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The Morning Plum

* Okay, a big day for climate/energy legislation in the Senate: Dems are set to meet this afternoon to discuss how to proceed. Question of the day: Whether Senate Dems have already given up on carbon limits.

* Here's what Dems are dealing with: The idea that the Senate would act on climate change after the worst environmental calamity in U.S. history is so ludicrous that John McCain can't be bothered to entertain any questions about it.

* Lingering question of the moment: What exactly will Republicans support to hold BP accountable, and will Dems succeed in turning this into a winning issue?

* Big read of the morning: Why Obama's short-on-details plan to restore the Gulf is much, much, much easier to propose than to accomplish.

* What we'll be chatting about today: Liberal opposition is growing to the Dem campaign finance reform proposal over its NRA carve-out.

* And conservatives accuse the NRA of selling out and enabling Dem efforts to squelch the free speech of corporations.

* Also: It's unclear whether this measure can even pass the Senate with the NRA carve-out included.

* Opponents of Elena Kagan are furiously scraping away at the bottom of the barrel.

* Washington Post/ABC News poll finds a majority supports the Arizona immigration law -- but a majority also supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

* While you weren't looking: Support for the health reform law continues to edge up.

* Fox News intensifies its pitch for Helen Thomas's press room seat, explains why it's more deserving than Bloomberg News.

* Millions of Americans bite their nails in suspense as Michele Bachmann coyly refuses to say who she's backing for president in 2012.

* And Haley Barbour says the $20 billion BP escrow fund would be better spent on more offshore drilling.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  June 17, 2010; 8:25 AM ET
Categories:  2012 , Climate change , Health reform , House GOPers , Immigration , Morning Plum , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Next: Angle spox clarifies: We should worry about revolution

Comments

It's funny fow JNS after pointing out all the ways that Sessions was lying about Kagan just couldn't bring herself to call him a liar. In stead she said he was stretching the truth. WTFis wrong with our press that they can't just call a spade a spade? Hell he wasn't just lying, he demeaning a whole religion to smear her! Sessions is exhibit Aon why there is no outreach to be had with the GOP. Their Senators are better suited to right wing radio than the Congress

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | June 17, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Morning, All:

"Okay, a big day for climate/energy legislation in the Senate: Dems are set to meet this afternoon to discuss how to proceed. Question of the day: Whether Senate Dems have already given up on carbon limits."

I wouldn't expend too much on this if I were the White House. I'd just tell Congress that EPA is going to set air-carbon standards. Congress can either agree to a legislative fix or it will be done administratively. Although EPA regulations won't be as efficient as assigning carbon costs directly, it will get the job done.

"Here's what Dems are dealing with: The idea that the Senate would act on climate change after the worst environmental calamity in U.S. history is so ludicrous that John McCain can't be bothered to entertain any questions about it."

I've been thinking about this and I've concluded that I've fallen into the GOP's trap. The Congressional GOP has been so reckless and stupid that I have come to simply ignore them. But that just lets them off the hook. Reporters should DEMAND answers to important question, not simply take nothing or nonsense for an answer. Ask the question, then ask it again. If they won't answer don't cover them b/c there is nothing to report.

Posted by: wbgonne | June 17, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

"Lingering question of the moment: What exactly will Republicans support to hold BP accountable, and will Dems succeed in turning this into a winning issue?"

On the first, does anyone realize that "holding BP accountable" very clearly is NOT any part of the role of Congress?

That is fundamental to our system of government -- separation of powers, no ex post facto laws, no bills of attainder.

Turning it into a political issue to attack Republicans is doubly cynical.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Slave Sargent:
"Question of the day: Whether Senate Dems have already given up on carbon limits."

What is it with you and carbon limits?

"The idea that the Senate would act on climate change after the worst environmental calamity in U.S. history is so ludicrous that John McCain can't be bothered to entertain any questions about it."

Only you eco-moonbats are linking an oil spill with climate-change. It's dishonest because you;re NOT appending "anthropogenic" when you say "climate change", and you're not doing so because you realize that the theory has been shown to be flawed at best.
In the same vein, you're saying "climate change" because the earlier term "global warming" has also been shown to be bunk.

Stop lying, Sargent.

Or do your masters at the Post and in the Odministration hold a lot of General Electric stock?
GE, (which owns NBC), would stand to profit quite handsomely from all this "climate change/global warming/carbon footprint/greenhouse gas" legislative hogwash.

"Lingering question of the moment: What exactly will Republicans support to hold BP accountable, and will Dems succeed in turning this into a winning issue?"

