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June 20, 2003
If you read nothing else

If you read nothing else today

Read about the study of whiteness.

Pay no attention to the old, white guy who missed the clue bus in the middle of the article. We all know what Horowitz is like and I'm just sorry they chose to quote him.

(I'm shocked, shocked I tell you to see this right-wing extremist as the only outside voice invited to comment on this "leftist philosophy." What happened to our Liberal Media?)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)
We can eliminate global warming

All it takes is a really big eraser.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

For reasons that are quite understandable, Jim has decided against making a Senate run against Specter.

We'll all just have to "stay tuned" to see who this new candidate is that Jim's so secretive and excited about.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)
Soapbox II - Xtreme Government

All considerations of being more objective aside, t's true that to a noticeable extent we're being governed by what I consider right-wing extremists right now.

(Really. Something like turning Guantanamo Bay into a permanent prison we can use for detainees when we don't want to be bothered by the Bill of Rights? The mind boggles. I'm about to digress again, aren't I?)

Because the left lost its focus and its drive, the country has drifted into the hands of the only group left with the passion and the willingness to wrest control for itself. As it happens, those people seem to be right-wing imperialist, interventionist types.

(I'm confronted by a mental picture of the original, "small government/fiscal responsibility" party seeing what the Republican Party has come to these days, and it's not a pretty picture.)

Still. I want to make it clear. There are those in this country, even a majority, who approved of the invasion of Iraq. I believe that a properly worded, properly conducted poll would discover that this majority supported the war almost as much for the humanitarian goals as for eliminating a potential danger to the US.

Should the WMD issue turn out to have been a red herring, I believe that the majority of that majority will not change their overall perception of this war, nor will they change their opinion of GWB's international/military policies. For one thing, there's a contingent (I've talked to some of them) for whom those two trailers are proof positive and in full that Hussein was running a full-out bio-weapons project. Other half-attentive voters heard or read Bush say, "we found WMD" and quit listening, so they'll always believe it.

Others are just...smugly content that it was quick. That fits their idealization of the USofA as some kind of unstoppable force.

(Right here I could go off into another rant on the idiocy of USofA citizens who have seen two "wars" where we've jumped on Iraq with about 400,000 hobnailed boots and warehouses full of long-distance death and who assume from our sanitized television "victories" that the Righteousness of Our Cause has been proven both times, but I won't. For one thing, it's not that simple a subject. Long-distance death does, in fact, save lives. Advanced technological weapons do save civilian lives. Civilians, and soldiers, still die, but fewer of them die when you're using a guided missile system than when you're just raining down bombs all over the place in the hope of hitting something. On the other hand, a cursory study of history suggests that we were "misled" into Gulf War I in much the same way we were misled into Vietnam and Gulf Invasion II, but all of that is outside the scope of this rant which I see has, in spite of my efforts, gone far off-topic.)

Where was I headed? Oh. Yeah, I remember. Extremist government policies.

I don't want to be governed by right-wing extremists, okay?

And, to be very clear, I don't want to be governed by left-wing extremists, either.

I don't want to hug a tree. Trees are dirty and have pointy bark bits that stab you. I don't lack sympathy for those who want to ban animal testing, but common sense tells me it's a better choice than first-round experiments on human beings. I want to protect the environment, but I don't want to give up owning a car. I want recycling and conservation, but I hate those plastic grocery bags that are so thin a quart of milk tears out the bottom and when I try to use the canvas ones, they load them so heavily they're impossible to carry without squishing my food.

Okay, I'm going off on a tangent again, I know, but those grocery bags are a major problem. Plus which, how can I be sure they're made from recycled plastic? What does it take to recycle plastic and am I, in fact, doing more harm to the environment using them than I would be using a paper bag that also claims to be made from recycled material? Should I buy one of those metal carts and use it to tote all of my groceries or are the resources used and the environmental damage caused by manufacturing it actually more significant, cumulatively, than the damage done by all of the grocery bags I'll be using over the next fifteen years?

