Wednesday wrap

Card-Check in California: The results are in ... Jobs are fleeing the Golden State, where unemployment has spiked well above 10%. Taxes are soaring, and a new budget shortfall of $8 billion, following the $42 billion gap that was patched up earlier this year, could hike them even more. But California is still not a bad place to be — that is, as long as you have a secure job (which most are) on the public payroll. According to the latest salary survey by the American Federation of Teachers, California teachers are the highest paid in the nation. California also has America's highest-paid prison guards. A state agency's study last year found that the maximum pay of California's guards was 40% higher than that of the highest-paid guards in 10 other states and the federal government. Meanwhile, California's public schools have middling results at best. California was a pioneer in push-button public-sector unionization — something like what Big Labor now wants to do in the private sector nationwide. A series of laws passed from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, with the most sweeping under Gov. Jerry Brown, gave unions collective-bargaining power in local government, schools and the state bureaucracy. Early on, the state granted recognition to unions on a card-check basis, without a requirement for secret-ballot elections. Not surprisingly, California's public-sector work force is now much more unionized than the nation's as a whole. A 2008 UCLA study found that 57% of government workers in the state were union members, compared with 37% for the U.S. And many other public workers who are not union members are represented by unions — and forced to pay at least partial dues — through so-called "agency shop" rules. The rise of public-sector unions in California has had an impact beyond just one state. If nothing else, it has added to the ranks of government unions in general and encouraged similar organizing in other union-friendly states. In doing so, it has helped alter the character and ideology of organized labor in general. (investors.com)

Related video: Sowell takes on 'Free Choice'

Anti-socialists: Not Newsworthy ... Five more "tea parties" took place last weekend to protest runaway congressional spending. Showing up with hand-lettered signs were people not often seen at protests. Inspired by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli's rant over excessive bailouts, these demonstrations started small but now draw thousands. The weekend protests were held in Orlando, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; Solomon's Island, Md.; Lexington, Ky., and Ridgefield, Conn. Another 150 tea parties are set for tax day April 15. Bloggers and local press do cover these events, and to give credit due, so did Investor's Business Daily in a front-page story Feb. 28. But the national TV and print media are conspicuous by their absence. Some big news outlets see these events as atomized and unlikely to lead the nightly news. Others aren't interested because they're well outside media centers. But the real reason the major media aren't interested in these protests is that they don't agree with them. In the final analysis, these affairs are really taking issue with the political party they helped elect without hiding bias in the last election. That's why a small scrum of ACORN-financed wackos on a bus tour to intimidate AIG execs last weekend made the news while the tea parties didn't. But unlike the staged, sparsely attended ACORN event, the tea parties are national, growing and indicative of a shift of public sentiment. If proof is needed, one need look no further than the attention the protests are getting from the Obama administration. One of the biggest protests so far drew 15,000 on March 8 in Fullerton, Calif. But a Los Angeles Times blogger dismissed the event as "a radio stunt" because it was organized by local radio deejays. There was no explanation why the Times and other media were all over a 2006 immigration protest that was also called by deejays. (investors.com)

Communo-fascism gains in U.S. ... In yet another unprecedented move, the Obama Administration is asking Congress for extraordinary and unconstitutional broad powers to take over private enterprise companies. I and others have warned that this would happen, as Obama and his Congressional adherents not only believe but, are out to prove that they are above the law. They have also—with the help of their MSM working as cheerleaders—almost totally destroyed the US Constitution, created a red herring in blaming AIG for their perpetrated frauds, encouraged mob rule against AIG executives, shown that they will attack private individuals with the force of the government, break contract law (if it doesn’t serve their purposes) and have now shown that they will probably get away with turning the USA—once the greatest free Republic on the planet—into a Communo-Fascist police-state. And it appears that Obama may affect this horror within his first 100 days in office. Now no one—save the proletariat to whom our leaders are no longer listening—is opposing the secular messiah. Under Obama’s instructions, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is—starting with the entire financial industry—demanding the power to seize any company that does not meet the profitability that Obama believes it should. Therefore, Obama and his minions can make up any profitability quotient it wants. And as we also know, if they so desire they can change said profitability requirements at any time—retroactively. As I’ve said repeatedly, Obama is neither stupid nor naïve. He is following the dictates of his mentors Saul Alinsky and Karl Marx (Marx who was an atheist and Alinsky who factually dedicated his work to Satan)—almost to the letter. Alinsky wrote: “Lest we forget at least an over the shoulder acknowledgement of the very first radical, from all our legends, mythology, and history … the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom—Lucifer.” (canadafreepress.com)

