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I must respectfully, and vehemently, disagree with the diary re restoration of the fairness doctrine.  The Fairness Doctrine is bad policy and arguably unconstitutional.  Let me tell you about the original fairness doctrine.  It was authored in 1789 by James Madison and was passed by Congress shortly thereafter as a proposed Third Amendment among twelve.  It was ratified, along with ten of the twelve proposed amendments, by the States in 1791 as the First Amendment.  Its words provide, in relevant part:

Congress shall make no law . . .  abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . .

Do we really want Congress meddling in cable and satellite television and radio -- or even the internets: it's not that far-fetched if you agree with the former.

Join me on the flip for more discussion.

Look, I do not question the good faith of davej, but restoration of any form of the fairness doctrine would be a VERY bad idea.  Davej states: "Currently we only see subjects that the corporate world is interested in, covered from a pro-corporate perspective.  Imagine the effect on the country if the public were exposed to a variety of viewpoints on issues like trade, consumer protection, sustainability, unions, health care, global warming and energy, religion, the environment, nutrition, and SO MANY other issues!"

Here's the question: Who decides what's not a "pro-corporate perspective"?  Political appointees, who are lobbied by lobbiests, etc.  (We can't say that they can't be lobbied, because the First Amendment provides that the people have right to "petition the government for redress of grievances").  Who decides what variety of viewpoints should be given "equal" time?  

We could go on and on and on and on.  And there are no answers to these questions.  The true fairness doctrine is the First Amendment which says that Government cannot regulate speech.  Period.  Furthermore, with the explosion of the internet, any citizen can have a "printing press" and distribute their viewpoint.  Let me just say it: NO RETURN TO THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE.  It is outdated, and would lead to very, very, very bad results.  

Originally posted to NewDem on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:19 AM PST.

Poll

Would you support a return to the Fairness Doctrine?

56%23 votes
43%18 votes
0%0 votes

| 41 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  How Naive. (6+ / 0-)

    If government doesn't regulate it, corpoarte monopolies will.

    You need to look into purchasing a clue.

    That's my opinion.

    I would have to pay $60 a month for the highest speed Internet my provider offers.

    In Europe they pay around $20-$30.

    Your free-market way simply doesn't work because free markets in the U.S. lead to corporate monopolies.

    Maybe someday Americans will wake up and recognize what's best for their own self-interests... rather than playing dressup cowboy on the issue of social and economic justice.

    But I'm not holding my breath. And therefore, people like me will have to force government to regulate corporate monopolies despite the opinions of people like yourself.

    •  No (0+ / 0-)

      shit

      In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

      by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:49:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've learned the hard way (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LNK, Blue Sky CoOp

      free does not equal fair!

    •  Our Rights. Clues. (0+ / 0-)

      U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs has a remarkable website about
      "Rights of the People:  Individual Freedom and the Bill of Rights"

      It is rich and full and very useful.
      Sample excerpt below.

      http://usinfo.state.gov/...

      SNIP

      . . . .Freedom of speech was not always the all-encompassing right it is today. When Sir William Blackstone wrote his famous Commentaries on the Laws of England in the mid-18th century, he defined freedom of speech as the lack of prior restraint. By that he meant that the government could not stop someone from saying or publishing what he believed, but once a person had uttered those remarks, he could be punished if the type of speech was forbidden. The English, like the ancient Greeks, had established legal restrictions on three types of speech — sedition (criticism of the government), defamation (criticism of individuals), and blasphemy (criticism of religion) — each of which they called "libels." Of these three, the one that is most important in terms of political liberty is seditious libel, because ruling elites in Blackstone's era believed that any criticism of government or of its officials, even if true, subverted public order by undermining confidence in the government. While the government, according to Blackstone, could not stop someone from criticizing the government, it could punish him once he had done so.

      During the 17th and 18th centuries, the British Crown prosecuted hundreds of cases of seditious libel, often imposing draconian penalties. When William Twyn declared that the people had the right to rebel against a government, he was arrested and convicted of sedition and of "imagining the death of the King." The court sentenced him to be hanged, emasculated, disemboweled, quartered, and then beheaded. Given the possibility of such punishment after publication, the lack of prior restraint meant little.

