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A Messianic Bush is Building Permanent U.S. Bases in Iraq
(Maureen Farrell, BuzzFlash, April 24, 2006)
And though Bush promised troops would not remain in Iraq "for one day longer than is necessary," within weeks, officials began talking about "maintaining perhaps four bases in Iraq." . . . At the time, Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, scoffed at Mr. Bush's promise. "This idea that we will be in just as long as we need to and not a day more -- we've got to get over that rhetoric," he said. "It is rubbish. We're going to be there a long time. We must reorganize our military to be there a long time." . . . Sadly, military families who thought "Mission Accomplished" meant troops would come home paid the ultimate price. "What are we getting into here?" one sergeant asked in June, 2003. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?" . . . "Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran," Bookman wrote in Sept. 2002, well before journalists uncovered possible plans for Tehran. . . . Others are now sounding similar alarms. "Anyone thinking we are entering the end-game better wake up," Sen. Gary Hart recently wrote. "Our neoconservative [COMMENT by Lorenzo: A more accurate term for these screwheads is Neo-Fascists.] policy makers are still willing to risk the U.S. Army in a mad Middle East imperial scheme that composed the real reason for the Iraq war in the first place." . . . the Pentagon has long been interested in "shifting and reshaping our global military footprint" into strategically advantageous Iraq. "We've built very massive mega-bases. . . These are permanent military bases in Iraq. We've done that in other places, as well, in the Middle East. . . I think that's a big part of it, shifting our footprint. . . we've built the bases, and we're not leaving Iraq," Some U.S. bases are so large, in fact, that they're being likened to small American towns. Camp Anaconda, near Balad, for example, encompasses 15 square miles, and features a miniature golf course, two swimming pools, and a first-run movie theater. The base at al-Asad also boasts a movie theater and swimming pool, as well as a Subway restaurant, a coffee shop, and a Hertz rent-a-car facility. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, which is currently under construction, reportedly boasts 21 buildings (including a food court, swimming poll and gym) and spans 104 acres, as opposed to the customary 10. "The fortress-like compound rising beside the Tigris River here will be the largest of its kind in the world, the size of Vatican City, with the population of a small town, its own defense force, self-contained power and water, and a precarious perch at the heart of Iraq's turbulent future," the Associated Press reported. . . . "After every US military intervention since 1990 the Pentagon has left behind clusters of new bases in areas where it never before had a foothold," Zoltan Grossman of Evergreen State College recently explained, adding that, "The only two obstacles to a geographically contiguous US sphere of influence are Iran and Syria." And with wars in Iran and Syria reportedly unofficially underway, promises of a withdrawal ring decidedly untrue. . . . Which brings us back to the elephant in the war room -- the notion that getting bogged down in Iraq was actually part of the plan. "Today, however, the great majority of the American people have no concept of what kind of conflict the president is leading them into," Josh Marshall wrote in March, 2003, saying that "the White House really has in mind an enterprise of a scale, cost, and scope that would be almost impossible to sell to the American public." . . . In short, Americans bought this war without fully knowing what they were paying for, and most are still not certain why we're in Iraq or how long we're staying. . . . While Americans have been left in the dark and lied to before, this time the stakes are higher than ever. "Something bad is going to happen," one "wise man" told Seymour Hersh regarding plans for the use of nuclear weapons in Iran, an option which could instantly kill a million or more. . . . To make matters more surreal, former GOP strategist Kevin Phillips has underscored the role End Times theology plays in all of this, as the White House caters to those "for whom the Holy Lands are a battleground of Christian destiny." This biblically charged powder keg is made even more explosive by rumors that President Bush sees himself as a crusader, of sorts. "The word I hear is messianic," Hersh told CNN. "[Blair] and Bush both have this sense, this messianic sense, I believe, about what they've done and what's needed to be done in the Middle East," Hersh told Democracy Now, adding, "I think [Blair] is every bit as committed into this world of rapture, as is the president." [COMMENT by Lorenzo: And the poor, loyal, unsuspecting troops Bush has sent in harms way are the ones who will suffer and die for this insane man in the White House. The U.S. military high command may be the world's last hope of avoiding a global nuclear war. Let us hope that there are still a few true patriots left in the military. Otherwise we are all doomed.]