Ahhhh, now there's a breath of honesty.
It's all about the "winning issue".

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 17, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

On the Gulf Oil Disaster, two points:

1. Moving Louisiana away from dependence on Big Oil is vital for some obvious reasons and one that may not be so obvious. The Drill Baby Drill chant cannot be sustained unless there is a state willing to serve as the nation's oil dump. Big Oil has long had vast power over LA. In more recent years, even as TX has absconded with most of the White Collar oil jobs, LA has submitted ever more readily to being the oil pit in a desperate effort to placate Big Oil. LA ranks last or nearly so in state education and, coupled with LA's otherwise weak economy, good-paying oil rig jobs for uneducated people has become the heroin of LA's economy. That is why even as the "Sportsman's Paradise" is literally being destroyed by Big Oil, LA is demanding that deepwater operations continue and deepwater drilling resume. Moving LA away from an oil-dependent economy -- freeing LA from its slavery to Big Oil -- will go far toward moving the COUNTRY away from oil.

2. On the effects of the Gulf deepwater moratorium (and, hopefully, the shutdown of ongoing deepwater operations), this will obviously cause serious economic dislocation for LA and its residents. My proposal is that Big Oil -- not only BP, but the rest of the oil companies operating in Gulf deepwater -- be required jointly to pay workers salaries during the moratorium. As is now painfully obvious, Big Oil has no effective remedial measures to contain a deepwater blowout. Yet every one of the oil companies that applied for (and were granted) deepwater permits certified that they DID have such remedial measures available. In other words, they lied on their permit applications. That is a crime. I would use that leverage to demand that EXXON, Shell, Chevron and everyone else operating in Gulf deep water who has lied on its permit applications (all of them) fund the workers' salaries during the moratorium. I'd also suggest the displaced oil workers be trained in coastal cleanup and oil removal and mitigation since those jobs will last in the Gulf for a decade or more.

3. It is crucial, however, that during the moratorium, the U.S. and LA take aggressive steps toward ensuring a less oil-dependent Louisiana. If not, if the moratorium is nothing but an interregnum then LA will be even more addicted than ever to oil money now that its fishing industry has been destroyed. LA should get started immediately on job re-training, incentives for new industries, improved schools.

Posted by: wbgonne | June 17, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

"It's funny fow JNS after pointing out all the ways that Sessions was lying about Kagan just couldn't bring herself to call him a liar."

Actually, she didn't point out any way in which he was lying. Read it.

In fact, it would be more accurate to say she lied. She implies that Sessions said the Islamic center was dedicated solely to Islamic law. He in fact said "studies and law." She implies he said it was a center at HLS. He plainly said Harvard University.

His case would be stronger if it were known what Kagan's position was on the center, but he is drawing a very useful contrast between the reception of the university given to a donation from a repressive Islamic regime and our own military, the latter led by Kagan. We see no evidence that she led opposition to the former. Certainly a matter worth evaluating to understand where she stands and why.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The Senate will most likely pass an Energy NOT a Climate bill this Summer.

Perhaps during the Lame Duck session in conference the House's Climate portion will be in the final Senate/House bill that gets passed after the midterms.

Posted by: maritza1 | June 17, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

As for our troll infestation, here's my view. I've learned to skip the troll-posts; it's a bit annoying but not unmanageable. What I find more disconcerting is reading comments by posters I like only to find that they are engaged in "debates" with the trolls. I don't know the motivation for the trolls and it really doesn't matter much in the end. But I'm pretty sure about this: if the trolls were IGNORED ENTIRELY they would go away.

Posted by: wbgonne | June 17, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

maritza1:

Yes, I heard that on the news somewhere myself. However it gets done is fine with me.

Posted by: wbgonne | June 17, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Nice little essay on the scientific (and commonsense) basis for the deepwater moratorium at Firedoglake:

http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/55054

Posted by: wbgonne | June 17, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Greg, what nothing about that huge 20 billion escrow which Obama got with his usual "chicago style politics" ? The best part of his rope-a-dope is that while the corrupt to the bone senators and congress critters were showboating about raising the liability cap, he gave them a long rope and then yanked their collective chains by literally blowing that oil-interests dictated cap out of the water.

Posted by: amkeew | June 17, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

The whole issue about holding BP accountable is MOOT! It got settled yesterday.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 17, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"* And Haley Barbour says the $20 billion BP escrow fund would be better spent on more offshore drilling."