U.S. enters treacherous waters ... There was plenty of outrage on Capitol Hill last week over the executive bonuses paid out by AIG after getting federal bailout money. But another money trail could make voters just as angry: the campaign dollars to members of Congress from banks and firms that have received billions via the Troubled Asset Relief Program. A NEWSWEEK review of recent filings with the Federal Election Commission found that the political action committees of five big TARP recipients doled out $85,300 to members in the first two months of this year—with most of the cash going to those who serves on committees who oversee the TARP program. Among them: Bank of America (which got $15 billion in bailout money) sent out $24,500 in the first two months of 2009, including $1,500 to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and another $15,000 to members of the House and Senate banking panels. Citigroup ($25 billion) dished out $29,620, including $2,500 to House GOPWhip Eric Cantor, who also got $10,000 from UBS which, while not a TARP recipient, got $5 billion in bailout funds as an AIG "counterparty." "This certainly appears to be a case of TARP funds being recycled into campaign contributions," says Brett Kappel, a D.C. lawyer who tracks donations. (A spokesman for Cantor did not respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for Hoyer said it's his "policy to accept legal contributions.") The cash flow is already causing angst inside the Beltway. "The last thing I want to do is wake up one morning and see our PAC check being burned on C-Span," said one bank lobbyist, who asked not to be identified because of the issue's sensitivity. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Financial Services chair Rep. Barney Frank both said recently they won't take donations from TARP recipients. But House Democratic fundraisers have quietly passed the word that the party's campaign committee will resume accepting them—down the road, though; not right now. Said one fundraiser, who also requested anonymity, "These are treacherous waters." (newsweek.com)

Why would workers not want a union? ... First, unions are expensive. Union dues for major, national unions now often run $500 to $600 a year. Once you get a union in your workplace, if you don't pay the dues, in most states you are automatically fired. Unless your state has a right-to-work law, once your employer signs a contract with a union, you must join it and pay its dues whether you want to or not. Moreover, your union may call a strike when you can't afford not to work and miss your paycheck. Under current law, you can still cross the picket line and continue working. But you are then subject to union harassment and even violence, even after the strike ends. And check it out for yourself: there is a long history of union violence. In addition, if you work hard and try to get ahead, the union often works against you. Union work rules routinely require advancement based on seniority in the union, not hard work, skill, and productivity. Unions also have a bad history of driving the employer into the ground over the years, with unnecessary costs and excessive demands, resulting in fewer and fewer jobs, until the employer is finally gone. Remember the once mighty, now long gone, major steel industry? All that is left today of U.S. Steel, once challenged as a monopoly, is the logo. Now it's the once mighty auto industry going down. If these great engines of capitalism can be brought down, what chance does a medium or small business have? Unions also routinely suffer corruption. Dues are diverted for the personal gain of union leaders. Union pension funds are looted. Check out this history yourself as well. Finally, unions use billions in forced union dues to promote ultraliberal/far left politicians and political causes that many union workers may not support, or even oppose. (spectator.org)