      The English settlers who came to North America brought English law with them, but early on a discrepancy arose between theory and practice, between the law as written and the law as applied. Colonial assemblies passed a number of statutes regulating speech, but neither the royal governors nor the local courts seemed to have enforced them with any degree of rigor. Moreover, following the famous case of John Peter Zenger (discussed in the chapter on "Freedom of the Press"), the colonists established truth as a defense to the charge of seditious libel. One could still be charged if one criticized the government or its officials, but now a defendant could present evidence of the truth of the statements, and it would be up to a jury to determine their validity.

      From the time the states ratified the First Amendment (Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ) in 1791, until World War I, Congress passed but one law restricting speech, the Sedition Act of 1798. This was an ill-conceived statute that grew out of the quasi-war with France and which expired three years later. Yet although this act has been widely and properly condemned, one should note that it contained truth as a defense. During the American Civil War of 1861-1865, there were also a few minor regulations aimed at sedition, but not until the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 did the real debate over the meaning of the First Amendment Speech Clause begin. That debate has been public and has involved the American people, Congress, and the President, but above all it has been played out in the courts.

  •  I couldn't agree more... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lil love

    ..and more importantly, since we're on the verge of seeing the end of all broadcast television, how silly is it for us to fight to reestablish something that will not apply to almost any television channels right now and none in the future?

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:26:56 AM PST

    •  Oh come on (0+ / 0-)

      Broadcast TV is here to stay, for at least a good many of years ahead of us. It's not the powerhouse it once was, but millions and millions of people still watch ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC.

      •  It really isn't... (0+ / 0-)

        ...by law, we're going to move to all HDTV in the next five years.  Which means that almost everyone will be moving to cable/satellite and broadband service for their televisions.

        Millions of people watch those channels.  The vast majority of them don't watch it over broadcast.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:45:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Technically (0+ / 0-)

          We could start regulating satellite since the transmissions to people's dishes are using the public airwaves that broadcast uses, just at a different wavelength. Cable just pipes satellite content over the wire, so effectively they would be regulated as well.

          •  Since there is effectively no limit... (0+ / 0-)

            ...on the range of wavelengths, you really can't.

            The limited number of wavelengths was the reason for the public ownership of the broadcast waves.

            The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

            by Jay Elias on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 01:18:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  The Fairness doctrine required (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hornito

    stations to air BOTH sides (or more) of an issue.  We haven't done that in YEARS. What we air is what the station owners (mostly Republican, white older males--I worked briefly for NAB, so I know this from experience)want on, with a token (at best) rep of the other side who will have little credibility of impact. Which is what we have now.

    The FD worked very well. DO you think that without it Ed Murrow could have taken on  McCarthy without losing his job????????  The first amendment ALONE wouldn't provide access for alternate PoV, frankly.  In fact, it would permit the corporate masters to dictate to reporters precisely hat they could say (they do that now to some extent; it would only getting worse) without even an attempt at a token rep from the other Side.  Reporters could go long or get fired.  As they do now.  I haven;t seen anyoen with balls on TV lately--have you?

    The FD was deraield under deregualtion--which served corporatiosn and screwed the rest of us. The FCC doesn't give a shit about fiarness, only about bare boobs and cuss words--precisely the issues the Religious Reich cares about.  

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:27:02 AM PST

    •  The bigger problem... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lil love

      ..as I mentioned above, is that there is no means for the fairness doctrine to apply to cable and satellite channels.  They are not on the public airwaves.

      So what exactly will this achieve if Fox and CNN and MSNBC aren't covered by it, and pretty soon, neither will anyone else?

