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Longwood Gardens. September, 2013. Photo by: joanneleon.


Smoky Robinson - The Tears Of A Clown

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Update: Rosalind over at emptywheel was lucky enough to attend the America's Cup races and did a gorgeous job telling a story about it.  She says that Larry Ellison always manages to come off like a Bond villain. Well I think he actually * is * a Bond villain and despise the man but even I'm happy for him today.  I bet it was a blast watching the races on SF Bay.  When the races come back there, it would be great fun to make the trip to go see them.  I'm not a sailor, save for a little experience on Hobie cats with my brother-in-law (and I actually was in a race with him once, lol) but I'm sure it would be a lot of fun anyway.  

So this is a "never give up, never give in" story and who doesn't love those?

The America’s Cup Comes Home

One week ago the America’s Cup standing stood at New Zealand eight wins, USA one (they actually had three, but more on that later), with first team to reach nine the champion. Everyone - everyone – hoped the US boat could eke out a couple more wins before the Kiwis got that inevitable last win and took the Cup back home. Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill had other plans, calmly proclaiming his team focused on winning not just the next race, but the Cup itself. The World politely smiled and nodded, while rolling our eyes. Dude, c’mon, you’d need to reel off eight sudden death wins in – a – row.

I attended the Opening Weekend races and watched New Zealand take 3 out of 4, but what I saw in those races should’ve prepared me for the amazing feat Oracle was about to pull off. The US boat could’ve won two more of those opening races if not for some bad tactical decisions and poor boat handling during key tacks and gybes. The Kiwis had the faster boat upwind, but Oracle was faster downwind. If they could improve the tactical and stabilize the maneuvers, they had a real chance to get back into things.


My sailing friends and I have long dreamed of an America’s Cup series on the San Francisco Bay, and the reality has surpassed even our highest hopes. A gorgeous natural amphitheatre, miles of shoreline to watch up close, scary-fast boats that fly across the water and along the waterfront, so close the crowd and crew are able to feed off each others energy.

joe shikspack on the front page of FDL, yo.
The Grand Bargain Circus Is Back in Town!
This is Keith Alexander speaking yesterday at a cybersecurity summit, via The Pentagon Channel on YouTube.  Yes, the Pentagon has a YouTube channel.  If you're going to watch any videos today, I'd take the time to watch this one, because you have to witness this for yourself. It's a tough choice though.  We're overwhelmed with video content from the past couple of days, and there's a big hearing today with the DiFi and the Senate Intelligence Apologists.  Alexander and Clapper will be there along with their new BFF, Benjamin Wittes from the Lawfare blog.

My translation of the Alexander speech in ten easy points (skip this if you don't want to be influenced by my view before you listen for yourself): "1) The NSA folks are heros and that leaker is a traitor; 2) We can do some new things with cybersecurity that will make it harder for leakers to leak to the media (he spent the first part of his speech on what he called "media leaks"; 3) We just made a few mistakes like typing in a password incorrectly; 4) 9/11 9/11 9/11 we keep you safe; 5) We need even more power from Congress to do more stuff like sharing information with tech companies so they'll share information with us and by the way we have to give them immunity for everything they do; 6) The tech companies are pissed off; 7) If you take our tools away you might have a Nairobi kind of thing in the malls here in America (he said something almost exactly like that); 8) You defense contractors in the audience better damned well get out there and support me loudly and go lobby Congress or you won't get all that money that is flowing into cybersecurity, the new battlefield, from my agency's contracts; 9) All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, and good men need intelligence (yes he said that); 10) I'm pretending to take questions from the audience but I really didn't. The host of this summit told everybody to write their quesitons on a notecard and then he chose and read the questions."

Cybersecurity Summit

℠2013- GEN Keith Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency and Commander of U.S. Cyber Command delivers the keynote address at 4th Annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, DC.

I've created an unlocked link for this nsfwcorp content so that you can read the whole thing for a limited time.
Harper's Magazine: Progressive Dupes

Harper's magazine proves a perfect liberal mark for a charlatan like Cory Booker.

