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« Boudreaux says no | Main | The Secret Science Society »
Sunday
Nov032013

Davey knew Deben was conflicted

A few weeks ago I came across some new correspondence between the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) and Lord Deben relating to his appointment as chairman of the advisory Committee on Climate Change. This was on the committee's web server, but didn't appear to have been linked from the publications page.

The correspondence was pretty interesting stuff, and suggested that the Committee was taking Deben's misrepresentation of Veolia's business quite seriously. Intriguingly, reference was made to letters from Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey on the same subject,  but while such letters to the committee are normally published, these were nowhere to be seen.

I therefore put in an FOI request to DECC which received its response last week. This response was that the correspondence was already in the public domain and I was pointed to the ECCC webpage where, lo and behold, the letters had been published 24 hours earlier.

You can read them here.

As you can see, it seems to have been clear to everybody involved - Davey, DECC and the ethics people at the Cabinet Office - that Deben had interest in a business that would benefit from decisions he would make at the CCC. They knew. And every single one of them waved these concerns aside, accepting without question that if Deben pretended not to be involved in decisionmaking at the infrastructure arm of Veolia this would somehow mean that decisions he made at the CCC were no longer conflicted. This is, not to put too fine a point on it, disgraceful. The question Mr Davey has to answer is "How can you know that the advice from the CCC is designed to benefit the public and not Veolia Infrastructure?". Taxpayers need to know.

David Rose has the story in the Mail on Sunday this morning, part of a spread also featuring stories about Judith Curry's latest paper and also links between LibDem ministers and anticapitalist activists.

Environmental policy is a cesspit.

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Reader Comments (53)

Just as this week the Rebecca Brooks Andy Caulson trial gets going and the signing of the Press Regulation Royal Charter

So check out todays Sunday Mirror Front page headline

Nov 3, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Bish, your comment is an unfair slur on cesspits everywhere.

Cesspits serve an important and necessary function. However, "overflowing cesspit" might well be applicable. :)

Nov 3, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

There seem to be a lot of pots and kettles here, all coated in what goes into the communal cesspit.

Nov 3, 2013 at 9:29 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I think the story in the Sunday Mirror that jamspid mentioned must be this one.

House of shame: 340 MPs get their energy bills paid on EXPENSES to heat second homes
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/house-shame-340-mps-energy-2671053#ixzz2jZeEYsY3

Why did the phrase "snouts in the trough" pop into my mind? It cannot have been due to any association with the behaviour of the "Honourable Members" of the House of Commons, some more common than others, can it?

Nov 3, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

In the past we had the saying 'all that glitters is not gold'. The new version should read 'all that's green is not good for you.'

Don't greens, the aristocracy and left wingers make ironic bedfellows? In the past, royalty held on to all the goodies and forests and wildlife were preserved. Peasants fought long and hard to get their share and while things will never be equal, we currently enjoy riches never dreamt of in the past. Greenies and anticapitalists want to return us to the bad old days and left wingers are eagerly helping them.All because they're mesmerised by the colour green.

Nov 3, 2013 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Is there nothing an MP/Lord can be accused of nowadays that results in their resignation? It seems all they have to do is trot out some well rehearsed PR lines and then sit it out and wait for the public and MSM to lose interest. John Profumo would be back in the cabinet within 2 years these days.

Nov 3, 2013 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

I don't know - cesspits are useful and environmentally beneficial.

Nov 3, 2013 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

Ed Davey and John Gummer up a mountain in their flip flops

Nov 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Green ‘Science’ -> Green ‘Special Interests’ -> Green Shirts

I guess we are still mainly in the middle phase, although we have had preliminary excursions into the third, and lots of preparation for it in all the calls for stronger governance sometimes coupled with laments that democracies are not well-suited for it. The idea of ‘the environment’ as an excuse for extreme behaviour is not far-fetched. We can see clear pointers to it in Greenpeace’s arrogance and disdain for the rights and welfare of others. More explicit eco-extremism is not hard to find on the web e.g. try Googling ‘eco-extremism’ and check out some of the hundreds of thousands of links that result.

The more exposure of people like Deben’s pursuit of his ‘special interests’, the stronger our democracy, and the greater chance of effective resistance to phase 3.

It may be a race between the rate which 'green' loses its charm for those who still suppose it is about helping protect nature, and the rate at which those who are intent on using it to disrupt society continue to gain wealth and influence.

Nov 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

"we are all in this together". Never were truer words spoken!

