Sacre Bleu! – Er, Make That Red White And Bleu!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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sacre bleu cartoon

There has been a lot of activity in France lately concerning the United States government spying on three French Presidents.

The current President of France even called an emergency meeting of the Conseil de la Défense, the country’s highest national security forum to discuss the emergence of documents that appear to implicate the US National Security Agency (NSA) – now who’da guessed that? –  spying on Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, who ruled France from 1995 to 2012.

The documents further indicate that the NSA may have also targeted the personal communications of Francois Hollande, France’s current head of state.

The files were published by WikiLeaks, which described them as “top secret intelligence reports and technical documents”, detailing NSA spying operations against the French presidency, as well as espionage directed at several French government ministers and at France’s ambassador to the US.

French President Francois Hollande at meeting to discuss Wikileaks revelations

The documents include intelligence briefs, which detail the thoughts and diplomatic maneuvers by French presidents and other senior officials, on subjects such as the Greek economic crisis, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and the United Nations.

This is further evidence of more disgraceful and arrogant behavior by US spy agencies.

The thing is, however, no one is surprised any more.

Since Edward Snowden’s revelations the world has come to expect illegal and bad behavior from Americans. It is as simple as that. And for the reputations of Americans it is as bad as that. Which is a great pity because these activities do not represent in any way the vast majority of the American people.

So, if they aren’t a surprise to anyone, will the latest revelations cause trouble between America and France? I think the undoubted answer is “Oui”, but only a “petit oui”.

As befits normal protocol in these kinds of things, the American ambassador to France was summoned for what was called ‘an official protest’, but little or nothing more happened apart from President Obama getting on the phone with the French President, groveling and apologizing and assuring him in no uncertain terms “that the US is no longer spying on France”.

No, I don’t believe him either, but there it is.

President Obama on phone

There was no need for America’s snooping. As with Germany, French and American intelligence agencies cooperate with each other regularly. They jointly monitor international issues of mutual concern, such as what is happening in Syria, Iraq, the Ukraine, Libya, and even the financial catastrophe that is Greece.

For now that will continue, but the road ahead looks bumpy.

Wikileaks has already made good on its promise that its “French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future”.

The latest release from the whistleblower website contains more documents that indicate that the National Security Agency (NSA), under orders from Washington, were tasked with collecting secret information not only about the economic policies of the French government and the country’s financial sector, but on export contracts by French companies.

In fact every French-registered company involved in negotiations for international projects or other sales contracts valued at over $200 million, like car makers Peugeot and Renault and financial institutions like BNP Paribas and the agricultural credit union, were also subjected to US government secret snooping.

Washington’s pathetic statements that none of this information is ever used to benefit American companies competing for international contracts rings mighty hollow with the French, and the rest of the world come to that.

This latest information is a lot more damning and may necessitate a much stronger response from the French – even if it is just to save face.

Like their attitude over the invasion of Iraq, I think any further reaction would include little or no cooperation in any future American interventions in the Middle East and maybe the use of a veto or two in the United Nations.

We might be at the start of a new meaning to the term “non” cooperation?

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non merci button

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He’s Back …… I Think.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

putin

It seems that after a mysterious disappearance from public view for the past eleven days or so, Vladimir Putin has re-emerged.

Over the past week and more there was a frenzy of speculation as to why he was nowhere to be seen and what had happened to him. His absence was significant, that much was agreed, but nobody knew why he had disappeared.

One of Putin’s former advisors, Andrei Illarionov, who has become one of his strongest critics of late, was quick off the mark to say Putin had been toppled in a backstage coup.

Many, well-connected in Russian matters, speculated that there was a full-scale Kremlin power struggle under way.

Other rumors quickly followed.

General Viktor Zolotov, Putin’s long-time bodyguard, was said to be dead. This was confirmed and denied and confirmed and denied, etc.,

Another of Putin’s top allies, Vladislav Surkov, was speculated to have fled to Hong Kong with his family.

The questions from the media and on the internet were also many and varied.

