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The Great Taliban Jailbreak

Today's fascinating #longread. Taliban Jailbreak Luke Mogelson June 2012: Newsmakers: GQ
Built on the western edge of Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city, a few feet from the congested Herat highway and bordered by residential neighborhoods, Sarposa Prison is a hulking symbol of government control in the traditional heartland of the Taliban. Administered by Afghans with the help of American overseers, its five cell blocks house the majority of criminals and insurgents captured in the beleaguered Kandahar Province. Naturally the facility ranks high on the target list for those still at large, and over the years Sarposa's officials have engaged in severaldeadly struggles with the Taliban, each one exposing the prison's defining characteristic: its vulnerability. The Taliban first tunneled their way out of Sarposa in 2003, when forty-one prisoners escaped. After a weeklong search, only a handful were recaptured. In 2008 a delivery truck carrying two tons of explosives blew open Sarposa's main gate, allowing some thirty Taliban fighters on motorcycles to swarm the breach with AK-47's and rocket-propelled grenades. They killed at least nine guards and released well over a thousand prisoners (some 400 of them insurgents). One witness to the assault told me he was standing across the highway eating a pastry when the bomb blew out all the windows of the nearby shops and turned the air opaque with dust. "There were a lot of Taliban on this side of the road," the man said. "One of them had a machine gun in his hands and was yelling at the prisoners, 'Come out! Come out of the prison!' " A fleet of minibuses waited nearby to ferry the fugitives out of the city, back into the countryside. Soon after, American and Canadian advisers, keen to prevent captured insurgents from rejoining the fight, helped Sarposa officials institute a host of security upgrades. They erected a new guard tower on the perimeter and covered open courtyards with metal mesh. They moved the first checkpoint farther back from the road, installed new blast walls, and strategically positioned sixty additional assault rifles and machine guns. A U.S. official giving a tour of the improved facility told reporters that the only chance of another escape was if the enemy "put a nuke on a motorcycle." . . .

The Scandalous History of Arlington National Cemetery

The Scandalous History of Arlington National Cemetery - Mental Floss
Arlington isn’t actually located in Washington, DC, but just outside it, in Virginia. That’s because the land was seized from Robert E. Lee’s plantation in 1864. There were other options for the location of a National Cemetery, but the government specifically wanted to bury Union soldiers on Lee’s land as an insult to the Confederate general. Brig. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs wanted to make sure the place was uninhabitable if the Lees ever tried to return. He ordered the graves placed as close to the mansion as possible. After the war, the Lees owed about $1,400 in today’s money in taxes on the estate. Mrs. Lee sent someone to pay the tax, but the government refused to accept it. Instead they took half the land in a public auction and ordered the establishment of a National Cemetery. Robert E. Lee died in 1870. Four years later his grandson and heir, Custis Lee, sued the government, claiming the land had been illegally obtained. The lawsuit reached the Supreme Court, and the outcome was 5-4 in Lee’s favor. The estate, dead bodies and all, was returned to the Lee family. But Lee’s actions were more about the principle of the thing; Meigs had done a good job, and the house and grounds were now unlivable. Lee sold it back to the government for $150,000—about $3 million today.

May 23, 2012

Obama is the Small Government president and here is the chart to prove it

An Obama Spending Spree? Hardly (CHART) | TPMDC
The fact that the national debt has risen from $10.6 trillion to $15.6 trillion under Obama’s watch makes for easy partisan attacks. But the vast bulk of the increase was caused by a combination of revenue losses due to the 2008-09 economic downturn as well as Bush-era tax cuts and automatic increases in safety-net spending that were already written into law. Obama’s policies, including the much-criticized stimulus package, have caused the slowest increase in federal spending of any president in almost 60 nears, according to data compiled by the financial news service MarketWatch.