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Old 10-29-2007, 05:51 PM   #61
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. How lovely...

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Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Wow, that's extremely depressing. But you certainly see a blaming the innocent victim mentality everywhere and about several issues. Obviously that's on a larger and more vicious scale, since it's about war victims who have nothing to do with this war.
Sad but true. I dunno, I've always felt that blaming innocent people for something doesn't really make a whole heck of a lot of sense, but apparently I'm in a minority there or something.

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Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
I just don't get how some people can be so heartless. I still hold onto the belief that the majority of people here would never have such a belief much less express it, but maybe that's hopelessly naive.
I totally understand how you feel . We both just want to believe humanity is so much better than that. It may sound naive to some people, but I don't feel thinking mankind is generally good at heart should be considered naive thinking at all.

Angela
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Old 10-29-2007, 11:55 PM   #62
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U.S. promised Blackwater guards immunity, officials say



From Terry Frieden
CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- State Department investigators promised Blackwater guards immunity from prosecution for last month's deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to officials familiar with the matter.

That could potentially complicate any attempt to bring criminal charges in the case, the officials said.

The Justice Department and FBI refused comment on the investigation, which the State Department announced in early October. Blackwater also declined comment.

"They were told their statements can't be used against them," said one U.S. government official.

A second official called the limited immunity "surprising and confusing" and questioned the authority of the State Department's diplomatic security investigators to unilaterally make immunity decisions
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Old 11-02-2007, 03:47 AM   #63
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US army contracting alarms panel

An independent panel has strongly criticised the way the US army manages contracts to supply its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The panel said there were high levels of fraud and waste in relation to contracts worth $4 billion a year.

It blamed a lack of oversight and said only about half the army's contracting staff were properly qualified.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates said he was "dismayed" by the report and the Pentagon would pursue its suggestions.

The army says it is pursuing 83 criminal inquiries related to contract fraud and more than $15m in bribes have been exposed.

The panel did not address specific allegations against individuals, but made clear that a lack of oversight and too few army contracting personnel had exacerbated systemic problems.


The number of army personnel responsible for managing contracts in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan dropped as the number of contracts and their value soared over 12 years, the panel found.

Only about half of all contracting personnel are certified to do their jobs, it added.

The panel said some 2,000 extra staff were needed to deal with a 600% increase in the workload.

"This is a systemic issue within the army and within the DoD [Department of Defense]," said Jacques Gansler, chairman of the commission.

Defence Secretary Gates said he was "dismayed by a lot of the findings" but encouraged by the group's suggested improvements.
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Old 11-05-2007, 07:20 PM   #64
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Roll Call

Despite their rhetoric about not wanting to hand President Bush another "blank check" for the Iraq War, Democrats appear poised to give him exactly that -- enough cash to keep the war going full steam for as long as six months, no strings attached.


Democratic leaders continue to fear GOP attacks that cutting off or slowing funds would hurt the troops, despite anger among the Democratic base over the party's failure to use Congress' power of the purse to end the war.

And while House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have said they have no intention of bringing up Bush's almost $200 billion supplemental war funding proposal this year without a timeline for withdrawal, Democrats are quietly preparing to give the president enough spending flexibility to keep the war going anyway.

After Republicans repeatedly rebuffed Democratic attempts to adopt war restrictions in September following Army Gen. David Petraeus' testimony to Congress, Democrats began approving billions in extra funding, starting with the first stopgap spending resolution. Next up will be the regular Defense spending bill, expected to go to conference committee Tuesday. Although the bill is not expected to include funding specifically targeted to Iraq, Democrats plan to allow much of the funding to be diverted from regular Defense accounts to the war. Democratic Defense appropriators also are separately eyeing adding tens of billions in war funds, either in a small separate supplemental or attached to the next must-pass stopgap continuing resolution. They had sought to include $50 billion or more in such supplemental funding in the Defense bill itself, but leadership overrode that idea after the party's most ardent war foes complained.
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Old 11-05-2007, 11:33 PM   #65
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Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Democratic leaders continue to fear GOP attacks that cutting off or slowing funds would hurt the troops
Quit being afraid! Instead, state that the troops are being hurt more by staying in a war that they're not winning. They're being hurt more by the fact that they're going to have serious mental issues when they leave, as well as the fact that the suicide rate is high among the troops. They're being hurt because they haven't been properly armored throughout the war. Bring up things like Walter Reed, and the cover up with Tillman's death, and stuff like that. Come on, Democrats, stand up against that sort of BS rhetoric from the GOP, please .

