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The movie’s denouement— the explosive ordnance disposal (E.O.D.) team responds to a massive truck bomb in the Green Zone— is so completely wrong in every respect that it borders on farce. Insurgents did not operate freely in the Green Zone. They would never have kidnapped a soldier in an area with thousands of U.S. troops. And they would never have hung around an active investigation scene with their weapons. No American E.O.D. team in existence (or any other three-man squad) would go charging alone down dark alleyways when there are hundreds of infantrymen at hand. –“Essay: How Not to Depict a War,” Michael Kamber, the New York Times
The U.S. Postal Service is at a tipping point due to the combined effects of the economic recession, increased use of electronic communications, and its obligations to prepay Retiree Health Benefits. Always dedicated to providing reliable, affordable, high-quality universal service, the Postal Service has developed and begun implementing a range of cost-reducing and revenue-generating initiatives. But these aren’t enough to close the financial gap between revenue and costs. For the American public to continue receiving affordable universal postal services from a self-sufficient Postal Service, these issues need to be addressed quickly and comprehensively with legal and regulatory action. –“Envisioning America’s Future Postal Service “ (via)
How to make a steampunk book cover (with gargoyles);
“Väinämöinen sings a ship”;
Gordon Lightfoot on “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (it wasn’t a hatchway)
“Let’s talk about why you plan to kill me.” It was March 1987, and Milt Bearden was sitting in a spare interview room at the Islamabad headquarters of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Bearden was then the CIA’s station chief in Islamabad, serving as the link between Washington and the U.S.-funded Afghan rebels bleeding the Soviets in Afghanistan. He had come to see the mujahedin’s most lethal warlord, a radical Islamist named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. No other Afghan leader had received more money from the United States than Hekmatyar, yet he showed his Western patrons precious little gratitude. He claimed to despise the United States as much as the Soviet Union, and, while visiting the United Nations two years earlier, he had refused an invitation to meet Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office. Now Bearden was hearing grumbling from Washington about why the United States was financing an anti-American zealot known for splashing acid in the faces of unveiled women. He decided it was time to confront a man he considered “the darkest” of the Afghan warlords. And Hekmatyar was convinced he’d come to snuff him. –“Our Man in Kabul? The sadistic Afghan warlord who wants to be our friend,” by Michael Crowley, The New Republic
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Average amount the company paid each of its 140 top executives last year:
Between one fifth and one half of England’s leisure horses are obese.
Scientists in the Galápagos Islands credited an endangered giant tortoise named Diego with saving his species by fathering more than 800 offspring.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”