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posted by Lorenzo 5:26 AM
A three-part Los Angeles Times series following the lives of soldiers wounded in Iraq
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To see the entire L.A. Times series CLICK HERE.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:30 PM
US on par with Nazi Germany, says RAF officer in Iraq trial
(Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, April 13, 2006)
An RAF doctor told a court martial yesterday he refused to serve in Iraq because he believed the actions of US armed forces there were "on a par with Nazi Germany". . . . Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith told the military court he was not prepared to take part in an "act of aggression" contrary to international law. . . . The 37-year-old officer, who has dual British and New Zealand citizenship and is based at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire, Scotland, has pleaded not guilty to five charges of disobeying orders, including a refusal to be deployed to Basra last year. . . . Yesterday, he told the court martial at Aldershot: "I have evidence that the Americans were on a par with Nazi Germany with its actions in the Persian gulf. I have documents in my possession which support my assertions. This is on the basis that ongoing acts of aggression in Iraq and systematically applied war crimes provide a moral equivalent between the US and Nazi Germany." . . . Flt Lt Kendall-Smith said he considered the war in Iraq to be the equivalent of an "imperial invasion and occupation". He said he was extremely disturbed by America's "imperial campaign of military conquest", which was in direct conflict with his duties. . . . He added: "It struck me as incongruous and disturbing that the US air force published the phrase 'global power for America' on their documentation during the conflict. I found that the phrase 'global power for America' was imperial." Asked by David Perry, prosecuting counsel, whether he really believed that the actions of US forces in Iraq were comparable to those of the Third Reich, Flt Lt Kendall-Smith replied: "On the basis of active aggression and systematically applied war crimes, serious violations of international law - yes." . . . After summing up the evidence, the judge advocate Jack Bayliss adjourned the case until today, when a five man panel - all RAF officers - will retire to consider its verdict. In courts martial, panels and the judge consider the sentence together.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:24 AM
Iraq unrest forces 65,000 to flee
(BBC NEWS, April 13, 2006)
At least 65,000 Iraqis have fled their homes as a result of sectarian violence and intimidation, according to new figures from the Iraqi government. . . . And the rate at which Iraqis are being displaced is increasing. . . . Figures given to the BBC by the Ministry for Displacement and Migration show a doubling in the last two weeks of the number of Iraqis forced to move. . . . Reports of people leaving their homes because of violence or intimidation, or simply because they no longer feel safe, are becoming more and more common. . . . Some of the intimidation is being carried out by mobile phone. . . . People have been receiving threatening text messages and gruesome videos filmed on mobile phone cameras. . . . In one, a Sunni Iraqi man who entered a mainly Shia neighbourhood of Baghdad is seen being beaten and killed by men in black clothes. . . . The video was then sent out with the warning that this is what would happen to any other Sunni who came to the area. . . . Much of this displacement is taking place in and around Baghdad where the violence has been worst, with many people moving in with relatives or friends. . . . The Red Crescent is providing food, water, blankets, and kerosene to 5,000 families. . . . Some displaced people are living in makeshift camps, others are living with relatives or friends, or have moved into ruined buildings or other structures. . . . Some displaced Iraqis, the Red Crescent says, are hesitant to move to camps, concerned that the camps will become the target of attacks. . . . Hundreds of Sunnis from the overwhelmingly Shia south, have been heading north - many going to Sunni areas in and around Falluja, west of Baghdad.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:24 PM
White House admits lying about Iraq WMDs
(Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian Unlimited, April 13, 2006)
The White House has acknowledged for the first time that a key moment in post-war Iraq, the declaration by George Bush that "we have found the weapons of mass destruction", was based on intelligence known in Washington to be false. . . . The president's assertion on May 29 2003 that Saddam Hussein's arsenal had been located was based on the capture of two trailers claimed to be mobile biological warfare labs. In Mr Bush's TV interview that day, and for months afterwards, US officials used them to justify the invasion. . . . However, the Washington Post yesterday reported that the Pentagon had sent nine US and British weapons experts to Iraq to examine the trailers, who concluded they had nothing to do with biological weapons, and transmitted their finding to Washington on May 27 2003. . . . n response to the paper, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, yesterday admitted Mr Bush had used false information but said he had been unaware of the fact, and called the reporting "irresponsible". "The president's comments were based on intelligence assessments by the CIA and briefing by the intelligence community," he said. "It's not something that turns round on a dime." However, by September 2003 vice-president Dick Cheney was still saying the trailers could have been used to make anthrax.
