Government steals $10K from man without evidence of crime

Ontario man can’t get his $10K in suspected drug money back, judge rules

By Allison Jones
The Canadian Press: February 17, 2014

A man from North Bay, Ont., cannot reclaim $10,000 in suspected drug money that police seized after they found it in several wads stuffed in his pockets, a judge has ruled.

Jason Paquette at various times told police the source of the money was none of their business, that it was to buy a car and that it was his savings, and explained he didn’t keep it in the bank because he didn’t want any of it taken for child support, the Ontario Superior Court judge wrote in his ruling.

“I am not persuaded by Paquette’s explanation as to why he kept the money on his person,” Judge M. Gregory Ellies wrote.

“There are many safer places to keep $10,000 in cash other than in your pants.”

A police officer spotted Paquette and his girlfriend in a heated argument in downtown North Bay close to midnight on Sept. 10, 2012. When the officer approached and asked if everything was all right, Paquette swore, took his dog’s leash off and swung it over his head, saying “Come get some,” according to Ellies’ decision earlier this month.

Paquette was arrested and later charged with public intoxication. When he was searched police found $10,000 in five bundles held together with elastic bands, the judge wrote.

The police seized the money and the Crown went to court for a forfeiture order, arguing it was either the proceeds of unlawful activity, an instrument of unlawful activity, or both.

There was no direct evidence that the money came from a drug transaction or was going to be used for one.

But the judge wrote that he was satisfied from the Crown’s circumstantial evidence — including Paquette’s two previous drug possession convictions and his failure to “adequately explain the source and purpose of the funds” — that the money was either to be used in a crime or was the proceeds of a crime.

The judge said he couldn’t accept Paquette’s evidence that the $10,000 cash was his savings. His tax returns showed that in the previous four years he earned between $10,000 and $26,000.

“It is unusual, if not highly unusual, for someone to be carrying $10,000 in cash in his pant pockets in downtown North Bay late at night,” Ellies wrote.

“The presence of such a significant amount of money, found late at night on Paquette’s person after he had been in a bar in downtown North Bay, bundled the way it was, is strong circumstantial evidence from which an inference can be made that the money in question is proceeds of drug trafficking, an instrument of drug trafficking, or both.”

Some lawyers have raised concerns about the laws, including that no criminal charge or conviction is needed for a government forfeiture.

Lawyers for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association were in court Monday in that province intervening in just such a case.

RCMP found marijuana plants in David Lloydsmith’s home in 2007 and seized them. He was arrested but never charged and nearly four years after the search, the government brought a forfeiture application on his home, the BCCLA says.

Lloydsmith argued that his Charter right to be free from unreasonable search or seizure was violated and a trial judge agreed that issue should be dealt with first, before a full trial on the forfeiture, but the director of civil forfeiture has appealed.

The BCCLA intervened in the appeal to argue that the issue should be considered at the outset of the case. If it is not addressed until the end, the government would be “well-positioned to leverage settlements from defendants so that stage is never reached,” the organization wrote to the court.

“This will not be an acceptable result for the reputation of the administration of justice — civil forfeitures and forfeiture settlements must not become a consolation prize for criminal investigations that are failed or aborted because they are marred by serious Charter infringements,” the BCCLA argues.

These cases can be an “end run” around the criminal process, said BCCLA counsel Raji Mangat.

(read the full article at The Vancouver Sun)

Source: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Ontario+cant+suspected+drug+money+back+judge+rules/9517166/story.html

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Doctors unsure what’s behind dramatic increase in birth defects in rural Washington

RT: February 17, 2014

As state and federal officials document the alarming rise of deadly birth defects in rural Washington, health experts are at a loss when it comes to pinpointing the source of the problem.

In the three years prior to January 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found there had been 23 cases of anencephaly – a birth defect in which a child is born without parts of their brain or skull – reported in three Washington counties: Benton, Franklin and Yakima. This rate of 8.4 cases per 10,000 live births quickly attracted the attention of health officials, especially since it’s four times the national average

Anencephaly wasn’t the only severe birth defect confirmed by the CDC, however. Three cases of spina bifida were also uncovered, a condition that involves the failure of a baby’s spine and brain to develop properly.

Since the publication of the report last year, another eight or nine cases of anencephaly and spina bifida have been reported by Susie Ball, a counselor at the Central Washington Genetics Program.

The most worrisome aspect of the whole situation isn’t simply the increased rate of the defects, but the fact that no one is quite sure what’s causing the problem. According to a report by NBC News, the CDC inspected the medical records of hundreds of individuals, looking for disparities between mothers whose children suffered birth defects and those whose children were fine.

