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The EPA wants to hear from the public about regulating CO2 from coal plants under the Clean Air Act.

Comment sessions have been set up in 11 cities nationwide. The remaining ones include:

   San Francisco, CA: Nov. 5, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at EPA Region 9 office, 75 Hawthorne St.
    Dallas, TX: Nov. 7, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St.
    Seattle, WA: Nov. 7, 3 p.m.to 6 p.m. at Jackson Federal Building, 915 Second. Ave.
    Washington, D.C.: Nov. 7, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at EPA Headquarters, William Jefferson Clinton East Building, 1201 Constitution Ave. NW
    Chicago, IL: Nov. 8, 9  a.m. to 4 p.m. at EPA Region 5 office, 77 W. Jackson Blvd.
    Philadelphia, PA: Nov. 8, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at William J. Green Federal Building, 600 Arch St.
If you are interested in attending a session, registration is recommended, as high turnout is anticipated (good!).

For those unable to attend any of these sessions, as in my own case, comments can be sent to carbonpollutioninput@epa.gov or in a form on this website.

Below the Kosquiggly is my comment to them. I implore you to add your voice as well. Every progressive victory today will be meaningless in 20, 30, 40 years if our life support system -- aka the Earth we evolved to live in -- fails.

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New Processes

- New Device Harnesses Sun and Sewage to Produce Hydrogen Fuel

A novel device that uses only sunlight and wastewater to produce hydrogen gas could provide a sustainable energy source while improving the efficiency of wastewater treatment.
Apparently this self-driven and self-sustained microbial-solar hybrid is a combo of two types of fuel cells, microbial fuel cells and photoelectrochemical cells, which allows for a higher voltage generation. It cleans the wastewater in the process, at least to a certain degree, too.

- Solar Panels Can Be Used to Provide Heating and Air Conditioning

The use of solar panels for hot water in the bathroom is standard practice, but researchers at the Madrid Universities Carlos III and Politécnica suggest that they may also be used to provide large offices with heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Their proposal involves the incorporation of solar collectors into a gas-based co-generation system with an absorption machine, which would reduce both energy expenditure and CO2 emissions.
Update to the uncommon tri-generation systems (heat, cooling, and electricity) which are gas-powered to run office buildings, train stations, and other major building complexes.

- Power from the sea? Triboelectric nanogenerator extracts energy from ocean waves

American researchers are now aiming to use waves to produce energy by making use of contact electrification between a patterned plastic nanoarray and water. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, they have introduced an inexpensive and simple prototype of a triboelectric nanogenerator that could be used to produce energy and as a chemical or temperature sensor.

The triboelectric effect is the build up of an electric charge between two materials through contact and separation – it is commonly experienced when removal of a shirt, especially in dry air, results in crackling. [...] The triboelectric effect is not limited to solids; it can also occur with liquids. The only requirement is that specific electronic energy levels of two substances are close enough together. Water just needs the right partner – maybe a suitable plastic.

Looks like mostly still early in prototype stages (actually true of the first one as well), and doesn't work as well with seawater as fresh water, but it does still work some there, so it's still quite an interesting launching point at the very least.

Economics

- Economic Dangers of 'Peak Oil' Addressed

Researchers from the University of Maryland and a leading university in Spain demonstrate in a new study which sectors could put the entire U.S. economy at risk when global oil production peaks ("Peak Oil"). This multi-disciplinary team recommends immediate action by government, private and commercial sectors to reduce the vulnerability of these sectors.
Interesting graphic representation. Apparently there's not a lot of specific economic research on the effects of Peak Oil on specific industries, but this is that attempt.
For the United States, such sectors would include iron mills, chemical and plastic products manufacturing, fertilizer production and air transport.
Also from the same piece, seen elsewhere but not enough, so worth repeating:
Improvements in extraction and refining technologies can influence flows, but this tends to lead to steeper decline curves after the peak is eventually reached. Such steep decline curves have also been observed for shale gas wells.

"Shale developments are, so we believe, largely overrated, because of the huge amounts of financial resources that went into them (danger of bubble) and because of their apparent steep decline rates (shale wells tend to peak fast)," according to Dr. Kerschner.

