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Blackwater Contractors Convicted For Iraq Massacre

By: Thursday October 23, 2014 6:45 am

Four Blackwater contractors were convicted in federal court yesterday of murder, manslaughter, and weapons charges for their role in a massacre that occurred in Iraq in 2007 while Blackwater was protecting a convoy of US State Department officials.The shooting incident, which left 17 unarmed Iraqis dead, was ruled a crime rather than a wartime accident by a federal jury.

The case took seven years to reach a courtroom due to claims and actions by the State Department that attempted to derail the prosecution. State Department officials are believed to have removed evidence such as shell casings from the crime scene and have claimed that US prosecutors did not have jurisdiction to prosecute State Department contractors as it did defense contractors.

Despite the State Department’s efforts, all four Blackwater contractors were convicted on charges that could put them in prison for decades.

Four former Blackwater Worldwide security guards were convicted and immediately jailed Wednesday for their roles in a deadly 2007 shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square that marked a bloody nadir in America’s war in Iraq. A jury in Federal District Court found that the deaths of 17 Iraqis in the shooting, which began when a convoy of the guards suddenly began firing in a crowded intersection, was not a battlefield tragedy, but the result of a criminal act

One defendant, Nicholas A. Slatten, a sniper who the government said fired the first shots, was convicted of murder. The others — Dustin L. Heard, Evan S. Liberty and Paul A. Slough — were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a machine gun to carry out a violent crime. A fifth contractor, Jeremy Ridgeway, previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter and cooperated with prosecutors.

Blackwater, now known as Academi, previously reached a settlement with Iraqi families for a wrongful-death civil suit. Since the incident Blackwater has changed its name twice from Blackwater to Xe Services in 2009 and Xe Services to Academi in 2011.

Though the settlement of the civil lawsuit was likely quite costly, the criminal conviction of Blackwater employees could ultimately be more taxing for Blackwater and other private military service companies. If private military contractors are going to be subject to prosecution then much of their comparative advantage is removed and regularly military or diplomat service personnel may, once again, do those jobs.

Without immunity from prosecution killing people for money is a lot less lucrative.

 

The Roundup

By: Thursday October 23, 2014 5:45 am

What’s on your docket?

International Politics

Overall

- Jeremy Scahill: “Blackwater founder remains free and rich while his former employees go down on murder charges

- Gallup: 65 percent of civilians in Asia trust the judicial system in their country, which is the highest recorded in the world

- Juan Cole: “Iran Proposes an Axis Against Islamic State to Iraq as an Alternative to the U.S. Coalition“; Interesting as Secretary of State John Kerry believes Iran holds a valuable role in the fight against the ISIL

Middle East

- An Israeli official said the U.S. did not send military supplies to Israel as a result of the situation with Gaza

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

What makes the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico, which should be noted has governmental involvement, so important is how they disappeared in a region significantly affected by disappearances during the Cold War

- In unrelated news, a governmental report from the Mexican government accused the military of covering-up murders committed by soldiers against gang members


A Universal Truth…well, almost!

By: Thursday October 23, 2014 1:30 am

monopoly card by BXGD at flickr.com

Hey, look a non-American ironically sums up America’s shared little secret.

Representatives from trade unions, women’s groups and left-leaning political parties marched on the house of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive C.Y. Leung on Wednesday after he told media outlets that free elections would give poor people too much power.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive said in an interview that Hong Kong required a nominating committee to screen electoral candidates, claiming that if the city allowed the direct civil nomination demanded by democracy protesters, “you’d be talking to the half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month.”

Yeah, we cannot have that…and by that I really mean “we”.

 

Late Late Night FDL: Mentiras

By: Wednesday October 22, 2014 10:00 pm

Grupo FantasmaMentiras on Austin City Limits, November, 2007.

Late Night: Dusty Springfield

By: Wednesday October 22, 2014 8:00 pm

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien.

Karen Greenberg: Will the U.S. Go to “War” Against Ebola?

By: Wednesday October 22, 2014 6:37 pm

These days, two “wars” are in the headlines: one against the marauding Islamic State and its new caliphate of terror carved out of parts of Iraq and Syria, the other against a marauding disease and potential pandemic, Ebola, spreading across West Africa, with the first cases already reaching the United States and Europe. Both wars seemed to come out of the blue; both were unpredicted by our vast national security apparatus; both have induced fears bordering on hysteria and, in both cases, those fears have been quickly stirred into the political stew of an American election year.

The pundits and experts are already pontificating about the threat of 9/11-like attacks on the homeland, fretting about how they might be countered, and in the case of Ebola, raising analogies to the anthrax attacks of 2001. As the medical authorities weigh in, the precedent of 9/11 seems not far from their minds.

WA Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Backpage.com Online Child Sex Trade Case

By: Wednesday October 22, 2014 5:11 pm

In March 2012, 15-year-old “S” was sold in the metro D.C. area as a 19-year-old “Judy.” In June 2012, a 16-year-old from Maryland was trafficked by a pimp who posted her on Backpage.com for a series of days with the subject line “My hour glass body is waiting for you. Apple booty a?? ..” These are examples of underage girls being advertised on Backpage. Three victims have sued, in Washington state. Is Backpage immune from liability for ads placed on its website advertising sex with minors? Yesterday, the WA Supreme Court heard oral arguments on this question.

Christ Needs to Tap One of Those Rich Dudes in Heaven

By: Wednesday October 22, 2014 3:48 pm

Biblical financial self-help pitchman Dave Ramsay, whose get-rich-scheme to convince followers of the first century homeless preacher called Jesus of Nazareth (who advised cult members to “give up all you own and follow me”) that they can become get-rich-quick-Christians by buying his greed absolving screeds and who is featured weekly on the TV station owned by televangelist-presidential candidate-sect leader Pat Robertson, advised viewers recently that, stunningly, Christ was a heretic.

October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation Is Underway

By: Wednesday October 22, 2014 2:34 pm

The group’s website says that they have been mobilizing every year since 1996 for a National Day of Protest on October 22, bringing together those under the gun and those not under the gun as a powerful voice to expose the epidemic of police brutality.
The Coalition also works on the Stolen Lives Project, which documents cases of killings by law enforcement nationwide. The second edition of the Stolen Lives book documents over 2000 cases in the 1990s alone. Volunteers are needed to help with the research and editing of cases since then.

Vast Majority of Americans Have No Idea How Health Insurance Actually Works

By: Wednesday October 22, 2014 1:29 pm

The American health insurance marketplace is sadly dominated by a bad mix of overconfidence combined with significant ignorance. While a majority of adults under 65 think they understand their policy, only a tiny fraction can even correctly answer a rather basic question about how much a doctor’s visit will cost them.

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