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Member since: Thu Jul 26, 2007, 05:26 PM
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Can someone sort out for me the "rebels" we support in Syria? Who are the refugees?

The factions I perceive within Syria:

1, Current government headed by Assad that are Alawite Shia heading Ba'athist secular government backed by Russians (who have a navy base at Tartus).

2. Rebels that are predominantly Sunni that are ISIS.

3. Rebels that are predominantly Sunni and are not ISIS such as the Free Syrian Army of defectors from Assad.

4. Kurdish nationalists that are primarily Sunni but also Shia and other religions that are the largest minority in Syria.

5. Various Christians, Druzes, other Syrian minorities that may or may not support Assad.

The rebels we are now trying to support are in faction #3 and we are more or less neutral towards factions #4 and #5.

Four years or so ago when the Syrian civil war started we showed acknowledged little separation between factions #2 and #3. Then and now our Sunni Arab allies from the GCC primarily back faction #2.

Turkey does not like the Kurdish nationals faction #4 nor factions #1 nor #2.

Assad and faction #1 probably had enough support to continue in power if there had not been outside influence during the period of the Arab Spring in the region.

France wants to bomb somebody, I assume faction #2.

Who are the refugees?

I assume that the refugees are from faction #5 but are dominated in number by primarily rural Sunnis who have loss their means of livelihood from drought and war. I imagine that there are some actors that think it great that the nations of Western Europe have problems because they accept the refugees.

According to the article we are having problems finding rebels, I assume from faction #3. Syria is a cluster fuck.

What am I missing? Am I correct about the refugees?

Who should we bomb?

Excellelent video of Valley Fire, fire update.


On Monday the spread of the 67,000-acre Valley fire 62 miles north of San Francisco was slowed by temperatures in the low 60s, relative humidity above 80 percent, and 0.01″ of rain that fell in the late afternoon, according to data from a weather station south of the fire in Calistoga.

CAL FIRE reported Tuesday morning that their latest damage assessment shows that 585 homes and hundreds of other structures have been destroyed. The surveys are continuing and the numbers will likely change in the coming days. Approximately 9,000 structures are threatened. Evacuations are still in place, affecting 23,000 people.

In addition to the homes that burned in Middletown and Cobb, a geothermal plant that produces electricity, The Geysers, was damaged. Five of the 14 plants were affected, including power lines and wooden cooling towers.

Air tankers have not worked the fire since Saturday, grounded by poor visibility caused by smoke and clouds. Tuesday’s weather is expected to make it possible to use them again. The forecast calls for a 35 percent cloud cover, a high temperature of 73 degrees, relative humidity in the 40s, and winds out of the west at 8 to 13 mph.

more and many pictures at link: http://wildfiretoday.com/2015/09/13/valley-fire-in-california-burns-40000-acres-in-less-than-24-hours/

Zappa Sy Borg

Tom Cruise movie crew members in plane crash that kills 2 in Colombia

(CNN)—A small plane carrying crew members from a Tom Cruise movie crashed Friday in foggy and cloudy conditions in the Colombian mountains, killing two people aboard, including a prominent Hollywood stunt pilot.

The crew members had just wrapped up work on the new film "Mena," Universal Pictures said in a statement.

"On behalf of the production, our hearts and prayers go out to the crew members and their families at this difficult time," the statement said.

Killed were Hollywood stunt pilot Alan D. Purwin and Carlos Brel, according to Colombia's Civil Aviation Authority.

Purwin wrote about working with Cruise two weeks ago, saying on his Instagram page that he was "pushing the envelope in every way. Working on a super interesting, true story film with Tom Cruise."

More at:


PS Would have posted in LBN but too old.

Wow Middletown and Cobb burned; 40,000 acres in 24 hrs.

(Originally published at 7:40 a.m. PT, September 13, 2015. Updated at 8:54 a.m. September 13, 2015)

Still another fire in California is causing havoc. The Valley Fire reported at 1:24 p.m. PT on Saturday grew to 10,000 acres within six hours. By 10 p.m. it had exploded to 25,000 acres and at 6 a.m. Sunday CAL FIRE PIO Daniel Berlant said it had burned 40,000 acres.

There are unconfirmed reports that dozens of homes have burned but the actual number has not been released by authorities. The towns of Cobb, Middletown and Hidden Valley were some of the areas hardest hit. There is a report that a school burned in Middletown.

Many areas along Highways 175 and 29 are under mandatory evacuation orders, encompassing at least 17 miles along those two highways

more and many pictures:


Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy

Good read about the colonization and terraforming of Mars.

The problems on Earth are overpopulation, environmental damage, and transnational corporations.


In his most ambitious project to date, award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson utilizes years of research and cutting-edge science in the first of three novels that will chronicle the colonization of Mars.

For eons, sandstorms have swept the barren desolate landscape of the red planet. For centuries, Mars has beckoned to mankind to come and conquer its hostile climate. Now, in the year 2026, a group of one hundred colonists is about to fulfill that destiny.

John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers and opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. And for the genetic "alchemists, " Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life...and death.

