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Archive for the ‘The United Nations’ Category

Ah, the subtle swaying of simple minds ...

Election furor in the US.

Some of that here, too, with the National Assembly vote very soon.

Palestine’s bid for membership in the UN will be vetoed.

An execution in Georgia took place.

Austerity measures are protested in Greece.

Facebook makes changes.

Just a few of the topics swirling this morning that bring to mind a recent discussion on democracy, what it means, what it is, and what’s do be done with it, spawned partly from last week’s declared International Day of Democracy marked on the 15th.

So, what exactly did that occasion celebrate?

democracy
diˈmäkrəsē
noun ( pl. -cies)

a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives : capitalism and democracy are ascendant in the third world.

• a state governed in such a way : a multiparty democracy.

• control of an organization or group by the majority of its members : the intended extension of industrial democracy.

• the practice or principles of social equality : demands for greater democracy.

ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from French démocratie, via late Latin from Greek dēmokratia, from dēmos ‘the people’ + -kratia ‘power, rule.’

As a quick read through the democratically organized Wiki shows, democracy comes in many different flavors.

You’ve got your Representative Democracy, your Consensus Democracy, your Deliberative Democracy, Cosmopolitan Democracy, democracy Representative, Parliamentary, Presidential (and Semi-Presidential), direct, inclusive,
participatory, Socialist, Sortition, Supranational and the Anarchists … any of which can be liberal … or not … characterized by Majority Rule, but, as mentioned, ” … it is also possible for a minority to be oppressed by a “tyranny of the majority”.

While there is no universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’, equality and freedom have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times.These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to legislative processes.

Nice idea, heh?

Those of us who were around during the time the US was busy wrestling dominos in the course of “saving the world for democracy” might be forgiven for thinking democracy a new-ish, western-ish concept since not a lot of talk about Mesopotamia, Phoenicia and India, cultures that adhered to democratic practices before the Greeks came up with the word, entered debates over whether or not dropping cluster bombs over Cambodia was a good plan.

Democracy went from being a Greek word to a Buzz word once … dum de dum dum … communism gave it something to bounce off of and resonate, and as is the nature of such things it became undemocratic to question the righteousness rightness of democracy.

It doesn’t take a deep investigation into history to see how that worked out. Do the term McCarthyism ring a bell?

During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person’s real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment.

As Thomas Jefferson so aptly put it: A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

So, is democracy a red herring, a set of shiny, jangling keys designed to take our eyes off the prize of true freedom and call it healthy compromise?

American history is rife with praise for the democratic way of doing government, starting as it did from roots dug from monarch trees that had held the mountaintop for centuries, but perhaps the motivation was best summed up years later by that very British brain, Winston Churchill, when he said, ” … democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

Unless the world ends in 2012, there is much more to come in the way of evolving systems of governing bits of our increasingly crowded planet. Power will shift, economies will weaken and strengthen in little relation to rightness or wrongness, wars will happen and winners will be touted as those holding the true path to glory. People will even adjust to Facebook altering the way feeds work.

“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either [aristocracy or monarchy]. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”
~ John Adams

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Wiki imageFor those of us living on islands surrounded by miles and miles of water, as these clearly are, the tragic shark attacks of the past weeks convey a resonance that goes deeper than the horror of the deaths.

With the Indian Ocean on our doorstep we’re used to seeing the sea almost every hour of every day, but we’re looking at it a bit differently for now, contemplating what lies beneath the barrier between air and water, and from many angles.

For sure, sharks are scary and we’re keeping our kids to the shallows, but many are also considering what the seas may still promise when these children are adults. With part of the reaction to the recent shark attacks amounting to a virtual war, a petition is circulating advising caution.