Despite examining disease history, the types of medication taken, the source of the water used by mothers, and other factors, the research ultimately yielded disappointing results.

“No statistically significant differences were identified between cases and controls, and a clear cause of the elevated prevalence of anencephaly was not determined,” the CDC report stated.

While some experts, such as the CDC’s Jim Kucik, speculate that the cluster of defects could simply be an unfortunate coincidence, others pointed out that since the investigation did not include interviews of the mothers due to lack of funds, crucial information could have been missed.

“If there were resources, it really would be wonderful to go back to the families to conduct more intensive interviews regarding common environmental exposures,” Allison Ashley-Koch, a professor at the Duke University Medical Center for Human Genetics, told NBC.

Ashley-Koch went on to note that considering the three affected Washington counties contain a significant agricultural presence, the anencephaly cases could be linked to prolonged exposure to pesticides or mold. If the pesticides used in the area contain nitrates, it’s possible they could be playing a role.

(read the full article at RT)

Source: http://rt.com/usa/rural-washington-birth-defects-445/

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Excessive radiation levels detected at New Mexico waste site

By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) – Underground sensors have detected excessive radiation levels inside a nuclear waste storage site deep below New Mexico’s desert, but no workers have been exposed and there was no risk to public health, U.S. Department of Energy officials said on Sunday.

An air-monitoring alarm went off at 11:30 p.m. local time Friday indicating unsafe concentrations of radiation inside the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in what DOE officials said appeared to be the first such mishap since the facility opened in 1999.

As of Sunday, the source of the high radiation readings had yet to be determined, and a plan to send inspection teams below ground to investigate was put on hold as a precaution.

“They will not go in today. It’s a safety thing more than anything. We’re waiting until we get other assessments done before we authorize re-entry,” DOE spokesman Bill Mackie said.

The facility, located in southeastern New Mexico near Carlsbad, is designed as a repository for so-called transuranic waste, which includes discarded machinery, clothing and other materials contaminated with plutonium or other radioisotopes heavier than uranium.

The waste, shipped in from other DOE nuclear laboratories and weapons sites around the country, is buried in underground salt formations that gradually close in around the disposal casks and seal them from the outside world.

No workers were underground when the apparent radiation leak was detected in the vicinity of the plant’s waste-disposal platform, and none of the 139 employees working above ground at the time was exposed, the Energy Department said.

The alarm automatically switched the underground ventilation system to filtration to keep any releases from reaching the surface, DOE officials said.

Subsequent testing of surface air in and around the facility showed the incident posed no danger to human health or the environment, Mackie said.

Air-monitor alarms at the facility have been tripped in the past by malfunctions or fluctuations in levels of radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas. But officials said they believe this to be the first real alarm since the plant began operations.

(Read the full article at Yahoo)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/excessive-radiation-levels-detected-mexico-waste-014933508.html

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The Mega Banks’ Most Devious Scam Yet

The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks’ Most Devious Scam Yet

Banks are no longer just financing heavy industry. They are actually buying it up and inventing bigger, bolder and scarier scams than ever

By Matt Taibbi
Rolling Stone: February 12, 2014

Call it the loophole that destroyed the world. It’s 1999, the tail end of the Clinton years. While the rest of America obsesses over Monica Lewinsky, Columbine and Mark McGwire’s biceps, Congress is feverishly crafting what could yet prove to be one of the most transformative laws in the history of our economy – a law that would make possible a broader concentration of financial and industrial power than we’ve seen in more than a century.

But the crazy thing is, nobody at the time quite knew it. Most observers on the Hill thought the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 – also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – was just the latest and boldest in a long line of deregulatory handouts to Wall Street that had begun in the Reagan years.

Wall Street had spent much of that era arguing that America’s banks needed to become bigger and badder, in order to compete globally with the German and Japanese-style financial giants, which were supposedly about to swallow up all the world’s banking business. So through legislative lackeys like red-faced Republican deregulatory enthusiast Phil Gramm, bank lobbyists were pushing a new law designed to wipe out 60-plus years of bedrock financial regulation. The key was repealing – or “modifying,” as bill proponents put it – the famed Glass-Steagall Act separating bankers and brokers, which had been passed in 1933 to prevent conflicts of interest within the finance sector that had led to the Great Depression. Now, commercial banks would be allowed to merge with investment banks and insurance companies, creating financial megafirms potentially far more powerful than had ever existed in America.

All of this was big enough news in itself. But it would take half a generation – till now, basically – to understand the most explosive part of the bill, which additionally legalized new forms of monopoly, allowing banks to merge with heavy industry. A tiny provision in the bill also permitted commercial banks to delve into any activity that is “complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally.”