And criticize anyone in your party that was for this war, too, 'cause they're just as much to blame as anyone else is. I think if they come right out and admit that their party was just as guilty regarding this war, that could also work greatly in their favor, 'cause that means they're actually being honest and apologizing for helping to create this mess. And then the Democrats could agree to all band together in being fully against continuing this war.

Angela
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Old 11-09-2007, 06:12 PM   #66
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Iraq veteran healthcare could top $650b
Doctors group warns possible crisis looming

By Bryan Bender, Boston Globe Staff | November 9, 2007

WASHINGTON - A group of noted physicians predicted yesterday that healthcare for Iraq veterans could top $650 billion, another warning of a looming social crisis as thousands of veterans struggle with mental and physical disabilities and other disruptions to family life.

The study by Physicians for Social Responsibility, titled "Shock and Awe Hits Home," marked the first attempt to isolate the financial costs of "the wide-ranging traumatic mental and social effects of the Iraq war."

The liberal group, which shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, estimated that the long-term financial burden to care for a new generation of veterans will far outstrip the amount of money spent on combat operations in Iraq.

"Providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans will cost far more than is generally being acknowledged," according to the study, overseen by Dr. Evan Kanter, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the University of Washington and a staff physician for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"As physicians and healthcare professionals, we are acutely aware of the actual price we are paying in human terms, and we are compelled to bring this to the attention of the Congress and the American people," the report added.

The estimate was derived by analyzing the current costs of treating debilitating health problems of troops in Iraq, including blast injuries to arms and legs from improvised explosive devices; the historically high instances of traumatic brain injuries; and post-traumatic stress disorder, which the VA believes affects at least one-third of soldiers serving there.

Since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, at least 60,000 US service members have been wounded or become mentally ill from their battlefield experiences.

Due to advances in body armor and battlefield medicine, the ratio of wounded to killed is 8 to 1, compared with 3 to 1 during the Vietnam War and 2 to 1 for World War II. The percentage of amputees is the highest since the Civil War.

The analysis assumed that, at the current pace, as many as 2 million men and women will be deployed to Iraq through the end of the conflict.

It also relied on available figures for veterans' disability payments.

For example, a veteran without a spouse or dependents who is 100 percent disabled receives about $2,400 per month from the government. Over 50 years, that could total more than $1.4 million.

The report said that healthcare costs could go even higher.

It did not account for thousands of civilian contractors serving in Iraq, including more than 1,000 who have filed disability claims with the Department of Labor seeking government compensation.

The report came amid other new signs of the growing toll of the war on soldiers and their families.

New Defense Department data released yesterday show that thousands of members of the National Guard and Reserve who have returned from deployment have lost their jobs, health insurance, pensions, and other benefits despite federal laws protecting them from being penalized for leaving civilian employment for wartime service.

The data, previously withheld by the Pentagon, was made public at a hearing chaired by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts.

It shows that nearly 11,000 soldiers have been denied prompt reemployment after leaving civilian jobs for military deployments; more than 22,000 lost seniority and pay; nearly 20,000 had their pensions cut; and nearly 11,000 were denied their previous health insurance benefits.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 630,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve have been mobilized.

"When these heroes return home, we owe them more than kind words or prayers," said Kennedy, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. "We must do whatever we can to help them make the transition back to civilian life."

Federal law - including the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act - is supposed to protect veterans from workplace discrimination and allow them to seek redress for lost jobs or other benefits.

But Brenda S. Farrell, director of defense capabilities and management at the Government Accountability Office, told Kennedy's panel yesterday that "no single agency is responsible for maintaining visibility over the entire complaint resolution process."

