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Comment Re:Decline of Soda?, Two words.. (Score 1) 196

Shudders why? Unless you have phenylketonuria, it's not relevant, and if you do, then it's just one entry in a long list of things you should probably avoid. Aspartame decomposes in the digestive system to aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. The amount of methanol is comparable to that in wines and fruit juices, the aspartic acid is far lower than is found in most dietary sources, and the phenylalanine is comparable to common dietary sources and less than many phenylalanine-rich dietary sources.

Comment Re:Better to drink from a leaking garbage bag (Score 3, Interesting) 196

Weird to see people complaining about sugar but switching to fruit juice, though. Many if not most fruit juices have a higher sugar concentration than coke.

Now, that's only from the sugar perspective. Caffeine has its good and bad sides, so if one wants to cut down, there's that. Phosphoric acid may or may not have a negative effect on bone density (lower bone density is associated with soda consumption but there's dispute over whether it's the phosphoric acid or just the aforementioned caffeine). Fruit juices have vitamins and minerals that most colas won't. But really, the biggest health issue with colas is the sugar, and one may actually increase their sugar intake by switching to juice.

Comment Re:Airstrikes on population centers (Score 1) 280

You must be referring to the groups that exist only in US propaganda fantasy land.

PKK, FSA, al-Nusra, Ahrar ash-Sham, and tons of other militias are opposed to and regularly fight Daesh. They control large swaths of Syria, and have recently been making major progress in the northwest, taking over Idleb - which was almost certainly the trigger for Russia to step up its game, as they're nearing Latakia.

Check a map.

Comment Re:Airstrikes on population centers (Score 1) 280

It's not that simple of an arrangement. The Kurds are indeed in the north, mainly the northeast. Assad's strongholds are in/around Damascus and among the Alawi populations on the coast (that is to say, west of the Alawiyin mountains), although he also controls many scattered pockets elsewhere, even ones touching Kurdish territory. The FSA and Al-Nusra control large chunks from the western Turkish border down to Idleb, just on the east side of the mountains, as well as many pockets elsewhere. As for Daesh.... they're bloody everywhere. Their territory is shaped like a porous sponge, following rivers and roads. They reach up to part of the Turkish border in the north, east into large chunks of Iraq, south into the southeastern deserts, southwest to towns near Damascus, and west to the FSA / al-Nusra areas. Pretty much everywhere in the country borders them... except where the Russians are. Latakia is only under threat from the FSA, al-Nusra, and related allied militias. And that's who they're bombing.

Comment Re:Airstrikes on population centers (Score 1) 280

ISIS, ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State... these are all "respectful" terms. They want to be referred to as the "Islamic State", as their goal is to reestablish a new caliphate.

Daesh is an acronym of their Islamic name. Acronyms are rarely used in Arabic, which has led to confusion and anger on Daesh's part. It removes the "Islamic State" part that's so important to them. And it sounds similar to a word meaning "one who crushes underfoot". Daesh threatens to kill anyone caught using that term for them, which to me is reason enough alone to use it. It's also what the local opposition to them calls them, not wanting to dignify them as a legitimate caliphate.

Comment Re:Ignore the "humans almost went extinct" bit (Score 1) 47

From the article:

Such tsunamis may not have the same long-distance range as those that originate from underwater earthquakes, such as the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia that travelled thousands of kilometres from where the seafloor ruptured.

The article does not say that a volcano in Indonesia caused a tsunami in West Africa. Please read it.

Comment Re:Airstrikes on population centers (Score 5, Insightful) 280

What do you mean "both sides"? There's several dozen different major militias, which really if anything fall into three "sides": Assad, Daesh (what you call ISIS), and a loose, sometimes self-sniping (but decreasingly so) alliance of kurds, secular arabs (the nominal FSA), and islamists. All three sides oppose each other.

Russia supports Assad, the party recognized by the UN and human rights groups as responsible for the lion's share of the war deaths and over 10k tortured to death in its intelligence centers. However, it's doing this not by opposing the opposition uniformly, but by heavily focusing on non-Daesh entities. If successful, this would leave a conflict between Assad and Daesh, wherein the west would basically be forced to accept Assad. Iran and Hezbollah are Russia's copatriots in this.

The US and the Gulf states support the non-Daesh forces. The US strongly supports the FSA, would support the Kurds if not for how it would cost them Turkey's support, and is willing to overlook the islamists so long as they continue along their path of denouncing anti-western activity. The Gulf states by contrast have largely been supporting the Islamist militias - Saudi Arabia in particular focusing on Ahrar ash-Sham, while Qatar seems to be in bed with al-Nusra.

Israel wants Assad and Daesh gone, and seems content at sniping at either of them within the Golan Heights, but doesn't seem to want to take a larger, riskier role.

The strategies used by the US and the Gulf states are similar in regards to Daesh: A continuous but restrained bombing campaign. Both the US and the Gulf states take part in this. The arming strategies have somewhat differed, however, and not simply in regards to what groups are the beneficiaries. The US has been very hesitant to deploy weapons to Syria, waiting three years starting and not giving anything heavier than a TOW. The strongest focus has been on coordinating small numbers of FSA members to operate as effective US ground spotters against Daesh. It's not gone very well. Providing intelligence has proven more useful, and the weaponry, although limited, has allowed for more effective operations in certain fronts, such as Idlib. The Gulf states however have focused more on money and arms to their groups, and started it early. The early successes of the islamist militias while the FSA was flailing led to many waves of desertion, turning it from the largest opposition group to at its lowpoint nearly a running joke.