Nov 3, 2013 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

He doesn't get it, does he?!
Stepping down from Harlen and Forewind or not taking part in any decisions within Veolia about renewable energy matters is not the point.
It's the position within the CCC that matters and he doesn't see it or refuses to see it or doesn't give a f**k whether he sees it or not (what I know of Gummer, probably the latter).
In simple English, how are we supposed to know that the advice he is giving the government is not skewed (and it being Sunday and I've just got back from Mass and I do hope Deben has been as well so I'll be a bit generous) consciously or perhaps sub-consciously in favour of the companies with which he is or recently was involved?
Does he think Veolia or Harlen or Forewind appointed him to their boards because of his beauty or his scintillating conversation? He is Veolia's mole in Whitehall to whatever extent he chooses to play that rôle!
Having him on the CCC is bad enough though maybe excusable because of his contacts in the industry, but as its Chairman? You're right — cesspit!

Nov 3, 2013 at 11:42 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

What was Gummer doing as a Councillor on this NWO (Youth Wing) wankfest?

The World Future Council, ffs. (Scroll down for his mugshot).

http://web.archive.org/web/20120127042118/http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/the_councillors.html

Nov 3, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterTom

Tom, one of the fascinating things that has come out of the CAGW movement is the interlocking shadow-world of NGOs with grandiose names (like the World Future Council) which mostly end up being funded by taxpayers one way or another. Whether directly by governments, or through the EU, the UN and other supra-national bodies, their funding comes from you and me. They are all lobbyists, and our money is being used outside any democratic accountability process for whatever ends they deem fit.

Along the way, they provide sinecures, perks and impressive-sounding things for the c.v.s of participants.

Scandals about MPs abusing their expenses are all very well (we have our share in Australia) - but it is chicken feed compared to the money that is being funneled into these opaque organisations, without a shred of accountability. See Unthreaded for the link to story about the BBC lending its name, expertise, and facilities to a "charity" promoting the EU - something which I would have thought was an overtly political stance and well outside their remit.

Nov 3, 2013 at 12:25 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Normally I would have no doubt that Ed Davey was just another politician on the make by allowing the appointment of the contemptible Deben to the ECCC but this man has shown by some of his previous decisions that it is even plausible that he was just too dim to understand the implications.

Either way it's a sad reflection of the state of politics in this country. The problem we appear to have now is that the Lib Dems are guaranteed a quota of high level jobs under the coalition agreement and most are so incompetent (or corrupt expenses claimants/former prisoners) that it's debatable whether there are any better replacements.

Nov 3, 2013 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

In a dysfunctional decision making process the most important thing is for the person getting a position of power is that they believe the right way, not that they will behave the right way. AGW is very, very dysfunctional. For the believers, the most important thing is that they are around people who will agree with and advance the core belief. And if that person happens to make a lot of money off of that advancement, so what?

Nov 3, 2013 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

@hunter: read this Judith Curry post: http://judithcurry.com/2013/11/01/cagw-memeplex/#more-13547

'Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is a self-sustaining narrative that is living off our mental capacity, either in symbiosis or as an outright cultural parasite; a narrative that is very distanced from physical real-world events.'

Davey and Deben are part of that parasitic meme. Their purpose is to feed it so it consumes the World, and that makes them feel good.

Look for my post (near the top) where I blame Carl Sagan's incorrect physics for having started the parasite.

Nov 3, 2013 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

johanna

This is big, big business and the greens have been raking in corporate and government money.

***

Environmental Defense is the only environmental group named among "the most successful nonprofits in recent U.S. history" in the new book Forces for Good.

We also ranked first among environmental groups — and second overall — in the 2007 Financial Times global study of 850 business-nonprofit partnerships

"...the power broker rewarding good behavior"
Time Magazine

"...one of the hottest environmental groups around"
The Wall Street Journal

http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=381


EDF has an annual revenue of over 100 million dollars

http://edf.org/documents/8857_AR08_Financial_Comment.pdf

Profits of doom

The European Commission has paid environmental campaigners directly to carry out its political agenda. In 1999, at a cost of about EUR500,000, it set up a new group, the European Environmental Bureau, while also paying both the Friends of the Earth and the WWF EUR250,000 each to set up offices in Brussels. On another occasion, the Climate Action Network was given EUR140,000 for "capacity building". In fact, the Commission funnels about EUR3 million (£2.48 million) a year to environmental groups that it favours.

But that's a drop of oil in the Gulf of Mexico compared with the amounts that private foundations in the US are estimated to provide each year to environmental causes. The sums involved run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. One green organisation - the Tides Foundation - had net assets of $142,007,356 in 2006. Local green groups may rely on "flapjack and organic-soap fundraising mornings" - but real campaigns are funded by a very different and largely invisible mix.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=412726&c=2

Nov 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

... where, lo and behold, the letters had been published 24 hours earlier

That's an interesting obfuscation strategy .... odious creeps.