These are questions we should be considering, but we're being governed by right-wing extremists, so now global warming is an unproven theory, and corporations will, if allowed, frolic happily to their manufacturing plants and voluntarily make reductions in air and water pollution and we'll all live happily ever after.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
June 19, 2003
Soapbox I - The Media is too national

Newspapers can drive me nuts. You have to wade through page after page of ads, "features" on how we should all visit some exclusive, expensive locale in Jamaica for vacation this year, reviews of whatever book just hit the NYTimes list, or whatever movie has just been released in LA, etc. It's canned junk.

I liked newspapers better when the content was produced locally instead of purchased wholesale nationally, as seems to be the case these days. If we didn't know better, we might almost think a few, huge media conglomerates had bought up most news outlets and were mass-producing content for them, wouldn't we?

I would have appreciated a timely context for events over the last decade or so, is what I'm saying. Not that week after week of recipes for how to produce a fabulous party dish from three beets and a rutabaga isn't nice and all. I just don't feel it really prepares one to deal with serious issues of citizenship in the way that, say, on-going coverage of the shifting alliances and dangers in the Middle East might have done.

Or even, heavens above, actual coverage of the rest of the West and it's politics. Why should coverage of Paris or Bourne be confined to the travelogue pages unless the government is pitching a hissy fit and renaming French Fries to show the awesome weight of their disapproval?

(People didn't stop paying attention to the Middle East because it was too complicated and they didn't care. They stopped paying attention because the Middle East only hit the newspapers when something drastic happened and the situation was too complex to "catch up on" in the course of reading/hearing one story.)

Anyhow. I've gone all around the world to get here, but that's my point.

I blame the media, whom I perceive as having neglected and diminished what was once considered to be a near-sacred trust in this country.

As long as they keep scandal-mongering every event that takes place and blowing every eyebrow-wiggling into a major crisis, those of us who don't have the time and money to buy source material copies of all Administrative activities and political speeches are going to be hard-pressed to figure out when something is really wrong.

There are a lot of excellent sites out there covering the media's inadequacies, and I doubt there's much I have to add to the subject, but this has been my two cents' worth.

I hope you all spoke out in favor of repealing the recent FCC ruling.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)
June 18, 2003
Media Bias Or Routine Coverage?

When it's FOX, it can be hard to tell if a history of the way they jumped on reports of threatened usage or discovery of Iraqi WMDs is blind partisan support or just a case of FOX doing what a lot of the other national media outlets were doing...keeping expectations at fever-pitch to keep readers/viewers coming back for frequent news updates.

What I'd like to see is a less-inflammatory but more comprehensive history of how the, say, six largest national media outlets covered the "WMD issue" in the 60 days leading up to the invasion and the 60 days following. As amusing as the Left finds it to mock O'Reilly, I'd be more interested in comparing and contrasting the reporting of a wider group of news outlets.


By the way, for those interested in "original sources," here's a slow-loading .pdf (took me forever to get it saved to my hard drive so I could read it) of the OIG Homeland Security investigation of assistance rendered to the Texas Republican Legislators. It has, of course, been edited to keep top-secret national security information out of the hands of us troublemakers. Ahem.

Seriously. It's important to read the summary page that clearly explains what was not investigated and to notice what names and other information have been blacked out. The one point I got from it was that people looking for "missing" airplanes should work through the FAA and that a lot of man-hours, between local airports and local police, were used for this search.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

The story of Michael Weiner's (aka Michael Savage) adolescence couldn't be more predictable, or more boring. Pimpled, insecure kid parlays foul mouth into career. Ho hum.

Redistricting in Texas is not a dead issue. Redistricting and enhanced power for the governor of the state are alive and well. Looks like the "Killer Ds" may have to run for it again. Other legislators and staff members are getting antsy to get it done so they can go on vacation.

When one reporter said the governor's inaction was making it difficult for lawmakers, legislative staff and journalists to plan their summer vacations, Perry replied:

"There may be some folks who believe Ardmore would be an appropriate vacation spot."

Maybe they were emboldened by the findings of the Homeland Security Department that the Homeland Security Department did nothing wrong in using its power to help Texas Republicans try to track down and arrest Texas Democrats.

(I don't advise them to come to Colorado. Our legislature already took this one and, to no one's surprise, put it through in Colorado. Sadly, I didn't hear much protesting here.

