Be Afraid, America

Are you scared, America? I mean, really, really pants-shitting terrified? Donald Trump thinks you are, and if you’re not, well, you should be! You should be in fear for your lives, America. Scared of immigrants, and black people and Muslims and ISIS and crime and all that stuff.

It’s like Trump is stuck in the ’70s. And even David Brooks isn’t buying it:

[…] A law-and-order campaign doesn’t ask voters to like Trump and the Republicans any more than they liked Richard Nixon in 1968.

On the other hand, there are good reasons to think that this law-and-order focus is a significant mistake, that it over-reads the current moment of Baton Rouge, Dallas and Nice and will not be the right focus for the fall.

In the first place, it’s based on a falsehood. Crime rates have been falling almost without fail for 25 years. Murder rates have been rising just recently among gangs in certain cities, but America is much safer than it was a decade ago. In the first half of 2015, for example, the number of shootings in New York and Washington hit historic lows.

Trump dwells on illegal aliens killing our children. Between 2010 and 2014, only 121 people released from immigration custody later committed murder; that’s about 25 a year. Every death is a horror, but the number of police officers killed each year as a result of a crime is about 55, in a nation of over 320 million people. The number of police deaths decreased by 24 percent between 2005 and 2015.

The main anxieties in this country are economic and social, not about crime. Trump surged to the nomination on the back of his supposed business acumen, not because he’s a sheriff. By focusing so much on law and order, he leaves a hole a mile wide for Hillary Clinton. She’ll undoubtedly fixate at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia on economic pain. Trump could end up seeming strangely detached.

David Brooks is someone I’ve spent most of my life mocking but even he gets the problem here. I mean gosh, I’m so old, I remember when fear and negativity were considered bad things in a presidential campaign. Specifically, I remember being lectured about that back in 2004: Democrats were “too angry, too bitter,” also “angry,” especially Howard Dean, whose “angry veneer” damaged him. And yes, I get that anger and fear aren’t exactly the same thing, but they fall under the same umbrella: pessimism. John Kerry was too pessimistic, “a little rain-cloud follows John Kerry wherever he goes,” editorialized one outfit.

Remember “Pessimism never created a job”?

Conventional wisdom has always been that optimism beats pessimism, even Rush Limbaugh said it back at a time when people actually gave a shit about what he had to say.

So who is buying this “be afraid, America” message Trump is sending, especially in light of the cooked -up, cherry-picked factoids?

I honestly cannot wait for the Democratic convention and I sure as hell hope that it paints a vivid contrast to Trump’s doom-and-gloom picture of a scared America.

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election

Tennessee Gun Report

Time to check in with Tennessee’s gun crazies.

• July 13, 2016:

A Maryville man accidentally shot a woman in the stomach, then lied to police about it:

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office was called to a mobile home on Tomotley Road Thursday night around 6 p.m. where they found Kassie Deanna Hill, 34, with a gunshot wound to the stomach.

Carver told deputies a man wearing black clothing and a black cap came inside and shot Hill in the stomach and then ran through a field and woods behind the home.

After conducting an investigation, Carver admitted he lied about the home invasion and said his gun accidentally discharged while he and Hill were in close contact. HIll’s and Carver’s accounts matched up.

• July 11, 2016:

After the shootings of police officers in Dallas, this lone TN National Guardsman decided to “stand guard” outside the Murfreesboro police department. Dude looks kinda stupid if you ask me.

Stand_Guard_123

TN National Guard told him he can’t do it in uniform representing the Guard.

• July 9, 2016:

Who cares if the Republicans have a supermajority in our state legislature? Tennessee Democrats aren’t sitting still when it comes to gun violence. They’ve just announced their “10 for TN” plan to tackle the issue. Some good ideas here; now, let’s get to work electing more Democrats so this can actually happen.