I got home yesterday after a week in the Bay Area and settled into my armchair with a stack of new magazines from the mailbox. I only made it a couple of pages into Harper's magazine before I found myself staring in shock at an article endorsing Cory Booker…

Is Harper's publishing linkbait now?

But no, it was a serious endorsement, from economic columnist Jeff Madrick. Its strange logic went something like this: [...]

It's a sensible plan and a straight-up expansion of welfare. It's also something that Cory Booker explicitly rejects in favor of bullshit freemarket reforms like school vouchers and Section 8 programs. And yet Madrick praises and endorses him anyway, all because Cory Booker says he genuinely cares.

Is Jeff Madrick really that much of sucker?

This Foreign Policy article got a lot of buzz.  I'm amazed that the NSA chose this point in time to agree to declassify this.  They were spying on Frank Church and Howard Baker.  In other words, political enemies of the executive branch and the intelligence community. Who was receiving the intelligence?  I wonder how many people were accused of being conspiracy theorist for suspecting or claiming that this kind of surveillance was happening?  I wonder if the conspiracy theory accusations were as rampant then as they are today, and I note, those come mostly from the Left.
Secret Cold War Documents Reveal NSA Spied on Senators
...along with Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, and a Washington Post humorist.

As Vietnam War protests grew, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) tapped the overseas communications of prominent American critics of the war -- including a pair of sitting U.S. senators. That's according to a recently declassified NSA history, which called the effort "disreputable if not outright illegal."

For years the names of the surveillance targets were kept secret. But after a decision by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, in response to an appeal by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the NSA has declassified them for the first time. The names of the NSA's targets are eye-popping. Civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Whitney Young were on the watch list, as were the boxer Muhammad Ali, New York Times journalist Tom Wicker, and veteran Washington Post humor columnist Art Buchwald. But perhaps the most startling fact in the declassified document is that the NSA was tasked with monitoring the overseas telephone calls and cable traffic of two prominent members of Congress, Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.). As shocking as the recent revelations about the NSA's domestic eavesdropping have been, there has been no evidence so far of today's signal intelligence corps taking a step like this, to monitor the White House's political enemies.

As the Vietnam War escalated during Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency, domestic criticism and protest movements abounded. Protesters surrounded the Pentagon in the fall of 1967 and two years later organized demonstrations and the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. The scale of the dissent angered Johnson as well as his successor, Richard Nixon. As fervent anti-communists, they wondered whether domestic protests were linked to hostile foreign powers, and they wanted answers from the intelligence community. The CIA responded with Operation Chaos, while the NSA worked with other intelligence agencies to compile watch lists of prominent anti-war critics in order to monitor their overseas communications. By 1969, this program became formally known as "Minaret."

And speaking of abusing power to attack political enemies... On Tuesday we heard that an anti-drone activist was detained by the UK, again abusing schedule 7 of their Terrorism law.  Glenn Greenwald reveals some information from the Snowden files related to this.  Even the use of the term "drone strike" seems to be noted as a problem in the NSA entry.  That's kind of weird because I recall some kind of campaign here to stop referring to them as "drone strikes".  A coincidence, I guess.
UK detention of Reprieve activist consistent with NSA's view of drone opponents as 'threats' and 'adversaries'
A top secret NSA document provides context for yesterday's abusive detention of Baraa Shiban

Read the excerpts of the drone document here

But perceiving drone opponents as "threats" or even "adversaries" is hardly new. Top secret US government documents obtained by the Guardian from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden characterize even the most basic political and legal opposition to drone attacks as part of "propaganda campaigns" from America's "adversaries".
Under the title "adversary propaganda themes", the document lists what it calls "examples of potential propaganda themes that could be employed against UAV operations".

