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A week ago We the People exercised our political power and put Obama back the White House. Americans chose a clear path. A vote for Romney was a vote for rule by the rich, for "trickle", for oligarchy. But instead, Americans bet on the working class. Voters showed faith in the American work ethic, faith in American ingenuity. Voters showed that they believe that a hard day's work should pay off, and that this basic American value shouldn't be sacrificed just so a lucky rich few can benefit.

Angry that their immense riches didn't translate into immense power over the will of American voters, corporate executives and rich guys of all kinds have began revenge layoffs and anti-worker actions, with a condescending "you brought this on yourself" attitude. The most numerous of these have been revenge actions from chain restaurants. Papa John's, Jimmy John's, Applebee's, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and now Denny's & Hurricane Grill & Wings.

For me it's personal. My wife is a cook by trade, slogging her way from restaurant to restaurant. She's been a cook for nearly 20 years, with little to show for it. But she is an excellent cook, and more importantly she knows how to run a kitchen. She knows what to do when there's two rows of tickets and a full grill of burgers and the damn printer still won't stop spitting out more tickets. She's tough, which is something that arrogant, privileged restaurant owners and franchisees don't always like that. Women are supposed to be skinny waitresses, not strong, skilled cooks.

Only "serious" cooks need apply.
When she gets a new restaurant job, it always starts the same way. They start her off around 8 bucks an hour, to work at that low wage "prove that she's serious". Her and I both know that the "prove you're serious" wage is because she's a woman, and in nearly every kitchen she works, she's the only female. Being a cook is physical work. She stacks 50-pound boxes in the cooler, refusing offers of "let me get that" and "are you sure you can lift all that?", which are sometimes well-meaning, and sometimes condescending. She scrapes grills and scrubs fryers.

She always proves that she's a "serious" cook, to the surprise of many. She always proves these guys wrong.

She usually does get some kind of a raise, and some kind of an opportunity to move up. After a month or there is no question that she's "serious" with real experience, skill, and work ethic, and that she could work at any other restaurant if she wanted to. Good help is hard to find, so at first they do what they can to keep her.

A strange breed
But restaurant franchisees and corporate restaurant managers are a strange breed. They "buy" a franchise or manage a corporate owned restaurant with a ready made, focus-group tested, tightly controlled business plan. There is no creativity required, no restaurant expertise needed. These bosses come from the business world, not the food world. They are almost invariably authoritarian, condescending megalomaniacs. However, her immediate supervisor is usually someone who came from the kitchen, someone who appreciates her hard work. But he's not the big bossman who makes decisions about whether or not she gets a promotion or a raise.

I get tired of seeing her get kicked around by these guys. She worked at a restaurant where she found out that she wasn't being paid as much as the male cooks even though she had been there a few years. She confronted the manager, and he promised a raise. After about 6 months of not getting her promised raise, she quit. All the people she met there who she thought were her friends stopped talking to her, saying she "screwed them over", and one of them started calling and harrassing her. I wanted to kick his ass, but she made me stay out of it. That's the way she is, she is strong and hard-working, and never needs a man to "protect" her.

She worked at another chain restaurant, a local chain. Again she was a rock star in the kitchen. She worked her way up from her "prove you're serious" wage to a position where she had some management duties. Her immediate supervisors thought she was great, but the owner was an arrogant jerk who inherited the restaurant from his dad. He never got along with my wife. The front of the house manager was a skinny, Christian, unapologetically conservative woman who had five kids. The owner fired my wife suddenly  and unexplainably, and made the obedient front-of-the-house manager in charge of the kitchen instead. He couldn't stand the thought of a strong, hard working woman who wasn't afraid to get down and dirty and do a man's job.

Douchebag CEO's
That's how these corporate chains are. She actually has a job right now that treats her decent. But they have trouble finding good help because they don't pay shit. She has been moving up the ladder quickly, and has high hopes. But working at chain restaurants can be a thankless job with little reward for the endless physical labor involved.

That's why I get so pissed off at dicks like Papa John. They already pay their overworked employees peanuts. These workers never get holidays off, never get paid sick days, never get vacations, never get health insurance. It's just the norm for that business, and it already isn't right. These guys get so rich by paying their employees very little. Now these greedy corporate restaurant CEO's want to bitch because they might actually have to treat their employees like human beings?