Had there been some kind of retaliation for the recent murder of opposition leader and former first deputy prime minister, Boris Nemtsov?

Would there be more bloodshed?

Was a coup under way in Russia?

Was Putin finished?

Was he perhaps unwell, which I suppose could be taken as a sign of weakness and spur on those who wished to topple him?

Was he in Switzerland celebrating the birth of a child by his secret lover, the gymnast Alina Kabaeva?

Would he re-appear soon, shirtless, macho and galloping on a horse to show everyone he is still a force to be reckoned with?

Or was the whole thing just a distraction from the murder of Nemtsov and the war in Ukraine?

putin_shirtless_on_horse

The Kremlin, on the other hand, wasn’t asking any questions. It dismissed all such rumors and insisted that nothing was wrong with either Putin or his regime, apart from maybe a dose of the flu.

There is no doubt that, for all his political savvy, Putin has managed to get himself stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. He made his reputation by winning the war in Chechnya, and he cannot afford to cross the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. At the same time he cannot side against the politicians from the security or military services, often the officers of the former KGB, GRU, FSB, and all that, who came into power with him.

As usual, of course, most commentators missed the main question, which was apart from all the usual faffing around, ‘how should we react if such a thing were really to happen’?

Here in the West we, (including those in the intelligence community who are supposed to know about these things and brief world leaders like President Obama), don’t have much of a clue about Kremlin politics. You can be almost certain therefore that, if anything were ever to really happen to Putin, the danger is that the West would respond in entirely the wrong way.

A new Russian leader would be greeted by America and its allies as a more predictable and easier to deal with partner than Putin. But that is forgetting one crucial element. All Russian leaders are tough. Not just Putin. And the person who had the steel to oust someone of Putin’s caliber would have to himself be a very hard man and a shrewd operator.

More significantly, he would have to quickly stamp his authority and hold on power in Russia. The quickest and easiest way of doing that would be with more repression of opposition factions in Russia itself and with more flexing of Russia’s considerable muscles abroad, particularly in the Crimea and the Ukraine.

That would be a real puzzler for Obama, were it to happen during his last few months in office. And a defining moment for his successor.

Sometimes the devil you know is easier to deal with than one you don’t.

putin devil

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Corruptocracy!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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A Sunday Sermon

It’s been a while since I did a Sunday Sermon. It’s an occasional, rather than a regular, feature here at the fasab blog. It just happens when I’m in the mood to have a bit of a rant about a subject that I consider to be serious.

If you have read much of my blog you will know that two of my favorite targets are the banksters and politicians. When they act alone they are dangerous, when they combine their forces they are lethal.

Today I’m taking aim at both of them.

Strap yourselves in, here we go….

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corruptocracy

In the wake of the financial catastrophe that the greedy banksters inflicted on the world there has been a lot of talk (but very little real action) about bringing these thieves under some kind of control.

Naturally the banks are fighting tooth and nail against any kind of financial reform and they have the contacts and the financial resources to do it.

They have, for example, dragged their heels at every opportunity, used our money (kindly donated by a stupid government) to lobby friendly and unprincipled politicians in Congress to repeal aspects of Dodd-Frank, sent armies of lawyers to frustrate regulators and make any new rules as weak as possible and threatened a plethora of legal challenges and lawsuits.

It has been a ‘David and Goliath’ battle but this time the richer and more powerful Goliath seems to be winning.

David and Goliath

Unsurprisingly the banks’ biggest political allies in opposing the much needed financial reforms have been Democrats, such as the Robert E. Rubin wing of the Democratic Party, which has opposed moves to break up the big banks after the 2008 global crisis.

I say ‘unsurprisingly’ because the whole mess was caused by the Democrat regime of Bill Clinton who got rid of the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking. Small wonder that they are railing against its reinstatement.