- Innovation in renewable-energy technologies is booming
The increase was most dramatic in patents related to renewable energy, chiefly solar energy and wind. Patents in fossil-fuel technologies showed a more modest increase, while those in nuclear technology were flat.

For example, between 2004 and 2009, the number of patents issued annually for solar energy increased by 13 percent per year, while those for wind energy increased 19 percent per year, on average; these growth rates approach or exceed the rates for technologies such as semiconductors and digital communications. Overall, renewable-energy patents in the United States increased from fewer than 200 per year in the period from 1975 to 2000 to more than 1,000 annually by 2009. By comparison, there were about 300 fossil-fuel-related patents in 2009, up from about 100 a year in earlier decades. The fraction of all patents accounted for by energy is also increasing

Well, that's good news! That and a few other things lately have really made clear how close we are to a massive tipping point in renewable energy economics. And here's the same story from Climate Progress as well, with an interesting graph.

Extreme Weather

- With 17 Dead, 50 Missing After Deadly Typhoon In Japan, this story about Typhoon Francisco doesn't look good.

Typhoon Francisco continues to become better organized as it spins to the southwest of Guam.

Francisco has developed in a similar area to where former Typhoon Wipha formed last week.

[...]

Warm water and low wind shear should allow for further intensification as Francisco takes a track very similar to that of former Typhoon Wipha.

- Rescue teams evacuate residents after typhoon in India
Typhoon Phailin and flooding in the Indian state of Odisha has affected more than 12 million people and killed 26 victims, rescue authorities said.

[...]

The river flooded two highways and destroyed nearly 250,000 homes, the Hindustan Times reported.

Teams rescued nearly 70,000 people from shelters Tuesday and brought them to safety.

- 'Catastrophic' Wildfires Hit Australia
About 100 bushfires raging in New South Wales, Australia's most populated state, forced thousands of people to flee their homes yesterday.

[...]

Unseasonably warm temperatures and strong winds fanned the flames, according to news reports. The extreme weather followed a dry, warm winter. There were no reports of deaths, but the extent of damage is unknown, because some fires are too intense for firefighters to safely battle the 'catatrosphic' blazes[...]

- A Song of Flood and Fire: One Million Square Kilometers of Burning Siberia Doused by Immense Deluge

This one's a couple months old, but I've only seen it mentioned once on the web, and it's such an important story. It pairs nicely with this story which preceded it and has a stunning photo of a submersed football (soccer) stadium.

Miscellaneous Other

- World Ocean Systems Undermined by Climate Change by 2100

- Carbon Cycle Models Underestimate Indirect Role of Animals

- Norway’s billions could go into renewables

- Pacific ocean temperature influences tornado activity in US, study finds

- Arizona solar plant achieves six hours after sun goes down

- In case you missed it, the blog entry of a young Antarctic researcher affected by the Republican shutdown's forced ending of the year's whole Antarctic research program. Pairs nicely with this unrelated follow-up article on the Antarctic program since the end of the shutdown: Shutdown Ends, But US Antarctic Research Still on Thin Ice.

Discuss

In President Obama's speech this morning on the end of the hostage-taking Republican shutdown, he outlined the next three issues Congress should work on: a long-term budget, immigration reform, and a farm bill. These are well-selected topics, as they are both areas in need of attention and contentious issues, especially within the ranks of the civil warring Republican party.

I think by now it is pretty clear President O understands the long game. Although I am a critic of his in regards to many policy decisions and am disappointed that his "change" slogan didn't even approach a change from the Reagan-era political dogma du jour, I will admit that he is a cunning strategist and is very adept at understanding, anticipating, and playing political dynamics. It is therefore almost certain he plays the long game and has something of an idea of what will come next, presumably at the beginning of the year.

As others have commented, when your team's up, you run up the score, especially when the stakes are so high. Thus, the long game consists of more score running up, which means keeping the Republicans at each others' throats, all while getting shit done this country needs.

