McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay Joining Reuters

October 6, 2015 by  
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NEW YORK — McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay, who was part of the reporting team credited with the most skeptical coverage of the Bush administration’s case for war in Iraq, is heading to Reuters to cover national security, according to a memo obtained by The Huffington Post. 

“Obviously, Jon has done wonderful work over the years, ranging from his reports on the bogus intelligence about WMD in Iraq to this year’s Pulitzer-worthy work on the Senate, the CIA and torture,” McClatchy Washington bureau chief Jim Asher wrote in the memo.

Landay, Marisa Taylor and Ali Watkins — who is now a reporter at HuffPost — were 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalists for deep reporting on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report regarding the CIA’s torture programs.  

At Reuters, Landay will rejoin Warren Strobel, who was his partner on many critical stories during the run-up to Iraq. At the time, both Landay and Strobel worked for Knight-Ridder, which later became part of the McClatchy newspaper chain.

The memo from Asher, who recently announced he’ll soon leave McClatchy himself, is below:  

It is my unhappy duty to tell you that Jonathan Landay is leaving McClatchy to take a job with Reuters covering national security.


Obviously, Jon has done wonderful work over the years, ranging from his reports on the bogus intelligence about WMD in Iraq to this year’s Pulitzer-worthy work on the Senate, the CIA and torture. Just last week, he wrote some excellent stories on Russia’s new military adventure in Syria.


I thank him for this work.


I also want to thank him for his dedication to journalism and for the risks he’s taken on behalf of our craft and for our company. He’s regularly has been on war zones and in dangerous places.  His heroic efforts to help save a gravely wounded soldier in the midst of a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan were nothing less than breathtaking. 


As some of you know, Jon and I have known each other since my first days at The Philadelphia Inquirer when I was covering the New Jersey capital and he was working for UPI.


I’ve known a lot of marvelous journalists over my career and Jonathan is among just a handful I’d describe as the best in the business.


So it is with great admiration, respect and affection that I wish him the very best of luck and good fortune in his new job.


Jon’s last day will be Oct. 23.

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Matthew Filipowicz: WATCH: Wall Street Reacts to TPP Agreement

October 6, 2015 by  
Filed under Humor

In a TMFS sketch, Wall Street responds to news that a deal has been made for the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Read more: Tpp, Trans-Pacific Partnership Tpp, Obama Tpp, Tpp Fast Track, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Comedy, Comedy Clips, Sketch, Sketch Comedy, Comedy Sketches, Satire, Political Satire, Humor and Satire, Wall Street, Occupy Wall Street, Comedy News

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Texas Professors Warn Allowing Guns In Class Will Inhibit Free Speech

October 5, 2015 by  
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As a women’s and gender studies professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Lisa Moore is often the very first person to expose her students to the ideas that underpin LGBT literature and culture. Now, she’s worried a new state gun law could change how she teaches.

“I’ve had experiences over the years that have been frightening,” Moore told The Huffington Post. “Like having my office broken into, and posters pulled off the walls and burned. Having ‘Depravity Kills’ written 16 times on my window.”

Once, a student who had a mental illness and who’d been disruptive in class needed to take a medical withdrawal from one of Moore’s courses. The student remained on campus, however. “I had to teach that class under an undisclosed location under armed guard for the rest of the semester,” Moore said.

In cases like these, if students had been allowed to bring guns into campus buildings, Moore thinks things could have unfolded even more alarmingly. “I would have avoided my office and therefore not be available to my students or colleagues,” Moore said. She doubts students, after witnessing an emotionally charged disruption in class, would return knowing one of their classmates might be armed.

I hate to think of trigger warning not becoming a metaphor but becoming a reality, that students who are triggered might actually pull a trigger.”
Ann Cvetkovich, a UT-Austin English professor

A new law signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) this year will force public colleges and universities in the state to allow guns into their campus buildings. But Moore is one of a number of educators who worry that allowing guns in the vicinity of classrooms and professors’ offices could have a chilling effect on free speech, thus violating academic freedom. Many faculty members at UT Austin are rallying to push administrators to restrict guns from school classrooms and offices.

