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Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.  

Just about anything goes, but attacks and pie fights are not welcome here.  This is a community diary and a friendly, peaceful, supportive place for people to interact.  

Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy.  Enjoy!

Buddy Guy - Damn Right, I've Got the Blues

"Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage."

  -- H. L. Mencken

News and Opinion

Grand Bargain Circus - Midnight on the Highwire
tight rope bike

Welcome back circus fans!  The drama under the Beltway Bigtop is rising ever higher as the antics of the red clowns have captured the show.  The clowns are still refusing to get in their car and leave the stage.  

The red clowns have continued adding demands of the Ringmaster to their list and the Ringmaster is still refusing to negotiate.  If the clowns can't resolve the issue amongst themselves by midnight tonight, the lights will be turned out on the audience, many of the circus employees will either be sent home or their paychecks will be suspended.  Many audience services will be disrupted, but the ticket booth will continue billing the audience as usual.  

While the audience will be left in the dark, many key services will continue, for example, the sneaky clowns (a division of the Killer Klowns) will keep spying on the audience continue to back up audience cellphone data.

Midnight Showdown: Government Shutdown Imminent

The back and forth between the House and Senate over a stop-gap budget bill to avoid a government shutdown continued on Monday, with the ball left in the Senate's court to pass a bill that both sides might agree on before a midnight deadline.

House Republicans continued on Sunday to insist any budget bill that passes must include a provision that does away with funding for the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act. They passed their version of a bill on Sunday that goes beyond gutting Obamacare to include a host of other Republican-flavored mandates, including a provision that would give US employers permission to opt out of contraceptive coverage for employees. Senate leaders have vowed that this bill will never pass through their chamber. ...

If a bill is not passed by midnight tonight, multiple government agencies and programs will shut down for the first time in 17 years forcing more than a million federal employees out of work for an indefinite period and many U.S. residents with major delays in social and public services.

uno elefante by Jessie Pearl, on FlickrThe red clowns seem quite determined to drive the Ringmaster into making key concessions. The red clowns disagree about the consequences of inconveniencing the audience; some red clowns have been warming up for another trick. The red clowns leadership would prefer, rather than inconveniencing the audience with a temporary shutdown of key circus services, to burn down the tent:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and their allies are instead privately urging rank and file to forgo a clash over government funding — and a possible government shutdown — and instead dig in against Obama and the Democratic Senate when the debt ceiling needs to be lifted sometime next month.
Threatening to burn down the tent has worked well for the red clowns before. Last round, the red clowns got major concessions in the form of the sequester, which the Ringmaster was at pains to describe as a big win.  The red clowns almost got the Grand Bargain, in which the Ringmaster offered to slowly rob the audience of their old age security and other things that the audience has paid for.  Only the red clowns' greed for even greater concessions saved the audience from that robbery.

The red clowns still want more and they have a plan to get it odds are they will get concessions from the Ringmaster, but what? Stay tuned

As Shutdown, Default Loom What Might Obama Give Away?

These dual and competing threats by the Republican lawmakers, however—and the legislative processes and machinations of Washington, DC politics that many in the media are focused on—tend to miss out on asking one of the key questions at the center of this latest episode in what has become the "new normal" of lawmaking during the his presidency: Will Obama cave?

Though the president has repeatedly said he will "not negotiate" under these circumstances, it's clear from GOP lawmakers that their reading of history shows that if they push enough, take hostages, and make belligerent demands for the sun, that the president might at least give them the moon.

Will the red clowns get the moon from the Ringmaster?  The blue clowns and the Ringmaster are circling the wagons in the center ring to protect the Ringmaster's solitary achievement, passing legislation to reward the insurance and pharmaceutical industries a health insurance mandate for everyone, except the millions who will fall through the cracks.  Can the blue clowns and the Ringmaster save his acheivement from the depredations of the red clowns?
Domestically, who ever heard of a presidency already into its second term that, according to just about all observers, has only one significant achievement -- Obamacare (whatever you think of iThe Mystery of Washington's Waning Global Powert) -- and clearly hasn’t a hope in hell of getting a second one?  Just as he’s done in Syria, Obama will now be watching relatively helplessly as Republicans in Congress threaten to shut the government down and not raise the debt ceiling -- and whatever happens, who expects him to be the key player in that onrushing spectacle?  ...  In our lifetime, we’ve never seen a president -- not even the impeached Clinton -- so drained of power or influence.  It’s a puzzle wrapped in an enigma swaddled by a pretzel.
Ringmaster by simpleking, on FlickrThe Ringmaster has taken to his soapbox and called in the staff of the Beltway Bigtop Promotions Office to get out the message of the dire consequences of the red clowns' plan.  

