The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, August 31, 2014.

New York Times: "Israel laid claim on Sunday to nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land in a Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem — a step that could herald significant Israeli construction in the area — defying Palestinian demands for a halt in settlement expansion."

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia called on Ukraine on Sunday to begin talks on “the statehood” of that country’s rebellious southeast, a vague and provocative turn of phrase he used while demanding that the Ukrainian government negotiate directly with pro-Russian separatists."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
September 1

9:30 am ET: Vice President Biden speaks at Detroit's Labor Day parade

2:55 pm ET: President Obama speaks a LaborFest 2014

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

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Tuesday
May292012

The Commentariat -- May 30, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is a short piece on today's New York Times op-ed entertainment page. Contributor Akhilleus has whetted my appetite for Douthat's "pious baloney," so I may grind out another column later. ...

... The NYTX front page has quite a few critical pieces on President Obama's "kill list." ...

... Glenn Greenwald on President Obama's "normalization of right-wing policies": "Obama ... has converted what were just recently highly divisive and controversial right-wing Assaults on Our Values into fully entrenched bipartisan consensus. But worse than that, he has put a prettier and more palatable face on extremely ugly policies.... That's the Obama legacy. And it's all justified by this definitively warped premise: we have to keep doing things we know will result in large-scale civilian deaths in order to stop the Terrorists, who are really terrible because they keep killing civilians." ...

... Sudarsan Raghavan of the Washington Post: "Across ... southern Yemen, an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States. After recent U.S. missile strikes, mostly from unmanned aircraft, the Yemeni government and the United States have reported that the attacks killed only suspected al-Qaeda members. But civilians have also died in the attacks, said tribal leaders, victims' relatives and human rights activists."

Roger Lowenstein explains in a Bloomberg News op-ed why hedging is bad for the economy: "The plasticity of modern finance -- the ease with which institutions can transfer risk -- is a major cause of the heightened frequency of meltdowns and increased volatility." Lowenstein's prescription: "Shut down the credit-default swap pits. Let bankers ply their trade without the deceptive safety of hedging." His piece is pretty easy to understand and provides a good description of what hedging is.

CW: I don't fully agree with Gary Younge of the Guardian, who writes about why poor whites vote Republican, but his column contains some nuggets of truth like this one: "It was Bill Clinton who cut welfare, introduced the North American Free Trade Agreement and repealed the Glass-Steagall Act -- which helped make the recent crisis possible. If you were going to trade your religious beliefs for economic gain, you could be forgiven for demanding a better deal than that."

Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "The press is obsessed with Elizabeth Warren's Cherokee heritage. Too bad it's the biggest media-manufactured story since the Lewinsky scandal nearly brought down a president." ...

... Katharine Seelye of the New York Times on Scott Brown's new "homey...., upbeat..., warm and fuzzy" campaign ad: In typical he-said/she-said journalese, Seelye writes, "The Warren campaign says that the ad is misleading when Mr. Brown says, 'I was the tie-breaking vote on Wall Street reform,' noting that he voted for the bill only after he weakened it to Wall Street’s advantage." CW: I wonder how Willard likes Brown's boasting about his crucial 60th vote for Dodd-Frank; after all, an important element of the Mittster's campaign is his promise to repeal the act:

Charles Pierce on David Brooks' historical tour de farce: "... the primary forces that 'destroyed the balanced government philosophy' gradually over the 20th century did most of their work in the last quarter of it, when the Republican party guzzled snake-oil economics and got drunk and wrecked the place, to the polite applause of, among other people, David Brooks. You gotta love a guy without the guts to defend the policies that made him wealthy while blaming their effects on everyone from Bob LaFollette to Kathleen Sebelius. Actually, you don't have to do that at all."

News from the Greatest Nation on Earth: U.S.A. -- Better than Romania! Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "According to a new report from the Office of Research at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the U.S. has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the developed world. Of the 35 wealthy countries studied by UNICEF, only Romania has a child poverty rate higher than the 23 percent rate in the U.S." CW: That's right -- Romania, the former Iron Curtain country where children were dying of starvation & neglect in state-run orphanages. And Mitt Romney is "not concerned about the very poor."