There is a fear someone “could shoot them for their viewpoint,” said Pat Somers, a professor of education at the school. “Disciplinary hearings may take on an entirely new dimension when those involved in the charges may be armed.”

At an open forum on the issue last week, several professors worried they would be at risk with guns in the class while they discuss controversial subjects. 

“I’m a lesbian. That does not necessarily make me liked by all of my students or others, and I’m afraid for myself,” said Ann Cvetkovich, a professor of English at UT Austin, at the forum. “I’m afraid for my students, but also very afraid for myself.”

At one point, Cvetkovich alluded to a separate debate taking place on campuses nationwide, the question of whether instructors should offer trigger warnings when their lessons contain material that some students may find traumatizing. ”I hate to think of ‘trigger warning’ not becoming a metaphor, but becoming a reality,” she said. “That students who are triggered might actually pull a trigger.”

State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), who sponsored the Senate version of the campus carry legislation that ultimately became law, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 300 professors at the University of Texas had signed a petition to “refuse” guns in their classrooms. Several faculty members staged a protest last week against allowing guns in classes.

Joan Neuberger, a history professor at UT Austin who helped organize the petition, told HuffPost that instructors’ free speech concerns are at the “heart of the opposition” to guns in class.

“Classrooms aren’t like other free speech areas,” Neuberger said. “They’re unique in the sense that you have young people, often in a situation for the first time, in debate with people who are very different.”

Concealed carry has been allowed on campus grounds at Texas’ public universities for about two decades, but the new bill extends that to the buildings themselves. Public Texas universities are now allowed to enact “reasonable” regulations about where someone can have a gun on campus, and where they must store them, but the new rules cannot “have the effect of generally prohibiting” license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus. The university system is currently engaged in a working group to determine what limitations will be used on campus. 

Adm. William McRaven, chancellor of the University of Texas System, was opposed to the Texas guns on campus bill. McRaven, who oversaw the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden before he retired from the U.S. Navy, suggested to The Texas Tribune in February that having guns in the class could infringe on free speech rights.

“I have spent my life fighting for the Second Amendment,” McRaven said then. “You know, you have to ask yourself, ‘Why did the Founding Fathers put freedom of speech as the First Amendment?’ They may have done that because freedom of speech is incredibly important, and if you have guns on campus, I question whether or not that will somehow inhibit our freedom of speech.”

The University of Texas System did not make McRaven available to HuffPost for further comment. UT Austin did not respond to a question about the faculty petition.

Faculty members have raised a number of concerns about the forthcoming law, pointing out that it will not necessarily prevent a mass killing of the kind seen at Virginia Tech in 2007 or Umpqua Community College last week. Opponents are encouraging people to refer to the legislation as “Abbott’s Law,” to make the governor take ownership of the bill he signed. But when professors voice their reservations, the discussion often goes back to academic freedom. 

“I can write a syllabus that says what’s allowed in the classroom,” said Max Snodderly, a neuroscience professor at UT Austin, at last week’s forum. “Normally it includes cell phones. I think it should also include horses and guns.”

Andrew Jackson, an undergraduate at UT Austin, disagreed with the anti-gun views expressed at the forum. To say that concealed carry would inhibit First Amendment rights, he argued, is tantamount to saying you don’t have faith in students’ ability to “have adult conversations” about difficult issues.

Nearly two dozen bills have been presented in 2015 to force guns onto college campuses, according to the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, an activist group. Only the Texas bill has been signed into law thus far. The law will take effect on Aug. 1, 2016, 50 years to the day after the first mass school shooting, which took place at UT Austin.


Tyler Kingkade is a senior editor and reporter covering higher education, and is based in New York. You can contact him at, or on Twitter: @tylerkingkade.