Fuck you Papa John, and every douchebag restaurant CEO who talks about taking it out on their employees because American voted to give restaurant workers some fucking rights. They deserve healthcare because they're Americans, and they work hard.

Originally I wasn't going to post this. My wife doesn't need anyone to speak for her. She doesn't want to be protected.  She is a hard worker, tough and streetsmart. She may not have wanted me to post this rant. I've kept it somewhat vague because I don't want to get her in trouble. But as I see restaurant franchisees and CEO's stand up and say they are going to make life harder for their already overworked and underappreciated workers just to punish American voters for electing Obama, I have to say something. This is for all cooks who toil in hot, greasy kitchens and get paid much less than they are worth.

Screw you, Papa John. Screw you, John Metz. Go ahead, Applebees, stop building restaurants. It just leaves more room for mom and pop shops to fill the void. Maybe a new wave of restaurant owners will give hard workers like my wife some fucking respect.

Discuss

Today, on the little slice of the Twilight zone that is the 2012 election, there is a story on the interwebz saying that Paul Ryan dated a black woman in college, and how this earth-shattering revelation would effect the election. It's trending #1 on Yahoo, is the first Auto-complete for "Paul Ry-" on Google, and Twitter is abuzz.

Except that it's not earth-shattering. It doesn't matter. Ryan's policies still hurt poor African-Americans the most, and also poor white people and any poor people. Ryan still supports the same anti-woman policies as Todd Akin.  Ryan still wants to kill Medicare. Nothing has changed. This is politics, not tabloid celebrity news. Policies matter, gossip about a candidate's past does not.

So why am I wasting pixels on this? because I don't want to see any Kossacks or liberal bloggers take the bait. I don't want to see anyone use this as an "Aha!" moment and say something insensitive, or speculate about how Paul Ryan's past relationship relates to the way he interacts with a Tea party that has racist overtones. Just don't go there. Stick to the real message.

A little more about why I care about this so much below the orange squiggly.

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I always get excited about the Olympics, there's something awesome, something electric about it. Usually, it's a uniting force, as millions turn on their TV's for over two weeks to cheer on our homegrown athletes as they perform amazing feats in sports we might not watch otherwise, like swimming or gymanstics. Unfortunately, our country isn't as united as it once was.

What pissed me off was the rightwing reaction on the internet to Michelle Obama meeting with athletes in London. You may say "Oh, it's just comments on the internet", but comments, and especially Tweets, are a more unfiltered look into the minds of the lunatic Right than you might get from say, Fox News. It's a little closer to what you'd hear at a Tea Party gathering, or at the dinner table in a rightwing-leaning, Fox-watching houshold. From what I've read today, and what I've heard and read previoulsy, it's clear that they HATE Michelle Obama. Here's some gems from a Yahoo article about Michelle Obama going to London to greet our American athletes:

Jeff-
      Mean MOOOOOOchelle makes the KKK look like boy scouts when it comes to racism.

Also from "Jeff":
Mean Michelle is such a gross, mean, racist and nasty PIG.

 JamesC  â€¢  1 min 46 secs ago Report Abuse
    why would the athletes care what a morbidly obese cow thinks?

 jordan  â€¢  55 mins ago Report Abuse
    fatlady there for usa??? is she proud to be an american yet????

 Dan  â€¢  1 hr 33 mins ago Report Abuse
    " ...and if you all don't do well, I'll kick you with my hoof".

Dr. Evil  â€¢  Arnold, Missouri  â€¢  2 hrs 28 mins ago Report Abuse

   Lard #$%$ lady and the Olimpics LMFAO......how ironic!!! Doesn't she have anything better to do than to spend the tax payers money? And by the way Blacks only in my picture.OK.

That last one shows a rightwing meme that is coming out of this: that Michelle Obama is only talking to and getting pictures taken with black athletes. It's such a blatant lie!

Here's a picture of Michelle Obama being picked up off the ground by USA wrestler Elena Pirozhkova, freaking awesome! (from @ClarissaChun on Twitter)

Here's another one, Michelle Obama with gymnast Shawn Johnson.