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: Louisiana monks who build caskets go to federal court when the state demands they "either give up the casket-selling business or become a licensed funeral establishment, which would require a layout parlor for 30 people, a display area for the coffins, the employment of a licensed funeral director and an embalming room." CW: the story has another ramification, though, as libertarians/conservatives are using it as a vehicle to curtail government regulation. If this case gets to the Supremes & they rule in favor of the monks (as I suspect they will), it may turn out that scads of federal regulations designed to actually protect people will be held unconstitutional because of a law designed by lobbyists for the funeral industry to protect that industry.

Presidential Race

John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "In the next few weeks, we will get important news on several economic fronts. And what we learn will largely determine the shape of the campaign."

Nate Silver: "Economically, Obama is no Jimmy Carter.... The [economic] data this year is [sic.] mediocre, but nowhere near" as terrible as they were in 1980. CW: but the big question here is how the New York Times' statistician can possibly be unaware that the word "data" is plural! Sorry, one of my pet peeves. And let me just add that the media are the message. I just heard the CNN anchor say, "The media is talking about Wolf Blitzer...."

Carolands Chateau, "a 65,000 square foot mansion in Hillsborough, California. Its 75 foot-high atrium holds the record as the largest enclosed space in an American private residence." -- Wikipedia.... NEW. Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle: "With Democrats portraying Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire and 'vulture capitalist' from his years at Bain Capital, the GOP presidential candidate may be handing opponents some ammunition when he holds a fundraiser Wednesday at a 65,000-square-foot estate that's opulent, even for upscale Hillsborough.... [Romney's] fundraiser is co-chaired by billionaire Meg Whitman, his former employee at Bain Capital and the 2010 Republican candidate for California governor who promised to produce 2 million new jobs if elected. Now Whitman is CEO of Hewlett-Packard, which said last week it plans to lay off 25,000 workers."

Backfire! Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "It was supposed to be a day of triumph for Mitt Romney, when he would at last formally claim the Republican presidential nomination with a victory in the Texas primary. And Mr. Romney was to focus attention on an aggressive new attack on President Obama, highlighting the White House's role in backing failed companies like Solyndra. Instead, Tuesday was hijacked by Donald J. Trump. Inexplicably to many in his party, Mr. Romney had scheduled an appearance at a fund-raiser in Las Vegas on Tuesday night with Mr. Trump. And Mr. Trump, ever ready to seize the spotlight and toss rhetorical grenades, played to type in several interviews, repeating his doubts about the president's Hawaiian birth certificate." ...

... Wolf Blitzer & Trump get into it:

     ... CW: Ah, I think I'm beginning to understand that "narcissistic personality disorder" that has been a subject of commentary over the past few days here.

Mark Hosenball of Reuters: "Yes, Republican Mitt Romney appears eligible to be president, according to a copy of Romney's birth certificate released to Reuters by his campaign. Willard Mitt Romney, the certificate says, was born in Detroit on March 12, 1947. His mother, Lenore, was born in Utah and his father, former Michigan governor and one-time Republican presidential candidate George Romney, was born in Mexico. So on a day when real estate and media mogul Donald Trump was trying to help Mitt Romney by stirring up a new round of questions about whether Democratic President Barack Obama was born in the United States, Romney's own birth record became a reminder that in the 1968 presidential campaign, his father had faced his own 'birther' controversy." CW: the Reuters story reproduces the copy of Willard's birth certificate the campaign provided to the news service. It was issued in 2012. Very suspicious. What with his excellent knowledge of French & his father's company American Motors having built so many vehicles in Canada, I'm beginning to suspect Willard is actually a Canadian. Somebody get the Donald on the case. ...

... CW: sure wonder why Romney released his birth certificate at the same time he is appearing with Trump & the Donald is upping his birther rhetoric. Could Romney, who says Obama is a "natural-born" American, possibly be catering to his birther constituency? Nah, never.

Mike Allen of Politico: "Mitt Romney's campaign events and the firepower of American Crossroads will both focus this week on President Barack Obama's jobs record as a way to fight off charges about the Republican candidate's private-sector experience, with a Romney aide attacking the stimulus as 'the mother of all earmarks.'" ...

... Greg Sargent: "The Romney camp's claim is that we can calculate that the stimulus destroyed jobs overall with a metric that factors in all the jobs destroyed before the stimulus took effect. That's not an exaggeration. It really is the Romney campaign's position. It's time to ask Romney himself to justify it." ...