• July 8, 2016:

Gee, it’s almost as if having civilians armed to the teeth might be a problem for law enforcement or something:

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) – Authorities in Tennessee say a man who opened fire on a highway in Tennessee targeted police officers and others because he was troubled by incidents involving black people and law enforcement officers.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says in a news release that initial conversations with the suspect, identified as Lakeem Keon Scott revealed he was troubled by incidents across the U.S. The TBI says the suspect is black; the shooting victims are all white.

Investigators say Scott killed one person and wounded three others, including a police officer. Scott had two guns early Thursday morning when he shot at a motel in Bristol, Tennessee, and then shot indiscriminately at several passing cars. When he was confronted by police, he fired at the three officers who responded.

Nobody could have anticipated….

• July 5, 2016:

1- A man in Nashville’s downtown tourist district was struck by a stray bullet, possibly from celebratory gunfire. In 2015, two people visiting Nashville for its huge Fourth of July event were hit by celebratory gunfire.

2- A judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by the wacko Tennessee Firearms Assn. and Bill Goodman Shows over a ban on gun shows at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

3- Too many “responsible” gun owners are too cavalier with the storing of their weapons, leaving them in unlocked cars or unlocked houses, where they inevitably end up used in crimes. Can’t say that’s where all of these 9,000 gun originated but it’s safe to say a hefty percentage did:

Nearly 9,000 guns seized across U.S. in 2015 have been traced back to original TN owners Most were used in crimes

Law enforcement agencies across the United States picked up almost 9,000 guns during 2015 that traced back to original owners in Tennessee, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Most of the 8,841 guns were seized after they were used in crimes, while some of the weapons may have been found or turned in to law enforcement agencies voluntarily.

The guns were recovered from 49 states, and the states closest to Tennessee saw the most guns from Tennessee, according to a new report from ATF. Mississippi topped the list with 392 guns, followed by Georgia with 256.

On average, it took 10.5 years for a gun to go from its first owner to being used in a crime and recovered by law enforcement, according to the report.

That “time to crime” statistic helps ATF agents recognize when someone is purchasing weapons and intentionally selling them to be used in crimes, said special agent Michael Knight. A quick turnaround is suspicious, he said.

Interesting stuff.

• July 3, 2016:

A 17-year-old girl in Chattanooga accidentally shot herself.

• July 2, 2016:

Accidental shooting deaths are on the rise in Tennessee. Just as we allow more guns, everywhere. Hmm… what a coinky doinky!

• July 1, 2016:

1- A toddler in Clarksville shot himself in the face and died:

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A 3-year-old has died after he accidentally shot himself in the face.

It happened shortly before 5:30 p.m. Friday on Samantha Lane in Clarksville.

The toddler was taken to Tennova Healthcare-Clarksville in critical condition but later passed away.

Clarksville officials told News 2 this appears to be an accidental shooting.

The house was “Protected By 2nd Amendment Security”:

Screen-Shot-2016-07-03-at-12.46.12-PM

That gun sure kept that kid safe. Except that one time.

2- A Greene County man was driving home from work when his van was struck by a stray bullet.

• June 24, 2016:

Three people, including a Cleveland TN restaurant owner, were shooting an AR-15 and pistols at a jug on top of a trailer, and learned first-hand why that’s a really bad idea:

The weapons — described by the shooters as an AR-15 rifle and two pistols — were aimed at a 5-gallon water jug sitting on top of a trailer on Majeske’s property, according to a police report.

Beyond the trailer are woods, and behind the woods are three houses a “substantial distance away,” Bradford said.

“As they were shooting, bullets were actually going into multiple residences,” Bradford said. “Our deputies who got to the scene observed bullets striking trees and various objects around those residences. People were woken up by the gunfire that happened around midnight.”

Deputies found bullet holes in three homes, including the bedroom wall of one house and near the kitchen and back door of another home, where an adult and four children live.

The neighbors were evacuated from their houses as deputies tried to figure out where the bullets were coming from, Bradford said.

Are we safer yet?

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

The Gentleman From Indiana Has Me LMAO

[UPDATE]:

LOL. Guessing this marriage, like so many of Trump’s others, won’t last:

bash

It appears Indiana Gov. Mike Pence drew the short straw and is Donald Trump’s choice for VP. The irony that a fundie-gelical, “born again Catholic” is taking the second chair to thrice-married, “Two Corinthians” Trump is hysterical.

