Gustav: Online resources are up, Blackwater gears up, Twitter blows up.


(1) Here is an interactive, Java-animated map of Gustav's path, courtesy NOAA.

(2) Mercenary army outsourcers Controversial private security contractor firm Blackwater is gearing up for disaster in the Gulf, as Hurricane Gustav approaches. Snip from a "help wanted" ad on the firm's website:

Blackwater is compiling a list of qualified security personnel for possible deployment into areas affected by Hurricane Gustav. Applicants must meet all items listed under the respective Officer posting and be US citizens. Contract length is TBD.
Via Clayton Cubitt. Update: Noah Shachtman at Wired Danger Room has much more on Blackwater's renewed presence in the region.

(3) Sean Bonner of metblogs writes:

This morning I've stumbled across a good number of online resources for Hurricane Gustav and New Orleans and thought it would be good to start a list here to keep track of them. Feel free to add any in the comments and I'll try to keep this list updated with any links posted.
Gustav resources online (hub.metblogs)

(4) You can follow Twitter chatter about #gustav here. Needless to say, the search string updates very frequently right now.

(5) Wikipedia says the Swedish name "Gustav" means "Staff of the Goths."


(image: by Flickr user Maitri V-R, shot this weekend in the French Quarter of New Orleans.)

(6) Here is a Hurricane Gustav Wiki.

This is the wiki for information relating to Hurricane Gustav and its approach to the northern Gulf coast. It's intended to be centralized site for links to information everywhere else on the web; please publicize it far and wide. Information will be moved here as time progresses from the similar wiki built during and after Hurricane Katrina's landfall 3 years ago. Please be polite and patient in working with the wiki and the community it attracts, to the extent that you can, and hopefully, everyone will get through this one in one piece.
The creator of that Wiki, Andy Carvin, is asking Google Map gurus to help him create a comprehensive Gustav map mashup:
We should build a map - or work with google to do so - that plots out as much data as possible re: evac centers, storm route, damage, flood reports, etc. If Google or someone else is doing it already, great; let's embed it. If not, we need to find some Google Map gurus to figure out how to get started.
(thanks, Andy Carvin and Noelle McAfee)

(7) About a quarter of all crude oil production in the United States takes place in the Gulf region. And nearly 100% of the oil-related activity in this region has now been shut down. What will happen to the price of oil?

(8) Video: Anatomy of a Hurricane, embedded at the bottom of this BB post. An educational film produced in 1996 by the US Department of the Interior. "Hurricanes are beautifully organized storms of destruction... An average hurricane releases heat equivalent to the total electrical energy consumed annually in the United States." (from The Open Video Project, via Siege)

(9) Doc Searls has a post up with pointers on "Getting Gustav."

A little guide to New Orleans radio & other Hurricane Gustav sources. If you’re using a regular over-the-air-type radio, and you’re within 750 miles or so of New Orleans, tune in 870am to hear WWL. It’s one of the original (literal) clear channel stations. In the old days you’d get them from coast to coast at night, but in recent years the FCC has chosen to allow new stations to clutter the AM band at night (when signals skip off the ionosphere). But still, worth a check if you’re within range. WWL also has a hurricane coverage network of other stations in the area.

If you’re listening over the Net, your station choices are WWL and WIST. Here’s a link to a browser thingie that plays WWL (using Windows Media or Silverlight). Here’s WIST’s audio page. Wish either used .mp3, but this isn’t the right time to complain. Both have excellent local coverage right now, from what I can gather. Lots of listener call-in stuff.

(10) New Orleans Metblog contributor Craig, who owns a restaurant called Janitas on Magazine street, has decided to stay put and liveblog whatever happens. It sounds like he is a former broadcast industry professional. He finds lulz in these hard hours, with news crews pouring in as residents pour out:
Being the only restaurant open on lower Magazine kinda made us The Place To Be. The ONLY Place to be. It was good to share some “do you know?” time with folks in my former profession and to talk a little of what used to be shop. Some white SUV drove by with a big “TV” plastered on it in black electrical tape. Given the deserted streets, I felt like I was in Beirut or someplace. Some ningnong TV guy was just on the tube, still wearing his cap and damp rain gear, facing the camera and intoning, “Tonight, New Orleans is a city holding it’s breath…” Puh-leeze. Folks like you are part of the reason why I’m not in that business anymore.
Start with his post titled "Here we go...", then read the others. (Thanks, Sean Bonner)

(11) T-Mobile has opened its WiFi networks in the Gulf region for free access, which ought to greatly help with availability of telephony and data services.