Complementary to a financial activity. What the hell did that mean?

“From the perspective of the banks,” says Saule Omarova, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, “pretty much everything is considered complementary to a financial activity.”

Fifteen years later, in fact, it now looks like Wall Street and its lawyers took the term to be a synonym for ruthless campaigns of world domination. “Nobody knew the reach it would have into the real economy,” says Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. Now a leading voice on the Hill against the hidden provisions, Brown actually voted for Gramm-Leach-Bliley as a congressman, along with all but 72 other House members. “I bet even some of the people who were the bill’s advocates had no idea.”

Today, banks like Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs own oil tankers, run airports and control huge quantities of coal, natural gas, heating oil, electric power and precious metals. They likewise can now be found exerting direct control over the supply of a whole galaxy of raw materials crucial to world industry and to society in general, including everything from food products to metals like zinc, copper, tin, nickel and, most infamously thanks to a recent high-profile scandal, aluminum. And they’re doing it not just here but abroad as well: In Denmark, thousands took to the streets in protest in recent weeks, vampire-squid banners in hand, when news came out that Goldman Sachs was about to buy a 19 percent stake in Dong Energy, a national electric provider. The furor inspired mass resignations of ministers from the government’s ruling coalition, as the Danish public wondered how an American investment bank could possibly hold so much influence over the state energy grid.

There are more eclectic interests, too. After 9/11, we found it worrisome when foreigners started to get into the business of running ports, but there’s been little controversy as banks have done the same, or even started dabbling in other activities with national-security implications – Goldman Sachs, for instance, is apparently now in the uranium business, a piece of news that attracted few headlines.

But banks aren’t just buying stuff, they’re buying whole industrial processes. They’re buying oil that’s still in the ground, the tankers that move it across the sea, the refineries that turn it into fuel, and the pipelines that bring it to your home. Then, just for kicks, they’re also betting on the timing and efficiency of these same industrial processes in the financial markets – buying and selling oil stocks on the stock exchange, oil futures on the futures market, swaps on the swaps market, etc.

Allowing one company to control the supply of crucial physical commodities, and also trade in the financial products that might be related to those markets, is an open invitation to commit mass manipulation. It’s something akin to letting casino owners who take book on NFL games during the week also coach all the teams on Sundays.

The situation has opened a Pandora’s box of horrifying new corruption possibilities, but it’s been hard for the public to notice, since regulators have struggled to put even the slightest dent in Wall Street’s older, more familiar scams. In just the past few years we’ve seen an explosion of scandals – from the multitrillion-dollar Libor saga (major international banks gaming world interest rates), to the more recent foreign-currency-exchange fiasco (many of the same banks suspected of rigging prices in the $5.3-trillion-a-day currency markets), to lesser scandals involving manipulation of interest-rate swaps, and gold and silver prices.

But those are purely financial schemes. In these new, even scarier kinds of manipulations, banks that own whole chains of physical business interests have been caught rigging prices in those industries. For instance, in just the past two years, fines in excess of $400 million have been levied against both JPMorgan Chase and Barclays for allegedly manipulating the delivery of electricity in several states, including California. In the case of Barclays, which is contesting the fine, regulators claim prices were manipulated to help the bank win financial bets it had made on those same energy markets.

And last summer, The New York Times described how Goldman Sachs was caught systematically delaying the delivery of metals out of a network of warehouses it owned in order to jack up rents and artificially boost prices.

You might not have been surprised that Goldman got caught scamming the world again, but it was certainly news to a lot of people that an investment bank with no industrial expertise, just five years removed from a federal bailout, stores and controls enough of America’s aluminum supply to affect world prices.

How was all of this possible? And who signed off on it?

By exploiting loopholes in a dense, decade-and-a-half-old piece of financial legislation, Wall Street has effected a revolutionary change that American citizens never discussed, debated or prepared for, and certainly never explicitly permitted in any meaningful way: the wholesale merger of high finance with heavy industry. This blitzkrieg reorganization of our economy has left millions of Americans facing a smorgasbord of frightfully unexpected new problems. Do we even have a regulatory structure in place to look out for these new forms of manipulation? (Answer: We don’t.) And given that the banking sector that came so close to ruining the world economy five years ago has now vastly expanded its footprint, who’s in charge of preventing the next crash?

In this Brave New World, nobody knows. Moreover, whatever we’ve done, it’s too late to have a referendum on it. Garrett Wotkyns, an Arizona-based class-action attorney who has spent more than a year investigating the banks’ involvement in the metals markets and is suing Goldman and others over the aluminum case on behalf of two major manufacturers, puts it this way: “It’s like that line in The Dark Knight Rises,” he says. “‘The storm isn’t coming. The storm is already here.'”