And yet another, with Nastia Liukin of the US Gymnastics team!
That stupid Michelle, cheering on American athletes! How dare she, that un-American pig!

Despite obvious evidence to the contrary, I still see shit like:

EJAce  â€¢  1 hr 26 mins ago Report Abuse
    Hey photograhpers! Where all the white athletes at?

 yo mom  â€¢  Boston, Massachusetts  â€¢  3 hrs ago Report Abuse
    a pic of moochelle with a bunch of black olympians... i guess no white people made the olympics for the USA this year.....

RRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!@!!!!!!!! I CAN"T TAKE THIS SHIT!

It's driving me nuts!!

But Yahoo is just one troll-infested corner of the internet, so I dug a little deeper, and this lie is more widespread than just one article on Yahoo. From Twitter:

Apryl Stark ‏@AprylTheFirst

Michelle Obama has photo opts with Olympian athletes. Only the black athletes.
Expand

6h KatrinaLimited KatrinaLimited ‏@KatrinaLimited

Michelle Obama greets only the black athletes? seriously? http://www.nypost.com/...

Wait, was that a link to the NY Post? Murdoch. DAAAAAAMMMMMMNNNN YOOOOOUUUU MUUUURRRRDOCH!!!

Yes, this lie started in Rightwing Media. Not stated outright, but implied in this article which shows Michelle Obama posing with the USA Women's Basketball team, all black athletes. Of course, I'm glad the first lady is supporting our basketball team and all American athletes. But why did the NY post choose this photo, and not also include the photo with Nastia Luikin or Shawn Johnson? Likely, the NY Post wasn't purposely spreading this lie, but they knew that their rightwing readers would eat this up: our black first lady posing with a black basketball team.

But I don't see a black basketball team as much as I see an American one. I'll be watching our women's basketball team, for sure. Win us a medal, ladies. Make us proud and make the naysayers look stupid.

So, is Michelle Obama cheering on our athletes some sinister Marxist Kenyan plot? Probably not. Also from Murdoch's NY Post:

Other first ladies who have led recent U.S. Olympic delegations include Hillary Clinton at Lillehammer in 1994 and Laura Bush at Turin in 2006.
Heh. Why wasn't it a problem when Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush greeted our athletes? Hmmm... How is Michelle Obama different from those other two first ladies? Hillary is a Democrat, so it can't be that. What is it about Michelle Obama that...

...Oh.
Right.
She's black.

Although rightwing racism is pretty overt in this day and age, this takes the cake. They're not even hiding it anymore. They can't even put it behind them long enough to cheer on our athletes, the athletes that represent America, our great country. The Tea Party claim to be "Patriots", but apparently a portion of them won't be cheering on certain athletes because they don't belong to the right race.

It makes me want to throw my computer.

To close this rant, I'm extremely proud of our wonderful Olympic athletes, who are much better representatives of our country than Mittens was. This year's Olympics will be awesome, one for the ages. I can't wait to watch.

And thank you, Michelle Obama, for cheering on Team USA for all of us who can't make it to London.

Also, join me in cheering on our women's basketball team tomorrow.
USA vs. Croatia
July 28 @(11:45 am EDT), on NBC.

That's the live broadcast, but times may be different in your area, you can go to the TV listing on the NBC website to get the schedule for your area.

Go USA!
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

EDIT:There's been a few corrections to the info in this diary. Shawn Johnson is a gymnast, not a tennis player, and was on the 2008 team, but is not on the 2012 Olympic team. Nastia Liukin was on the 2008 team but didn't make the 2012 Olympic team. However, she is still on the U.S. gymnastics team, just not the Olympic team. Both pieces of bad info came from Yahoo, and I got the same bad info when I Googled it several times. Sorry about that. But the pics are legit, they were all taken in London over the past 24 hours.

Thanks to badlands, Panacea Paola, and Brooke in Seattle for pointing this out, and thanks to Young Arizona Liberal for a good suggestion on improving this diary. Facts are important.

Discuss

In case you thought it was time to give Wal-Mart a break, or give them the benefit of the doubt...