I'd like to hear the other Gulf Coast Governors weigh in on this one.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 17, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

amkeew, what do you mean, nothing about the escrow fund? did a big post about it yesterday, and multiple ones before that about how BP would cave to Obama

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 17, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

wbg, your comments on moving LA off oil reminds me a lot of moving my home state's economy off their addiction to the auto industry. It's hard, but doable.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 17, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Greg, amkeew is referring to this:

The Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative members of the House, released a statement today calling the $20 billion BP escrow account a "Chicago-style political shakedown."

The full statement:

We all agree that BP should be held fully responsible for its complicity in the oil tragedy in the Gulf," said Chairman Price. "In fact, BP has already begun paying claims. Any attempt by the company to sidestep that responsibility should be met with the strongest legal recourses available. However, in an administration that appears not to respect fundamental American principles, it is important to note that there is no legal authority for the President to compel a private company to set up or contribute to an escrow account.

BP's reported willingness to go along with the White House's new fund suggests that the Obama Administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics. These actions are emblematic of a politicization of our economy that has been borne out of this Administration's drive for greater power and control. It is the same mentality that believes an economic crisis or an environmental disaster is the best opportunity to pursue a failed liberal agenda. The American people know much better.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 17, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

If you are not listening to the BP hearing right now, Joe Barton from TX just APOLOGIZED to Tony Haywood for the shake-down at the WH yesterday.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 17, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

All, Sharron Angle's campaign clarifies her armed revolution statements:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/06/angle_spox_clarifies_we_should.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 17, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

make that Tony Hayward

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 17, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

WB, I take it your admonishment about debating trolls was to me. You're absolutely right. Will try to do better!

And WB you're also ENTIRELY right about getting the LA and regional economy away from the oil industry. There are a number of things the government could do to help transition the Gulf economy to sustainable industries. Having strong tax incentives would certainly encourage entrepreneurs to investigate large-scale projects that could employ thousands of former rig workers.

And btw, if anyone is interested in watching the BP/Hayward hearing, it's on now on CSPAN1 and is totally worth watching if nothing else to see Hayward squirm, which he is, visibly.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 17, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

It's refreshing to see Republicans defend a foreign company that just destroyed our gulf.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | June 17, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

So BP has been made to give the government a $20 billion debit card with BP's name on it.

The public doesn't know the details of how the slushfund was agreed to, but it is quite clear there was no lawful basis for demanding it or using executive powers to compel it.

It might feel good, and Democrats might think the ends justify the means, but it is just about the most lawless type of behavior the government could undertake -- summary justice at the hand of the President, completely overriding separation of powers and due process.

(Unitary executive anyone?)

There seems to be no end of concern by Democrats for due process rights -- real or imagined -- of known international terrorists, but that concern takes convenient flight in the case of BP. As good as it might feel to the left, there is an economic cost to this kind of abrogation of the rule of law.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

suekzoo1: Very difficult to move away from an oil-based economy but absolutely necessary to begin right now. And the circumstances are propitious, including that the auto industry is in great flux and ready for real change in its product line. LA is a mess and has been for a long time. Its Shrimp & Petroleum economy is ruined completely but, not surprisingly, LA refuses to confront reality and wants to cling to Big Oil like a heroin addict to his pusher. There are concrete steps that the U.S. can take and then LA will simply have to adjust. Eventually, LA will come around but it is going to take a push. Or two.

Ethan: I'm as guilty as anyone. Recently, however, I've concluded that the trolls aren't just an amusing nuisance but a full-fledged infestation that wrecks the discourse here. I'm not sure why they are here but I doubt they'll stay if they are ignored.

Posted by: wbgonne | June 17, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"* And conservatives accuse the NRA of selling out and enabling Dem efforts to squelch the free speech of corporations."
-----------------------------------------

I guess anything that drives a wedges between gun-toting right-wing crazies and the NRA can't be all bad. It's an ill wind indeed that blows no one any good.

I have a dumb question though, heretical as it may be: Is there any actual objective evidence that campaign finance reform has actually done a damned bit of good?

I know you can't infer causality from a correlation, but I can't help remembering that congress was a lot more liberal and behaved a good deal more professionally 20 or 30 years ago, before most of this stuff was enacted. Certainly weening the Democratic party of soft money hasn't helped the cause of organized labor, and the Republican party has obviously become no more socially responsible as a result of becoming more beholden to the whims of their own rank and file.

