That's the most likely alternative. Keep arguing for that if you want to save rich people some money.

Relief workers generally aren't trained or equipped to defend themselves. Imagine how incredibly more gummed-up this situation would be if some relief workers had been killed by some marauding a**-hole. It's obvious no official wants to be held responsible for any decision here, which is what created this disaster in the first place, so are you really surprised they un-decided to let unarmed people in afterward?

#41 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 01:26 PM:

Dave: in Calif. all one needs to own one is a federal permit.

To carry it (other than back and forth to the range) one has to be a federal, or state, cop; in a SWAT unit, or a member of the Army, Guard, or State Military Reserve; on duty.

Getting the permits isn't that hard. It's jus tedious, and moderately expensive.

Getting the recognition, to carry, is a tad harder. I don't know what Virgninia law says on the matter, nor that of Louisiana. It may not take all that much much baksheesh to make it legal.

But, as Jim asked, why is the Red Cross not being allowed in, and Blackwater is?

And why are citizens being deprived of property?

TK

#42 ::: bw1* ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 09:34 AM:

I am working for Blackwater in the NO area right now. Here are a few facts: We only have semi-auto weapons or pump-action shotguns. I am working basically as a security guard and I am licensed to carry a weapon as a security guard in the state. We are using our air assets to perform search and rescue and assistance operations free of charge. I am not a mercenary. I work for us interests only when I am out of the country. I am not a thug. I have 12 years of police experience, 16 years of military experience (including SF) and I have saved more lives than I will ever take. BW can quickly deploy a fair number of personnel at a cheaper cost than the military. If you bitch about my pay, then put in your resume. I have put my time in as a soldier and police officer, so you know what you can do with your petty jealousy (if this applies to you ). I am working with good natured, hard-working, patriotic Americans. We are not patrolling the streets with orders to shoot to kill like some of you would like to believe. The area needed security before relief could be sent in. Most of this is common sense to me. Don't let your beliefs blind you from the facts and reasonable thought. I am typing this using my cell phone or I would type more.

stay safe

#43 ::: Tara Lee Hathaway Sgam,bellone ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 06:23 PM:

Thanks to the news services, and the courage of the people in the trenches, we are seeing, our government, with all it's corruption, in full glory.
What we are also seeing, is the grass roots forming of what I can only pray is a gathering
of indignent citizens. In every area of this country. "We the people", cannot let this happen.
This is not some wild conspiracy theory. It is live, in your face. If New Orleans can fall, then
why not Arizona, California. I'm fairly certain Florida is safe.
The question is, what can, each of us, do in
our location to illuminate the corruption. Involve ourselves, (engage would be more aptly put), sorry we're already involved.
Someone made a remark to me, guess since they we're upper class, in some sick way, it justifies
their lack of (looking for a word here).
Heres my perception, based on visual imagery.
ONLY.
The wealthy were prepared enough, to stock house,
water, supplies, and hire security guards.
Assistance was denied, the flooded areas, were herded to a stadium. Then locked in. No food,
No water, diapers. Who herded them there. Why
didn't they have, security at the stadium. Why were they locked in.
Why is the water more toxic, to the citizens, than it is, or will be, to the clean, up crews.
To sterilize water, the formula is as follows.
Per gallon of water.
Clear water 1/8 teaspoon of bleach.
Cloudy water 1/4 teaspoon of bleach.

