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Barbara Ann
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LeaNder, If one hate flame got through I imagine many 000's more were (& are) filtered out for our benefit. I dread to think what effect the aggregate inferno has had on our most gracious host. There is an inevitable trade-off; registered users with a 'real' email address & phone number are harder to set up & thus easier to ban persistently. But of course such users are rather less than anonymous - although 'real' email addresses & phone numbers are not impossible to come by for those keen enough to preserve their anonymity. Still, SST's readership are likely more keen on anonymity than the average blog reader. Bruce Schneier recently posted a piece on commenting policy & his personal stance on anonymity on his blog. It is rather less political in nature than SST, so less a target for trolls perhaps. https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/03/commenting_poli.html
Toggle Commented Jun 14, 2017 on A renewed SST on July 5th at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Col. Lang, Excellent news, I wish you well. I did conduct some (limited) research into the Wordpress platform so please let me if this would be of interest & I'll email you. The following aspects looked attractive, considering the issues with trolling you have described: Ability to limit comments to registered users only User registration can include email/phone confirmations Spam filter Ability to import a blog from Typepad - for $49 someone will even do it for you Disclaimer: I am not associated with Wordpress or the above mentioned import service in any way, Wordpress just looks like it has better anti troll/spam capability to me.
Toggle Commented Jun 13, 2017 on A renewed SST on July 5th at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Babak, There is indeed no technological fix for human nature, but IMHO that does not mean that technology cannot help maintain an online community with the desirable qualities you describe. I have commented to this effect in the hope that the unique "salon" nature of SST could potentially be saved from those who may wish to destroy it. It may be too late and certainly no one who has even the slightest understanding of the cost of maintaining this format could complain about pl ceasing to support open comments now. But perhaps as a latecomer to this wonderful place I feel more strongly that the Voltaire principal of public discourse is worth fighting for (regardless of whether I personally get to contribute). If pl wishes to consider this I would happily dedicate some time to researching a solution in which the trolls do not get to win. After all, how many of those Web pioneers would wish their creation, with all it's failings, undone?
Colonel, My observation as a newcomer to SST is that the platform it runs on is very much easier to troll/spam than many others. Have you considered switching? SST currently requires no registration at all to post a comment, just a form-fill - which can easily be automated. This may be deliberate on your part, but I'd guess this setting can be changed in Typepad - i.e. force registration. Even then, those that do register need only provide an email address, which is not confirmed (a dummy or disposable one can be used - I used the latter in fact). This process can therefore also be automated, meaning determined trolls merely switch to a new account when banned. Most social media platforms these days allow registration only after providing an email address and phone number, both of which are verified as real. This makes the automated creation of troll accounts much harder & thus trolls far easier to ban. Some blogs use Facebook commenting, for example. Such solutions do mean anonymous blog contributions are not possible - or are at least harder to achieve. If offensive spam from trolls makes up the majority of the 500/day, perhaps another platform would help shield yourself & your guest authors from those with malign intent. WordPress is the biggest & has anti-spam capability, for example, but others here may have better suggestions.
If this format is chosen I'd second Jack's list of initial correspondents. I have an alternative, based on the idea of limited 'authorization': How about SST readership elects an initial list of contributors from a list of those interested in having the privilege? It could work something like this:- A manageable number - 10, 20, whatever is decided upon by pl. People get to put their names forward (pl has asked for names by email already) The list is published and a vote arranged. Maybe each person votes for their 5 favorites The pre-determined number with the highest vote are authorized The Typepad platform seems to have a mechanism to conduct a survey (http://help.typepad.com/add-form.html) I'll happily look into it if this may be of interest. Otherwise a vote could be arranged via something like Survey Monkey, but some work would be required. For example each prospective voter may need to be emailed a password to the survey platform. This may have privacy implications. Colonel, If any of this is attractive perhaps a new post to set out your position & gather views would be useful?