Turkey has proven willing to support taking on Daesh although uses the opportunity to snipe at the Kurds. Turkey's policy of chasing back Syrian planes who even approach their border has created an effective narrow no-fly zone in Syria's north, which militias on the ground have taken advantage of. With Russia's involvement now, however, it's questionable whether Syria will be able to continue that policy, out of fear of hitting Russian jets.

Everyone has their own endgames in mind.

In Russia's and Iran's, the conflict turns into "Assad vs. Daesh", the west reluctantly agrees to accept Assad, wipes out Daesh, and their only Mediterranean ally remains in power. They know he'll probably undertake some serious purges over the next several years while trying to wipe out any vestiges of opposition remaining. Their media will happily not report it.

In the US's and Israel's preferred scenarios, the secular/kurdish/islamist coalition wipes out both Assad and Daesh, with their help on the latter. Each ends up with regions under their control. The goal would be a Lebanon-style power sharing agreement. A more realistic expectation would be a Libya-style post-dictator power vacuum with random sniping militias. Those who support this view that as a vastly better improvement than the current situation or an Assad re-conquest.

In the Gulf states view, they really could care less whether the post-Assad, post-Daesh environment would be a Lebanon-style arrangement or simply another dictator, this time not allied with Iran against them. They'd be quite happy with an Islamist government, so long as it's domestic-focused and has no territorial ambitions.

Turkey will be happy with any situation that doesn't put a force hostile to them in charge and which can disarm or otherwise check the Kurdish militias in the north.

Despite all of the different militias and parties, the conflict really isn't as complicated as it looks. You have Daesh which wants a new multinational caliphate, you have Assad who wants total control over all of Syria, and you have everyone else who doesn't want either Daesh or Assad and are willing to put up with each other to do so. There's only really one irony, and that's how the US and al-Qaeda are basically allies in this. While there's some talk of al-Nusra breaking with Zawahiri (a move that may cost them volunteers but gain them more financial and arms support), as of yet it hasn't happened. al-Nusra is working alongside other islamist militias, the FSA and Kurds, and as of recently the level of infighting has been rather low (though neither the FSA nor Kurds trust them). The weird thing is how much they've been "behaving" themselves (at least by the standards of "totally unregulated militia in a bloody civil war") - there've been abductions and suicide bombings, but also some things totally out of character for al-Qaeda, like apologies when their soldiers kill civilians and nuns complimenting their respectfulness. They don't even impose sharia in all of the towns they control, allowing for the example the Christian towns to continue to govern themselves, which is another weird one. And supposedly this is all on the orders of Zawahiri too. Strange times...

Comment Re:In other news (Score 3, Informative) 280

I once checked out an archive of old Nazi political cartoons, and indeed they made use of that very sort of thing. There was one incident for example where the allies accidentally bombed Switzerland not long after hitting a hospital in Germany during a bombing raid. The cartoon played on the similarity of the Swiss flag and the Red Cross flag, with the allied pilot apologizing to the Swiss on the grounds that he got the flags mixed up.

Comment Re:This was not a screw-up (Score 4, Insightful) 280

Do we even know at this point that it was approved? I see four potential points of failure here:

1) Information about the hospital not relayed to those in charge of making the target decision(s)
2) Those making the target decision(s) not noticing or deliberately ignoring the information
3) The aircrew having a different target but mistakenly or deliberately targeting the hospital
4) The aircrew targeting a different target but the bomb going off course.

#1 and #2 can be applied repeatedly on each stage of communication. Malice is possible in #2 and #3, and technically #1 although that would be an unlikely spot for malice. All possibilities have non-malicious routes, and it would be highly unrealistic for #4 to be malice.

Comment Re:Airstrikes on population centers (Score 5, Informative) 280

Oh, and to correct:

""The bombing continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed,” the organization said in a statement."

No, they actually said:

The bombing in Kunduz continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed

The deletion of "in Kunduz" was clearly done to make it sound like the US kept hitting the hospital again and again; there is no other reason someone would have removed that from the sentence.

Comment Re:Airstrikes on population centers (Score 4, Insightful) 280

But not when Assad or Putin does it you say?

You're really telling me that you see no difference between laser guided bomb strikes that occasionally go wrong and mass-produced $200 barrel bombs rolled out of helicopters to turn cities of millions of people into this?

Yeah, totally the same thing.

As for Russia's involvement in Syria, I don't think anyone is objecting to the fact that they're bombing. It's the fact that rather than bombing Daesh, they're bombing groups opposed to Daesh, in order to prop up the failing government of the aforementioned guy flattening cities with mass-produced $200 barrel bombs. As well as having sent large amounts of equipment with absolutely no bearing to Daesh (or any rebel group really), such as advanced air defense systems and air superiority fighters carrying air-to-air missiles. People's problem with Russia's actions are not that they're taking part in military activity, but what side they're taking part on behalf of.

The Wright Bothers weren't the first to fly. They were just the first not to crash.