Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sneak peek at tomorrow's Street Roots.

Street Roots has two great cover articles this month about the shape of Oregon's grassroots environmental movement and Blackwater, a private militia working around the world. Nearly 1,000 park exclusions have been issued in public parks since November by private security guards in Portland without any public oversight - that's right, a 1,000!

Other featues this month include a look at prison rape, immigrant rights and a bunch of rag-tag journalist types that are rolling into town for the North American Street Newspaper Association annual conference. Get all of this and more in your issue of Street Roots out tomorrow!

Street Roots vendors have been withstanding the heat over the past few weeks selling the paper. Often times in the winter, sales spike due to what we call the charity buy. “It’s raining, it’s cold. Those poor homeless people.” People give a $1 and throw the newspaper away. Grrr….

By and large, most of you read the newspaper and we love you for it! The only reason I bring up the charity buy is that it’s odd that people have pity for poor folk when they are cold and wet, but don’t really seem to care when they are scorching in the hot sun. What’s up with that? Of course, I’m not talking about everyone, but that’s the word on the street.

Street Roots is lucky to have a private security guard across the street from us now. They’re so hard to come by these days. Looks like he’s from Securitas. According to their Web site, they are the largest and most respected security company in America. We feel safer already.

The Bush administration continues to amaze us with its inability to get things done. From the environment to homelessness, this administration has crippled any real efforts to make substantial change in domestic affairs — not to mention that Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal government should be ashamed of its fascist enforcement on immigration. And while Democrats pander to constituents about the issues facing us along the border, we must not forget the real reason we have people seeking refuge in the U.S., a faulty trade agreement that punishes the world worker seeking a decent job to feed their families.

Nearly eight years ago on the streets of Seattle, a group of people carried a very strong message to Democrats and Republicans a like — fair trade, not free trade. That message couldn’t be more true today. As the folksinger Todd Snider says, “Who wants to work a minimum wage job? Do you want to do that? I wouldn’t trade that for my crooked hat, my gangs or guns, or a waist full of pagers to spend the day serving rich, white teenagers.” And to be honest, I wouldn’t trade it for a camp in the West Hills or under a bridge somewhere, either. It’s sad, but true, and all too real on the streets of Portland.


Anonymous said...

long time reader, first time poster.
I am a bit surprised at your story about Blackwater. my trusty Merrian-Webster dictionary describes "Mercenary" as:
Main Entry: 2mercenary
Function: adjective
1 : serving merely for pay or sordid advantage : VENAL; also : GREEDY
2 : hired for service in the army of a foreign country
Main Entry: 1mer·ce·nary
Pronunciation: 'm&r-s&-"ner-E, -ne-rE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -nar·ies
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin mercenarius, irregular from merced-, merces wages -- more at MERCY
: one that serves merely for wages; especially : a soldier hired into foreign service

probably not since the Romans with their "Auxiliaries" and for sure by the time of David Stirling with "WatchGuard International", has it been easy to describe the difference between "mercenary" and "soldier". are the Legionaires of France mercenaries? the Ghurkas of the Queen? maybe Mexican and other nationals in the U.S. army serving for citizenship? the Pope's Swiss Guard? Welsh and Jamaicans in the Queens army?
before casting the mighty stone of "mercenary" instead of the much more correct "private military company" and "PMC" or "Contractor" we should ask
A) are the soldiers involved serving for the money alone, or out of some other want?
B) is the company itself actually fighting for a country other than their own? will they? (the companies full name, which everyone likes to forget, is "Blackwater USA")
and finally, and posibly most telling,
C) are the soldiers serving for a country other than their own?... in the case of Blackwater,this would be hard as in order to get one of the "PSS" (Personal Security Specialist.. the guys with the guns) jobs you have to have served 8 years in one of the U.S. military special operations units, have an honorable discharge (not even just a general discharge), No felony, violent crimes, spouse or child abuse convictions (with no waivers possible on this one), No personal bankruptcy or significant credit problems with past seven years (the U.S. Army requires two I believe), and you must have current U.S. DoD "Secret Clearance".. AND carry a U.S. Passport, probably making them a U.S. citizen...

as for them being "tied to the republican party and the religious right" some documentation would be nice, I am a Democrat and a Catholic, does this make me have ties to "the democratic party and the religious right"? (is your author just qouting Scahill here, or is it something he is saying?)
also, not meaning to press any buttons, but I am not sure I would buy that mr Scahill, who you mention is a crrespondent for Democracy Now! does not have an agenda of some sort with his interview

Israel Bayer said...

You have a great point. We should look at the language we use more closely. It's a fine line - thanks for pointing it out.

We the article ran in SRs is a Q & A - so it was from a quote.

And I think it's fair the journalist in question has developed an agenda, but that doesn't mean anything. Lots of great journalists have an agenda after uncovering inhumane or wrongful acts...

Thanks for posting!

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