Indeed, the departments of Labor, Defense, and Justice and the US Office of Special Counsel have responsibility for veterans' employment rights.

Many who are eligible are not aware of the government assistance. Twenty-three percent of returning soldiers experiencing employment problems sought help in 2006, according to the results of a government survey released at the hearing.

Kennedy said yesterday that he plans to introduce legislation to help repair the deficiencies in a government safety net that by many indications is failing veterans. That failure is also signified by new figures that indicate 1 in 4 homeless Americans are veterans, including at least 1,500 who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Alliance to End Homelessness, a nonprofit organization, found that 194,254 out of 744,313 homeless people on any given night are veterans. The findings, released yesterday, were based on information from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the US Census Bureau.

"This is all connected," Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, said at yesterday's hearing.

The criticism of current veterans' programs crosses partisan lines.

"Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are still waiting," Vets for Freedom, a prowar group, said in a statement yesterday. "They are waiting for new healthcare facilities. They are waiting on better post-traumatic stress disorder treatment. They are waiting on research for prosthetic limbs."
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Old 11-09-2007, 07:09 PM   #67
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If anyone wants to look at these photos, they are from Bush's visit to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio yesterday. They are extremely sad to look at, but they have to live it every day. It's Veterans Day Monday. They start at the bottom of the page and go to about page 7.

http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/...&c=images&b=41
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:08 AM   #68
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Bush's emotion without reflection

By Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe Columnist | November 13, 2007

Last week at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, President Bush visited soldiers who had been horribly wounded and burned in his invasion and occupation of Iraq. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bush watched Marine Lance Corporal Matt Bradford of Kentucky go up a rock climbing wall despite losing both his legs, an eye, and the vision in his remaining eye.

"Good man, isn't he?" Bush said.

Similarly, The Washington Post reported that Bush "spent an emotional two hours" at the center. The Associated Press said, "Bush paid an emotional visit to soldiers maimed or badly burned in combat."

OK, so Bush was moved. Who would not be? This was a Bush we needed 4 1/2 years ago, before he threw so many good men and women at such a bad war.

In San Antonio, Bush talked about how soldier Christian Bagge lost both his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005, but came to the White House with prosthetic legs in June of 2006 to jog with the president.

"Our country is inspired by Americans that we find in facilities like these," Bush said. ". . . The spirit of America is strong in facilities like this. Our country is a remarkable country that has produced men and women who volunteer to protect our nation in the face of danger."

But there was also a vignette during this visit just before Veterans Day that made you marvel yet again how Bush, who never saw combat in Vietnam as he served in the Texas Air National Guard, brazenly continues to abuse the willingness of today's soldiers to sacrifice. He took some time to play a virtual reality game with soldiers. Bush and some soldiers were "shooting the enemy with rifles that aimed laser beams at targets in an imaginary neighborhood in Iraq," the Post reported.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said, "They were making sure a neighborhood was safe."

The Agence France-Presse version had Perino saying that Bush helped "shoot the bad guys" in a Baghdad neighborhood.

In other words, Bush sits down to shoot imaginary "bad guys," in the middle of a war where it has been so hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. In this war, our soldiers, honestly believing that they are doing the right thing, have tragically ended up as "bad guys" because of panic on the ground or arrogance and incompetence at the top.

The Post reported that "Bush appeared relaxed and upbeat as he toured the privately funded facility and greeted soldiers." Sure, no one wants to see a grim president, but you wonder how deeply Bush's conscience is seared by his incendiary decision to go to a needless war. Only he knows. Right now, though, we need a president who, instead of puttering at virtual killing, is out there promoting peace.

For Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, Veterans Day in recent years has been about praising the fallen of Iraq, with absolutely no reflection on their disastrous decisions and needless carnage. In their Veterans Day speeches, neither Bush nor Cheney noted that 3,860 soldiers have been killed, or that 28,451 soldiers have been wounded, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count website.