Nov 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterchippy

I remember that poisonous little turd feeding a burger to his little girl (for the cameras) during the BSE crisis.

Nov 3, 2013 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterRinghtwinggit

And if that person happens to make a lot of money off of that advancement, so what?
hunter,
I would go one step further and suggest that in the system you describe and in the modern climate of what, for a better phrase, you could call 'fiscal immorality' that person is expected to make a lot of money and would be regarded with some suspicion by the rest of the "community" if he didn't.

Nov 3, 2013 at 2:34 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Making money out of it is a reward for virtue. Making money out of evil fossil fuels is a sign of moral decay. The fact that one relies on extracting (by force of law) money from citizens and businesses, while the other is from providing a product that people are prepared to pay for because it benefits them, is irrelevant.

In the Through-the-Looking-Glass world of environmentalists, thieving from taxpayers and consumers is virtuous, while making a quid and creating wealth in the marketplace is amoral greed.

Go figure, as the Americans aptly say.

Nov 3, 2013 at 2:53 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

The worst part about Lord Deben's appointment , with his obviously conflicting interests in renewables, is that he replaced Tim Yeo who was suspended from the post for conflict of interest over ... renewables.

Nov 3, 2013 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteven Whalley

Nov 3, 2013 at 2.08pm Ringhtwinggit says

"I remember that poisonous little turd feeding a burger to his little girl (for the cameras) during the BSE crisis."

Because Gummer ( Deben ) is wrong about CAGW doesn't mean he was wrong about other things such as BSE. He wasn't, he was right about BSE . Beef burgers were not a danger and giving his daughter one was taking the evidence seriously. We should ask him to also take evidence about CAGW seriously.

Please stick to the point of the post. And other commentators should avoid similar remarks about Gummer and BSE in future.

Nov 3, 2013 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Clague

A few minutes on the Veolia website confirms that there are far more areas of potential conflict than just the renewables connection services. A few examples:
~ They are involved in anaerobic digestion which is in line for govt subsidies (if not already receiving them).
~ They provide management and operational services to the water industry: many of the treatment works have back-up generators which would be candidates for STOR schemes.
~ Energy generation from "biosolids" is another business line.
~ As is organics recycling
Policy decisions/recommendations from the CCC probably have a bearing on almost every area of their business. To pretend otherwise is pure obfuscation.

Nov 3, 2013 at 4:14 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

Beef burgers were not a danger and giving his daughter one was taking the evidence seriously. We should ask him to also take evidence about CAGW seriously.

Please stick to the point of the post. And other commentators should avoid similar remarks about Gummer and BSE in future.
Nov 3, 2013 at 3:50 PM Roger Clague

Is what you say right? My recollection was that CJD had been a significant worry and that the government had dragged its feet on addressing the issue. I do remember that at the time many people were unconvinced by Gummer's antics.

Nov 3, 2013 at 5:27 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

'...And other commentators should avoid similar remarks about Gummer and BSE in future.'
Nov 3, 2013 at 3:50 PM Roger Clague

Why? Are you now the moderator to decide what we can discuss and how? That would be up to the Bishop.

Nov 3, 2013 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichieP

Ed Davey declared his own potential conflict of interest re his brother Henry in 2012.

Here's a revolutionary idea: how about, rather than people who do or don't declare their potential conflicts of interest, appointing people with *no potential conflict of interest at all*?

http://www.clickgreen.org.uk/news/national-news/123143-ed-davey-declares-brother%5Cs-close-links-with-centrica,-bp-and-edf.html

Nov 3, 2013 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

why is this any surprise, after all the voters of this country have put these people in power year after year, just look at the number of MPs returned to parliament after the last expenses scandal all caught with their hands in the till yet the sheep go out and vote for the same colour rosette they always have, the only way this might change ( and its a big if ) is if voting was compulsory, then the 35 to 40% who don't bother at the moment might make some difference to the outcome but as the establishment wont do it, we can look forward to more and more scandals, the public get annoyed with the MPs but when election comes, surprise surprise they vote the same corrupt lot back in, so look forward to more and more of the same

Nov 3, 2013 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterkeith

Altruism, altruism, altruism, how can you possibly traduce someone who has our best eco-green-carbon interests at heart and might make the odd few million out of it, as Margaret Hodge said, it's a very small amount, and it's all for the best.
Who are we to question.........!!

