Author of the Book ‘Blackwater’ on the Blackwater Shootings

From The Nation:

It’s being described as “Baghdad’s bloody Sunday.” On September 16 a heavily armed State Department convoy guarded by Blackwater USA was whizzing down the wrong side of the road near Nisour Square in the congested Mansour neighborhood in the Iraqi capital. Iraqi police scrambled to block off traffic to allow the convoy to pass. In the chaos, an Iraqi vehicle entered the square, reportedly failing to heed a policeman’s warning fast enough. The Blackwater operatives, protecting their American principal, a senior State Department official, opened fire on the vehicle, killing the driver. According to witnesses, Blackwater troops then launched some sort of grenade at the car, setting it ablaze. But inside the vehicle was not a small sect from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia or the Mahdi Army, the “armed insurgents” Blackwater described killing in its official statement on the incident. It was a young Iraqi family–man, woman and infant–whose crime appeared to be panicking in a chaotic traffic situation. Witnesses say the bodies of the mother and child were melded together by the flames that had engulfed their vehicle.

Gunfire rang out in Nisour Square as people fled for their lives. Witnesses described a horrifying scene of indiscriminate shooting by the Blackwater guards. In all, as many as twenty-eight Iraqis may have been killed, and doctors say the toll could climb, as some victims remain in critical condition. A company spokesperson said Blackwater’s forces “acted lawfully and appropriately” and “heroically defended American lives in a war zone.” Blackwater’s version of events is hotly disputed, not only by the Iraqi government, which says it has video to prove the shooting was unprovoked, but also by survivors of the attack. “I saw women and children jump out of their cars and start to crawl on the road to escape being shot,” said Iraqi lawyer Hassan Jabar Salman, who was shot four times in the back during the incident. “But still the firing kept coming and many of them were killed. I saw a boy of about 10 leaping in fear from a minibus–he was shot in the head. His mother was crying out for him. She jumped out after him, and she was killed.”

(via Danger Room)

Something Awful Goon Arrested for Double Homicide


OVIEDO, Fla. — A 21-year-old accused of shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend and another man posted photos of the woman on a Web site with bullet holes in them before the crime, police confirmed Wednesday.

Oviedo police said Andrew Allred shot and killed Tiffany Barwick, 19, and Michael Ruschak, 22, inside a home located on Shady Oak Lane Tuesday.

Witnesses said Allred drove to the home and began to ram a car in the driveway.

“He must have smashed the car at least 10 times and then he got out and tried to kick the front door in unsuccessfully and then he ran around back,” neighbor Steve McCavlur said. “As soon as he ran around back, I heard gunshots.”

Neighbors said they watched as people inside the home run for cover in a hail of gunfire.

When officers arrived, they found Barwick and Rushak dead. A third man was found critically injured.

And of course, he posted about it on SA.

More on this story here.

Writers’ Rooms

A list from The Guardian
with pictures and descriptions of writers’ rooms. The picture above is of John Mortimer’s writing room:

The desk was designed by my uncle Harold, who was a member of the Heals family, and is typical 1930s style. I sit in a comfortable wheelchair, which explains the absence of a chair in the photograph. The books are all law books and plays, including mine. The poetry and novels are in other parts of the house.

The books in my study are mainly hidden by photographs of my children and grandchildren, along with my precious signed photograph of Fred Astaire. There are pictures of me on location with various actors, including John Gielgud. One shelf is devoted to small carved objects that I buy each year when we go to Morocco. My favourite is a woman in tears because she carries a bad-tempered husband and a small baby on her back.

On my desk stand innumerable small figures, including Freud, Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, plus a small statue of Don Quixote, which I was given when I wrote a television version. There’s also a bottle of Jo Malone perfume.

Behind my back when I write – to encourage me – is a shelf of drinks, a Bafta award and a Nibbie lifetime achievement award. Above the window there’s a cartoon of me as a toby jug and one of me on a horse, accusing me of being a champagne socialist. I write with a pen on long sheets of paper. I’ve never learnt how to type. I try to write as early as possible in the morning, and aim to write 1,000 words a day. I stop at lunchtime, have a drink and then fall asleep.

(via Kottke)