No, Bush and Cheney just go on conflating Sept. 11 with Iraq. Bush said in his address to an American Legion Post in Waco, Texas, "The enemies who attacked us six years ago want to strike our country again - and next time, they hope to kill Americans on a scale that will make 9/11 pale by comparison. By fighting the enemy in foreign lands . . . ."

Bush told the veterans in Waco, "You humbled tyrants, liberated continents, and freed millions from unspeakable oppression."

There was only scant mention of tens of thousands of soldiers who will suffer forever because of his war. An overwhelming number of news reports and studies over the past year indicate that returning soldiers face years of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses, years of difficulty retaining their old jobs and their homes, and years of fighting the bureaucracy to address any and all of that.

Bush told the recuperating soldiers in San Antonio, "we support them when they're coming off the field." One has to wonder if Bush stays up every night, doubting that he was right to send them onto the field to lose their legs and lives in the first place.
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Old 11-13-2007, 04:55 PM   #69
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War costs? Dems say $20,900 a family
Congressional report looks at 'hidden' costs like surge in oil prices
The Associated Press Tues., Nov. 13, 2007

WASHINGTON - The economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to total $1.6 trillion — roughly double the amount the White House has requested thus far, according to a new report by Democrats on Congress' Joint Economic Committee.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press and scheduled to be released Tuesday, attempted to put a price tag on the two conflicts, including "hidden" costs such as interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars, lost investment, the expense of long-term health care for injured veterans and the cost of oil market disruptions.

The $1.6 trillion figure, for the period from 2002 to 2008, translates into a cost of $20,900 for a family of four, the report said. The Bush administration has requested $804 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined, the report stated.

For the Iraq war only, total economic costs were estimated at $1.3 trillion for the period from 2002 to 2008. That would cost a family of four $16,500, the report said.

Future economic costs would be even greater. The report estimated that both wars would cost $3.5 trillion between 2003 and 2017. Under that scenario, it would cost a family of four $46,400, the report said.

Oil prices have surged since the start of the war, from about $37 a barrel to well over $90 a barrel in recent weeks, the report said. "Consistent disruptions from the war have affected oil prices," although the Iraq war is not responsible for all of the increase in oil prices, the report said.

Still, the report estimated that high oil prices have hit U.S. consumers in the pocket, transferring "approximately $124 billion from U.S. oil consumers to foreign (oil) producers" from 2003 to 2008, the report said.

High oil prices can slow overall economic growth if that chills spending and investment by consumers and businesses. At the same time, high oil prices can spread inflation throughout the economy if companies decide to boost the prices of many other goods and services.

Meanwhile, "the sum of interest paid on Iraq-related debt from 2003 to 2017 will total over $550 billion," the report said. The government has to make interest payments on the money it borrows to finance the national debt, which recently hit $9 trillion for the first time.

War funding experts contacted by the Washington Post, which also reported on the estimate early Tuesday, cautioned that some of the numbers should be met with skepticism.

The experts said it is difficult to calculate the precise impact of the Iraq war on global oil prices. They also said it was speculative to estimate how much the war will cost over time because situations change daily on the battlefield.


The report comes as the House prepares to vote this week on another effort by Democrats to set a deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq as a condition for providing another $50 billion for the war.

"What this report makes crystal clear is that the cost to our country in lives lost and dollars spent is tragically unacceptable," said Joint Economic Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in a statement prepared to accompany the report's release.

The report, from the committee's Democratic majority, was not vetted with Republican members, said Israel Klein, a spokesman for the panel. An earlier draft of the report had put the economic cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars at a slightly lower, $1.5 trillion.
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:11 PM   #70
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Yep, really looking forward to having my generation pay for this! Especially since some of us never wanted this war in the first place. Thanks, Bush administration .

As for that other article.... Bush has no brains. That's about the only logical explanation I can find for his behavior. And once again, Perino proves herself to be .

Angela
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Old 11-17-2007, 10:09 PM   #71
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Iraq Credits Iran for Helping to Curb Attacks by Militias

By ALISSA J. RUBIN
New York Times, November 18


BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government on Saturday credited Iran with helping to rein in Shiite militias and stemming the flow of weapons into Iraq, helping to improve security significantly. The Iraqi government’s spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, speaking at a lunch for reporters, also said that the Shiite-dominated government was making renewed efforts to bring back Sunni Arab ministers who have been boycotting the government for more than four months.