Found this HuffPo story on the Twitter:

Ex-Walmart Greeter Jan Sullivan Loses Job, Home After Being Attacked By Customer

Jan Sullivan, 73, of St. Augustine, Florida, is moving into a mobile home after being fired from her job as a greeter at Walmart over an altercation with a customer on Black Friday last year, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Sullivan was fired from the employer she called her "home" and "family" for 22 years, three days after she reportedly grabbed a customer's sweater in response to the customer shoving her.

After sending out dozens of unsuccessful job applications, Sullivan has been forced to sell her home. Making matters worse, she’s not entitled to unemployment benefits either because she was fired for “misconduct.”

Wow.

An earlier article in the Tampa Bay Times fleshes out the story a little more with some more background. Walmart clams Jan Sullivan "clearly violated company policy". They remorselessly fired a woman who said that "Walmart was like my home, like my family."

Walmart purposely fought her application for unemployment benefits and government help.

Walmart had presented the state with a handful of grainy images taken from a video recording, Sullivan says. They show her gripping the woman's sweater, but don't explain what led to it. She has never seen the video.

Sullivan has contacted at least three law firms. Only one called back, to say they couldn't help.

Wal-Mart not only fires this 73-year old lady who had worked for the company since about 1989, but they call it "misconduct" because she was trying to defend herself when a customer pushed her in the Black Friday Chaos. Now she has lost her home, and greedy Wal-mart couldn't care less, as long as the profits keep rolling in.

This is also a reminder that we vote with our dollars. Wal-Mart only exists because people shop there. Every dollar spent at Wal-Mart enables this kind of abuse of workers. Wal-Mart worker abuse stories are also a look at what the working world would be like without unions. You would think that 22 years of service to Wal-mart would give Jan Sullivan some job security, but not in today's corporate-ruled world.

This is so wrong, and is only one of numerous cases of worker abuse at the hands of greedy Wal-Mart. And they get away with it. Again and again. If corporations like Wal-Mart really were people, then maybe they would have a little human decency and compassion for an elderly woman who is now in dire straits because of Wal-mart's action.

Join me in boycotting Walmart for this and other abuses. We need to spread this story, and hit Wal-Mart in the wallet, the only language corporate fatcats understand. Not one more penny at Wal-Mart. Not one more dollar for this greedy company who used this woman's hard work for 22 years and then threw her away when it was convenient.

Discuss

Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 07:46 AM PDT

Mandy

by Broke And Unemployed

I was inspired by a rec-list diary about a student being banned from his high school graduation, and decided to post one of my own stories about things I went through and things I witnessed. My high school was small and rural, but terrible, and unfortunately seemed a typical of Ohio high schools. I wouldn't send a dog there.  This story does require a long trip in the Way-Back machine, back to the late 90's.

"Mandy"
I was a junior in high school, and sat at a table in study hall with a girl named Mandy. Mandy was pregnant, just far enough along that she was starting to show. It could be said that many 17-year olds aren't ready to be mothers, but Mandy showed a courage and maturity beyond her years that was pretty amazing to me. Her and I had a lot of interesting conversations. Here I was, a teenager mostly concerned with riding my bike, hanging out with friends, and playing "Magic: the Gathering", whose biggest responsibility was a job at Mcdonald's. Mandy's world was much different than mine. In a matter of months her life was about to change drastically.

I heard what other kids said about Mandy behind her back, that she was a "slut", "white trash", and all kinds of things. They told me I shouldn't associate with her. Mandy knew what people said about her, but was defiant, saying that if people didn't like that she was pregnant, then they didn't have to look at her.

She still wanted to finish school, and seemed to look forward to being a mother. But one day in that study hall the principal came to the door and wagged his finger at her to come out and speak with him in the hall. This was the first of her many "meetings" with the principal, and after every one she came back visibly upset. When the principal saw her he gave her a look that was half fake sympathy, half menacing condescension.

Mandy seemed to know her days in that school were numbered, and talked about transferring to the county vocational school. One day the principal called her out of study hall again for another meeting, and she never came back. I never saw Mandy again.