Many thanks for the update TTG, I trust the Colonel is enjoying well-deserved R&R. Magnier has suggested that this move, combined with US retention of al-Tanf is designed to force SAA + allies to continue to al-Bukamal. My reading of this is that it is a tactical move towards the strategic goal of a stringing out Assad's forces as much as possible - before a future attack. Retaining al-Tanf is the fig leaf so US/NATO does not need to 'invade' Syria when this happens. The window will close once the PMU close the border from the Iraqi side, but that may be a while. SAA has just met SDF front lines near Tabqah and there is now an unconfirmed report of SyAAF strike against SDF there. Perhaps this is the plan: US now cites Assad's aggression against it's forces in the battle for Raqqa as pretext to come down hard on him. Alternatively, perhaps the Kurds have a done a deal with Assad/Putin & will let SAA move on to Raqqa & down the Euphrates. I'd like to believe that this is encouraging news, but the anti-Assad/Iran/Russia forces are powerful. Israel seems to have the most to lose from a contiguous land corridor from Iran to Lebanon & you can bet it'll bend every sinew to stop it. I can't help thinking the point of maximum danger for the R+6/7 is yet to come.
Ghostship, MaT have just announced plans for 3rd base in Deir Ezzor governorate (2nd you refer to is called Zegiph apparently). https://www.facebook.com/HammurabisJustice/videos/1437222083011155/
Whatever the arguments either way, the balance in the trade-off seems to be tipping further in one direction almost daily. If someone this junior and dumb can cause so much damage so easily, it seems to me the balance needs to be redressed.
That release looks fake to me (date is wrong, title is formatted differently to other releases and it isn't here: http://www.inherentresolve.mil/News/Strike-Releases/). SouthFront may have got it from @airwars, where I saw it. I just commented to this effect on the last al-tanf post. I've yet to see any confirmation that this actually happened.
Toggle Commented Jun 6, 2017 on Another traitorous US spy at Sic Semper Tyrannis
New strike by CJTFOIR reported on Assad forces at al-Tanf today by @airwars. But it is dated June 26th and I can't find it in http://www.inherentresolve.mil/News/Strike-Releases/ If it is fake it may be interesting to find out where @airwars got it. If it is genuine has it been pulled - did this strike happen? https://twitter.com/airwars/status/872158398447579136
Brzezinski & co. may have envisioned a brigand army, but the reality is rather different. The Caliphate is a 100% militarized society founded by officers from Iraq's disbanded regular army. Every member of the Caliphate's army (all males) is a potential bomb, on foot or in an appropriate vehicle. Indoctrinated pre-teens are taught how to detonate a suicide vest and "surrender" is not in their vocabulary. If Russia had not intervened when it did it is perfectly possible that Damascus would have eventually fallen. Daesh would then have moved on to new territories whilst it's success sucked in ever more jihadis. The closest parallel I can think of for Europeans experiencing this alternative outcome is the 13th century Mongol invasions. At that time it was considered that a new, incomprehensible enemy might be the forces of the Antichrist come to destroy the world.
Fisk forecast retreating Daesh forces being bad for Deir Ezzor back in February: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/mosul-isis-iraq-syria-deir-ezzor-donald-trump-james-mattis-a7590236.html Syrians will Remember Deir Ezzor whatever the outcome, but I wouldn't cast the heroes as Travis Bowie & Crockett just yet.
Colonel, Maskanah was indeed an important milestone. Progress ought to be swift now to the SDF front lines near Tabqa. The $64,000 question on this front now seems to be whether the SDF will yield the territory recently seized by them south of the Euphrates. I'd be interested in views on the likelihood of this. If they do, the SAA will be able to swiftly advance to a position just a few km from Raqqa. A big chunk of Daesh territory in central Syria will then be surrounded on 3 sides and Deir Ezzor will actually be closer than it is now from the SAA's Palmyra front. Doubtless things are not this simple, but if a truce with the SDF is possible, it is hard to see much stopping the SAA from retaking much of central Syria in the coming months.
Speaking of silly walking: https://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2017/4-june-south-syria-fsa--and--usled-coalition-set-up-new-base At what point does a series of bases with security zones become an occupation?
Agree 100% TTG.