(Read the full article at Rolling Stone)

Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-vampire-squid-strikes-again-the-mega-banks-most-devious-scam-yet-20140212

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TEPCO reveals record cesium level in Fukushima No. 1 well

RT: February 14, 2014

A record high level of radioactive cesium has been found in groundwater beneath the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, it’s operator TEPCO revealed.

On February 13, Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported 37,000 becquerels of cesium-134 and 93,000 becquerels of cesium-137 were detected per liter of groundwater sampled from a monitoring well earlier that day.

Water samples were taken from the technical well, located next to the second power unit, some 50 meters from the coast. These figures (the total reading) are the highest of all the cesium measurements taken previously.

Experts do not rule out that radioactive water is leaking from an underground tunnel, which is located close to the second power unit on the seashore.

However, no exact reason for such a significant increase of radioactive cesium content in the groundwater has been given so far.

Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun reported that the amount of radioactive chemicals seems to be increasing. On Feb. 12, the same sampling well had produced a combined cesium reading of 76,000 becquerels per liter.

Earlier Japan’s nuclear regulator slammed the stricken Fukushima plant operator for incorrectly measuring radiation levels in contaminated groundwater at the site.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) accused TEPCO of lacking basic understanding of measuring and handling radiation almost three years since the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

On Thursday, fears of new leaks surfaced in Japanese media, as the same newspaper reported two cracks in a concrete floor of the No. 1 facility near radioactive water storage tanks.

(read the full report at RT)

Source: http://rt.com/news/fukushima-record-level-cesium-067/

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Revealed: TEPCO hid dangerous Fukushima radiation levels for months

RT: February 13, 2014

Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) is again in the midst of controversy for failing to timely report on record radiation levels at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. It is now blasted for holding back strontium measurements since September.

TEPCO on Wednesday revealed that it detected 5 million becquerels per liter of radioactive Strontium-90 in a groundwater sample taken some 25 meters from the ocean as early as last September, Reuters reports. The legal limit for releasing strontium into the ocean is just 30 becquerels per liter.

Although the reading was alarmingly five times the levels taken at the same spot two months prior to that, TEPCO decided not to immediately report it to the country’s nuclear watchdog. That is despite Strontium-90 being considered twice as harmful to people as Cesium-137, which was also released in large quantities during the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011 caused by powerful earthquake and tsunami.

According to a TEPCO spokesman cited by Reuters, the decision was due to “uncertainty about the reliability and accuracy of the September strontium reading,” which prompted the plant’s operator to reexamine the data.

However, Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) officials say no data came up until now despite repeated demands to TEPCO.

“We did not hear about this figure when they detected it last September. We have been repeatedly pushing TEPCO to release strontium data since November. It should not take them this long to release this information,” Shinji Kinjo, head of the NRA taskforce on contaminated water issues at Fukushima, told the agency.

Top NRA officials, including the watchdog’s chairman, have lashed out at TEPCO for “lacking a fundamental understanding of measuring and handling radiation” while responding to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“This is not an appropriate way to deal with the desire of the public [for transparency] and in particular, the regulator, which is now very closely regulating issues related to public health, the environment and so on,” Martin Schulz, a senior research fellow at the Fujitsu Research Institute, has said.

On Thursday, fears of new leaks surfaced in Japanese media, as Asahi Shimbun reported two cracks in a concrete floor of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 facility near radioactive water storage tanks. Some contaminated water from the melting snow may have seeped into the ground through the cracks stretching for 12 and 8 meters, TEPCO said.

(read the full report at RT)

Source: http://rt.com/news/tepco-concealed-fukushima-strontium-884/

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Chemicals again spill into West Virginia water

Can’t catch a break? Chemicals again spill into W. Virginia water

RT: February 12, 2014

A coal preparation facility breached Tuesday, sending over 100,000 gallons of coal liquid waste leaked from a West Virginia coal preparation facility and into the nearby water supply, officials have announced.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) opened an investigation into a coal slurry spill Tuesday morning. The slurry is made up solid and liquid waste that is created as a by-product of the coal mining process. While officials are unsure exactly how much of the waste leaked into a tributary of West Virginia’s Kanawha River, although one source told the West Virginia Gazette there is already “a significant environmental impact.”

West Virginia American Water, the company responsible for the Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant, issued a statement Tuesday saying that the leak is not expected to impact the public water supply.