The Ringmaster says that if the stalemate continues, the Beltway Bigtop Guards will not be paid on time. The Ringmaster issued a shout-out to the Beltway Bigtop Funders to intervene with the red clowns and stop them before they blow up not only the circus, but the larger economy from which the Beltway Bigtop's money and perks come.

Barack Obama slams Republicans for threat to 'blow up entire economy'

President Barack Obama on Friday issued a stark warning over the consequences of the continued stalemate in Congress over funding the federal government, saying US troops face disruption to their pay in the event of a shutdown and castigating his opponents for threatening to "blow up the entire economy".

The Ringmaster has become so exercised by the red clowns' antics that he has called out the manager of the Ticket Office to make an impassioned appeal to the Beltway Bigtop Promotion Office and Funders.

Some of the Banker Bozos who rely on the Beltway Bigtop management to keep their receipts coming in have responded.

Debt standoff could 'all but wipe out' US recovery, economists warn

Treasury secretary Jack Lew warned Congress this week that unless it imminently approves an increase in the borrowing limit, the US government will be unable to meet its bills by 17 October. But Barack Obama is refusing to bow to Republican demands that he defund his landmark healthcare reforms in return for an agreement. ...

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its latest jobs report next Friday and important manufacturing data will also be released next week. In both cases, economists expect the figures to underline the strengthening US economy. But PNC bank senior macroeconomist Gus Faucher said a failure to raise the debt ceiling would "all but wipe out" that recovery.

"There will be an immediate drag on the economy, interest rates will rise for everyone. Social security, federal wages and contracts will not get paid. It would be disastrous," he said.

"The economy would basically stall."

The Beltway Bigtop Promotions Office checks in:
A Republican Ransom Note

On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew sent the House a very serious warning that, for the first time, the United States would be unable to pay its bills beginning on Oct. 17 if the debt ceiling is not lifted. House leaders responded on Thursday with one of the least serious negotiating proposals in modern Congressional history: a jaw-dropping list of ransom demands containing more than a dozen discredited Republican policy fantasies.

Will the Beltway Bigtop funders step in to chastise the red clowns?  The Ringmaster and the manager of the Ticket Office have laid out what is on the line.

The Ringmaster has been relying on the work of the Grand Illusionist to create for the audience a sense of calm and well-being, even as the seating and accommodations of the circus become shabby and worn out, the services decline in quality and quantity, and the audience's employment opportunity and pay decline against the cost of the tickets.

The Illusion of "recovery" is important as well to distract the audience while the Union of Pickpockets and Banker Bozos loots the economy and the biggest thieves are allowed to continue their theft with only a slap on the wrist.

The Grand Illusionist's work hyping "the recovery" could be wasted in a single day.  If "the recovery" ends, then the party could be over for the Beltway Bigtop funders.  If the audience is given proof that the whole game is a fraud, a hostile audience will start making demands and throwing things.  If they head for the exits, the whole circus could fold.

Recovery hype: American capitalism's weapon of mass distraction

From President Obama on down, defenders of the status quo insist that the US economy has "recovered" or "is recovering". ...

From 2007 – the last year before the current recession hit – until now, the median income of Americans has dropped by nearly 10% with no recovery evident.

Yes, the stock markets and profits for large banks and corporations have recovered, more or less. That explains the good fortune of the top 1%. ...

Hyping a recovery helps politicians to boost their popularity (or at least, slow its decline). It also serves to give masses of people with growing economic difficulties the impression that "other people" are experiencing a recovery. So they blame themselves (their age, skill set, education and so on) for missing out. The recovery hype thereby functions as a massive "blame-the-victim" program, in which a dysfunctional capitalism escapes criticism, while its victims instead turn criticism inward upon themselves.

Protecting the illusion of "recovery" is important not only to distract the audience from the decline of the Beltway Bigtop's services and the decline of the economy brought on by the Ringmaster's refusal to prosecute his savvy criminal friends, but also to draw their attention away as the Kapitalist Klowns ship their gains out of the country.

As long as the audience is busy and focused on the indirect process of getting the clowns in the Beltway Bigtop to correct their "errors" in expectation that the clowns actually represent the audience's interests, they are less apt to directly interdict the Kapitalist Klowns sneaking off with the loot.

Hyping recovery is also supported from darker, more cynical motives. Leaders of large corporations who have already moved many of their operations out of the US call the current situation a "mature" economy. This euphemism reflects their sense that rapid growth now happens more outside the US than inside and, therefore, higher profits beckon overseas where wages and taxes are lower. They want to keep freely relocating over the coming years with minimal opposition as they depart.