Fortunately, Josh Marshall is publicizing the activity in Texas. Maybe he can get some publicity for it.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)
Just an interval

I didn't say no link-based blogging. I just said, "not much."

It's painful to see open racism appearing in our society. That's because it's not "appearing," it's just being revealed. This wasn't caused by 9/11 or anything that's happened since. There are people whose inner beliefs have probably always been racist but before now they never felt free to express them.

You have to read the news carefully. Why, for instance, in a "predominantly black community" is the police force, "mostly white" and would a police force more reflective of the community it's supposed to serve have avoiding the riots rocking this town? I'm sure there's more to the story than we're seeing, but how do we get it?

You have to read very carefully. We've all heard how the demons in Florida removed the names of tens of thousands of non-white voters from the rolls before Election 2000. The inference is always clear that they were removing voters likely to vote for Gore. But, as I've seen in books I've read, but I haven't seen anyone on the Left discussing, just over half(scroll down) of the 90,000 names removed were those of non-white citizens. Since this same story points out that 97 percent of the removed voters were removed in error, why don't I hear anyone on the Left screaming about the disenfranchisement of the white voters?

Thank goodness a court is at least considering whether or not the overseas human rights abuses of Unocal can be prosecuted under US law.

And speaking of alternative fuels, not that we were, how cool is this? Underwater turbines to generate electricity from the tide.

Drilling for oil doesn't necessarily mean the poor people of the region will reap any benefits, it seems. Of course, there are a few people in the Middle East who could already have testified to the fact that living atop huge oil reserves doesn't guarantee prosperity.

I wonder how a Boeing 727 can have been missing for over three weeks, with no major press coverage? I guess we don't care that much about what happens in Africa. (And, as the article points out, it could have been grabbed by a creditor or something.)

We're finding things in Iraq, but I think the Brits are doing a better job of being an occupying power. (Of course, they have a lot more practice at it.)

I figured this would happen. Again. Some authors/corporate buyers are tolerant of fans and some aren't.

(It's amusing to see the reference to fanfiction being a genre that's flourished in the "past few years". "Fan-fiction creators say their work represents the emergence of an art form that takes advantage of all that the Internet was built for. " To my sure and certain knowledge, fanfiction has been around since the early 70s and has done nothing but "flourish" since it first appeared.

"Fan fiction has existed for decades but primarily as a fringe hobby among friends who passed along typed or handwritten manuscripts to one another." Presumably while they were failing to do any other decent research, they failed to uncover the many thousands of printed and bound fanzines that have been published.

And fanfiction.net as the "granddaddy" of fanfiction sites? Don't make me laugh.)

And color me clueless, but I don't understand why, of all the things that are being downloaded on the net, music is being made such a huge deal of.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)
Soapbox Warning! (The Liberal Media)

It's my right to dislike the Bush Administration because I disagree with their position on, for instance, protected wilderness areas.

What isn't right is the kind of blind, they are all things evil approach I've taken to everything this Administration does, based solely upon the commentary I've read in the national media. (It's all commentary these days, people, okay? Even in "hard news" articles, you get a lot of bias. Anyone paying attention as they read can find it.)

To put it bluntly, every time someone in the Administration sneezes, I've gone searching for, and found, support for why it was an act of satan. I've lost balance and objectivity and I' saying that this has been a consequence of the actual Liberal Media. (Okay, it's my own fault for trusting the media, I know.)

Because there's nothing so nice as reading the words of those who agree with us, I read ten "Liberal" news outlets for every moderate or right-wing one. And I've been lead, even misled by an overwhelming negativism in the liberal media, into knee-jerk extremism.

For instance, after researching the "facts" of statements offering rationales for the invasion after the fact, I see that while many of the Left's claims of what was said are true, it's also true that there were claims for the invasion made on the grounds of humanitarianism and for protecting Iraq's neighbors, as well as for WMD. I fault the Liberal Media for ignoring that part of what was said in an attempt to force the impression that we were hammered with all WMD, all the time rhetoric for months before the war. This kind of thing doesn't make our arguments any stronger, okay? Bush was wrong to call is "revisionist history" but he would have been right if, instead, he'd talked about "selective memory.")