      The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

      by Jay Elias on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:29:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Granted they won't. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ghost of Frank Zappa

        But many folks still watch network coverage, especially for LOCAL news which cable DOESN'T cover (I stopped watching mine after I relaized we averaged 5 murders a night in Atlanta; too depressing).  ANY little bit helps. And perhaps the Fiarness Doctrine SHOULD be extended to cable news shows--but only NEWS.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:35:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's not about broadcast TV (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ghost of Frank Zappa

        It's all about right-wing radio. Just go over to the winger sites like redstate and see them bitching up a storm about the very notion of us trying to prevent the likes of Rush, Hannity, O'Liely, Ignram and the rest from spouting lies and propaganda as news and truth. Yeah, they talk the same first Ameendment talking point also. But the fact remains the fairness doctrine was put in place to keep the public airwaves from becoming nothing more than propaganda machines for the power base... and it worked just fine for years.

        No ones constitutional rights to free speech were hampered, EVERYONE had the right to be heard on the public airwaves regardless of point of view or ability to buy influence. It's not like voices were stiffled, but to the contrary...voices were heard.

        We don't have to speculate as to what would happen if it was reinstated... we already saw it in action for years. And from that experience it's quite clear that it fostered 1st amendment rights rather than stiffled them. During the fifties and sixties you had just as much oppurtunity to hear as William F Buckley as you did Madalyn Murry O'Hare. That surely cannot be said to exist under today's current system.

        •  Well... (0+ / 0-)

          ...radio is moving to satellite as well as over the internet, and so once again you'll be thwarted by technology.

          Moreover, stop inventing First Amendment rights.  Your only right to free speech is that Congress shall make no law that abridges it.  That's it.  Read the Amendment if you don't believe me.  As long as Congress isn't passing a law saying "You can't say X", your First Amendment right to Free Speech is doing fine.

          The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

          by Jay Elias on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:55:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely right. (0+ / 0-)

          WJR in Detroit, a 50,000 watt powerhouse in the heart of downtown Chocolate City, Ground Zero in the war on drugs, has a celebration (literally) for the return to the airwaves of Rush Limbaugh from drug rehab, all the while constantly editorializing for the stiff penalties for the drug offending black people who populate the city.

          There are NO black voices at all on WJR in downtown Detroit, the blackest city in America. There used to be.  When there was a Fairness Doctrine.  But now it is pure right wing filth 24/7/365.

          That ain't fair.

          In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

          by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:59:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  As soon... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, lil love

    as you get government involved in saying what's "truthful" in a political context, you get on very very very thin ice, not just from a First Amendment perspective, but from a policy perspective.

  •  I'm all for the 1st Amendment (6+ / 0-)

    but corporations should be stripped of their personhood.

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:32:05 AM PST

    •  AMEN AMEN AMEN n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bumblebums, kck

      The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

      by Jay Elias on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:47:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You know what B.B. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bumblebums

      You may have the answer.  I believe this atrocious policy of granting eternal personhood to non mortal corporations has to end.  Let's start a movement.

      In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

      by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:53:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Support (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kck

        Reclaim Democracy!

        ReclaimDemocracy.org works to create a representative democracy with an actively participating public, where citizens don't merely choose from a menu of options determined by elites, but play an active role in guiding the country and political agenda. We believe that one's influence should be a direct result of the quality of one's ideas and the energy one puts into promoting their position, independent of wealth or status. We inspire citizens to consciously choose what role corporations should play in our society and to limit them to that role. We are a non-partisan (501c3) non-profit organization. Welcome all who share our goals.

        Our Mission: ReclaimDemocracy.org is dedicated to restoring democratic authority over corporations, reviving grassroots democracy, and revoking the power of money and corporations to control government and civic society.

        Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

        by bumblebums on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 12:06:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You have a point (2+ / 0-)

    The FD was intended mainly for broadcast tevelisio and radio, not cable or the internet. The real act we should repeal is the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

    Take the NY-25: Dan Maffei for Congress

    by Progressive Moderate on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:33:59 AM PST

  •  When we had the Fairness Doctrine, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hornito, tiggers thotful spot

    ..can you point to anything bad which happened because of it?

    •  yes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B

      a little research will find lots more from you, but this is a good summary from a piece by David Brancaccio on PBS

      By the 1980s, many stations saw the FCC rules as an unnecessary burden. Some journalists considered the fairness doctrine a violation of the First Amendment rights of free speech and free press; they felt reporters should be able to make their own decisions about balancing stories. In order to avoid the requirement of presenting contrasting viewpoints, some journalists chose not to cover certain controversial issues at all.

