Open Thread – 14 march 2016



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52 Responses to Open Thread – 14 march 2016

  1. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Abu Omar al-Shishani is Islamic State’s “minister of war,” and on March 4, the US tried to kill him. . . Fast forward to Monday and we find out that even if al-Shishani isn’t technically dead, he is now “clinically dead,” which according to Rami Abdel Rahman (who runs the one-man Observatory for Human Rights) means “Shishani is not able to breathe on his own and is using machines.”

  2. Haralambos says:

    All, what do folks make of this breaking news? This is just up:
    “Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told him of decision to pull out, says spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.

  3. Barish says:

    What’s the read on this?
    “Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu to start the withdrawal of forces from Syria starting Tuesday.
    “I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished. That is why I order to start withdrawal of the main part of our military group from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic starting from tomorrow,” Putin said on Monday during a meeting with Shoigu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
    Moscow launched its anti-terror campaign in Syria on September 30 last year. Russia’s participation in the operation, according to a previous statement by Putin, has its basis in international law and has been conducted “in accordance with an official request from the president of the Syrian Arab Republic [Bashar Assad].”
    The Russian Air Force has been carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorist targets in the region, eliminating military equipment, communication centers, vehicles, arms and fuel depots.
    At Moscow’s initiative, a phone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Syria’s President Bashar Assad was held on Monday evening, the Kremlin reported.
    The two leaders agreed that the actions of Russia’s Air Force in Syria have allowed them to “profoundly reverse the situation” in connection to fighting terrorists in the region, having “disorganized militants’ infrastructure and inflicted fundamental damage upon them.””
    Gesture of good-will for the peace process comes to mind. As well as the fact that them Russkies showed how quick they can be back should the situation require it (Caspian fleet and long-range bombers included).

  4. JJackson says:

    ‘Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the military to withdraw the “main part” of their forces in Syria, saying they had largely achieved their goals.’
    This I did not see coming, but what does it mean?

  5. Nuff Sed says:

    Russia pulling out of Syria??

  6. Petrous says:

    looking at the news I stumbled into this curious item. Russia announcing troop withdrawal from Syria. Would their air support operations could continue? Isn’t it a bit early for this announcement; before the job is completely donet?

  7. asx says:

    Nothing unwritten or unsaid before, but the clarity of this piece is striking. I wish this is compulsory reading for every MSM writer, before they write anything to parrot the Borg viewpoint. R+6 is not an accidental or recent formation.

  8. LG says:

    Sir, what to make of President Putin’s announcement to start withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria?

  9. Abu Sinan says:

    It looks like Putin is making a move few foretold. Reports say he is pulling out a large chunk of his forces in Syria.

  10. steve says:

    On Putin’s announcement of the withdrawal of Russian froces from Syris:
    There hasn’t been much media reaction to it as of yet, but one statement on the news characterized it, to paraphrase, as “a devastating blow to Assad”.
    Perhaps the US media can’t imagine a nation having limited military goals, achieving those goals, and then going back home. Novel idea I guess.

  11. George Hallam says:

    Putin has ordered Russian forces to withdrawal from Syria, starting tomorrow.

  12. The Beaver says:

    So Iran Told to Pay $10.5 Billion to Sept. 11 Kin, Insurers according to this :
    Just wondering where and to whom the lawsuit notice was served? Did someone make a special trip to Iran or did they expect the Swiss government to be the courier?

  13. Jonathan House says:

    On the basis of profound ignorance with the exception of reading this blog, a few months back I predicted to family and friends that the situation in Syria would be quite clear by mid March.
    I just emailed those family and friend as follows
    Subject head: Today, March 15, moments ago, there was “Breaking News” in the N. Y. Times and the BBC: It is clear — at least to Putin!
    body of email:
    NYT: Putin Orders Start of Syria Withdrawal, Saying Goals Are Achieved
    Syria conflict: Russia’s Putin orders ‘main part’ of forces out

  14. Liza says:

    Putin has just ordered the start of Russian withdrawal from Syria. Remember when Obama confidently predicted that Russia would be trapped in a quagmire ?

  15. Lord Curzon says:

    Putin has announced the withdrawal of most of Russia’s combat power from Syria – will be interesting to see what he intends should remain. I get the distinct impression the job is half done. Is this a declaration that Assad can’t lose but that he can’t win either?

  16. bth says:

    Assad had turned down the federation strategy. Russia has been pretty explicit about an end of March timeframe on their heightened military commitments and the Russian economy including military spending is in decline. Look for negotiated resolution of the Ukraine conflict and reduction of sanctions on the Russian economy to quickly follow.

  17. oldjack says:

    Russia will maintain its naval base at Tartus as well as the Hmeimim airfield, where it will continue to monitor the ceasefire with the non-Islamist factions. Also saw a report of a carrier steaming to the eastern Mediterranean with a couple of dozen aircraft. Russia will continue to “hover” over Syria.
    My friends in Lebanon say the SAA has been upgraded with better equipment and ordnance. The Russians have taken the training wheels off and pushed the bike; hopefully the SAA and its allies will keep it upright. In the meantime they press the diplomatic angles.

  18. steve says:

    Assume, as is likely that Trump and Clinton are going to be our POTUS candidates. Assume they each have a Saul on the way to Damascus to conversion and they decide to try to pick advisers outside of the Borg. Is that even possible? Who would they be?

  19. different clue says:

    Well now Obama gets to strut, posture and brag as to how he “got them” to do it. Putin will consider having to hear Obama’s braggy chatter a small price to pay for achieving real material lasting gains.