Doing some further research, I find that the Iraq + terrorist connection was not, in fact, originally made by Bush. This connection has been discussed in Washington for a number of years. For enough years to add a certain credence to the story. I don't find the Liberal Media offering me any data on that because then they might have to admit that this war wasn't quite as unprovoked as they were saying.

(Also, a lack of context is frequently a problem for me. It's clear that I haven't paid enough attention to events as they happened in the Middle East over the last ten years. I'm finding an appalling lack of depth to my knowledge of the region.

Because the national media has been restructured to cover actors and musicians and athletes as "legitimate news" topics, there's less room for actual news, be it on television or in a newspaper, so I'm not finding myself able to fill in the gaps in my knowledge from any coverage the national press is offering. My time, as I've whined repeatedly, is limited, and research takes hours. I'm not saying I'm not doing research, just that I'm a little bitter.)

I'm not saying there's not room to disagree, even passionately, with the current Administration's position on practically everything.

I'm just saying that when it comes to this war, a lot of us are arguing from a greater depth of ignorance than we're aware because the media is less concerned with facts than it is with grabbing headlines and boosting ratings.

There have been a dozen occasions in the last three weeks when I've started to rant and rave about something, stopped myself, and gone searching for actual source material to compare to the news stories. Over half the time, I find that blatant bias in the news story has nearly misled me into screaming in protest about something that's being seriously misrepresented.

I still believe Bush Administration is All Things Evil based on my personal view of what government is supposed to do for citizens, but from now on I'm going to try harder to read actual source material (original text and not the media's edited excerpts of said text) before I jump on the latest hang 'em high bandwagon every time the Administration scratches its ear.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)
June 17, 2003
Sorry about this

There's not likely to be a lot of link-based blogging this week.

I'm thinking about '04, okay? I'm thinking about the way the political parties have let us down, how the media has gone alone with the process for whatever reason, and wondering when morality became so situational in the Federal Government.

Much as I dislike the current Administration, this didn't start with them. Many of us have been yelling for months about our government's previous ties with Hussein, some of us have screamed about the quality of "leadership" that was installed in Afghanistan, and many of us have shouted again and again that, if it's murdering, torturing repressive regimes Bush&Co. is after, there are ones worse than Hussein all over the globe.

It's more than just a change back to sane leadership, welcome as that would be. We need to dream big, and work toward a country where encouraging and supporting murderers would be impossible.

If this is how a "compassionate conservative" Republican behaves, I don't ever want to see the actions of one who acknowledges himself as an extremist.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)
System-wide Rollback

After much (well, a little) pondering on the current Republican agenda, that's the phrase I've picked to describe it. I haven't had coffee yet, so forgive any incoherence.

It's a combination of the Military Might Makes Right policies of the disastrous Reagan era in combination with old-fashioned social conservativism that liked women in the kitchen and minorities on the bottom of the socio-political heap. If you throw in a few heaping helpings of pre-environmental thinking and a shaker or two or condescending paternalism, you've got the leaders of the current Republican party.

Not, you know, consistently because even among that small group there are differences of opinion on which of these issues matter most, but overall this explains quite a lot of their thinking.

Their sincerity makes them even scarier, though. They're not consciously setting out to be evil, they're just too single-minded in pursuit of what they see as "truth" to be allowed to be in charge of anything more significant than a garage sale. (I have mentioned, have I not, that I don't want to be governed by extremists? I don't care which wing they hail from, I don't want them in charge.)

I'm not sure what drives them.

It's not that they don't care about democracy, it's just that they don't quite define it the way some of the rest of us do. It's not the religion thing, because I doubt the sincerity of most of these guys on that subject.


(Although, there are those who consider themselves "devout" who consider it part of their ordained mission on this planet to legislate the morality and behavior of others in the hopes of winning bonus points in the Get Into Heaven sweepstakes. I don't actually think that's what this group is about in the Middle East although they skate close to it sometimes.

I have very little use for organized religion. I've never quite understood the mentality that finds itself unable to think what it pleases unless it can insure that the rest of the world is thinking in lockstep with it.