One such example is entitled "Nationality of Target vs. Due Process". It states:

Attacks against American and European persons who have become violent extremists are often criticized by propagandists, arguing that lethal action against these individuals deprives them of due process."
Another paragraph from the NSA entry complains that the phrase "drone strike" is a "loaded term", as it "connote[s] mindless automatons with no capability for independent thought" and thus "may invoke an emotional reaction". This, the document asserts, "is what propaganda intends to do".
Like David Miranda, I Was Interrogated at a British Airport Under Terrorism Law
I came to Britain to talk about human rights abuses in Yemen, only to be held at Gatwick under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act

On Monday night I was held and questioned at an airport because of my work investigating western counter-terrorism abuses in Yemen. But this did not happen in Sanaa or at the hands of some tyrannical regime. It happened at Gatwick. British officials interrogated me under the controversial schedule 7 provision of the Terrorism Act 2000 – the same provision recently used to chilling effect to detain David Miranda.

A telling exchange followed: "So," he asked, "does your organisation have anything to do with terrorism in Yemen?"

I replied, "My organisation addresses counter-terrorism abuses inside the country."

"Exactly!" He said. "Why doesn't your organisation do something about the terrorism that happens in your country, instead of focusing on the counter-terrorism abuses?"

What could I reply? Of course I oppose terrorism. But I also oppose the secret air war in my country – waged by the US, apparently with covert support from the UK and others. The drone war in my homeland has claimed innocent lives and terrorised civilians. It operates wholly outside the law, and serves only to fuel anti-western sentiment.

Lawyer For Pakistani Drone Victims Says State Department Is Keeping Him Out Of The Country

Before he started representing Pakistani victims of U.S. drone strikes, Shahzad Akbar never had trouble entering the United States. But now the Pakistani lawyer claims the State Department is blocking his efforts to speak to Congress about drone strikes.

Akbar wants to come to the U.S. to serve as a translator and lawyer for Rafiq ur Rehman, a Pakistani schoolteacher who says a drone strike killed his 67-year-old mother and injured his children. Rehman hopes to speak to members of Congress about his experience, and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has welcomed his visit.

"I don't know what national security risk there is," Akbar told HuffPost over the phone. "Maybe the CIA is scared I will go speak with congressmen and tell them more about who our drone victims are."
Director Robert Greenwald's Brave New Foundation has started to the State Department to allow Akbar to travel to the United States.

Jeremy Scahill: Al-Shabab's Nairobi Mall Rampage Tied to "Disastrous" U.S. Meddling in Somalia

Kenya has begun three days of mourning for at least 67 people killed in the siege of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. The death count could still rise if more bodies are found in the rubble of the mall's three floors. The Somali militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it retaliation for Kenyan military intervention in Somalia. We're joined by independent journalist Jeremy Scahill, who reported from both Kenya and Somalia for his recent book and film, "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield." Scahill says the Bush administration's decision to back Ethiopia's overthrow of Somalia's Islamic Courts Union in 2006 helped fuel al-Shabab's growth into the dominant militant group that it is today: "Al-Shabab was largely a non-player in Somalia and al-Qaeda had almost no presence there. The U.S., by backing [Somali] warlords and overthrowing the Islamic Courts Union, made the very force they claimed to be trying to fight."

The Empire President: Jeremy Scahill on Obama's "Neo-Con" Doctrine of Military Force in U.N. Speech

In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama openly embraced an aggressive military doctrine backed by previous administrations on using armed force beyond the internation"al norm of self-defense. Obama told the world that the United States is prepared to use its military to defend what he called "our core interests" in the Middle East: U.S. access to oil. "[Obama] basically came out and said the U.S. is an imperialist nation and we're going to do whatever we need to do to conquer areas [and] take resources from people around the world," says independent journalist Jeremy Scahill. "It's a really naked declaration of imperialism ... When we look back at Obama's legacy, this is going to have been a very significant period in U.S. history where the ideals of very radical right-wing forces were solidified. President Obama has been a forceful, fierce defender of empire."