Colonel, I'm not sure I'd agree with the title of this post (unless it is from the US POV) as I can't yet see a material changed in the standoff. Al-Tanf has been reinforced, but the fundamental situation seems to be the same: If one side's proxies initiates a significant engagement against the other it risks killing the opposition's principals (US/NATO and Russian SOF respectively). If it does so, it becomes a legitimate target for a retaliatory response. The side so-attacked will likely respond with significant air power and destroy the aggressor*. It seems to be a classic stalemate; a first mover loses the PR war (both claim to be fighting Daesh only) and so neither party can act. *Both air forces operate in the area and neither side appears to be able to deny this ability to the other. My own view is that time is on the side of the R+6. The PMU have started to work their way down the Iraqi side of the border. Elijah Magnier speculates on the viability of al-Tanf once the border is closed from the Iraqi side, tho doubtless this will take some time yet: https://twitter.com/EjmAlrai/status/870641008660410368 The R+6 may also choose to move towards the Iraqi border NE of al-Tanf, as the article says. The R+6 could perhaps even use the FSA's presence to guard their southern flank from Daesh in such a move. Once the FSA is cut off from Daesh in Syria it's stated mission is finished and with it any shred of legitimacy for the al-Tanf camp. Mattis has lost, he just does not see it yet.
b, The only toll on that road will be in PMC personnel. Meanwhile the Prince of PMC's himself seems to be hedging his bets: http://www.atimes.com/article/blackwater-founders-fsg-buys-stake-chinese-security-school/
The type of theater 'Dr' Islam was trained in is apparent to anyone who has watched a few of his posts with a healthy degree of skepticism. This one, posted on 4th April, was widely shared (6,000 RT's) and appeared in at least one online MSM article after the Khan Sheikhoun attack. https://twitter.com/DrShajulIslam/status/849166361549037568 I am no doctor, but it strikes me that there is another medical condition which would cause non-reactive pupils; death. Watch it carefully. OTOH this one could be genuine re sarin - or show victims of organophosphate exposure (Russia's hypothesis). In other videos Islam uses dramatic backdrops e.g. frantic heart massage. They start to look staged once you've seen a few. The point is there is too little medicine and too much drama in Islam's posts. The MSM using his content are either too credulous or complicit (I suspect the former). I'd be very wary of donating to the charity he promotes: http://1m4syria.com/
In that case sir, I hope it is many long years before they see the light of day.
Col. Lang, Thank you for sharing this riveting excerpt from your memoir. Is this body of work to be published by any chance? I for one would be grateful for the opportunity to read more of such a fascinating life.
PMU have reportedly now reached the border at Um Jaris: http://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2017/29-may-badr-organization-secretary-general-hadi-alamiri-announces Elijah Magnier is now saying PMU are intent on sealing border from there right down to to al-Qaem, regardless of US wishes: All along Nineveh until Anbar, #Iraq security forces #PMU will start cleaning the Iraqi-Syrian borders until reaching al-Qaem. US has nowhere to go at al-Tanf. They face increasingly overwhelming opposition and will eventually be surrounded as R+6 rolls around them to Iraqi border and on to ultimately meet PMU. Any significant offensive action would likely see them obliterated and SAA would claim self-defense. This is what makes Macron's words on immediate French response to a future CW attack (Brits said words to same effect recently) all the more ominous. It looks to me as though this may be seen as the only remaining option to trigger war proper on Assad. Only way I can see this being avoided is by grounding SyAAF & using RuAF only until danger is over (when?). Grounded planes can't drop CW and surely no one is crazy enough to false flag a Russian CW attack - are they?
Whatever their purpose, I'm pretty sure I know exactly what use the SAA has found for them.
Amen to that.
Someone called Ohil has provided a nice graphic of this idea in one of the comments here: http://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2017/28-may-east-homs-heavy-ruaf-airstrikes-have-been-targeting His black circle looks about right: https://twitter.com/QalaatAlMudiq/status/868872304608116737
CWZ, OK not even close to making Snowden's revelations look minor - have you a better comparison of scale? Thanks.