Hang the blighter.

Nov 3, 2013 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterPenfold

'...And other commentators should avoid similar remarks about Gummer and BSE in future.'
Nov 3, 2013 at 3:50 PM Roger Clague

By my heel, I care not.

Nov 3, 2013 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRinghtwinggit

Environmental policy is a cesspit.

Enough said.

OK, not enough.

Have you seen the latest Lewpaper? £erk me, he's joined up with Piltdown Mann! To get outraged (peer reviewed outraged no less) that people want to replicate their work. They even head into the whacky world of 'knobbling' journals!

Seriously, Mann is complaining that 'deniers' have been found to be interfering with journal editors - to keep opposing views from being published. Upside down Mann indeed.

Suggesting that "Environmental policy is a cesspit" will make you the subject of their next paper for sure. How dare you suggest that scammers (political and 'scientific') may be playing the game for all it is worth.

Nov 3, 2013 at 8:17 PM | Registered Commenterbh3x2

"My recollection was that CJD had been a significant worry and that the government had dragged its feet on addressing the issue. I do remember that at the time many people were unconvinced by Gummer's antics."

I think you are both right. Were there not scary projections from 'experts' of large numbers of CJD cases in the pipeline?

Nov 3, 2013 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Nov 3, 2013 at 5:27 PM | Martin A

The nvCJD scare was another example of scientific claptrap that was supposed to result in catastrophic numbers of victims in twenty years.
I understand soft tissue from operations was collected for analysis for years to prove up the latent didease in the population.
We may conclude from the resultant long drawn out silence that yet again the scientists du jour got it totally wrong as the total numbers affected would not fill a double decker bus today.
I think that fellow Pennington had previous in this as well.

Nov 3, 2013 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Political revolution via the Harrogate Agenda is the only way forward.
Our present system of government at all levels, local, Westminster, devolved powers and Europe, is broken and beyond reform.

Nov 3, 2013 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterG. Watkins

'Why did the phrase "snouts in the trough" pop into my mind? It cannot have been due to any association with the behaviour of the "Honourable Members" of the House of Commons, some more common than others, can it?' --Roy

Someone (was it here?) recently suggested the term porkoisie for such.

Nov 3, 2013 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

That it is Yeo "cross-examining" Deben in the letters is beyond irony. Way, way beyond irony.

Nov 3, 2013 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

love this bit from Debin (Jan 2013) -

"you are right to ensure great care in these matters. all of us also have to accept that there are those who will seek to undermine anyone in public life with whom they disagree even when those persons have accepted financial disadvantage in order to perform public service."

had to get the hanky out, this guy has given up financial advantage for the public good, my hero from now on, so leave him alone nasty undermines (frack off).

ps- further down from Ed - "I am copying this letter to Sue Gray, Head Propriety and Ethics." sounds like an interesting role, has Sue ever put her head above the parapet ?"

Nov 3, 2013 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

Dobbin's depravity is beyond the power of words to describe but he really does not care about climate or CO2. As Chairman of Globe International he is obliged by this organisation to "encourage" those in government to make "SUSTAINABILITY" a priority. As recently highlighted at WUWT, the next big thing being targeted by the UN is (would you believe it?) water conservation. Do we know anybody who may be conflicted here?

Nov 3, 2013 at 11:07 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Sue Gray, Head Propriety and Ethics - found her mentioned in this (along with some interesting others)

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jun/16/civil-service-organisation-charts

not sure how up to date, but at £94,999 she must work her socks off on our behalf :_)

Nov 4, 2013 at 12:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

Skeptics at this time in most nations are more like the honorable pagans in early Christian Rome. The obvious superstitions held as fact, the endless subtle arguments at Nicea, the silly assertions that only Christians could be virtuous, the preferential treatment of Christians simply because of their faith over pagans......
AGW is as Dr. Curry points out: a huge parasite on society that consumes much and literally produces nothing.
The corrupt NGO's that do nothing more than hype bogus or dubious studies and make insider side deals with governments and foundations are doing great harm by way of opportunity costs.

Nov 4, 2013 at 12:49 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

In 2007, The Conservative Quality of Life Policy Group, chaired by John Gummer and the multimillionaire Zac Goldsmith, stated in a report:

“Beyond a certain point – a point which the UK reached some time ago – ever-increasing material gain can become not a gift, but a burden. As people
it makes us less happy, and the environment upon which all of us and our economy depend is increasingly degraded by it.”

Such a view doesn't square with Deben claiming taxpayers money of nearly £20,000 a year for his second home. Including a claim of more than £9000 for outside maintenance, wood chopping, gardening and "treating moles".