A short segment with Jeremy Scahill where he explains how al Shabab evolved and became a significant group after the US and Ethiopia overthrew the government in Somalia in 2006 and after Kenya got involved in their politics and started funding warlords.
The significance of al-Shabaab

The three-day siege at an upscale Kenyan mall appears to be under control, but 62 people have perished.  Chris Hayes talks to Nation magazine National Security Correspondent Jeremy Scahill about the group claiming responsibility and its significance

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

DemocracyNow featured Dilma Rousseff's UN speech yesterday.  I've provided a partial transcript below.
At U.N. General Assembly, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Blasts U.S. Spying Operations - During a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff accused the United States of violating human rights and international law by spying on Brazilian companies, politicians and citizens.

"Tampering in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and, as such, it is an affront to the principles that should otherwise govern relations among countries, especially among friendly nations," says Rousseff, who recently cancelled an upcoming trip to the United States over revelations of spying by the National Security Agency.

This is an excerpt from Dilma Rousseff's UN speech, English transcript. This is a PDF.

I would like to bring to the consideration of delegations a matter of great importance and gravity.

Recent revelations concerning the activities of a global network of electronic espionage have caused indignation and repudiation in public opinion around the world.

In Brazil, the situation was even more serious, as it emerged that we were targeted by this intrusion. Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information - often of high economic and even strategic value - was at the center of espionage activity. Also, Brazilian diplomatic missions, among them the Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Office of the President of the Republic itself, had their communications intercepted.

Tampering in such a manner in the affairs of other countries is a breach of International Law and is an affront to the principles that must guide the relations among them, especially among friendly nations. A sovereign nation can never establish itself to the detriment of another sovereign nation. The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating fundamental human rights of citizens of another country.

The arguments that the illegal interception of information and data aims at protecting nations against terrorism cannot be sustained.

Brazil, Mr. President, knows how to protect itself. We reject, fight and do not harbor terrorist groups.

We are a democratic country surrounded by nations that are democratic, pacific and respectful of International Law. We have lived in peace with our neighbors for more than 140 years.

As many other Latin Americans, I fought against authoritarianism and censorship, and I cannot but defend, in an uncompromising fashion, the right to privacy of individuals and the sovereignty of my country. In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective ÿdemocracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among Nations.

We face, Mr. President, a situation of grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities, and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty.

We expressed to the Government of the United States our disapproval, and demanded
explanations, apologies and guarantees that such procedures will never be repeated.

Friendly governments and societies that seek to build a true strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal. They are ur/acceptable.

Brazil, Mr. President, will redouble its efforts to adopt legislation, technologies and mechanisms to protect us from the illegal interception of communications and data.

My Government will do everything within its reach to defend the human rights of all Brazilians and to protect the fruits borne from the ingenuity of our workers and our companies.

The problem, however, goes beyond a bilateral relationship. It affects the international
community itself and demands a response from it. Information and telecommunication
technologies cannot be the new battlefield between States. Time is ripe to create the conditions to prevent cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war, through espionage, sabotage, and attacks against systems and infrastructure of other countries.

The United Nations must play a leading role in the effort to regulate the conduct of States with regard to these technologies.

For this reason, Brazil will present proposals for the establishment of a civilian multilateral framework for the governance and use of the Internet and to ensure the effective protection of data that travels through the web.

We need to create multilateral mechanisms for the worldwide network that are capable of ensuring principles such as:

1 - Freedom of expression, privacy of the individual and respect for human rights.

2 - Open, multilateral and democratic governance, carried out with transparency by stimulating
collective creativity and the participation of society, Governments and the private sector.

3 - Universality that ensures the social and human development and the construction of inclusive and non-discriminatory societies.

4 - Cultural diversity, without the imposition of beliefs, customs and values.

5 - Neutrality of the network, guided only by technical and ethical criteria, rendering it
inadmissible to restrict it for political, commercial, religious or any other purposes.

Harnessing the full potential of the Internet requires, therefore, responsible regulation, which
ensures at the same time freedom of expression, security and respect for human rights.