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What If After 9/11 a Bush Shrugged and Said ‘Stuff Happens’?

October 4, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos



By Mark Green

Gun Safety After Oregon. We listen to a frustrated President urging the country to pressure Congress to strengthen gun safety laws “to save lives and let these people grow up.”

Question to Rich: Any suggestions about what to do? He urges better detection and treatment of deranged people while acknowledging that often “authorities don’t know about them until they start shooting.” What about the “well-regulated” language of even the Second Amendment and the reality that while cars took 50,000 lives a year a few decades ago and guns 30,000, this year gun deaths will exceed car deaths due to auto safety regulation? He cites the Second Amendment and concludes that no laws will work and, as the President did, to suggest otherwise is misleading. Anyway, the rate of gun violence is down.

Reagan counters that “guns don’t kill people, rather people with guns kill people,” and if other countries can figure out solutions, so can we. He urges universal background checks, delays between purchase and possession and better training of owners.

Can we at least agree that the NRA is wrong to say the answer is more guns to deter psychotic people from such attacks? No, says Rich, concluding that more guns in schools would stop such attacks earlier and asks this rhetorical question: “Wouldn’t you want a teacher having a gun to stop this shooter?” Ron jumps: That’s a crazy hypothetical “showing you don’t understand guns or people,” because in the real world more guns equals more deaths and, “My father said that there was no reason for anyone to carry around a loaded weapon.”

Host: While all crime is down and along with it gun deaths, over the past 13 years the number of mass shootings in the U.S. has more than doubled. Since gun-related deaths costs $229 billion annually and has taken more lives in past dozen years than AIDS, war and drugs combined, it’s hard to understand why America can’t learn from other western democracies. What will that take? A presidential candidate advocating stronger policies, then winning, then shaming the NRA as a pro-death lobby and outing cowardly members who are pro-life only pre-birth.

House I: Boehner Quits. Why his resignation and will it change the House? There’s no disagreement that an exhausted Speaker could no longer keep corralling his Caucus and was personally content to exit after getting his Pope to come to town. But Ron is unsparing in his critique: “The Hard Right was never happy unless it could shut down the government whenever it wanted. But if they keep that up, it’ll be bad for the country and for their party. These Members have simply jumped the shark.”

Does Rich agree with Senator Cruz that while Democratic donors largely agree on policy with their part’s base, GOP donors loathe their party’s base? Rich concurs, citing the example of Jeb who’s adored in corporate boardrooms though it’s hard to find many Republican voters excited by him.

As for his likely successor, Rep. McCarthy, Rich is dismayed by his clumsy answer on Hannity that the current and eighth Benghazi probe was a partisan effort to get Hillary. “That came out wrong,” Lowry adds, “but it’s a huge blow to that Committee.”

House II: Planned Parenthood Pushes Back. Who won the show-down between House Republicans and Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards over that video? “I hate to admit it but she got the better of it”, acknowledges Rich, “because the Republicans were underprepared and overmatched by a professional witness. They should have interrupted her with better questions about the video but didn’t.”

Ron agues not only that the video was doctored but also that abortion is legal and so is testing of fetal tissue from discarded fetuses voluntarily donated by women. “And there’s no evidence that Planned Parenthood sells body parts.” There’s then a lot of argument/cross-talk when Rich says that Planned Parenthood “kills babies” and shouldn’t get any federal funding. The Host breaks in: morally, Rich and Ron disagree over abortion and when life begins but legally, of course, no one’s murdering babies since the criminal law doesn’t consider abortions to be murder.

Syria’s Quagmire. True, Russia’s movement of arms and planes into SyrIa to prop up the Assad regime took the Obama Administration by surprise. Rich calls it a “humiliation” giving Putin the upper hand now. Ron downgrades it to a short-term embarrassment but that Putin should be careful what he wishes for since Syria is likely to be a long-term quagmire.