The leaders of these companies especially prefer to be less heavily invested here when the American working class is realizing that the capitalism that raised their wages across earlier decades of growth is fast departing for more profitable opportunities abroad. That departure abandons the American working class to steady decline – as countless indicators show: falling real wages, reduced public services, high unemployment, etc.

Business leaders and their elected friends fear workers' rage and resentment, should they be able to identify who and what did them in. Hyping recovery provides "delaying cover" as businesses executives relocate their facilities abroad, their homes and offices inside "gated communities", and their workplaces into "heavily secured enterprise zones".

Meantime, the red clowns have been working with Beltway Bigtop funders who are focused on smaller issues of immediate gain.
Tea Party Lawmaker Letter on Med Device Tax Repeal Authored by Lobby Group

Today, House Republicans pushed one more step towards a government shut down by coalescing around a continuing resolution that delays the implementation of the Affordable Care Act by one year, while permanently repealing one of the primary funding mechanisms for the law, a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device companies.

While its clear that Democrats will reject any delay of health reform, the move to revoke the medical device tax can be seen as a coup by industry lobbyists. The medical device industry, led by AdvaMed, a trade association that spends $29 million a year, has pushed aggressively to ensure that medical device companies contribute nothing to the financing of the Affordable Care Act.

After the Tea Party catapulted House Republicans into the majority, seventy-five right-wing lawmakers wrote a letter to Speaker Boehner demanding that a vote to repeal the device tax occur “as soon as possible.” The metadata of the letter shows that it was authored by Ryan Strandlund, a member of AdvaMed’s government affairs team.

With a deadline for keeping the circus' lights on, the red clowns and the blue clowns are practicing their brinkmanship and will carry the wrangling down to the wire.  Will there be a midnight tightrope walk?
tight rope headstand

US government shutdown: House votes to delay Obamacare law

The US government is on the precipice of a historic shutdown that would result in hundreds of thousands of federal workers being placed on unpaid leave, after House Republicans refused to pass a budget unless it involved a delay to Barack Obama's signature healthcare reforms. ...

The resolution passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in the early hours of Sunday morning makes funding the government until the middle of December contingent upon a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act. It also strips the new healthcare law, which is due to come into force on Tuesday, of a key tax on medical devices.

Senate Democrats and the White House have said they will block any budget resolution that is tied to the healthcare law – known as Obamacare – which was passed three years ago and upheld by the US supreme court last year.

Undermining the healthcare reforms – the flagship legislative achievement of Obama's presidency – has been a priority for the conservative wing of the Republican party for years and the spectre of government shutdowns has been used in the past.

As the drama winds up, the Ringmaster's Grand Bargaineer friend, Pete Peterson is warning the clowns to come back to their senses and settle for robbing the audience his way, and provided a guide to the shutdown.

Are the red clowns crazy enough to shut off the lights, send many of the key performers home and cut off the pay of others?  Are they crazy enough to burn down the tent?

Stay tuned!  We'll have an answer to the first question by midnight tonight!

High wire acrobatics
N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency ''discover and track'' connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct ''large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness'' of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such ''enrichment'' data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

NSA built secret shadow social network

The NY Times has an article by James Risen and Laura Poitras (what a combo reporting team there!) detailing how the NSA has basically built its own "shadow" social network in which it tries to create a "social graph" of pretty much everyone that everyone knows, foreign or American, and it all happens (of course) without a warrant. ...

If all of this sounds familiar, it's almost exactly what the feds tried to setup in 2002 with the Orwellian name Total Information Awareness. Except that time (right after 9/11, when you'd think the public would be at its most receptive to such programs), as word got out about the program, the public rightly flipped out, and we were told the program was shuttered. Except, as some have been arguing for years, it was never shuttered, it was just rebuilt in secret. ...

We already know that the NSA gets every telephone record handed over because they claim it's "necessary" to "connect the dots" on foreign terror plots. And, similarly, now they're arguing that they can look at anything else so long as they claim that there's a "foreign intelligence justification." That means they have no limits. They just have to come up with some wacky reason to claim that so-and-so might have foreign connections that are important to know about, and voila, their life is open for the NSA to dig in, all without any oversight or a warrant.

Glenn Greenwald, other top investigative reporter, team up for project on NSA

Two American journalists known for their investigations of the United States' government said Saturday they've teamed up to report on the National Security Agency's role in what one called a "U.S. assassination program." ...