The General Debate offers the opportunity to reiterate the fundamental principles which guide my country's foreign policy and our position with regards to pressing international issues. We are guided by the defense of a multilateral world, ruled by international law, by the primacy of peaceful solutions to conflicts and by the quest for a more compassionate and just order - both economically and socially.

The crisis in Syria moves us and is cause for indignation. Two and a half years of lives lost and widespread destruction have caused the greatest humanitarian disaster of the century.

Brazil, which has in Syrian descent an important component of our nationality, is profoundly involved with this drama.

We must stop the death of innocent civilians, of children, women and the elderly. We must cease the use of arms - conventional or chemical, by the government or the rebels.

There is no military outcome. The only solution is through negotiation, dialogue and

The decision of Syria to adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention and to immediately apply its provisions is of great importance.

This measure is instrumental to overcome the conflict and to contribute to a world free of those arms. Their use, I repeat, is heinous and inadmissible under any circumstances.

For this reason, we support the agreement reached between the United States and Russia for elimination of Syrian chemical weapons. It is up to the Syrian government to implement this agreement fully, cooperatively and in good faith.

Whatever the case, we repudiate unilateral interventions contrary to International Law, without Security Council authorization, which would only worsen the political instability of the region and increase human suffering.

In the same vein, a durable peace between Israel and Palestine takes on new urgency in view of the changes occurring in the Middle East.

The time has come to heed to the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians for an independent and sovereign state.

The time has also come to realize the wide international consensus in favor of the two state solution.

The current negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians should bring about practical and significant results towards an agreement.

This article from 2011 is about Dilma's inauguration and her past.  
Dilma Rousseff Inauguration Speech: Brazil's First Female President Addresses Congress In Brasilia (FULL TEXT)
Brazil's neediest citizens appear to have a champion in freshly inaugurated President Dilma Rousseff. And for those imprisoned in favelas by the shackles of economics, it may be a promising sign that Rousseff herself has traveled on a remarkable road to freedom -- "from torture in a dictatorship-era jail cell to the helm of Latin America's largest nation."
Here is the transcript of President Rouhani of Iran's UN speech.  It's a PDF.
Statement by H. E. Dr. Hassan Rouhani President of the Islamic Republic of Iran (New York, 24 September 2013)

Our world today is replete with fear and hope; fear of war and hostile regional and global relations; fear of deadly confrontation of religious, ethnic and national identities; fear of institutionalization of violence and extremism; fear of poverty and destructive discrimination; fear of decay and destruction of life-sustaining resources; fear of disregard for human dignity and rights; and fear of neglect of morality. Alongside these fears, however, there are new hopes; the hope of universal acceptance by the people and the elite all across the globe of "yes to peace and no to war"; and the hope of preference of dialogue over conflict, and moderation over extremism.

The recent elections in Iran represent a clear, living example of the wise choice of hope, rationality and moderation by the great people of Iran. The realization of democracy consistent with religion and the peaceful transfer of executive power manifested that Iran is the anchor of stability in an otherwise ocean of regional instabilities. The firm belief of our people and government in enduring peace, stability, tranquility, peaceful resolution of disputes and reliance on the ballot box as the basis of power, public acceptance and legitimacy, has indeed played a key role in creating such a safe environment.
The current critical period of transition in international relations is replete with dangers, albeit with unique opportunities. Any miscalculation of one's position, and of course, of others, will bear historic damages; a mistake by one actor will have negative impact on all others. Vulnerability is now a global and indivisible phenomenon.
Violence and extremism nowadays have gone beyond the physical realm and have
unfortunately afflicted and tarnished the mental and spiritual dimensions of life in human societies. Violence and extremism leave no space for understanding and moderation as the necessary foundations of collective life of human beings and the modem society. Intolerance is the predicament of our time. We need to promote and reinforce tolerance in light of the religious teachings and appropriate cultural and political approaches. The human society should be elevated from a state of mere tolerance to that of collective collaboration. We should not just tolerate others. We should rise above mere tolerance and dare to work together.

