Archive for China

Kung Fool

Some say President Obama has been beaten up for his lunch money by Vladimir Putin. We reject that charge.

Beating him up for his lunch money is what China is doing:

China is waging political warfare against the United States as part of a strategy to drive the U.S. military out of Asia and control seas near its coasts, according to a Pentagon-sponsored study.

A defense contractor report produced for the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon’s think tank on future warfare, describes in detail China’s “Three Warfares” as psychological, media, and legal operations. They represent an asymmetric “military technology” that is a surrogate for conflict involving nuclear and conventional weapons.

The unclassified 566-page report warns that the U.S. government and the military lack effective tools for countering the non-kinetic warfare methods, and notes that U.S. military academies do not teach future military leaders about the Chinese use of unconventional warfare. It urges greater efforts to understand the threat and adopt steps to counter it.

“The Three Warfares is a dynamic three dimensional war-fighting process that constitutes war by other means,” said Cambridge University professor Stefan Halper, who directed the study. “It is China’s weapon of choice in the South China Sea.”

The study concludes that in the decade ahead China will employ unconventional warfare techniques on issues ranging from the Senkaku Islands dispute in northeast Asia to the disputed Paracels in the South China Sea.

For the United States, the Three Warfares seek to curtail U.S. power projection in Asia that is needed to support allies, such as Japan and South Korea, and to assure freedom of navigation by attempting to set terms for allowing U.S. access to the region.

The use of psychological, media, and legal attacks by China is part of an effort to raise “doubts about the legitimacy of the U.S. presence.”

Let us amend our assertion that China is beating up Obama for his lunch money. He’s handing it over of his own free will, saying they deserve it more than he does. Besides, China is just a “regional power”, acting “out of weakness”.

If this were a good world in which everyone could be trusted, there might be no need for the US to project its strength around the globe, But his is a world with China, Russia, Iran, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, etc. in it. There are consequences for weakness, perceived or real, but unless the Russians lob a nuke onto the 17 green at Andrews Air Base, Obama will never have to face them.

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Michelle Obama’s Chinese Vacation [UPDATED]

Some might say that a First Lady who reports on herself has a fool for a subject.

Michelle Obama, rather, believes: FLOTUS, report on thyself:

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First Lady Michelle Obama and Malia and Sasha visit the Great Wall of China. March 22, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Today we drove about an hour north of Beijing to a village called Mutianyu to visit a section of the Great Wall of China, which was simply breathtaking. The scenery on the way there was beautiful – a wide vista of mountains and trees – so the car ride alone was a treat. But then, running along the highest ridges of the mountains, you see it: The Great Wall – one of the great marvels of human history.

Sound familiar?

PRESIDENT [NIXON]. I can only say to the media, who, like myself, have never seen the Great Wall before, that it exceeds all expectations. When one stands there and sees the Wall going to the peak of this mountain and realizes that it runs for hundreds of miles, as a matter of fact thousands of miles, over the mountains and through the valleys of this country, that it was built over 2,000 years ago, I think that you would have to conclude that this is a great wall and that it had to be built by a great people.

Why’d they build it again?

“…to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces…”

Huh.

Anyhow, back to the State Media travelogue:

To get to the Wall, we rode a cable car up a mountain (and we later rode back down on a long slide!). The section we visited is one of the more popular parts of the Wall for tourists, and it’s easy to see why. At Mutianyu, the Wall is roughly 20 to 25 feet tall and full of stairs, and there’s a watchtower every 100 yards or so. Those watchtowers serve as a reminder of why the Wall was built in the first place – to defend against attacks from armies descending from the north. Throughout its history, the Great Wall has gone through decades, even centuries, of ruin and disrepair. But it has always served as not only a physical barrier, but a psychological one to intimidate potential invaders.

Huh.

A long slide, huh?

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First Lady Michelle Obama takes a toboggan ride after visiting the Great Wall of China with Malia and Sasha. March 23, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Who needs Pravda when the Kremlin—sorry, White House—can report on itself?