Previously on Boing Boing: New Orleans mayor: "We really don't have the resources to rescue you after this."

36

  1. Last time Blackwater mercenaries in New Orleans got 300 tax-payer dollars a day to “secure” areas (read hang around with bug guns, smoking and threatening to shoot people, and/or looting businesses and homes)…I bet they’ll get 500 a day this time. Meanwhile the citizens of New Orleans get pooped on again.

  2. anyone know if it was a Blackwater merc that killed that Canadian soldier in Afghanistan the other day?

  3. Don’t forget that they went door to door disarming the public. Yeah, those Bill of Rights (citing #2), they really don’t mean anything.

  4. Takuan:
    It’s a long and circuitous route, but yes, the mercenary which killed the Canadian soldier worked for an agency which is eventually owned by Blackwater.

    I wonder how some of them will feel about this:
    “..when the Canadian department of national defence – in an effort to staunch the flow of Canadian blood in the sands of Afghanistan (93 servicemen and women “fallen” so far in their hopeless Nato war against the Taliban) – has brought in a Virginia-based US company called the Terrorism Research Centre to help. According to the DND, these “terrorism experts” are going, among other subjects, to teach Canadian troops – DO NOT LAUGH, READERS, I BEG YOU DO NOT LAUGH – “the history of Islam”! And yes, these “anti-terrorism” heroes are also going to lecture the lads on “radical (sic) Islam”, “sensitivities” and “cultural and ideological issues that influence insurgent decision-making”. It is a mystery to me why the Canadian brass should turn to the US for assistance – at a cost of almost a million dollars, I should add – when America is currently losing two huge wars in the Muslim world.”
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/08/30-4
    (The direct Independent link was way too long..)

  5. Why would Canada turn to the US on this issue? because the current PM can’t get his tongue far enough up Bush’s butt. He’s a subscriber to the neocon front and inasmuch as he did spend some money on Canada’s woefully underfunded military (25 year old helicopters anyone? Got any used leaky subs?) anything that’s privatized has got to be better than anything the Government could do.

  6. Seems the only equipment – helicopters, submarines – Canada has is old. Good thing too. Keeps us out of trouble. I don’t advocate heavy military spending… but geez… We can only keep half of the fleet in the air because the rest is parts. Don’t get lost in the Arctic boys. We might fall out of the air before we can get to you.

  7. Thank you, BoingBoing, for posting the list of resources and links, and for mentioning it period!

    I’m at DragonCon on a convenient “already-had-plans” trip turned evacuation, and am surprised by how many people have no clue there is even any disturbance in the Gulf. (“Oh, there’s a storm?” one asked.)

    Let’s cross our fingers, say prayers, or whatever it is you do, and hope that this poor little city doesn’t have to go through it again. I moved down there 8 years ago and have seen so many amazing things happen since Katrina, both good and bad.

    Despite all the problems with FEMA, Road Home, insurance companies, etc., people are still persisting in rebuilding, and I think that should say a lot to us about humanity in general. It gives me some hope, and I think it gives others hope, too. But that hope is fragile and if this storm does serious damage as Katrina did, I don’t think most would be able handle it.

  8. @#9 POSTED BY HURONBOB

    speaking of old helicopters, my son who just returned from his second tour in Iraq was repairing vietnam era copters… the Canadians aren’t the only ones with old equipment

    Newer doesn’t mean better. Tons of the best pieces of equipment in the U.S. military arsenal are old reliable pieces of equipment. There’s lots of discussion about the real motivation in “upgrading” equipment is and lo and behold, it can all be tracked down to contracts.

    Companies make more money selling you new equipment than selling parts to maintain old fleets.

    Just think of it in terms of Vista versus XP.

    And FWIW, most of these renegade armies we’re fighting in Iraq have tons of outdated equipment and they still can match us and even defeat us. Newer definitely doesn’t mean better.

  9. I’m sorry, I didn’t read the story or the comments. But I have this feeling from past stories. Blackwater makes me nauseous. They seem to be involved with all the ugliest stuff.

    Black water, ugh.

    (Not to be confused with the Doobie Bothers song, which was pretty sweet in my book).

  10. Pardon for a second post, but does this mean anything to anyone out there? I can’t make head nor tails of it. From the Blackwater home page:

    “Blackwater Worldwide efficiently and effectively integrates a wide range of resources and core competencies to provide unique and timely solutions that exceed our customers’ stated needs and expectations.