I also think that the rise of internet has ended up doing a better job of what public campaign financing was supposed to do than public campaign financing ever has. And looking at the Bush administration and the congressional scandals of the last 10 years or so, I see little evidence that political corruption is really any less of a problem than it ever was. I honestly think that at best, all we've really accomplished to date is maybe trading one set of problems in on another.

I'd still like to see a ban on all campaign advertising like they have in the UK. Force politicians to take their case to the people and the press instead of having advertising and PR people doing the only talking that really ends up mattering and I'd bet you'd see election campaigns start looking a lot less like marketing campaigns for automobiles or iPods or any other consumer commodity.

Posted by: CalD | June 17, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

"The public doesn't know the details of how the slushfund was agreed to, but it is quite clear there was no lawful basis for demanding it or using executive powers to compel it."

They do if they don't rely of drudge and faux noise for their news.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | June 17, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

"They do if they don't rely of drudge and faux noise for their news."

Unless you were present and part of all the relevant discussions and have seen any relevant documentation, no, you don't.

Unlike almost all of you, I read as much leftwing and "mainstream" media -- probably more -- than I do conservative. I don't much watch Fox and seldom read Drudge (not really a conservative source anyway). I read the drivel here all the time, don't I?

So I just laugh when people like you drop this cliche.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

A week ago or so we were hearing how a former Cheney aide was working in PR for BP. Sinister, very sinister.

Then it turned out that BP has a deep relationship with Stanley Greenberg's PR shop -- Dem establishment par excellence.

Now this from NYT:

“We made clear we do not think this is a liability of the company,” said Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration who now represents BP. "

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

How the escrow account will be funded has been established.

I don't think anyone argued there was a lawful basis for demanding it. The basis for demanding it was so people don't loose their family businesses and such.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | June 17, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Obviously, the purpose of the escrow, ostensibly at least, is cleanup and compensation. That has nothing to do with how it was procured or induced in the absence of any lawful basis for it.

Perhaps BP just agreed to the request as an act of good citizenship.

Perhaps Obama (and Holder) used various threats to extort it.

That, we don't know. If it was more the latter than the former, there is a cost to such summary justice, despite the purpose of the feeling of satisfaction it provides.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

purpose OR the feeling

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Regarding trolls and offensive comments: Quite a few of the liberal commentors here have posted offensive personal attacks as well as Bilge (I'm assuming you're all ticked off at Bilge).

"I see the ignorant racist bilgey is having another of his meth induced rants. tell me bilge you ignorant racist."

Posted by: mikefromArlington

If you're gonna ban people for offensive personal attacks then surely this qualifies. But I don't want Mike banned.

"They can't hear you with their fingers in their ears and, for some, sh't for brains."

Posted by: BGinCHI"

That's offensive but I don't want BG banned.

"Careful there Bilgeman, your white hood is showing."

Posted by: lcrider1

Very offensive but I don't want this commentor banned.

"You are not just ignorant, you are insane."

Posted by: Ethan2010

We all LOVE Ethan but that is a personal insult that does nothing to advance the conversation. However, I don't want him banned.

@Greg: If you're gonna ban a conservative troll then - to be fair - all these other folks would have to go, too. You simply can't do that.

Posted by: sbj3 | June 17, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@QB: Did you forget Rahm's free apartment?

"Emanuel lived for five years rent-free in an apartment owned by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and her husband, Stanley Greenberg, whose consulting firm was a prime architect in BP's efforts to recast itself as a "green" corporation and recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars awarded through a committee chaired by Emanuel."

Posted by: sbj3 | June 17, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"We all LOVE Ethan but that is a personal insult that does nothing to advance the conversation. However, I don't want him banned."

er, no we don't. : )

If I were to catalogue all the offensive names I've been called and all the abusive personal attacks by liberals, including countless ones by Ethan, it would take a LOT of Greg's space.

I don't think any of he complainers is innocent, and many are among the most guilty.

Bilgeman provides information and perspective no one else does, regardless of liberals' getting wee wee'd up about his style.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

sbj,

"Did you forget Rahm's free apartment?"

No, just didn't want to make mike or wb or anyone cry. : )

The relationships between BP and the Dems are deep and, I think, only beginning to start being revealed.

"Bush's fault" just won't wear in the long term.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The federal government was waiting until the situation has gotten out of control!!! The comprehensive immigration reform must have been done at least 5 years ago....and because of no measures were taken up to now, we are facing this controversy among the society over this new immigration law. But when the situation gets out of control, only reactionary, strict measures can work.

Share your thoughts on http://immigration.civiltalks.com/

Posted by: emma84 | June 17, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

No takers on what constitutional role Congress has in "holding BP accountable"?