Card-Check Games ... Glenn Spencer, executive director of the work force freedom initiative at the Chamber of Commerce, said the president and centrists in his party “have to be very pleased” with Specter’s decision. He said that Specter’s announcement may now give “some encouragement to the many centrist Democrats who know this is bad policy, and they will now feel empowered to come forward and announce their opposition to cloture, as well.” Obama has supported the bill in the past but, recognizing its controversy, has not made its passage a top priority. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that the bill is not dead, and he accused Specter of making a politically expedient choice. “Anyone who thinks they’re burying card check because of Specter’s statement in an effort to avoid a primary in Pennsylvania should not think legislation is going to go away,” Reid told reporters. In a statement, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) expressed disappointment in Specter’s decision not to support EFCA “in its current form” but said he looked forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to find some way forward. Reid said that Specter’s decision opens the door to compromise, citing an effort by Starbucks Corp., Whole Foods Market Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. to find a middle ground. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he doesn’t see that compromise “going anywhere.” And when POLITICO asked Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) if he saw room for compromise, he said no. (politico.com)

Union Hand Guides Big Brand Sell Out

D.C. P2P: All in the family ... Senator Chris Dodd’s wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd served as an outside director of IPC Holdings Ltd., a company controlled by AIG; conveniently enough based in Bermuda. Senator Dodd has been under fire the last couple weeks for ratifying an amendment which allowed AIG executives hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses with bailout money. From 2001-2004 Jackie Clegg Dodd worked for IPC Holdings which provided property casualty catastrophe insurance. In 2001, IPC sold enough stock giving AIG a 20% stake in the company; AIG subsequently sold its nearly 13 and a half million shares of IPC stock in 2006. Jackie Clegg Dodd, according to a statement, Clegg was compensated $12,000 per year as well as $1,000 for every Directors’ and committee meeting that she attended. Jackie Clegg Dodd served on the Audit and Investment committee her final year on the board. Both Chris Dodd and his wife Jackie Clegg Dodd have benefited from their “connections” to AIG; as the Obama administration and Congress try their best to vilify AIG executives for doing exactly what they were allowed to do under the law; which was to receive bonuses based on performance. Congress turned around and passed a 90% tax on AIG and other company bonuses that fell under the bailout umbrella. Senator Chris Dodd has been one of AIG’s favorite recipients of campaign contributions in the past; and now they’ve got ACORN protesting outside their houses. Senator Dodd serves as chairman of the banking committee in the U.S. Senate. (rightpundits.com)

FedEx update: Teamster organizers seek federal bailout ... The package delivery company revealed it might delay purchasing 30 new Boeing 777 cargo planes if Congress reclassifies the company under a different labor act, which would make it easier for its employees to unionize. A bill currently in front of Congress would place the company under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act, instead of the National Railway Labor Act. The Railway Labor Act allows for the union organization of workers, but all those workers must vote at the same time. This has served as an impediment to unions which could not afford a nationwide campaign. If FedEx Express workers were to be reclassified under the National Labor Relations Act, then workers could be organized one terminal at a time. But the company argues that the loss of cost-cutting flexibility that would accompany unionization would make it impossible to also afford the planes. (google.com)

SEIU unit goes out on strike v. Red Cross ... 3,000 women and men who work for Red Cross providing home care services will begin strike action starting with a one day strike in the Sudbury region commencing at 11am today. "The women and men who provide home care support have been pushed to the limit. The McGuinty Government needs to take responsibility for the crisis in Ontario's home care system," says Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1 Canada. Red Cross is one of the largest agencies under contract with the government to provide home care services. Home care is the delivery of health care and support services in the home. This service enables seniors, people with disabilities, people recovering from surgery and children with special needs to access care in a more comfortable environment. (marketwire.com)

Obama makes an impact ... I have to hope for the sake of our country's future that when people voted for Obama they really had no idea what a disaster he would be, even though I kept warning them that he was a left-wing lug nut. It seemed to me that his legion of fans had been hypnotized or sprinkled with fairy dust. They blindly accepted that words like "hope" and "change" were complete sentences that actually added up to a national policy. We, who assumed that a grown-up whose friends and mentors were people like Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, Saul Alinsky, the folks at ACORN and the most corrupt of Chicago politicians, believed he was more likely to belong in a square cell than in the Oval Office. For my part, I felt a lot like Kevin McCarthy in the movie, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," trying to warn my fellow earthlings that the pod people were among us and definitely up to no good. It's not just the big things the man does, things such as the kazillion dollar bailouts, the trichinosis-infested budget and the threat of the Fairness Doctrine being enacted, that make my blood run cold. It's not even the allegedly eloquent orator requiring a teleprompter in order to say, "Hello." What I'm referring to is the commander in chief's earmarking $900 million for Hamas and, worse yet, proposing we make veterans financially responsible for their own service-related medical treatments. (That comes under the heading of adding insult to injury.) And let us not forget Obama's sending the bust of Winston Churchill back to the English embassy and then, compounding that infantile act of boorishness, treating the prime minister of our staunchest ally like a guttersnipe. (wnd.com)

