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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blackwater Name Change: Private Security Firm Switches Name Again To Academi From Xe

Blackwater Name Change
From the Huffington Post (click here).

An infamous company is attempting a complete brand makeover -- again.

The private security firm formerly known as Blackwater and most recently known as Xe has decided to change its name to Academi, according to The Washington Post.

Blackwater changed its name to Xe in 2009, ostensibly to distance itself from its dark past -- five of its employees were indicted for charges related to a 2007 shooting in Iraq that killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians, according to Time.

Apparently the first switch didn't help the firm's image problem; the State Department opted not to renew its contract with the firm in May 2009, also according to Time.

Still, Ted Wright, the company's CEO insists that the latest name change isn't simply a PR move. Instead, Wright told WaPo it indicates a shift in the firm's ownership and leadership.

"We want to reflect the changes we made in the company," Wright told WaPo.

The company was sold in 2010 and brought on a host of new leaders in 2011, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft and Suzanne Wolstrom, the former regulatory compliance officer at another disgraced company, AIG. As Wired notes, the new team features people who have experience in crisis management.
And while Wright says he hopes Academi will be more "boring" than in the past, the Wall Street Journal reports he would also like to see the company return to Iraq, where demand for security contractors remains high.

At the time of its first name change, spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell then admitted that the Iraq controversies had played some role in the decision to changes names. "It's not a direct result of a loss of contract [in Iraq], but certainly that is an aspect of our work that we feel we were defined by," she then said, according to the Guardian.

But Blackwater/Xe/Academi isn't the first company to change its name in an effort to distance itself from past troubles. The tobacco giant formerly known as Philip Morris changed its name to the Altria Group in 2003 on the same day it was cleared of responsibility in a smoking-related death, according to Time.

From the Huffington Post (click here).

First Published 12/12/11

Protesters Occupy College Building

Students in Sacramento are occupying a building at the college there to protest budget cuts. Other marches and protests are occurring across the state of California this week.

Have we given up and rolled over here in Nevada?

Thank You Jasmine


Another good one I found on Language and communication..

America is not the wealth for all and all men equal nation we paint ourselves as

Bottom 40% have no wealth
Top 20% have 60% of wealth
Top 1 percent have 97% of wealth 

This is how the actual wealth distribution of America shakes down, and as you can see the wealth per individual is far lower than those number reflect (since the top 1% is included in the top 20 and top 40%).

We tend to live around people who are like us, so we do not understand how unequal wealth is until we are around poor or very wealthy people. The wealthy think the middle class has far more then they do, because the wealthy do not conceive of credit card and other debts. You can have lots of stuff, but if you subtract you debt (except for housing) most middle class come up with a negative number.

America is not as socially mobile as was thought before. The reality is that you are not likely to go up in income and place, and your children are even less likely. It can happen, but it is extremely rare and therefore far less likely than everyone seems to believe. Yet voters vote against tax increases for the wealthy because they assume they will become wealthy.'

Still, America's poor are better off than the poor in most of the world. However they do not have, or may not in the near future, the access to health care, employment, quality housing, education and social services needed to begin to raise themselves above the level of poverty they live in. They starve, go for lack of water, lack of treatment for illness, and lack of support and opportunity just like their counterparts in other parts of the world. Plus, the raise your own food agrarian alterative does not exist for most of the poor in the United States.

In the US, the gap is widening fast between fewer and fewer rich people and everyone else? Do Americans care? Do they believe everyone's getting their just deserts? Also, abortion and the federal budget talks, and in Wisconsin, a disputed election with shades of the recounts for Al Franken in Minnesota and George W. Bush in Florida. 

Whether Washington allows a federal shutdown or not, massive cuts are being made in federal programs for the poor and the hungry. Last week, New York Times food-writer Mark Bittmanand 4000 others associated with a group called Bread for the World fasted to focus on increased suffering that will barely make a dent in the deficit. They also pointed to growing inequality, with the richest 400 people now owning more wealth than 50 million American households combined. But, is it government's job to level the playing field? We hear from Bittman, an investment banker who wants to pay more taxes, economist and and others.

KCRW's "To the Point" interviewed 

Union Plus Benefits For Being Union

AT&T special ends Friday, April 29
AT&T Wireless discounts
Get a one-time $50 credit when you sign up online as a new AT&T wireless customer.  Offer ends April 29.

Save an additional 15% each month with any AT&T wireless individual or family plan.  Support AT&T, the only nationwide unionized wireless company.

Sign up online and get $50 credit at

Show support for your fellow workers. Download a Solidarity Forever ringtone.

For additional and very current Union Plus benefits use Twitter:!/UnionPlus

RSA Animate - The Internet in Society: Empowering or Censoring Citizens?

African American Spies and the Civil War

"Black Dispatches" was a common term used among Union military men for intelligence on Confederate forces provided by Negroes. This source of information represented the single most prolific and productive category of intelligence obtained and acted on by Union forces throughout the Civil War. In 1862, Frederick Douglass wrote:

The true history of this war will show that the loyal army found no friends at the South so faithful, active, and daring in their efforts to sustain the government as the Negroes-. Negroes have repeatedly threaded their way through the lines of the rebels exposing themselves to bullets to convey important information to the loyal army of the Potomac. 1

Black Dispatches resulted from frontline tactical debriefings of slaves--either runaways or those having just come under Union control. Black Americans also contributed, however, to tactical and strategic Union intelligence through behind-the-lines missions and agent-in-place operations. Two such Union agents functioned as long-term penetrations of Confederate President Jefferson Davis's "White House" staff in Richmond, Virginia. Even such a prominent woman as Harriet Tubman, best known for her activities involving the "underground railroad," played an important role in Union intelligence activities.
The value of the information that could be obtained, both passively and actively, by black Americans behind Confederate lines was clearly understood by most Union generals early in the war. Popular recognition of this was also apparent through a stream of articles and stories in the Northern press during the war. Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, was equally aware, and in May 1863 he said, "The chief source of information to the enemy is through our Negroes." 2 Because of the culture of slavery in the South, Negroes involved in menial activities could move about without suspicion. Also, officials and officers tended to ignore their presence as personal servants when discussing war-related matters.

Piracy and File Sharing Draining America's Creative Life Blood

From LA Times Company Town:

Biden talks tough. Vice President Joe Biden is angry at the amount of piracy plaguing Hollywood, telling Variety that "people are out there blatantly stealing from Americans -- stealing their ideas and robbing us of America's creative energies." At the same time, though, he also said Hollywood needs to do a better job making clear to people why piracy is bad. Said Biden: "They should be able to come up with an intelligent, original and effective public education campaign targeting this issue. To be honest, I am not certain they have dedicated the appropriate resources to this, and I hope they will."

Know your food: An attempt to keep you from seeing inside the livestock industry

Livestock Farms Could Be Off Limits To Photos

PETA films are used in most every section of COM 101 (Communication Theory and Public Speaking) section where I teach, so often that I considered banning the topic. It is quite graphic and used to support vegetarianism or simply better treatment of animals.

Animal rights activists have secretly filmed the inner workings of livestock farms, which has led to some bad press for the industry. Bills introduced in Florida and Iowa would make photographing animal operations without the owner's permission a felony. Supporters say that would help prevent activists from fraudulently being hired. Opponents argue the bills would prevent current employees from reporting abuse. More from National Public Radio's Morning Edition (click here for audio story).