The best way to keep the Republicans divided in civil war is to use issues, such as immigration already, which some Republicans know they need to soften their position on to maintain any future hope as a party, while others hold a deep ideological intransigence and are unwilling to give an inch. Besides immigration, what else fits the bill?

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I know there have been proposals for eco-themed columns in the past on the banner of Daily Kos (in addition to Elections, Labor, et al.) and even that kos has remarked on these proposals (I believe he said in one post that it would cost approximately $100,000 a year to run such a column).

Now, granted, for this proposal, I know neither the finances of Daily Kos and EcoWatch nor the economics of running a blog, so it may not be the best timing for either party. Not to mention, EcoWatch just released a new updated version of the site, so they're probably busy with that. Still, I believe an environmental column on Daily Kos would be a great improvement, and I further believe that EcoWatch, especially with its fabulous new overhaul and expansion, is the website to team up with, should they be interested in the offer.

There are a number of positive features such a partnership possesses:
1. When predators gain total advantage over prey, the only way the prey can survive is by coming together with each protecting the others' interests, for the good of the group. This is essentially the economic picture we confront, marked by record global and national inequality and a quickly vanishing middle class. We must all latch our arms together in one united progressive voice, or there will not be a progressive victory.

The unions, our allies and friends, have already picked up on this. I believe I read somewhere (though I am struggling to find it now) that some "Big Green" groups have been invited into the fold with voting rights and all in at least one major union. This development is supplemented by the development of a new green-labor coalition in California to uphold the California Environmental Quality Act, consisting of partners: California League of Conservation Voters, AFL-CIO, UFCW, the California Teamsters, National Resource Defense Council, Coalition for Clean Air, American Lung Association, and the California Nurses Association.

Thus, just as our "ground team" has figured out, integrating labor and other progressive causes such as those represented at Daily Kos with the environmental movement is a winner and will help us work in unison while supporting each other under the increasingly oppressive rule of the plutocrats. We in "new media," specifically progressive new media, must actively engage with and entangle our messages with the messages of our friends and allies in the environmental movement (whose movement is, well, sort of important to succeed...) if we have any chance of implementing consequential positive change. Our medium is the Internet; let us share platforms and help spread ideas, and action. A marriage between Daily Kos and a well-oiled and informative environmental website is a win socially, strategically, and scientifically.

2. Adding an environmental banner would be not only signal to green-centric viewers a firm and resolute focus on the massive challenges under that vast umbrella, but also allows a space for both an organized section of all environmental Daily Kos diaries and the many exceptional stories provided by the reporting and relaying of environmental news by said green website.

Together, this yields well-informed environmentalists gathering in a social online forum (here) to discuss the latest news as well as to take action regarding it, as this is and should strive to be an action-focused community.

3. EcoWatch has always been one of the best environmental websites around, by combining headline climate news with often-missed yet compelling pieces from around the web, and its recent upgrade to the website is a huge step up in sophistication, organization, and breadth. My green site blogroll is relatively long at 17 sites*, and before this upgrade, my go-to when I wanted to read climate and environmental news was usually a toss-up between Climate Progress and EcoWatch. But with this new version, EcoWatch is the clear winner, with relevant and descriptive sub-headers (hmm, I see a theme developing...), a tight visual package, and among the best environmental reporting on the web. Not only would Climate Progress' fusion with Think Progress probably hinder collaboration attempts from Daily Kos in a similar manner, but EcoWatch's content is more consistently eclectic and under-reported and equals or exceed the quality of Think Progress. DeSmog, while amazing for what it is, is too narrow and not prolific enough to produce consistently fresh content, the same problems as Greenpeace. While definitely useful resources, Treehugger, (annoyingly) increasingly Grist, and especially Mother Nature Network sometimes lack the "adultiness" that the cold hard facts of CP and EcoWatch convey, as well as a comparative lack in original reporting on or uncovering of big stories.

As I keep saying, this is a perfect marriage.

*EcoWatch, Climate Progress, DeSmogBlog, Greenpeace blogs, Treehugger, Grist, Inside Climate News, Clean Technica, 350.org, NRDC, Inhabitat, Mother Nature Network, Tar Sands Blockade, Meatless Monday, Sustainable Table, Organic Consumers Buying Guide, and Ethicurean.