UPDATE
I have been laboring under the impression that this junket is media-rein, but I stand corrected:

From a Q&A Mrs. Obama had today with CaixanOnline, a China-focused news site.

Never mind what bilge she spewed, or that she spewed it to state-run media organ (much like AP, NPR, NBC, et al), Mrs. Obama did sit for an interview. I regret the error.

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No Tickee, No Diploma

In yesterday’s blog post about Michelle Obama’s private visit to China on the public’s dime, I noted she said this:

About 800 students attend the Beijing Normal School, and of those, roughly one in four are international students – including some Americans. All the classes are taught in English (one room even has a map of the United States on the ceiling), and the curriculum prepares students to study internationally once they graduate. Many students here hope to one day attend college in America.

To which I retorted:

Which opportunity will be denied to them to make room for affirmative action students. (Am I wrong?)

Looks like I was (and I couldn’t be more proud):

Democrats claim to be a multi-ethnic “coalition of the ascendant,” but identity politics has inherent contradictions. Witness the victory this week by three liberal Asian-American lawmakers in blocking Sacramento’s Democratic supermajority from trying to overturn California’s ban on racial preferences (Prop. 209).

“In the past few weeks, we have heard from thousands of people throughout California voicing their concerns about the potential impacts,” the senators wrote Assembly Speaker John Perez last week, adding that “as lifelong advocates for the Asian-American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children.”

Their concerns are well founded. In 1996, California voters approved Prop. 209 to block public institutions, notably state universities, from discriminating by race. Asian-American freshman enrollment at the University of California’s 10-flagship universities has since climbed to 40.2% from 36.6% and to 47% from 39.7% at Berkeley.

Admissions rates for Asian Americans relative to other minority groups have also soared. In 1996, Asian Americans were about two-thirds as likely to get into Berkeley as blacks or Hispanics, not controlling for other factors. Today Asian Americans stand a 50% better shot of being admitted. Prop. 209′s ban on racial preferences has helped Asian Americans by forcing admissions officers to focus on such academic qualifications as high-school grades and test scores.

What do grades and test score have to do with getting into Berkeley?

Of course, doing good often comes by way of doing well:

Democratic leaders say they are merely delaying the referendum for discussion, but they know that pushing for Prop. 209′s repeal risks alienating the growing block of Asian-American voters in the same way Republicans have alienated Hispanics. Asian Americans were 11% of California voters in 2012 compared to 6% in 2008, and nearly 80% of them voted for President Obama.

Asian-Americans were in danger of becoming the Jews of the 21st Century (the likes of Jonas Salk and Richard Feynman were rejected from Ivy League schools due to strict quotas), and that would be as wrong today as it was then.

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Michelle Obama’s Chinese Vacation

I would try to count the days, but who can tell which day it is when she’s a world away?

It’s the nights you need to count:

First Lady Michelle Obama is staying with her daughters and mother in an $8,000-per-night suite in Beijing, according to Chinese media.

Don’t worry. I’m sure the dozens of support staff and Secret Service rooms don’t cost a penny more than two grand.

The total cost of this excursion, which is heavy on tourist stuff, is likely north of $1 million, given that Judicial Watch was able to peg her 2010 trip to Spain at $467,000. This voyage has far more flying time – a major piece of the cost – and much more demanding security requirements, as well as lots of staff.

“Heavy on the tourist stuff” it may be, but she’s speaking in an official capacity, too:

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama has told students at Beijing’s Stanford Center of the prestigious Peking University that access to information – especially online – and freedom of speech are universal rights.

On her second day of a five-day trip to China, Mrs. Obama told American and other students on Saturday that freedom of expression and worship, and having open access to information are universal rights that are the “birthright of every person on this planet.”

Good for her. I mean it. And what speaks of modern diplomacy better than a selfie?