    We are guided by integrity, innovation, and a desire for a safer world. Blackwater Worldwide professionals leverage state-of-the-art training facilities, professional program management teams, and innovative manufacturing and production capabilities to deliver world-class, customer-driven solutions.

    Our corporate leadership and dedicated family of exceptional employees adhere to essential core values- chief among these are integrity, innovation, excellence, respect, accountability, and teamwork.”

    I just ask, WTF are they talking about? I am glad that they have worldwide professionals leveraging state-of-the-art training programs. I will sleep better tonight.

  11. @#14 Jake0748, dang, hadn’t spotted that gem. Kinda sounds like they make websites, or do SEO or something, huh.

  12. this season and its numerous hurricanes and potential hurricanes has prompted me to move from Miami. im thinking Portland Or. beautiful landscape and waves, at about the same distance i have to travel now to surf, though im going to have to adjust to coldnesses.

    im runnin like a bitch.

  13. Terrific post, Xeni! Full of *news* I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else….. Just wanted to say I appreciate it.

  14. I really really hope no one takes this personally or thinks I’m being racist or anything like that, but I think these hurricanes are ultimate payback!

    I’m not religious at all, but logically… if I was nature, I’d want to kick humanity’s collective butt also.

    I wrote an article about it at http://www.mndwd.rg, but don’t read it unless you’re immune to controversy.

  15. I think that it’s no coincidence that Gustav shares a middle name with Carl Gustav Jung – the FAMOUS psychiatrist and philosopher.

  16. I totally love the French Quarter bar sign. How can you not admire the Big Easy’s no bullshit Stoicism? I just hope both the bitches and the jackasses stay safe.

  17. For the record, that animated map uses Java, not Javascript.

    Java is insufferable. Javascript is less so. But they’re not related in any way.

  18. I think that it’s no coincidence that Gustav shares a last name with Carl Gustav, the 84mm recoilless rifle, famous for destroying men and buildings alike.

  19. Hi!
    I´m from Brazil and live in city 100km near São Paulo. last week I was reading a great journalist blog, and found a very strange notice: there are Blackwater mercenaires in my country, at AMAZONAS STATE. A group of brazilian army spotted a boat equiped with machine guns in an amazonian river. The guys on the boat? blackwater. HEY! This isn´t a good thing!
    Other: recently I read something about the USA government don´t agree with the international law of 200 nautical miles of terrritorial waters. Why? Because the principal petroleum exploring areas in south america are brazilian waters…
    Strange…

  20. I don’t know, Slummy, the NW Coast is kinda overdue for a seismic event…of the kind that has not happened for say the two hundred or so years the Whites have been around.
    The use of mercenaries is against international law. Apparently the baggage and luggage of an Army are not “military” enough duties for these guys to be considered true “mercenaries” say those who cut the checks, but I think the baggage train is part of the Army…and the actual Army works cheaper and DOES NOT provide “deniability” as a “service” to our “leaders”…
    Fire all the mercs and those managers who argue that they are not so.

  21. but does this mean anything to anyone out there? I can’t make head nor tails of it. From the Blackwater home page:

    It’s written in SuitSpeak. I’ll translate:

    “Blackwater Worldwide efficiently and effectively integrates a wide range of resources and core competencies to provide unique and timely solutions that exceed our customers’ stated needs and expectations.

    We have resources. We are good at different things. We can do a really good job of whatever it is you want.

    We are guided by integrity, innovation, and a desire for a safer world

    We have some snazzy written philosophy you can use against anyone who says you’re hiring mercenaries.

    Worldwide professionals leverage state-of-the-art training facilities, professional program management teams, and innovative manufacturing and production capabilities to deliver world-class, customer-driven solutions.

    We have well trained guys who have solid experience. They will bring on their “A” game against anybody, anywhere, anytime. Inquire for rates.

    Our corporate leadership and dedicated family of exceptional employees adhere to essential core values- chief among these are integrity, innovation, excellence, respect, accountability, and teamwork.”

    Our guys will show up sober for work, even on Mondays.

    I just ask, WTF are they talking about?

    This is modern business language. It shows that they are down with the whole corporate thing.

  22. Thanks for the translation Kenmce. So it really doesn’t make any mention at all of what is is they actually do? This is the first thing you see when you go to their web page. To me is says absolutely nothing.

    Whenever I see the word “leverage” in a context like this I get a picture in my mind of somebody with a rock and a really long stick trying to move something, (like a state-of-the-art training facility for example).