4. Cross-polination. Our diaries and writers will get exposure from their readers; their stories and reports will get exposure from our vast community. With that, our community, already gifted with great diarists well-versed in environmental goings-on, is better educated on the survival challenges and solutions of our time, Daily Kos becomes a hub for environmental organization, and both websites see an increase in traffic.
5. Contrary to kos' expectation, I believe "ghettoizing" environmental pieces into their own sub-column will not lower page views; instead, the best will float to the top within it, and those will receive enough rec's to be seen by the wider community, just as is the case without that more formal structuring.
While cross-posting some of their pieces and managing the EcoWatch sub-heading, EcoWatch would gain valuable publicity on such a progressive hub as Daily Kos, while Daily Kos benefits from the addition of an environmental column from a group with a history of great work and an upwards trajectory and the accompanying increase of traffic from enviro-centric activists. Perhaps, and I am just speculating here, as in much of the piece, EcoWatch could be guaranteed a certain amount of ad time on Daily Kos banner and vice versa, especially in times of high volume.

Perhaps this is a pipe dream. And this really only considers Daily Kos' perspective rather than that of EcoWatch itself. But if they were willing to partner and funds could be found to maintain the column, this would be my ideal supplement to further green-ify the orange Daily Kos.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with EcoWatch or any of the other websites listed. I just really favor them and want an environmental sub-header on DKos. Kos previously had stated something to the effect of were that to ever happen, he could see a site like Grist doing it, but I find that objectionable and believe EcoWatch is, while smaller, still the much better option.

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To my knowledge, no nation has ever received the Nobel Peace Prize, or any other Nobel Prize for that matter. Organizations have, such as the UN chemical weapons inspectors or the panel on climate change, but never whole nations. But I am going to go right past looking up the rules and nominate the country of Norway for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.

For saving the world.

...hopefully.

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The last few days have seen some interesting climate news, but a couple items seem to have gotten lost in the bustle of the shutdown and other intriguing climate/weather stories, such as weatherdude's as always unmatched coverage of Cyclone Phailin off the coast of India; the news still being generated by the recently released summary of AR5 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [PDF warning] (not to be confused with the insidious and fraudulent Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change); not to mention the stories generated by the shutdown itself vis a vis the environment, its lack of regulation, the closing of all Antarctic research facilities for the year [<== must read], and the closing of the national parks.

While all interesting, newsworthy, and most of all upsetting, these are not the climate stories I would like to discuss. I will instead focus on two bits of news which I feel deserve greater attention from environmentalists as well as the "reality based community" at large.

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This will be a pretty short diary, but one that I think warrants writing.

MIT has come up with a way to show you what exactly a review of your Gmail metadata looks like; thus, at least a peek into all that sneaky peeking the pesky NSA is doing. Granted, various reports in the blogosphere (and pointedly outside "real news media") and around the web have indicated this is just a drop of water in the pond of metadata the Panopticon NSA spying apparatus has to control us plebes. Still, it's a useful look at just how much a little bit of metadata from one email source, albeit an extremely popular and highly used email source, can tell the NSA.

The project is called Immersion.

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At this point, we at DKos are all dreadfully familiar with the evils of Monsanto, but not content with suing farmers with cross-polinated fields and engineering the poisons and poison-resistant plants which crowd out all natural foods in our markets, the Evil Giant has teamed up with its government pal, the EPA, to arbitrarily increase the acceptable levels of Roundup in our diet, as detailed in a post by Tom Laskawy at Grist:

First the bad news: The “safest” herbicide in the history of science may be harming us in ways we’re just beginning to understand. And now for the really bad news: Because too much is never enough, the Environmental Protection Agency just raised the allowable limits for how much of that chemical can remain on the food we eat, and the crops we feed to animals — many of which end up on our plates as well. If you haven’t guessed its identity yet, it’s Monsanto’s Roundup, a powerful weed killer.

[...]