The colonists place giant satellite mirrors in Martian orbit to reflect light to the planets surface. Black dust sprinkled on the polar caps will capture warmth and melt the ice. And massive tunnels, kilometers in depth, will be drilled into the Martian mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves, and friendships will form and fall to pieces--for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed.

Brilliantly imagined, breathtaking in scope and ingenuity, Red Mars is an epic scientific saga, chronicling the next step in human evolution and creating a world in its entirety. Red Mars shows us a future, with both glory and tarnish, that awes with complexity and inspires with vision.


The red planet is red no longer, as Mars has become a perfectly inhabitable world. But while Mars flourishes, Earth is threatened by overpopulation and ecological disaster. Soon people look to Mars as a refuge, initiating a possible interplanetary conflict, as well as political strife between the Reds, who wish to preserve the planet in its desert state, and the Green "terraformers". The ultimate fate of Earth, as well as the possibility of new explorations into the solar system, stand in the balance.


In the Nebula Award winning Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson began his critically acclaimed epic saga of the colonization of Mars, the Hugo Award winning Green Mars continued the thrilling and timeless tale of humanity's struggle to survive at its farthest frontier.

Nearly a generation has passed since the first pioneers landed, but the transformation of Mars to an Earthlike planet has just begun The plan is opposed by those determined to preserve the planets hostile, barren beauty. Led by rebels like Peter Clayborne, these young people are the first generation of children born on Mars. They will be joined by original settlers Maya Toitovna, Simon Frasier, and Sax Russell. Against this cosmic backdrop, passions, rivalries, and friendships explode in a story as spectacular as the planet itself.

I am being an absolutist today, pardon the blanket statement.

How can we judge who has and hasn't abused the privileges?

Also churches change and personalities change.

Many churches and individual's associated with churches clearly cause harm by poisoning minds, obtaining funds under false pretenses, mixing in politics, etc

Seems to me that the only way to readily and fairly administer is to enact a blanket rule and then define exemptions (food kitchens, etc). This approach would turn status quo inside out and establish a new baseline.

My druthers are that people should be able to have their own spirituality (and have the guns they want too).

Easy for me as I have no specific spirituality (and have no interest in guns save for family heirlooms).

My solution regarding guns would be 100% control of ammunition (every bullet tracked), though obviously some individuals should lose the privilege and some guns -- machine guns, bazookas, tanks, etc -- have no business in private hands. Again turns status quo inside out and easiest to administer.

I do not believe that many individuals and institutions guiding our society want solutions that are fair and easy to administer.

My solution regarding LE abuses would be to de-militarize and de-weaponize police forces.

Geez I just made my first gun post ever at DU (in response to one of the kindest people on the site).

The Bail Trap (NYT Magazine)

The article is a narrative of case studies. One young woman with child in a domestic violence shelter lost her child to foster care because she went out for diapers. She had no criminal record. She left the child under care. She had a file with CPS because CPS helped get her away from an abusive boyfriend and into the shelter.


On the morning of Nov. 20 last year, Tyrone Tomlin sat in the cage of one of the Brooklyn criminal courthouse’s interview rooms, a bare white cinder-block cell about the size of an office cubicle. Hardly visible through the heavy steel screen in front of him was Alison Stocking, the public defender who had just been assigned to his case. Tomlin, exhausted and frustrated, was trying to explain how he came to be arrested the afternoon before. It wasn’t entirely clear to Tomlin himself. Still in his work clothes, his boots encrusted with concrete dust, he recounted what had happened.

The previous afternoon, he was heading home from a construction job. Tomlin had served two short stints in prison on felony convictions for auto theft and selling drugs in the late ’80s and mid-’90s, but even now, grizzled with white stubble and looking older than his 53 years, he found it hard to land steady work and relied on temporary construction gigs to get by. Around the corner from his home in Crown Heights, the Brooklyn neighborhood where Tomlin has lived his entire life, he ran into some friends near the corner of Schenectady and Lincoln Avenues outside the FM Brothers Discount store, its stock of buckets, mops, backpacks and toilet paper overflowing onto the sidewalk. As he and his friends caught up, two plainclothes officers from the New York Police Department’s Brooklyn North narcotics squad, recognizable by the badges on their belts and their bulletproof vests, paused outside the store. At the time, Tomlin thought nothing of it. ‘‘I’m not doing anything wrong,’’ he remembers thinking. ‘‘We’re just talking.’’

Tomlin broke off to go inside the store and buy a soda. The clerk wrapped it in a paper bag and handed him a straw. Back outside, as the conversation wound down, one of the officers called the men over. He asked one of Tomlin’s friends if he was carrying anything he shouldn’t; he frisked him. Then he turned to Tomlin, who was holding his bagged soda and straw. ‘‘He thought it was a beer,’’ Tomlin guesses. ‘‘He opens the bag up, it was a soda. He says, ‘What you got in the other hand?’ I says, ‘I got a straw that I’m about to use for the soda.’ ’’ The officer asked Tomlin if he had anything on him that he shouldn’t. ‘‘I says, ‘No, you can check me, I don’t have nothing on me.’ He checks me. He’s going all through my socks and everything.’’ The next thing Tomlin knew, he says, he was getting handcuffed. ‘‘I said, ‘Officer, what am I getting locked up for?’ He says, ‘Drug paraphernalia.’ I says, ‘Drug paraphernalia?’ He opens up his hand and shows me the straw.’’