Zach Roth of NBC News: "... even if you set that issue aside, the attack still doesn't hold up. It's impossible to say definitively exactly how many jobs a piece of legislation ... created or subtracted -- and the Romney campaign's claim is designed to take advantage of that uncertainty. But there have in fact been numerous studies of the issue, and by surveying the best of them, we can get reasonably close to an answer.... Rather than simply reporting Team Romney's charge and the Obama campaign's response, reporters should be ready to say clearly that the claim that the stimulus subtracted jobs is belied by the evidence." ...

... Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "It's beginning to become apparent that Team Mitt will throw vast amounts of chum into the water to avoid the fundamental reality that its candidate's own Economic Plan is basically deregulation plus the Ryan Budget. Perhaps if Romney is going to traipse around the country mocking individual federally-funded projects, someone should follow him around pointing out what the Ryan Budget would do to the same locales. It would not look pretty." ...

... Jamelle Bouie of American Prospect: "... if there's anything remarkable about the Romney campaign, it's the extent to which the core arguments for his candidacy are either false or impossible to substantiate. The claim that Obama is responsible for net job loss? False. The claim that Obama has gone on an unprecedented spending spree? False. And the claim that Romney created 100,000 jobs at Bain Capital? Impossible to prove." ...

... ** Mike Tomasky: "by Bartels’s rules [the first year doesn't count], Obama has created a net 3.635 million jobs. Applying the same rules to Romney's numbers [in Massachusetts] through the same time period ... we credit Romney with 64,500 jobs. So he grew jobs by 1.9 percent [in a state with an excellent level of education]. Obama's job-growth rate is 2.35 percent.... Romney clearly can make no claim whatsoever that he has access to some magic tonic that grows jobs. Combining his record as governor with the plans he insists he;ll inflict on us as president -- gargantuan tax cuts for the rich, a gaping deficit, severe cuts to all manner of government investment in research and innovation and environmental protection ... adds up to a lurid scenario of a society becoming both more unequal and more stagnant, and a picture of a man who seemingly cannot under any circumstance utter an unfalse word about himself." ...

... NEW. Jake Tapper & Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "The Obama campaign is opening a new front in its war against GOP rival Mitt Romney, ABC News has learned, with planned attacks to begin this week on Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts and the campaign promises Democrats say he left unfulfilled."

The Democratic National Committee puts it all together:

The teachers unions are the clearest example of a group that has lost its way. Whenever anyone dares to offer a new idea, the unions protest the loudest. Their attitude was memorably expressed by a longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers: He said, quote, 'When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of children. -- Mitt Romney , in an education speech at the Latino Coalition's Annual Economic Summit in Washington, D.C, May 23, 2012

Josh Hicks of the Washington Post: "... the evidence suggests that the quote didn't come from Shanker and that someone with an agenda probably twisted his words.... The claim relies exclusively on biased sources that never attributed the union leader's remark to a particular time or event...."

Julie Beck of the Hairpin: Many of the subject lines in the Obama campaign's e-mails sound as if they were written by a stalker. Via of Adam Sorensen of Time

Right Wing World

Yoni Brenner of GQ: "These are hard times for birthers.... But salvation awaits! David Maraniss's exhaustive biography, Barack Obama: The Story, stretching from before his birth to the start of his political career, is out this month -- and sure to inspire a new wave of conspiracy theories about our Kenyan Muslim commie in chief. We put on our tinfoil hat to predict the paranoias to come."

Local News

Monica Davey of the New York Times: "Gov. Scott Walker ... raised more than $5 million in the last month alone, his campaign announced on Tuesday, a day when new fund-raising reports have to be filed to state officials. That brings Mr. Walker's total fund-raising since the start of 2011 to more than $30 million...." ...

... Perjury! Greg Sargent: "... video recently surfaced of a private conversation between [Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker and a Wisconsin billionaire, in which Walker vowed a 'divide and conquer' strategy against unions, as his 'first step.' Now ... Dem Reps. Elijah Cummings, Gerry Connolly, and Chris Murphy ... are pointing out that the 'divide and conquer' quote seems to contradict testimony Walker gave before their committee in August of 2011.... In that testimony, Rep. Connolly asked Walker whether he had even had any conversation in which he had alluded to his 'actions in Wisconsin and using them to punish members of the opposition party and their donor base.' Walker's response: 'No.' 'Do you now wish to withdraw your sworn testimony?' the three Dem members have asked Walker in a letter." ...