Bonus links:
Summary of Saul Alinsky's 'Rules for Radicals'
• More Saul Alinsky stories: here
'Rules for Radicals' at amazon.com

30 ideas to Europeanize the U.S. labor markets ... Chao cited the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) bill to abolish the secret ballot in workplace representation elections as an example of a mistaken European approach. The bill, which is also known as Card Check, is the top legislative priority of organized labor in the U.S. Card Check would also impose compulsory arbitration supervised by federal officials when company managers and union representatives can’t agree on a contract in a newly organized firm. Chao warned that Card Check is but one example of efforts by President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders to shift U.S. labor-management policies away from the free market towards a European-type system. Chao cited in a handout more than 30 such proposals presently being considered by Congress that she said would advance a more European regulatory regime in the U.S., including among others making it illegal for companies being struck to hire replacement workers, authorizing collective bargaining for Department of Homeland Security employees, repeal of state Right-to-Work laws that guarantee workers the right not to join a union, significantly expanding the number of small businesses covered by mandatory family and medical leave policies, and approval of “comparable worth” legislation to give federal employees regulatory authority over private sector pay practices. (washingtonexaminer.com)

Andy Stern: Extreme Power-grabber ... Andy Stern, president of the powerful Service Employees International Union, seems hellbent on using classic corporate raider tactics to bring a huge portion of the U.S. labor movement under his absolute control. The latest proof of Stern's audacious methods surfaced this weekend in Philadelphia, at the founding convention of Workers United, a splinter group from UNITE HERE, the national union that represents clothing, hotel and restaurant workers. Workers United claims to represent about a third of UNITE HERE's 450,000 members. Most of them belong to clothing and laundry locals that merged with the hotel workers five years ago, but then had a change of heart and voted to secede during the past few weeks. Within a day of Workers United being formed, its newly elected president, Edgar Romney, announced it would affiliate with Stern's SEIU. Stern, in effect, used the enormous resources of his 2 million-member union to encourage the breakup of a major mainstream union, then rushed to grab control of a piece. According to the 13-page affiliation agreement, a copy of which the Daily News has obtained, SEIU is also providing huge subsidies to the new group. Stern's union will provide legal, staff and financial assistance to defend Workers United "against any and all challenge from other labor organizations, including any challenge arising from its affiliation with SEIU," the agreement states. This is not the first time Stern has tried to grab a fellow union's members out from under its leaders. One year ago, in the midst of a major labor dispute between the government of Puerto Rico and the island's teachers union, SEIU suddenly announced a campaign to win representation of the island's teachers. Former Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila tacitly supported the SEIU effort. He decertified the Puerto Rico Federation of Teachers after a hard-fought strike. But the island's 40,000 teachers then voted handily against the SEIU as their bargaining agent, thus rejecting the Stern tactics. The teachers are now nonunionized. After years of claiming the mantle of labor reformer, Stern has shown himself to be an old-fashioned union boss, using snazzy new tactics and rhetoric to achieve absolute control. (nydailynews.com)