If that proves true, it will be a relief to West Virginia residents who only weeks ago endured a massive chemical spill that spilled crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) from a Freedom Industries plant into the Elk River, another tributary of the Kanawha River. The spill occurred on January 9 near the primary West Virginia American Water intake plant and left 300,000 citizens across nine counties without water for weeks.

(read the full report at RT)

Source: http://rt.com/usa/wvirginia-chemical-spill-again-water-617/

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US Military Intervention in Africa: The East African Response Force, A Creation of the Pentagon

US Military Intervention in Africa: The East African Response Force, A Creation of the Pentagon

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Pan-African News Wire and Global Research: February 11, 2014

Growing instability in East and Central Africa will be the focus of Washington’s intervention

Over the last two months developments in Central and East Africa has dominated the news coverage of the continent. The split within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLA), a close ally of Washington, and the deployment of French and African troops in the Central African Republic, has brought the escalation of Pentagon troops in these states.

Recently the Department of Defense announced the formation of an East African Response Force. This new unit is part of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) which has been strengthened and enhanced under the administration of President Barack Obama.

A recent drone attack in southern Somalia is representative of the growing aggression of Washington in Africa. The government of Djibouti, a former French colony where the U.S. has a military base with over 4,000 soldiers at Camp Lemonnier, released a statement saying that such strikes are “vital” in the so-called war on terrorism.

The drone strike was launched from the Pentagon military installations in Djibouti. Prior to the creation of the East African Response Force Washington operated in the region under the framework of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).

U.S. Brigadier-General Wayne Grigsby, who is the commander of CJTF-HOA, says that his forces are in East Africa only to assist governments in their military campaigns to defeat the so-called terrorist threat posed by Al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based guerrilla organization which has fought the Washington-backed regime in Mogadishu for the last six years.

“Our mission here is to enable our East African partners to actually neutralize violent extremists throughout eastern Africa,” Grigsby said. Yet if this was the case then why would it be necessary to have such a formidable military force in the Horn of Africa region that conducts periodic bombings and commando raids in Somalia. (Shabelle Media Network, Feb. 7)

However, Brigadier-General Grigsby does say that “It also enables strategic access and freedom of movement. The purpose is to protect the United States and its interests abroad.”

Consequently, even the military leaders themselves must acknowledge that the underlying reasons for the build-up in Africa are clearly related to the economic and class interests of Washington and Wall Street. East and Central Africa is a vast repository of oil, natural gas and strategic minerals.

(read the full report at Global Research)

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-military-intervention-in-africa-the-east-african-response-force-a-creation-of-the-pentagon/5368284

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‘Destroy them immediately’: Top US commander ordered purge of bin Laden photos

RT: February 11, 2014

Eleven days after the 2011 US elite forces raid that resulted in the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the head of US special operations ordered the destruction of all photos of the corpse or for them to be given to the CIA, new evidence shows.

The disclosure was revealed Monday in an email obtained and released by non-profit legal group Judicial Watch via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The heavily-redacted email was sent by Admiral William McRaven, head of US Special Operations Command, to subordinate officers on May 13, 2011, instructing them that any remaining photos of bin Laden’s body must be destroyed or handed over to the CIA. Bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011 at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by the special operations team commonly known as Seal Team Six during Operation Neptune Spear.

In the email, addressed to “Gentlemen,” McRaven wrote, “One particular item that I want to emphasize is photos; particularly UBLs remains. At this point – all photos should have been turned over to the CIA; if you still have them destroy them immediately or get them to the [redacted].”

The order to purge the photos came 11 days after the conservative government transparency organization Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request with the Defense Department seeking “all photographs and/or video recordings of Usama (Osama) Bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011.”

Judicial Watch finally accessed the McRaven email as a result of a June 7, 2013 FOIA request and a subsequent lawsuit against the Defense Department that sought the materials.

(read the full report at RT)

Source: http://rt.com/usa/bin-laden-photos-destroyed-467/

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Terrorism with a “Human Face”: Syria Al Qaeda “Freedom Fighters” are “Not Killing Civilians”

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research: February 10, 2014

The attacks by opposition forces largely integrated by Al Qaeda terrorists can no longer be denied.

What is now occurring is a re-branding of the various terrorist formations covertly support by Western intelligence.

The latest slur of media disinformation consists in providing a “human face” to Al Qaeda.

While the media acknowledges that the Al Nusrah front is integrated by Al Qaeda affiliated rebels, the Islamist rebels affiliated with the New Islamic Front –which has received Washington’s ascent– are now portrayed as “freedom fighters” involved strictly in para-military operations.

(read the full report at Global Research)

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/terrorism-with-a-human-face-syria-al-qaeda-freedom-fighters-are-not-killing-civilians/5368124

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