Report raises new questions on Bush, WMDs
US shelved evidence discounting Iraq's WMD
Original Washington Post Story
Lacking Biolabs, Trailers Carried Case for War
Administration Pushed Notion of Banned Iraqi Weapons Despite Evidence to Contrary
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posted by Lorenzo 2:05 PM
Army Death Notifications Are Brutally Cold To Grieving Families
(Lizette Alvarez, L.A. Times, April 7, 2006)
After Neil Santorello heard the news that his son, a tank commander, had been killed in Iraq, from the officer in his living room, he walked out his front door and removed the American flag from its pole. Then, in tears, he tore down the yellow ribbons from his tree. . . . Rather than see it as the act of a man unmoored by the death of his 24-year-old son, the officer, an Army major, confronted Mr. Santorello, saying, "Don't be disrespectful," Mr. Santorello recalled. Then, the officer, whose job it is to inform families of their loss, quickly disappeared without offering any comfort. . . . Later, the Santorellos heard a piece of crushing but inaccurate news: They would not be allowed to look inside their son's coffin. First Lt. Neil Santorello, of Verona, Pa., had been killed by an improvised bomb. His body, the family was told, was unviewable. . . . The Santorellos eventually learned that families have the right to see a loved one's body. . . . "I asked them to open the casket a few inches so I could reach in and touch his hand," recalled Mr. Santorello, who is still struggling with his son's death, in large part because he was not allowed to see him. . . . "The government doesn't want you to see servicemen in a casket, but this is my son. He is not a serviceman. You have to let his mother and I say goodbye to him." . . . Scores of families whose loved ones have died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone head-to-head with a casualty system that, in their experience, has failed to compassionately and competently guide them through the harrowing process that begins after a soldier's death. . . . They have complained about coffins placed in cargo bays alongside crates, personal belongings that disappear, questions about how their loved ones died that go unanswered for months or even years, and casualty assistants who are too poorly trained to walk them through the labyrinth of their anguish. . . . After three years of war in Iraq, with the number of active-duty deaths there surpassing 2,330, the military is scrambling to improve the way it cares for surviving relatives and honors soldiers who have been killed in battle. Even senior officials, including the secretary of the Army, have acknowledged flaws in the system. . . . Not since the Vietnam War have so many service members in dress uniforms knocked on so many doors to deliver such somber news. . . . The Army, which has suffered the largest number of deaths, 1,589 as of March 28, has faced an enormous challenge and has received the sharpest criticism for its treatment of surviving families and soldiers killed in action. . . . Now it is rushing through new regulations to overhaul the casualty process, which has been tinkered with, but not fully revised, since 1994. . . . Many wonder why it has taken the military so long to address their concerns. The answer appears straightforward: The military did not expect to be fighting this long. It also did not expect to lose this many soldiers. . . . Lapses in the past few years run from the heart-wrenching to the head-scratching. Families have said that items like cameras and computers containing treasured e-mail messages and photographs have been lost or damaged. . . . Gay and Fred Eisenhauer, of Pinckneyville, Ill., whose son, Wyatt, an Army scout, was killed last May in Iraq by an improvised bomb, are still hoping to receive their son's watch, eyeglasses and cellphone. The phone is precious because it holds a recording of their son's voice. A combat patch they were promised has never arrived. . . . "I know these are little things," Mrs. Eisenhauer said. "What makes it important to me is that my son was good enough to go over there to