Jeremy Scahill, a contributor to The Nation magazine and the New York Times best-selling author of "Dirty Wars," said he will be working with Glenn Greenwald, the Rio-based journalist who has written stories about U.S. surveillance programs based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"The connections between war and surveillance are clear. I don't want to give too much away but Glenn and I are working on a project right now that has at its center how the National Security Agency plays a significant, central role in the U.S. assassination program," said Scahill, speaking to moviegoers in Rio de Janeiro, where the documentary based on his book made its Latin American debut at the Rio Film Festival.

"There are so many stories that are yet to be published that we hope will produce 'actionable intelligence,' or information that ordinary citizens across the world can use to try to fight for change, to try to confront those in power," said Scahill.

Sen. Ron Wyden: NSA 'repeatedly deceived the American people'

The Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday held a hearing, ostensibly to investigate various issues raised about the NSA's activities. What the hearing primarily achieved instead was to underscore what a farce the notion of Congressional oversight over the NSA is.

In particular, the current chair of the Senate Committee created in the mid-1970s to oversee the intelligence community just so happens to be one of the nation's most steadfast and blind loyalists of and apologists for the National Security State: Dianne Feinstein. For years she has abused her position to shield and defend the NSA and related agencies rather than provide any meaningful oversight over it, which is a primary reason why it has grown into such an out-of-control and totally unaccountable behemoth. ...

But there are two members of that Committee who actually do take seriously its oversight mandate: Democrats Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. Those two spent years publicly winking and hinting that the NSA under President Obama was engaged in all sorts of radical and abusive domestic surveillance (although - despite the absolute immunity protection they enjoy as Senators under the Constitution - they took no action, and instead waited for Edward Snowden (who had no such immunity) to bravely step up and reveal to the American people specifically what these two Senators kept hinting at).

Indeed, if I had to pick the single most revealing aspect of this entire NSA scandal - and there are many revealing ones about many different realms - it would be that James Clapper lied to the faces of the Senate Intelligence Committee about core NSA matters, and not only was he not prosecuted for that felony, but he did not even lose his job, and continues to be treated with great reverence by the very Committee which he deliberately deceived. That one fact tells you all you need to know about how official Washington functions.

NSA Internet Spying Sparks Race to Create Offshore Havens for Data Privacy

Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and other American technology companies were put on the defensive when Edward Snowden's allegations about U.S.-government surveillance of Internet traffic emerged this spring.

Outside the U.S., some companies and politicians saw an opportunity.

Three of Germany's largest email providers, including partly state-owned Deutsche Telekom AG, teamed up to offer a new service, Email Made in Germany. The companies promise that by encrypting email through German servers and hewing to the country's strict privacy laws, U.S. authorities won't easily be able to pry inside. More than a hundred thousand Germans have flocked to the service since it was rolled out in August. ...

Fueled by the controversy, countries are seeking to use data-privacy laws as a competitive advantage—a way to boost domestic companies that long have sought an edge over Google, Microsoft Corp. and other U.S. tech giants.

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of

Assad will not negotiate with terrorists.  Seems like America once had that policy, but now we give them money and weapons.
Syria's Assad vows to comply with UN resolution

Syria's president vowed Sunday to abide by the U.N. resolution calling for the country's chemical weapons stockpile to be destroyed. ...

For the first time, the Security Council also endorsed a roadmap for a political transition in Syria adopted by key nations in June 2012, and it called for an international peace conference to be convened "as soon as possible" to implement it.

In the interview, Assad brushed aside a question about whether he would personally attend talks in Geneva, saying the framework of the negotiations is still unclear. He said he is willing to hold a dialogue with the political opposition to try to resolve the crisis, but not with armed groups trying to overthrow his government. ...

"We cannot discuss with al-Qaida offshoots and organizations that are affiliated with al-Qaida," he added. "We cannot negotiate with the people who ask for foreign intervention and military intervention in Syria."

Israel on Counter-Offensive: Netanyahu vows to rebut Iran's 'sweet talk'

Netanyahu to speak at UN on Tuesday

"The goal of the prime minister's trip is to expose the Iranian lie at the United Nations," said a senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem. "Netanyahu fears they're heading toward a bad agreement with Iran, and if this is the situation, he prefers there be no agreement whatsoever."

The source added, "Netanyahu is going to spoil the party and he has no problem with that. He doesn't care if he's the only one saying it in public even if there are others in the world who think like him." ...

On Monday, Netanyahu will fly to Washington, where he will meet with Obama at the White House. ... On Tuesday afternoon, Netanyahu will arrive at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to give a speech before the General Assembly. Netanyahu will be the last state representative to address the UNGA.