In response to a government statement by Mr St Ange, director of Seychelles Toursim (sic) Board who said “We need to find the beast and get it out of our waters,”

We would like to highlight the following misconceptions implied within this statement1. Sharks are not beasts they are ancient fish highly specialized and adapted to hunting in aquatic environments.2.Sharks have for centuries lived, reproduced and hunted in the oceans travelling (sic) thousands of miles each year, therefore, the notion of a land based species i’ll adapted to the aquatic environment owning the seas is a little ridiculous. 3. By “get it out” do you mean remove humanly to another location or as some reports have stated begin a shark hunt?
As we are sure you understand culls of species without knowledge of their impact can destroy ecosystems and be tragically detrimental to other species reliant upon them.

Tourism relies on the ocean and any widespread shark culling will have a widespread negative effect on the reefs and the reasons people travel to your beautiful islands.

With an estimated 100 million sharks killed by humans every year, shark populations are crashing in oceans all over the world, some species depleted by over 90%, so the idea of a massive cull does not sit well with everyone.

Many governments and the UN have acknowledged the need for shark fisheries management, but little progress has been made due to their low economic value, the small volumes of products produced and sharks’ poor public image.

That “poor public image” thing hasn’t been helped by the deaths of two young men calmly taking to our beautiful waters. Seychelles depends on two industries for financial security: tourism and fishing. With the world’s second largest tuna processing plant here fish are a very big deal.

Located in the Seychelles International Trade Zone, IOT is the second largest tuna processing and canning plant in the world. In the year ending 31 March 2009, IOT processed almost 66,000 metric tonnes of tuna and sold 4.6 million statistical cases of tuna cans, mostly to the UK, French and Italian markets.

That’s a whole lotta dead fish, folks, and doesn’t even begin to take into account the bycatch that never makes it as far as the factory.

This article published in Australia this morning illustrates many of the issues surrounding the tuna industry.

It will come as a surprise to some that eating fish is bad for the environment. In the past, fish was seen as a healthy and sustainable food option with few ethical implications.

But we know now that fishing fleets are completely dependent on fossil fuels, and have to travel longer and longer distances to find fish in commercial quantities. We also know seafood stocks are crashing at an alarming rate.

The methods we use to improve catch rates harm habitats and kill other species we never meant to eat in the first place.

Unfortunately, farming fish does not solve these problems.

The best solution to this growing problem is to eat only those fish you know to be harvested sustainably.

The issues, of course, are not only local, not limited to the local economy, happy tourists or putting tuna in tins.

Nope.

The issue is a global human population at close to seven billion and growing daily which puts paid to any idea of sustainability over the long haul.

Shark-free seas and cupboards full of tinned tuna may actually sound okay to some, but when the oceans die we’ll go with them.

There is, however, the option put on film way back in 1973:

In the year 2022, the population has grown to forty million people in New York City alone. Most housing is dilapidated and overcrowded, and the homeless fill the streets and line the fire escapes and stairways of buildings. Food as we know it in present times is a rare and expensive commodity. Most of the world’s population survives on processed rations produced by the massive Soylent Corporation, including Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow, which are advertised as “high-energy vegetable concentrates.” The newest product is Soylent Green, a small green wafer which is advertised as being produced from “high-energy plankton.” It is much more nutritious and palatable than the red and yellow varieties, but, like most other food, it is in short supply, which often leads to food riots.

For any who may not know where this goes, we’ll skip to the last line of “Soylent Green” …

“Soylent Green is PEOPLE!”

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Let’s hear it for the United Nations and their brave and “historic step” to pass a resolution supporting “equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation” … or let’s not.

Suzanne Nossel, deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations, told CNN, “It really is a key part in setting a new norm that gay rights are human rights and that that has to be accepted globally.”

“It talks about the violence and discrimination that people of LGBT persuasion experience around the world,” she said, “and that those issues … need to be taken seriously. It calls for reporting on what’s going on, where people are being discriminated against, the violence that is taking place, and it really puts the issue squarely on the U.N.’s agenda going forward.”

Woopie fuckin’ zoopie doo.