This is basic stuff. They could and can
sterlize the water. Why should they have to.
every water bottling company on this continent,
should be flooding the area with bottles.
Why are we calling them refugees????
The government made them refugees!
Why are they being forced to leave?
Is it a coincidence that it's, poor, white/black/
zebra striped, infirmed, elderly, weak, and children.
What about the displaced children. My theory is
they knew in 2001, FEMA knew in 2003, homeland
security made disaster funds federally managed.
Why is it that, it is the independent wealth, that is again becomming the fix.
Look at the number of Non-profit, special needs organizations, that do what we pay governmental
taxes to handle.
Is the silence because, if people don't name it,
they think it will go away. Maybe I won't catch it if I ignore it.
Let's give it a name FEAR. Because people what we
are watching, is you, me, your neighbor, the person that does your hair, the checker at the store, the newspaper boy, your gardener.
Does, it make sense to anybody, to search for bodies, and plastic wrap, for later pickup.
Good universe, we treat our weekly garbage better. YES, YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT, I BELIEVE IT'S A CLASS ISSUE. In that state a vast majority of the poverty level, is black. There's alot of poor white folks too.
Why, because their ancestors were brought there, they built it, it's saturated with their families
history. Then, money came in, bought up the beach front, paid pennines for the pleasure,
of enjoying their culture, music. We're not talking color here, we're talking class distinction. Well now that they didn't accomplish
killing all the poor, population. They have a hell of a mess, don't they.
This person said, "The reason they did nothing, is because they are all government subsidized,
they're used to the government doing everything,
for them. So, they sat around, on their asses, waiting for the government to help." Sorry, but
the only response, I could muster was to turn and walk away.
Across this nation. We need protests, we need rallies, we need to boycott companies that don't contribute. They don't want the press, or the citizens to see, because, they didn't plan on
any living beings. Forced from children, animals are family members, they made them choose.
Al I can say is, you would have to shoot me.
Is that why they're taking away "The right to bear arms". Spending needless monies, to evacuate
people that don't want to go.
detaining, a volunteer bringing in medical supplies. I don't see help here, I see harassment.
What about the clean up. These people need jobs.
Doesn't it make more sense, to allow these people, back. Pay them to assist with the clean up. Which i suspect they would do for free.
No, this is much more cost effective. Give them
$2000 to be spent by 9/25, then what?
On the anniversary of 9/11, our country looks
like a war torn third world. I am asking that you pass this on. Pay tribute to the hero's
through out this nations history. Give honor
to the victims, which will forever be a light
guiding us out of the dark. Do not let their sacrifice be for nothing. Stand up and let
it be known that every life on this planet counts. Find your way, use your voice.
Protest, rally.
In March, Support NOLA, don't file taxes.
Don't file taxes.
Don't buy gas on Sundays, for O'Reily.
Don't buy gas on Monday, to flip the
middle one, at big government, and big oil.
Don't buy gas on Thursday, because it will work,
Party on Friday with friends, carpool, anything
we do is a minor inconvinence, compared to
what we're watching today.
As a final Mind F***, while everyone knew, the levee, wouldn't stay dry, that chevy was going
to fly. The goverment sci/fi, goodie, goodie,
lets play with the planet geeks. Were seeding
the storms. So far I haven't determined, why,
but it begs the question doesn't it.

Tara Lee Hathaway Sgambellone
California.

This is simple my opinion, shared for your perusal. It is in no way intended, to sway
opinions. So, while I welcome discussion.
My intent in writing, is simply to generate
discussion and action, from all areas.
That positively effects change. Yep, a flippy
hippy, it worked before, it's time for me at least to check in. "Singing songs and carrying
signs, mostly say hurray, for our side.
"Think it's time, WE, STOP, CHILDREN, WHAT'S THAT SOUND, everybody look whats going down."

#44 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 08:47 PM:

Speaking as an aging flippy hippie, I would wish to say this to Tara Lee Hathaway, if she were more than a drive-by spammer:

If you succumb to the urge to dig up and play David Crosby's What Are Their Names?" follow up on that urge by using some of the media we now have available to us to write some of those names down. Then try to truthfully and objectively document what they've been doing and saying, both for yourself and to improve your ability to sway potential voters in the next several elections.

Also, here's a song by another Tara that I think this is pretty danceable (adv't).

#45 ::: Tara Lee Hathaway Sgam,bellone ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 01:06 AM:

Lenny, as an aging flippy hippy, I have to say.
it's a good day, when I encounter a fellow traveler. The links were fabulous, and new to me.
I stopped doing drive-bys. Officially, checked back in, the David Crosby pearl, is a good
definition of the road I'm travelling.
The answer to Crosby's query, thus far, appears
to be. Because it's not lucrative.
Thanks, new territory to discover, always appreciated.

No gas on Sunday for O'reily
No Gas on Monday to flip, the middle one, at
big goverment, and big oil.
No gas on Thursday because it works.
Don't drink and drive. Friday, pick a friends
place, drink, party. Get gas on your way home saturday.
Support NOLA, Don't file taxes!!!!
Don't File !!!
Oh Btw Very danceable

#46 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 02:29 AM:

My point, Tara, was that to remove evil, incompetent politicians from positions of public power, we need to do more, now, than curse the darkness (however artfully). The lesson we were taught by the history of the 1960s and 1970s is that you can't change the larger course of American politics simply by dropping out and refusing to spend money (although you may be able to make your own life more personally satisfying by doing so).

I can't make myself believe that urging 500,000 lifestyle rebels not to pump money into their cars, and getting 5,000 sufis to become tax martyrs will stop Bush and his avaricious backers/followers from doing what they're doing to our country.

Instead, we're stuck with the task of convincing 4 to 50 million non-lifestyle rebels that Bush, and his Republican co-conspirators in Congress, are callous, incompetent plunderers who should never again get their votes. That's going to require hard work and cooperation with a bunch of non-hippies.

(Not really wanting to derail this thread from its consideration of the presence of private security firms on the streets of New Orleans.)

#47 ::: RW ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 10:45 AM:

I encourage all of you to join me in Washington DC this September 24th to protest this administration and call for impeachment and government reform.