  20. different clue says:

    Perhaps that question can be answered without getting into the poison ivy of partisan speculation and political sports analysis. It might be an opportunity for people here to suggest who various Borgless and Counter-Borg advisers might be . . . in case any of the candidates have any people reading this blog looking for outside-the-Borg advice.
    That could even be a phrase, if anyone thinks it is good enough to pick up and use.
    “Thinking outside the Borg.”

  21. Cortes says:

    A bracing article about the US military by polymath Dmitry Orlov:

  22. Fred says:

    “Think outside the Borg”
    Hopefully that catches on.

  23. Valissa says:

    I love it 🙂 “Think outside the Borg” is a meme that could go viral… if someone created a clever, satirical youtube video to explain it to the masses.

  24. Valissa says:

    Thanks for the link! I have been pondering the issue of “bang for the buck” regarding military expenditures vs effectiveness ever since the Russians have started strutting their stuff making Pax Americana’s bloat problems more visible. Orlov organizes the info well and into an easily digestible narrative, suitable to send to friends without foreign policy knowledge.

  25. Fred says:

    Credit “different clue” with creating that one. I

  26. So tonight [3/15/2016] Senator Rubio has suspended his campaign!

  27. Valissa says:

    I’ll drink to that 😉

  28. different clue says:

    If enough people like it enough that they use it enough that it catches fire, then it will perhaps start to burn in the minds of men and make a fire to Light the Way. ( such drama . . . ) I hereby give the phrase away to anyone and everyone who cares to try launching it.
    “fly little meme fly . . . ”

  29. rjj says:

    heads up for Not The Borg® brand products.

  30. Hey he might reappear as first candidate for President in free elections in Cuba!

  31. Valissa says:

    It is indeed a brilliant meme, different clue, thanks! For clarity, I should have addressed my previous response to both you and Fred.
    “fly little meme fly”… [attempting to nudge it out of it’s SST nest]

  32. Farooq says:

    I haven’t seen any discussion on SST of an event that in my humble amateur opinion will mark the turning point in the history of human species.
    “AlphaGo Wins Final Game In Match Against Champion Go Player”
    I predict that we will see major upheaval in white collar job market in a decades time. I will start seeing decline in my own paycheck much earlier. Luddites will make a big come back as a major political force 😀

  33. Farooq says:

    Addendum to my last post:
    I recommend this book by Nick Bostrom if you haven’t read it already
    Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies
    or watch his talk:

  34. A loss four games to one! We have Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics but what is needed for A.I.?

  35. Farooq says:

    There is increased interest in this topic now that AI is being applied in the real world and is not merely an academic pursuit. The main challenge comes from the inherent nature of how neural networks work. The intelligence in such networks is an emergent property. Just by looking at the algorithm of the neural network you cannot determine the entire domain of its output.
    The artificial intelligence only emerges from the neural network when it is fed gobs of data. For example if you want your neural network software to recognize picture of a cat you have to feed it millions of pre-labeled pictures of cats. Based on that “learning” process, software develops the capability to identify cats in pictures. This process some how mimics human learning process, but
    in very short time.
    After the learning process if you present an unlabeled picture of cat, the software could identify it accurately or not, but at that point you can’t tell why exactly you got a positive or negative result from the neural network. In case of cat pictures we humans can act as a referee but in other instances it is harder for us to be the judge.
    Take this particular example of Go game series that AlphaGo won. In several instances the AlphaGo played moves that looked very weak or very unusual. Most human players thought it had made a mistake or it was a bug. But in some cases it turned out that these non-human or seemingly weak moves actually were increasing its overall probability of win as the neural network was designed to maximize the probability of win and not margin of win. The moves looked weak to human observer as humans are biased towards increasing the margin of win strategy. But then the AI also lost a game and there were some moves which were genuinely weak moves.
    So to sum up in the above scenario it is very hard to tell if the decision that AI made was based on some beyond human cognitive insight or if it was a bug/mistake.
    I would encourage you to read the following short paper by Nick Bostrom and look through the websites for the work being done on ethics of AI

  36. different clue says:

    Hmmm . . . if those two “whites should kill themselves due to privilege” debaters were to visit a grain elevator in Nebraska during grain-loading season and try to make that same case there, I wonder how they would do, or what reception they would receive.

  37. rjj says:

    GOOD NEWS! SUDO Pharmaceuticals reports progress on its Dunning-Kruger vaccine.

  38. Fred says:

    Well since white people founded Harvard shouldn’t all the outraged students simply refuse to go there?

  39. Many thanks for insights and terrific links!

  40. Some immigration analysis from CRS:
    I continue to believe Immigration jumpstarted the Trump campaign.

  41. The Beaver says:

    Too bad we don’t know who is the author and the recipients though HRC is one of them since this is part of her emails:
    I guess some of those views are caduque today.
    some snippets:
    [Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about — but cannot talk about — is
    losing their nuclear monopoly.]
    [Libya was an easier case. But other than the laudable purpose of saving Libyan civilians from likely attacks by Qaddafi’s regime, the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for the region.]

  42. The HILL newspaper reporting deal in place for DEMS if HRC indicted before the election. Biden stand in for HRC.
    My added phillip! Obama resigns in favor of Biden who runs as sitting President! Farfetched? Maybe!

  43. Thomas says:

    “My added phillip! Obama resigns in favor of Biden who runs as sitting President! Farfetched? Maybe!”
    Possibly, if it has the Chicago Contributors Club’s seal (or is that zeal) of approval.

  44. P.L>! Might it be of some help to your blog administrative load to just have an OPEN THREAD every Friday or every other Friday?

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