Anyone with a lick of sense and a brush with recent history will get what a limp dick sits squarely on the UN’s fat ass agenda. Take, for example, the great job done in Sudan, the effectiveness of their “Racism Forum” that featured “that wonder of gentle tolerance, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Holocaust denier extraordinaire”, and the “Climate Change Summit” in Copenhagen that did such wonders for promoting the case of prostitution but little else, then the one in Cancun that accomplished even more bugger all.

“Their insatiable lust for power is only equaled by their incurable impotence in exercising it.” ~ Winston Churchill

Subtract from all the job they’ve done … or not … in protecting children in places like the “Democratic Republic of Congo, in Haiti, infant mortality in general, female genital mutilation and the rights of children and women to education and a normal lifespan.

It all rather pulls one hand away from any applause the United Nations gigantic PR machine solicits with statements like:

Friday’s vote “marks a victory for defenders of human rights,” said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “It sends a clear message that abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity must end.”

Can you hear the sound of one hand clapping? No. Me neither. But that doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the bullshit spreading one little bit …

Nossel told CNN, “it’s not like discrimination or violence are going to end overnight” because of the U.N. resolution, “but now … when there are proposals in parliaments or legislatures around the world to illegalize gay activity or repress people because of their sexual orientation, opponents can point to this and say, ‘Hey, the U.N. has spoken out, there is a resolution that rejects this squarely.’

“That is the way these international norms are built,” she said. “It’s not from scratch. On women’s rights, on minority rights, it builds up over time. So this is really a critical beginning of a universal recognition of a new set of rights that forms part of the international system.”

International norms? New set of rights? International system?

Go ahead … pull the other one.

The UN does have a place and a purpose; the place is New York … and Geneva … and on First Class seats toward Five Star hotel rooms in some of the poshest places on the planet. The purpose is to keep a bunch of people highly-paid, well-dressed and traveling while seeing the sights from lily-white convoys of SUVs …

“Our chief usefulness to humanity rests on our combining power with high purpose. Power undirected by high purpose spells calamity, and high purpose by itself is utterly useless if the power to put it into effect is lacking.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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What do Emperor Nero, Warren Beatty, Rev. Jim Jones and a guitarist known as El Prickito have in common with Muammar Gaddafi?

They’re all narcissists.

The NHS definition of NPD:

Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which people have an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with themselves

The causes of this disorder are unknown …

A person with narcissistic personality disorder may:

* React to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation
* Take advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
* Have excessive feelings of self-importance
* Exaggerate achievements and talents
* Be preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love
* Have unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
* Need constant attention and admiration
* Disregard the feelings of others, and have little ability to feel empathy
* Have obsessive self-interest
* Pursue mainly selfish goals

It’s this article that had me researching narcissistic personality disorder again today, even though it has been a topic here on the blog recently.

Given the present circumstances in Libya a revisit is timely.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has a narcissistic personality disorder which makes him feel all-powerful and rebel against those who criticise him, a Libyan exile said on Tuesday.

“He feels grandiose and omnipotent… he thinks only of his own interests,” David Gerbi said at a presentation at the University of the Witwatersrand.

“He’s killing people in pursuit of power,” he said.

Yes, much like another famous narcissist, Adolph Hitler, and as with Hitler there is no dealing to be done, no sense to be made, no compromises possible, as is shown in a definitive look at narcissistic personality disorder:

Trying to reform narcissists by reasoning with them or by appealing to their better nature is about as effective as spitting in the ocean. What you see is what you get: they have no better nature. The fundamental problem here is that narcissists lack empathy.

Lacking empathy is a profound disturbance to the narcissist’s thinking (cognition) and feeling (affectivity). Even when very intelligent, narcissists can’t reason well.

Gaddafi had managed, through some pretty typical narcissistic practices … lies, schmoozing, bribery … to “charm” his way out of his previous incarnation as the epitome of evil, but the present circumstances that throw himself in his face are completely intolerable and “deserve” nothing less than everything he can lob at those with the audacity to find him anything other than the perfect leader.