People all over the world are tired of war, violence and extremism. They hope for a
change in the status quo. And this is a unique opportunity - for us all. The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that all challenges can be managed - successfully - through a smart, judicious blend
of hope and moderation. Warmongers are bent on extinguishing all hope. But hope for change for the better is an innate, religious, widespread, and universal concept.
Hope is founded on the belief in the universal will of the people across the globe to
combat violence and extremism, to cherish change, to oppose imposed structures, to value choice, and to act in accordance with human responsibility. Hope is no doubt one of the greatest gifts bestowed upon human beings by their All-Loving Creator. And moderation is to think and move in a wise, judicious manner, conscious of the time and the space, and to align exalted ideals with choice of effective strategies and policies, while cognizant of objective realities.

The Iranian people, in a judiciously sober choice in the recent elections, voted for the
discourse of hope, foresight and prudent moderation - both at home and abroad. In foreign policy, the combination of these elements means that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a regional power, will act responsibly with regard to regional and international security, and is willing and prepared to cooperate in these fields, bilaterally as well as multilaterally, with other responsible actors. We defend peace based on democracy and the ballot box everywhere, including in Syria, Bahrain, and other countries in the region, and believe that there are no violent solutions to world crises. The bitter and ugly realities of the human society can only be overcome through recourse to and reliance on human wisdom, interaction and moderation. Securing peace and  democracy and ensuring the legitimate rights of all countries in the world, including in the Middle East, cannot - and will not - be realized through militarism.


In recent years, a dominant voice has been repeatedly heard: "The military option is on the table." Against the backdrop of this illegal and ineffective contention, let me say loud and clear that "peace is within reach." So, in the name of the Islamic Republic of Iran I propose, as a starting step, the consideration by the United Nations of the project: "the World Against Violence and Extremism." (WAVE) Let us all join this "WAVE." I invite all states, international organizations and civil institutions to undertake a new effort to guide the world in this direction. We should start thinking about "Coalition for Enduing Peace" all across the globe instead of the ineffective "Coalitions for War" in various parts of the world.

Obama’s Evolving Doctrine

The question left hanging now is when Mr. Obama will be willing to use force after five years of decidedly mixed experiences. His message now is that the failure of allies and regional neighbors to join with the United States has had a steady, corrosive effect on the American public’s willingness to act.
And indeed, after the Congressional rebellion over his threat for the briefest of strikes against Syria, it seems hard to imagine how Mr. Obama can credibly threaten the use of force if Mr. Assad reneges on the chemical weapons disarmament plan.

Iran may be a different case. There the stakes are far higher, for Mr. Obama and for his closest ally in the region, Israel, and he made it clear that he would not allow Iran to obtain a weapon on his watch. The question, after five years and several evolutions of the Obama Doctrine, is whether the Iranians believe him.

Writing and Whistle-Blowing
What does George Orwell have in common with Edward Snowden? They’ve both been trapped in bad situations.

Orwell penned another essay, in 1948, called “Writers and Leviathan.” In that essay, Orwell wrote, “In politics one can never do more than decide which of two evils is the lesser, and there are some situations from which one can only escape by acting like a devil or a lunatic. War, for example, may be necessary, but it is certainly not right or sane. Even a General Election is not exactly a pleasant or edifying spectacle.” Do not, Orwell goes on to say, pretty-up the unpleasant spectacle. To do terrible things — even in the name of the good — is one thing. To do terrible things by calling them good is another. A crucial step has been cut out. You could say that all of Orwell’s writing is the attempt to preserve that crucial step. Orwell’s truth-telling comes from his desire to show us our decisions as they really are, in all their ugliness. He forces us to look. At the end of the “Writers and Leviathan” essay, Orwell claims that a good writer, “records the things that are done and admits their necessity, but refuses to be deceived as to their true nature.” Notice that Orwell is not claiming here that truth telling stops wars or improves General Elections. He simply claims that it is tremendously important that we not be deceived as to the true nature of wars and General Elections.


Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

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