I realize that this is a sweeping condemnation of religion and that there are millions of people on the planet who don't behave this way, but until they decide to stop letting the "leaders" of their religions commit what can only be described against sins against god and man in the names of their congregations, I'm dissing them all. I think that's fair.)


And yet, they (we're back to the Republican Party leaders now, okay?) are on a crusade, never think they aren't. It's a holy mission for largely unholy ends.

Okay, I'm totally off-track now, but this whole thing about religion puzzles me. Whoops! 800 words removed. (Everyone who is grateful to be spared, pay me by going over to moveon.org or your favorite activist site and taking action on something.) That one could have gotten me burned in effigy. Not that I care, but it's not today's topic.


They're in a giant hurry to achieve their goal of turning the world back to some mythical golden age when corporations were unfettered, the party leaders largely dictated the content of political discourse, and the federal government was more than balanced by the power of the individual states, so they're sacrificing the future to ram through as many of their agenda items as they can between now and 2004. (Although I don't think most of them actually believe they're going to be defeated in '04. Certainly Rove hasn't accepted that possibility and, make no mistake, he's the one that counts in this situation.)

Actually, sacrificing the future is largely what those currently in charge are after, although they naturally think of it in different terms.

They're trying to remake the political and economic landscape of this country by dismantling as much of the federal government as they can and, with luck, too much of it for any succeeding Democratic (or even rational) president and Congress to restore easily.

It's similar to old-fashioned "state's rights." Even now, as they slash the Federal budget and cut funding to states for mandated programs, they're forcing the states to raise their own taxes to pay for these things, trying to force states to be more autonomous. (It's a measure of how short-sighted they are that they're trying to use this method of "shrinking" government. As long as the core mandate remains in place, the states are merely replacing the feds and government isn't getting any smaller at all. Without the support of the voters to do what they're doing, these guys have no way to actually reduce government, so they're starting with trying to shift it into state and private hands. That's what their "outsourcing" of government functions is all about.)

It's rather a pity there's no room in their world view for imagining alternatives. You'd think that Afghanistan and Iraq would be teaching them something right about now as they see the difference between what they intended to have happen and what's actually happening over there, but apparently not.

As far as their plans for the USofA, I mean, I'm not an economist and I don't have an MBA or anything, but from where I sit, the flaws in their plans for us are pretty clear.

Removed – various definitions of clinical insanity

Okay, I'm all hot under the collar, but still. I'm staying focused here.

The key is to remember that evil people almost never know they're evil, okay? Everyone's the hero of their own life story and almost no one sane enough to be functional deliberately fosters ruin for those around them.

So, what is it these guys are doing, or think they're doing?

Not even Bush can be simple-minded enough, I think, to convince himself that corporations would, in fact, voluntarily cut back on pollution if not required so to do by law? Again, recent history should be ample proof of this if he looks at the fallout from his policies in Texas. (Or maybe it's that "free market" thing? We're all supposed to spend our spare time protesting and picketing and organizing boycotts until we can force corporations to behave, so laws won't be needed to do such things.)

Their foreign policy is harder to comprehend although I think it you looked at our invasion of a smaller, weaker country in a disturbed portion of the world, and contemplated how drastically that war has distracted our attention from a variety of important-to-everyday-citizens matters here at home, you might have part of the explanation.

(And, at the bottom, I think they just got a jones for going to war. They wanted to re-make the Middle East and, thought they heard destiny calling them. Unfortunately, as has been amply proven by now, they had no clue how to "remake" something. All they knew how to do was to unmake it. Nation-building, as many others have discussed more intelligently than I can, is simply not our strong suit. I'm not sure we've ever done it successfully, have we?)

My point (yes, we're getting there) is that it's not just in the Middle East this Administration is trying to do some nation-building. They're trying it here, as well.

If they can push through a few critical federal judicial nominees and tip the balance in the Supreme Court, starve the federal programs they don't approve of, of money to survive, and make sure the military lacks for nothing, they're on their way to creating their dream world. The Feds will exist to run the army, negotiate international treaties, and enforce the ability of our corporations to do business anywhere they want. Inside the country, as I see it, these guys view the federal government as acting like a referee between the states when needed.