... Greg Sargent: "A new poll taken by pollster Celinda Lake — who is a Democrat but is well respected by polling professionals -- has found that the battle between Scott Walker and challenger Tom Barrett is now deadlocked, at 49 percent each."

News Ledes

New York Times: "United Nations cease-fire monitors, still grappling with the massacre of more than 100 villagers in western Syria over the weekend, which ignited world outrage, reported a new atrocity on Wednesday, saying 13 people had been discovered shot to death execution-style in eastern Syria, with hands bound behind their backs. Antigovernment activists said the victims, found Tuesday night in the Assukar area of Deir Ezzor Province, were electricity workers who had refused to end a protest strike."

AP: "Jerry Sandusky lost another bid to delay his child sexual abuse trial on Wednesday and, in what could be the last pretrial hearing before jury selection begins next week, the presiding judge heard defense lawyers and prosecutors debate whether charges should be thrown out."

TMZ: "Jim Paratore -- the man who founded TMZ and created a slew of hit shows including 'Ellen' and 'Rosie' -- died of an apparent heart attack Tuesday during a bike trip in France."

AP: "Judges at an international war crimes court sentenced former Liberian President Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison Wednesday, saying he was responsible for 'some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history.' The 64-year-old warlord-turned-president is the first former head of state convicted by an international war crimes court since World War II and judges said they had no precedent when deciding his sentence."

AP: "Britain's Supreme Court has endorsed the extradition of WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange to Sweden, an important turning point in the Internet activist's controversial career.... The U.K. end of that struggle appeared to come to a messy conclusion Wednesday, with the nation's highest court ruling five to two that the warrant seeking his arrest was properly issued...." The Guardian has live coverage here.

Guardian: "Andy Coulson, David Cameron's former director of communications, has been detained by police investigating alleged perjury at the trial of the Scottish socialist politician Tommy Sheridan." CW: Coulson is also implicated -- & has implicated Cameron -- in the Rupert Murdoch News Corp. scandal.

Reader Comments (7)

Generally, at every news criticism website I visit, I anticipate heavy denial. And regardless of their rapport with the outlet they're analyzing, it's the same nonsense. As if the clearing of throats actually explains anything. Unlikewise here, the buzz is put on mute. It's blatantly obvious that this blog is a powerful voice in the media sphere. Or, to me at least, it's that obvious. And I'm a mere lay reader, not exactly reporting for duty. I've just started reading the news full time. I'm going to paste your link on my own site.

May 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGod of Gold

This morning, Blow-up Doll Boy Douthat exercises his right as one of the leading intellectuals of the Republican Party to demonstrate the extreme moral poverty of right-wingers. Douthat instructs us that Mitt Romney’s cynicism regarding politics is a refreshing alternative to old fashioned, fuddy-duddy things like “principle” or “high-mindedness”. So when Romney says he’s firing his illegal immigrant yard workers because he’s running for office “…for Pete’s sake”, it’s just his innate honesty at work. Ditto his decision to only release a tiny fraction of his tax return information. And the Etch-a-Sketch thing is honesty like you read about. Yeah, it’s the truth, on all counts, but really, is this the best Republicans can do? And does this sort of routine cynicism merit the imprimatur of Cardinal Douthat?

I guess so. But cynicism is a core value of right-wingers. That, and hypocrisy. You’ve no doubt heard about all the dastardly voter fraud being perpetrated by Democrats around the country, right? No? Oh yeah. That’s because there IS NONE. But Republican voter fraud? Jeez, where to start?

How about up in Michigan where Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R—natch), is reduced to running a write-in campaign. Why? It seems that most of the signatures he needed to legally get his name on the ballot were photocopies. Yup. But not to worry, Eric Cantor and the Republicans support him wholeheartedly. His campaign was, er, ah….sabotaged!! Yeah! That’s the ticket. It must have been ACORN. Where’s Breitbart and his sleazy hidden cameras and selective editing when you need him?

You’ll recall that a few months ago former Indiana Secretary of State, good ol’ boy Charlie White (R—natch, again) was found guilty of multiple counts (6) of felony voter fraud, vote theft, and perjury. But wait, you say, isn’t it the secretary of state’s job to ensure the veracity of his or her state’s voting process? Of course! And given the Republican perseveration concerning the vicious epidemic of voter fraud you might expect a severe sentence. Right? So what was Charlie’s punishment for the heinous crime of election fraud on multiple felony counts?