But perhaps such a view arose out of Deben's Catholic beliefs which he has conflated with his CAGW interests. In an article Deben wrote for the Tablet, a Roman Catholic weekly, he stated:

"CLERICS in the medieval world were wont to complain bitterly in times of pestilence that, even with the plague raging about them, human beings were singularly unwilling to recognise the sinfulness that had brought this disaster upon them. Even if devotion increased for a short while, once the worst was over, most people forgot about it all.

"Those of us concerned with climate change feel great sympathy."
http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/3181

The words of the Norwegian environment minister Thorbjørn Berntsen seem apt. During discussions about sulphur reduction in 1993, he "publicly called his British counterpart, John Gummer, a *&%@!()" (drittsekk).
http://www.fni.no/ybiced/95_05_levy.pdf

Nov 4, 2013 at 3:09 AM | Unregistered Commenter52

Rightwingnut says

'...And other commentators should avoid similar remarks about Gummer and BSE in future.'
Nov 3, 2013 at 3:50 PM Roger Clague

By my heel, I care not.

That BSE causes CJD was an unscientific scare. Like the CAGW scare, there is no plausible mechanism. Prions are a poison but not biologically active. The 1000's of deaths never happened.

Gummer could be right about BSE/CJD because he had no financial interest in banning beef . He is wrong about CAGW because he does have an interest in the CAGW scare. Gummer is not stupid or ignorant but has conflicting interests.

Unjustified personal insults devalue our analysis and deflect the debate.

Nov 4, 2013 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Clague

Steven Whalley

The worst part about Lord Deben's appointment , with his obviously conflicting interests in renewables, is that he replaced Tim Yeo who was suspended from the post for conflict of interest over ... renewables.
No, he didn't. Let me repeat — yet again — the Climate Change Committee and the House of Commons Select Committee for Energy and Climate Change are not the same thing.
It may not be an important difference in the great scheme of things but if we are going to be critical of the activities of the global warming fanatics it does our arguments no favours if we get simple facts like this wrong.

52
Whatever those views are of Deben's that you quote they bear no relation to any Catholic teaching that I am aware of. Whatever mediaeval clerics may have said, thought, or implied, Christ himself was quite adamant that pestilence, famine, flood, and other natural disasters were not to be seen as the punishment for sin.
I'm not in a position to judge but I doubt Deben has done himself any favours with this rather fatuous comparison.

Nov 4, 2013 at 10:09 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"the correspondence was already in the public domain"

It might have been when the letter was written, but not when they received the FOI request!

Nov 4, 2013 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Roger

"Beef burgers were not a danger"

So why didn't Gummer eat his? In the famous photo of poor Cordelia being fed hers, the patty in his is sliding out of the bun...

Nov 4, 2013 at 10:42 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

jamesp asks

So why didn't Gummer eat his? In the famous photo of poor Cordelia being fed hers, the patty in his is sliding out of the bun...

Photo op. Minister gives beef to own daughter. Minister eating beef, not so dramatic.
'Poor Cordelia' was happy to be offered tasty and safe food by her dad. Gummer was following sound science, BSE does not, indeed cannot cause CJD and using good PR.

The question to him should be why does he not do the same concerning CO2 and global warming.

Nov 4, 2013 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Clague

This, in the week we also learn that Cameron 'forgot ' to declare his ties to Common Purpose for two years, due to 'an administrative oversight'.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10423070/Press-row-PM-faces-questions-over-link-to-charity.html#disqus_thread

Several things are starting not to pass the sniff test ...

Nov 4, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Re: the Gummer/burger incident.
In fact, if you look at the original photo, little Cordelia could not have taken the bite out of the burger as demonstrated. As I understand it, Gummer's researcher took the bite and then handed the burger (with large bite taken) back to Cordelia.

Nov 4, 2013 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Meanwhile Guido is suggesting Mr PotatoEd is running a bit of a rental scam

http://order-order.com/2013/11/04/re-renting-davey-claims-expenses-for-libdem-owned-officemoney-paid-to-company-of-which-wife-is-director/

Can't believe it personally. This man was sent by God to save us from ourselves!

Nov 4, 2013 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinlegs

Sherlock

"Gummer's researcher took the bite and then handed the burger (with large bite taken) back to Cordelia"

There's not much that Gummer could do that would surprise me, but that comes close.

Roger

I wish I could muster your sanguinity over BSE/CJD - are these people wasting their time?

Link

177 deaths to date, according to them.

Nov 4, 2013 at 6:12 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

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