Blackwater USA is a secret army based in North Carolina with a sole owner: Erik Prince, a radical right-wing Christian multimillionaire. Jeremy Scahill talks about his book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. From THE NATION, Oct. 10, 2005:
The men from Blackwater USA arrived in New Orleans right after Katrina hit. The company known for its private security work guarding senior US diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations to the scene in another devastated Gulf. About 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the chaos of New Orleans. Officially, the company boasted of its forces “join[ing] the hurricane relief effort.” But its men on the ground told a different story.
Some patrolled the streets in SUVs with tinted windows and the Blackwater logo splashed on the back; others sped around the French Quarter in an unmarked car with no license plates. They congregated on the corner of St. James and Bourbon in front of a bar called 711, where Blackwater was establishing a makeshift headquarters. From the balcony above the bar, several Blackwater guys cleared out what had apparently been someone’s apartment. They threw mattresses, clothes, shoes and other household items from the balcony to the street below. They draped an American flag from the balcony’s railing. More than a dozen troops from the 82nd Airborne Division stood in formation on the street watching the action.
Armed men shuffled in and out of the building as a handful told stories of their past experiences in Iraq. “I worked the security detail of both Bremer and Negroponte,” said one of the Blackwater guys, referring to the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer, and former US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte. Another complained, while talking on his cell phone, that he was getting only $350 a day plus his per diem. “When they told me New Orleans, I said, ‘What country is that in?'” he said. He wore his company ID around his neck in a case with the phrase Operation Iraqi Freedom printed on it.
In early March, just days after a Germantown High School teacher’s neck was broken, the School District of Philadelphia released ELLEN GREEN CEISLER’S report on student disciplinary policies and procedures. She was hired as a consultant by the district to conduct the evaluation during the 2005-2006 school year. We talk with her today about her findings and recommendations.
An indie-pop duo from Los Angeles, The Bird and the Bee combines futuristic rhythms and beats with ethereal vocals and catchy hooks, producing an unusual and irresistible combination. Singer Inara George (daughter of the late Little Feat frontman Lowell George) earned her own critical success with 2005’s excellent All Rise. Collaborator Greg Kurstin, a former piano prodigy, has produced work for artists such as The Flaming Lips and Lily Allen. The two met several years ago when George was working on All Rise, at which point they discovered a mutual love of jazz and formed The Bird & The Bee. After the 2006 release of a debut EP — which contains three songs and a chart-topping dance remix by Peaches — the duo released its self-titled full-length debut in January.