Yesterday’s declaration of a ceasefire is followed today by a full-scale attack on Benghazi, and no matter what he says, what promises he may make under whatever duress the international community may actually … eventually … exert, this man will never do as much as acknowledge a single fault.

It’s worth some time to examine how it is that some so obviously suffering such an obnoxious personality disorder manage to so often get what they want. The fact that they’re tenacious certainly works for them, as does a complete lack of ethics which allows employment of anything it takes to get ahead.

Complicating matters considerably, however, is the healthy person’s incomprehension … disbelief, even … that such heartless cruelty can actually exist in another human being.

Could millions of pre-WWII Germans have signed on to Naziism had they been able to conceive of the true mind of Hitler? Of course there were many reasons his shit floated, but had he not the compulsion to feed his ego machine things could have been much different.

Would those hundreds of People’s Temple folks have served up the Kool-Aid if they’d noticed early on that Jim Jones had a bit of an issue with power and control and put him in his place?

The Reverend, Hitler, Gaddafi … Warren Beatty, even … with their grandiose come-ons, promises of whatever and outright lies lull the unsuspecting into the fold, then hammer them into the ground in hopes they never raise their eyes or voices again.

“Normal” people who see the world as a somewhat ordered state where actions make sense assume others recognize right from wrong without understanding that in the narcissists mind the only “right” is theirs and everything else is just wrong.

That’s not an easy mindset to grasp for the empathic, the healthy, but when the narcissist has an army at his beck and call others need to realize what they’re dealing with. I can only hope … with little faith … that the UN and nations now contemplating Libya are getting the picture.

As for the run-of-the-mill narcissist … well …

Now, it is possible to have a relatively smooth relationship with a narcissist, and it’s possible to maintain it for a long time. The first requirement for this, though, is distance: this simply cannot be done with a narcissist you live with.

Well … yeah … but even the distance thing gets old …

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Ancient Mexican Bert. Ernie may have been looted ...

Although there is much happening in life and the world I would like to vent thoughts about, I’m under deadline on a book at the mo and employing mental and finger skills there, so the blog suffers.

Squeezing the work in between one big job and another bigger one means I have only weeks to go from zero to done and I’m feeling the pinch. Add to that the fact that the weather is stunning and the beach beckons big time and composing blog posts jumps to the bottom of the to-do list.

There is, however, time this lovely morning for a bit of H&H (Harvest and Harangue), so let’s get to it, shall we?

Starting with this … the usual limp dick of the UN attempting to insert itself:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the body’s Security Council to take “decisive action” over the Libya crisis.

That’ll do it, heh? Sure … form a committee.

My fav line in the story, though, is from Gaddafi Junior, the colonel’s son, Saif:

Visitors to Tripoli would not hear gunfire but might hear fireworks, Mr Gaddafi said.

Hilarity!

A look at Saif’s former impersonation of reasonable is interesting as well. From just two years ago:

Having just donated £1.5m to the university to fund its Global Governance Unit, he was introduced in glowing terms by the university’s Professor David Held, who said:

“I’ve come to know Saif as someone who looks to democracy, civil society and deep liberal values for the core of his inspiration.”

Funny what £1.5 mil and a load of crap will get you …

One the “Hey, that’s kinda cool” front, a new theory on gravity has some pull this morning.

A controversial theory that challenges the existence of dark matter has been buoyed by studies of gas-rich galaxies.

Instead of invoking dark matter, the Modified Newtonian Dynamics theory says that the effects of gravity change in places where its pull is very low.

And if you think you’ve got issues getting your head around this stuff, check out the take of a scientist involved in the work:

“Sometimes I wish I didn’t work on this,” Professor McGaugh said. “If your own data don’t get in your face about this, it’s easy to say ‘so-and-so screwed up’.”

No kidding, Dude.

Having experienced the wonders of Mexico’s rich history, this story on looting of historic sites there is disturbing.

