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Comment Re:Reminds me of a conversation with a colleague (Score 1) 266

While I agree with much of what you wrote, I think there is a future problem caused by the why the coalitions are formed now. Daesh represents a common enemy, so it is easier to strike up a coalition to defend against it. However, once that common enemy goes away, Iraq and Syria will be left with several heavily armed groups which now have battlefield experience and no record of having worked in harmony among themselves previously except to defeat Daesh.

In such an environment, one would hope for central governments to provide for a common future, except that there is too much blood on Assad's hands and he's too Alawite to play well with the other groups in Syria, and Iraq's government is more or less Iran's poodle. The outside countries are willing to fight to the last Syrian and Iraqi, and they will not suddenly stop supporting their proxies.

The only avenue I see for those two countries are representative democracies with a separation of religion and state, but the tribal and the Islamic parasites running the mosques will never allow it, they have too much to lose...and it is so much fun telling everyone else how to live, without that, the parasites themselves see no reason to live.

In Syria's case there are only 2 paths to peace: Assad steps down or he wipes out the opposition. Sadly it seems as if it will head towards the second option, especially if Syria turns into a proxy war between US and Russia (domestic politics may inadvertently push Trump towards that in an attempt to distance himself from claims of being too cozy with Russia).

But my master's thesis touched on some of this: reintegration or disarmament of militias is one of the hardest parts of counterinsurgency operations. The simplest step is to integrate those willing to do so into the state military/security apparatus (although if Assad stays in power I don't see many FSA/SDF members lining up), and provide job training/education/reintegration support services to the rest. Ignore them and they might turn into insurgents themselves. For democratic nations they can turn into political parties (but only if properly disarmed, otherwise you might end up with something like Sinn Fein/IRA). The political transition can be easier in fledgling democracies, but an emphasis should be put on coalitions and not sectarian/factionalized parties.

Unfortunately, I think many states in the Middle East need theocratic democracies, as this seems to be the best way to hold down extremism without needing dictatorships/strong-arm leaders. The trick is actually allowing minority groups actual, effective representation and participation in the government. It's either that or a set up like Turkey (pre-fake coup), but Middle Eastern militaries don't have the history that they do in Turkey and are probably more likely to end in coup/dictatorship.

Comment Re:Yeah, this was tried. (Score 1) 266

If an airport employee can sneak in a laptop, they can sneak in anything up to the allowed carry-on size. It doesn't have to be electronics. It could be a hollowed out bible or koran. The only way to protect against this kind of threat would be to shut down all flights originating at or passing through an airport suspected of being compromised.

It already happens in the US. Remember a year or so ago the 2 US airline employees arrested for running guns into New York? One would be booked on a flight and the other would bring a bag full of guns in to work and would pass them off in the bathroom.

Comment Re:Fakes (Score 1) 266

I'm wondering if it's more like a real iPad inside a fake extended battery + case. The iPad will function at the security check. And the explosive material disguised as an extended battery might appear convincing enough to pass.

Wouldn't it be more likely to be actual iPad externals with maybe a small Pi-type computer driving a small iOS fake (you really only need to simulate power-up, lockscreen/home screen, etc in case they turn it on), replacing most of the internals with explosives? Only issue with that I can see is having to make sure that it physically resembles an iPad when x-rayed. Since tablets in the US can remain in your bag when passing through security, using a specially designed case could help with that as well.

Comment Re:Reminds me of a conversation with a colleague (Score 1) 266

set up a policy of aid in the form of both financing for repair in countries like Syria and direct military assistance to the damaged states to help them stamp out the Islamist uprisings quickly, brutally and with as little collateral damage to non-combatants as possible.

The third criteria is impossible when you include the first 2. A perfect example is the air-strike on a truck bomb that killed over 100 people in Mosul. And even without limiting damage to non-combatants it would take a hell of a lot longer than 6 months. Any form of "quick, brutal" military action whose stated goal is to stamp out an Islamic uprising would just cause even more uprisings to pop up, as well as quickly cause moderate or non-hostile Muslim nations to quickly rethink their positions re: the US. Sure, you could carpet bomb Raqqa and Mosul and you might get most of ISIS's fighters and several leaders, but a lot would still survive and now you've got a distributed insurgency on your hands which will require significant amounts of manpower and time on the ground to try and flush out survivors and make sure the group doesn't re-form. In the meantime, you've likely killed thousands of civilians which provides recruitment fodder for extremists, and some of our allies against ISIS in the Middle East will see internal pressure to reevaluate their relationship with US. That would further destabilize the region and could lead to increasingly diminished US influence in the region. A Middle East where the only US ally in the region is Israel is not something we want to see.