What can or should the U. S. now do? Ron says we should coordinate with the Russians so nobody shoots down the other’s planes, adding that Putin has a point by saying that the U. S. throws its weight around so now Russia is. Rich mocks that view since motives matter – “Hitler threw his weight around but that doesn’t mean that every country which does so is like Hitler.” He urges a safe haven in Syria for humanitarian purposes and urges the U. S. to better arm the Ukrainian government in that simmering conflict.

Trump vs. Lowry. Two questions: what was it like when Trump went after Lowry as a “loooser” for saying that Fiorina “cut off his balls” in the last debate and how can the press deal with a candidate who is a serial liar?

Lowry laughs off Trump’s attack, noting that he does have many intense followers and that the National Review lost no subscribers since, “Our readers are real conservatives.”

Reagan says that the media must, no matter how contemptuous of Trump, keep exposing his lies. For one example: The way this week that he initially that his tax proposal would really sock it to the rich and people like him when, in fact, it both would significantly cut their taxes and add a cool $10 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.

The Host then puts Reagan on the spot: “Do you agree with President Clinton that Trump could be the nominee or the Host who says he can’t be “because he’s a vain businessman who will cut his losses when his polls go South.” Ron sighs. In this case, “my Host”.

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Khwaja Khusro Tariq: Down the Rabbit Hole

October 4, 2015 by  
Filed under Humor

The Queen of Hearts has summoned the “Council of the Curioser” for an emergency session to discuss the scourge of LOCO OSIRIS, a mysterious group that…

Read more: Satire, Islam, Isis, Politics, War on Terror, Islamophobia, Politics News

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The Bob & Chez Show Podcast: Another Mass Shooting and Another Do-Nothing Congress, Plus the Next House Speaker Can’t Speak

October 4, 2015 by  
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Today’s topics include: The 294th Mass Shooting in America This Year; Chuck C. Johnson Publishes 14-Year-Old’s Phone Number; Terrorist Attack on California Planned Parenthood; Huckabee Derps on Benghazi; the Next Speaker of the House is a Flaming Moron; Kevin McCarthy Says Benghazi Hearings are All About Hillary; and much more.

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The Bob & Chez Show is a funny, fast-paced political podcast that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The twice-weekly podcast is hosted by Bob Cesca (, The Huffington Post, The Daily Banter, The Stephanie Miller Show), and CNN/MSNBC producer turned writer Chez Pazienza. Follow the show at with ?thanks to Price Benowitz.

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Maps Are The Ammo In The Information Wars Over Russia’s Military Campaign In Syria

October 3, 2015 by  
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As Russian jets strike Syria for a third day, the information war about which groups Moscow is targeting and why fiercely continues.

Russia says it is bombing the Islamic State and various other “associated terrorist groups,” which it declines to name. When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was asked to explain who Moscow is referring to, he had this clarification Thursday: “If it looks like a terrorist, if it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist, right?” 

The U.S. and its allies say the Russian airstrikes have hit American-backed rebel groups, and activists on the ground say they have killed civilians far from Islamic State-controlled territory. 

Analysts, citizen journalists and media organizations have tried to verify the Russian accounts by comparing the locations of the airstrikes with the areas controlled by the different groups fighting in Syria. The maps show that Moscow has mostly hit rebel groups that are not aligned to the Islamic State, in areas where they are fighting the Syrian regime, apart from a few strikes on Islamic State-controlled Raqqa on Friday.

What accounts for the discrepancies?

Many news organizations trying to parse the competing claims use data from the Washington-based research group the Institute for Study of War to map Russian airstrikes and areas of regime and rebel control. The group has been closely tracking the war based on information from Syrian activists and state-run media, as well as Russian and Western officials, and updated its map of Russian airstrikes on Friday.

Other outlets, including the New York Times, are using data from the Carter Center, which has been mapping the conflict using information from activists and other on-the-ground contacts, as well as videos posted on social media. 