Speaking about Iran, he said that that government had helped to persuade the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to ask his Mahdi militia to halt attacks. Mr. Sadr ordered his militia to stop using weapons in early September, and officials say that the militia’s relative restraint has helped improve stability. They say it also seems to have helped decrease the frequency of attacks with explosively formed penetrators, a powerful type of bomb that can pierce heavy armor.

Mr. Dabbagh’s comments echoed those of the American military here, who in recent days have gone out of their way to publicly acknowledge Iran’s role in helping to slow the flow of weapons into the country.

Mr. Dabbagh was the first Iraqi official to say publicly that Iran had used its influence with Mr. Sadr to discourage him from using his militia for armed attacks. Since Mr. Sadr gave his order in mid-September, the numbers of unidentified bodies found on the streets of Baghdad daily have rarely exceeded a half dozen. When his militia was more active, there were often 30 or more unidentified bodies found daily. “The freezing of the Mahdi Army makes us feel they have good intentions,” Mr. Dabbagh said. “Iran played a role in this.”

Mr. Dabbagh said that the turning point came when Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq visited Iran in August and met with that country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in the Shiite shrine city of Mashad. Mr. Maliki told the Iranian leader that “Iran had to choose whether to support the government or any other party, and Iraq will decide according to which they choose,” Mr. Dabbagh said. The Iranians promised to help and have done so, he said.

About the Parliament, Mr. Dabbagh said that the government wanted the Sunni Arab bloc to return. In one concession, Prime Minister Maliki has made a point of allowing a lengthy debate on the execution of Sultan Hashim Ahmed, the minister of defense under the former president, Saddam Hussein. In September, Mr. Ahmed was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to hang. Objections from some Kurds, including the president, and Sunni Arabs, who believe he was not responsible for the policies he was forced to enact, have halted his execution while the judiciary and the government review how the law should be enforced when the judiciary and the presidency council disagree.

The cabinet has sent legislation to the Parliament softening the de-Baathification law that had presented obstacles to former Baathists’ working in government jobs. The new proposal, which has been agreed to by the Sunni Arab bloc as well as the Kurdish and Shiite leaders, would let another 10,000 people take government positions, including many Sunni Arabs.

Also in a move to foster reconciliation between Shiites and Sunnis, the government announced it would pay one million Iraqi dinars, about $812, to every displaced family who returned to its home. More than 150,000 families, roughly 900,000 Iraqis, have fled their homes because of the recent violence, and about 95,000 of those are Baghdad families, said Dr. Abdul-Samad Rahman Sultan, Iraq’s minister of displacement and migration.
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Old 11-17-2007, 11:08 PM   #72
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That was an interesting article, all this coinciding with the mini-surge which the Administration credits with the diminishing violence. Wherever the stronger truth lies, I'm glad to see violence down for now and hope that continues.
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:32 PM   #73
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http://hotair.com/archives/2008/02/2...succeed-53-39/


Pew: Majority now believe U.S. effort in Iraq will succeed, 53-39posted at 7:45 pm on February 28, 2008 by Allahpundit
Send to a Friend | printer-friendly In case you were wondering why the Democrats are running from this debate, it’s because the more public opinion shifts, the more their willingness to abandon Iraq looks less like a “realist” exit strategy than calculated defeatism. Even so, note how inelastic most of the results are despite the security gains (especially in Anbar). The microresults show impressive shifts — click the image and follow the link to see double digit swings in the “Growing Perceptions of Iraq Progress” graph — but the baseline results below are static. I wonder why.



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Old 02-28-2008, 11:57 PM   #74
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your source...
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:42 AM   #75
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As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible.

It seems to me that now is the moment to address the humanitarian side of this situation. Without the right support, we could miss an opportunity to do some of the good we always stated we intended to do.

Angelina Jolie, an actor, is a UNHCR goodwill ambassador.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...702217_pf.html
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