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Aug 27, 2006
I'm doing research for one of my mother's books at the moment, and was digging around for information on mercenaries. On my web-dig, I came across articles about Blackwater.

There are more, of course. I don't now...something about private military rubs me the wrong way. Especially when the government is giving them a sizable chunk of change to play with. And especially when there are things like this:

"The men were paid $600 a day, seven days a week. At that rate, a contractor could earn more than $100,000 on a six-month deployment.

The contracts also spelled out what they didn’t get. As independent operators, they were not entitled to health care, disability coverage or a 401(k) retirement plan.

Inside America's
Private Army


Moreover, they assumed a number of risks. From the contract:

“The risks include, among other things and without limitation, the undersigned being shot, permanently maimed and/or killed by a firearm or munitions, falling aircraft or helicopters, sniper fire, landmine, artillery fire, rocket propelled grenade, truck or car bomb, earthquake or other natural disaster, poisoning, civil uprising, terrorist activity, hand to hand combat, disease, poisoning, etc., killed or maimed while a passenger in a helicopter or fixed wing aircraft, suffering hearing loss, eye injury or loss; inhalation or contact with biological or chemical contaminants (whether airborne or not) and or flying debris, etc.”

Contractors also agree to a series of restrictive covenants, including a pledge not to divulge any confidential information about Blackwater for five years after they leave the company. Any violation is punishable by payment – due in a lump sum within five days of Blackwater’s demand – of $250,000."

And then there are things like this:

"Blackwater and Heckler & Koch Form Training Program

Ashburn, Virginia & Moyock, NC - Heckler & Koch and Blackwater announced today the formation of a joint training program. Blackwater HK International Training Services will develop and teach high-level firearms, tactical, and armorer’s courses that use renowned Heckler & Koch weapons.

Blackwater HK International Training Services will combine the current courses of the Heckler & Koch Training Group of Ashburn, Virginia, with curriculum developed jointly by Heckler & Koch and the Blackwater Training Center, one of the business units of Blackwater and the largest private training facility in the United States.

“Our joining with Blackwater Training brings two international leaders together to provide a full spectrum of services to our customers,” said retired Major General John G. Meyer, Jr., Heckler & Koch Chief Executive Officer. “We will continue to offer training at customers’ locations; additionally, since all courses now will also be available at Blackwater’s state-of-the-art training facilities, our customers will have the opportunity to hone their skills in a first-class learning environment.”

“Heckler & Koch arms are often the weapons of choice for military and law enforcement professionals on the front line in the long war to support security, peace, freedom, and democracy,” said Blackwater’s President Gary Jackson. “Joining with Heckler & Koch links two preeminent companies in a truly unique and strategic partnership that will bring training to a new level in this industry.”"

The whole thing just smells bad to me.  They even have helicopters.

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Posted: Aug 27, 2006 11:26am
Aug 8, 2006
OK, so I have recently taken up knitting and will be learning to crochet once my hooks arrive in the post. Well, I don't know anyone in this country to make things for, so I thought maybe I could knit for charitable causes. I have done a square for Knit A River, but would like to do some more things like this. I also tried looking at the Snuggles Project, knitting blankies for homeless cats and dogs, but unfortunately there isn't a participant close to me.

So, something that is small and easy for a knitting beginner. Also, I don't have a lot of money, so big huge blankets for people are not really doable. I found a good place to start
at Knitting For Charity. Slippers, hats, and blanket squares are fast to make, not very complex, and much-needed. Once I get a bit more confidence in my knitting, I'll move onto mittens for winter and so on.

I'd urge any fellow knitters wo don't already do this sort of thing to have a go! And if you don't knit, maybe you could learn! It's easy once you know how, a pleasant & relaxing way to pass the time, and you can even do it while you watch TV or ride on the train.

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Posted: Aug 8, 2006 12:25pm


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Sophie Earp-fulton
, 1
Longmont, CO, USA
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