Both organizations are widely respected. Even so, collecting data from the ground in Syria is dangerous, difficult and complicated by the myriad rebel groups fighting with the regime and sometimes one another, so slight discrepancies are bound to occur.

“The mapmakers have to sift through the boasts of various groups, often unreliable evidence from local activists and residents and data from news reporters on the ground, who are severely constrained by the extreme danger of the conflict,” Berlin-based author Leonid Bershidsky writes in Bloomberg View.

Excellent map that shows what the Russians are really doing in #Syria: pushing from Assad's front line.

— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) October 1, 2015

Supporters of Russia’s military action in Syria slammed the maps, as well as other critiques, as part of a “huge propaganda war” in Western countries against Russia.

Meanwhile, maps of Syria presented by Russian media organizations looked entirely different. One Russian outlet had a vastly different geography to most analysts, Washington Post reporter Liz Sly pointed out on Twitter. (Her tweet juxtaposing the two maps was re-tweeted by the official account of the U.S. embassy in Russia.)

Russia's map of where ISIS is is completely different to the @ISW's. Kurds should be careful. So should Aleppo.

— Liz Sly (@LizSly) September 30, 2015

The map, posted on Twitter by Moscow government-owned newspaper Argumenty i Fakty, included two color codes: dark orange for areas under Islamic State control and light orange for areas under Islamic State influence — in which they included several areas that aren’t under Islamic State control, including the Syrian cities of Homs and Aleppo.

In a second map published on the Argumenty i Fakty website, the outlet made a distinction between the “Islamic Group” (apparently a reference to the Islamic State) and “Islamist groups not falling within IG” (apparently a reference to all other rebel groups.) Another map, on state-owned Russian television channel Rossiya-1 included the same vague distinctions: Kurds, the Islamic State, and “other Islamic organizations.”

This follows Moscow’s official line on the Syrian rebels — most rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad are with the Islamic State, and the U.S. and its allies are naive to think otherwise. 

The weeks of rumors and Russian denials of a military build-up, followed by the surprise strikes and media blitz coming out of Moscow, may feel familiar to the citizens of Ukraine.

As Max Seddon points out in Buzzfeed, the Kremlin is reprising some of the same information tactics it used in Ukraine, as well as America’s own portrayal of its campaign against Islamic State.

“War correspondents from state-owned media have deserted the conflict in eastern Ukraine in droves to resurface in Syria,” he writes. “Some of those reports appear to marshal Russian public opinion, which broadly opposes military intervention, behind the strikes by convincing them of the threat ISIS poses to Russia — as much as they warned of the “fascist” menace in Ukraine.” 

In fact, a group of Ukrainian software developers who founded mapping tool to crowdsource information during the February 2014 revolution and ensuing conflict in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, have now set their sights on the Syria campaign.

Liveuamap CEO Rodion Rozhkovsky told The WorldPost in an email that the team predicted an escalation of the Syrian conflict this summer and intensified work on their Syria map, which includes social media posts and news reports that are collected using a computer algorithm and are cross-verified by editors.

“Me and my team believe big data could prevent future conflicts, deaths, human rights violations,” Rozhkovsky said. “Like the idea of the butterfly effect … With social media we could gather all the “flapping of the butterfly wings” and say that there will be a “hurricane,” he said.



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Why the Washington Post’s Attack on Bernie Sanders Is Bunk

October 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

The Washington Post just ran an attack on Bernie Sanders that distorts not only what he’s saying and seeking but also the basic choices that lie before the nation. Sanders, writes the Post’s David Fahrenthold, “is not just a big-spending liberal. And his agenda is not just about money. It’s also about control.”

Fahrenthold claims Sanders’s plan for paying for college with a tax on Wall Street trades would mean “colleges would run by government rules.”