We don't need no stinkin' democracy ... At a hearing of the Senate Republican Conference and the Republican Policy Committee Momday, lawmakers denounced the Employee Free Choice Act for stripping workers of their right to a secret ballot when voting on the question over whether to unionize, and questioned the bill's constitutionality. "Free choice? Give me a break," said Orrin Hatch of Utah. "We are living in a land of make believe where words have the opposite effect of their true meaning." Behind the dais where the senators sat a large sign on an easel read, "Employee No Choice Act." Critics counter that unions are the ones guilty of intimidation. The four witnesses at today's session, each hand-picked to voice a different note of opposition to the bill, claimed that under existing laws, workers who are under pressure from union representatives often sign the cards calling for a vote, but then cast their ballot in opposition to the union in the secret vote. One of the witnesses, a construction worker from Virginia, recounted to the panel several instances of union representatives trying to intimidate him and his coworkers over their opposition to organizing. Over the years, he said, union reps had slashed tires, stolen tools, and left menacing graffiti on job sites. "In this card check system, I believe that workers could be bullied or misled into voting 'yes'" for union membership," Frank Cannon told the panel. "When it comes to a vote," Cannon said, "they're going to try to intimidate them into getting that [majority] plus one." The senators said that even more troublesome than the secret ballot is the method by which negotiations would be handled under the bill. If the employer and the union did not reach a deal in 120 days, a government arbitration panel could intervene and take over the negotiations. (internetnews.com)

School bus drivers go out on strike ... School bus drivers for Stock Transportation are walking picket lines this morning after rejecting a take it or leave it contract offer in a vote yesterday. About 7000 elementary and secondary students in 72 different schools are affected. Parents will have to arrange to have students picked up and dropped off and schools are providing an extra 30 minutes of supervision before and after classes to help out. There's no word from either side as to when they'll return to the bargaining table. (myfmradio.ca)

Worker-choice saves Palmetto State ... South Carolina ranks poorly on a number of key economic indicators, but its availability of cheap labor and right-to-work status keep it marginally competitive with other states. The Palmetto State’s “Economic Outlook” ranked 25th in the nation according to a report conducted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, although that overall ranking included several disturbing figures that would seem to belie such a middle-of-the-road positioning. For example, according to the study, South Carolina ranked 24th in the nation in job growth from 1996-2006, but 38th in income growth over that same time period. The state also ranked poorly with respect to its top income tax rate (33rd), property tax burden (31st), liability system (37th) and educational freedom index (39th). Balancing that out, though, the state’s corporate tax ranked ninth in the nation, and its minimum wage and “right-to-work” rankings ostensibly led the nation. (fitsnews.com)

Conyers: Probe union-backed fraud group ... Last Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr., D-Mich, proposed holding hearings about the activist group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), to give the group an opportunity to answer allegations it has engaged in illegal or improper activities. Mr. Conyers, who has defended the organization in the past, asked for the hearings after listening to testimony about the organization during a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties hearing titled “Lessons Learned from the 2008 Election.” The hearing testimony by Heather Heidelbaugh, a Pittsburgh attorney who serves on the Executive Committee of the Republican National Lawyers Association, quoted prior court testimony by an ACORN whistleblower, Ms. Anita Moncrief, given during an injunction request filed by Ms. Heidelbaugh against ACORN during last fall’s election. Ms. Moncrief was at the hearing, but did not testify. Ms. Heidelbaugh described how she received a call from Ms. Moncrief who worked for ACORN in their Washington, D.C. office for a number of years and who told her she had some information about them. She then recounted how Ms. Moncrief told her she had been a confidential source for several months to New York Times’ reporter, Stephanie Strom, who had been writing articles about ACORN based on the information she had provided. Ms. Strom wrote articles about ACORN from July 9, 2008 to October 21, 2008, with headlines such as “Funds misappropriated at Two Nonprofit Groups,” “On Obama, ACORN and Voter Registration” and “ACORN Report Raises Issues of Legality.” Ms. Heidelbaugh said the Times articles stopped when Ms. Moncrief told Ms. Strom the Obama campaign had sent its “maxed-out donor list” to Project Vote Development Director Karyn Gilette at ACORN’s Washington, D.C. office. It then asked Ms. Gillette and Ms. Moncrief to reach out to maxed-out donors to solicit donations from them for get out the vote efforts to be run by ACORN. (thebulletin.us)