Unfortunately they aren’t alone. Most Republicans also oppose effective moves against the banksters. A fact less shocking when you realize that in the last two election cycles, over 60 percent of the bankster’s donations went to Republicans. It seems America’s form of democracy is still more about what the money-men want (and are willing to pay for), rather than what the ordinary people want.

banksters demands

Most disappointing of all, however, has been President Obama. He swept to power promising ‘change’ but he never backed meaningful reforms against the banks. On the contrary, the Obama Administration has repeatedly put forward nominees with Wall Street connections for major oversight roles. It’s a bit like appointing some of the inmates of a prison as the prison guards!

During the debate over the Dodd-Frank Act, Obama’s henchmen even lobbied against an amendment offered by two of his own Democratic senators (Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Ted Kaufman of Delaware) who wanted to cap the size of the banks.

The fact is, that if Obama had taken a stronger position on the much needed financial reform it would have been much stronger and much more effective.

Now they are neither strong nor effective. They won’t work, in other words. It’s just been a bit of window dressing and bluff for the benefit of gullible voters.

gullible voters

And now even more money will be paid to Republicans since they routed the Democrats and swept to power in the US Senate, as well as expanding their majority control in the House of Representatives. That means even less will be done against the banksters.

It is a simple equation. Money buys politicians, buys power and influence.

Some people call it corruption.

Others try to tell us it is democracy.

I know which one I think it is!

In fact let’s use a new word….

Corruptocracy!

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Political Jokes!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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No, this isn’t a list of the names of the members of the HoR or the Senate, or even the Obama administration, although I see why you would have jumped to that conclusion.

I thought I would try to lighten the mood for the weekend by posting some of the political jokes that made me smile.

Hope they have the same effect on you.

Enjoy.

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Politicians and diapers have one thing in common:

they should both be changed regularly…

and for the same reason.

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Q: Have you heard about McDonald’s new ‘Obama Value Meal’?

A: Order anything you like and the guy behind you has to pay for it.

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Q: How many politicians does

it take to change a light bulb?

A: Two: one to change it and

another one to change it back again.

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.stupid face 01

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Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 100?

A: Your Honor.

Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 50?

A: Senator.

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We used to have Reagan, Jonny Cash, and Bob Hope.

Now we have Obama, no cash, and no hope.

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The recession is getting so bad,

the bank sent me a new type of credit card.

It was pre-declined.

.stupid face 02

 

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It was so cold in Washington today,

I saw a Democrat who had his hands in his own pockets!

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I is very proud dat I went 2 school in da UK.

I fink out of all 17 countries in da world UK is da best.

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When they call the roll in the Senate,

the Senators do not know whether to answer

‘Present’ or ‘Not guilty.’ 

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.stupid face 07Today’s public figures can no longer

Today’s public figures can no longer

write their own speeches or books,

and there is some evidence

that they can’t read them either. 

(Gore Vidal.)

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‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble,

finding it whether it exists or not,

diagnosing it incorrectly,

and applying the wrong remedy’.

(Ernest Benn.)

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‘Politicians are the same all over.

They promise to build bridges,

even where there are no rivers’.

(Nikita Kruschchev.)

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stupid face 05

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I just hope our next world war isn’t with China.

Who would make uniforms for the troops?

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The Iranian leader has left

on a tour of friendly countries.

He’s expected home tomorrow.

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Foreign Aid :

Poor people in a rich country

sending money to

rich people in a poor country.

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stupid face 06

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I rarely speak to Obama supporters,

but when I do….

I ask for large fries.

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Obama: “Here we are, two black presidents.”

Mandela: “You’re not very black.”

Obama: “I’ve not been to jail.”

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President Obama met Bill Clinton for lunch.

“I was sorry to hear about Hillary’s concussion,”

Obama said. “How’s her head?”

“It’s fine,” Bill replied.

“But she’s no Monica.”

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stupid_391615

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My computer crashed earlier and I lost all my files,

Luckily the NSA has a back up…

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Stop repeat offenders.

Don’t re-elect them!

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Democracy:

A political system where

any two idiots outvote a genius.

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stupid face 03

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How many Feminists does

it take to change a lightbulb?

Two.

One to get a man to change it,

and the other to criticize men for inventing it.

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Spin doctors:

People who never call a spade a spade.