fight, but he is not important enough to get his stuff back to his family." . . . The Eisenhauers had hoped to take comfort in the military rituals. Instead, the airline placed Private Eisenhauer's coffin in a cargo warehouse with crates and boxes stacked high around it. There was no ceremony, no flag over the coffin. . . . Only the airport firefighters did their bit to honor him, hoisting flags on their ladder trucks. . . . "I just wanted to scream," Mrs. Eisenhauer said. "My son was owed that. He was owed that." . . . When Joan Neal of Gurnee, Ill., went to the airport for the body of her son, Specialist Wesley Wells, 21, she was aghast. "To glance over and see your child's casket on a forklift is not really the kind of thing you want to see," Ms. Neal said. . . . News of a death has also been delivered at awkward times. Ms. Neal was at work when she was notified in September 2004 that her son had been killed in Afghanistan, and Mrs. Eisenhauer's 6-year-old niece was in the room when Mrs. Eisenhauer received the news. . . . As parents to a married son, the Santorellos experienced something that is commonplace: The Army focuses on the spouse and has often left parents to fend for themselves. . . . Congress has asked for an investigation by the Government Accountability Office.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:56 AM
3 U.S. commanders relieved of duty in civilian massacre investigation
(Nancy A. Youssef, Knight Ridder Newspapers, April 8, 2006)
The story of what happened to Yaseen and his brother Younes' family has redefined Haditha's relationship with the Marines who patrol it. On Nov. 19, a roadside bomb struck a Humvee on Haditha's main road, killing one Marine and injuring two others. . . . The Marines say they took heavy gunfire afterwards and thought it was coming from the area around Younes' house. They went to investigate, and 23 people were killed. . . . Eight were from Younes' family. The only survivor, Younes' 13-year-old daughter, said her family wasn't shooting at Marines or harboring extremists that morning. They were sleeping when the bomb exploded. And when the Marines entered their house, she said, they shot at everyone inside. . . . The Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) began an investigation in February after a Time Magazine reporter passed on accounts he had received about the incident. A second investigation was opened into how the Marines initially reported the killings - the Marines said that 15 people were killed by the roadside explosion and that eight insurgents were killed in subsequent combat. . . . On Friday, the Marines relieved of duty three leaders of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, which had responsibility for Haditha when the shooting occurred. They are Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and two of his company commanders, Capt. James S. Kimber and Capt. Lucas M. McConnell. McConnell was commanding Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion, the unit that struck the roadside bomb on Nov. 19 and led the subsequent search of the area. . . . They were relieved because of "multiple incidents that occurred throughout their deployment," said Lt. Lawton King . . . The events of last November have clearly taken their toll on Yaseen and his niece, Safa, who trembles visibly as she listens to Yaseen recount what she told him of the attack. She cannot bring herself to tell the tale herself. . . . She fainted after the Marines burst through the door and began firing. When she regained consciousness, only her 3-year-old brother was still alive, but bleeding heavily. She comforted him in a room filled with dead family members until he died, too. And then she went to her Uncle Yaseen's house next door. . . . Neither Yaseen nor Safa have returned home since. . . . Indeed, many in this town, whose residents are stuck in the battle between extremists and the Americans, said now it is the U.S. military they fear most. . . . "The mujahadeen (holy warriors) will kill you if you stand against them or say anything against them. And the Americans will kill you if the mujahadeen