#48 ::: flaring ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 08:41 PM:

I've been hearing lots of people talking about purifying water in NO with bleach and/or boiling. Even using both of these methods would not make the water in NO potable because of the presence of petrochemicals and unknown toxins from the Agriculture Street Landfill. Boiling and bleach only remove (most) microorganisms (some things, like cryptosporidium, require sterner measures).

If you're going to attempt it at all, petrochemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and goodness knows what all else in is that floodwater, IIRC, must be removed with a reverse osmosis filter with at least one granulated activated charcoal filter. Of course, RO filters are kind of bulky and expensive; not to mention that you need a good bit of pressure behind your water to make them effective, and they only put out one gallon of clean water for every 10 you put in. If I'm even remembering correctly. It may not even be possible without industrial equipment.

#49 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:30 PM:

bw1: Are you seriously saying you are aware of every contract Blackwater has in New Orleans?

If so what is your repsonse to the Democracy Now segment which includes

. . one of them was wearing a golden badge, that identified itself as being Louisiana law enforcement, and in fact, one of the Blackwater mercenaries told us that he had been deputized by the governor of Louisiana, and what's interesting is that the federal government and the Department of Homeland Security have denied that they have hired any private security firms, saying that they have enough with government forces. Well, these Blackwater men that we spoke to said that they are actually on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and indeed with the governor of Louisiana. And they said that they're sleeping in camps organized by the Department of Homeland Security.

One of the Blackwater guys said that when he heard New Orleans, he asked, “What country is that in?” And he was bragging to me about how he drives around Iraq in what he called a State Department issued level five explosion-proof BMW. This, as U.S. soldiers don't even have proper armor on their Humvees and other vehicles. And so, we also overheard one of the Blackwater guys talking to, we presume, a colleague, complaining that he was only being paid $350 a day plus his per diem, and that other firms were paying much more. And we're seeing many of these Blackwater mercenaries and other private security agents roaming the streets of New Orleans.

One can hear the whole thing from links here

I also found this portion interesting

AMY GOODMAN: And Jeremy, as we went around, saw other figures, we didn't know who they worked for, like those in front of Hibernia Bank, as we were driving by and John Hamilton was filming. They flagged down our car. They said, “Stop the filming.” And we said, “Why?” And they said, “We just said ‘stop the filming.’” They said, “These are our streets,” and made clear next to their sports shirt, you could see clearly that they were carrying guns.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yes, that's right. And they also alleged that they had been deputized. And another key point is that these Blackwater guys said that they were given the authority to use lethal force, as well as the power to make arrests. And when we asked them about this use of them in the United States, they said that they believe that we're going to see a lot more of this and that this is a trend. So, I think that this is a very, very disturbing development that we are seeing here on the streets of New Orleans, Amy.


If you listen to the whole thing they report seeing Blackwater agents setting up shop in a building on Bourbon Street.

#50 ::: Tara Lee Hathaway Sgam,bellone ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2005, 05:35 AM:

Ya know after 3 days of (gawd knows what bug bit me), sick and not in a natural disaster.
I've concluded my previous post, was a load of
not very well thought out dribble.
I confess to having a quick hand, with a very
serious topic. Coupled with a brain headed for a train wreak. I'm going to focus on down sizing,
my weekly trash. That's something I can actually do, positively or negatively impact my environment.
Something about Shadows and a Maze.
That's a big my bad, on previous post.

#51 ::: Joe ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 09:01 PM:

All right, I see that again, I must clear up mis conceptions. First, about the government hiring blackwater to do security that is TRUE. I know this because I spoke with an individual who was personally contacted by them to do this. I am an MP in the reserve and I found it a bit foolish that members of the military, myself included, are chomping at the bit to go to New Orleans; but are getting the shaft in favor of these civilians. I won't comment on them being ruthless becuase I don't know. Another thing, to the poster who said that the M-16 is the same as an AR-15 and that the the M-16 is a machine gun needs to talk what they know. I qualify on the M-16 and let me assure you that it NOT a machine gun nor is it the same as an AR-15. An M-16 is the military version of the AR-15 and is identical to it except that the M-16 has a burst feature. This enables the weapon to fire a three round burst instead of the normal semi-auto shot. The civilian AR-15 DOES NOT have this feature but can be modified to have it if the owner knows how to change the sear. Also, the short version of the M-16 with a collapsable stock known as the M-4 has a civilian counterpart M-16 or M-4 carbine. Please know what your talking about. And again, yes the government has screwed it's troops once more and HAS contracted blackwater to provide security, at the cost of 250.00 dollars a day.

#52 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 09:16 PM:

My point in mentioning AR-15s and M-16s was that few civilians can tell one from the other at a glance. Which, if either, the Blackwater guys are carrying is immaterial in any case.