The idea that the “pro-gay” Trump would pick a guy who signed the country’s most anti-gay “religious freedom” bill, launching damaging and expensive corporate boycotts, is hilarious.

That Donald Trump, who claims he’d be terrific for women, would tap the governor who just signed a spate of anti-choice, anti-woman bills into law (including one requiring funerals for miscarried or aborted fetuses), is comical.

Honestly, I don’t see what Mike Pence brings to the ticket except to take a controversial, divisive figure off Indiana Republicans’ hands.

Anyone who likes Gov. Pence was already on board with Trump, no? Indiana is reliably red, no?

I don’t get it.

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Mike Pence

All-American Mass Shooting

[UPDATE]:

Best thing I’ve read on the Dallas shootings is in the New Yorker. Read it:

THE HORRIFIC, PREDICTABLE RESULT OF A WIDELY ARMED CITIZENRY
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-horrific-predictable-result-of-a-widely-armed-citizenry

Weapons empower extremes. Allowing members of any fringe of any movement to get their hands on military weapons guarantees that any normal dispute—political or, for that matter, domestic—can quickly lead to a massacre. Our guns have outraced our restrictions, but not our imaginations. Sometime in the not-too-distant past, annihilation replaced street theatre and demonstrations as the central possibility of the enraged American imagination. Guns allow the fringe to occupy the center.

[…]

Once again, the difference in policy views is clear, and can be coolly stated: those who insist on the right to concealed weapons, to the open carrying of firearms, to the availability of military weapons—to the essentially unlimited dissemination of guns—guarantee that the murders will continue. They have no plan to end them, except to return fire, with results we know. The people who don’t want the regulations that we know will help curb (not end) violent acts and help make them rare (not non-existent) have reconciled themselves to the mass murder of police officers, as well as of innocent men and women during traffic stops and of long, ghostly rows of harmless civilians and helpless children. The country is now clearly divided among those who want the killings and violence to stop and those who don’t. In the words of the old activist song, which side are you on?

Some really good stuff here.
————————————————–

I wish people would stop trying to spin this Dallas shooting as anything other than your ordinary, garden-variety, all-American mass shooting.

Like every other mass shooting, the shooter targeted a specific group. This time it was police officers. Last time it was the GLBT community. The time before that it was, gosh I don’t even remember — was it a workplace shooting? Women at a health clinic? Or was it a bunch of college kids? Gee, there are so many, it’s hard to keep track.

America has about one of these a month and each one is the same: a person who shouldn’t have access to a weapon gets his hands on one and takes out his anger against the (fill in the blanks) he blames for the world’s problems.

Micah Johnson was no different:

The man who the Dallas police say killed five officers in a barrage of bullets on Thursday was a troubled Army reservist who left Afghanistan under a cloud of sexual harassment charges made by a fellow soldier who sought an order of protection against him and said he needed mental health counseling.

We don’t know where Johnson’s guns came from. But there doesn’t appear to be anything that would have prevented Johnson from legally purchasing the SKS semi-automatic assault rifle and handgun he used in his attack on Dallas police officers, or the other weapons and ammo found in his home. Texas probably has the most liberal gun laws in the country, open carry is legal, the right-wing governor of Texas has shilled for the firearms industry and encouraged gun sales. The gun derp is strong. Should anyone really be surprised that there was a mass shooting here? That a culture of “guns everywhere” would end up being an issue for law enforcement? Please.

Wake up, America. Who thought allowing every idiot to buy a gun was a good idea in the first place?

One thing is clear after the Dallas shootings: the NRA’s talking points were all debunked in one horrifying blood bath. There were hundreds of police officers protecting the rally that night … armed police officers. The police officers shot were armed. And still, one crazy person with a high-powered rifle was able to take down five officers, wound seven more, and injure two civilians. The idea that everyone needs to be armed to protect against a mass shooting was proven to be wholly ridiculous.