attack them several kilometers away," said Mohammed al-Hadithi, 32, a barber who lives in neighboring Haqlania. With a cigarette between his fingers, he pointed at a Marine patrol as it passed in front of his shop. "I look at each of them, and I see killers." . . . Three years after the war began, the U.S. military concedes it hasn't figured out how to tell a terrorist from an ordinary citizen in places like Haditha. [COMMENT by Lorenzo: Those of us unlucky enough to have served in Viet Nam can certainly understand this situation.] . . . There is as yet no official public version of what took place next and U.S. officials familiar with the investigation would discuss the incident only if their names were not used. . . . According to these officials, a car approached the convoy at about the same time the shooting began. The Marines signaled it to stop and it did. But it was too close to the convoy and when four men jumped out of it, the Marines, suspecting the men had been involved in the IED attack, shot them dead. . . . Yaseen said he and his brother's family were asleep in their houses about 100 yards away when the explosion woke them. Minutes later, they heard the Marines blocking off the road. . . . Yaseen, citing Safa's account, said Younes started to prepare the family for the search they knew was coming, separating the men from the women and the children, as is custom during searches. . . . Younes moved his five children and sister-in-law into the bedroom, Yaseen said Safa told him. There, his wife was lying in bed, recovering from an appendectomy. They waited. . . . The Marines moved into another house first, according to U.S. officials. In that house, the Marines saw a line of closed doors and thought an ambush was coming. They shot, and seven people inside were killed, including one child. Two other children who stayed in the house survived. A woman who ran out with her baby also survived, military officials said. . . . Yaseen said Safa told him that her father heard something so he went to the front of the house. Seconds later, Safa said she heard several gunshots. She didn't know it at the time, but her father was dying. Four Marines then moved into the bedroom, where some of her sisters were standing at their mother's bedside, hugging her. . . . Yassen said Safa told him that one Marine started yelling at them in English, but that they didn't understand what he was saying. The women and children started screaming in fear, which Yaseen could hear from next door. This went on for several minutes, he said. . . . Safa trembled as Yaseen told the story to a visitor. She tried to tell it herself, but she couldn't. "My father told us to gather in one room, so the Americans could search," she said. And then she started to cry. . . . Yaseen said that Safa told him that four soldiers came into the bedroom, but only one did the yelling. Her mother, who had heard the shooting asked: "What did you do to my husband?" Her sisters, mother and aunt were crying. And then the one soldier who had been yelling started shooting. . . . Frightened, Safa fainted. She thought she had died. When she awoke, she remembered seeing her mother still lying in bed. Her head was blown open. She looked around and heard her 3-year-old brother, Mohammed, moan in pain. The blood was pouring out of his right arm. . . . "Come on, Mohammed. Get up so we can go to uncle's house," she told her brother. But he couldn't. . . . In the same room where her mother, aunt and sisters lay dead, Safa grabbed the toddler, sat down and leaned his head against her shoulder. She put his arm against her chest and held it to try to stop the bleeding. She kept holding and talking to him until, like everyone else in the room, he too was silent. And then she ran next door. . . . [COMMENT by Lorenzo: This blood is on Bush's hands, as it is on Rumsfeld's, Rice's, Powell's and on the hands of the other of the fascists who have taken control of the U.S.A. . . . including everyone who voted for them and who still supports them. You are beastly killers and deserve nothing but the spite and hate of peaceful people everywhere.]
