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Islamic State being steamrolled in Syria

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Following the Siege of Aleppo, the Syrian Arab Army has shifted its focus towards land grabs. While Aleppo was still under control of the jihadist groups, the government controlled the coastline, most of the areas along its border with Lebanon, and much of the area surrounding Damascus with some major exceptions. Ever since liberating Eastern Aleppo, the SAA has kept the Al-Qaeda linked groups at bay in the region west of Aleppo. The SAA hasn’t launched any major offensive other than to recapture the gains of jihadists in the Idlib Province north of Hama. Instead, Assad’s forces have focused most on ridding the Islamic State from the desert, leaving hardcore terrorists fright moderate terrorists.

 Figure 1: Syria December 22nd, 2016. East Aleppo under government control

Figure 1: Syria December 22nd, 2016. East Aleppo under government control

Things are looking bleak for ISIS in Syria. Their capital Raqqah is under siege with coalition forces reclaiming 60% and growing of the city. The closest forces to break the siege are about 45 km east and 36 km south using the most up to date maps. The Kurds have been instrumental in defeating the Islamic State, and the Syrian government is content to let them liberate Raqqah. Urban warfare has been brutal in the region with the past Sieges of Aleppo and Mosul both proving difficult.

After Aleppo, SAA with the assistance of Russia and other allies began increasing its land by first recapturing Palmyra which they accomplished in March. Afterwards focused attention on the Iraqi border and desert land south of the main road that goes through Palmyra. Meanwhile east of Aleppo, along the Euphrates River, it’s almost a race between Assad and the Kurds as to who can capture the land first. Neither group is fighting one another, but each village counts when the two groups will eventually negotiate a final peace.

Figure 2: Syria August 23rd, 2017. Most of the land gains are within the last couple months

Figure 2: Syria August 23rd, 2017. Most of the land gains are within the last couple months

The objective for Assad’s forces is clear. Government forces have been under siege by ISIS for five years in Deir ez-Zor. However, it is not a perfect siege. Russia and Syria have been able to supply their forces under siege due to the Islamic State’s lack of anti-air. No doubt the Syrian government is striving to break the siege. Breaking the siege would be a morale boosting victory that would further reinforce Assad’s eventual victory. The SAA captured as-Sukhnah on August 5th which is the only major settlement between Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor. But in the last two weeks, the SAA has decided to clean up rather than rush to break the siege. They have attacked ISIS in the region northwest of Palmyra from the south, north and west. The Islamic State’s oil fields were split by the SAA, rendering the isolated territory under siege and useless. Syria is about to isolate another oil rich mass of land via capturing land directly north of as-Sukhnah.

This break from marching on to Deir ez-Zor was brief because reports show the Syrian Army captured about 30km of highway. The Islamic State has few victories to claim as the defeats keep piling up in Syria. It’s only a matter of time before the five-year siege is broken and intense fighting along the Euphrates begins. For now, Syria enjoys relatively easy victories bringing it one step closer to peace.

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Democrats

Kyrsten Sinema’s socialist thoughts now exemplify over half of Arizona

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Kyrsten Sinema's socialist thoughts now exemplify over half of Arizona

Arizona can no longer be considered a red state. As the Senate election vote counts finish up, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema appears poised to win. It isn’t that a Democrat won that makes me move Arizona from red to purple. It’s that a socialist in moderate clothing was able to pull the wool over the eyes of Arizona voters so easily.

Just an hour of research is enough to break through the Arizona mainstream media’s false narrative that Sinema is a moderate. She is anti-capitalism, in favor of open borders, and had the lowest Liberty Score of anyone in the House representing Arizona.

Then, there’s this:

“A huge dollar bill is the most accurate way to teach children the real motto of the United States: In the Almighty Dollar We Trust… Until the average American realizes that capitalism damages her livelihood while augmenting the livelihoods of the wealthy, the Almighty Dollar will continue to rule. It certainly is not ruling in our favor.”

Arizona chose poorly.

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Guns and Crime

Trust in Chicago area police was already low. Then they killed Jemel Roberson.

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Trust in Chicago area police was already low Then they killed Jemel Roberson

An armed security guard prevented anyone from getting killed when gunmen returned to his bar after getting thrown out. He subdued them without using deadly force and was restraining one of the alleged assailants when police arrived. That’s when a resolved situation turned ugly.

A Midlothian police officer shot and killed Jemel Roberson, 26, while responding to a shooting inside Manny’s Blue Room Bar in Robbins, Illinois, about 4 a.m. Sunday. Roberson was pronounced dead at the scene.

This appears to be a case of a truly decent person doing his job and losing his life as a result.

Security guard killed by police in Robbins bar wanted to be a cop, friends say

https://wgntv.com/2018/11/12/officer-responds-to-gunfire-fatally-shoots-security-guard-at-robbins-bar/Friends said Roberson was an upstanding guy who had plans to become a police officer. He was also a musician, playing keyboard and drums at several Chicago-area churches.

“Every artist he’s ever played for, every musician he’s ever sat beside, we’re all just broken because we have no answers,” the Rev. Patricia Hill from Purposed Church said. “He was getting ready to train and do all that stuff, so the very people he wanted to be family with, took his life.”

“Once again, it’s the continued narrative that we see of shoot first, ask questions later,” the Rev. LeAundre Hill said.

My Take

Chicago area residents have had many reasons to not trust the men and women charged with keeping them safe. Controversial police-involved shootings, rising crime rates, and tone deaf leadership in city, county, and state governments have been pushing people in the area to give up on law enforcement.

This will make matters much worse.

The optics on this couldn’t get much uglier, especially if the unnamed police officer who shot Roberson turns out to be Caucasian. Roberson, an African-American, was able to detain four assailants without anyone getting fatally wounded. The fact that he was then fatally shot by police adds a new dimension to the rift between police and the people.

In most incidents where police are believed to have used deadly force unnecessarily, it’s a matter of them shooting an alleged criminal when other means of subduing them could have been used. Such is the case with Jason Van Dyke who fatally shot Laquan McDonald. Nobody argued that McDonald wasn’t dangerous. He was high on PCP, had a knife, and was walking in the middle of the street despite police warnings for him to drop the weapon and get on the ground.

Roberson’s situation is the opposite. He was doing his duty as a security guard and very likely saved lives in the process. His death is almost certainly going to start another round of racial tensions and anti-police protests that could cause tremendous turmoil throughout the Chicagoland area.

There is usual gray area in police shootings, but this seems pretty black and white to me. Jemel Roberson acted heroically. Instead of a happy ending for the day and a bright future in law enforcement ahead, he’s gone.

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Entertainment and Sports

Stan Lee’s 10 greatest comics

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Stan Lees 10 greatest comics

Stan Lee has died. While modern audiences probably know much more about the Marvel movies and televisions shows that dominate our viewing pleasures, it was his genius in creating so many beloved comic book characters decades ago that fuels Hollywood today.

Looper put out a video with his greatest comics. These subjective lists are usually fodder for debate, but I was so pleasantly surprised by their choices I decided to post it here. It may be the first time I agree with nearly everything in a video top 10 list. Fitting that it surrounds an icon like Lee.

From his quirky cameos in every Marvel movie to his down-to-earth perspectives present in every interview, there’s plenty to love about Stan Lee. But it was his comic book creations that have made a permanent mark on American culture.

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