Jeremy Scahill's brave and outraged "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army" renders the story of the Blackwater mercenary group, and other mercenary groups that have seized the economic opportunities opened by the Bush regime's willingness to offer no-bid contracts and no-liability opportunities to fight America's wars. Backwater -- founded by ultra-right-wing Christian conservatives -- hires Pinochet-era Chilean war-criminals, ex-law-enforcement types and former military, and others to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan -- and in America. They can and do murder civilians with impunity, they line their pockets with cost-plus multi-billion-dollar military expenditures, and they kill their own men -- and the American soldiers they are supposed to be helping -- through corner-cutting profiteering.
Scarier still is their deployment on US soil, as with the Katrina disaster, where Blackwater took in millions for shoveling armed men and automatic weapons into the stricken city of New Orleans, where food and health care were impossible to come by but where there was no shortage of ammunition.
Scahill's book is incredibly, even mind-numbingly well-researched and documented. Framed around the gruesome, vile murder of four of Blackwater's mercs in Fallujah (Scahill shows that Blackwater sent them to their deaths by skimping on security, support, and intelligence), Scahill works from primary sources, Congressional testimony, on-the-ground reporters, and a wide variety of corroborating evidence to build the case against using hired killers to support American military objectives.
David Robinson used the data from the 28,657 people who self-selected to take the Stack Overflow survey to investigate the relationship between programmer pay and the conventions of using either tabs or spaces to mark indents, and found a persistent, significant correlation between using spaces and bringing home higher pay.
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Although flagship smartphones are unlikely to adopt heavy-duty outer casing anytime soon, you can always prepare your device for the outdoors with a beefy case and and an external battery like this Nomad Tile Trackable PowerPack, available in the Boing Boing Store for $119.95.The Nomad Tile can fully recharge an iPhone 7 over three times […]
Even though credit cards now feature an EMV chip for securing transactions, they still have to include the magnetic strip for compatibility with older point of sale systems. Because of this, there’s no way for the chip’s new security capabilities to protect against card skimmers in the wild.How do you protect yourself from legacy-technology-induced fraud? […]
As the old saying goes, “You should sit in meditation for 30 minutes every day. Unless you are too busy, in which case you should meditate for an hour.” Since most of us have an endless list of things to do and people to see, carving out quiet time can feel impossible, especially when most […]