ACORN worker pleads down from election crime ... A former get-out-the-vote worker accused of submitting false and forged voter registration cards pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal mail fraud charge. Deidra Humphrey, 44, of East St. Louis, Ill., worked last year as a voter registration recruiter for Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition (Missouri Pro-Vote) and for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway announced the plea deal in a news release, saying Humphrey submitted false and forged voter registration cards to Missouri Pro-Vote, which unknowingly submitted those cards to election boards in St. Louis city and St. Louis County. Hanaway said Humphrey submitted the fraudulent cards to get money for work she didn't actually complete. Under the deal, Humphrey pleaded guilty to mail fraud, rather than the two felony counts of voter registration fraud she had faced. (google.com)

Union-backed fraud group gets the job done ... Teenager Freddie Johnson said he was offered smokes and dollar bills to fill out voter registration cards. And now the Cuyahoga County Elections Board has 73 cards with Johnson's name on them. Johnson and another prolific registrant were subpoenaed to testify at a meeting Monday as the Elections Board continued its look at possible fraud by ACORN, a national organization that tries to get low- and moderate-income people to register. ACORN's methods have drawn interest in a number of states this presidential election year. Johnson, 19, said he mostly was trying to help ACORN workers who begged him to sign up because they needed to keep their jobs. "They'd come up with a sob story why they needed the signature," said Johnson, of Garfield Heights. ACORN leaders have acknowledged that workers paid by the hour were given quotas to fill. Board member Sandy McNair said ACORN did not do a competent job carrying out its business plan. Members, in fact, said little about ACORN. And they turned their investigation over to the county sheriff and prosecutor. A second person to testify, Christopher Barkley, 33, said ACORN workers pestered him while they tried to gather signatures. (cleveland.com)

IUOE unit goes out on strike ... A strike at Western Energy Company's Rosebud Mine is now in its third day. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 400 has filed two unfair labor practice charges against the company with the National Labor Relations Board. Western Energy Company is offering a 4.5% pay increase in the first year, a 3.4 percent boost in the second and third years, and 4% in the fourth year. We talked with workers in Colstrip on Sunday who say that they want to be treated with more respect, and dignity. (ktvq.com)

International Collectivism

SEIU-backed Latin Socialist to dazzle U.N. ... “We hope that this new century is the century of the rights of mother earth.” Pablo Solon, ambassador to the UN from the South America nation of Bolivia met with fifty-plus community and labor activists at SEIU 1199’s M. L. King, Jr. Labor Center March 20. He addressed the crowd, announcing plans for Bolivian President Evo Morales to visit New York and to discuss diplomatic relations with the U.S. and the urgency of the environment. “We see the earth as more than a source of things to buy or sell. The earth is our home,” Solon said. “Unending growth is unsustainable.” Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous ruler in 500 years, led a broad-based movement to win elections three years ago. He will be coming to New York City, April 22, to address the United Nations. He is expected to call on the international body to recognize the date as “Mother Earth Day” globally. (pww.org)

Laid-off workers picket former employer ... Several laid-off workers staged an hour-long protest in front of the main branch of a major bakeshop chain in Cebu Monday over alleged labor law violations. The 13 workers who were fired from Anita's Home Bakeshop in January picketed in front of the main branch office in Fuente Osmeña in Cebu City, bearing placards and demanding that the bakeshop's management give them back their jobs. The management had reportedly fired the workers to cut operation costs. The group, all members of Anita's Home Bakeshop Workers Union- Alliance of Nationalist and Genuine Labor Organization, along with AMASugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno accused the management of union busting, disrespect to the union's certification of election, illegal dismissals, and violation to the Minimum Wage Law. (abs-cbnnews.com)

Communists entrench in Moldova ... Moldova's Communist Party appeared on track to retain or even strengthen its near-total control of the former Soviet republic's government, according to the results of a nationwide survey made public Tuesday. Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin and his ruling Communists enjoy 36 per cent support, while the opposition Liberal-Democratic Party and Liberal Party currently can manage only 16 per cent combined, according to data gathered by the Barometre of Public Opinion, a Chisinau-based political science research group. Parliamentary elections are scheduled in Moldova for April 5. The Communists and their allies currently hold a 61-seat majority in the 101-member parliament. (earthtimes.org)
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