(And back a while ago in another place, lots of my friends carried AR-15s (or CAR-15s) in preference to M-16s because (and this predated that silly burst fire modification) the AR-15 with a determined man on the trigger had a higher cyclic rate than an M-16 on full auto. (Or so went the theory.))

#53 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 03:25 AM:

Joe: What Dave said, re the M-16 (all variants) and the C/AR-15 (all variants) is true, according to the BATF they are Class Three weapons, i.e. machine guns, in that they can fire more than one round with a single pull of the trigger.

I'm not sure about the theory Jim mentions, in re the rate of fire of the M-16/A/A1, and the C/AR-15, but I can say, having used an A1 for the past 13 years (save the year I was issued an A2 and living in the cradle of civilization) that I can fire more accurately, at a healthy rate of fire with an A1 on semi, than I can on Auto, and I can keep the thing to three round bursts, with the occasional four round mistake.

#54 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2005, 08:15 PM:

More good news from inside the Beltway:

How Many More Mike Browns Are Out There?
A TIME inquiry finds that at top positions in some vital government agencies, the Bush Administration is putting connections before experience

"Pattern or practice" of appointing people who are good in politics and are clueless in the field where they're supposed to be working. And I am really unhappy that these people, some of who are heads or deputy heads of major agencies, get confirmed as though they were going to be the dogcatcher of East Wherever. Five of 17 committee members present? That shouldn't even be a quorum, never mind enough for a serious vote!

#55 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 01:36 AM:

in Calif. all one needs to own one is a federal permit.
See the web site of the California AG Firearms division - full text of the Dangerous Weapons Control Law at http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms/dwcl/dwc.htm
As for the M16 (assorted versions) - The machine gun section 2005 Dangerous Weapons Control Law 12200 thru 12251 Machine Guns
is at http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms/dwcl/12200.htm
ARTICLE 3. PERMITS
12230. The Department of Justice may issue permits for the possession, manufacture, and transportation or possession, manufacture, or transportation of machineguns, upon a satisfactory showing that good cause exists for the issuance thereof to the applicant for the permit, but no permit shall be issued to a person who is under 18 years of age.
12233. Permits issued in accordance with this chapter may be revoked by the issuing authority at any time when it appears that the need for the firearms has ceased
As for the AR-15 (assorted versions)
2005 Dangerous Weapons Control Law
12275 thru 12290 Assault Weapons
http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms/dwcl/12275.htm
ARTICLE 3. REGISTRATION AND PERMITS
12285 Any person who (A) obtains title to an assault weapon registered under this section or that was possessed pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 12280 by bequest or intestate succession, or (B) lawfully possessed a firearm subsequently declared to be an assault weapon pursuant to Section 12276.5, or subsequently defined as an assault weapon pursuant to Section 12276.1, shall, within 90 days, render the weapon permanently inoperable, sell the weapon to a licensed gun dealer, obtain a permit from the Department of Justice in the same manner as specified in Article 3 (commencing with Section 12230) of Chapter 2, or remove the weapon from this state.

In California both full auto (M16) and semi-auto (AR-15) are closely controlled and subject to the whim of the authorities.

Information on all the assorted variations is available many places.

#56 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 01:43 AM:

The question is why this particular bunch of civilians has been allowed into the city when other civilians (firefighters, Red Cross) weren't.

See metro Atlanta - Decatur/Dekalb for an interesting dispute in the absence of Blackwater

".....When DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones asked the Red Cross to leave its relief services center on Panola Road, he cited "unwieldy and chaotic operations" that were a "disgrace." A Red Cross spokesperson said Tuesday the agency left after DeKalb made "inappropriate requests" for money that "we did not feel was a good use of the donated dollar."

Whatever the reason, the closure burdened hundreds of displaced people by adding another obstacle on a rocky road toward normalcy that began when Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast three weeks ago, triggering the largest domestic relief operation in U.S. history.

The disaster spawned record donations but also complaints from the Gulf Coast to metro Atlanta.

Locals on the Gulf Coast complained this week that the Red Cross did not open shelters in New Orleans or in parts of the hardest hit Mississippi coast, but the Red Cross said it makes no sense to offer shelter in an area that may flood...."

http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument&orgId=574&topicId=100017757&docId=l:312196167&start=14

#57 ::: tony Parker ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2005, 12:08 AM:

Just to give you a little insight, most of the Blackwater security guys are x- military and police officers. I know five guys that worked with me at the police department and went over to Blackwater. These five guys were good cops and good individuals, so not all Blackwater guys are bad. These guys went to the Blackwater family for the money, they felt, why get shot at for $42,000 a year on the streets when I can get the same treatment for $100,000 a year ( make sense to me).

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