The fact that this idiocy won't succeed because neither people nor events are going to follow the unwritten script hasn't occurred to these crazy people. The fact that leaving the poor states to get poorer in the same way these guys leave the lower class to get poorer while they service the rich and powerful will lead directly to economic and political catastrophe doesn't seem that obvious to them. (How can it not? It's obvious to me for criminy's sake.)

You can't turn back the clock, you can't go home again, pick your favorite cliché. It won't work.

The real danger lies in the problems they're going to create for us while they try.

Next I'll take on the Democrats, but right now I need coffee.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)
June 16, 2003
Excuse me?

Is this real, or is it some kind of psychotic hoax?

I'd think if it were real, it would be a more prominent story. As it is, it seems to have originated (news-wise) here.

It's weird, the things you find when you surf, isn't it?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)
What's up with that?

I took my usual tour of news sites this morning and found nothing that inspired me to whine, bitch, moan, or complain. Not that the universe has somehow realigned to suit my interior notions of utopia or anything. It's just that nothing jumped off the page at me.

I see surprisingly little discussion in blogdom of Dean's increasing pro-death penalty stance. (Too lazy to go find the link.) Surprises me.

I still haven't decided between Dean and Kucinich (I have to look up that spelling every time I want to discuss him).

From a friend:

There were twelve fires started in our neighborhood last night.

The fire marshal blames us for taking our newsprint and cardboard out
before recycling day. I know, you think the blame maybe belonged with the
psychotic firebugs who went on a spree, but no.

Just for the record, this was in Canada. Lest anyone think that it's only in the USofA that insanity is beginning to rule.

I have a six page rant I could be working on. (I can't decide whether to post it all at once so you only have to skip one post, or to break it up so you can skip a lot of posts.)

For reasons I don't understand, my sexy new BloggerPro interface keeps "refreshing" itself. I must be hitting some command I'm unaware of.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)
June 15, 2003
Other Headlines I felt like

Other Headlines

I felt like surfing today while I drank my morning coffee.

Over at ABC News you can read about Dean's upcoming television ad campaign, the one designed to set him apart from other Democratic candidates.

They've also, oddly enough, attached a separate article about Braun at the bottom of the Dean one.

Changes are afoot in the way post-9/11 detainees are going to be handled. (It's about time.)

You might have gathered by now that I'm something of a conspiracy buff. I don't believe the world is run by secret cabals of the high and mighty, but, at a judicious arms' length, I find these things entertaining to read about. That said, the "Family" group in D.C. does worry me slightly. It worries others as well.

I wasn't originally all that interested in the Franken-O'Reilly thing, but I might give Franken's book a try after reading this.

How nice we brought freedom and democracy to Iraq. What a pity it's come with religious extremism that's already intimidating women into re-veiling. Actually, more than re-veiling. Some women, such as Christians, who have never worn a veil are being frightened into wearing one.

Since many others have already linked to it, I assume you've all read Krugman's "Some Crazy Guy" column on the Dangers of DeLay, by now? (Does it make you wonder if DeLay is a member of the "Family" mentioned above?)

Looks like it's not just the USofA building off-shore detainment camps excuse me, "processing centers, for non-nationals. In the UK, they say they'll use theirs for asylum seekers>

I know I'm not the only one who thinks Rumsfeld does us more harm than good every time he opens his mouth.

It may not have made all of the headlines, but France and Germany weren't the only European countries who strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq. And they aren't the only ones suffering some fallout either, although I know the "war crimes" definitions themselves have frightened more than a few USofA officials.

Well, knock me over with a feather. Looks like at least part of the world has finally find the cojones to stand up to Castro. I wonder how this one will pan out?

The WSJ OpinionJournal struggles mightily to explain why a Republican judicial filibuster isn't the same as a Democratic one. (In an earlier entry, they tried to make it seem like religious bigotry.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)
Irony for Today

Click on over to the ABC News site and find the link to "Photoflash." It opens up a pop-up window featuring this week's noteworthy news photos.

The snap of Bush falling off his scooter next to pictures of soldiers, war victims, and a cloud of tear-gas is...thought-provoking.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)