Sadly, FLOTUS hasn’t updated her blog since the state dinner and “performance” hinted at yesterday (the day before?) Did she have the Moo Goo Gai Pan or the Egg Foo Young, I wonder?

She did have a great time in the Forbidden City, you’ll be happy to know!

PS: Aggie noted yesterday Michelle’s pitch-perfect Midwestern Nice tonality. She’s still got it:

The Forbidden City is far too large to fully experience in a single visit, but highlights include the following: The Hall of Union and Peace has almost 14,000 ornamental dragons. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is where the emperor viewed birthday celebrations and coronation ceremonies from his Dragon Throne. And then there are the Imperial Gardens, where you can walk along the paths and pavilions, admiring the beautiful rock arrangements, flowers and cypress trees.

While we loved our visit to the Forbidden City, we only wish we had more time to see everything. But then again, I’m not sure there could ever be enough time to fully appreciate all of the art and history within this extraordinary place.

You can take the girl out of Chicago, but I guess you can’t take the Chicago out of the girl!

PPS: We’ll continue to put our efforts into covering this trip, since the press won’t (can’t).

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Michelle Obama’s Chinese Vacation

The Obama/Robinson women are in China now, without a man and without the press, so how’s it going so far?

Obama, who is visiting China with her mother and two daughters, is expected to forgo discussion of trade, human rights and the tangle of other issues that have weighed on U.S.-China relations. Instead, she plans to focus on building goodwill through soft diplomacy.

Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan accompanied the visitors on a visit to the Beijing Normal School attended by elite Chinese students and American teenagers from prestigious schools such as Exeter, Andover and Sidwell Friends on study abroad programmes.

Obama, a Harvard-educated lawyer, wore wide-legged black slacks and a loose black vest.

Good to know! Of course, if that sentence isn’t a non-sequitur—two, actually!—I don’t know my non-sequiturs. (What relevance do her slacks have to her law degree? What relevance does her law degree have to her family vacation on the public’s dime?)

Peng, dressed immaculately in a cornflower-blue skirt suit, with a red leather clutch and matching stud earrings, appeared to speak limited English, but gamely ventured a few comments to foreign students and the Obama family.

Is that a shot at Michelle’s frumpy outfit?

Deserved, if it is.

But if we’re to get the real story of the First Lady’s Beijing junket (no press), we’ll have to go to the source:

After a long flight from Washington, D.C. – one that took around 20 hours – my mother, my daughters, and I arrived in Beijing to begin our official visit to China. Our first stop was at the Beijing Normal School, where we were hosted by Madam Peng Liyuan, the First Lady of China.

Madam Peng (her name is pronounced “Pung”) first became known to the Chinese people long before she was First Lady.

Pronounced “Pung”? Who knew? Betcha NPR wouldn’t know that.

As my family and I can attest from our time together at the Beijing Normal School, Madam Peng is a warm and gracious host. And this visit was a perfect opportunity to highlight the themes of my trip: the value of education and the importance of cultural exchanges between young people in different countries.

About 800 students attend the Beijing Normal School, and of those, roughly one in four are international students – including some Americans. All the classes are taught in English (one room even has a map of the United States on the ceiling), and the curriculum prepares students to study internationally once they graduate. Many students here hope to one day attend college in America.

Which opportunity will be denied to them to make room for affirmative action students. (Am I wrong?)

Madam Peng and I first visited a class where students were actually building their own robots, and they were kind enough to do a demonstration for us. The first robot we saw could actually walk over obstacles. Another one, which was shaped like a triangle, was referred to as “bad boy” by its student creators (one of them explained to us that this robot is “really naughty”).

It holds up little signs that say “I’m Falun Gong!” and “Free Ai Weiwei!”

I jest. But Nixon went to China in 1972 and we’re still playing ping-pong diplomacy 42 years later?

After the robotics class, we stopped by a ping pong practice session where I got some tips from the instructor and then had the chance to play with one of the students. She was excellent (though I think she may have gone easy on me, just to be nice).