If not, what is this but a phony political issue?

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@qb: Its relatively rare for most commenters on this blog either conservative or liberal to engage in vituperative attacks on other posters, however, with bilgey it is a daily, or hourly occurrence. Again, I can take it, from him, but I don't want to see others leave because of him. I draw a distinction between criticizing individuals from and actions by either party and making personal attacks on other posters.

Posted by: srw3 | June 17, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Characterization of an opponent in classic political rival stereotypes is a game played by both sides. A conservative who shouts "treehugger" is no better or worse than a liberal who makes insinuations of racism and ignorance.

Bilgerman's writing style makes him easy prey for accusations of ignorance and drug addiction, as they fall outside standard collegiate style.

Unfortunately for his critics, the substance of his argument is rather solid, so they fall back to ad hominem attacks.

The climate change movement needs to address the serious, educated skeptics, and stop pretending all opposition is from corrupt oil shills and ignorant hicks and tea party politicians.

Posted by: ecocampaigner | June 17, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

srw,

"Its relatively rare for most commenters on this blog either conservative or liberal to engage in vituperative attacks on other posters, however, with bilgey it is a daily, or hourly occurrence."

No, that simply isn't true. It isn't relatively rare at all. It is very common.

If you had been on the receiving end from Ethan, Tena, Gasbag (happily, absent for a couple of weeks), rukidding, oddjob, Liam and many others, you would never say that. It's routine treatment of conservatives.

I don't cry about it either, but I'll be darned if I'm going to listen to liberal hypocrites call for censorship without pointing out their hypocrisy every time.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

That was a very cogent statement by ecocampaigner.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 17, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

@qb:On the first, does anyone realize that "holding BP accountable" very clearly is NOT any part of the role of Congress?

That is fundamental to our system of government -- separation of powers, no ex post facto laws, no bills of attainder.

whether or not this is true, the republicans aren't arguing against it on constitutional grounds. They are saying that there shouldn't be a fund because it would be mean to BP.

Posted by: srw3 | June 17, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

@ecocampaigner: The climate change movement needs to address the serious, educated skeptics, and stop pretending all opposition is from corrupt oil shills and ignorant hicks and tea party politicians.

As soon as some actual climate scientists ("serious, educated skeptics" who are educated in climate science and not some other field), not funded by fossil fuel industries put forward a better explanation for the rise in mean yearly temperatures basically since we began taking systematic measurements, I will be willing to listen. But I won't be lectured to by the anti-science, anti-evolution, nitwits in congress like Bachman, Inhofe, etc. who wouldn't know an actual scientific argument if it bit them in the ass. Every time it snows, these rubes are ridiculing scientists who study climate change. If they don't know the difference between weather and climate, then they don't deserve to be in congress or be taken seriously.

Posted by: srw3 | June 17, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

@srw3

Since you don't seem to have been exposed to serious climate change skepticism, allow me to give you a few.

1. The effects of C02, especially through water feedback mechanisms, are unproven through observational data.

2. While C02's energy absorbtion properties are basic, the chain reaction effect on the earth's climate is complex and highly uncertain.

3. Proxy records of historical temperatures are inexact, unreliable, unverifiable, and contradictory

4. Temperature is relative to time, season, elevation, latitude, humidity and is so variable, that the concept of a "global average yearly temperature" is overly simplistc and disingenuously personifies the earth, as if it were a human with a fever

5. Archival records of historical temperatures have been systematically altered without proper record keeping, and originals have been lost

6. Proposed solutions to Global Warming, like the American Power Act are high on corporate give aways, but won't actually solve Global Warming, not even a little.

7. The Global Warming Movement is the greatest impedement to American energy independence, because it demonizes Coal and Nuclear Power

8. Environmental NGOs, like Greenpeace, are funded by Big Oil, like BP, to demonize their energy rivals, Coal and Nuclear

9. The debacle that is the "Spanish Green Economy", Obama's self-proclaimed model, is now being bailed out by the EU, because they found 1 green job costs 2.5 real jobs.

10. The self-righteous quasi-religious persecution this country has been subjected to by the rest of the world, demanding we pay some "carbon debt", like we're not already the world's biggest donor to humanitarian causes

There's some serious skepticism for you.

Posted by: ecocampaigner | June 17, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

ecocampaigner:
"There's some serious skepticism for you."

Well done, chappie!

And the rebuttal from the moonbat livestock?

crickets...(as of 1756 hours CDT).

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 17, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

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