Stocking, an attorney with Brooklyn Defender Services, a public-defense office that represents 45,000 indigent clients a year, had picked up Tomlin’s case file a few minutes before interviewing him. The folder was fat, always a bad sign to a public defender. The documentation submitted by the arresting officer explained that his training and experience told him that plastic straws are ‘‘a commonly used method of packaging heroin residue.’’ The rest of the file contained Tomlin’s criminal history, which included 41 convictions, all of them, save the two decades-old felonies, for low-level nonviolent misdemeanors — crimes of poverty like shoplifting food from the corner store. With a record like that, Stocking told her client, the district attorney’s office would most likely ask the judge to set bail, and there was a good chance that the judge would do it. If Tomlin couldn’t come up with the money, he’d go to jail until his case was resolved......

Read on at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/magazine/the-bail-trap.html?partner=msft_msn&_r=0

El Niño vs. the Blob: Here's Why California's Drought Probably Won't End Anytime Soon

Cross posted in Environment and Energy

California could be in for a wetter-than-normal winter, thanks to the mysterious meteorological phenomenon known as El Niño. Weather scientists have been watching El Niño get stronger throughout this year and think it could match or surpass the strongest on record, back in 1997. What does this mean for long-suffering California and its interminable drought? Let us explain.

What the heck is El Niño again?

Normally, equatorial winds in the Pacific Ocean blow toward the west and push warm surface water in that direction. El Niño—"the child," named in reference to Jesus by Spanish-speaking fishermen from South America who noticed, starting centuries ago, unusual weather around Christmas-time—happens every few years when those winds die down or diminish, leaving more warm water pooled along the equator off the coast of South America.

That's been happening this year; the longer the wind pattern remains unusual, the more the eastern Pacific warms up. Here's a map of ocean temperature anomalies (that is, variations from the long-term average) from late June. Notice the band of red and white (white is the hottest) in the center of the Pacific and the cooler-than-usual water off Southeast Asia? That's El Niño:

(Side note: Satellite maps like these are a prime example of the kind of research GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz wants to block NASA from conducting.) Now check out the same reading from last week. It's gotten stronger:


That trend is probably going to continue throughout this year, said Daniel Swain, an atmospheric scientist at Stanford University.

"It hasn't peaked yet, and it's already quite strong," he said.......

article at: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/07/sorry-california-el-nino-wont-save-you-drought

1,200 guns, two tons ammo, and the connection with a missing persons case. Really weird backstory.

Curiously weird.

I just posted this as a response to the thread "LAPD finds 1,200 guns, two tons of ammo in dead man's Pacific Palisades home" in LBN.

It is not a gun post but a late breaking backstory as the general media has not yet made the connection to a just solved missing persons case.

A 39 year old woman named Dawn Vadbunker went missing July 2, 2015. She was 35 and her gone missing was reported by her adoptive parents. She had been adopted as an adult within the last 2 years. The last communication was that Dawn was off to meet with her boss, a property manager. She did not return and the property manager also could not be reached. There was a missing person search and no cell, account activity, etc. discerned.

Websleuths thread starting July 14, 2015:


Dawn and her boss were located on July 15, 2015 at a motel in Oregon.

Dawn's boss is the fiancée of the dead man with the guns and ammo.

From Websleuths today (7/22/2015)


Quote Originally Posted by LayzeeDayzee View Post

It's reported she disappeared the day her former marriage had been officially annulled. Her vehicle had been located outside of a hotel in Oregon, according to LE/MSM. A witness stated she'd been seen there with a woman. While she was missing her family was unable to locate her boss (a woman). Almost sounds to me like perhaps she had some kind of secret relationship going on with her boss and they went away together? Perhaps she had marriage to former husband (male) annulled as she had developed a relationship with her female boss?
Um.... the boss was busy deciding what to do with her dead fiance she had been with for 17 yrs (but somehow did not know that he had over a thousand guns and 2 tons of ammo piled up 8 ft high at her condo). You think the missing 39 yr old story is weird! Check out the boss's story in the LA Times here and google around for the others... It is a real goose chase. Nebron (the boss) has a Fiance who reportedly dies in the car on the 4th of July - and she puts him, his dead body, in the car, parks it up the road and takes off for Oregon for a week or so with Dawn Marie. Both go missing and both go radio silent for the trip, not replying to cell phones per the reports. Catherine Nebron's attny then calls LE to report the dead body and weapons cache on the 17th of July (per his story to the press) The dead fiance is the real mystery of this case that needs some serious sleuthing but they aren't releasing his name other than a pseudonym he used "Bob Smith"... He told neighbors he worked for CIA. The whole thing is bizarre. LE said they did not know who the guy is or how he died...but somehow they know there was no foul play. Here's the LA Times. And another link to the story.



edit to fix last two links.
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