Apparently Fahrenthold is unaware that three-quarters of college students today attend public universities financed largely by state governments. And even those who attend elite private universities benefit from federal tax subsidies flowing to wealthy donors. (Meg Whitman’s recent $30 million donation to Princeton, for example, is really $20 million from her plus an estimated $10 million she deducted from her taxable income.) Notwithstanding all this government largesse, colleges aren’t “run by government rules.”

The real problem is too many young people still can’t afford a college education. The move toward free public higher education that began in the 1950s with the G.I. Bill and was extended in the 1960s by leading public universities was reversed starting in the 1980s because of shrinking state budgets. Tuition has skyrocketed in recent years as states slashed education spending. It’s time to resurrect that earlier goal.

Besides, the biggest threats to academic freedom these days aren’t coming from government. They’re coming as conditions attached to funding from billionaires and big corporations that’s increasing as public funding drops.

When the Charles Koch Foundation pledged $1.5 million to Florida State University’s economics department, for example, it stipulated that a Koch-appointed advisory committee would select professors and undertake annual evaluations. The Koch brothers now fund 350 programs at over 250 colleges and universities across America. You can bet that funding doesn’t underwrite research on inequality and environmental justice.

Fahrenthold similarly claims Sanders’s plan for a single-payer system would put healthcare under the “control” of government.

But health care is already largely financed through government subsidies — only they’re flowing to private for-profit health insurers that are now busily consolidating into corporate leviathans. Anthem purchase of giant insurer Cigna will make it the largest health insurer in America; Aetna is buying Humana, creating the second-largest, with 33 million members.

Why should anyone suppose these for-profit corporate giants will be less “controlling” than government?

What we do know is they’re far more expensive than a single-payer system. Fahrenthold repeats the charge that Sanders’s healthcare plan would cost $15 trillion over ten years. But single-payer systems in other rich nations have proven cheaper than private for-profit health insurers because they don’t spend huge sums on advertising, marketing, executive pay, and billing.

So even if the Sanders single-payer plan would cost $15 trillion over ten years, Americans as a whole would save more than that.

Fahrenthold trusts the “market” more than he does the government but he overlooks the fact that government sets the rules by which the market runs (such as whether health insurers should be allowed to consolidate even further, or how much of a “charitable” tax deduction wealthy donors to private universities should receive, and whether they should get the deduction if they attach partisan conditions to their donations).

The real choice isn’t between government and the “market.” It’s between a system responsive to the needs of most Americans, or one more responsive to the demands of the super-rich, big business, and Wall Street – whose economic and political power have grown dramatically over the last three decades.

This is why the logic of Sanders’s ideas depends on the political changes he seeks. Fahrenthold says a President Sanders couldn’t get any of his ideas implemented anyway because Congress would reject them. But if Bernie Sanders is elected president, American politics will have been altered, reducing the moneyed interests’ choke hold over the public agenda.

Fahrenthold may not see the populism that’s fueling Bernie’s campaign, but it is gaining strength and conviction. Other politicians, as well as political reporters, ignore this upsurge at their peril.

ROBERT B. REICH’s new book, “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few,” will be out September 29. His film “Inequality for All” is now available on DVD and blu-ray, and on Netflix. Watch the trailer below:

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Pam Ferderbar: 4 Questions Writers Get Asked

October 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Humor

At the age of puberty, the writer discovers the great poets, chief among them Bob Dylan, and she gets a taste of the rebellious, majestic, and meteoric power of words.

Read more: Pam Ferderbar, Satire, Writing, Martin Jack Rosenblum, Peck School of the Arts, Hemingway, Why Writers Drink, Bob Dylan, Comedy News

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Seth Meyers’ Planned Parenthood Argument Makes GOP Look Silly … Well, Sillier

October 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

On Wednesday Night, Seth Meyers addressed the Republican attack on Planned Parenthood, highlighting some of the more ridiculous moments from a congressional hearing with the organization’s president, Cecile Richards. A tough task, indeed, given that the entire hearing and GOP arguments were, and are, ridiculous.



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