It’s the guns, dammit. Get them off the streets. It’s long past time we stopped pretending this is about anything else.

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Told Ya So, Part 2

I always knew the over-hyped Elizabeth Holmes and her equally over-valued company Theranos were too good to be true:

United States regulators have banned Elizabeth Holmes, the chief executive of Theranos, from owning or operating a medical laboratory for at least two years, in a major setback for the embattled blood-testing start-up and its once widely lauded founder.

In a statement late Thursday, Theranos said the regulators revoked the certification of its Newark, Calif., laboratory and prohibited the laboratory from taking Medicare and Medicaid payments for its services. Regulators also levied a monetary penalty that Theranos did not specify. The sanctions take effect in 60 days, Theranos said.

I mean geez, when Henry Kissinger and Bill Frist are on the board of directors, you know there’s a rat somewhere. And I never bought Homes’ founding story, which read like something Aaron Sorkin would have dreamed up:

Theranos and its young founder in particular offered a compelling narrative in the crowded start-up universe: a brilliant college dropout with an audacious idea that would upend the medical testing business. Ms. Holmes invited comparisons to the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs because of her youth, her tight control of the company she founded and even her customary black turtleneck sweaters.

Ms. Holmes began the company in 2003 after dropping out of Stanford University at the age of 19. Her goal was to create a new way to perform blood tests that relied on a few drops of blood rather than the larger amounts medical testing often requires. Tests would be cheaper, the argument went, and more people would be inclined to get them. In interviews focused on Theranos’s success, she said the idea came from her fear of needles.

Yeah, turns out it was all bullshit.

(For background, see here and here.)

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Filed under healthcare

Congratulatons, Unidentified MI Man! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

Nothing screams “responsible gun owner” like accidentally shooting yourself and getting so mad about it, you shoot your camper, too. Just cuz:

The 48-year-old man from Macomb Township suffered an accidental gunshot wound to his hand when he was handling his 9 mm pistol, Mast said. The man was staying at the campground at 8239 W. Hazel Road.

“He then chose to fire off another round into the bed in the camper he was staying in because he was upset that he just wounded himself,” Mast said.

The man, who was not identified, told deputies he didn’t think the gun was loaded when he shot himself across his left hand, Mast said.

I feel so much safer knowing he’s out there, don’t you?

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns

Problems With Symbols

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that a party which has turned dog-whistle politics into an art form has run into trouble with its use of a controversial symbol. But c’mon, guys. Just ‘fess up, apologize, say you screwed up, and get on with your lives.

I mean, really: a “Sheriff’s star”? That’s as hilarious as when Sarah Palin claimed those crosshairs on her ad targeting Democrats were “surveyor’s marks” after Gabby Giffords was shot.

Or that time the Republican Party claimed the Confederate Flag wasn’t racist, just “misunderstood.”

I think it’s pretty funny when the Republican Party uses these images and symbols and then tries to tell everyone that you didn’t really see what you know damn well they wanted you to see.

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Republican Party

Cancel The Rio Games

Rio

As longtime friends of the blog know, Southern Beale is a huge fan of the Olympic Games. I always have been. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of the entire family gathered around the TV in our den watching the games. There have been so many great Olympic moments forged in my memory: Peggy Fleming’s stunning performance at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France, Mark Spitz winning his record-breaking medals at the tragic Munich games, Olga Korbut and Nadia Comenici. Of course, there’s Team USA’s Miracle on Ice, and the amazing athleticism of Usain Bolt…. I could go on.

So I don’t come by this lightly when I say the Rio games should be called off, moved, events relocated elsewhere, replaced by something else, whatever.

As the New York Times reports,

On June 17, fewer than 50 days before the start of the Games, the state of Rio de Janeiro declared a “state of public calamity.” A financial crisis is preventing the state from honoring its commitments to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the governor said. That crisis is so severe, he said, it could eventually bring about “a total collapse in public security, health, education, mobility and environmental management.” The authorities are now authorized to ration essential public services and the state is eligible for emergency funds from the federal government.