It just may be that Roundup represents a hitherto unrecognized threat to our health — not because of what it does to our bodies, but because of what it does to our “internal ecology,” a.k.a. our “microbiome.”

Laskawy's post is definitely worth reading, and it gets into a good overview of exactly why that "safest herbicide" is probably anything but, as is the NYT Magazine cover story which inspired it.

My reason for posting, though, is to share that the comment period for the EPA's new approval is still open, through July 1st, and to urge anyone who's concerned to leave their comment here. Below is a copy of my comment on the page:

Choosing regulations of the chemicals people unknowingly and unwillingly put into their body based on the profits of mega-corporations like Monsanto is despicable and unconscionable. As with most things, the true danger in doing so is that "we don't know what we don't know," but as technology and science advance and people begin to awaken to the utter lack of control (or even say) they have in these vast global processes (or some might say conspiracies, if they were so inclined) -- and although not a tin-hatter myself, I see their point: a group of rich mad scientists with a government agency of a captive audience and little knowledge -- or apparent care -- for the damage they're doing to not just the biosphere but especially the microbiome of each individual who consumes glyphosate in the crops with which Monsanto so zealously saturates our markets (crowding out alternative, altogether healthier choices) -- we will and, as this comment attests, are demanding change. Notwithstanding the damage it does to individual plants and animals in the food supply chain, the increasing evidence of damage to the very microorganisms which regulate our health, about which we are only just scratching the surface, is enough to truly make one's head spin as we consider the dangers inherent in such hubris and recognize these dangers will be borne not by the corporations who make them in their quest for profits nor by their captive regulatory agencies, but by the millions of people who will consume them, unspoken for except in probably unnoticed diatribes in comment sections like these allegedly set up to give me a voice in this decision. We'll see about that. Show us that our voices our heard, and reject the unsupported assertion that a little more glyphosate won't kill us, because frankly, the evidence says it's a lot worse for us than you have heretofore acknowledged (again, serving in a role as proxy for Monsanto rather than protecting the people who support you).
The progressive fight is hard and fought on multiple fronts, but few battles are as personal and as ubiquitous as those concerning the very constitution of our beings and that of what we put -- or are forced to put -- in our bodies. Only with perseverance and determination do we have any hope of prevailing, so please, take advantage of the comment period and help raise the noise around this important issue. Thank you!

UPDATE: H/t to ActivistGuy and Azazello for the reminder of the Worldwide March Against Monsanto this Saturday! Find a local event near you here and join the movement!

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Sat May 18, 2013 at 06:15 AM PDT

A Poem for Today

by Panacea Paola

Struck by inspiration. Would love to hear what people think.

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A couple weeks ago I wrote a diary here entitled, "A New Progressive Nationalism for America," which argued that we should take George Lakoff's idea of framing (as presented in this article) and apply it in a direction on the Political Compass which doesn't get much love in the progressive blogosphere. Whereas the typical progressive values which frame progressively-termed debates would mostly consist of those related to and necessarily entangled with "empathy," "responsibility," and "community," my diary suggested that because of the New Radicalization among Republicans and the massive shift in the Overton Window, an alternative set of values could be used by progressives in other ares less receptive to the aforementioned ideals based around a kind of "pragmatic progressive nationalism" defined by the belief that American has the resources, the wealth, and the manpower to be #1 in the world in a number of categories that we're not and that we would take whatever solutions we could to ensure our place "at the top of the world." Although I personally ascribe to the ideals of John Lennon's philosophical masterpiece Imagine and that nationalism has ultimately got to go, I believe this is a doable and unexpected political strategy the left should employ to help begin to shift America to the left and downward from our current hard-right, authoritarian dystopia-headed position.

Now, before I go any further, I would like to address one more thing from that initial post: In the comments, there seemed to be a number of people who had a problem especially with the title, "progressive nationalism," because of some dear of invoking Nazi comparisons. And really, who can blame them?

If frames of reference are the game, associating your language even loosely with the Nazis, who still occupy such a mythic and taboo place in our society (if you thought Inglourious Basterds made some interesting historical edits, wait until you see Iron Sky), can hardly be called "playing the odds."