  •  also (5+ / 0-)

    consider enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust act or some approximation of it.

    clickable

  •  please tell me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    debedb

    we are in such a rush to push this thing through so that we can use it on whom? NBC? CBS? ABC? Who exactly?

    The fairness doctrine does not require equal coverage of all sides of an issue, it just prohibits stations from only presenting one side in the bulk of its coverage. It's not about 5 minutes for republicans and 5 minutes for democrats every night. So, which of the above stations has violated the spirit of the FD? Who will we punish first?

    I don't back this cause at all.

    •  You use the PUNISHMENT model for your (0+ / 0-)

      analysis.  Why do we have to PUNISH any of them?  That's not the point of the Fairness Doctrine.  The point of the Fairness Doctrine is to inject fairness and equal access, not to control what is said.

      Equal access is the issue, and punishment is only meted out to those who do not allow equal access.

      Furthermore, the punishment that is meted out is loss of license.  That is not an abridgement to free speech it is an abridgement to commerce.  Which is allowed in our constitution.

      In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

      by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 12:03:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you miss my point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Adam B

        I am asking why we need it so badly. Tell me, please, which network has violated the spirit of the fairness doctrine? If no one has, then why do we need it? If someone has, let's talk about what they have done - and how/if the FD would prevent that from happening in the future.

        •  I'll use radio as a classic example. (0+ / 0-)

          WJR in Detroit, the blackest city in America, has 24 hours of WHITE, right wing programming.  There is not a single black voice ever heard, in the blackest city in America.  

          The most powerful radio station in the city represents NONE of the people who live there.  And those people have no recourse whatsoever.  They used to.  When there was a Fairness Doctrine.

          And, you forget, that there was a Fairness Doctrine in effect for many years, until Ronald Reagan and his corporate masters demanded it's abolishment.  Who was hurt during this era?  Who's rights were abridged?

          In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

          by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 12:14:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ok (0+ / 0-)

            let's use the example of WJR. I am not familiar with it, but will assume everything you say is true. If we reinstate the FD, how will that change that station? To meet the guidelines, would they play more music that would appeal to minorities? Would they have minority voices? Which minority voices? Do all black people think alike? Aren't there plenty of right wing black people? Aren't there black people who embarras other black people? Which black people would make that station "fair"?

            I'll admit that part of my confusion with your example is the combination of race and political affiliation.

            Again, not knowing the specifics, I have to ask, how does this station make money if it doesn't appeal to an audience? Some people are listening and buying the advertised products? They have to be. Around here, if a station isn't doing well, it's gone overnight. Have there been boycotts against WJR?

            Is WJR the only station in town? Are there stations that are considered black if this one is considered white? Would those stations have to bring in white voices?

            This is the discussion that needs to be had. Let's talk specifics.

            •  here's how. (0+ / 0-)

              Rush Limbaugh spends 3 hours a day, as does Sean Hannity making unrefuted political propaganda.  With a Fairness Doctrine, WJR would be required to allow access for refutation by left leaning, black voices.  It's simple.  Rush and Sean can continue to spew their filth, but competing voices would have access.  And access is really the issue.  No one wants to shut down the voices of the opposition.  It's all a question of WHO gets to speak.  If only one side is heard then free speech is abridged.  It is the PEOPLE's airwaves, not Clear Channel's.  And I repeat, if only the monopolists voices are heard, then free speech is abridged by the government who cedes the people's airwaves to the monopolists.

              I remember very well radio voices like Joe Pyne, who was a rabid right winger, but his voice was always balanced by left wingers.  In the era of the Fairness Doctrine

              As for where WJR makes their money, it is from the white suburbs surrounding Detroit, as well as from national advertisers because their 50,000 watt(Clear Channel) signal covers the entire eastern portion of the country.

              In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

              by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 12:52:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  just to (0+ / 0-)

                make sure I understand. You are proposing that, under the FD, WJR would have right-white voices and left-black voices? What about hispanics on the right and left, women on the right and left, asians on the right and left, muslims, socialists, libertarians, evangelicals, homosexuals, etc?