With the exception of possibly Iraq (but even in that case only to a small extent), the fight against Islamic extremism cannot be seen as American military might to the rescue. There should be no significant American ground presence in combat roles, and even logistical and support contribution should be limited (in terms of manpower at least). The fight has to be waged by the local population, which support from other Muslim states. It has to be shown that extremist Islam is the enemy of the entire Umma in order to push against the claim that it is the "right" from of Islam. Right now we have Kurds fighting alongside Arabs, Shia alongside Sunni, to drive out ISIS. Sure, the US provides weapons, air power, and special forces "advisers", but unlike the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it's not the US fighting with the help of the locals, it's the locals fighting with the help of the US. And it's working. It's taking a while, but the US isn't perceived as invaders or crusaders like we were in the Iraq War. We can't be world police but at the same time we have a moral obligation to help people fight oppression and extremism and then help them pick up the pieces. But it has to be their fight first and foremost, not ours.

Comment Re:Yes, "line rental" is for POTS (Score 2) 82

This probably raises a question among some of you: "So why even subscribe to POTS in the cellular era?" Even without considering the pricing structure differences between the U.S. and British phone markets, an advantage of POTS over cellular is that POTS lets you have an extension on each storey (as they spell it), so that you don't need to go upstairs or downstairs to answer the phone. In addition, POTS allows use of a fax machine.

Also, doesn't POTS still work when the power goes out? And elderly tend to stick with what they know, the learning curve from an old landline to a cellphone (even a dumb phone) could be too steep or daunting for the elderly, not to mention ergonomically difficult.

Comment Re:missing the point? (Score 5, Insightful) 331

Looking past the arguments about commas, does anyone one know *why* there is no overtime pay for these specific jobs? How old is the law in question?

I believe the argument is that a lot of the jobs involved with those particular restrictions revolve around seasonal work (fishing season, harvest season, etc). So the jobs entail maybe a month or 2 of heavy hours followed by 10 months of no work at all. Harvest/fishing season work by it's very nature is a very time intensive work when there is work, but most of time there is no work.

Comment Re:The real problem is ISALM (Score 1) 289

Pretty much all religions want to force their belief system on others. That's how they exist in the first place.

To be fair, when I was working my college summer job at an airport, I was talking to this cute Mormon girl who was about to head out for a mission trip. She started asking if I would be interested in visiting their website. I said "no thanks" and she was like "ok, no problem". Having grown up in the South surrounded by Evangelicals that was a welcome change and it actually bumped up Mormonism a bit in my book, even if a lot of their beliefs are batshit insane. I respected the fact that she wasn't pushy about it at all.

Comment Re:The real problem is ISALM (Score 1) 289

You seem to be referring to the Crusades, which last time I checked, was fighting with just as many, if not more, Muslims at the time.

The Crusaders actually didn't care who they were fighting. They would raid and sack Christian cities on the way to the Holy Land, often killed any Jews they found along the way and, when they finally made it to the Holy Land and captured a city, they killed or enslaved every inhabitant in most cases, whether Muslim, Jew, or Christian. You see, the Crusades weren't about religion (except for the poor schmucks doing most of the fighting). All the knights, nobles, etc were there for money and land. It's a lot easier to steal property and possessions if the former owners are dead. For those few centuries the quickest path to upward mobility was through the Crusades. It was a chance for peasants to make some money and for minor nobles or younger children in noble families (who had little chance of significant inheritance) to gain lands and income, thereby bumping themselves up the social order.

Comment Re:The real problem is ISALM (Score 5, Insightful) 289

The real problem is ISALM. That's why so many Muslims want to turn their back on Ataturk's dream of a modern, secular Turkey and make it yet another Sharia hell-hole.

My argument is always this: Islam is roughly 600 years younger than Christianity. Look at where Christianity was 600 years ago. Inquisitions, witch hunts, regular mass killings of Jews, regular armed conflict between believers of different sects, strict and oppressive interpretations of religion and law, etc. All things that we are basically seeing now with Islam. Take Christianity of the 14th/15th Century and put it in the 20th/21st Century and you would see something that looks a lot like extremist Islam. You want to fix it, you don't try to shut down all things Islam. That just fuels the fire. Instead, you have to embrace and support the moderate elements within Islam, as they are the only ones that can bring Islam out of the dark ages and transform it into a more modern religion. Unfortunately, there are too many people on both sides who derive profit and power through the fear and hate of Islam, so it seems as if is going to take longer and longer for that to happen.

Comment Re:Industrial accident (Score 4, Informative) 407

Looks like the factory has both a history of accidents (2 previous deaths) and owner/name changes. That could indicate a culture of disregard for safety. At the same time, however, if the robots routinely move from section to section in the normal course of operation and (one would assume) the whole line is probably shut down while she is working on the one section, then it seems to me that ti wasn't properly locked out. If you have to stop an assembly line to work on one part of it, you should probably be locking out every portion of that line.

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