They proclaim it as a ground-breaking innovation.

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Politicians should serve two terms.

One in office, one in prison.

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stupid face 08

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No matter who you vote for

the government always seems to get in.

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Definition of an elephant:

A mouse built to government specifications.

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The word ‘politics’ is derived from

the word ‘poly’, meaning ‘many’,

and the word ‘ticks’,

meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’.

(Larry Hardiman.)

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Anyone Feel A Chill?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

USA-and-USSR-Flag

I know the summer is coming to a close, but the chill I’m talking about in this post is the one coming from the Cold War.

You remember it?

The thing that we though we had got rid of in 1992 when Daddy Bush said, “A world once divided into two armed camps now recognizes one, sole and pre-eminent power, the United States of America.”

That ended the Cold War and everyone was happy. America had won.

So why did it start again? And why did our politicians not have the gumption to avoid it?

Two pretty good questions, I think.

I suppose the answer is that it all started again because America desperately needs a bogey man – a global one, not some terrorist organization like Al Qaeda or ISIS.

It gives them a reason to keep the war machine going which is good for the economy.

It gives them the chance to tell the world that the choice they have to make is between America and Russia (in other words, between ‘good’ and ‘bad’).

good_v_bad

And indeed it used to be that way, when the Russian regime was hell bent on imposing their failed communist philosophy on the free world.

The problem is that America wasn’t content with winning. For some reason it felt it needed to win again.

This time it is trying to do so by bribing and coercing former Soviet satellite states into joining an economic and military (EU/NATO) alliance against Russia.

That has, understandably and predictably, provoked the Russians into once again flexing their muscles, the result of which we are starting to see in the Ukraine.

And so the Cold War begins again.

But it won’t be the same as the last one. Some things are very different.

This time America is bankrupt, not Russia, which on the contrary has massive wealth at its disposal. This time America is being perceived by the rest of the world as dithering and incompetent.

nsa-spying-scandal

And, thanks to the arrogance of organizations like the NSA, this time it is America, not Russia, who is perceived by the rest of the world as untrustworthy and untrusting of its allies. That’s quite the reversal of the old Cold War when it was the Russians who were notorious for listening in on conversations, bugging hotel rooms and the like.

In addition Russia is not currently bound to an outdated and failed communist dogma.

Despite all the bogus posturing of President Obama, who it seems can’t make up his mind to do anything, Russia will not allow NATO to set up shop in its backyard.

America has made a huge tactical mistake interfering so close to Russia. They are leaving Putin with little alternative but to do his own bit of posturing. The only difference is he means it.

When a bear is sleeping, poking it with a stick is never a wise move. Neither is trying to force it into a corner.

This time it may well bring consequences that none of us will like.

poking a sleeping bear

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What A Flipping President – What A Flipping Mess!!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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President Obama said in June that he would be prepared to “take targeted and precise military action” in Iraq, whatever that meant.

But it’s taken him two months to make the decision. Two months during which Islamist militants have swept through northern and western Iraq and are now threatening Christians in that country with religious conversion or death.

indecisive Obama

So far its not only too little too late, but half-hearted to boot, with Obama saying that the step was being taken to defend US personnel in the city of Irbil and protect religious minorities facing what he called a “potential act of genocide” from the Islamic State, the extremist group most recently known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

There doesn’t seem much “potential” about from the reports I am reading.

convert or die

It’s as if the President’s Administration and his advisors didn’t see it coming!

This belated decision is yet another turning point in the Obama administration’s dreadfully badly thought out foreign policy, which has seen his ratings plummet, both at home and in the eyes of the world.

Even now his administration’s goals remain unclear. For example, is this latest move a tactical decision, or a simple reaction to the consequences of failing to act sooner, or is there a strategy behind it?

I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else knows, but I fear it is just the former. Sadly, a belated attempt to halt ISIS’s advance toward Irbil won’t be enough – and if I know that, why don’t Obama’s advisors?