The Times used the word “catastrophe” to describe the coming games, and it’s hard not to agree. Construction is nowhere near complete for the many facilities that will house Olympic events. Some of those that have been completed have already fallen apart. There’s raw sewage and garbage floating in the water where water sports and boating events are planned. There’s the Zika virus. The Russian doping scandal. Body parts washing up on the site where the beach volleyball competition will be held.

The entire thing is a disaster and a huge embarrassment for the IOC, which picked Rio de Janeiro to make history: South America has never hosted an Olympic games, and back in 2009 Brazil was the continent’s economic powerhouse:

Unlike much of the world, which is still extricating itself from recession, Brazil’s economy is expected to grow by between 4% to 6% next year. The country is helping propel Latin America out of recession, according to a forecast released Thursday by the International Monetary Fund.

Brazil’s economy has benefited from strong demand for natural resources such as ironand timber and crops such as sugar cane and soybean. The discovery of major offshore oil deposits is expected to make it a major energy exporter by 2012. And under Lula, the government seems to have broken a cycle of hyperinflation, currency devaluations, bank failures and credit crises.

There was also the hope that the Olympic Games would push the government to address some of Rio’s long-ignored problems: the crushing poverty of the favelas, environmental pollution, crime fueled by the illegal drug trade. As has become obvious, that didn’t happen.

So, the IOC needs to pull the plug. The Olympic Games serve as the host city’s international coming-out party. It’s a major PR coup, the impetus for thousands of glowing news reports about how wonderful your city is. It’s the spark for a city’s tourism boom. And frankly, Rio doesn’t deserve it. They’ve failed to address the systemic issues that plague their city. They failed to adequately prepare for their coming-out party. They have acted like being awarded the games was the goal, while the actual “hosting” part was something some other city was going to do.

This is all on the IOC, which continually awards the games based on every criteria but the logical one: which place can best pull off an event of this magnitude.

As an aside to all of this, remember how conservatives cheered the IOC’s selection of Rio over Chicago, just to spite Obama? Remember this?

Yeah, how’s that working out for you guys? The Summer Games in Chicago would have been the perfect farewell to the Obama presidency. But of course, it’s not always about us. America has hosted more than its fair share of events. But the IOC needs to stop giving these huge international events to cities out of some kind of aspirational hope that magic will happen and the toilets will all work.

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Tennessee Gun Report

I’m way behind on this, sorry. Life intervened.

While Tennessee Republicans give away AR-15s as door prizes, like they’re waffle irons, we’ve got plenty of gunfail to give us pause.

• June 23, 2016:

A Red Bank man accidentally shot himself in the leg and has no idea how it happened.

It happened on Pinehurst Avenue.

Police Chief Tim Cristol tells us the man was going to his car when he shot himself in the leg.

He says he’s not exactly sure what happened.

The gun was in the man’s bag when it fired.

But remember, guns don’t shoot people.

• June 21, 2016:

A responsible Bethpage homeowner shot at a teenager he thought was responsible for vandalizing his mailbox:

Joshua Taylor told Sumner County Sheriff’s Deputies that he decided to “sit up and wait” for the teens who he suspected had damaged his mailbox on three separate occasions last week.

Just after midnight on Monday, he heard an ATV drive by his home in the dark, officials say the 29-year-old father grabbed his 12 gauge shot gun and fired a single shot in the direction of the teenagers. One of them was hit with 56 pellets across his back, legs and arms.

“I was like ‘woah I just got shot’ I didn’t know what to do I just started running for my life I didn’t want to die or anything,” the 13-year-old told NewsChannel 5 on Tuesday.

Deputies said one of the teenager’s friends admitted to videotaping himself vandalizing Joshua Taylor mailbox on Haskell Akins Road but they say Taylor made a mistake in the way he dealt with the situation.

That was super-responsible.

• June 20, 2016:

A man was accidentally shot in the head at Nashville Shores campground. Nashville Shores is a waterpark located on Percy Priest Lake.