Isn’t that sweet?

Look, there’s a role for this sort of thing, I guess. But isn’t it fair to say that Michelle’s personal ambitions (not least wanderlust) are covering up some very real problems? China’s human rights abuses; its support of North Korea; its territorial ambitions; intellectual property theft—one could go on. And her insistence that she be the only reporter with direct access to the participants in the trip is disturbing, dare I say Chinese, in its authority. It’s like Jay Carney asking questions of himself in a news conference. (Oh wait.)

Can’t wait for tomorrow’s dispatch from the front lines: dinner and a show.

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Air FLOTUS

I think I made a crack the other day about Michelle Obama and the girls (and their grandmother) visiting China, but also allowed that First Families often serve as American ambassadors.

But this?

First lady Michelle Obama will not take questions from reporters or give interviews during her tour of China that begins today, and members of the press corps who usually follows the first family everywhere can’t travel with her entourage.

And although she will make a few speeches with reporters in the room, the picture is largely one of an expensive, taxpayer-funded tourism exercise for Mrs. Obama, her two daughters, and her mother – not the official trip the White House has projected.

And limited information made available to MailOnline suggests that only two out of 22 scheduled events on the trip will afford journalists a chance to do any significant reporting – including a solitary speech – but still without interviewing Mrs. Obama.

‘How does this comport with the standards of an “official” trip that uses government resources?’ MailOnline asked. ‘Doesn’t this look more like a vacation at taxpayer expense if she’s not going to interface with the media?’

White House travel can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars since members of the president’s family must take a phalanx of Secret Service agents with them wherever they go. Those agents and their staffers need hotel rooms, rental vehicles and per diem meal expenses.

A vacation? Dude, she’ll be working! Doing the job the American press won’t (be allowed) to do:

I’ll be posting a daily travel blog, complete with videos and photos, and I’ll be taking – and answering – questions from kids across America as I go.

I hope you’ll join me – all you have to do is get online:

Go to WhiteHouse.gov to check out my travel blog, and you can even sign up for a daily email update delivered to your inbox.

Who needs the Fourth Estate when you have the First Lady to tell you what’s going on?

And she’ll be worth every penny:

First Lady Michelle Obama plans to pack in an exciting week of sightseeing during what is definitely NOT a vacation excursion with her daughters, who are on spring break, and her mother, who likes to go on Michelle’s trips.

The White House refuses to say how much it will cost you, according to the New York Times.

Well, I can reveal it here:

A lot!!

But this is not a vacation. Please repeat to yourself. This is not a vacation.

I’ll give you a moment.

This is just the Sister Sledge of the Second City, the Jeffersons of Georgetown:

[A]ccording to Tina Tchen, Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff:

I will say this as a Chinese American — of family and of three generations of family traveling together, which I think the Chinese will appreciate, and will appreciate the ties and the bonds that the Obama family have with one another across generations. And this is a great opportunity for the Obama family to experience that, and I think for the Chinese to see that as well in an American family.

OH PLEASE HOW STUPID DO YOU THINK WE ARE?

Stupid enough to return them to power, without any restraints on their behavior. He’s not running for a third term—though he might find the office too much to his liking to leave.

I say without rancor: this is a family vacation at your and my expense. A state trip would permit a role for the press, a private trip would not.

Now with rancor: They wanna go, they can pay their own way. Freeloaders.

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Blame Bush

Crikey, I thought the Chinese were smart.

And they’re not shy of ripping off someone else’s good idea:

China’s economy weakened sharply during the first two months of the year, deepening concerns that growth in the world’s second-largest economy would decelerate further.

The country’s top leaders now have tough decisions about whether to set aside economic overhaul measures that could pinch growth in the short-term.