Of course, on the other side of the political fence, rather predictably, some of the gung-ho Republicans, always spoiling for a fight (somewhere other than in the US), have quickly jumped on the bandwagon and tried to use this latest debacle to score political points against the President.

gung-ho GOPers

They have criticized Obama’s inaction in Syria and the failure to bolster moderate rebel forces there as contributing to ISIS’s growth. But hang on a moment GOPers, think it through before you speak (this will be new territory to most of them!). If the President had intervened (or rather, been allowed to intervene) in Syria he would have been intervening on the same side as ISIS, not against them.

Then we would have had an even more bewildering situation where US troops would have been fighting with ISIS (effectively) in Syria against Assad and at the same time fighting against ISIS in Iraq trying to stop their genocidal purge of the Christian community there.

It is this kind of utter confusion that has over the past few years greatly diminished America’s global influence and standing.

bush_wmd_cartoon.1

The mess that was left in Iraq after Bush’s invasion on the false premise (the lie) of WMDs, and Obama’s withdrawal of troops on the equally disingenuous premise (another lie) that they had brought peace to the country, is a disgrace.

And unfortunately it sends a message to the world that America is confused, indecisive, deceitful, short-sighted, blundering – in short all the things that you don’t want the world to think about you if you want to be taken seriously.

What a flipping mess!

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Lies, Deceit And Incompetence

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I was sounding off a bit in last week’s Sunday Sermon about the state of things in Iraq, a mess created by blundering American and British intervention in a situation they did not, and still do not understand.

Last week I concentrated on the fact that ISIS, the al Qaeda splinter group – big name, ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ – has now seized large parts of northern Iraq, with consequent freeing of prisoners, fleeing of frightened former residents of that area and even unconfirmed reports of ‘mass beheadings’. Other reports of mass executions of official Iraqi army personnel seem to have been confirmed.

Presumably there will be worse to come.

Slaughter in IRAQ

All in the name of an Islamic State?

Well, hold on, maybe not just that.

It turns out that as Iraq descends into what will probably be a bloody civil war, the ISIS-al Qaeda forces have taken time to raid Mosul’s central bank and relieve it of some 500 billion Iraqi dinars, worth approximately $425 million.

Mosul is not only the largest city in northern Iraq, it is an oil hub at the vital intersection of Syria, Iraq and Turkey, thus providing rich pickings for the terrorists.

They also reportedly stole additional $ millions from a number of other banks across Mosul and what has only been quantified as a “large quantity of gold bullion.”

Others towns and cities, like Saddam Hussein’s old home town Tikrit, have suffered a similar fate.

As a result of all this George Bush / Tony Bliar created disaster, the ISIS/al Qaeda chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a previously relatively unknown figure, is now the leader of perhaps the ‘world’s richest terror force’.

obama-funding-syrian-rebels-al-qaeda-benghazi

(Quick side note to President Obama – I’m sure he reads this blog 🙂

– Hi Barrack, you can stop using American taxpayers’ money

to fund these ISIS terrorists in Syria, they have enough money now.)

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In fact, to put the latest cash haul in perspective, at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the US, Al-Qaeda had been working with an operating budget of around $30 million (source ‘Council on Foreign Relations’), so even allowing for inflation they are substantially richer today, and by definition have it in their power to do much more damage not just in the Middle East region, but worldwide.

As regional analyst Brown Moses succinctly put it on Twitter, this recent haul of ill gotten gains will “buy a whole lot of Jihad……For example, with $425 million, ISIS could pay 60,000 fighters around $600 a month for a year.”

It might even do a lot more. ISIS has already attracted 12,000 militants from abroad, 3,000 of whom are from the West. With bought mercenaries on board things can only get worse.

Bush Blair whose Words of Mass Deception created needless death and destruction in Iraq

When Bush and Blair used Words of Mass Deception about Saddam Hussein having Weapons of Mass destruction as a bogus excuse to attack Iraq there were no terrorists and no terrorist threat from that country. Thanks to their lies, deceit and incompetence, there are now.

If this is an ‘improvement’ I can’t see it  –  can you?

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