One year’s home detention. And he must sit in a comfy chair for at least three hours a day. And no alcoholic beverages between 3:00 AM and 3:12 AM.

In other cases of accidental fraud (a Democrat in Wisconsin who had registered to vote but was investigated and found that she was on probation and could not legally exercise the franchise—unbeknownst to her--was sentenced to a year in a federal penitentiary) individuals have been severely punished. But it’s Okay if You’re a Republican. No hard time for you. Rest up. Relax. We’ll need you back for more voter fraud later.

In Arizona and Florida (hotbeds of Democratic voter fraud..no?), a group called Young Political Majors has been hired by the RNC and a number of local Republican groups to “encourage” voters to register as Republicans. How did they accomplish that? Easy. Fraud. It seems that in Florida, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and other states, they have several tactics. They show up at colleges and claim to be a non-partisan group simply intent on getting students to vote. Anyone registering as a Democrat has their paperwork shredded. Investigators have discovered that tens of thousands of potential votes for Democrats were dispensed of in this manner. In places like California and Massachusetts these freedom fighters appear in malls and public places asking passersby to sign a petition having something to do with sex offenders. Those not reading the very, very fine print never realized that they had changed their party affiliation to Republican. As fraud goes, it’s a thing of beauty.

This is GOP SOP. And this is only the stuff being practiced by their paid outside agents. On an official level Republicans continue the War on Democratic Voters by ensuring that any and every roadblock that can be thrown up to stop them from voting be legally enshrined into law, all while saluting the flag, praying to god, and singing Glory Hallelujah. The kind of cynicism intellectuals like Ross Douthat would consider refreshing honesty, no doubt.

So it looks like the Fox bloviators, GOP propagandists, and their allies in the MSM have been right all along. There IS rampant voter fraud in this country, after all.

If I lived in Wisconsin, I'd be very concerned about this recall election. The GOP (and the Kochs) cannot leave this election in the hands of the voters. SOP.

May 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Marie, a big thanks for posting those Doc Watson clips. I've swiped a load of good riffs from Doc over the years. Picking as happy and clean as fresh white sheets hanging on a line in the sunshine. I can still hear him saying "git 'er Merle" to his son when it was his turn for a break. An American original.

May 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re: God of Gold; You are right, you've found the pot of gold. Research and fact drive these comments. Bring your stats, match'em and mate'em but if you only have one you'd better say "datum". Thanks for the work Marie. JJG

May 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Re: The Narcissistic Personality Disorder discussion thread (for which I narcissistically cop to some responsibility), two further thoughts. NPD types think so self-referentially that anyone else simply ceases to exist. Because of that, they literally cannot imagine how their behavior, or for a politician, their policies, will affect anyone else...and because they cannot imagine, they cannot and do not care. It's an odd and disturbing paradox: the personality type drawn to see him or herself as the focus of an admiring public is often precisely the type that is most incapable of giving a hoot about the hordes he must have around him to feed his ego...and since, point two, that describes many politicians, this discussion could continue for a long time. What I'm still wondering: are narcissists more likely to flat out lie because for them approval always comes first? Is lying a necessary part of the pathology? And if so, because we've made it all part of a disorder with a name, can we still agree that NPD is nonetheless just plain wrong? Or do ethics and morality no longer apply? And if they don't, what's the alternative?

And on subject-verb agreement: Liked Marie's snit and JJG's clever response, though they heightened my embarrassment at a few past errors of mine own not caught before posting. As someone old enough to have trouble with "they" as an accepted way to avoid the gender trap laid by the singular "him" or "her" and definitely and defiantly of the "none is" generation myself, I do know better.

May 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Trump really is beginning to sound like the body-fluids man in "Dr. Strangelove."

May 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

James,

If he starts coughing about "fluoride in the water" we can be sure.

The best thing is that that character, General Jack D. Ripper, is described as being "mad as a bloody March hare."

Besides the whole Trump/Romney love affair is just such a perfectly weird chomping tchotchke straight from the crazy office in Right-Wing Plaza.

How's that coincide with your basic post-war commie conspiracy, huh?

May 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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