Bibi's One-Track Tack: 'Israel's talk of Iran's nukes is like stuck record player'

Obama is still trying to hector Karzai into allowing him to keep 10,000 (legally unaccountable) troops in Afghanistan.  Karzai is still uncooperative.
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel seeks deal to keep 10,000 troops in Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday he hoped an accord on the future US military presence in Afghanistan would be in place by November, despite President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to be rushed.

“I hope we’ll have that agreement by the end of October, because we just can’t move without it,” Hagel told US soldiers participating in a live-fire exercise in South Korea.

The United States plans to pull out the bulk of its 57,000 troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and has tentative plans to retain a smaller force of around 10,000 forces after that.

First Food Aid: Starving Portuguese turn to charity

Dallas County Police to execute warrants in 15-ton-vehicle capable of withstanding ‘nuclear environment’

Cougar 6x6Earlier this month, Dallas County sheriff’s deputies drove to Fort Hood to pick up their department’s new purchase: a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored personnel carrier.  ...

The Dallas County deputies didn’t indicate in the memo why their department required a vehicle designed to withstand “ballistic arms fire, mine fields, IED’s, and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical environments” in order to execute warrants.

Iowa Issues Gun Permits To The Blind, Allowing Them To Carry In Public

In a move sure to leave gun safety advocates scratching their heads, Iowa is issuing gun permits to the blind.

The permits allow legally blind applicants to purchase weapons and carry them in public. Per state law, any attempt to deny an Iowan these rights based on physical ability would be illegal, reports the Des Moines Register.

"When you shoot a gun, you take it out and point and shoot, and I don't necessarily think eyesight is necessary," said Michael Barber, a blind man interviewed by The Register at a gun store in Iowa last month.

The Evening Greens

Why Climate Deniers Are Plain Wrong

So here is the deal. Every year about mid September, the National Snow and Ice Data Center releases one of the most important climate data, which is the extent of the summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. And this year it shows that the summer sea ice extent is sixth lowest since the recorded time they have been doing, since 1978.

But the climate skeptics picked up on the fact--or climate deniers picked up on the fact that the extent of sea ice has gone up from last year. 2012 was the lowest ever recorded, which was about 1.31 million square miles. So this year it has gone up to 1.97. So that was reported by David Rose, first in U.K.'s Mail On Sunday, saying that climate global warming has stopped, it's cooling, and also The Telegraph in the U.K. And that was then picked up by Fox News. And they said that global warming, yes, it's finally dead.

So what they did is that--this is called incredibly irresponsible disinformation, because what we need to look at again is the long-term trend of the Arctic sea ice, which the scientists are saying is on a rapidly declining path. And even this year's summer sea ice, as I said, is sixth lowest, and it's 24 percent less than the 1979-2000 average. That's all the data we have. So it is on a declining trend. But we are seeing a local minima this year. So it's very easy to debunk these climate zombies that Dr. Alley calls them.

Melting Arctic Permafrost Looms as Major Factor in Warming, Climate Change

Permafrost, which is frozen ground that doesn't melt during the summer, covers 24 percent of the land in the northern hemisphere. It also stores approximately 1.5 trillion tons of carbon – twice the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere.

When the organic matter that makes up permafrost thaws, the carbon it contains becomes exposed to the elements, which can escape into the air in the form of heat-trapping gases with the potential to knock out efforts to slow down global warming with a one-two punch.

This effect, called the permafrost carbon feedback, is not present in the global climate change models used to estimate how warm the earth could get over the next century.  But research done in the past few years shows that leaving the permafrost effect out of the climate models results in a far more conservative estimate of how our climate will change.

Scientists predict that greenhouse gas from permafrost alone could lead to an additional 1.5 Fahrenheit degrees of warming by the end of this century, on top of day-to-day human emissions.

Blog Posts of Interest

Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.
What's Happenin'

The JP Morgan apologists of CNBC

A Little Night Music

Buddy Guy - First Time I Met The Blues

Buddy Guy - Out of Sight

Buddy Guy + Junior Wells - Ten Years Ago

Buddy Guy + Junior Wells - A Man Of Many Words

Big Mama Thornton with Buddy Guy's Blues Band - Ball And Chain

Buddy Guy - Five Long Years

Buddy Guy + Junior Wells - Little By Little

Buddy Guy - I got a strange feeling

2012 Kennedy Center Honors: Salute to Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy - My Time After A While

Buddy Guy - Long Way From Home

Buddy Guy - Sweet Home Chicago

It's National Pie Day!

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Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.

Why is National Pie Day the perfect opportunity to tell you more about us?  Well you'll see why very soon.  So what are you waiting for?!   Head on over now and be one of the first!

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