In that spirit, I'd like to rechristen this political strategy as "Pragmatic Progressivism," because it employs the same rhetorical strategy but with the spin that we will "take whatever steps necessary" to get the American people back on top -- in health care, life expectancy, education, crime, happiness, you name it.

Now, with those things cleared up, I hope you'll follow me below the gold to see how Elizabeth Warren has anything at all to do with this.

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A new post on Alternet by University of California - Berkeley professor and author of Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate George Lakoff (and described in this diary by eXtina) says essentially that the ultra-right conservatives mutinying against the traditional party leaders are ultimately benefiting from the old adage, "all press is good press". He argues that as a function of the way our brains are wired to comprehend information, the mere fact that Democrats and progressives address the conservative policy distractions in their own terms reinforces the conservative mindset of all who are toxicly infected by it, not least of which for the crucial independent (I refuse to call anyone between the parties "moderate," as moderate is about twice as far to the left as much of the Democratic establishment):

Liberals tend to underestimate the importance of public discourse and its effect on the brains of our citizens. All thought is physical. You think with your brain. You have no alternative. Brain circuitry strengthens with repeated activation. And language, far from being neutral, activates complex brain circuitry that is rooted in conservative and liberal moral systems. Conservative language, even when argued against, activates and strengthens conservative brain circuitry. This is extremely important for so-called "independents," who actually have both conservative and liberal moral systems in their brains and can shift back and forth. The more they hear conservative language over the next eight months, the more their conservative brain circuitry will be strengthened.
The entire article is certainly worth reading, and eloquently reflects a sentiment long expressed here on Daily Kos.

He further argues that a progressive alternative morality needs to be clearly articulated by everyone running for public office against the Rabid Wrong and as the root of the policy suggestions we propose.

I think Democrats need much better positive messaging, expressing and repeating liberal moral values -- not just policies-- uniformly across the party. That is not happening.

One of the reasons that it is not happening is that there is a failure to understand the difference between policy and morality, that morality beats policy, and that moral discourse is absolutely necessary. This is a major reason why the Democrats lost the House in 2010. Consider how conservatives got a majority of Americans to be against the Obama health care plan. The president had polled the provisions, and each had strong public support: No preconditions, no caps, no loss of coverage if you get sick, ability to keep your college-age child on your policy, and so on. These are policy details, and they matter. The conservatives never argued against any of them. Instead, they re-framed; they made a moral case against "Obamacare." Their moral principles were freedom and life, and they had language to go with them. Freedom: "government takeover." Life: "death panels."

While a vision or platform of morals based on community and responsibility, as he argues further, is an obvious moral framework in opposition to one idealizing total personal freedom, except in the realm of strong, forceful, masculine, disciplined, patriarchal family-centric roles and relationships, I believe that the Overton Window is shifted too conservatively and doesn't so much "skew" as "thud" authoritarian to base our platform of progressive morals on something so seemingly antithetical to what is so widely believed and discussed. However strongly we may feel here at Daily Kos, liberal progressives do not constitute a majority of Americans, despite signs that the tides may be turning. We share these views as a direct result of the fact that we have such a vibrant and supportive community. But because this attribute is not yet shared by a majority of Americans, they are unable to appreciate that the ideas of "freedom" and "community" are in fact far from antithetical, and thus I believe progressives should frame their case morally in a way that can appeal to voters in a different way, in a way which can appeal to people of many political sways: a new progressive nationalism.

More below la squiggly.

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Over the past couple weeks, since Markos has begun urging site visitors and Dems generally to vote for Rick Santorum in the open primary states, there has been a TON of negative feedback from users, in addition to some, though significantly less, positive feedback. And I was really with people that it was a bad idea. Some very compelling arguments were made. I rec'd and tipped quite a few diaries and comments which opposed Operation Hilarity. But for some reason, a little while ago, I suddenly changed my mind and I was, for the first time, on the side of those defending it. Find out why below the "Two Sideways S's Bondage Night Pic" (only if your mind is as sick as mine will you be able to see that :] ).

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