I've noticed this trend before I met Mandy; it's been talked about in that school that pregnant girls seem to "disappear", being suspended or expelled just about every time. But Mandy really made an impression on me during the few months I spent with her in that study hall. Futures for teen moms sometimes seem to be pretty bleak, but Mandy showed strength and defiance in the face of a town that didn't want her. She showed courage and determination, being forced to grow up so fast. Here I was, a teenager, still a boy, but meeting her made me think about the qualities I wanted to have when I grew to be a man.

I never found out what happened to Mandy, I heard that she moved away, which if that was true, may have been the best thing for her. That was a long time ago, and her child is now a teenager himself. She faced a tough situation, but I wouldn't bet against her. Mandy and her struggle left an impression on me that still lasts, enough that I still remember these events, still remember the look on her face when she came back from a "meeting" with the principal.  If anyone is strong enough to make it, it's her.
---
It wouldn't surprise me if this kind of thing still happens today. Schools often try to get rid of students who are bad for the school's "image". Our high schools are too often geared towards getting rid of "undesireables" rather than trying to include everyone in the opportunities that education can give. I ended up not graduating myself a couple years later. There were 100 students in my class when I was a freshman, and only 66 of us were handed diplomas in June, 1999. James A. Garfield high school was somehow able use some fuzzy math to report a 95% graduation rate to the state and receive an "Excellent" rating.

Discuss

Happening Now: Legal medical marijuana shops in Oakland being raided by the U.S. Marshals, and DEA. Twitter and mainstream media sources are confirming that Oaksterdam University, which was a business that taught people how to grow marijuana for medical purposes, is being raided by the feds right now.

A few pics from Twitter:

The above image shows feds blocking off Oaksterdam. (they may have been cropped out, if you click on the picture it will show them on the right.) Twitter sources  says there's no OPD, only feds.

Above image taken by Susie Cagle of an unmarked DEA vehicle being blocked in by sitting protesters.

There was supposed to be a news story on nbcbayarea.com, but I can't get it to work.

you can follow what's happening on twitter, use hashtag #Oaksterdam

Wow. These folks aren't hurting anybody. Why can't the feds stop wasting their tax money and leave them alone? How about going after bankers instead? Meh, I won't hold my breath.

And that's it. Short diary because I'm crazy busy today, and I won't be able to update until later tonight, but I thought this was important news and needed to be posted on here.

Discuss

There has been a shooting in the Chardon High School cafeteria in Northeast Ohio around 7:50AM. According to reports, five shots were fired and four students were injured, and the LifeFlight helicopter has been dispatched to the school. The shooter was on the run for a short time but has been taken into custody. The school was on lockdown for about an hour, but classes have been cancelled and students are being returned to their homes. The story may change slightly as more facts become available.

Details are still sketchy at this point, but the best reports I've found are here:
Channel 19 news report
Channel 8 News report (It's Fox, but has more details than some others, and video.)

My thoughts go out to the students at Chardon. I live about a 20-30 minute drive from Chardon, so this was a shock for me. It's sad that school shootings have become so common, and this one was way too close to home. It's become common enough that it's almost not a "Top Story" anymore. But I think that one shooting is one too many.

----

A few short thoughts about this scary post-Columbine world: I work at a college campus, and the realities of school in today's world were made clear me when we had a staff meeting a couple months ago on how to deal with an "active shooter", what to do, where to hide. Some of us are specially trained on how to tackle and subdue a shooter, training which is becoming increasingly necessary. On emergency procedure placards all over campus there are procedures listed for an "active shooter".

It's terrible that this is now a reality that we have to deal with. I don't know what causes this or why school shootings seem to be increasing in frequency. I wonder if anything is being done to prevent these incidents, to identify the warning signs and causes, to stop this before a troubled youth becomes an "active shooter".

Scary times we live in. I know there's quite a few teachers and some college students on Dkos, so stay safe, Kossacks. It's a scary, scary world we live in.

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I know that some folks might think it's odd that I am agnostic, that I'm not a member of any religion, but I follow the tradition of Lent, an observance that revolves around Jesus. But this is my fourth year of giving up something for Lent, and it's starting to catch on among my friends.

