No Comment — February 13, 2009, 11:36 pm

Transitions

The Associated Press reports:

Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning its tarnished brand name as it tries to shake a reputation battered by oft-criticized work in Iraq, renaming its family of two dozen businesses under the name Xe. The parent company’s new name is pronounced like the letter “z.” Blackwater Lodge & Training Center — the subsidiary that conducts much of the company’s overseas operations and domestic training — has been renamed U.S. Training Center Inc., the company said Friday.

The decision comes as part of an ongoing rebranding effort that grew more urgent following a September 2007 shooting in Iraq that left at least a dozen civilians dead. Blackwater president Gary Jackson said in a memo to employees the new name reflects the change in company focus away from the business of providing private security.

Xe? It looks like the obvious alternatives, SPECTRE and THRUSH, were unavailable.

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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