                And please don't just say that's absurd, because, to me, it's no more absurd than what you propose. If you think it's absurd, tell me why.

                And you never did answer my question, are there any all left stations or all black stations in Detroit? If so, would they then have to change their format?

                •  Hispanics, Muslims, Gays, Evangelicals,Women (0+ / 0-)

                  ALL would have access to the PEOPLE's airwaves.  So, yes you do understand me.  When we had a Fairness Doctrine there was no such thing as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity etc., because the political time had to be apportioned.  Today One Party and One Narrow Viewpoint is not just dominant, but virtually monopolistic.

                  Rush and Sean would be out of business.  Because the stations would be required to offer alternatives.  No longer would you have 24 hour a day in kind contributions to One Political Party.  At the expense of the PEOPLE.  Since our government cedes the rights to OUR airwaves to these monopolies.  This is taxation without representation, in its basest form.

                  There are "black" radio stations in Detroit.  They play music.  I could give a shit what kind of music stations play.  I do care that if they're going to use the PEOPLE's airwaves that the fucking PEOPLE get to speak.

                  In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

                  by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 03:01:33 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  oh yea and (0+ / 0-)

            I didn't forget the history of the FD and I am not sure what made you think I did. Just because the right does something doesn't make it wrong (it just seems that way).

            •  Oh (0+ / 0-)

              yes it does.  

              Tell me ONE initiative the right has EVER proposed that was to the benefit of the society as a whole, as opposed to a narrow band of insiders?  EVER.

              In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

              by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 06:12:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  There Are No Answers Only to Stupid Questions (0+ / 0-)

    The Constitution answers questions about humans speaking and press publishing little pieces of parchment.

    They don't apply to 21st century media.

    Those 5 global gigacorps are not people. Protecting them and the common reality they fabricate and distribute to us, in the process making adult discourse completely impossible beyond tiny generally like-minded groups, with those parchment-era rights of speech, press etc. is a crime against democracy.

    Modern media environment is an entire world and it's 100% feudal private property.

    There was never a democracy in the physical feudal age and there can never be on in the information feudal age.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:42:58 AM PST

  •  Corporations... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lil love

    ....essentially determine what content we see on television and radio. This is the greatest threat to our free speech rights.

    •  No it isn't! (0+ / 0-)

      What the hell does that even mean?  How does control of mass media have anything at all to do with our individual right to not have our freedom of speech abridged by the government?  

      And while we're at it, why does no one bother to read the First Amendment?  "Congress shall make no law abridging the Freedom of Speech..."  Not anyplace is anyone promised the right to anything more than a lack of a prohibition of expression by the state.

      The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

      by Jay Elias on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 11:49:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the state grants monopolies to the people's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        metal prophet

        property (the airwaves) and the monopolists shut out the views of the people then the state is abridging the free speech of the people.

        In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

        by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 12:08:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Again... (0+ / 0-)

          ...perhaps, if we're talking about the limited broadcast waves, yes.  Satellite and cable, no.

          The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

          by Jay Elias on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 01:19:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'll grant you that. (0+ / 0-)

            Because it is the airwaves that our government cedes to the monopolies.  If they build their own networks with their own resources then the corporations can have at it and lie like the motherfuckers that they are.  But NOT on MY airwaves.

            In D.C. they just take care of Number One, and Number One ain't you. You ain't even Number Two.

            by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 03:05:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Your wish is my command, with LINKS (0+ / 0-)

    Everything mentioned....everything you ask for is already taking place
    --Bills are in Congress
    -- Activist Groups are educating and lobbying
    --FCC Hearings are being held.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    P.S.
    Citizens over Corporations. Corporate Personhood Issues:
    http://poclad.org/...

    We invite you to engage us in this idea...
    Giant corporations govern, even though they are mentioned nowhere in our Constitution or Bill of Rights. So when corporations govern, democracy is nowhere to be found.

    SNIP

    Help us contest the authority of corporations to govern!

    "Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy"
    Selected Articles:

    http://poclad.org/...

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