• June 16, 2016:

Shelbyville: One house. Two unlocked vehicles, both with guns in them. Both were stolen over night. You lose your right to call yourself a responsible gun owner when you’re that big of a dumbass.

• June 15, 2016:

1- Greeneville, the Colorado Springs of Tennessee (at least as far as the community’s disproportionate number of gun incidents is concerned), notches another appearance on the report after an 18-year-old man cleaning his rifle accidentally shot himself in the face.

2- This Johnson City woman says she accidentally shot and killed her husband:

Keeva Ann Delaney (Wilson), 20, 205 Edna Court, Apt. 94 — charged with voluntary manslaughter and four counts of felony reckless endangerment after the June 6 early morning shooting at her apartment — told police the gun accidentally went off after her husband hit her in the face and she fell backward, according to a police investigator’s testimony during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing in Sessions Court.

I’m confused. I thought we women were told if we armed ourselves we could protect ourselves from our domestic abusers? So why isn’t this self-defense?

• June 13, 2016:

1- A Nashville five-year-old was struck in the heart with a BB shot by his 10-year-old brother. The injury required two surgeries.

2- Andy Holt is still an asshole.

• June 9, 2016:

Drunk Knoxville driver charged with possessing a handgun while under the influence. But that’s not the strangest part of this story. For that you’ll have to go to the link.

• June 7, 2016:

1- A Nashville man trying to clear his pistol accidentally shot himself in the leg. He’ll be okay.

2- A Chattanooga lady attending a wrestling match in Ringgold, Ga. (just across the state line), took the show a little too seriously and held a pro-wrestler and his manager at gunpoint. I swear to God, nothing screams we need gun control louder than knowing idiots like this are armed:

Lee showed us what happened during Saturday night’s monthly wrestling match at the AWF Arena off Highway 41 in Ringgold.

He had another wrestler tied to the ropes and was hitting him with a chair.

It was all part of the show, but Lee said one 50-year-old fan apparently took it too seriously when she came running to the ring with a knife, trying to help the wrestler escape.

“She was reaching through the ring, cutting him loose,” he explained.

Patricia Crowe told deputies she drew her pistol after Lee took a jab at her looks.

“The lady was missing a few teeth, so I told her to sit her toothless self down,” he said.

Witnesses said Crowe aimed a 38-caliber handgun at the wrestler and his manager. More than 150 people were sitting ringside, including several children.

“The gun was loaded,” Lee said. “It even had one in the chamber and the safety was off.”

Lee was able to take the gun from the woman. He hold her until officers could get there.

The incident prompted changes in security. Now, fans will have to walk through metal detectors to get in.

Lee said he’s not taking any chances at the next match.

“(The gun) could’ve easily went off and somebody could have lost their life,” he said.

Crowe was released from the Catoosa County Jail on Monday after posting a $4,000 bond. She has been banned from all future AWF wrestling events.

But she can still carry a gun, right? Because Freedom?

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Nobody Has The Luxury Of A Protest Vote

What have I been saying, people:

Less than 24 hours after the United Kingdom voted to “Brexit,” those who supported the referendum are already voicing their regret, saying they didn’t think their vote would matter.

The decision, which will remove the UK from the European Union, has already sent shockwaves through the British economy. Just this morning, the value of the British pound hit a 30-year low.

In an interview on BBC’s Victoria Live, one man who voted “Leave” said, “I didn’t think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain.”

The man, who was introduced as Adam, said he is now “worried” because he assumed “Remain” would win. He added, “I think the period of uncertainty that we’re going to have for the next couple of months — that’s just been magnified now. So yeah, quite worried.”

And check out this News5 video:

Just a quickie sampling here. Mostly what I’m hearing from the “Regrexit” crowd is that they didn’t think their vote mattered, it was a foregone conclusion that Remain would win, they wanted to lodge a protest vote, yada yada.

The lesson learned here? You do not have a the luxury of a protest vote. Ever.

Every fucking vote matters, people. Always.

I hope the “Bernie or Busters” are listening.

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Filed under Current Events, UK