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Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Jul 26, 2007, 05:26 PM
Number of posts: 3,968

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Links to US Central Command and CIA websites.

Here are two "official" sources about what is happening in the Middle East.



My gut feeling is that the recent Russian actions in Syria indicate a watershed moment of policy failure in the Middle East.

Friends of the S.S. United States Send Out a Last S.O.S.

Another article from the NY Times.

A Titanic-sized supership that once ferried presidents, Hollywood royalty, actual royalty and even the Mona Lisa has a place in the history books as the fastest oceanliner in the world. The owners are now racing to avoid having the ship, the S.S. United States, relegated to the junk heap.

A preservationist group, the S.S. United States Conservancy, saved the vessel from being scrapped a few years ago. Its members are working with a developer to give the mothballed vessel a new life as a stationary waterfront real-estate development in New York City, the ship’s home port in her heyday.

Their big dreams, however, now face a financial crisis: Short of money, the conservancy in recent days formally authorized a ship broker to explore the potential sale to a recycler. In other words, the preservationists might have to scrap their vessel.

It came down to hard numbers. The preservationists have struggled for years to raise the $60,000 a month it costs to dock and maintain the ship, known as the Big U, which is longer than three football fields and once sailed the Atlantic with three orchestras on board. A developer only recently started shaping plans to fill the ship with tenants, an undertaking of the kind that can stretch for years even when it is not this unusual.

More and pictures at:


US Pulls Spies from China After Hack

Source: CNN

The United States is pulling spies from China as a result of a cyberattack that compromised the personal data of 21.5 million government workers, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

The U.S. suspects that Chinese hackers were behind the breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which exposed the fingerprints of 5.6 million government employees.

Because the stolen data includes records on State Department employees, the hackers could, by process of elimination, identify embassy personnel who are actually intelligence agents.

Employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency assigned to China are at risk of being exposed, U.S. intelligence officials determined in recent months. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the CIA has pulled a number of officers from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

The hack is expected to have a major impact on U.S. national security, in part because the stolen data includes information from U.S. government forms used for security clearances, known as SF86 questionnaires.

Read more: http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/30/technology/china-opm-hack-us-spies/index.html?iid=ob_article_topstories_pool&iid=obnetwork

Woman, boyfriend file claim against Vallejo for calling abduction a hoax

Source: MSN / LA Times

Soon after Denise Huskins' boyfriend told the Vallejo Police Department that she had been abducted in late March, police officials called her disappearance part of a hoax.

More than two months later, in early June, the FBI arrested a Harvard-educated former attorney, Matthew Muller, 38, of Orangevale, Calif., in connection with Huskins' kidnapping.

Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, filed a legal claim Thursday against the city of Vallejo over what they call "false and unfair accusations" made by police that the couple faked the woman's kidnapping.

"Instead of focusing on finding the true perpetrator... and protecting the community from a violent predator, instead intentionally destroyed the lives and reputations of these two innocent victims," the claim said.

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/woman-boyfriend-file-claim-against-vallejo-for-calling-abduction-a-hoax/ar-AAerSAi?li=AAa0dzB

The woman was kidnapped and raped in a Vallejo home invasion.

She was released.

Vallejo PD called the crime a hoax.

The FBI arrested the perp.

The Vallejo PD still questioned if the crime a hoax.

There is great sickness and incompetence in our LE community.

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.
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