The slowdown was across the board, including retail, manufacturing, housing and investment, as the National Bureau of Statistics released a raft of data on Thursday for January and February, which was combined to adjust for distortions from the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday. Some of the results were the weakest since the global financial crisis of 2009. “This is terrible,” said Liu Li-Gang, a Hong Kong-based economist at ANZ Bank. “I wasn’t expecting high figures, but this is worse than I thought.”

And? So?

Honestly, do we have to show you Chinese how to do everything?

“After they [Deng, Communists] drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back,” Obama said of the GOP. “No! You can’t drive. We don’t want to have to go back into the ditch. We [Xi, Communists] just got the car out.”

“We got our mops and our brooms out here and were cleaning stuff out and they’re sitting there saying, ‘Hold the broom better, that’s not how you mop, don’t tell me how to mop.’”

I wish he’d stop using such racially insensitive language—dog whistles, if you prefer. The nation’s first African American president should not be talking about janitorial work. But then, this is the guy who called black Americans a “mongrel people”.

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Who Wants to Accompany the First Lady to China?

Whoa, don’t everybody answer all at once.

Come on, it’ll be fun!

The First Lady will travel to China from March 19-26, 2014. She will be visiting Beijing from March 20-23, Xi’an on March 24, and Chengdu from March 25-26. During her trip, the First Lady will meet with Madame Peng, the spouse of China’s President Xi Jinping. She will also visit a university and a high school in Beijing, and a high school in Chengdu. Additional details about the First Lady’s trip will be announced in the coming weeks. Accompanying Mrs. Obama on this trip will be her mother, Mrs. Marian Robinson, and daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama.

The First Lady is encouraging students and classrooms across the U.S. to follow her trip by signing up for updates throughout the visit.

Who doesn’t want to read about people you don’t know traveling around the world at your expense? It’s like credit card fraud and royalty watching combined.

You didn’t think I meant really accompanying her, did you?

You couldn’t afford it trust me:

President Obama and his family have come under heavy scrutiny for the unprecedented high travel costs during his time in office – and a week-long trip to China for four members of the First Family, members of the Secret Service and other members of the White House staff will likely cost several millions of dollars.

The president’s pricey travels have become so controversial that Judicial Watch was forced to sue the Secret Service and Defense Department to get them to turn over records on the amount of taxpayer money used to fly the First Family all over the world – in many cases for vacations or fundraisers – over the last two years of his administration.

According to Judicial Watch, it cost more than $11 million for the president and his wife to travel to Africa to attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral in December of last year. According to the New York Daily News, the Obamas were only in Africa for ‘less than 13 hours.’

But that trip was nothing compared to a 2013 visit the Obamas made to the Dark Continent, which reportedly cost tax payer more than $100 million.

For two vacations the Obamas took in 2013 – one to Hawaii and one to Martha’s Vineyard – records show that it cost taxpayers a whopping $7,396,531 in flight expenses alone. That figure also includes travel expenses for the president’s trip to California to file the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

During an August trip to California, during which Obama attended a party held by Democratic fundraiser Jeffrey Katzenberg and again appeared on the Tonight Show, taxpayers paid more than $2 million in travel expenses for the president and his security detail.

The president himself won’t be making the trip. He’ll be in Belgium. (Draw your own conclusions.)

Will Michelle be hectoring the Chinese about their dining habits as she does here?

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One of Guangzhou’s signature dishes, luó bó niú zá is nothing more than a stew made with beef hearts, livers, spleens, stomachs, intestines, and lungs, along with some large chunks of soft, white radish. They are all boiled together in a large drum of water with a shelf near the top for organs that are finished cooking…. When you order a bowl of luó bó niú zá, the vendor will reach a ladle deep inside to scoop up some radish pieces from the bottom of the barrel, chop up some of the offal off of the offal shelf, and dump both components into a bowl with a small amount of the broth.

Let’s move!

And what better quaff to go with cow spleen?

Got fermented camel’s milk?

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Let’s Play BTL’s New Game. See If You Can Explain The Meaning Of The Bland Term: MEN

Ten men with knives.

What do we know about these men?