Mexico signed an international treaty in 1972 that prohibits the extraction and trade in archaeological artefacts, with punishment of up to 12 years in jail for such a crime.

But, almost four decades on, experts say the demand from abroad for pre-Hispanic pieces, especially the US, shows no signs of abating.

Not surprising since selling heritage has been a going concern all over the world, but still a regrettable loss … just ask the Greeks.

I was recently introduced to the wonders of incognito British graffiti artist, Banksy, so was drawn to this program on him “leaving his social commentary” in L.A.. Very cool stuff.

And speaking of things British, I can’t end this post without a mention of the Covent Garden restaurant now serving up breast milk ice cream.

The dessert, called Baby Gaga, is churned with donations from London mother Victoria Hiley, and served with a rusk and an optional shot of Calpol or Bonjela.

At £14 ($22.50) a serving, Baby Gaga must be udderly delicious …

And that’s it for today. Thanks for dropping by …

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I’d like to say I’m a sweet, nonviolent soul, easily placated who sees the best in every situation, seeks out silver linings and happy to calmly await changes for betterment.

Yeah, that sounds nice. Problem is, it comes nowhere close to accurate in most any description because in fact I’m a right stroppy bitch driven to murderous rages over much of the shit that happens in the world, impatient, intolerant and prone to snap when provoked.

Although more than impressed with outcomes generated by gentle greats like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, I’m incapable of that much cheek turning of the other kind and subscribe more closely to the adage that revenge can work as a deterrent and is a dish best served up cold.

It’s this little quirk that reacts today to a BBC report today out of the DRCongo:

”The rebel leader asked me two things: ‘Do you want us to be your husbands? Or do you want us to rape you?'”

Congolese mother-of-eight Clementine speaks in a quiet and hesitant voice:

“I chose to be raped.”

She explains: “I told myself, if I tell them that I want to be their wife, they will kill my husband. I didn’t want my children growing up saying the one that made our father die is our mother.”

But that sacrifice was not enough. Her husband left her for another woman.

“After they raped me, my husband hated me. He said I was dirty.

Can we count on how many levels this sucks?

Although it’s nice enough for the UN’s “special representative on sexual violence in conflict” to notice the DRC is the “rape capitol of the world”, that doesn’t seem to be doing much to make it stop.

Maybe it’s this story about a fox getting his own that sets me off today, but my vengeful mind has come up with an idea that goes a bit further than charting rape cases and tut-tutting and probably wouldn’t cost any more than those useless activities.

You see, when I read ‘victim’ I tend to think more in terms of keeping numbers of new ones down than keeping count and collecting grim tales. Seems a much better use of time, energy and funds, yet even I stop short of the idea of blasting the bastards to smithereens.

Not that blasting away is a foreign thought since I grew up with guns and am a bloody good shot. No, it’s more the realization that blowing away bad guys doesn’t stop more bad guys from popping up. There’s something sexy in dying in a blaze of glory that draws dudes like maggots to rotting innards, plus a very good chance of collateral damage doing in victims along with the perps.

With all the money going into arms research, I’m thinking it’s time investment was made in developing a weapon designed specifically for places like the DRC; a weapon that won’t kill, can’t hurt victims, yet will put an end to the rapes and see a significant drop-off … so to speak … in new recruits.

Think phaser, as in “Set your phasers to stun” … only instead of kill or stun the only setting is shrivel.

Imagine a blaster that has no effect whatsoever aside from shrinking testicles to nothing, then causing them to drop off. Aim it at a woman, nothing happens, but lock, load and deliver on some dude and it’s bye-bye balls.

If these could be manufactured in small sizes … and possibly in pink … women in Congo could be issued one each. Just think of the problems solved, the shift in power and what a lovely place central Africa could become to raise children!

Does this seem harsh?

Sorry, but if it does, you’re missing something.

Thankfully, most no longer chalk rape up to a “boys will be boys” thing, but it’s still a horror under-appreciated in its terror and damage.