It's been a long time since I called myself a Christian. When I left high school without a diploma back in 2000, I was at a low point in my life. I became involved group of hard-line evangelical Christians, and thought I could find a purpose in religion. Just as they told me to do, I would spend hours a day in my room alone reading the Bible. But the lessons I learned from the Scripture were not the ones they intended me to learn. The Jesus I read about looked after the poor and the sick. 21st century evangelical Christianity seems to emphasize unquestioned, blind obedience, but when I read about Jesus I saw a non-conformist who spoke truth to power and paid the ultimate price.

They didn't like my interpretation very much, and said I should "pray more and read it again."  Long story short, I left that group after a while, and for many years struggled to define my faith. Even though I no longer followed the Christian religion or identified as Christian, I still followed and believed in many of the things I read in the Bible. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Help those in need. Don't lie and cheat to get ahead. Don't steal from others. Some ideas from other religions or schools of though factored in as well. I definitely believe that we should be kind to the Earth from which we came and which is our home, and idea which is more in line with Paganism than Christianity. I do believe in Karma, that what goes around comes around.

Also central to my system of values is that "all men and women are created equal", which doesn't really come from religion, but from the founding documents of this great nation. Whenever there's a temptation to look down on a homeless guy, or when a well-dressed man in a Lexus acts like I'm beneath him, I always remember those words from the Declaration on Independence. This is generally better received by the homeless guy than by Mr. Lexus.

So I never "found" my faith, instead I built it from the ground up with pieces from Judeo-Christian, Pagan, American values and others. I became comfortable with the fact that I may never truly know whether or not there is some grand Architect out there that built us. More below the Dkos squiggly.

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For the seven or eight years or so between the time I left high school without a diploma and the time that I got my GED in 2007, every time I filled out a job application there was that dreaded "education" section. It usually looked something like this:

High School
Name of School ________  Address ________
Diploma? ▢Yes ▢No

Every time I checked "No", I knew it increased the chances that the person reviewing my application would stop right there and throw my app in the trash. If they did choose to hire me, they didn't have to worry about paying a competitive wage. Opportunity for advancement? Not for dropouts. When I finally got my GED, I thought my days of "checking the box" were finally over. Ooooooohhh, no. Not by a longshot.

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Every couple months or so there's a group that gathers in the center of our town on Sunday afternoon and silently stands on the sidewalk with anti-abortion signs. "Abortions hurt women" and the classic "abortion is murder" were among the signs present.

I live right in the middle of town, so the downtown sidewalks and benches are my "front yard", as I sometimes say. In other words, these right-wing anti-choice protesters are right outside my window. Their target is probably a Planned Parenthood discreetly tucked in the second floor of one of the old downtown brick buildings with no outside signage, as well as the busiest intersection in town.

More below the orange squiggly.

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Job security is dead in America, and the "American Dream" is on life support, with the Tea Party and their rich backers ready to pull the plug. Workers are considered expendable and paid peanuts for dangerous, backbreaking work. Those that dare complain are made examples of, and find themselves suddenly broke and unemployed.

When I tell people this is my 4th year in school, they always mention graduation. "It must be great to be almost done!" But I'm not almost done. My major is Civil Engineering, a 5-year program even on the recommended curriculum, which is a grueling, expensive, nearly unrealistic schedule of 17-19 credits per semester plus summer classes. And on my more realistic schedule of 15-16 credits with a job on the side, I'm on the home stretch, but by no means "almost done". When I finally get my degree, there's no guarantee I'll get that great well-paying job I'm looking for, So how did I go from a factory worker and high-school dropout to a 30-year old college student?

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My last Occupy-related bike adventure was an awesome experience, my 39-mile ride from Ravenna to Cleveland. This time I packed up, got on my bike and headed east to Youngstown, which was about the same distance away as Cleveland, but in the opposite direction. Occupy Youngstown had been raided Friday morning, and their tent and much of their belongings were taken. I wanted to do another long ride to show my support. The weather was decent this weekend, and this being November, I might not have another chance. There were no bike trails that lead to Youngstown, this time it was all bumpy country roads and city streets.

More below the squiggly. Don't hurt your eyes too much with the blurry picture, my cellphone camera is stone age.

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