Twenty-nine people were killed and 130 were injured Saturday night when 10 men armed with long knives stormed the station in the southwest Chinese city of Kunming, the state news agency Xinhua reported.
Members of a separatist group from Xinjiang, in northwest China, are believed to have carried out the assault, authorities said. The report referred to them as “terrorists.”

They were “terrorists,” eh? What makes them terrorists? Just because the Chinese say so? They sound like Freedom Fighters to me. Language can be so tricky.

Anyway, one way to figure out who the “men” were and what their anguish is all about – because imagine the pain the Chinese must have inflicted for them to decide to butcher 29 strangers in a train station – is to simply jump to the last paragraph. Let’s see, there are 20 paragraphs in all. And the last one says this:

Frequent outbreaks of violence have beset Xinjiang, a resource-rich area where the arrival of waves of Han Chinese people over the decades has fueled tensions with the Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking, predominantly Muslim ethnic group.

So there you have it. The media did their best to confuse us, but BTL was correct in the previous post. It was Muslim terrorism against infidels, or, if you prefer, Freedom Fighters defending their land and culture against Occupiers. I wonder if the Chinese public will be as lame as we are in the West?

- Aggie

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Guess Who’s Coming to Breakfast?

Let’s hope he gets to come and go by the front door this time:

Obama Schedule || Friday, February 21, 2014

10:00 am || Meets with the Dalai Lama
11:15 am || Attends the Democratic Governors Association Meeting; State Dining Room
12:30 pm || Lunch with Biden

Crikey, what a day. I almost feel sorry for Obama.

Almost.

PS: What’s that whining noise?

China urged Obama to immediately cancel the meeting, accusing him of letting the Buddhist monk use the White House as a podium to promote anti-Chinese activities.

“The U.S. leader’s planned meeting with Dalai is a gross interference in China’s domestic politics,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry. “It is a severe violation of the principles of international relations. It will inflict grave damages upon the China-US relationship.”

Ah, shaddap.

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[Bleep] You Can’t Make Up

Smoke gets in your eyes:

United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said that democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China, she says, is the best model.

China may be the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide and struggling with major pollution problems of their own, but the country is “doing it right” when it comes to fighting global warming says Figueres.

“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at,” she said. “They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest.”

They actually like it! Haven’t you heard the expression “happy as a pig in sh*t”?

They like those too.

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Lo Mein, Lower Humor

You may have seen references to a renewed panic over global warming. Not here— this isn’t a science fiction blog—but on the less reliable sites, like CNN and the NeW York Times.

Back here on (frigid) planet Earth, you just have to laugh:

[Careful fellas, penguins look pretty good to a hungry crew!]

The Chinese ice-breaker that helped rescue passengers stranded on the Akademik Shokalskiy vessel in Antarctica may now itself be stuck.

An Australian ice-breaker carrying the rescued passengers has been placed on standby in case the Chinese ship, Xue Long, needs assistance.

On Thursday, a helicopter from Xue Long transferred 52 passengers from the Shokalskiy to the Aurora Australis.

The Shokalskiy has been trapped by thick floes of ice since 24 December.

“Xue Long notified Amsa [the Australian Maritime Safety Authority]… this afternoon [that] it has concerns about their ability to move through heavy ice in the area,” Amsa said in a statement.

“[Xue Long] will attempt to manoeuvre through the ice when tidal conditions are most suitable during the early hours of 4 January,” Amsa said, adding that there was no immediate danger to the crew on the Xue Long.

The Australian Aurora Australis has been asked to remain in open water nearby as a precautionary measure.

BBC reporter Andrew Luck-Baker is on board the Australian ship: “The irony of the situation is that the Xue Long was originally summoned to break a clear route through the pack ice to the smaller Russian vessel. That was not possible and the large icebreaker is now trapped itself.

That use of the word “irony” should earn the reporter a Pulitzer or a Profile in Courage Award. What a hoot!

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