  23. Teeeny-weeny insignificant nit to pick with the opening line of this post:

    Here is an interactive, javascript-animated map of Gustav’s path”

    Actually, it’s a Java applet, rather than JavaScript-animated. The only JavaScript at that page appears to be something that provides a “Last Modified:” text.

    Does my pedantry help bolster my IT geek cred?

    (No, I didn’t think so. :-( )

    And I, too, love the French Quarter sign. Good luck to anybody who spends long hours below sea level.

  24. Since USA haven’t signed all the rules of war (Geneva convention) then USA can wage war without abiding to the rules of war. By the american logic of course. All other nations see Blackwater as mercenary scum. It’s like playing hockey with more players on the field and slashing without penalty because the team doesn’t follow those rules.

    Back to New Orleans. The use of Blackwater instead of army or national guard is just the same cheating applied on internal affairs. First came the law that made the government do whatever they wanted. Then contracts are starting to pour into Blackwater, owned by the same people that changed the law. Soon Blackwater will replace the police.

  25. @29
    Jake, it’s old situation where if you have to ask what they do, you probably don’t need their services.
    You’ll find that all PMC websites will talk like this, because they know that their real clients aren’t going to be looking their website for a contact email address, they have someone who gets in touch with the appropriate person.

    Their clients aren’t Bob and Sue Happy Homemaker, they’re Minister of xxxx, or Brigadier General xxxx, or CEO of xxxx, etc.

    They also know that whenever some wannabe journalist wants to make the news with headlines “Grannies ambushed at tea party by Blackwater thugs”, everyone rushes over to their website to see photos of these demon-bred, baby eating, cardigan wearing, hitmen.
    Instead, they’re greeted with a load of waffle that requires more computational brain power to work out what they’re saying than to understand what they do.
    The old military term for this is: Bullshit baffles Brains.

    As for ‘leverage’, think of it like this:
    You have a particular aim, but not enough resource; ie: the fulcrum.
    We have the manpower, training and expertise to put this aim into motion; ie: the force, and ergo, the ‘leverage’.

    In simple terms: whatever you want to achieve, we can help you to achieve it. For a fee, naturally.

  26. I’m probably wasting my time typing this, as quite a few of you have already expressed digust at the thought of organisations like Blackwater even existing, but have you given much/any thought as to why they exist ?
    Jake0748s’ comment hit the nail right on the head: “They seem to be involved with all the ugliest stuff.” Quite accurately put.
    They are used in sensitive arenas, where deploying troops may be deemed excessive or politically damaging, but a job still needs to be done.
    It would seem a lot of you are confused between politically right and morally right.
    Say, for example a couple of servicemen get injured during active service.
    There’s moral outrage from the public. Then there’s the costs of pension, ongoing care, and the ever present spectre of legal action. All in all, quite costly both financially and politically.

    Put a couple of contractors in the same position, and your liability is zero. They get injured or killed, no one(apart from their families) will even bat an eyelid. It’s a win-win situation.

    For those of you now taking a deep breath to express your disgust/outrage/moral objection, please let me quietly point something out to you.
    Ever since you turned old enough to pay taxes, you’ve paid for mercenaries.
    Ever since the USA was founded, you’ve been using mercenaries.
    Every war, including the War of Independance and the Civil War, you’ve used mercenaries, in some cases against your own countrymen.

    They’ve done both great and awful things. But in each case, their services was required. Today’s conflicts haven’t changed that requirement one iota. In fact, the excessive amount of anguished hand wringing by the public has significantly improved business.

    If this has been somewhat distasteful to you, take heart in the fact that American contractors are generally well regarded worldwide, if a little expensive.

  27. Magpye:

    Sounds like a lie-of-omission to me. And it seems like you are excusing the moral dishonesty of avoiding the repercussions of your actions.

    Why not just be truthful and use the appropriate personnel of your government to do the job required, rather that pandering to the expectations of a public kept in the dark, never told about the kind of actions it takes to run the country in the way they have demanded.

    Surely the citizenry can’t be expected to make reasonable demands of their country if they are being lied to consistently about the kind of things their country does, or is willing to do.

  28. Arkizzle, thanks so much for that response.

    “Surely the citizenry can’t be expected to make reasonable demands of their country if they are being lied to consistently about the kind of things their country does, or is willing to do”.

    This is exactly what I wanted to say. Sometimes I get tired of people explaining away unsavory stuff with the excuse that, “this is way its always been”.

  29. Sometimes I get tired of people explaining away unsavory stuff with the excuse that, “this is way its always been”.

    Me too Jake, me too.

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