In a surreal moment of unintentional crony-capitalist comedy, John Ashcroft has taken a job at the infamous mercenary/profiteer firm Blackwater (now called "Xe"), where he will be in charge of "ethics and professionalism."
Ashcroft's arrival at Xe is yet another clear signal it's not giving up the quest for lucrative government security contracts now that it's no longer owned by founder Erik Prince, even as it emphasizes the side of its business that trains law enforcement officers. In September, it won part of a $10 billion State Department contract to protect diplomats, starting with the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. Ashcroft, a U.S. senator before becoming attorney general in the Bush administration, is a very known quantity to the federal officials that Xe will pitch. Even if he's not lobbying for Blackwater, Ashcroft's addition on the board is meant to inspire confidence in government officials of its newfound rectitude.
To some, Ashcroft will be forever known as the face of Bush-era counterterrorism, the official who vigorously defended the Patriot Act's sweeping surveillance powers; told civil libertarians that their dissents "only aid terrorists"; and covered up the Spirit of Justice's boob. At the same time, when Ashcroft was critically ill in 2005, he resisted a White House entreaty to his hospital bed seeking to reauthorize warrantless surveillance in defiance of the acting attorney general.
Blackwater's New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft
America's telcoms sector is hugely concentrated and corrupt, and systematically underinvests in maintenance and infrastructure even as it gouges customers, which it can get away with thanks to its monopoly power, leaving Americans with some of the world's worst, most expensive communications services.
We've been closely following the plan by Google sister company Sidewalk Labs to build a surveilling "smart city" in Toronto; last week, I sat down with the Out of Left Field podcast (MP3) to discuss what's going on with Sidewalk Labs, how it fits into the story of Big Tech, and what the alternatives might […]
If you know the name Robert Bork, it's probably in the context of his failure to secure Senate confirmation when Ronald Regan put him up for the Supreme Court (his sins from his days in the Nixon administration caught up to him).
This holiday season, give the delivery man a break. Who needs the extra cost and uncertainty of shipping anyway? Here are 10-holiday gifts that cut out the middleman and go straight to the nicest ones on your Christmas list. Winc Wine Delivery Okay, we might be cheating a little with this first one, but a […]
For some folks, writing notes by hand is just plain easier, but having to re-type them later can be a huge bore, not to mention time-sink. The guys from Rocketbook successfully merged the best parts of analog and digital note-taking with their Everlast notebook awhile back. And now, that tech just got a lot more […]
There are fast-paced card games, and some of them even require enough dexterity for a mini-workout (like Skip-Bo or Snap). But there’s nothing quite like the Mokuru® Card Game, which uses an already addictive fidget toy as the centerpiece for a cutthroat game of tabletop challenges. The game is named for the toy that gets […]