In one of the rooms, a heavy foul smell suffocates the air. At first impression, it gives the impression of a toilet that is not clean. It wasn’t.

The smell was coming from the women themselves.

Some of them are suffering from fistula whose manifestation is the uncontrollable passage of urine and in some cases, faeces.

It is estimated that 14 women are raped each day in eastern DR Congo

One 15-year-old is drumming as hard as she can.

Her experiences exemplify this complex war raging against women. She was abducted by 10 rebels from the Interahamwe group accused of carrying out the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda. They kept her for about a year as a sex slave.

”They would rape me in turns. It got to a point where I did not feel pain.”

They fed her when they wished and gave her water from their gumboots to drink. She soon became pregnant. The rebels said she would be set free once she had given birth.

”One day they tied me to a tree and tried to pull the baby out. The blood… it just kept flowing.”

She says she can no longer feel pain and relates all this in a detached manner – cold and emotionless – and then ties a colourful wraparound around her waist and walks away.

Rapists rarely rape just once and enthusiasm for it is contagious. Aside from killing the bastards, the only way to put a dent in a rapist is to separate him from his scrotum buddies.

So …

Anyone have connections in the weapons biz and want to get in on the ground floor of production of The Ball Buster?

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The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley,
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

~ Robbie Burns

(If Burns was writing this morning, he might also substitute paid for laid … although I’m sure well-laid fits in this rant, too …)

I’m choosing to start the week off with a bit of Scottish verse, then quickly moving along to giving the United Nations a big hand … upside the head, and a foot up the ass to see if that does anything to knock the organization out of its PR-spinning, wonky orbit.

I will say one good thing about the Untied Nations … they are good at graphs, as proved by a report in today’s news.

This one, for example:

There are loads of similar graphs, all indicating … well, gee … that the UN’s “Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” adopted 10 years ago were a waste of time and a ton of money.

So, just guess what the plan is now.

They’re going to meet up in Manhattan next week to “redouble efforts to meet them by 2015”.

“The path that will be set at the summit will determine the direction and results, success or failure, of the entire MDG venture,” says Olav Kjorven, a senior official in the UN’s main development agency, the UNDP.

Yeah … pull the other one.

The truth is that poverty has fallen, but progress has been uneven, and most of the goals are off-target to meet the deadline.

One of them – halving world poverty – is likely to be met, largely because of robust economic growth in China and India.

But less has been achieved on others, such as decreasing hunger, improving access to health and education, and helping mothers and children.

According to their own figures, not only have rates of infant mortality, availability of clean drinking water and reduction of early deaths from nasties like AIDS and malaria not improved since these masses of the well-dressed, well-fed and well paid sat over champers and sturgeon roe a decade ago and dusted crumbs from each others’ lovely lapels, in many cases it has gone worse.

World hunger is on the rise since the adoption of the UN goals, with nearly a billion people suffering.

And the number of women who die in childbirth every year is still in the hundreds of thousands, falling far short of the UN goal to cut maternal deaths by three quarters.

Since the UN can hardly take credit for jumps in the econ strength of China, India and former Soviet countries, it seems more than a tad disingenuous to claim MDGs made much difference, and blaming donor nations’ shortfalls does little to alleviate the notion that these very expensive summits are any more than chichi circle jerks.

This one hasn’t even started, yet already the Kool-Aid is being passed around to the international media:

The summit is expected to declare that achieving the Millennium Development Goals is do-able by 2015, with the right combination of money, policies and, above all, political will.

Drink up, me hearties, yo ho! (Yesterday was Internatonal Talk Like a Pirate Day, sponsored by an organization that probably accomplishes more in one year than the UN does in a decade to improve the lives of a few sad gits, so I’ll give them a plug.)

Want to see some flash PR work? Check out the MDG website and catch a clue as to where some of the money and effort goes. To see where it doesn’t, just look at the world.

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