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posted by Lorenzo 5:01 AM
Public support against Iraq war reachs 'tipping point'
(Tom Regan, csmonitor.com, April 4, 2006)
Recent surveys show that public support for war, foreign policy objectives of Bush, Blair is dwindling. . . . In Britain, a new YouGov poll published by The Daily Telegraph shows that a solid majority of people now believe Britain and the US should not have launched the coalition effort. Fifty-seven percent of Britons now believe that the war should not have been launched against Iraq, up three percent from the last YouGov poll in Sept. of 2005. And 55 percent of Britons now believe that their troops should be withdrawn from Iraq either immediately, or within the next 12 months. . . . An editorial in the conservative Telegraph argues that Britain should leave Iraq "sooner rather than later." . . . The US public holds a strikingly clear view of what Washington's foreign policy priorities should be. The goals the public highlights range widely. Those that receive the most public support are helping other nations when they are struck by natural disasters (71 percent), cooperating with other countries on problems such as the environment and disease control (70 percent), and supporting UN peacekeeping (69 percent). A surprisingly high level of support shows up for goals that represent the United States' humanitarian (as distinct from its political) ideals, such as improving the treatment of women in other countries (57 percent), helping people in poor countries get an education (51 percent), and helping countries move out of poverty (40 percent). Receiving less support are goals such as encouraging US businesses to invest in poor countries (22 percent). And receiving the least support is "actively creating democracies in other countries" (20 percent). . . . The Lexington Herald-Leader at Kentucky.com recently juxtaposed polls taken at the time of the original invasion of Iraq in March 2003, and polls on the same issues today. Among the changes it found in public opinion: In April 2003, 70 percent of respondents in an ABC-Washington Post poll said the war in Iraq was worth fighting. In March 2006 only 29 percent in a CBS poll said results of the war were worth the cost. The paper also looked at changes in statistics on Iraq and the US-led coalition. For instance, when looking at the reconstruction of Iraq: - Potable water: 50 percent of Iraqis had access before war; about 32 percent now. . . . Electric power: Baghdad, with one-fifth of Iraq's 25 million people, had power for 16 to 24 hours a day before war; just under 4 hours now. . . . Crude oil production: Prewar peak was 2.5 million barrels a day; now 1.84 million. . . . Unemployment: Estimates ranged from 50 percent to 60 percent in June 2003; now 28 percent to 40 percent. . . . Finally, citizens of 30 communities in Wisconsin will get a chance to vote Tuesday in a nonbinding referendum on the US presence in Iraq. The measure asks whether Bush should bring American troops home now. The Associated Press reports that peace activists pushed to have the questions placed on the ballot, even though the referendums have no bearing on federal policy.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:12 PM
The Journey Through Trauma
(David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2006)
U.S. troops who survive the critical 'golden hour' after being seriously wounded in Iraq owe their lives to a fast-acting team of battlefield medics, pilots, nurses and surgeons. . . . The medical odyssey of this Marine [described in detail via the link above] was just beginning. Buchter was now a patient in a virtual assembly line of care. It begins with soldiers and medics on the battlefield and shifts quickly to helicopter crews who pluck the wounded from kill zones. It continues to surgeons and nurses and X-ray technicians at desert facilities, and to virtual flying hospitals that airlift the wounded from Balad to a U.S. military hospital in Germany. . . . It leaps the Atlantic to major military medical centers in Texas and Washington, D.C. It passes through military hospitals from New York to California. It culminates with months of painstaking physical and occupational therapy in hospital wards and private homes. About 17,400 wounded have been treated since the war began three years ago. . . . The fulcrum for treatment in Iraq is the U.S. Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad. In addition to the troops brought directly to the hospital, any seriously wounded American must make a stop in Balad to be flown for treatment in Germany. The facility is housed inside three dozen tents and three trailers on the packed sands of a former Iraqi air force base 50 miles north of Baghdad. Sandbags, concrete blast walls and concertina wire provide protection from insurgents, car bombs and mortars. . . . The military says no injured American is more than 30 minutes from Balad or one of three combat support hospitals operated by the Army. . . . The rapid evacuation of wounded troops begins with Black Hawk medevac crews of four — nicknamed "dust-off" teams — trained to respond rapidly to distress calls from the battlefield. . . . From their dusty tent base about a mile from the hospital, the Army air ambulance companies keep three helicopters and crews ready at all times. The copters occupy a corner of the air base, the thumping of their rotors competing with the roar of F-16s taking off and the low hum of armed reconnaissance drones. . . . The crews are called to action by "nine-lines," the emergency radio calls from the battlefield that provide nine essential bits of information: location, number of wounded, whether the landing zone is "hot," or under fire, and so on. In most cases, the crews say, their helicopters lift off within eight to 10 minutes. . . .
[NOTE: The above are cuts from the first page of an eight page article. Click the link above for the full text. Also be sure to check out the Flash presentation that accompanies this story.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:17 PM